Chapter 12: From Italy to Nirvana
And all these religions were promising the people, “If you die in a religious war, your heaven is absolutely certain. Killing in war is not sin; being killed in war is a great virtue.” This is sheer stupidity! But ten thousand years of conditioning has seeped deep into the blood, into the bones, in the very marrow of humanity.
Each religion, each country, each race was claiming, “We are the chosen people of God. We are the highest; everyone is lower than us.” This is insanity, and everybody has suffered because of it. Jews have suffered immensely for one single folly that they committed: the idea that “We are the chosen people of God.” Once you have the idea that you are the chosen people of God, then you cannot be forgiven by others because they are also the chosen people of God, and how to decide it? No argument can be conclusive, and nobody knows where God is hiding so you cannot ask him either; he cannot be brought in the court to be a witness. Then only the sword is going to decide. Whosoever is mighty is going to be right. Might has been right.
Jews really suffered for centuries, but the suffering has not changed them. In fact it has strengthened the idea that they are the chosen people of God. The same people who tell them, “You are the chosen people,” also tell them that the chosen people have to go through many tests, many fires to prove their mettle.
I have heard about an old rabbi - he must have been a very sane man - praying to God. He was praying for years and years and never asking for anything - and you know, prayer is a kind of nagging: you go on nagging God every day, morning, afternoon, evening, night, five times every day. God must be getting tired, utterly bored..
And the rabbi was not asking for anything; otherwise there was a way out. If he had been asking for something it would have been given and the rabbi would have been told, “Get lost!” But he was not asking for anything, just praying.
Finally God asked him, “Why do you go on torturing me? What do you want?”
And the old rabbi said, “Just one thing. Is it not time for you to choose some other people? Please, make some other people your chosen people. We have suffered enough!”
But this is not only so with the Christians, Jews, Mohammedans and Hindus; it is exactly the same with all the people that have existed up to now. The racial ego, the religious ego, the spiritual ego is far more dangerous than the individual ego, because the individual ego is gross. You can see it - everybody can see it, it is so visible on the surface. But when the ego becomes racial - “Hinduism is great” - you don’t think you are claiming anything for yourself. Indirectly you are claiming, “I am great because I am a Hindu, and Hinduism is great.” This is an indirect way, a subtle, cunning way: “I am great because I am a Japanese, because Japanese are the direct descendants of the sun God”; or, “I am a Chinese and the Chinese are the most civilized people, the most cultured.”