Chapter 26: The First Religious People in This World
A saint was fasting for sixty days, and thousands of people were coming every day to touch his feet - a great spiritual master. Seeing that so many people were going, I thought, “There is no harm. Perhaps this is somebody in whose eyes I can see the light, in whose gestures I can see the grace.” And there I saw a half-dead, utterly stupid man. I asked him, “Before you die, answer me at least, what relationship is there between spirituality and starvation? And if starvation is spiritual, then why are people trying to remove poverty from the world? People should try to remove richness from the world, so that everybody becomes spiritual.”
That man looked at me and he said, “You are asking me a strange question. For thousands of years fasting has been considered to be spiritual.”
I said, “I am not worried about thousands of years. You have the experience of sixty days - what spirituality have you gained? Just give me some indication.” He looked here and there - what indication could he give?
I said, “The only indication is that within a few days you will die. But there is still time if you have courage - it needs great courage to disappoint the worshippers. When you have thousands of worshippers, it needs tremendous courage.” I said, “I can bring delicious food for you. These people will be very much against me, but if you are ready.”
He said, “Don’t talk about such things. Don’t seduce me! You are trying to drag me out of my spiritual path.”
I said, “I am simply wasting some money for your food, I am not dragging you. Once you are okay, then you can drag yourself anywhere you want to go. For a few days I can manage to keep you in my house. You can get well, and then go on any path you want. But right now you are going into death, it is not a path.”
The man thought for a moment, understood clearly that what I was saying was right. But to disappoint so many people.. And it was not only a question of disappointing so many people, it was a question of losing respect in the eyes of so many people.
He said to me, “Please, don’t disturb me.” Because I went every day with the same proposal, with greater persuasion. And the man was getting more and more persuaded and more and more afraid of me.
Finally he said to his disciples that if I come he does not want to see me. “Prevent this man from coming, because one or two days more and he will convince me - because I cannot give any argument about why being hungry is spiritual.” And if being hungry is spiritual, then why are you drinking water? Stop drinking too. That will make you more spiritual. In fact, why waste the time of so many people? Just commit hara-kiri! Why make such a circus? But these circuses have been going on around the world for ages.
And what do these worshippers see in these saints? They are suffering, they are being tortured. It touches a very strange thing in human psychology. You enjoy people being tortured, and you enjoy more if the people are torturing themselves. Then nobody is responsible. The crowd that follows such saints are sadists; they love to see torture. And the people who are torturing themselves are suffering from another psychological disease - they are masochists. They enjoy torturing themselves and enjoy also the great respect that is coming to them.