John the Baptist was real fire. His head was cut off. The queen had ordered his head to be presented to her on a plate, only then would she feel that the country would remain at ease. And that’s what was done. John the Baptist’s head was cut off, put on a beautiful golden plate and presented to the queen. This man, John the Baptist, had also become a little worried when he heard the outrageous remarks of Jesus. And I say that once in a while they need to be edited – yes, even I say so – not because they were outrageous, but because they start becoming foolish. Outrageous is okay, but foolish? No.
Just think of Jesus cursing the fig tree because he and his disciples were hungry and the tree had no fruit. It was not the season. It was not the fault of the tree, yet he became so angry that he cursed the fig tree that it would remain ugly forever.
Now, this I call foolishness. I don’t care whether it was said by Jesus or anybody else. Outrageousness is part of religiousness, but foolishness is not. Perhaps if Jesus had taught a little longer – he was only thirty-three when he was crucified – I think, being a real Jew, he would have become pacified by the time he was seventy. There would have been no need to crucify him at all. The Jews were in a hurry.
I think it was not only the Jews who were in a hurry – because Jews know better – perhaps the crucifixion of Jesus came from the Romans, who have always been childish and stupid. I don’t know of anyone like a Jesus, or a Buddha, or a Lao Tzu, who has ever happened to their race and to their history.
Only one man comes to me, he was the Emperor Aurelius. He wrote the famous book, Meditations. Of course it is not what I call meditation, but meditations. My meditation is always singular; there can be no plural to it. His meditations are really contemplations; there can be no singular to it. Marcus Aurelius is the only name I can remember in the whole Roman history worth mentioning – but that not too much. Any poor Basho could defeat Marcus Aurelius. Any Kabir could hit the emperor and bring him beyond his senses.
I don’t know whether this is permitted in your language or not, to “bring someone beyond their senses.” Bringing him to his senses is certainly permitted, but that is not my work, anybody could do that. Even a good hit could do it, a stone in the road could do it. A buddha is not needed for that, a buddha is needed to bring you beyond your senses. Basho, Kabir, or even a woman like Lalla or Rabiya could really have brought this poor emperor to that beyond.
But this is all that has come from the Romans – nothing much, but still something. One should not reject anybody totally. Just by way of courtesy I accept Marcus Aurelius, not as an enlightened one but as a good man. He could have been enlightened if, by chance, he had come across a man like Bodhidharma. Just a look from Bodhidharma into the eyes of Marcus Aurelius would have been enough. Then he would have known, for the first time, what meditation is.
He would have gone home and burned what he had written so far. Perhaps then he would have left a collection of sketches – a bird on the wing, a rose withering away, or just a cloud floating in the sky – a few sentences here and there; not saying much, but enough to provoke, enough to trigger a process in the person who comes across it. That would have been a real notebook on meditation, but not on meditations…. There is no plural possible.