Chapter 22: The Greatest Joke There Is
If one thing can be dropped from the Jesus story, the whole of Christianity will disappear. If one thing, only one thing, the phenomenon of resurrection: that after being crucified and remaining dead three days, Jesus came back again. If this part can be dropped, the whole of Christianity will disappear. You believe in Jesus because you are afraid of death, and he seems to be the only man who has come back again, who has defeated death.
Christianity became the greatest religion in the world. Buddhism could not become that great, for the simple reason that the fear of death helps people to believe in Christ more than in Buddha. In fact to believe in Buddha needs guts, because Buddha says, “I teach you total death.” This small death - he is not satisfied with it. He says: This small death won’t do, you will be coming back again. I teach you the total death, the ultimate death. I teach annihilation, so that you will never come back again, so that you will disappear, you will be diffused in existence, you won’t be any more, any longer; not even a trace will be left behind.
In India, Buddhism disappeared, completely disappeared. Such a great, so-called religious country, and Buddhism completely disappeared. Why? People believe in religions which teach that you will live after death, that the soul is immortal. Buddha was saying that the only thing worth realizing is that you are not. Buddhism could not survive in India, because it didn’t give you a cover-up for your fear.
Buddha did not say to people, “Believe in me.” Hence his teaching disappeared from this country, because people want to believe. People don’t want truth, they want belief. Belief is cheap. Truth is dangerous, arduous, difficult; one has to pay for it. One has to seek and search, and there is no guarantee that you will find it, there is no guarantee that there is any truth anywhere. It may not be at all; the goal may not exist.
People want belief, and Buddha said - his last message to the world was - “appa dipo bhav: be a light unto yourself.” He had said this because his disciples were crying. Ten thousand sannyasins surrounding him, of course they were sad and tears were falling; their master was leaving. And Buddha said to them, “Don’t cry. Why are you crying?”
One of the disciples, Ananda, said, “Because you are leaving us, because you were our only hope, because we had long hoped and hoped that it is through you we will attain to truth.”
It was to answer Ananda that Buddha said, “Don’t be worried about that. I cannot give you truth; nobody else can give it to you, it is not transferable. But you can attain it on your own. Be a light unto yourself.”
The same is my attitude. You need not believe in me. I don’t want believers here, I want seekers, and the seeker is a totally different phenomenon. The believer is not a seeker. The believer does not want to seek, that’s why he believes. The believer wants to avoid seeking, that’s why he believes. The believer wants to be delivered, saved, he needs a savior. He is always in search of a messiah: somebody who can eat for him, chew for him, digest for him. But if I eat, your hunger is not going to be satisfied. Nobody can save you except yourself.