The second question:
What about food? Is it not absolutely essential to be a vegetarian for spiritual growth?
What you do is never essential, what you are is always essential. Being is essential, doing is not essential. Being is essential, having is not essential. Consciousness is essential, character is not essential – because it is not the character that creates consciousness, but consciousness that creates the character.
If you are religious, if you are spiritual, things will change around you. You may become a vegetarian, you may not. It depends – people are different. But to be a vegetarian cannot be an essential condition for being spiritual. There have been spiritual people who were vegetarians, and there have been spiritual people who were not. And it is good that life consists of variety, it is good that life consists of different kinds of people, otherwise it would be utterly boring. Just think – only Mahaviras, roaming around the earth, naked vegetarians. No Krishna, no Christ, no Buddha, no Mohammed, no Mansoor…it will be a very poor world, it will be really ugly. And remember, Mahavira is beautiful, but too many Mahaviras won’t be beautiful.
God never creates the same person again. The reason is that once is enough, once is more than enough. God is completely satisfied. He never repeats, he never duplicates. He believes only in originals, he has no carbon copies.
So I cannot say that food has any essential thing to contribute to your spirituality. But your spirituality may change your food habits. That too cannot be predicted; I keep your freedom intact. Jesus used to drink, and he is not less spiritual because of that. Patanjali will never be able to even conceive of a spiritual man drinking, but that is Patanjali’s angle of seeing things. Jesus will not be able to understand: “Why is Patanjali not drinking? If Patanjali cannot drink, then who else? If Patanjali cannot celebrate, then who else? He should be dancing, he should be singing, he should be celebrating – he has arrived.”
But celebrations are also different. Somebody may celebrate by fasting, somebody may celebrate by feasting. People are different. If you can remember this you will never become a fanatic. Otherwise the danger is always there: on the path of spiritual growth the greatest danger is that of fanaticism. All so-called religions are fanatic because they only allow that which their scripture says, and their founder says. Everything else has to be denied. That is making life very very limited. And life is unlimited, it is an infinity.