What is the difference between belief in a messiah and trust in a spiritual master?
Belief is blind. It has no rational proofs for it. It is based on your psychological need, it has no objective proof. You want to believe because without belief you feel empty, just a driftwood going nowhere. Without belief you feel empty, so utterly empty that you don’t even dare to live. Look withinward; that emptiness looks like death.
It is your psychological need that somebody should give you a hope, a belief, some kind of opium, so you can go to sleep. At least for the time being you can put aside all your fears. You have the messiah with you, the son of God – now, what fear is there? Or the messenger of God – now, what more do you need to have a meaningful life? He gives you meaning, he gives you hope, and he has authority. But these are all projected by you and exploited by him. It is a mutual phenomenon.
The messiah, the tirthankara, the avatara, the paigambara, they know your psychological need, everybody’s psychological need; they exploit it. They say, “You need not be worried. You have only to believe in me.” They make it so simple – no risk. You have nothing to do, other than believe – can’t you do even this much? And in the bargain, what are you getting? Everything that you always needed: a hope, a future, a meaningfulness. Otherwise you are bored, otherwise you start thinking: “Why go on living?”
The messiah shows you the way, shows you the goal, makes you significant, that you are not an accident, that God has something special to be fulfilled through you. He fulfills your psychological need. He does not destroy your fear, your meaninglessness, your hopelessness. He simply gives a beautiful cover; he covers your psychological vacuum.
And you fulfill his psychological need. The more you gather around him, the more followers are there, the more he is convinced that he is not insane. Otherwise the suspicion is bound to be there: “What proof have you got that you are the son of God?” It may be just your mind projection. But now he has got some proof: the believers. As they go on increasing, as the following becomes bigger and bigger, now he has solid proof: so many people, millions of people, cannot be wrong.
Do you see the vicious circle? He becomes more authoritative, more determined, more fanatic. And the more he becomes authoritative, determined, fanatic, the more people are bound to fall in the trap because they need authority. They need a father figure, somebody to lead them. On their own they don’t know where to go, what to do, what to be.