This is my understanding: that the Jews of Jesus’ days were very simple people, not sophisticated. Religion was very meaningful, not just a philosophy. Their whole life was at stake, and this man was destroying it. This man was uprooting all that they had been protecting for centuries. This man was trying to create a revolution, a chaos. And they had a deep love for the tradition, for the values that which they had always cherished. They were not indifferent; they could not be indifferent. Either they had to follow Jesus or they had to kill him. There was no other alternative. India is more philosophical, too much in the head. Jews were not that much in the head.
To me, the crucifixion of Jesus simply shows one thing: that they took Jesus seriously. Buddha was never taken that seriously. We could tolerate him: “It’s okay. Let him do his thing. Nothing much is going to happen out of it. Why kill him unnecessarily? By killing him, there may be even more danger because the death will create a stir.”
If he had been in India, Jesus would have become one of the avataras – but nothing much…nothing much. We would have included him in the tradition. Even Buddha has been included. Buddha denied all that is basic to Hinduism, but Hindus are very sophisticated people. They said, “Yes, this too is a message from God.” He was contradicting all that is meaningful to Hindus but they were not bothered. They said, “He is also an incarnation of God.”
Hindus have written a story about when Buddha died that shows how sophisticated minds function. Of course, he was a very important man, one of the most important ever born in India, one of the most influential. He had denied Hinduism, so how to cope with him?
Hindus have created a story. They say:
God created the world, heaven and hell. Centuries and centuries passed. People would die and immediately they would go to heaven. Nobody would go to hell because nobody was a sinner.
So the people who were managing hell – the devil and his disciples – went to God and said, “Why have you created hell? Nobody ever comes. Our whole existence is futile. We go on sitting and sitting and waiting, and nobody knocks at the door. Either cancel it, or send people!”
God said. “Wait! Soon I am going to be born as Gautam Buddha. I will destroy people’s minds, I will poison their minds, and then they will be coming to hell.”
That’s why Buddha was born: an incarnation of God to spoil people’s minds. And since then, hell is overflowing.
This is a sophisticated way to tackle a man like Buddha. Jews were simple. They simply could not tolerate this man. They killed him. That means they paid great respect to him. They realized the significance of the man, the dangerousness of the man: either he lives or their tradition lives. Both cannot live together.
Try to meditate on the crucifixion of Jesus and you will not be so puzzled and confused, and you will not recoil so much from it.
The second question: