A living master is bound to happen to the person who is in search of truth, who wants to know the meaning of life, who wants to go to the innermost core of his being, who wants to know the depth and the height of existence. He will have to hold hands with a master.
The master is one who has already known. The master is one who has been to the other shore and has come to this shore to show you the path. But only a master can show the path – a living master, remember. A tradition is just a fossil, a corpse. Yes, once there may have been a light, but the light has gone to the infinite long, long ago.
Twenty-five centuries have passed since Buddha’s flame became one with the universal flame. Now you can go on worshipping Buddha, but you will not be, in the real sense, a disciple – you can’t be. The Buddha you worship is your own invention, your projection. You will have to find a real buddha, a man who is alive, just as alive as you are, who is in the body, whose flame can help your unlit candle to become lit, whose fire can consume you.
But churches and temples and creeds and dogmas cannot consume you, they cannot make you aflame. They have no fire left. Two thousand years have passed since Christ. You can go on worshipping in the church, but now what you are doing is a kind of social duty. You are not involved in it, your heart is not there. Superficially, on the periphery, you have a label – Christian, Hindu, Mohammedan – but behind the labels you are all alike; there is no difference at all.
The first sutra of Buddha says:
The followers of the awakened
Those who are really followers of the awakened are awake. That’s the only way to be a follower of the awakened – to be awake. It is not a question of worship, not a question of respect. It is a question of inner transformation. It is going through inner alchemy.
How can you go through inner alchemy if the master is not present? The gap of thousands of years cannot be bridged. But there is no need to bridge it either because whenever there is one who is awakened he is the same, the fire is the same. What lamp the flame is alive in makes no difference. The lamp may be of this shape or that shape, the lamp may be made of this metal or that metal, it is irrelevant. The flame has nothing to do with the metal and the shape of the lamp; the flame is always the same. But you will have to seek a lamp which can still show you the path.