The archbishop is the representative of one of the most significant human beings, Jesus Christ. And the Greek Orthodox Church is one of the oldest churches – older than the Vatican. Jesus was first translated in Greece; hence, his name has changed – his name was Joshua, not Jesus. He never knew the word Christ or Christian. They are Greek translations of the Hebrew words messiah, the messenger.
This archbishop represents such an old tradition in the world. Every day he reads the words of Jesus, and Jesus says, “Love your enemies,” – and I am not even an enemy. If there is a friend anywhere in the world of Jesus I am, and because I am a friend I can be sincere about him. Where he is right I appreciate him. Where he is wrong I criticize him. It is out of love. I am not a follower but the man who said, “Love your enemies,” his representative in Greece is ready to burn alive a friend. Perhaps as these people go on reading, it becomes a mechanical habit.
In the university where I was a student one of the professors, a Mohammedan, was well known as a very religious and spiritual person. In that area there were very few students who ever came to his department, because it was a Hindi-speaking area and he taught in Urdu, the language of the Mohammedans, so he had almost no work. The whole day in the university, sitting in his office, he would go on reading the holy Koran. He was an old man, and once in a while he would fall asleep.
His department was just by the side of the department of philosophy where I was studying. Passing by his department, I used to look from the window to see whether the old man was asleep or reading – most of the time he was asleep.
Whenever I found that he was asleep, I would go in and turn the Koran upside down.
The first time, I had thought that when he woke up he was surely going to be very angry: “Who has done it?” But I was amazed. I was in for a great surprise – because I was watching from my department. When he woke up, he started reading again. I could not believe it! But the reality was he had read the Koran so many times his whole life that it had become a mechanical memory. It mattered not whether the Koran was there or not – he could read the Koran even if the Koran was not there.
I could not contain my curiosity. I went into his room and I said, “Your Koran is upside down, and you are still reading it.”
He cleaned his eyes, and he looked at the Koran. He said, “My God! Who has done this?”
“I think it must have been the devil. Who would disturb your religiousness? But even the devil cannot disturb it, you can read… Whatever the position of the Koran is does not matter.”