H.G. Wells has written one of the most important histories of the world. And when he comes to write about Gautam Buddha he has a tremendous statement to make. He says Gautam Buddha was the most godless person, yet the most godly. Gautam Buddha did not believe in any god, but he believed that everybody can become a god. To be a god is nothing but the realization of your total potential. Your seed is carrying within itself, in its womb, the ultimate flowering of the lotus paradise. There are possibilities of as many gods as there are living beings in existence, if every one comes to its ultimate expression.
The very idea of one god creating the world is dictatorial. It is the fanatic’s idea; it is fascist. One god is very dangerous to all democratic values, and once we accept one god as the creator of existence we are depriving man of his dignity, his freedom. He is reduced to a puppet. If God is the creator, you can’t have any freedom. If there is a God who is ruling the world, then what freedom can you have?
In India they say that without God’s will even a small leaf does not move. They think they are being very religious when they make such statements. But if without God’s will even a leaf of a tree cannot move in the wind, then what freedom can you have? Then we are only puppets; our strings are in the hands of an unknown God. If he wants us to be miserable we will be miserable. If he wants us to be blissful we will be blissful. It will not be a dignity; it will be simply that everything is in his hands. We remain beggars.
People like Gautam Buddha want you to be emperors. They give you back your dignity, your honor, your self-respect. God and self-respect cannot exist together. There is no coexistence possible.
Gautam Buddha denied God not because he was an atheist; he denied God because he was a lover of ultimate freedom. His denial has a totally different reason. Atheists have been denying God not for the freedom of man, but just to give man a licentiousness: “Eat, drink, be merry, because there is no God and you need not be worried. You need not feel any responsibility towards life, towards yourself.” Atheists make people irresponsible. They make people synonymous with vegetables. They deny your inner being; they deny your very spirituality.
Gautam Buddha is not an atheist. He certainly is not a theist – he does not propose any hypothetical god who has to be worshipped. On the contrary, he changes the whole dimension of religion. The people who are looking towards a god in the sky are looking outward. Gautam Buddha insists there is no god; there is no need to look outward – look inward. And if you can look inward, with your eyes closed in deep silence, you will start feeling a new quality to your life, to your existence; a quality that can only be called godliness, that can only be called divine…something more than matter. You don’t end with matter.
Matter may be the foundation of life, but it is not its highest peak. Matter may be the roots of the tree, but it is not its flowers. And unless you know the flowering consciousness in you, you cannot feel bliss.
Bliss is the ultimate experience of your coming home, of your feeling at ease with existence, relaxed, in a total unity and harmony.