Buddha’s statements are far more dangerous than whatsoever Jesus has said. Jesus does not deny the existence of God; Buddha denies the existence of God, Mahavira denies the existence of God. Patanjali says that God is only an arbitrary, hypothesis: you can use it if you want, but remember it has no truth about it; it is only a means towards meditation. See the radical, revolutionary,, rebellious spirit of the statement from a man like Patanjali, who has never been surpassed as far as methodologies for the inner journey are concerned, who is the suprememost master of Yoga and meditative methods.
All over the world it is thought that meditation is a means to God; God is the end. Patanjali reverses the whole situation: he says meditation is the goal, God is only a hypothesis. If your mind is very childish and you need the support of a God to meditate, okay, you can take the support. But remember, the moment you have learned how to meditate, drop that support. It was just to help you in the beginning.
It is like small children’s books. If you look at them you will see big pictures, colored pictures, with small texts. If a child has to be helped to understand things and words and language, that’s the only way. If you want to teach him what the word mango means you have to paint a colorful, very juicy-looking mango. He is interested in the mango, he is not interested in the word mango. Children are very very pragmatic; they are not as stupid as theologians. But through the picture you can help the child to understand the word mango. Slowly slowly the picture will disappear – but it was only an arbitrary device.
Because we are all children as far as the ultimate truth is concerned, Patanjali says, there are many supports. One of those supports is the belief in God. If it helps you to surrender the ego, good; if it helps you to drop the mind, good; because the ultimate thing, the essential thing, the important thing is how to drop the ego, how to drop the mind. Any excuse will do. God is just an excuse. Once the mind is dropped God is also dropped – because God was nothing but a thought in the mind. Once the ego is dropped God is dropped, because God was nothing but a projection of the ego. The ego means “I” and God means “thou.” How can the “thou” exist without the “I”? They can either both exist together or both disappear, evaporate together. They are simultaneous phenomena.
Mahavira, Patanjali, Buddha – all the three deny any existence to God. Buddha goes a step further: he even denies the existence of the self, of the soul, because, he says, the very idea of the self or the soul is in some indirect way protecting the idea of the ego. You can call it “self,” you can call it “soul,” but you have saved the idea of the ego in some subtle way. If the ego has to be dropped, eradicated totally, then all these ideas have also to be dropped. There is no God and no soul.
Then what remains? That which remains is without “I” and “thou.” Buddha calls it the truth. It is not an experience because there is no experiencer and no one experienced. It is not knowledge because there is no knower and no known. Buddha would have been killed in the West immediately, Patanjali would have been crucified, Mahavira would have been poisoned. In the East we accepted them.