Buddha said to people, “When you come to your innermost point you will disappear, anatta – no self, no being, no soul. You will be just a zero, and the zero will be melting into the universal zero.” Very close to the ultimate truth, but told in a very crude way.
Now, who wants to become a zero? People have come to find eternal bliss. They are already tired, miserable, in deep anguish, suffering all kinds of insanity, and they have come to the master and the master says, “The only medicine is that you become a zero” – in other words: the disease can be cured only if the patient is killed. Translated exactly, that is what it means. Naturally the disease will disappear when the patient is killed, but you had come to be cured, not to be killed.
The religion disappeared within five centuries. It has intrinsic reasons, and the basic reason is that people did not find it tasteful, alluring, attractive. It was naked and true, but who wants naked truth?
I have to talk about bliss, about benediction, about thousands of lotuses blossoming in you. Then you think that it is worth it. Just sitting silently for one hour every day, if thousands of lotuses open inside, thousands of suns rise, then it is worth it to find one hour in twenty-four hours.
But the truth is: no lotuses, no suns – just pure nothingness. That’s what Gautam Buddha was telling people.
Because of his influence people followed him, but when he died… He had left great disciples; somehow the stream continued, but it became smaller and smaller. And within five hundred years it disappeared completely because nobody new was even interested in it. Nobody wanted to become just a zero and disappear; then it is better to be miserable, but at least you are, and you have some hope that some day you may get out of your misery. You are poor, but some day you may be rich. Today it is not good, but tomorrow is there. Don’t lose heart; tomorrow may bring good news to you. But this man is saying, “Renounce the world, renounce all pleasures of the world” – for what? To become a zero!
The people who had followed Buddha had not followed because of what he was saying, but because of what he was. When he disappeared only his sayings remained, and nobody was ready even to hear about it.
If you put zero on one side and hell on another side, people would rather go to hell – at least there they can find some restaurant, some disco. Something is bound to be there, because all the nice people have been going to hell. Only dry bones, so-called saints with no juice at all are going into heaven. All juicy people – poets, painters, sculptors, dancers, actors, musicians – they are all going to hell.
So if you have a choice between zero and hell, anybody who has any intelligence will choose hell willingly. But zero? From hell there is a possibility to get out one day, even to reach to heaven. But from zero, nothing is left, not even a xerox copy – gone, gone, gone forever.