I love Gautama the Buddha because he represents to me the essential core of religion. He is not the founder of Buddhism — Buddhism is a byproduct — but he is the beginner of a totally different kind of religion in the world. He’s the founder of a religionless religion. He has propounded not religion but religiousness. And this is a great radical change in the history of human consciousness. Before Buddha there were religions but never a pure religiousness. Man was not yet mature. With Buddha, humanity enters into a mature age. All human beings have not yet entered into that, that’s true, but Buddha has heralded the path; Buddha has opened the gateless gate. It takes time for human beings to understand such a deep message. Buddha’s message is the deepest ever. Nobody has done the work that Buddha has done, the way he has done. Nobody else represents pure fragrance.
Other founders of religions, other enlightened people, have compromised with their audience. Buddha remains uncompromised, hence his purity. He does not care what you can understand, he cares only what the truth is. And he says it without being worried whether you understand it or not. In a way this looks hard; in another way this is great compassion. Truth has to be said as it is. The moment you compromise, the moment you bring truth to the ordinary level of human consciousness, it loses its soul, it becomes superficial, it becomes a dead thing. You cannot bring truth to the level of human beings; human beings have to be led to the level of truth. That is Buddha’s great work. Twenty-five centuries ago, just some day early in the morning — just like this day — this sutra was born.
Twelve hundred and fifty monks were present. It happened in the city of Sravasti. It was a great city of those days. The word Sravasti means the city of glory. It was one of the glorious cities of ancient India; it had nine hundred thousand families in it. Now that city has completely disappeared. A very very small village exists — you will not find even its name on any map; even the name has disappeared. Now it is called SahetMahet. It is impossible to believe that such a great city existed there. This is the way of life — things go on changing. Cities turn into cemeteries, cemeteries turn into cities… life is a flux. Buddha must have loved this city of Sravasti, because out of forty-five years of his ministry he stayed in Sravasti twenty-five years. He must have loved the people. The people must have been of a very evolved consciousness. All the great sutras of Buddha, almost all, were born in Sravasti.
This sutra — The Diamond Sutra — was also born in Sravasti. The Sanskrit name of this sutra is Vajrachchedika Prajnaparamita Sutra. It means perfection of wisdom which cuts like a thunderbolt. If you allow, Buddha can cut you like a thunderbolt. He can behead you. He can kill you and help you to be reborn. A buddha has to be both — a murderer and a mother. On the one hand he has to kill, on the other hand he has to give new being to you. The new being is possible only when the old has been destroyed. Only on the ashes of the old the new is born. Man is a phoenix. The mythological bird phoenix is not just a mythology, it is a metaphor. It stands for man. That phoenix exists nowhere except in man.
Man is the being who has to die to be reborn. That’s what Jesus said to Nicodemus. Nicodemus was a professor, a learned man, a rabbi, a member of the board that controlled the great temple of Jerusalem. One dark night he came to see Jesus. He could not gather courage to come to him in the day time; he was afraid what people would say. He was so respectable, so much respected. Going to a vagabond teacher?… going to somebody who is hated by all the rabbis and all the learned people?… going to somebody who moves with thieves and drunkards and prostitutes? But something in him was very desirous to see this man. maybe he had seen Jesus walking, coming to the temple.
He must have felt something deep in his unconscious for this man. He could not hold himself back. One night when everybody had left, when even the disciples had gone to sleep, he reached Jesus and he asked, “What should I do so that I can also enter into the kingdom of God?” And Jesus said, “Unless you die nothing is possible. If you die, only then can you enter into the kingdom of God. You will have to die as you are, only then can you be born as really your inner being is.” The ego has to die for the essential being to surface. That is the meaning of Vajrachchedika Prajnaparamita. It cuts like a thunderbolt. In one stroke it can destroy you. It is one of the greatest sermons of Buddha. Get in tune with it.