Chapter 14: Prayer Is Business
You will be surprised: of those one hundred and fifty people.. For nine years I waited that somebody would one day ask whether God exists or not. No, nobody. And they all are Hindus, Mohammedans, Christians, Jainas. They all go to the temple, to the church; they all pay their respects. But they are all formalities - it is nothing to do with their inner search.
In fact, in that big common room, which was meant to be for one hundred and fifty people, my chair had become reserved for me, because I was not interested in their gossips and in their politics and their love affairs and backbiting and all kind of things. I was not interested. My chair had become permanent - nobody else’s chair was permanent. Whenever I went there it was available for me, nobody would sit on it. And slowly they had all taken away their chairs farther from my chair, because I was not interested in their things, and they were not interested in the things which I was interested in.
Whenever I passed through the common room, they would become silent, as if they were being caught like small children doing something wrong. I would say, “You continue. Don’t be bothered about me. I really fail to see why you become suddenly silent as I enter the room. I avoid as much as possible coming in the room, so as not to become a nuisance to you people, but sometimes there is no other way. I have two periods, and one period in between is empty. Where can I go for forty minutes? So I have to come to sit here. You just take it for granted that I am not here; my chair is always empty. Whether I am sitting there or not, you need not bother. You continue all kinds of neurotic things that you want to continue. You continue; you don’t be afraid of me.”
Even the head of my department, an old man, seventy years old, already retired from one university; but because he was such an authority on his subject, this university asked him just to give a little of his time. He was also talking about the same things. He would become silent, seeing me. I would say, “It makes me feel ashamed, that a man of seventy years old has to become silent, seeing me. These are the things I should be talking about. You are talking about them. Okay, at least somebody is talking about them. Continue.”
Theists are almost bogus; atheists, a little more solid, because they have not covered their wound with a belief. If the wound is there and it hurts, they have accepted the hurt and the wound. A little more courageous, a little closer to beginning the search - because you can deceive yourself your whole life in believing and thinking that you know, but how long can you go on saying, “There is no God”?
One of my friends, a very famous Gandhian, was an atheist. He said, “Unless I experience.there is no God. At least to me, there is no God.”
One day his son, who was the attorney general of the state, came running to me and said, “My father is very, very sick - a sudden heart attack - and the doctors don’t think that he will survive. He has asked for you.”