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Chapter 20: Fear of Hell, Greed for Heaven: The Savior’s Soft Sell

Mahavira has taken a very clear stand: “Nobody has ever been saved by anybody else. It is by its very nature not possible, because if somebody can save you, then somebody can unsave you also. Then your being saved is not something in your possession, it is given by somebody. It is just like somebody can give you money and somebody else can steal it - you are not the master of it. And at least your self-realization, your enlightenment, must be something of which you are the master, which nobody can deprive you of.

“It is simple logic: if somebody can give it to you, then somebody can deprive you of it; there is no problem in it. If you can be forced to be enlightened, you can be forced to be unenlightened.”

Mahavira is very clear, and I agree with him, that at least one ultimate thing should be left to the individual. And enlightenment is the ultimate experience. It should not be borrowed, given, purchased, forced; otherwise it won’t be the real thing.

It is the Christian stupidity that has spread the idea; no other religion before Christianity had ever thought of saving somebody. If you know the way, you know the joys of the way; you can sing the song, you can dance the dance. If somebody feels like moving with you, being a fellow traveler, not a follower, then he is welcome. But there is no enforcement and you are not obliging him.

These are the beautiful points which have arisen in the Eastern consciousness over thousands of years, that even if you show the way, you give the details of the path and you give the discipline, you don’t make the other person feel obliged to you. You are not doing it for him; it is just your own experience which wants to be shared. He is obliging you by hearing you, by giving you a chance to share your experience. He is helping you to be unburdened of the fragrance that you are carrying - and you want to be unburdened; you have to be thankful to the person - the question of saving does not arise.

But after Christianity it became an almost universal phenomenon. After Christianity came Mohammedanism, and of course they went to the very logical end: either you have to be ready to be saved or be ready to die. They don’t give you any other choice, because they believe that if you go on living unsaved you may commit sins and you will suffer in hell. By killing you they are at least taking away all the opportunities of falling into hell.

And to be killed by a savior is almost to be saved. That’s what Mohammedans have been saying, that if you kill somebody in order to save him, he is saved; God will look after it. He is saved and you are accumulating more virtue in saving so many people. Mohammedans have killed millions of people in the East. And the strange thing is that they believed they were doing the right thing. And whenever somebody does a wrong thing believing that it is right, then it is more dangerous. You cannot persuade him otherwise, he does not give you a chance to be persuaded. In India I tried in every possible way to approach Mohammedan scholars, but they are unapproachable. They don’t want to discuss any religious matter with somebody who is not a Mohammedan.

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