The pope and his bishops – are they really fully aware of how they are cheating their people? I can’t imagine that they are just a big heap of criminals, without any respect for truth.
The religious leaders are as asleep as the people they are leading. The only difference between the leaders and the led is theoretical. The leaders have a great store of theological knowledge, all borrowed. Nothing in it is of their own experience, but it gives them great authority over the people who don’t have even borrowed knowledge. And these leaders are consistently emphasizing the fact: “You are sinners, you are ignorant. We are the saints, we are the knowers.”
The poor masses cannot make a distinction between authentic knowing and borrowed knowledge. Even these leaders – popes, bishops, shankaracharyas, ayatollahs – even they are not alert of the distinction. They know only one kind of knowledge, and that is borrowed knowledge. They have no awareness of a different dimension of knowing, so whatever they are doing is done in deep sleep. They are not cheating people consciously.
You cannot cheat anybody consciously. Consciousness will prevent you from doing anything as ugly as cheating, deceiving, pretending, being a hypocrite, condemning people as sinners and fulfilling your own egos as great saints. No, it is not done consciously.
I never suspect for a single moment their good intentions. Whatever these people are doing, they are doing with good intentions; but the questions is not of good intentions, the question is: What is the result?
You may murder me with good intentions, but your good intentions cannot justify my murder.
I have come in contact with almost all kinds of religious scholars, and on one point they are the same, whether Hindu, Mohammedan, Christian, Jew. That point is that they are perfectly at ease, feeling very good in whatever they are doing – they are doing “God’s work,” and they are spreading “wisdom.” They don’t even know the meaning of wisdom. They have never tasted anything like that; they have heard about it, they have read about it, they have crammed hundreds of scriptures.
I am reminded of a historical event:
When Alexander the Great invaded India, his master was no one other than Aristotle, the father of logic in the western hemisphere. He had asked him, “When you come back, bring the four Vedas of the Hindus. The rumors have been, for hundreds of years, that those four books contain all the knowledge that is in the world; if you know those four Vedas, you know all. So bring those four Vedas for me.”