you are the eternal, awesome silence and grandeur of the Himalayas. And yet you live in a fragile, human body, which is such a joy for us to be together with. In connection with you, and even more in relation to close friends, the question arises: can the playfulness of human love be bridged with reverence for the divine?
The distinction is very old, but absolutely meaningless – the distinction between playfulness and reverence.
They are not two separate things.
If playfulness goes to its deepest core, there is a reverence arising out of it spontaneously. It is not a contradiction to it. But because all the traditions in the past have made them contradictory, the human mind has become accustomed to thinking in terms of them being two different things, with a gap which is almost unbridgeable.
Playfulness is condemned by the past heritage of man, and respect for the divine is praised. It is the same problem in different words which I have synthesized in Zorba the Buddha.
Zorba is playfulness.
Buddha is reverence.
They have been kept separate for centuries, and that has harmed both. All that is divine became too serious. It lost the human touch. It became stone dead. It is not a coincidence that all the gods finally turned into stone statues. Respect cannot allow them to be alive, give them the guts to be alive – you may find difficulties in respecting the divine.
To be alive means to have a sense of humor, to have a deep loving quality, to have playfulness.
We have made respect so contrary to life that the people we respect, we almost kill. We don’t allow them to be human – if they are human they lose their respectability. So our saints are almost dead; only then can we give them respect, which we think is divine. But it is not respect for the divine, it is respect for the dead.
I am absolutely against all life-negative attitudes – and respect for the divine has been life-negative. To make it life-affirmative, playfulness, a sense of humor, love, and respect have all to be joined together.
This is the great alchemy I am working at, which will produce Zorba the Buddha.
It is almost inconceivable in terms of the past.
The ambassador of Ceylon to America wrote a letter to me, saying that we should not call our discos “Zorba the Buddha,” because “it is insulting to Buddha.”
I replied to him, “It is not insulting, it is bringing life back to the Buddha. You have made him a stone statue – we want him to be back in a human form, and Zorba is the most beautiful human form. And we don’t see that being alive like Zorba – playful, joyous about the small things of life – is against Buddha.” It is really the foundation of an authentic buddha.