It has been tremendously, terribly misunderstood by Christians. From the very beginning the message was misunderstood. People thought that the world was going to end and John the Baptist was forecasting, was predicting, the end of the world. “For the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” People thought that this world was going to end – this was the misunderstanding – so they waited. John the Baptist died, and there was no sign of the kingdom coming. This kingdom continued and that kingdom never came. Then Jesus was again saying the same thing: “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Then they waited…then he was crucified…and the kingdom never came. And Christians have been waiting for twenty centuries since then.
Now much doubt has arisen in the mind. Even the priest in the pulpit goes on repeating these words, but they are no longer meaningful. He knows himself they are not meaningful. He goes on saying, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of God is at hand,” but he knows that for twenty centuries it has not happened and the world has continued.
But this is not the meaning at all. The world is not going to end; you are going to end. When John the Baptist said, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” he never meant that this world is going to end. He simply meant that you are going to end, and before you die, make contact with the other world. Repent for all that you have done to possess this world, repent the way you have lived in this dream as if it was reality, repent for all that you have been and have been doing and thinking, because all of that is baseless.
Unless you repent, you will not be able to see that the kingdom of God is just by the corner. Your eyes will remain filled with this world; you will not be able to see the other. Before the other can be seen your eyes have to be completely cleaned of this world – the world of things, the world of matter, the world of lust, possession, the world of greed and anger, the world of jealousy, envy, the world of hatred – the world of the ego. Your eyes have to be completely cleaned, washed, before you can see the kingdom of God. In fact, the moment your eyes attain to clarity this world disappears…just as in the morning when you become awake the world of dreams disappears…another world opens its door. The kingdom of God is the reality and this world is only a projection of your mind.
John the Baptist and, later on, Christ, were saying you are going to end, but that is difficult for the mind to understand. The mind always thinks, can think and believe, that everything else is going to end, but “Not me.” The mind goes on saving itself, defending itself.
Somebody dies. You see the dead body, but it never occurs to you that you are going to die. You sympathize with the family of the dead man. You say, “Poor man. He could have lived a little longer. He was not yet old enough. His family was so dependent on him – now what will happen?”
The wife is crying and weeping, and the children are mad. What will happen? You think about the dead man, you think about the dead man’s family, you think about the future of the children – orphaned. You think of the wife – widowed. But you never think that this death is your death also. You always hide yourself, you always go on defending yourself. And deep down everybody thinks that he is not going to die. Death always happens to others.