Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country. The ambassador of Sri Lanka in
America wrote a letter to me: "I appeal to you not to name your
hotels ′Zorba the Buddha.′ It hurts our religious feelings."
I told Sheela to write to him: "It hurts the followers of Zorba too, because this is a great insult to the followers of Zorba. He was against the Buddha. What am I supposed to do? - because I am both, Zorba and the Buddha. And my hotels or restaurants or discos have nothing to do with you and your Buddha. Can′t you see ′Zorba the Buddha?′ Is that the name of your Buddha? Your Buddha′s name is Gautam the Buddha. This is a totally different Buddha." I told Sheela to explain, "This is our Buddha, who is first Zorba, and then Buddha: both together. Neither you have to be disturbed nor does any atheist have to be disturbed."
Atheists have been disturbed. In India, the son-in-law of Amrit Dange - the Indian communist party′s president - has written a thesis against me because I am confusing people′s minds. It is difficult to figure out whether I am atheist or theist, whether I am a religious man or an anti-religious man. Through the whole of his thesis he tries to figure who I am - and finds that it is impossible, and that I am simply a confuser.
Amrit Dange, the president of the Indian communist party and one of the oldest communists in the world, was part of the international communist party at the time of the Russian revolution, he was one of the members along with Lenin and Trotsky. Just by chance we were in the same compartment, traveling.
He said to me, "Have you seen? - my son-in-law has written a book about you. For three years he has been studying you. You have created so much literature that it is going to be impossible to do research on you. He was going mad, day and night. And you seem to be impossible: it is not only that you contradict yourself one time, you contradict again, and you contradict again. Finally it became impossible to find what you mean, because.... And that′s the conclusion that he reached."
I said, "You throw the book out of the train. He is a fool, tell him. Why did he waste three years? Life is so short and you are a communist: Rinam kritva ghritam pivet - borrow ghee, drink ghee. Why waste time with a madman like me?" - and I took the book from his hand and threw it out of the window.
He said, "This is too much!"
I said, "You can pull the emergency cord. What purpose has the red cord always hanging there? Pull the cord." But by that time we were miles away from the book, and it was midnight.
Amrit Dange said, "There is no point in pulling the cord - and even if I pull the cord, we have come miles, and it is midnight - where are we going to find the book? And there is no need to be worried: my son-in-law has all the books. They are not being sold because people say that either...." There was a clear-cut division in India - either somebody was for me, or somebody was against me. Those who were for me were reading my books; they wouldn′t waste their time with his thesis. And those who were against me did not want even to hear my name - what to say about the book.
So he said, "We have all the books. Perhaps you are right; he is a fool. Three years he has wasted, and he has published it with his own money. No publisher was ready to publish it,′Because,′ they said,′the country is clearly divided; there are no neutral people available, so who is going to purchase the book?′ He published it with his own money and now he is sitting on the whole lot."
I said, "You can go on distributing this way, the way you distributed it to me. Distribute it. Let people read it even if they cannot get any substance out of it - because he has not been able in three years to find out what I mean. Nobody is going to find out, because I am not stating logical, philosophical maxims. I am a whole presence. I can absorb Zorba without any difficulty, and I can absorb Buddha without any difficulty."
In fact, to me, unless both are absorbed with the same joy, with the same respect, you cannot be truly religious. And that′s what I mean by authentic religion.
Authentic religion will not be theistic or atheistic.
Authentic religion will not be materialistic or spiritualistic.
Authentic religion will be wholistic. It will not divide life into compartments, it will destroy all the compartments of sinners and saints, heaven and hell.