The archbishop had never thought about it. Perhaps no religious person ever thinks about it, that a man can be absolutely religious without believing in any religion, that a man’s life can be absolutely the life of wisdom and goodness without believing in any God, without believing in any prophet, without believing in any savior. And vice versa: A man may believe in God, in Jesus, and still his life will be nothing but the life of an animal.
The archbishop said, “The question is very difficult and I have never thought about it. You will have to give me seven days. Next Sunday in my sermon, I will answer it. You will have to come once more, because I would like to make my statement before my whole congregation.”
Edmund Burke gave him seven days, and those seven days were of great torture to the archbishop. He worked from this way and that way, but he could not find any solution. Either he has to insist that belief in Jesus Christ is the criterion – then virtue and sin, good and evil don’t matter. Then the whole morality goes down the drain. If he says morality is decisive, then why bother about Jesus Christ? Then Jesus Christ goes down the drain.
And he was trying to keep both together. He could not sleep for seven days. The whole night the same question was going round and round in his mind. On the seventh day, he reached the church a little early, because he had not found the answer yet and he thought, “It will be better: I should go before the time people start coming – early, in darkness – to pray to Jesus Christ himself: ‘You show me the way. I cannot find any way out of the puzzle. Whatever I decide seems to be wrong, and I have never been in such anguish. Help me.’”
But he was so tired, and he had not slept for seven days, so just putting his head at the feet of Jesus Christ’s statue, he fell asleep and he dreamt a beautiful dream: He was sitting in a train which was going very fast, and he asked, “Where are we going?” The people said, “You don’t know? This train is going to heaven.”
He said, “My God, perhaps this is the answer from Jesus Christ – ‘look with your own eyes!’” And the train stopped at the station where, in very faded words, hardly visible, was written heaven and all over, it looked like a desert, a wasteland.
He could not think that heaven should be like this. He asked again, but people were getting down. They said, “It is heaven.” He entered the streets…they were so rotten and so dirty. He saw a few saints, so dry and so dead, sitting under their trees, repeating continuously, “Hallelujah, hallelujah.”
He asked them, “Is it truly heaven?” And they said, “What do you think we are doing here? We are great saints and with great austerity we have attained heaven.”
He said, “A strange heaven…not a single flower.” He asked a saint, “Can I know – is Gautam Buddha in heaven? Is Socrates here? Is Epicurus here?”, because all these people did not believe in God, and obviously there was no question of believing in Jesus Christ; they had been born before Jesus Christ. And the saint said, “Never heard of any such people here.” But they were the people who were absolutely good, the very essence of goodness.