Alan Watts thinks either Dionysius visited India…because the way he speaks is so Eastern, the insight that he reveals is so Eastern. Even his words remind one of the Upanishads and nothing else. So Watts thinks either he visited the East or somebody from the East or many influences from the East somehow became available to him. But I am not tempted that way at all.
My own experience and understanding is this: that great truths erupt in many places in almost similar ways. Lao Tzu never came to India and nobody from India ever visited Lao Tzu. China and India were divided by the great Himalayan mountains; there was no business going on between India and China, no communication of any kind. Still, what Lao Tzu says is so similar to the Upanishads, is so synonymous with the teachings of Buddha, that there is a great temptation to believe that there must have been some communication – either Buddha has borrowed from Lao Tzu or Lao Tzu has borrowed from Buddha.
But I say to you, nobody has borrowed from anybody else, they have all drunk from the same source. And when you taste the ocean, whether you taste it on an Indian shore or on the Chinese shore, it makes no difference; it always tastes the same, the same salty taste. So is truth: it has the same taste, the same flavor, the same fragrance. Maybe in expressing it there is a possibility of a few differences of language, but that does not matter much. Sometimes even those differences are not there.
Dionysius is a Christian, and one of the real Christians. It seems Friedrich Nietzsche was not aware of Dionysius and his Mystica; otherwise he would not have said that the first and the last Christian died on the cross two thousand years ago. In fact, there have been a few more christs in the tradition of Christ. Dionysius is one of the most beautiful of them all. Then there is Meister Eckehart, St. Francis, Jacob Boehme and a few more – not many of course, because Christianity became such an organized religion that it became impossible for mystics to exist, or even if they existed they went underground. They had to; there was no other way.
It is just like today in Russia you cannot be a mystic without hiding yourself. Because to be a mystic in Russia means you are insane, you have to be hospitalized, you have to be given insulin shocks or electric shocks.
It is fortunate that Buddha, Lao Tzu, Jesus, Mahavira were not born in today’s Soviet Russia. Jesus would not have been crucified in Soviet Russia, that is true, but he would have gone through far more sophisticated tortures. Crucifixion is a very primitive phenomenon, and not so dangerous either; it kills you, that’s all. Electric shocks will not kill you, but they will destroy all your splendor, all your glory, all your intelligence. They will force you to vegetate. Your life will become as lifeless as possible. You will continue to exist but it will be a mere existence, mere survival. Your dignity will be gone.
Jesus died a dignified man. He died with tremendous joy, he died fulfilled. But if he is born in Russia today he will have to die a very undignified death, or if he lives he will have to live a very undignified life.