Just the other day I was reading…somebody has written – a Hindu – that I am converting people into Jainism because I was born in a Jaina religion. And Jainas think that I am converting Jainas into the Hindu religion because orange is a Hindu color – as if colors can also be Hindu or Mohammedan! And Christians have been writing letters to me, writing articles against me, that I am converting Christians to Hinduism. It is a very strange world! Christians think I am converting you to Hinduism, Hindus think I am converting you to Jainism, Jainas think I am converting you to Hinduism, Mohammedans think I am converting you to Buddhism and Buddhists thinks I am converting you to something else.
I am not converting you to any organized system of thought, directly or indirectly. I am not interested in that at all. But certainly I am making a dimension available to you. If you are interested in going through a revolution you can go. If you have guts and courage you can have a new consciousness.
But I can understand the question, particularly from a Christian, because Christians have been doing this business of conversion all over the earth for centuries, in every possible way, right or wrong. If people cannot be converted by convincing them, then convert them by swords. If swords have become out-of-date and look ugly, then convert them by money, by bread and butter. People are poor and starving.
In India I have never come across a single rich family who has become Christian. Only very poor people who are always on the verge of dying because of starvation have become Christians. The reason is not that they are interested in Christ; they are simply interested in surviving – and Christian missionaries have the money. They can give them the money, employment, clothes, medicine, schools, hospitals. And when it is a question of survival, who cares about religion? To what religion you belong does not matter – the first requirement is to survive. So in India all the poor people, very poor people have been converted. This is converting them by bribery. Now instead of swords, a very subtle methodology is being used to convert them.
But I am not interested in converting anybody. I love Jesus as much as I love Buddha because I don’t see any difference. Both are religious because both are awakened. There is no difference at all between the awakened people. But the churches are not concerned with awakening or the awakened people; their concern is with numbers, and they use every possible way, direct, indirect, gross and subtle to convert people.
Hence, Christina, the question has arisen in your mind: maybe I am doing something like the Christian missionaries. I am not a missionary.
Mr. and Mrs. Chotnik had hoped that their son, Stanley, would follow in the path of their own orthodox ways and pursue his higher education at Yeshiva University. Instead, despite their voluble concern, he entered a Christian college. But when he returned home for summer vacation, they were vastly relieved to see that their fears had been groundless. Stanley had not forsaken his ancestral faith, he had not been converted, he had not, it was clear, been affected in the slightest way by his non-Jewish environment. In fact, on the very next Friday, he readily agreed to accompany them to synagogue.
That evening, at the close of shabbes services, the rabbi, an old friend of the Chotnik family, greeted the young student with a wide smile.