Religion has to be as new as life itself. Religion has to be new every day, each moment. And that’s how the religious person lives: he goes on dying to the past every moment, he is born anew every moment. He moves with life. He has no clinging to the Vedas and no clinging to the Bible and no clinging to the Koran. He can read them as beautiful literature, but he does not cling to them. Those who cling to them are being stupid because something may have been relevant two thousand years ago, but it has no meaning anymore. And you know it perfectly well, but you don’t have courage enough to get out of the old fold.
All the vested interests are against you getting out of the old fold. All the vested interests want you to remain committed to the past because then you can be exploited more easily. If you are not committed to the past the priests will disappear, because they represent the past. Who will pay any attention to the pope or to the shankaracharya? They will become laughingstocks! In fact they are ridiculous, utterly ridiculous. All their ideas are so out-of-date that you go on tolerating them only because it is risky to say that they are out-of-date. It is risky because you may lose something in your business, in your investment. You may start falling apart from the society. You are afraid of being individuals, you want to remain part of the crowd.
And religion’s whole purpose is to make you individuals. Religion loses all meaning when it starts making you, forcing you, in fact, to be part of the crowd. Christian, Hindu, Mohammedan, Buddhist – these are crowds. You have not chosen to be a Christian; it is accidental that you are born a Christian or a Jew or a Hindu. How can religion be accidental? Is such an important phenomenon decided by the accident of birth? You have to be consciously alert to choose your path towards God. You have not chosen your path, you have not even chosen God. You have been forced to choose, and you have allowed all this to happen. It is a bondage! Your being a Christian is a bondage.
The people gathered around Christ were real Christians, were the only Christians, because they had chosen. They were going against the crowd, they were risking their lives, they were moving in danger. They were born as Jews. They would have been more comfortable, they would have lived more conveniently if they had not followed Jesus. Following Jesus was dangerous. It proved dangerous to Jesus himself; he was crucified. His disciples were victimized in every possible way. Those were real people, authentic people. To be a Christian now means nothing.
The people who were gathering around Gautama the Buddha were real Buddhists. They were religious people, because going against the whole crowd of the Hindus, against the whole pattern of the society and following a very rebellious man, being with him, was accepting the life of insecurity. They were genuine, authentic seekers. But the man who is born a Buddhist has not risked anything; it is just a coincidence that he is born a Buddhist.
If you had been adopted by a Mohammedan when you were a small child you would have been a Mohammedan; if you had been adopted by a Jew you would have been a Jew. And you would have never known who you were by your birth, because nobody is born as a Christian or a Buddhist or a Hindu – everybody is born free. God gives you freedom to choose.