Hope is your opium. It keeps you going. It is just there, you have to stretch your hand a little bit more. It is hanging just before you: a little effort and it will be yours. It is not going to be so; it will always go on hanging just there. It will not be too far because that may create the idea, “Perhaps I cannot manage to go that far. I don’t have the strength. The journey is very long.” So your hope is not very far away, just close enough so that it would be foolish not to get it. By the time you get it, it is still there in some different form.
That’s why religions in the East – particularly in India – have a flavor that religions which are not born there don’t have. In India, three religions have existed for thousands of years: Jainism is the oldest, then Hinduism, then Buddhism. Jainas have twenty-four tirthankaras, the great masters. But strangely enough, all twenty-four came from royal families. Either they were already kings or they were going to be kings sooner or later. And they escaped – they had everything, just at their fingertips they had the whole world. That was the problem; they had to escape.
In Buddhism there is a strange story – but worth understanding, because it is the story of each of you. When Buddha was born, the great astrologers said to the king, “We are afraid, but you have to be made aware of it: this newborn baby is either going to become a chakravartin” – a chakravartin means one who rules over the whole world – “or he is going to become a beggar who owns nothing.”…two extremes.
The king was old and this was his only son, born in his old age. He asked the astrologers how to prevent him from becoming a beggar and renouncing the world. Those astrologers had no idea of mind and psychology. Astrologers may have ideas about faraway stars, whose light takes millions of light years to reach the earth…. And what a foolishness, that man thinks his fate, his destiny, is determined by all these millions of stars so far away!
There is a reason why astrology has remained significant: it gives you great satisfaction that the whole universe is interested in you. Even the faraway stars are trying their best to do something to you; you are not an ordinary person, you are not nothing. Those faraway stars are not even aware of you, cannot be, but your ego feels tremendous satisfaction.
Astrologers have been exploiting this since the very beginning of man. Of course, they exploit you, you have to pay for it, but it seems worth paying them; they are giving you a big ego. You are bigger, far more important, than the biggest star in the sky. They are all just revolving around you!
But those poor astrologers were not even as intelligent as Sigmund Freud. They told the king, “If you want him not to renounce the world, then a few arrangements have to be made.”
In India there are three clear-cut seasons in the year. Since the atomic explosions around the world, that has changed; otherwise, every year on the same day the rains will begin, and on the same day they will stop. On the same day the winter comes, and after four months on the same day it stops. For centuries it has been absolutely certain. Now it is not so, but in Buddha’s time it was certain.