The first question:
What is the difference between a religion and a cult? – because the Christians go on calling us a cult. It seems difficult for them to accept us as a religion. What could be the reason behind it?
It is a complex question. You will have to understand many things before the question can be answered.
Religion is an individual experience. Only an individual can be religious.
The cult is an establishment, it is an organization, it has nothing to do with religion at all. It exploits in the name of religion. It pretends to be religious and lives on the past.
For example: Christians will say that they have a two thousand year history. But the past is dead, it is a corpse. This is a very strange world in which we live. When Jesus was there, Jews could not accept him as religious: he and his followers were a “cult.”
Jesus is a religious man so there was the fragrance of religion around him, and those who were sensitive, available, receptive, came close to Jesus. This coming to Jesus was not a question of any intellectual conviction; it was more like a love affair. They simply fell in love with the man.
The religious man never converts anybody, but his presence inspires many people to be with him. A religious person has no followers, only fellow travelers – it is impossible for a religious person to insult somebody by calling him a follower.
When Jesus was crucified, a strange thing happened, something that has happened to almost all the religions. The same type of people who had crucified Jesus – the rabbis, the priesthood – the same type of people gathered around the dead religious phenomenon, which had gone, which was not there anymore.
It is just like the fragrance of a flower. The flower is gone, the fragrance lingers on a little – and then it is lost. Religion cannot have a continuity.
It will always be individual, here and there.
One individual becomes enlightened and suddenly people start becoming attracted towards him as if by a magnetic force.
Jesus is not an intellectual; he is not even educated. He is not a theologian; he cannot argue for God or for religion. In all his teachings there is no argument, they are statements. A philosopher argues, a religious person states.
The philosopher argues because he does not know; it is through argument that he wants to come to a conclusion. But the religious person knows it. He states it, it is a declaration – and he also knows that there is no way to prove it. No argument is going to be supportive of it.