This would not have happened in India where there is a long tradition of parables, a long tradition of symbols. In India, the reverse misunderstanding is possible because the tradition has been going on for so long that someone speaking of this earth may be understood to be speaking of the other world. There are poets in India who talk about romance, love, and sex – of this world, totally of this world – but their followers interpret these as symbolic of the other world. Even if you talk about wine and women, they think that the wine means ecstasy and the women are devas. It happens!
Jews are literal, very literal. And incredibly, they have remained the same. They are a strange race, with a different outlook from the rest of the world. That is why they have never been at home anywhere. They cannot be, because they have a different type of mind. To penetrate a Jew is always difficult. He has a certain closedness, a certain defensiveness. And the longer Jews have been homeless, the more defensive they have become.
The basic thing about Jews is that they think in terms of matter – even God seems to be part of the material world. That is why it was impossible for them to understand Jesus. For example, Jews say that when someone does something wrong to you, you should do something wrong back to him – and with double the force. This is how matter behaves. React! If someone puts out one of your eyes, then put out both of his eyes.
Jesus began to say an absolutely contradictory thing: if someone slaps you on one side of the face then give him the other side also. This was absolutely Buddhist. One cannot really conceive of how a Jew could suddenly begin to talk like this. There was no tradition for it, no link with the past.
Nothing happens unless there is a cause. So Jesus is inconceivable as a Jew. He suddenly happens, but he has no roots in the past of Jewish history. He cannot be connected with it because he has nothing in common with it. As far as the Jewish god is concerned, Jesus’ love, his compassion, is just nonsense.
You cannot conceive of a more jealous god, a more violent and angry god than the Jewish god. He could destroy a whole city in a single moment if someone disobeyed him. Then Jesus suddenly emerges and says, “God is love.” It is inconceivable unless something else had penetrated the tradition.
When Buddha talks about compassion it is not inconceivable. The whole of India has been talking about it for centuries, and Buddha is part of the tradition. But Jesus is not part of the Jewish tradition. That is why he was killed, crucified.
No buddha has ever been killed in India because, however rebellious, he still belongs to the tradition; however rebellious, he conforms to the deeper ideals. One even begins to think that he is more Indian than Indian society in general because he conforms more to the basic ideals of the country.
But Jesus was a total outsider in Jerusalem, using words and symbols, a language, totally unknown to the Jews. He was bound to be crucified; it was natural. I see Jesus as living deep in meditation, deep in enlightenment, but involved with a race that was political – not religious, not philosophical.