The first question:
Did Jesus really call back Lazarus from death?
The function of the master is precisely that: to call the disciples to the real life – ordinarily they are dead. Ordinarily you only appear to be alive; don’t be deceived by the appearance. You function like a robot, efficiently, but it is not life. You have not tasted life yet. Life has the taste of eternity, not of time. Time is death.
In Sanskrit we have one word for both, for time and death – kal. It is very significant. It must have been because of the mystics’ experience – time is death. To live in time is not to live at all; to go beyond time is the beginning of life.
That is the meaning of the parable; it is a metaphor. Lazarus represents all the disciples, Jesus represents all the masters, and what transpired between Jesus and Lazarus transpires again and again between every master and every disciple. The disciple lives in his grave; the master calls him forth, wakes him up.
But the Christians have tried to prove the parable to be something historical; that’s where they are wrong. One should not stretch metaphors too far, otherwise they lose all meaning. Not only that they lose meaning, they lose beauty, poetry. They become ugly, they become nonsense, they become silly. And then people start laughing at them, and only the very gullible people, very stupid people can believe in them.
Never take metaphors as factual. They have nothing to do with history, but they have something to do with the inner world of man. The problem with the inner world is: it cannot be expressed without using metaphors. The poetry has to be used to express it; even then it is only expressed partially, it is never expressed totally. One needs a very sympathetic ear and a very sympathetic heart to understand these beautiful parables. You need not be a believer.
Believers create trouble: they stretch the metaphor too far and then they themselves give reasons for the non-believers to criticize. They themselves become the victims and then they cannot defend themselves rationally. If this is understood, then there is no problem at all; if this is not understood, then either you believe and you are stupid or you disbelieve, then too you are stupid. In both the ways you miss the significance, you miss the finger pointing to the moon. You start arguing about the finger, as if the finger is the moon. Few people start trying to prove this is the moon, and naturally they provoke antagonism; and there are people who start proving this is not the moon. And remember, the people who try this is not the moon are bound to be more rational, more appealing to the mind.