July 21st, 1986, Serial No. 00614

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Today is a difficult question of the judgment of God. He says, this is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, made worthy of the kingdom of God, which you are suffering, you who are afflicted. When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels inflaming fire, inflicting vengeance upon those who do not know God and upon those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus, And this is the sort of apocalyptic vision which was current in Judaism for a long time, and especially from the time of Daniel, the later ages. And it's continued in the church, more or less, this idea of judgment of God upon sinners. But I think in the Bible itself, they don't make a distinction between sin and sinners. To us, it's fairly obvious.


You can distinguish the sin from the sinner. We say God hates the sin, but he loves the sinner. But they don't seem to be able to make that distinction. All through the Psalms and so on, they ask God to destroy the sinners, to punish them, and so on. And I think we find that very difficult today. We don't want people to be punished and afflicted and have vengeance put on them, and so on. But we do want to see sin. And the sin is in us, as well as in them. And one's whole perspective changes. God's judgment on sin is certainly varied. And sin is the negation of God. You see, God is truth, is reality, is love. And sin is untruth, unreality, unlove, is hate. And that is the real human problem. It's not a question of sinners being judged, but of sin. And sin is in everybody. And it's the judgment on us. We're not the righteous, and the sinners are going to be judged. You see, that is the danger of this.


Jews tend to think they were the righteous people, and all the sinners would be judged. You see, all those who do not know God, who do not obey the gospel, are all going to be punished. We're all going to be saved. And we've had the same in the church. The church, all in the church will be saved. And all the wicked people outside will be condemned. And it's really a false perspective altogether. You see, the doubt is on each person, whether he's in the church or outside. And it's on the sin which is in the person. And only God knows the sin in each person, and the sin in ourselves, too. And what we pray for is this abolition of sin in ourselves, in others, in the world around us. That is a meaningful prayer. And there's no doubt there is a judgment on sin. If we do sin, we bring trouble on ourselves, on others, on the whole world. And that is the real problem. So I think if we translate it into those terms, it's deeply meaningful. But if we don't, I think it's very objectionable in many ways. They shall suffer punishment of eternal destruction,


exclusion from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his might. In that way, you know, I think it's very important to realize that ultimately sin is unreal. Sin is unreality. You see, God is the reality. And when we conform ourselves to God, we're conforming ourselves to reality. When we fall away from God, from truth, from love, we fall into unreality. Ultimately, sin will simply disappear. It has no ultimate reality. It's only real as long as we allow ourselves to entertain it. And in the final judgment, the sin disappears. It's realized what it was, and truth alone, love alone remains. So I think we can think in those terms. When he comes to be glorified in his saints, he'll be marveled at all who have believed. Keep the memories today of the guardian angels. And as I was saying, these guardian angels are not only an individual. Each person has his guardian angel.


And an angel really is a kind of special providence of God. Providence works through all the powers of nature. There are these special providences in the people and over nations. Each nation has its guardian angel, its powers. And of course, there are also the opposite forces. There are the evil angels, the demonic powers. And we live in a world which is ruled by these angels. We read in the letter to the Ephesians about these powers of this world, the world rulers of this darkness. And we see around us these forces, both of good and of evil. And in Mahatma Gandhi's birthday we celebrate today, we have a wonderful example, I think, of the special providence of God in all his work that he did in India and for the whole world. Because he gave an example to the world


of non-violence, ahimsa. And it was something absolutely new. It was really an extraordinary thing that this Hindu brought to light an aspect of the gospel which had never really been brought before, that is, to bring non-violence into political life. War had been accepted as the normal way of deciding disputes, a just war was recommended. And even internal disputes were decided by force. And Gandhi decided to overcome this force of evil by love. And it was his model, really, Jesus and the gospel. He also took the Bhagavad Gita out of rich inheritance. But he gave this example in his life of how force can be overcome by non-violence. And I think this is a lesson we're all trying to learn, as shown by Martin Luther King in America


and in the Philippines recently, there was a revolution, non-violence also. And so here and there we see that, of course, it still remains a very difficult path, and if you're willing to accept it, then the vast majority, India included today, have taken up arms and are building huge armaments. Just recently, India's acquired highly sophisticated submarines and helicopters for the Navy, at vast expense, enough to feed about a million people is being spent on these armaments. And so we live in this world where there are these tremendous demonic forces. Hitler in Germany is an example of a demonic power which took possession of a people and nearly brought it to destruction. And Stalin in Russia is another example. I might think of contemporary figures,


he didn't name them, some would think they're angels, some demons, we have our own particular views. And of course, both are working together in every country, there are demonic forces at work and there are angelic forces. And as I say, Mahatma Gandhi was a unique example in India of this fairly angelic influence. I mean, a spiritual power coming into the world and changing the life of people. And I feel we all need to take his example. Today, the great problem facing the world is one of the great problems is that of poverty, especially here in India. And there again, there are two answers. One is that of Marx and the Marxists, which is that of violence. You overcome the ruling powers and you seize power and then you try to organize life for the benefit of the people. And once you take the sword, as Jesus said, you perish by the sword.


Once you come to power by violence, then you have to sustain yourself by violence and that is proved in every Marxist state. And Gandhi chose the other way, to come to power by non-violence. And it was a unique achievement. And we ought to feel that we have a great obligation to him and a great challenge, you see, that once he's given that example, that you can rule by love. And that is what the aim of life is, to discover some way of ruling by love. And so we can ask that we become aware of these powers working in our lives. As the letter to the Ephesians said, we're not contending against flesh and blood. See, people think it's only a material warfare. We must build up our armaments to overcome the opposite armaments on the other side. And on that level, there is no answer at all. But when we realize that there are other forces in the world of the material, there are spiritual powers at work,


both for good and for evil, then we have to build up this spiritual power. And that is really the call of the church today, build up a spiritual power which is stronger than these forces of evil. And of course, it's not at all easy, and not many have the faith, faith that there is a spiritual power, that there are angels who work. As many of you may know, in the 1914 war, the famous story of the angels of Mons, was a great battle of Mons in France. And the story goes that these angels appeared in the sky. Whether it's true or not doesn't much matter. It shows faith of people that there were these angelic powers were working to save people. Of course, in the Bible, again and again it happened. Remember, Elisha was living in a town and the Assyrian army came to besiege it. And his disciples said, see all these armies arrayed against us.


And he said to the Lord, open their eyes. And he opened their eyes and they saw these spiritual powers arrayed against the whole army of the angels. So these are mysteries, you see, we live in this world of material things, but beyond the material, there are these spiritual powers always present. And unless we have faith, we don't see them. We don't believe in them at all and they don't act for us. But if we have faith, we discover that those powers always work in the world and life can be changed. So we all need, as I say, to ask with this grace to recognize our spiritual powers through which God's providence works in the world of our own lives. Each individual has his own angel and each nation and people. And on the other hand, we need to recognize there are demonic powers in ourselves. Every human being and the unconscious, there are forces, demonic forces at work and they can destroy our lives. As people take to drugs or alcohol or whatever,


they can be destroyed by these forces. And on the other hand, each one, there is this power of God, there is an angel who is able to change our lives, lead us on a new course, to open a new life for us. So we ask to be more and more deeply aware of these presences, these angels, and to, as I say, to create a spiritual power which can act against the power of evil in the world. Foreign emblems in the sanctuary, recalling this experience under Antiochus Epiphanes. So that is the model. And we must always remember that the idea always was that things repeat themselves. People see the future in terms of the past. For instance, Israel always looked to a new exodus. They were once more delivered, as Moses delivered from Egypt, so God would deliver his people from this world.


And so they keep recalling the past and seeing that it will reveal itself again in the future. So then he said, do you not remember that I was still with you, I told you this? And you know what is restraining him now is that he may be revealed in his time. All this is a little obscure because we don't know all the details of the situation at the time, but many people believe that that power which restrained was the Roman Empire. Church had differing views of the Roman Empire, but at this time, it was seen rather as an author of peace. It's established the Roman order everywhere. And so they felt that this was restraining this power of evil, and it will still be manifested. So the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed,


the Lord Jesus saved with the breath of his mouth, so on. And this coming of a lawless one by the activity of Satan, we will be all harmed, attended signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are to perish because they refuse to love the truth. So it's as always, like in the book of Revelation, the vision is always conditioned by the circumstances of the time, but of course it has a deeper meaning beyond all these circumstances. And when we look around today, we can say that this spirit of lawlessness is there. We see it every day in the papers as terrorism spreading everywhere, and so many other forces of evil are present. And I suppose one could say that even today, there is a power that restrains, there is a certain civilized order which still keeps these things under control to some extent. But this power of evil, of lawlessness, is there, and you can call it the activity of Satan


with all power and pretended signs and wonders. And perhaps one can say all this modern technology is an example of that. It's almost incredible the advances being made now in nuclear technology and so on, and even preparing chemical warfare. You see, the more science advances, the more elaborate are the methods it can do to destroy people and destroy the world. And it's all going ahead as fast as can be because they're all afraid of one another, the Americans of the Russians and Russians of the Americans. And so all the devices of technology are now being developed to destroy the world, eventually, that is where we live. So really what St. Paul is saying is very much present now. All these powers are there with signs and wonders, and wicked deception and so on. Therefore, God sends upon a strong delusion to make them believe what is false, that all may be contained. So that's the world we live in,


and it's a strong delusion, you see. People get obsessed with the world in which they are, the necessity to defend themselves by all means and build up these huge armaments to do so, not realizing or not fully recognizing that they're threatening to destroy the world. So we're all living in this world of great violence and tremendous forces which are not merely human. See, the understanding of the New Testament is behind all these forces of terrorism and war and nuclear power and so on are spiritual powers of wickedness which work in the world, and we're all exposed to those powers. But also, of course, we believe that God and Christ have set us free and that there is a power beyond all these. But that is the, as I say, the world we live in. Significance of St. Luke makes slight variation from St. Mark. St. Mark rather gives the impression that Jesus turned away from his mother and his brethren


and said, these are my mother and brethren, but St. Luke includes them. There's no reason to say that his mother and his brethren were not those who did will of his father. We know that his mother was one of those who supremely did. So he's including them, but he goes beyond all family ties. That is the fundamental lesson of it. And it comes right in the beginning when his boy, he leaves his mother and his father in Jerusalem, and they go away and he remains behind. And then when they come and protest about it, he said, did you not know I must be about my father's business? So he breaks that family tie right from the beginning. Later, at the foot of the cross, he receives his mother. Father, son, behold thy mother. Mother, behold thy son. And there's no break in that sense, but it's changing from a family bond, a tie of blood, to the spiritual bond.


And Jesus comes to create a community which is based on the spiritual bond, the spirit of God, and not on family ties. And if you look around on the world, you'll see that all the conflicts in the world, practically without exception, are because people cling to their own particular group, whether it's family, where you have family quarrels. I heard of a, the father is here at present, there's a parish in Tamil Nadu where there are two groups, they're all Harijans. One group is founded by the French, and the other by the Portuguese. And they've never been able to reconcile with one another. And year after year, these quarrels go on between these two groups. And each clings to its own little group and cannot reconcile with the other. That is an extreme example. But we see it all over the world. We see it in Sri Lanka. Tamils want to have their Tamil community


and safeguard that, and the Sinhalese want that. And then in Palestine, the Arabs want theirs and the Jews want theirs. In South Africa, the white people want theirs and the black people want theirs. So everywhere, people cling to their own particular group, whether it's racial or class or caste or religion. So you get the same thing with religious groups, the Hindus and the Muslims conflict, or the Catholics and the Protestants in Ireland and so on. Each clings to his own little group and refuses to open itself to the spirit of God. Jesus came to break all these barriers between human beings and open them to the one thing that unites humanity is the spirit of God. That spirit is offered to all, it's present to all. When we go beyond all these barriers, then we discover this inner unity, which unites every human being all over the world. And I think today there is a great search for this.


And one could say that in the United States, you have some achievement in a way, because people come from all over. I think in the United States, almost every people in the world is to be found, or very nearly every people. And of course, they get beyond their limitations and they unite in one. But of course, then they form another community. Being an American is now your goal and anybody who's not an American becomes outside, quarrel with Russia and with other countries and so on. So again, the same thing is repeated. And even in the church, we have this danger that we become a separated group and we are the saved and then outside are the lost and so on. So everywhere, there is this danger of clinging to the creative. See, all these are created forms and we're called to belong to the uncreated, to the infinite, to the eternal.


And Jesus summons the whole of humanity to go beyond all these limitations. And he applies it to his own family, to his mother, his brethren, and then asks that we form this community, which is based on the love of God. That is the only way that a human unity can be achieved. When we go beyond all other ties, we unite together in this love of God, the one, the eternal, who is in each one of us, who is calls each one of us. And we find our own personal fulfillment when we reach that oneness with God. That personal fulfillment and then we find our bond with all the rest of humanity. So I think we need to reflect on this. It's the prejudice of the world today and it always has been, and yet there is a movement today to go beyond these barriers, to discover this common human unity. And Jesus really shows us the way where that unity can be found. So we ask for that grace to realize it in ourselves


and then to be able to realize it in the world of love. Q. Sir, Paul speaks here of this part of the gospel for sanctification. You remember before we read, this is your calling, the sanctification to become holy. So he says, we are bound to give thanks to God always, we are beloved by the Lord. God chose you from the beginning to be saved through sanctification by the Spirit. And sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit. You see, we don't become saints ourselves, we receive it, it's a gift of God. And that's why he would write his letter to all the saints of Corinth or Thessalonica, there are no more saints than we are,


and no less, because they have received the gift of the Spirit. That is a great sign. And it's always a choice, you see, to be beloved to the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning. And this idea, you see, that every human being is predestined, in a sense, you see, God knows us, before the foundation of the world, in this eternal being, God knows the whole creation from beginning to end, and he wills sanctification of each one, each person is known by God, and loved by God, and given this offer. So that's the idea of being from the beginning, being chosen for sanctification. And belief in the truth, and this understanding always, the gospel is the truth, it's to know oneself as one really is in the presence of God. God is truth, and we know ourselves in truth when we know ourselves in our relation to God. And the gospel is this revelation of our relation to God, as sons and sharing in his love.


To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. You see, it's a gospel, it's this message of grace, of salvation, to obtain the glory. And Jesus in the resurrection, you see, was raised up into the glory of God. He shares in the divine nature. You see, the human being of Jesus was taken up to a divine being, totally configured. And that is our destiny. We're all called to go beyond our present human state and to be taken up into this divine state. And here in India, you know, the idea that we're made to be one with Brahman, we're one with the eternal reality, oh, it's been recognized. The gospel is telling us that through this resurrection of Christ we have this revelation of man glorified, you see, man transformed by the glory of the power of God. So that's our human destiny. So stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.


See, there's a tradition of the gospel, and it's very important, and Paul received it. He didn't make it up. He received it primarily from Christ himself and then by sharing with the other apostles and the brethren, you see. And that is something that comes down from Christ through the apostles, through the church, and we all receive this tradition. And it's a living thing. You can put it into formulas, you can make a catechism or theology, but these are really translations of something which is a living communion of the spirit. See, tradition is really a communion of the spirit. Just in India we have the tradition of the guru, and the guru has a certain experience of God and he communicates to a disciple, and it comes down through a series of gurus to the present day. So also the gospel is communicated but in the spirit by Jesus to the apostles and then to their disciples, and so we all receive it as a gift of God, you see, a communication of the spirit. And it's very important.


We mustn't get it, you know... We have to use catechisms and formulas and dogmas and so on, but these are really translations into human language of something which is beyond human language. It's an experience of God. That is what the gospel is. It's a tradition of an experience, you see. So this is what we all try to receive. And then he says, May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace. A wonderful phrase, you see. It's an ordinary letter he's writing to these people, and yet it comes out with this extraordinarily profound, so theological background to everything he says. See, our Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father who loved us and gave us eternal comfort. You see, the idea that God loves us is something very profound, and not many people realize it. A vast number of people today would find it inconceivable to think that you're loved by God, and yet that is the message of God, the Eternal, the Infinite One,


whom Manikavasara praises in such a wonderful way, that he loves human beings and calls us and gives us eternal comfort and good hope. See, it's a promise of eternal life, of eternal fulfillment, and the hope and the certainty that this is offered to us can be received. May he comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. And it comes through into daily life, you see, your work, your words, your language, your speech, all this is affected by this gift of grace, this love of God which is communicated. So it's good, you know, St. Paul has marvellous faculties in putting the reality of the Gospel into words, communicating it like that. And when we listen to it and read it, then we also receive something of that grace and that understanding. It's very striking when Jesus sends out his disciples,


sends out, first of all, to cast out these demons and to heal diseases. And the Gospel is not only in word, as Paul said, but in power, and especially power over evil spirits. And today people don't believe in these evil spirits, and therefore they become subject to them. It's only when you recognise them that you become free. And they were saying these are the powers of the unconscious, and today we're much more aware of the fact that we're all being guided, driven by these forces of the unconscious. And as long as they're not recognised, they become negative and destructive. And that is why we see all through the world people have great hands, and they have wonderful scientific systems and wonderful technology, and they build up marvellous systems, and then terrible destructive forces are released. We have this disaster at Chernobyl,


and we have the disaster at Bhopal, and they're both examples of modern technology, marvellous achievements, where destructive forces are released. And then, of course, we have the whole problem of nuclear war, and the marvellous modern technology, these nuclear weapons, and the capacity to destroy the planet. Again, this chemical warfare, we can now control microbes and things in such a way that we can release them to destroy people. So all these destructive forces are at work, while people are engaged in their science, their technology, and all their marvels of the conscious mind. And I think we all have to become more and more aware of the unconscious, which works behind the conscious all the time. People may have excellent ideas in their minds and excellent theories of what they're doing, but all the time other forces are at work,


which are not recognised. And so you get this terrible disease where people are apparently doing what's right and good, but in reality are being driven by the opposite forces, and they don't recognise it, and then they become tremendous forces of destruction to everybody. So we all have to become more and more aware of these forces of the unconscious in us. And the great principle, which Jung always brought out, is that these forces are only destructive when they're unconscious. Once you open your inner consciousness, then all the negative power in them is released, and then the positive power is manifested. So the demon... There's a saying, demon es deus inversus. The demon is God turned upside down. See, when you reject God, that divine power is rejected, becomes a negative force, becomes demonic, and it begins to destructive work.


And when the negative force is released, you recognise it for what it is, then it becomes a creative force. And the Holy Spirit is in the unconscious. It's only when this negative view is taken, when you reject the Holy Spirit, that it becomes negative, and all these evil forces are released. And again, once it's recognised, then the Holy Spirit works through the unconscious. See, the conscious mind is only a limited sphere of our being, and it's a very important one, of course, but it can either open itself to the divine, and then all these creative forces are released, or it turns away from the divine and becomes centred on the ego, on the self, and then all these negative forces come into play. So we're all set between these forces, the negative forces, the destructive forces of the unconscious, and the divine powers, powers of the Holy Spirit,


which are present, offered to everybody. And all through the world today, we see these forces at work. The archetype, almost, of course, is Hitler. He was a man who was almost dominated by these destructive powers of the unconscious. But we see it all over the world, all this terrorism today. You see, people are driven by these tremendous forces, which are mad, in a sense. I mean, they're totally destructive, and yet, today, people can't resist them. And always, often, with the best motives. Terrorists have got all these wonderful motives in their mind, they want to release so many prisoners, and so on. And perhaps Marxism is one of the best examples, really, of that harmonic force, because Marx was a great idealist, and he said the essence of communism was to realise the essence of man. He was a German philosopher. He got all this philosophy,


and he thought he could get rid of religion and God and release humanity to freedom, to liberation, to all that Matthew could want. And so, it's exactly the deus inversus, you see. The demon is God reversed. He thought, get rid of this religion and all this system, which he felt was oppressing humanity, and then release human beings to the fullness of their freedom. And, of course, it has the reverse effect. It releases all the demonic forces in humanity. And that's why Stalin was a normal successor of Lenin and Lenin of Marx. It's a sort of succession. And Stalin is the example of a man who's totally possessed by these demonic forces. They say that 60 million people were liquidated in concentration camps in the time of Stalin between 1917 and 1967. Solzhenitsyn, who was in these concentration camps,


said 60 million people were eliminated. And that is... And all with the greatest ideals to set humanity free, to make society totally free from all oppression and injustice and so on. That's because your conscious aims are wonderful, but the unconscious, which is driving you, is totally negative and destructive. And that is what happens when you allow these... You reject the divine, and you then set free the demonic forces. So we have the call to try to counter these demonic forces in ourselves and in the world around us. And we're all responsible in some way. We're all involved in these evil forces. And when we overcome them in ourselves, then they begin to be overcome also in the world. And Jesus sends out his disciples to overcome these demonic forces which are at work in the world and at work in each one of us. Unless you recognize that in your unconscious


are these tremendous forces which could be released if you had the opportunity. You could be doing all this terrible destruction. So we ask for the grace. And you see, the grace of God is the power to discern these forces of the unconscious, to discern the evil in us, and to allow the grace of God, the Holy Spirit, to set us free. And there's only one power that can set us free, and that's the Holy Spirit. Only when people are awakened to that can they really be liberated and they find that harmony, that unity which people seek, and that total freedom. So we ask for this gift of grace to really realize the meaning of the gospel, all of the gospel today. And I'll say the conclusion of his letter. And as always, he gives these exhortations. Pray for us that the word of the Lord may speed on and triumph. But it's always this call to prayer.


He always says, I pray for you always. Many of us pray for him. And that's living in that atmosphere of prayer. And the very purpose of an ashram, really, is to create a center where that prayer becomes habitual, speak of perpetual prayer. And it's not simply saying words, obviously, or even thinking. It's a certain relation to God. It's a certain awareness that has to grow and pervade life. And that's what we really seek, this kind of awareness of the presence always, whatever we're doing. And that's really all this praying for others. It's all involved in that. That the word of the Lord may speed on and triumph. This word of the Lord means, of course, the gospel. But it means more than that. It means the word of God. It's the word from which the whole creation comes. And today, I think, we're trying to find a way of word


which is meaningful for everybody today in a country like India, but all over the world. We encounter so many different religions, and we can't just put Christianity up against other religions, as has been done in the past. We have to see its relationship. And we're trying to find a word which is meaningful to all. And it's precisely this word of God, which is this Logos in St. John, which is, in a sense, universal. It's the cosmic, the word Om in Hinduism. You see, it's that word from which the whole creation comes. And we try to find a common ground in which we can relate to Hindus, to Buddhists, to Muslims, and create a common humanity. This is the way we're moving today. We can't simply have different religions in competition with each other. We have to find a way of relating


and always preserving the truth of the gospel, the truth of that word, and yet opening it up to other dimensions. So that's really what we're asked today, that that word may grow in India and humanity as a whole. It's a great search going on, and we're all involved in it. Which may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not all have faith. And of course, as soon as you speak of that, you encounter the opposite. You encounter these tremendous forces at work. Forces of destruction in the world, and even simply the force of worldliness. I think we all recognize how people are being driven by the present system of society. The whole technological society is building up all the time, and it conditions people's lives. You've got to live in it, you've got to earn your living in it, and you're driven by these forces. And those forces are not of God. They're human and worldly forces, and they drive you away from God very often. So two forces are at work in the world.


There is this movement all over the world, discovering the reality of God, this presence. And all religions, and even people outside religion, are discovering the presence of the Spirit, and they're awakening to it in their lives. On the other side, people are being driven by these forces of, particularly, I think, technology, but the whole system of economics and politics, which is driving people. And that takes them away from God. People simply lose sight of God in their lives. So we have always these two sides to it. For the Lord is faithful. He will strengthen you and guard you from evil. And, of course, we don't do this by ourselves. We do it because we have confidence that God is present. And we ask always for that strength and to be guarded from evil, because we're all exposed to evil in ourselves and the world around us. And a constant effort has to be made to be open to God, to the Holy Spirit, and to resist these forces which are working around us. And we have confidence in the Lord about you.


You are doing, and will do, the things which we command. Again, St. Paul is very encouraging. He condemns where he feels it's necessary, but he always encourages his disciples and sees that they're doing well and asks that it may go on doing the same. And people today need great encouragement. They don't need so much denouncement for sin and so on. They need encouragement that there is something good in them, something good in the world around them, and something for which they can work, something positive. I think we all need this encouragement. You're doing well and will do the things which we command. May the Lord direct your hearts in the love of God and the steadfastness of Christ. The love of God, obviously, is the ruling motive for all religion. We always have to make an exception of Buddhism. It's a big problem. We all want to say God is common to all religion, but it's not common to Buddhism. But there is something equivalent. The compassion of the Buddha is very close to the love of God,


but obviously they're not the same. But still, the love of God, certainly for a Christian and for others, is the driving force in life. And the steadfastness of Christ. We want to be stabilized in love, and Christ is the manifestation of the love of God. Through him we become stabilized. We see the action of the love of God in man, in humanity, and it gives us a support, a steadfast hope, strength. So, again, we see how very practical St. Paul is. He gives these instructions to this group of Christians in the 1st century, and it's still valid today. We have to change certain... Obviously, the situation has changed in many ways, and we have to adjust it to that. But fundamentally, the message comes through. That's the same as St. Paul from the Gospel. But if Thessalonians were written in the context of the expectation


of the end of the world, it's rather striking that St. Paul makes so much emphasis on doing work and earning your living. There's always that balance. He didn't throw people off balance, this idea that the world might come to an end, that Jesus might come in glory at any time. It didn't prevent them living a normal human Christian life and tending to their work. He says, we command you, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, keep away from any brother who is living in idleness, not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. It's a little interesting, actually. I don't think we normally would associate the Gospel with this command to earn one's living to work. And obviously, it has to be taken with a good deal of... what you call it... reserve. I mean, there are many ways of Christian living and still it's quite interesting


that in the monastic order in Egypt, the fathers of the desert, they gave themselves to this life of prayer, and yet they also had a very strong sense of the need to work. And it was often the story of the brother who said he wanted to live all in prayer alone and gave himself to that. And then he turned up at the refectory in the time for meal and they would be told, you give yourself to prayer, you don't need any food. And so the same principle was there. If you want to eat, then you ought to work. And of course, it's a very deep principle and has a lot of bearings in our life today. You get very much separated. The old Jewish rabbis, you know, they were normally married and they normally earned their living. And Paul was a typical example of one who normally learned his living by tent-making. And so it was a good tradition and something we need to reflect on, I think. Do yourselves know how you ought to imitate us. We were not idle when we were with you.


With toil and labor we worked night and day that we might not burden any of you. And all through his letters you see this boast he makes that he doesn't depend on others, he learns his own living. And when you see what a busy man he was and visiting all the churches, you can imagine it must have cost him something. It was not because we had not the right, but to give you in our conduct an example to imitate. He brings this up several times, that as a teacher of the Gospel he had the right to receive recompense for it, but he didn't want to do that because he wanted to give them a good example. Even when we were with you, we gave you a command, if anyone will not work, let him not eat. We hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies not doing any work. It's a little difficult, you know, to see what the whole situation was there, and again to apply it today is still more difficult. But as I say, I think it has a message, this really, that this, you know, Gandhi was very keen


on this idea of bread labor. He felt that everybody should do some bread labor, should do some work for his actual sustenance. And he meant it in the sense of manual work. And in his ashrams always this bread labor was considered very essential. Everybody had to do some work, make an hour or two, whatever, especially, of course, with spinning. There was this great idea that by spinning you earned your living. And so there is a message in this for everyone. Such persons be commanded and exhorted in the Lord Jesus to do their work in quietness, to earn their own living. No, it is exhorted in the Lord Jesus. This isn't simply a human consideration. It's part of the gospel for him, the interest in that you should work for your living. Do not be weary in well-doing. So, as I say, you can't apply this indiscriminately. It obviously has many... As the church grows throughout the world, the conditions vary tremendously in different ways of living.


St. Francis of Assisi, for instance, he chose the way of poverty, of begging, not doing work. And there are other movements of similar kinds for one has to use discretion. But still, I think the message is there. Ask them, who do they say that he is? He asks, who do men say? And then he asks, who do you say? And Peter makes this confession, you are the Christ, the Messiah. And in a sense, this is a climax. The disciples have come to recognize him for what he is. But, as you know, the concept of the Messiah varied very much, and the prevailing one was one who would conquer his enemies, like David, the king. He would restore the kingdom to Israel. And therefore, Jesus never really accepted this title. And as soon as Peter makes that confession, he, in a sense, reverses it,


and says, the son of man, go up to be crucified, to die, and to rise again. And that was his understanding. He joined together these two concepts, the Messiah, the king of Israel, to overcome his enemies, and the suffering servant of Yahweh, of God, who was to suffer for his people. And that was his great insight, really, that he saw that the kingdom was achieved through suffering and through death. And this is a paradox which we all have to live, that life and death, and glory and shame are interwoven. And it's very difficult. We always want one or the other. And we're always seeking for happiness, for peace, for joy, and for fulfillment. And we get upset when the opposite comes, when failure and sickness and disease and things overtake us. And it's very difficult to get used to the fact that they are interwoven.


You can't have one without the other. That is the norm of life. And, of course, in the death and resurrection of Jesus, those two things are brought together in an extraordinary way. And you can't separate them, even. You can't really say that it was one moment and he died another, he rose again. It's true, from a temple point of view, that was so. But in a deeper point of view, at the very moment of death, he rose. The moment you surrender totally to God and die to yourself, you're taken up to God, you have a new life. And that was what happened. It was a moment of time when this death and resurrection took place. And that is the moment of time in which we all live, in a sense. We're all in this living... We're all dying every day. We're all experiencing resurrection day by day, new life coming to us. And to try to live in that death and resurrection, death and life,


that is really the secret. And it begins by saying, Jesus was praying alone. And it's really only in prayer that this insight comes. As long as we live on a more external level, then we accept things as they come and we accept the pleasures of life as they come and we accept tragedies when they come. We don't really bring them together. We don't see life as a whole. But when we enter into prayer, then we begin to discern how these conflicting forces, which are in ourselves and in the world around us, how they are somehow one, how they've become together. So we all have to ask for this grace of prayer which unifies our being. See, we all have many conflicting elements in us. And how to bring all those conflicting elements into one, to experience ourselves in God and God in ourselves. God is the reality. To experience ourselves in the reality of life. So that is really the core of prayer, of meditation. And I think we all have, day by day,


to seek that deeper unity. You see, behind the conflicts and the dualities of the world, there is this hidden mystery of unity, of simplicity. And when we reach that, then we experience God in our lives. And then we have this fulfillment. The fulfillment of joy in the midst of sorrow, of success in the midst of failure, where the opposites are united and we discover their hidden meaning. So we can all ask for this grace of prayer, of meditation, to realize the deep meaning of life, what we're all living out, day by day, how all these things come together in one, and they come together in Christ, in the cross. There is the center of the universe, the real meaning of life is revealed. The Lord concludes this letter to the Thessalonians, and first of all, he gives a command.


If anyone refuses to obey what we say in this letter, note that man have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed, but do not lock him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother. It's a good example of the kind of discipline in the early church. There was quite a definite discipline, we see in St. Paul's letters, and the only punishment was excommunication, to be put outside the community. In this case, it's merely asking to note him, and have nothing to do with him, which is very close to that. But he always does it with the idea that they would change, do not lock on him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother. So it's quite a model in its way, I think. See, in any community, you have to have a certain discipline, and there has to be some rule, and if people aren't willing to accept the discipline of the community, then they can't remain within it. And I think that is reasonable,


but of course it had to be done with great gentleness. And actually, in the rule of St. Benedict, we find almost exactly the same spirit. There is quite a definite discipline, and people can be excluded from the community, but it's always done with great gentleness and love and consideration. So we need to reflect on how... You see, to keep a community, it's never easy, whether it's a small or a large one, there are always conflicts in it. So how to preserve harmony, and not to be too harsh, and make it a kind of prison, and not to be too easygoing, and then it disintegrates. Many communities today spring up all over the world, and they last for a year or two, and then they disintegrate, because there's no discipline, there's no rule, or no strong enough center to hold them together. On the other hand, of course, I think in the Church we have the opposite danger. You get too disciplined, too organized, too controlled, and then you quench the spirit.


So how to find that balance, to be open to the spirit, and yes, to have a community life which has a strength of discipline in it. So we all need to reflect on that. It applies to a family, to a monastic community, or to the wider societies that we all are involved. Then it says, May the Lord of Peace Himself give you peace at all times, in all ways. And of course, that is the basis. Unless you have a basis of a community, whether it's a church or any other community, in the heart of God, the peace of God, then you won't get this peace. Jesus says, Peace I leave with whom my peace I give you. And that is the only peace we can get in this world. The nations try to preserve a certain peace, and as we know, it's a very fragile peace, which has just kept going, but a really solid peace only comes when there is a common devotion to God, when there is an awareness of something. You see, a community can only hold together


if it really believes there's something beyond it, something to which it controls it. And if we're open to God in that way, then something holds us together, and then we get this peace. Peace is the tranquility of order, as we've described, and we get that tranquility of order when we have some sense of a transcendent reality to which we're all subject, which we try to obey. And that's really the meaning of this peace, the Lord be with you all. And then Paul writes this with his own hand, the way I write, and he always ends, The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. It's a very common place in a way, and yet a tremendous mystery. You see, grace is really sharing the life of God. Grace is God's own spirit present to us and sharing in the divine life, the divine spirit. So it's a tremendous calling when we ask for the grace of the Lord to be with us,


we're asking for God himself to be in our midst, sharing in his own inner life, his joy, his peace, his love. So that's the end of our lives. This letter from Timothy is one of the later letters of the New Testament, and it gives us a good insight into the church of the last half of the first century. It says, first of all, Man of God, aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. You often get a list of virtues like that. In the Bhagavad Gita, there's a very remarkable list of all the virtues and one of the vices, and they indicate the whole context of that religion, and they're very much the same. Basically, I think, in all religious traditions,


you'll find similar, or not necessarily the same, and they all have a slightly different character in each religion, and yet, basically, they're one and the same. I think you could say that for practically all, you see, righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness, the universal virtues. Then, fight the good fight of faith, take hold of eternal life, which you would call when you made the good confession. There are two ways of looking on Christian life. One is this rather militant, you fight the good fight, and it's more the ascetic view of life. St. Paul elsewhere speaks of wrestling in a contest and running a race and getting first, and that's one way, and it has its value and its meaning for many people, but there's another way, which is rather more profound, where it's not fighting and wrestling and so on,


but it's more surrendering and opening the heart, and perhaps that's more the oriental way. The West is somewhat aggressive and militant with its attitudes, and the East is more gentle, more open, and self-surrender. So one can see both have their place and take hold of eternal life. It's rather that eternal life takes hold of you, who can't really get eternal life, but now yourself to be taken hold of, to be possessed, to which you were called when you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses, and that would have been this confession of faith. You see, at baptism, it's normally adult baptism, when you made a solemn confession of faith in front of many witnesses, and then he compares that with Jesus, the presence of God who gives life, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pilate made the good confession. But Jesus is seen as confessing himself before Pilate, and so the Christian also confesses Christ,


thus imitating him. I charge you to keep the commandments, abstain free from the approach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. Again, this question of keeping the commandments, and it has its value. Again, you see, this is one of the later letters of St. Paul, and many think it's probably not all planted by him, and it shows a development of the church when it's more established, and this kind of attitude is developing rather different from the earlier stages, which was much more charismatic, much more open to the Holy Spirit. So it's not so much a matter of keeping the commandments as of being open to the grace of God, the Holy Spirit working freely, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which will be made manifest at the proper time. And that, of course, is his expectation of the end, which we all live in, that expectation may come at any time,


and the early generations of Christians expect it at any time. In a sense, we also, from day to day, when this world is going to come to an end, or certainly when our own life is coming to an end, so we all live in that expectation of the end. And then he has rather an impressive sort of expression of faith. Blessed and only sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light. And this is rather a late development, rather a Hellenistic... Well, you have the Jewish tradition, which is somewhat different, then the Hellenistic, when the church went out into the Roman Empire and the whole Greek world, and they began to speak that language. And this is much closer to that, this idea of dwelling in unapproachable light. It's a very beautiful expression. And I think we always have to remember that beyond all manifestations of God


and the creation and the incarnation in the church, there is this unapproachable light of God's beyond everything, beyond the total transcendent mystery, whom no man has ever seen or can see, beyond the eternal dominion. So it's a good expression, again, in a very short paragraph. All this is a very solid sort of expression of Christian faith. This gospel raises this very acute problem of poverty, this world in which we live. Here in India they say 300 million people live below the poverty line, another 300 million just above it, and then one and a half million, which is quite a lot, of course, live a reasonable standard of life. This is mirrored almost all over the world. In the third world as a whole, you have these hundreds of millions living in extreme poverty,


and then you have, on the other side, people living in extreme riches. And, of course, you can't avoid poverty and riches in general, but it's the lack of all proportion which is so tragic and which needs some remedy. And it was brought home to me when, some months ago, Krishnadas and I went to Delhi, invited to a conference, and it took place at the Taj Palace Hotel. We were put up at the Maurya Sheraton Hotel. And the cost for one room for one night was 800 rupees. And the total bill for the week, it was less than was expected. We didn't eat very much. It should have been at least 8,000 rupees or maybe 10,000. And, you see, 800 rupees would keep a middle-class family in India for a month, one person for one night without food. And 8,000 rupees would keep a middle-class family for a year,


yet one person for one week. So the proportion is without any reason, you see. This is the tragedy. And, of course, many people are trying to find an answer. One of the answers is Marxism, communism. And I think most people realize that it's not the answer that produces problems even greater in its own way. And so we struggle to find an answer to the problem. And I think, as I said, we have to try to put it into our own lives. We are responsible ourselves. We're not responsible for the whole world. We are responsible for our own immediate circumstances, our family, our village, our life around us. And it isn't an easy problem at all how to respond to that when there are people actually starving. What do we do? And not only that, but when the much more problematical


is when people are not starving, but they're suffering from malnutrition, as you know. The vast majority of people are undernourished so that they can't resist disease and the problems which arise in that way. So we're continually faced day by day with this problem. And I think we have to face it in ourselves. The root of all this is really attachment to wealth. We all have an attachment. We need food, clothing, house, all these things, and then we get so attached to them it becomes the object of our life is to provide this food, this clothing, this house, this car it may be, a radio, a TV, whatever. We go on accumulating what we feel is necessary for our lives and we get this tremendous attachment to it. And all the great spiritual doctrines, the Bible itself, of course, and the Bhagavad Gita and the Buddha,


they all teach this non-attachment. You have to have food and clothing and houses and things and you may even need a certain amount of wealth. You can't do without it. But you needn't be attached to it. And that detachment is really the secret of life, how to possess things and use things and yet not to be selfishly attached to them so that when you're deprived of them you feel terribly cast down and depressed. And that really is a test. We can be... You know, St. Paul said, I know how to abound and how to be in want. To be able to do both. And the teaching of all the religions, the Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, is how to accept what is necessary for life but do it in a spirit of detachment and surrender to God. That is the final thing, you see. If we surrender our lives to God and commit them to Him,


then we can accept what God says. It may be much, it may be little. And there's no sin in riches when it is received from God and used in the service of God. But when we make that renunciation, when we make that surrender, then our lives become in harmony. They become in harmony with God and harmony with the world. And I think we all have to seek, and it's a search, you see. It's different from everybody. There's no rule for everybody to what to do about riches. It isn't that everybody should give up what they have and so on. It's to discern in your life, your situation, what is my obligation to the poor, to the people in need. How can I respond? And in a community, in an ashram, in a religious community, we have a very rather special call in that way. And we have to be searching all the time. As I say, there's no easy answer. How do we respond to this need of the poor? And then perhaps one should just reflect for a moment on the other aspect of the parable.


The rich man... The poor man goes to Abraham's bosom, the rich man goes to Hades. And one mustn't take this setting as anything... It's a popular folk story, apparently, which Jesus made use of, and all the background of heaven and Hades is only a mythological background. But it does show that there is a reward after this life. We're not simply living for this world. And if we're attached to riches or even to anything in this world, then it affects us in the world to come. We experience this poverty there. We realize how poor we are when we're attached ourselves to our own needs, to our own self-love, and when we refuse that love of God. And for those who are interested, I suspect you know there are a great many stories today about life after death. There have been many, many experiences. A survey was made in America recently


of about 1,500 people of all various ways of life and so on, asking them whether they've ever had any after-death experience. People are clinically dead, and then they recover, and they tell their stories. And it turned out that 5% of the people, that is a twentieth of people, had all had some after-death experience. And only always it seemed to have a common pattern that you feel yourself leaving your body, you feel yourself going into a tunnel, a dark place, and then you come out into the light. And then later you feel yourself drawn back to the tunnel, back to your body again. And so there is evidence now, and it's accumulating all over the world, that there is this experience after death. It's no good thinking it's all going to stop with death, as so many people do, and there's no doubt at all


that an experience goes on after death. Without this body you go into another subtle body and you're experiencing that. And so we all must face, you see, our actions in this world have their consequences in the world to come. You cannot avoid it. And if you cling to yourself, to your money, to your family, to your needs, and reject and forget others, then you suffer from it afterwards. And if you're open to others, if you're trying to be detached, surrender to God, then you experience freedom, inner freedom and joy in the world to come. And so we're all faced with that choice and that question. Then there's a practical matter I'd like to put before you. There's a village not far from Trichy where there was a disaster just recently. The houses of the people there were all burnt down. And apparently there was a quarrel between the landlords and the peasants and they had their houses burnt down. And we had a message from them asking whether we could help in any way.


They need clothing and they've lost everything. Their houses are just burnt down. So if anybody would like to contribute anything, could they give it to Mr. Das in the office and we'll pass it on to them. It's rather remote. I can't say how much is in need and so on, but it does seem a real need, and if anybody can contribute, I think it would be doing a real help to people. Letters to Timothy and Titus come at the end of St. Paul's time and they show a rather late stage in the development of the church, particularly the problem with heresies, particularly Jewish heresies. The early stage was more with Jews who were Christians who wanted to keep the law, and that is still present,


but there's also this Jewish Gnosticism, speaks of these genealogies and so on, and there were Jewish Gnostics who had these various tendencies. He mentions not to teach any different discipline, not any doctrine, but to occupy yourself with myths and endless genealogies which promote speculation rather than the divine training that is in faith. And that is this Jewish Gnosticism. Gnosticism was a universal phenomenon of gnosis and wisdom, probably came from the East, from India originally, spread across Asian Roman Empire, and it had a Christian and a Jewish and a pagan and a Hellenistic Gnosticism. And St. Paul obviously encountered this, and some of his disciples were probably being attracted by it, though he warned them against it. It was a very elaborate system of eons


and various levels of consciousness and angels and so on. It was very elaborate, which, as we said, provoked speculation rather than faith, whereas the aim of our Church is love that is used from a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith. And the Church has always been wary of Gnosticism, or any kind of speculative philosophy which doesn't come from faith and purity of heart and conscience. And on the other hand, we must always recognize there is a genuine gnosis, a genuine wisdom, which belongs to the Church and which is always present, though it's not always present as much as it should be. But St. Paul recognizes the wisdom which comes from above. Then he says, Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law without understanding what they are saying or the things about which they make assertion.


That's why I say I think it's almost certainly a Jewish Gnosticism which had these speculative theories about the angels and so on, but also had theories obviously about the law, and in that they came into conflict with the Church at the time. And then, as you know, St. Paul had this whole problem of the law, how to relate to it, and at this stage it's rather interesting, he says, The law is good, if anyone uses it lawfully. Understand the law is not laid down for the just, but for the lawless and disobedient. And this is a very relevant problem today, you see. We still have canon law and laws in the Church, and there's always a temptation to turn religion into a religion of law. You obey certain rules and customs, traditions, and then you're a good Christian, and nothing more. But as law, as he said, is really for the unjust. And the Christian and the religious person should go beyond the law.


The only law that a Christian recognizes is the law of charity, the law of love. Jesus came to bring into being this law of love, and other laws may help you to preserve charity and so on, but they're always subordinate to love, to charity itself, which is the love of God in man. So, this is a great problem, and as I say, it still remains one. The Church always tends to become a religion of law, unless we're watchful, and the same with religious life. As we're reading in Thomas Merton's Confrontation in a World of Action, how monastic life so easily becomes a system of laws. You do obey certain rules and customs and traditions, and then you think you're a good religious, whereas there's simply a framework in which you have to discover God, you have to find the reality of God, of truth, of love in your life. There's no meaning apart from that. So, generally speaking, he says, you see, the law is for the unjust,


for the ungodly, for sinners, the unholy, for vain, murderers and immoral persons, kidnappers, liars, and so on. And I think that's very important to recognize, even for the state, you see. You have to have laws for the state to prevent crime and terrorism and so on, and it's a great burden that you have to have all these laws and priests and prisoners and so on, but they're really for people who are immature, who haven't reached the level where they know how to behave according to the truth of love and life, which is the real meaning of life. And so the law is for them, and not primarily for the people already seeking God. As opposed to, you see, he says, contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the glorious gospel of the blessed God in which I have been entrusted. That is the, A, this glorious gospel of truth, of love, of freedom. You see, the gospel is the gospel of freedom, freedom from the law. Some basic principles involved is the gospel sets you free from the law.


You're no longer a servant, a slave under the law. You're a free man responding to the will of God. And again and again we have to remind ourselves law is there to assist you to become free, to open yourself to God, to discover love. And when it becomes a system to which you have to conform, then it frustrates its proper aim. And that's what he felt about the law of Israel, given by God through Moses, wonderful law and very valuable in its way, but it became a burden, it became a prison by which they were kept away from God instead of being open to God. And all law has that character. It prevents you opening your heart to God in the end because you simply make an idol of it. As long as you keep the law, you're a good person, a good Catholic, and if you don't keep the law, then you're a bad person. But really it's not the law which judges, it's the love which judges. And Jesus came to teach this law of love, that is the glorious gospel of Christ.


The Key to the Day The key to the day is festivals and nightly fall angels, and as I was saying, it's a theme which is very much forgotten today. We live in a world where people imagine that sense phenomena are the only reality. We live in a world of sense appearances, of the things we see and touch and hear, smell, taste. And this is reality. And beyond that, many people see nothing at all. And the reality is, of course, that these sense phenomena are a sort of outer garment, and within is a whole world of angels and spirits and powers. In India we call them devas, the gods. And all ancient people, from the beginning of the world, and the evidence we know, were fully aware that they were surrounded by these presences, these angelic powers, and their danger was the opposite. They tend to worship them as God himself.


And yet, I doubt whether that was common. We read that beautiful hymn to Agni just now, and obviously Agni is the fire. He talks about his flickering shapes, and they pour the oil to enhance his power and so on. And yet this fire is also a god of knowledge, of wisdom, and they ask him to enlighten them and so on. So they knew that behind all external phenomena, the fire and the earth and so on, are these inner powers, these spiritual powers within the material world. And all ancient people recognized this, and they all paid reverence to them. And we alone, in this late 19th, 20th century, have forgotten these powers, and we go about as though they didn't exist. And we mutilate the world. You see, we treat the world around us as though it was inanimate matter. We can do what we like with it. We extract the chemical from it, and we produce our technology and so on,


and we devastate the world. As you know, the whole earth is being polluted. The forests are being destroyed by this acid rain, and rivers and seas are being polluted. The air is polluted by all this carbon dioxide going into it. We're destroying the earth because we've ignored the fact that the earth is sacred. It's not simply matter at all. It's matter inhabited by spiritual powers, and we're gradually devastating it as a result. And yet today there is an awakening. People are discovering that behind the material phenomena are these spiritual powers. Many of you may have heard of Fyndhorn in Scotland. I happen to be in a monastery near to it for many years, and it's a very rather desolate shore by the sea where nothing grew very much. And then a certain couple went there, and they began to grow vegetables and things there.


And one of them, the woman, was what we call a medium, and she had this vision of angels, and she was aware of these presences in the plants and the animals and the earth and the air around. And they grew the most wonderful flowers and vegetables there, and people came from all over Scotland to see them. And now a community has gathered there, and they live in this awareness of the presence of the angels to fostering the earth and the growth of things. And recently we were visited by a young man from Germany who's an expert in yoga, and they found a school, and they also have begun to discover that the angels are present in their lives. And when they meditate, when they reach a certain state of awareness, they become aware of the presence of these angels who guide their lives. And this is universal knowledge. Until recently in the West, everybody knew that there are these powers. St. Thomas Aquinas, in our Christian traditions,


thought that the human mind is the lowest level of intelligence because we are associated with a body, with matter, and we're limited by the body and the matter. But above the human are the angels, and then the archangels, and then the princetoms and principalities and powers, until you come to the cherubim and the seraphim, and finally to God himself. All these levels of consciousness, of reality, beyond the physical and beyond the mental. And again, you see, it's extraordinary how we've lost this knowledge because we've concentrated on matter and the organization of matter in science and technology. It's a wonderful achievement. We've done marvelous things, of course. But we've simply eliminated three-quarters of the universe. We've just concentrated on one small aspect of it and the least important aspect of all. So we have all of us to recover this vision of the angels, which is in our Christian tradition. All through the Old Testament we read in Daniel these thousands, tens of thousands and tens of thousands of thousands of angels


who surround the throne of God. And Jesus himself, when he goes into the desert, he lives with the angels there in the desert. And then he says to Nathanael here, you will see the angel of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man. And, of course, he's recalling when Jacob went on a journey and he lay down and he had a dream and he saw a ladder going up to heaven, angels ascending and descending on the ladder. And that was the way the ancient world saw the universe. They knew of these angels. And Jesus was conscious, living in the presence of the angels at the time of the crucifixion. He said, do you not know that if I asked my heavenly Father would send ten thousand legions of angels? People have called on the angels to save him. So this is the world in which we live and we're simply forgetting it because we're surrounded by this society which ignores anything beyond said phenomena, thinks that is the real. So as Christians and as religious people, you see,


we have to become aware of this terrible ignorance which has devastated the world and recover the wisdom which was normal. And still today, vast majority, well, vast number of people in India still know of the presence of the gods. And they adore these gods which they know are there, their presences. And India, of course, also is losing it as western science technology spreads. People lose their awareness of these presences, the angels. And, of course, in our Christian tradition, every human being has his guardian angel. Jesus said of the little children, I tell you, there are angels to always see the face of my Father in heaven. See, the child has got this beyond his physical being and beyond his mental, which has not developed very much. There is this inner point of the spirit where he's open to the transcendence, to all the world of the angels. And many children, you know, have visions of angels.


I expect you've had in your experience. Enormous, you know, this letter to Timothy is one of the later letters. Many think it was not actually written by St. Paul. It's written in his name and in his tradition, you could say. But it comes towards the latter part of the first century and marks a new stage in the history of the church. And in this particular reading, we have his views about women, which infuriate feminists all over the world today. And I think we have to recognize that Paul, first of all, was a Jew. And women had no place in the worship of the synagogue or even in the temple. They had their place at the back somewhere. They could never take any proper part in the worship, in the actual reading the Word of God or anything. And we've all inherited this patriarchal culture.


We simply take it for granted. And only today are we realizing that it is a very particular way of human society. It has its own very real values. It's lasted several thousand years. But it's not the only way, and today people are discovering there is another way in which men and women can relate and how they can also relate in the church. So we just have to take this in its sociological conditioning. Perry says women should adorn themselves modestly and sensibly and so on, by good deeds. Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness. I permit no woman to teach or have authority over men. She is to keep silent. As I say, this is a somewhat later letter in the letter to the Corinthians, which is much earlier, 20 years earlier maybe, women seem to have taken a much more active part. In the Acts of the Apostles, certainly in the life of Jesus and so on,


we see women taking a very important place. In its later stage, the church was beginning to get much more organized, and these customs were being imposed now, apparently. And, of course, they've continued ever since. Even now, you can't have a woman conserved at mass. And it's with great difficulty that they were allowed to read the epistle from the sanctuary. They could do it down below somewhere, but not in the sanctuary. And that, I think, has been overcome in the past. But we're moving, you see, to a new understanding of the place of women in society and women in the church and of women in religion as a whole. So we all have to be rather open. I mean, the fact that, for us, God is entirely masculine is very extraordinary when you think of it. The Father is masculine, the Son is masculine, even the Holy Spirit in the Western tradition is masculine. Luckily, in the Syrian tradition, in the Hebrew, the Spirit is feminine. And there was a tradition in the early Syrian church,


Our Mother the Holy Spirit. And, of course, there is a feminine aspect in God. It's absurd to show that he's all masculine. He's neither masculine nor feminine, but both characteristics are there. So we have to rethink these things rather seriously because people feel it very deeply today. Many leave the church for that reason. They cannot live in an institution which denies women their basic rights in society. So it's a very serious issue. And then a very extraordinary argument, I must say, is about Adam and Eve. To say that Eve sinned, woman was deceived, and became a transgressor. Adam was not deceived. It's a very extraordinary argument. I don't know how it got into the New Testament really because it's quite obvious. I mean, Eve may have been the first, but it was Adam who gave way and sinned just as much as the woman. So, again, we have to interpret the Bible in its social, cultural, traditional context.


And that's what we're learning today. You cannot take a thing out of its context. It all has its own place within a tradition. And seen in that light, it can be understood, though it may not be accepted. When we're living in another society, in another understanding, we no longer accept such views. But we can see how at a certain time and place it could be accepted. So I think that's how one has to see this passage. Then he says, The woman will be saved through bearing children if she continues in faith and love and holiness. I'm not quite sure what he means by that. I suppose it's the childbirth is a curse for the woman in a sense, the suffering of childbirth. But when it's accepted as the will of God, then it becomes a means of grace. So I suggest this is really... We all need to reflect deeply on this, because if we go on accepting the standard it has been, it's causing tremendous problems in the church today, not so much in India, but in America and other parts of the world.


And it's a voice that the woman has to be heard today. We can't just ignore it. In this reading from the letter to Timothy, we get these instructions about bishops and deacons. And at this stage of the church's development, the present hierarchy had not yet emerged. The bishop, or the overseer, episkopos, was not distinct at this time, apparently, from the presbyter, the elder, or the priest. And here, as in most churches, there were a group of presbyter bishops who managed the churches. And gradually, in the second century, one of these emerged as a head, and the word name bishop was reserved to him, and the others came later on to be called priests. But at this stage, there were these presbyter bishops and deacons. Those were the two orders. And it's interesting that there's no question of celibacy at this time.


That again emerged in the second century, and only gradually, right up until the fourth century, it was still quite common for a bishop to be married, and for a priest to be married, even up to the time of the Council of Trent, which gradually, this particular discipline of celibacy in the Roman church has only gradually emerged in the Eastern church. Presently still, the parish priest is always married. The bishop has to be a monk and is unmarried. It's rather a special way of seeing things, but that's their tradition. So each church has its own tradition. So he says he should be a husband of one wife, obviously, meaning not having two or three wives. It must be respectable. And it's interesting that the church has obviously settled down in the world and is part of the society, and the bishop and the deacon are expected to fit into that society. They must be temperate, sensible, dignified, hospitable,


a lap teacher, not drunkard or violent, gentle, not quarrelsome, no lover of money. It's not a very high ideal. It's just a respectable person, really, he's asked to be. And he must manage his own household, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way. And again, we notice all through the letters of St. Paul that children are expected to be submissive. The idea always was the parents ruled them and kept them under. And today we think it's more the duty of a parent to help the child to grow, to discover themselves, to develop their own personality. It's rather a different view. Each has its place, obviously. If you simply try to get children to develop their personalities, they can be very destructive and extremely difficult to control. But on the other hand, we simply keep them submissive. We're not helping them very much. So again, we have to find a balance in it. For man does not know... For man does not know...