The priest is pretending to be your spiritual leader, just pretending. He knows nothing of silence, he knows nothing of reality. He is still talking like primitive people five thousand years ago to a God who does not exist. He is preaching to you from books which are complete rubbish. Just look in the Bible, anywhere – you need not try to find rubbish, it will find you.
And it is not only the Bible, the same is true about the Koran, about the Vedas. But priests are imposing the Bible, the Koran, the Vedas, on people. And on every child when he is innocent, when he is a clean slate, parents start writing Catholicism, communism, or anything they want. The priest starts programming the child. By the time he can think on his own, he has lost his thinking intelligence. The program, the conditioning has created a big wall between himself and his being. Now he will remain always outside the home, somewhere on the porch, thinking, “This is my palace.”
America is dominated too much by Christian priests, Jewish rabbis. And if a few young people escape from the rabbis and the Christian priests, then they get caught by people like Esalen, Est, Muktananda, Satchidananda. These people – Satchidananda, Muktananda, Hari Bhajan – they are in the same profession as the Christian priest. And in a way they are more dangerous, because they bring you new words, a new language, and you start thinking, perhaps you have found the way. Est and Esalen-type movements exploit the youth.
America is really in bad shape. Yes, I did say once that America can be the most religious land. I repeat it still: it can be the most religious land. But these hindrances are there, and these hindrances are powerful. Unless these hindrances are removed, America will remain spiritually poor.
You are asking me why Americans are not coming here more. There are a few other reasons too.
Americans were coming to me in India – India has a halo of spirituality. Who has ever heard of Oregon being a holy place? India is no longer spiritual – once it was, but the idea has become ingrained in people that if you want to find real spirituality, you have to go to India. Searching in India, sooner or later they ended up with me. The faraway thing seems to be appealing. Now I am here – not far away, just amidst you – the challenge of the faraway is no longer there.
And there were other things behind it. Americans were coming to me in India, remaining there for one month, two months, three months, and going back home. Their families never knew what they were doing in India. Now, it is a difficult thing to come here. Their families know that they are going to a dangerous place; perhaps they may not return. The families are worried so much, that many families have told their sannyasin sons and daughters, “If you don’t drop sannyas we will disinherit you.”
I know exactly about one of my sannyasins, one of the oldest. For fifteen years she was coming to see me in India at least two or three times every year. When she came to India, she would be in red clothes, and when she left India she would also leave those clothes behind.