There is a great Christian classic, Imitation of Christ, which is respected by the Christians almost next to the Bible. But it is an ugly book. The very title of the book shows what it is: Imitation of Christ. You may imitate Christ for millions of lives; still you will not be a Christ, you will be only an imitation. And the imitation is not your original face.
The more you succeed in imitating, the more you are failing as far as your being is concerned. The deeper you go into imitation, the farther away you are going from yourself; and the return journey is not going to be easy.
It is going to be immensely difficult, because when you were continuously imitating a certain pattern, you were becoming identified with it. The return journey means you will have to start killing all that identification. It will look like committing suicide, as if you are cutting off your own limbs. It is not going to be just like dropping your clothes, not that easy. It is going to be like peeling your skin.
It is so difficult that even a very intelligent man like Bertrand Russell confessed, “My reason says that Gautam Buddha is certainly the greatest figure in the whole of human history, but although I am not part of any Christian congregation, although I have completely disassociated myself from Christian mythology, religion, theology, somewhere I cannot put Buddha above Christ. With my reason I understand, but as far as my feelings are concerned Jesus remains higher – and I know he is not.”
Now, a man like Bertrand Russell cannot get rid of a certain conditioning. He has been told from his very childhood that there has never been anybody like Jesus. Although he has renounced Christianity consciously, publicly… He wrote a very famous book, Why I Am Not A Christian, and gave all his reasons, very valid reasons. Anybody who has a little bit of intelligence can understand that if what Bertrand Russell is saying is the case, then you cannot be a Christian either. And that is the case; he has exposed Christianity completely.
But even after that… And this confession was long after he had written that book. He had written the book some twenty years before, and this confession came when he was nearabout eighty-five, absolutely mature. He remained intelligent to the very last moment of his life. He lived almost a century; he never became senile. Even at the last moment of his life he was as intelligent and alive as ever.
He confessed: “As far as my feelings and emotions are concerned, Jesus somehow hangs above everybody else. And I know perfectly well there is no comparison of Gautam Buddha with Jesus; Gautam Buddha is far superior. But that is only intellectual; emotionally Christ still has the grip.” Although he has said that he is not a Christian, he is still a Christian.
That’s why I say it is very difficult to come back. Going is difficult, but coming back is far more difficult. Imitation is going to be a difficult thing: you are trying to be something which you are not meant to be, which is not your destiny. You are going against the very nature of your being, you are trying to swim against the current. Yes, it is difficult to imitate – but not so difficult as when you start coming back to your natural self.