There has been great social freedom in the West, but there has been no intellectual freedom the way it has existed in the East. Buddha condemned Mahavira’s stand-point vehemently. Buddha was criticized by Shankaracharya with no compassion. Shankaracharya was condemned and criticized by Ramanuja in the same way as Shankara had criticized Buddha. And there has been no problem. These people were listened to respectfully, with great honor, because they were bringing more spiritual insights, different aspects of reality. Nobody ever thought that they were destroying religion – they were enriching it.
But today that has disappeared. Social freedom has not appeared in the East as it should appear, but intellectual freedom has disappeared. Now in the East to be a master is as dangerous as it was in the West.
Hence I can understand Dionysius – I am in the same situation – but I would not like to speak…It will look a little ridiculous, but I can speak very easily the way Hindus would like it or the Jainas would like it or the Buddhists would like it. It is only a game with words, but I don’t want to speak that way.
Dionysius must have been absolutely convinced that if he spoke the truth clearly and was caught, then his fate was going to be the same as Socrates’ or Jesus’, and that was not going to serve truth at all. That was his personal decision.
In fact, I don’t agree. I would have like him to die like a Jesus, like a Socrates. But nobody can say for another how he should behave; everybody has to decide according to his situation. He decided to speak the language of theology, Christian theology.
A man walking across a bridge late one night noticed another on the parapet about to throw himself over. He rushed forward and shouted, “Don’t jump! Come, have a drink and talk things over.” It so happened that the would-be suicide was a great theologian.
They went to the nearest pub and spent the next hour discussing the oneness of God and the threeness of God, the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, how many angels can dance on a pin-point, what the Holy Ghost is and things like that. Drinks finished, they went back to the bridge – and both jumped.
It was one of those universities in the West where attendance was not compulsory. One student of theology attended just one lecture and obtained ninety-six percent.
“Surely you could have got the four percent also,” his professor of theology suggested.
“Sure I could,” the student replied, “but I attended one of your classes and got confused.”
A woman graduate on a return visit to her Alma Mater ran into a professor of theology. “Don’t you remember me?” she asked. “You once asked me to marry you!”
“Ah yes!” nodded the professor. “And did you?”