I would not have said that. That’s where I differ from every master in the world. I would have said to Ananda, “All those questions were your questions. Those people were courageous enough to ask. And you are a coward; you have found a beautiful excuse. So without exposing your ignorance, you want me to answer your questions. You will have to ask.”
And it is not that the atheist is totally atheist – mind is never total in anything. The atheist carries the theist in him, the theist carries the atheist in him, and both are just believers. Neither of them knows exactly what is the truth.
In fact, as I see it, there is not a single question which can be asked which is not yours too. Any question asked by any human being is going to be a question of all human beings, whether you are aware of it or not. You may be unconscious of it; perhaps it is not the right time for you, perhaps you may ask a year later. Perhaps you have repressed the question so deeply that you have become completely oblivious to whether it exists in you or not.
But let me repeat: There is not a single question which is not yours too.
All human beings are part of a continent, nobody is an island. Maybe somebody has become conscious of a certain problem due to certain circumstances.
Gautam Buddha himself was not aware of life’s basic questions up to the age of twenty-nine. When he was born, the astrologer said to the old king, Shuddhodana – Buddha was born in the king’s old age – “You have a rare son. Either he will become a chakravartin emperor” – a chakravartin is one who rules over the whole world – “or he will become a sannyasin. There are only two possibilities.” All the astrologers were agreed on the point, and the king was very much worried.
The king said, “Then suggest to me how I can prevent him from becoming a sannyasin.” Each father has the same problem, each husband has the same problem, each wife has the same problem.
Those astrologers said, “If you want him not to become a sannyasin, then make arrangements…luxurious, comfortable, so that he never becomes aware that there is pain, there is anxiety. Fulfill all his desires so that he never comes across a desire which remains unfulfilled and creates frustration. Don’t let him taste despair. Bring all the beautiful girls of the kingdom, let him be surrounded by beautiful women so he is continually indulging in beauty, in luxury. Make beautiful palaces for him, different palaces for different seasons so he never comes to know that there is summer, that there are rains, that there is cold winter.
“Never allow him to see any old man, any dead body. Even in his gardens the dead leaves, dying flowers, should be removed in the night so when he comes for a walk in the morning he never sees anything dying or dead, because once he becomes aware of death then the question can arise in his mind, that ‘If things die, one day I will have to die.’”
The king said, “Everything will be done. I have the facilities, don’t be worried.”