Jesus says: First seek ye the kingdom of God, then all else shall be added unto you. Buddha will not say that. He will say: First seek ye total and absolute freedom, and then all else shall be added unto you. If you seek God you are again seeking a new prison, maybe better than the old, maybe made of gold, very precious – but a prison is a prison all the same. Whether your chains are made of iron or gold, it makes no difference at all. In fact, if the chains are made of gold it will be more difficult to come out of them because you will become attached. You will think those chains are not chains but ornaments. You will protect them, you will guard them – somebody may steal them away from you!
Freedom is the fragrance of Buddha’s whole message. No other enlightened person has emphasized freedom so much. Why did Buddha emphasize freedom so much? – for the simple reason that he had seen all other ideals being changed into imprisonments. He had seen all beautiful philosophies poisoned by the priests. Beware of the priests!
Buddha is not a priest, neither is Jesus, nor is Mahavira. No enlightened person is a priest. The priest lives on the words of the enlightened people and goes on exploiting the unenlightened. He certainly is clever but not wise, knowledgeable but not enlightened. He succeeds in manipulating you because you are unconscious.
Hence, the second thing Buddha emphasizes is meditation, awareness. Freedom can come only through being more and more aware. By freedom he does not mean any social phenomenon or any political change. There are people…. I have come across books written by communists, Marxists, socialists, who try to prove that Buddha’s freedom means communism, socialism, that his freedom means a social revolution, a political revolution. That is utter nonsense! Buddha has nothing to do with the outside world; his concern is your interiority. He wants to change your unconsciousness into consciousness, he wants to change your darkness into light, he wants to change your death into deathlessness.
He is really doing the work of the seers of the Upanishads who have been praying to God, “asato ma sadgamay. O God, O Lord, take us away from the false, from the untrue, to the truth. Tamaso ma jyotirgamay. O God, O Lord, take us away from darkness into light. Mrityor ma amritamgamay. O God, O Lord, take us away from death to eternal life.” But they were praying to God.
Buddha says: No prayer is going to help. Unless you do something, your prayer is impotent. There is no need to pray, but there is great need to meditate. His religion is not a religion of prayer. His religion is very scientific in the sense that he does not presuppose any belief. You need not believe in God, you need not believe in afterlife. He says when you can experience, then why believe? All beliefs ultimately reduce you to slaves.
Buddha is against all kinds of beliefs and disbeliefs. He is an agnostic. He says remain open; if you believe you become closed. The Hindu is closed, the Mohammedan is closed, the Christian is closed: they have already concluded. They have already accepted a certain belief as true without experiencing it. This is dishonesty! And these people are thought to be religious people. They are not even authentic, they are not even honest – what to say about their religiousness? From the very beginning they are dishonest; belief makes you dishonest.