A Zen master will not say that “You shall be the first.” That is because Jesus was talking to people who were not at all acquainted with Zen. Jesus had known what Zen is. He has been to India, to Ladakh, to Tibet, and there are stories that he had even been to Japan. There is a place in Japan where people think he came and visited. It is possible, because for eighteen years he was traveling, moving from one mystery school to another mystery school. But he had to speak in a Jewish way.
The Jews are very goal-oriented people, always trying to reach somewhere. Even Hindus are very goal-oriented people; that’s why they could not understand Gautam the Buddha, they misunderstood him. Buddha was better understood by the Chinese, and even far more better by the Japanese, for the simple reason that the Chinese are not so spiritualistic – because whenever somebody is spiritualistic he has a goal, the other-worldly goal. He wants to be special somewhere, if not in this life then in the next, if not here then after death if not on the earth then in paradise.
The paradise is just the imagination of the people who live a goal-oriented life. They cannot be religious unless there is a goal beyond death. Once there is a goal they are ready to sacrifice everything for it. They cannot be simply religious – religion is not their understanding, religion is not their joy, religion is not their way of being; it is their desire, it is again deep down an ego trip. It is the ego that creates the paradise.
Chinese have never been spiritualists in the sense Indians have been spiritualists. They have never been very goal-oriented in the sense Jews have always been goal-oriented, always searching for the promised land. The promised land is herenow, and for three thousand years they have been searching and searching. The search started with Moses and it still continues, and it is going to continue. They are always waiting for the Messiah to come. It is because of their waiting and searching that they could not accept Jesus as the Messiah, because if he is the Messiah then what will happen to their waiting and searching? If he is the promised Messiah, then what? Then what they will do? Their whole life pattern is rooted in the search of a promised land, in the search for a savior. If he is the savior then their whole joy disappears. They cannot accept for the simple reason that they want to continue their desiring and their dreaming and their becoming.
Chinese, in a way, had been very different people. Buddha appealed to them immediately; he became immediate success in the Chinese consciousness. And in Japan even he penetrated deeper because the Japanese have been always very earthly; they live here and now.