December 16th, 1986, Serial No. 00615

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This is a passage about the faith of Abraham. I think perhaps it's a good model of a convent of this ashram who came to a far country like Abraham to this foreign land and settled here in these ethnic women's tents that were built in very simple, comely huts. And this was a great venture of faith. Abraham came from France in 1940. And he lived in Tamil Nadu, going from place to place, different villages, and no well-finding anywhere to settle. Until in 1948, he was joined by his father Nassau, a political monk, and together they settled here and they started this little ashram. And it was a great venture of faith. I'm emotional as a man of vision. And on the way to France, he had this vision of what he called a church which is totally Indian and totally Christian.


And that has been the goal of the ashram from the beginning. And it worked with some encouragement. The bishop was very favorable, and he authorized building of this church, with the altar and everything as you see it. And they settled here. But Nassau died in 1957, before it was really established. And father Nassau remained for some time, and people came and went, but nobody joined him. And eventually he settled in the Himalayas as a hermit. So like many of these things, it's been through great trials. And many times, people thought nothing would ever come of it. And then when father Nassau left, he handed the monastery, the ashram over to us, and we came here. And slowly, through many difficulties, it gradually built up. And I think when we come together like this, and keep this ashram there,


we want to remember how much sacrifice and suffering has gone to bring us to where we are now. And as you know, to be reading the Hindu scriptures, to be having all these Hindu ways, is something unheard of. Before their time, they would have thought of it. In fact, I remember reading that book of Benedictine Ashram when I was at a monastery in Scotland, and I was overwhelmed to see that such ideas were possible. So, in this course of this time, all so much has happened. The church has come to accept now what they stood for, even alone at the time, at most. But now the whole church has accepted their message and their way, and we see it both taking place. And people come now from all sides to realize that India has something to give to the church. I think that was a great discovery they made, and what we also are discovering all the time, how India has this long tradition of wisdom


from the time of the Vedas for thousands of years, and it's been lived out in India. There's always a question of holy men from the beginning of the ashram. It's always been the typical way of religious life in India. Just a small group of people gathered around the teacher, sharing the pill, meditating together in the forest usually. And that is the base. It's a very simple, unstructured community, but it's based on the experience of God. Every ashram is centered on the experience of God, and that is what we seek here. It's not simply an organization of some sort. It's a place where people come to seek God, to experience God. And as we know today, people get discontented with formal religion. Many give up the church. They don't feel it's meaningful for them, but they want to know God. They want to have an experience of God, and that means one has to answer a deep need of the heart. And all the people coming, as you know,


from all over the world to India, seek that experience. You find in Hindu ashram very often, Buddhist monasteries, how they don't find God. You find a very profound spiritual experience there, and we seek to have an ashram where people will seek God in Christ and find this deep experience. So that has been our goal all along, and the grace of God has helped us on the way, and really something now has come about. So I think we need to thank God for all that's been achieved, thank God for our founders, for all that has been done, and to all who supported the ashram, and pray for those of us who are here now that we may continue this work of God, because it really is the work of God. It's not human beings. It's something that's happened here, and we're simply being led by it. So we all have to realize something, this gift of God, His goodness. ...Messiah. It's all at fault.


In fact, all through the early book, The Messianic Secret, Jesus did not want to be known as the Messiah, because it's exactly what people expected. They expected a king who would rule with a lot of power, and conquer all their enemies, and destroy everything like that. And it's the exact opposite of what Jesus wanted. And even when it says, He didn't come to be a king of kings and lord of lords. He came to be crucified by these kings and lords. So I think we have to read the Bible with great discrimination. I mean, there are many currents going through it. Each has its own value, and seen in its perspective, it has a certain truth, but it's a limited truth. And we all have to be judged in the light of the essential gospel message of Jesus Himself. And that is what we're trying to do today. But as you see, this could lead to terrible calamities. And it has done. You see, Constantine thought he was the chosen of God. He was the emperor, Christian emperor.


Now he has to conquer all his enemies. And that's gone on all through history. And when Cromwell invaded Ireland, he was the instrument of the Messiah to destroy the enemies of God, or the Catholics. So that's gone on all through the centuries. And it's paved by this sort of thing. So we must read these things in their context. You see, if you read this in the context of the whole of the New Testament, the teaching of Jesus, you can see its place. I mean, it's a judgment on sin, obviously. And there's a certain truth in that. But it's totally misleading if we accept this on the surface as it is. And even, as I think I mentioned, the concept of the walk of God. There is no walk in God at all. God is love. When you reject love and come into conflict, then you feel it as wrong. Because you are against it, you're rejecting love, and put yourself in opposition to it. Then it appears to you to be wrong.


This is God's love. He's drawing you, trying to get you out of your hard heartedness, and set you free, just as purgatory in the Christian understanding is created by the love of God. Catherine of St. Genoa, who wrote on it, said that what people in purgatory suffer is because God's love is drawing them to himself, and they're held back by their sins, by their attachments, and so on. And that causes pain. But God is not causing the pain. You are causing the pain, because you refuse the love of God, which is drawing you to Him. So I think when we see these things in that context, it has a meaning. And I think it's very important, this terrible disaster has to come about, because this sort of thing has been dead literally. And even today, you see, we try to preach peace, but if we believe in war like that, then we're not instruments of peace at all. So we really have to rethink our understanding of war and peace, and how it really is part of the plan of God.


There are a lot of people out here. We have another meeting, and we'll put the presentation on the Last Judgment. And again, we must remind ourselves that these things are mysteries beyond human comprehension, and use symbolic language to try to exempt them, to open our minds towards them, that they can't be comprehended, that they can't be described in any way. In fact, all revelation of what lies beyond, has to use the language of this world. Yesterday we were talking about symbols, which point towards it, but can't express it. And therefore we have to interpret these symbols. First of all, we have the great white throne, and who was sat upon it. Now, there are obviously the idea of God sitting on a throne, with a beautiful image and a symbol, but very remote from the reality, which gives some impression of majesty and grandeur. And then a wonderful phrase,


from his presence, the clouds in the sky fell away, and no place was found for them. That's a good way of saying that time and space disappear, you see. Time and space, when we go beyond this world, we go beyond time and space, into that eternal reality, and this earth, this sky, are no longer there. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and the books were opened. Again, this is an image of the people rise from the dead, and they stand before this throne, and the books were opened. That is the record of the deeds. In India we speak of the Akasha record, that all that takes place in this universe is recorded. We haven't disappeared from this place there. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done. And death and Hades gave up the dead, and they were all judged by what they had done. Here again, I think we have to use some expression.


You see, this idea that we're judged by what we have done, is one of a limiting idea, because the reality is God is infinite love, and nobody is worthy of that love, and we're not saved because we're good people, we're saved because the love of God has come to us, and we've been able to respond sufficiently to being received into that love. You see, the whole idea of a judge, and right and wrong, is a very limiting idea. And the person who may appear very wicked in this world, may be very close to God in death. The person who may be very righteous in this world, may be very far. In fact, all through the gospel, you see, the problem is that it was the religious people who were opposed to Jesus, who we found impossible to accept. The Pharisees were the religious, the good people, the just people, all their records of all their good deeds. And they were not open to the love of God, to that person.


And on the other hand, the publicans and sinners, the false gatherers, all the rejected people, who were bad people, they were the people who were opposed to Jesus. So you see, this kind of judgment is not... As I say, we must remember all the time, we are symbols, and they express a certain attitude of mind which has its own values, but it's not the final word at all, and we have to judge it all in the light of the gospel. It goes beyond this very, very Old Testament view, really, of revelation. It's not adequate, in many ways. And then it goes on, death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. And death, Hades, of course, is a shiel, again, it's a very Old Testament idea, that the depravity remained in the shiel, this Hades. The Greeks had the same idea, a sort of shadow land, where you're waiting for the resurrection. And that, of course, passes, and you have this lake of fire. This is the second death, that anyone's name is not found written in the book of life,


and it's thrown into the lake of fire. And again, we have extremely difficult problems. We really believe in hell, in that sense. And is perfect happiness in heaven compatible with the knowledge of people in hell? And St. Thomas Aquinas said that part of the joy of the gospel was to see the judgment on sinners in hell. You're really happy to see them all suffering. And that's not something we can accept. It's a very difficult problem, and I think, really, I suggest an answer to it is this. We see that the human mind, in its present state, is a dualistic mind. We see everything in terms of good and evil, right and wrong, good for better, such and such object. Oh, it's entirely dualistic. And when we pass beyond, we pass beyond the dualistic mind. In Hindu we call it abhraka, the non-dual mind. And then we see everything differently. And as long as we're in this world,


judging at the standard of this world, then we have to save someone, save someone else, and so on. But when we get beyond, our vision will be quite different, to see things in a new light. And, of course, Judith of Norwich has that wonderful insight, she thought, that she was asked, you see, how could people be lost, how could sinners be in hell, and so on. And she was told, all shall be well, all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well. And that promises something beyond. So I think it's not an easy question. There's always hell, there's grief, and there's death, and the Bible's dead, and the parables of Jesus, of the sheep and the goats, and so on. And on one level, obviously, it's true that we have to see things in terms of right and good, right and evil, and right and wrong. But that need not be the final. The final judgment goes beyond judgment. You see, judgment belongs to this mental world, the world of duality. But when we go beyond, we pass beyond the mental world, the judgmental world,


and we enter into the mystery of God. And that is where we are, based on our expectations, something beyond our human understanding. And the tribulation, of course, is speaking to ordinary people in their daily life, and it has to give them a model to follow. But the final word is going beyond the ordinary human world, experiencing the mystery of God, which is ultimately the mystery of love. You know, love is joy, love is joy, of course, it's infinite love. And infinite mercy, at the same time, and total forgiveness. So, let me give you a little time. You know, it's encouraged not only by the Romans, and it's just a good idea that we're teaching the gospel at this time, the middle of the first century, and how the gospel was seen in Christmas, of course, in this sort of focus of the gospel.


There's Paul, the servant of Jesus Christ, Paul's been, of course, a separate part of the gospel of God. And Paul always has a very deep sense of being separatized, all by God, to teach this gospel, this good news, this message of salvation, which came to Christ, to him, in the unique revelation, which he promised beforehand to his prophets in the Holy Scriptures. He always related it to the Bible, to the Old Testament. You see, Jesus came as a Messiah, fulfilled all these promises of the Old Testament, fulfilled the prophecies. And all through the early church, you see, there's constant reference to the Scriptures of the Old Testament. And then he says, the gospel of the Son of His Son was descended from David, according to the flesh, and was designated Son of God in power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. Now, it was very important, you know, that the only message of the gospel


was rather different from what it is today, because we follow St. John. You see, at the end of the first century, St. John made that prologue to his gospel, beginning with the Word, and the Word was God, and the Word became flesh. And so we think of the incarnation of God becoming man. But in the early church, in the New Testament itself, including, of course, St. John, it was the other way around. We've seen, first of all, it's a man, descended from David, according to the flesh, and then designated Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead. You see, in the New Testament, the gospel sprang from the resurrection. He lived with this man, this prophet, the late known, the people of Nazareth. And then, gradually, the meaning of his life gradually came to him, but only for resurrection, that they realized who he was. And then he was manifested as Son of God. So you always begin with a man,


and you gradually ask, who is this man, this Son of Man, as he called himself, and then you discover he's Son of God, you realize that he comes from above. You know, they call it an ascending theology. So God is a descending, from God to man, but the earlier theology is an ascending, from the man to God. In that man, we discover God. So I think it's a little important, it's one of the complementary ways of perceiving the gospel. And then it says, through whom we have received grace of a portion, siftering about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name. And from this experience of the resurrection, we see that Jesus appeared to him and went to Damascus and gave him this grace as an apostle to him. He was sent out, an apostle, and he was sent out to preach this message, the obedience of faith for the sake of his name. And the obedience of faith


is the root of the word to obey, is to listen. And when you listen to that word of God, that whom receives the gift of faith, I think it's always an awakening to the word, to the message of salvation, which we receive in the heart, and that awakens faith for the sake of his name among all the nations. And of course, Paul saw his particular calling to preach this message among the nations, among the Gentiles. Beginning it was preached among the Jews and Paul himself, they all, never forget, you see, first of all, they thought of Christianity as a form of Judaism. All the prophecies of Israel, of Jesus Christ, of Messiah. But then it graduated into the Jewish world, into the Greek and Roman world, and they began to realize that Jesus called to be a Messiah for all nations. And then, among them, yourselves were called to belong to Jesus Christ, God's beloved in Rome. And we know that there were


lots of acts from Rome at Pentecost. So the message was carried to Rome at the time of Pentecost. And of course, there was a very large Jewish colony in Rome, one of the biggest in the Roman Empire. You see, after the dispersion of the Babylonian captivity, the Jews were dispersed with a large number in Alexandria and a very large number in Rome. That's the famous occasion when one of the emperors, Claudius, I think it was, turned the Jews out of Rome because they thought they were dangerous. So this Jewish community but also, obviously, Gentile as well. And that's why the letter to the Romans is somewhat important because it addressed to this Jewish Gentile community and it's reconciling the approach to the Jews with that of the Gentiles. And, you see, called to be saints is very important. We're all called to be saints. To be a Christian is to have this calling to be holy because holiness is a gift, you see.


It's not something you achieve as good. It's something you receive which is given to you. And faith is the awakening. Grace and empathy is the gift which comes from faith. So grace to you and peace from God our Father in the world, be with you. I always think these introductions to the letters are so very meaningful because they show the background of faith. These are things from which people are moving and then they go on to problems and so on. But it's the basic background from which the Holy Faith springs. I think that's meaningful in that way. ...revelation. We have to have a picture of the world to come. And when we think of the world to come, we all have to use images and symbols to represent it, possibly, or to represent the human language or the human thoughts that goes beyond. But we have these wonderful symbols.


And in particular, we have the symbol of paradise, this mythical world where man was originally one with God. It's described as this paradise, the tree of life, and the water flowing from it. And the idea is that paradise would be restored. Man starts communing with God, communing with creation around him, and at peace in the world. And sin came and destroyed that union, destroyed that peace. And now, in the cold of the time, it's cold and it's cold again. And it shows me the vivid and provocative light, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and into man. And the throne of God, of course, comes from the Exodus of Isaiah, which we have always saw seated on the throne of God. And the man, of course, is the passer of a man, which gives us that sense


that one who dies for the world. And the water of life flows from the throne and from the man. And that's the symbol of baptism, that most were born again of water from the spirit and have entered the kingdom of God. So the water always represents the new life, baptism of life. So we have this image of God on the throne, man on the throne, and then this water flowing, water of life flowing. And it went to the middle of the street of the city. And so we paradise this, which is the original world of man. It's united with the symbol of the city. Jerusalem, of course, is the holy city, the city of God. And heaven is both paradise city, it's both the natural world from which we come and then the city in which we create, where God dwells, the symbol of the world. And on either side of the river, the tree of life with its four kinds


of fruit yielding its fruit each month. And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. All these sort of heavenly symbols, you see, of this river of tree, the river, first of all, and then the tree of life, the tree of paradise, which is eternal life. You see, in paradise, man was offered these two trees, the tree of knowledge and the tree of life, which is wisdom and immortality. And, of course, he snatched the tree of knowledge and tried to get it for himself. He lost that and then he lost his immortality. But now in the new creation, then the tree of life returns, and he eats of that fruit which is true to immortality and the healing of the nations. It heals all the past. We often speak today of healing of memories. You see, when the world comes, when the new world comes, all the memories of the past will be healed. Everybody comes to their wounds, to their sufferings, and then the healing takes place


and this water of life ends in everybody. Then there shall be no more anything accursed, but the throne of God and the Lamb shall be in it and its servants shall worship Him. The accursed, of course, is the rejection of God, the rejection of love, and the essence of sin. But instead of that, you have the throne of God. The throne symbolizes the majesty, authority, power, greatness. Today, we don't feel it so much, not so many kings and thrones about, but still, the symbol always is still very much alive. And the servants shall worship Him. It's the restoration of this worship of God. When man sins, he refuses that worship, turns it on himself, and when he is converted, then he turns back and opens the heart to God and gives that worship. And worship is surrender, really giving oneself back to God. They shall see His face


and His name from beyond their foreheads. In a way, the Hebrew is very concrete. It's got very little abstract symbolism. And you've got a great way expressed with this vision of God, is to see it face-to-face. Instead of Moses, God spoke to him face-to-face. And the idea is that in the world to come, we shall see His face, which is a way of saying we shall experience the reality of His presence. We use more abstract terms, but there are all different ways of expressing this unparalleled mystery where we encounter God and really, that in Him, He is in us. And His name shall be on their foreheads. It's out of the name in the book of Exodus. It says, I will send my angel before you, looking for you, and my name shall be upon you. The name, it's the power of God and the person of God. He communicates Himself to us by that name, by His name on the forehead. And night shall be no more,


there will be no light or lamp or the sun, for the Lord God will be their light which will reign forever and ever. We had that image before of the night and I reminded you of the wonderful verse in the Eucharist which encourages more than one where it says that the sun does not give its light to them or the moon or the stars, much less earthly power. By His light all these shine and His light illumines all creation. Then you see the eternal light, you see, the night beyond which illumines the sun and the moon and the stars, the source of all light on earth. And there, you see, you don't need sun or moon which may reflect the night or the presence of the light itself. And the Lord God will be their light and they shall reign forever and ever. Again, symbol of the throne, the majesty of the kingdom, people all wave expressing this fulfillment of human existence. And really, put it like that, it's the fulfillment of all human desires,


what good life is created for. And we only find it the world to come. And I think it's important to remind ourselves that they are so concerned with changing the present world and of course we have to do what we can to change it. It is a great mistake to think you're ever going to change this world into a paradise where everybody is going to be peaceful and happy. You'll never come in this world because this world is under the wheel of sin and you cannot... But Jesus takes us beyond this world to the resurrection and there, all these folks will be fulfilled. I think it's very important today to put this first time in the resurrection. That is the end which for all destiny there will dash with time the answer for our problems and the fulfillment of desires and the revelation gives us this here symphonic picture. He wants to rob the prince.


He wants to rob the prince. He wants to rob the prince.