And because everybody is miserable, any new child, a newcomer into the world, thinks such is life, accepts it. Everybody is miserable, everybody is in turmoil, everybody is in anxiety, so perhaps this is the way life is – unless you come across a buddha, and that has become more and more rare, more and more difficult.
When you see a buddha, the first unconscious reaction is to reject him because he offends you. His very presence is a challenge – “Why is he so happy and peaceful, and why am I in such an anguish? He should live according to everybody else, according to the crowd. Why is he living as an individual in his own right? He should be a sheep, he should not be a shepherd.” They cannot tolerate it. Their own best and the highest peaks of consciousness which can make them aware of their potentialities, they destroy.
Yes, they can worship… Before dying, Buddha said to his disciples, “Don’t make my statues. If you want to remember me by something, just remember me by this tree. Plant this tree, this bodhi tree, wherever you want a memorial for me.”
For three hundred years, rather than planting trees – this is the unconsciousness of man – people made temples, and made marble trees inside the temple. And finally after five hundred years, they thought, “What is the meaning of a marble tree? Why not make a Buddha?”
And at that time there was neither a photograph nor a painting of Gautam Buddha. Just by chance, Alexander the Great had come to India, and he had a beautiful Greek face. What you see as Buddha’s face is really the face of Alexander the Great. Buddha is modeled on him. And it is a well-known fact – because there was nothing else to do, a beautiful face… Buddha died at the age of eighty-four; Alexander the Great was only thirty years of age. That’s why all the statues of Buddha look like a thirty-year-old man, they don’t show an old man of eighty-four years old, tired.
Now there are more statues of Gautam Buddha than anybody else. In Arabic, even the word buddha has become synonymous with statue. It has taken a little different form; the statue is called the budt. But it is really the name of Buddha, because only his statues were all around the world. They have been discovered far away in Mongolia, in China, in the Caucasus, in Afghanistan. In fact, his statue became one of the most loved objects for any great sculptor. If you could make a great statue of Buddha, that showed that you were really a creative artist.
Miles of caves have been carved, turned into statues of Buddha. And the same man, while alive, we tried to kill many times. It was just an accident that we did not succeed – just as America has failed in killing me.
Two days ago a sannyasin informed me that a man has been jailed in America for one and a half years. And the charge was that he had advertised in 1984, while I was there, that he was willing to kill anybody if half a million dollars were made available to him. From this advertisement he was caught. And the sannyasin went to the jail to ask the man, “Did you receive any answer to your advertisement?”