If there were priests in the world of birds, no bird would ever fly; they would all remain imprisoned in their nests. No bird would ever gather the courage, except a few crazy birds – a Buddha, a Jesus, a Zarathustra, a Lao Tzu. But they would not be the rule; they would only be the exceptions. And the priest will always be against them, remember.
The priest was against Jesus, the priest was against the Buddha, the priest was against Zarathustra, the priest was against Lao Tzu. What was their fault? Why was the priest against them? The priest was against them because they were cutting the very roots of his profession. They were telling people to be free of fear, they were helping people to be free of fear. They were telling people to live dangerously, to live like rebels, to die to the past and to live in the present.
Buddha says, “Be a light unto yourself.” Now he leaves no place for the priest. The priest says, “I am the light; you need not have any other light. I represent the whole sacred tradition – I have carried the flame down the centuries. This is enough. You don’t need a private light of your own.”
But the last words of Buddha were, the last words that he uttered on earth: “Be a light unto yourself.” He said it to Ananda, one of his most beloved disciples, because the moment Buddha said to his disciples, “Now the last day has come and I have to leave today. My ship has arrived.
Do you have any questions to ask me?” there was a great silence. They were shocked. Ananda started crying. He was just sitting by his side.
Buddha said, “Ananda, that does not befit you. Why should you cry?”
He said, “I could not become enlightened while you were alive. Now what hope is there for me when you are gone? I will have to live in darkness forever and forever! And I don’t think that I will be so fortunate as to meet another Buddha again, because you will dissolve into the universe and I cannot imagine meeting another Buddha in some other life. And even if I meet one I may repeat the same mistake because I will have completely forgotten all about you and what happened, what transpired between me and you.
“Forty-two years I have been with you and I have wasted the whole opportunity; hence I am crying. I am ashamed. I am crying for myself, I am feeling pity for myself that I have been a fool.”
Buddha laughed and said, “Ananda, you need not depend on me. You can become enlightened without me. And, in fact, it may be that it was because of me and my presence that you could not become enlightened, because you were dependent, you were always thinking I would do something for you, although I was continuously telling you ‘Be independent.’”
But nobody wants to be independent for the simple reason that independence brings fear, responsibility. Everybody seeks some kind of dependence so that one can throw all the responsibility onto the shoulders of the other.
Buddha said, “Maybe my death will help – there will be nobody to depend upon. And one thing is certain: after being with me for forty-two years, now you cannot depend on anybody else. You will not find another Buddha, that is certain.”