Chapter 12: Religiousness Is Interwoven into Existence Itself
You had taken away his worries, and now you are giving him all the worries back again, all the problems, all the challenges. You are not only giving him all the worries that you had taken away from him, you are multiplying them by saying there is no God. At least before he had met you there was a God; he could have prayed!
I was in jail in America. In one of the cells in one of the jails, I was sharing with an old man - very nice, but each morning he would kneel down, put his head on the bed and pray to God. The whole day he was looking at The Bible; then before going to sleep again the same ritual, he would kneel down. He was a little puzzled that I was not doing anything like that. The next day he asked me, “Are you not a Christian?”
I said, “I am available if you can convert me to Christianity. Only one thing I can say to you, that I am available to everybody. Just try to convert me.”
He was very happy - a great chance to convert a man to Christianity. He started talking about God, and I started asking him questions which of course he was not even able to answer. He read passages from The Bible and I told him, “This is all nonsense!”
By the evening he said, “Forgive me, I have not been able to convert you - but you have disturbed me completely. The whole day I have been trying again and again. Whenever you have been out for your lunch or your supper I tried my prayer: it does not work, because even I am suspicious myself that what I am doing may be stupid - kneeling down and putting my head on the bed and trying to talk to a God who does not exist.
“But you have disturbed me very much. I have been in jail for seven years and God has helped me immensely. But you say there is no God, so perhaps it was just my imagination. I was thinking it was God who is taking care of me, that it is only a test - this jail, for ten years - and that he is always there and I need not be worried. Seven years have passed, another three years will also pass, and I have not complained a single time. I was very proud that I trusted him. If he has put me in such a situation then there must be some meaning in it. It is God’s act - it cannot be meaningless.
“But if there is no God.and I cannot answer your questions. I had never doubted, but you have created doubt in me. You will be gone in a day or two - how am I going to pass the coming three years? I will look in The Bible and I will find doubts. I will try to pray and I will know that I am doing just a stupid thing: there is nobody here. I am just doing the whole thing on my own, creating a hallucination.”
He came close to me, took my hands in his hands and asked me, “Just please put me back - whatever it is, right or wrong, just put me back into my illusions. Don’t leave me in this situation; otherwise these three years will be too much to bear.”