Bankei had a great school of his own. He is still followed by thousands of people. I have met a few of Bankei’s disciples, and when I told them that I agree on the fundamentals but I don’t agree on the non-essentials, they could not believe me. They said, “If you love the master, if you have some feeling for him, then how can you disagree?”
My position is totally different. If you love a person only then do you have the right to disagree. If you don’t love a person, what right have you got to disagree? Only love gives you the freedom of agreeing or not agreeing. Without love there is no freedom. You are forced to agree as all the religions of the world are doing – forcing people in psychological ways to believe in certain things and not to believe in certain other things.
Their ways of forcing are very subtle, they are using your whole unenlightened unconscious mind. Your greed is expanded up to heaven. What is heaven or paradise except your greed multiplied by thousands? And what is hell except your fear? And what are all the priests of all the religions of the world doing? They are doing the same thing whether they are Mohammedans or Hindus or Christians or Jews. They are giving you a consolation in your misery, in your suffering; they are consoling you that it is not going to last forever – this world is miserable but beyond this world open the doors of paradise and eternal pleasure, so just have a little patience. Karl Marx was not wrong when he said that religions have functioned as the opium of the people. I am not a Marxist but this statement I cannot deny, he is absolutely right. Religions have proved to be opium.
In Indian villages where women go to work in the fields, or somewhere where a road is being made, or a bridge is being made, and the women working have small children…. One day I was just walking by the side of the river, a bridge was being built and there was a small child under a tree, so happy, so joyous, so ecstatic. I could not believe…what could be the cause of it? So I waited by the side of the tree. His mother was working on the bridge, and she came back to give some milk to the child. I said to her, “You have a really great child. I have never come across such a psychedelic child in my whole life.”
She said, “It is nothing. We poor people, what can we do? We cannot afford somebody to take care of the child, so we give the child some opium. Whether he is hungry or thirsty, whether it is hot or cold, it does not matter. In his opium, he is enjoying paradise.”
All the religions have been giving opium to their followers and hell to those who don’t follow them. But it is not the way of authentic religion to use people’s psychology – their fears, their greed, their ambitions. It is not the way of love. It is very cruel because if you use people’s greed you are not going to transform them. And you will be afraid if somebody else tries to transform them, because you cannot afford that they should drop their greed and their fear.
Very few people in the whole of history have been able to drop their fears and look directly into reality. There is no hell and there is no heaven, but there is a beautiful existence, so beautiful that your dreams cannot dream it. You have to realize it.