Questions from “Oggi” magazine, Italy
Why are you going to Italy?
I do not believe in nations. The whole of humanity is one. I am going to Italy because Italy is there.
What do you know about Italy and the Italian people?
I know everything about the Italian people. My first Western sannyasins were Italians; they introduced me to the West.
I have thousands of sannyasins in Italy. They have a special quality to them; they are the most lively people on the earth, most earthly, most loving, most nonserious. To me, seriousness is sickness, and nonseriousness is a religious quality.
I don’t know anything about Italy because I have never been there. But to know the people is to know their land, is to know the earth where they have been born, is to know the trees, is to know the rivers and the mountains – because they carry the taste of their atmosphere with them. Italy must be a very living, very alive, very young, youthful country.
One thing I know was that in the past Italy had one of the biggest empires in the world – the Roman empire. The Romans were the only people on the whole earth who were pagans – and I love pagans.
A pagan is a person who does not believe in hocus-pocus gods, in heaven or hell, who does not bother about what is going to happen after death, who lives here and now, squeezing the juice of every moment to its fullest.
The pagan knows how to live.
And one who knows how to live automatically knows how to die. His life is beautiful, his death is beautiful.
But a calamity happened…
The Roman emperor ordered the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The order was executed by his viceroy in Judea, Pontius Pilate. He was not interested at all in crucifying Jesus Christ, but the Jews were demanding it, and it had become such a big problem that he was not ready to lose the empire to save a single man. But he was not aware about the dialectics of existence, the dialectics of history. He crucified Jesus, not knowing that his own country would become the citadel of Christianity.