In my town there was only one church. There were very few Christians, perhaps four or five families, and I was the only non-Christian who used to visit the church. But that was not special; I used to visit the mosques, the gurudwara, Hindu temples, Jaina temples. I always had the idea that everything belongs to me. I don’t belong to any church, I don’t belong to any temple, but any temple and any church that exists on the earth belongs to me.
Seeing a non-Christian boy coming continually every Sunday, the priest became interested in me. He said to me, “You seem to be very interested. In fact, in my whole congregation – it is such a small congregation – you seem to be the most interested. Others are sleeping, snoring, but you are so alert and listening and watching everything. Would you like to become like Jesus Christ?” and he showed me Jesus Christ’s picture, of course of him hanging on the cross.
I said, “No, absolutely no. I have no desire to be crucified. And a man who is crucified must have something wrong with him; otherwise who cares to crucify anybody? If his whole country, his people, decided to crucify him, then that man must be carrying something wrong with him. He may be a nice man, he may be a good man, but something must have led him to crucifixion. Perhaps he had a suicidal instinct.
“The people who have suicidal instincts are not generally so courageous as to commit suicide, but they can manage to get others to murder them. And then you will never find that they had a suicidal instinct, that they prompted you to kill them so that the responsibility falls on you.”
I said, “I don’t have any suicidal instinct in me. Perhaps he was not a suicidal man but certainly he was some kind of masochist. Just looking at his face – and I have seen many of his pictures – I see him looking so miserable, so deadly miserable, that I have tried standing before a mirror and looking as miserable as he looks, but I have failed. I have tried hard, but I cannot even make his face; how can I become Jesus Christ? That seems to be impossible. And why should I become Jesus Christ?”
He was shocked. He said, “I thought you were interested in Jesus.”
I said, “I am certainly interested, more interested than you are, because you are a mere preacher, salaried. If you don’t get a salary for three months you will be gone, and all your teaching will disappear.” And that’s what finally happened, because those Christian families were not permanent residents of the town – they were all railway employees, so sooner or later they got transferred. He was left alone with a small church that they had made. Now there was nobody to give money, to support him, nobody to listen to him except me.
On Sundays he used to say, “Dear friends – “
I would say, “Wait! Don’t use the plural. There are no friends, just ‘dear friend’ will do. It is almost like two lovers talking; it is not a congregation. You can sit down – nobody is there. We can have a good chitchat. Why unnecessarily go on standing for one hour, and shout and…?”