Unknown year, August talk, Serial 00640, Side A

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Year Talk 2/2




And it raises quite many problems as to what really is the meaning of Jesus' ministry. It says, first of all, your great family had compassion on them and healed their sick, and then he feeds them like this. And many people do think that the main ministry of Jesus was feeding the sick, and feeding the people, feeding the hungry. And today, many sick people are in need. In India, the Vasnavas were hungry. And many people feel that the purpose of the Gospel is to heal the sick, feed the hungry. And surely that has a place in it. But surely, that is not what Jesus came to do. Many other state governments can do a great deal to heal the sick and feed the hungry.


But Jesus came to do something more. And then, further point, he feeds them miraculously. And again, some people think that these miracles of Jesus are what really distinguishes the Gospel. But that's not so at all. In India, we're very familiar with these kind of miracles, and they're extremely common. And they're not considered very important. For instance, such as Sai Baba, many of you know him. He proposes miracles every day. And I heard a very interesting story. He came to Madras once and stayed with a family there. And it got known in the city. And they prepared a meal. And they expected about a hundred people prepared for them, and about five hundred came. And they started handing out the food. And the more they handed out, the more it came. And everybody had sufficient. And I think that's quite normal.


When you have faith like that, these things happen. And people in the West think that miracles don't happen, they're just illusions. But we in the East know they do happen, and they're not very important. You see, people think it's so important to feed hungry like that, to multiply bread. It must be the work of God. It's not the work of God at all, necessarily. There are cities, there are powers which people have. Some people have in abundance. Swami Premananda in Trichy has the same powers. He came here once, and I asked him just to demonstrate. He was sitting next to me, and he just waved his hand like that, and a stream of sandal powder came into my hand, sweet-smelling powder. But what's the point of that, you see? Jesus didn't come into the world to bring miracles like that. And so what is it? He doesn't come just to feed the hungry. Certainly he doesn't come to perform miracles. He comes to awaken people to himself, to the inner light of God which is in him.


To awaken people to something more than bread, something more than miracles. There is the light of God himself, which is love. And we read in the Episcopal Nocturne, it separates from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. Jesus came to bring into the world a unique love, a love which is totally self-giving, which gives itself to death on the cross, and which is totally transforming. Love has the power to transform a person's life. When you feed them with bread, you don't change them day after day, and then it's gone. And if you perform a miracle by giving them bread, you are satisfying them. But love is something which transforms the whole life, not in this world only, but in the next. The moment of death, love is what transforms you, love is what gives meaning to your life. So I think we all need to reflect. It's so easy to be misled, you see. It sounds so wonderful, a few five thousand people with a few loads, it must be something


absolutely divine, but it's not really important. And Jesus came for something much more important. And in St. John's Gospel, of course, this feeding of the five thousand is seen to be something more. He says you ate the bread and were filled, but he didn't give them the bread from heaven, he came to give them his own inner life, which is a life of love, and that's what he comes to give us now. And in this Eucharist he gives them bread and wine, and we call it miraculous, it transforms, but really he's simply communicating his love with that bread and wine. And now it's the love of God which is beyond everything in this world. So that's what we come to see in the Eucharist. Questioner 1 It is possible there are three things to observe. First of all, Jesus has compassion on this multitude, had compassion on them, and then he healed their sick. And then he doesn't want to send them away, and he feeds them with the five loaves and


the two fish. And most people today are concerned with these two things. First of all, compassion, the need of humanity as a whole, how to heal the sick, how to feed the hungry. These are great needs of the world, and the Church today has this option for the poor. And most people are rightly concerned with the mass of the poor in India, all over the world, and the need for compassion, understanding, and for inter-peoples. And most people stop there. And I think that's where we fail, because it's a third aspect. It's not brought out here very clearly, but it's often in the Gospels, to be tied to a lonely place. And very few people realize the need. If you're going to have compassion, and your compassion is going to be effective, you have to learn to retire to a lonely place.


A lonely place in your own heart. Because we all have this capacity for compassion, and we all have the capacity to do things to help people, but we also have this solitude. There is a solitary place in the heart. And very few people find that. A great deal of the work of the Church, and the work of charity, it's about the world, fails for their pleasure, I suppose, so far, obviously. But it doesn't go as far as it can, because people don't realize this inner mystery that the heart of every human being, there is that solitude, that silence, where God is immediately present. God is present everywhere, in the poor, in the sick, and in the food you give. But that is indirect. But there is a place where God is directly present, immediately present, and that is in the heart. And unless you discover that immediate presence in the heart, your external activity will always be defective.


It may go so far, but it won't go far enough. And I feel this is the great need of the Church today. You see, many are quite overwhelmed with this problem of suffering, and oppression, and need, and sickness. And in India it's overwhelming, and therefore we must go out, we must serve, we must help people, heal the sick, and give them what they need, and set them free from oppression. And all that is obviously right and necessary, but the source of all that activity is in the heart, in this inner center of the soul. And many people don't realize that. And if they do pray, they celebrate the Mass, and they say the Divine Office, and they say the Rosary. But all these are external, actually, you see. And unless you, through the Mass, through the Rosary, through whatever prayer you make, you find this heart, this center, this place of communion, you have not discovered the real source of life. This is the source of life. And in the past, you know, this was recognized.


People recognized you had to find that source. But you see, the problem is this, that for many people, prayer is still in the mind. You go out, you do work, and so on, then you go and you say the Divine Office, or you celebrate the Mass, but that still can remain in the mind. You're thinking about God, and you're thinking about others, your will is going out to help others and to serve God, but you still don't go beyond the mind. You see, in the East today, we realize that the essence of all meditation, prayer, is going beyond the mind. There's a saying in the Upanishads that, before which the senses fall away, together with the mind. And very few people, their senses may fall away, but their mind is, that's why they're praying in the mind, and everything is in the head. And that is where our prayer fails, you see. If you don't go beyond the mind, you don't get to the heart of prayer, and you don't change your life, you see.


That's why many people, they pray and do wonderful things in a way, but still nothing happens. And it's only when prayer goes beyond the mind into the heart, into the center, that the things happen. And Jesus was living from that center, you see. All his compassion, all his powers came from the center, where he was in direct communion with God, with the Father. And he knows that the son can do nothing of what he sees the Father doing. Everything came to him from the Father, from God, from the source. So I think this is the great need of the church and the world today, to rediscover contemplation, what we mean by contemplation, this experience of God in the heart. And it's found in every tradition, and the methods of meditation are there, but they all are leading you to go beyond your mind and discover the indwelling presence, the spirit within, and to live and to act from there. So we can ask for that grace to discover that, because that's what changes our lives, because


so often people pray and nothing happens, because the prayer is in the mind, in the will. But that's not enough. It has to go into the heart, into the center, where God himself is present in the beginning and the end. So we ask for this grace for the church as a whole, I suppose, for the world to discover the indwelling presence. This passport raises this problem which goes all through the New Testament of law and freedom, and it's one which is always with us, because you cannot live without law, whether in ordinary human society or in religion, in the church, without your law. And the danger is these laws become absolute. Instead of being purely relative and a means to an end, they become an end in themselves, and it's very difficult to avoid it. It's very clear with the law of Israel, it was given by God to Moses. He had regulated the life of Israel and was a means of opening Israel to the knowledge


of God and to the love of God. And it was very effective in that way. And yet, of course, it always had the danger that you simply obey the rules and make them an end and not a means. And this law of fasting and of eating is one of them. Of course, the most profound is the Sabbath. The Sabbath was laid so that once in the week people should be free to be open to God, to listen to the word of God, to share with one another the love of God. And then very easily it simply becomes a rule to keep, to decide exactly what you can do on the Sabbath, or to really keep it. And so it can lose its meaning altogether. And so, again, with all this question of eating, there were rules about eating. And eating is important, and to wash your hands before eating. Things like that have a value. They help you to realize the sacredness of food, the sacredness of eating.


It's not merely a profane thing. And so it can be of value to open you to the presence of God when you're eating. And in India we have many rules like that, caste rules and so on, which have their value, a limited value, a relative value. And then, as I say, they become absolutized. And unless you perform these rituals, the eating this way, you will be excluded. You make a caste rule and other people are excluded from it. And so the Jews also had their caste rules, and everybody else was excluded. A Jew couldn't eat with a Gentile until they were part. That caused a great problem in the early church. You had Jewish Christians who wanted to keep their rules, and then you had Gentiles who didn't admit them. And eventually, of course, we were set free from these laws of the Jews. But we still have our own laws. And fasting is a good example, you see.


The Christian church took up fasting from the Jews. They used to fast regularly. We had our regular fast on Fridays. And again, you see, the one day in the week in which you abstain, in which you gain control over your eating, which is always a problem, and make that day more sacred, more open to prayer, to God. And then, of course, very easily, fasting on Friday becomes simply an absolute. As long as you don't take the meat forever on Friday, you abstain, and you've done your duty and you've fulfilled everything, whether you relate to God in any way, it becomes irrelevant. So again and again, you see how rules are valuable, it's a means, and then they become ends. And we always have to relativize them. And, of course, the church today has totally relativized fasting. It's no longer strict rules. Fasting at absolute minimum. And that is a great gain. But again, you see how they have their value.


It's a mistake to think that all laws and regulations have no value. They have their value. And most people, it's really a very personal thing. You have to find what really helps you. Like fasting. You see, some people find fasting extremely helpful. I've known people who have fasted on water for 3, 5, 10 days, one I heard even did 30 days. And when it becomes a means to spiritual purification, to prayer, to communion with God, it has immense value. When it's simply made an end, it becomes positively harmful. It's simply a prevention from praying. So we too relativize these things and personalize them to find what is the possible value. And this really applies to all rules. Keep going to Mass on Sunday. All rules go to Mass on Sunday. Well, that's a good way of helping people to recognize Sunday as its unique value.


Mass has its unique value. It's an opportunity to open to God, to the grace of God, to the word of God, and has its positive value. But when it becomes simply a rule, as long as you are there, in your church for so long, in the offertory to the communion, you've done your duty and then you can go on. It's obviously an extremely limited value and can be possibly the opposite. You see, you've turned your religion into a kind of a law instead of being a movement of love. You've changed the whole character of religion. So that was happening in Israel. You see, the law had become an absolute. As long as you kept the law and these minute regulations, then you were a good Jew and you were pleasing to God and you've done your duty. And the beautiful message of the law, the love of your neighbor and so on, could be potentially neglected. So Jesus came to break down that barrier of absolute law and to give the inner freedom of the spirit.


And we all have to conquer that. It's never a finished job. You cannot do without law. You have to have regulations, whether it's religious or athletic life, it's very obvious. And yet you've always got to have the freedom which goes beyond the law, doesn't make it an absolute end, sees it as a means, relativizes it, and opens it to the one thing necessary, the openness to the spirit of God. And in the epistle we were reading from the Corinthians, Paul makes it so clear, you see, that the whole Christian dispensation is this reconciliation, God within Christ reconciling the world to himself, setting it free from these bonds of law, opening it to communion with God. And the end of life is communion with God and one another in and through God in Christ. So we all need to reflect how to live out This gospel raises a little serious problems.


Jesus goes to this region of Tyre and Sidon, outside Israel, pagan, heathen people, and this woman comes after him, asking him to heal her daughter. And Jesus, first of all, simply rejects her. And uses the language which the Jews used of their neighbors. He speaks of her as a dog. And says, first of all, he says, I was not sent except for the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And strange to us, in a way, we think Jesus came to speak and preach a universal gospel, but actually he came to renew Israel. Came to that people of God, those chosen people, as our Messiah, to renew Israel, to restore it to the place in God's plan. And then through that to renew the world.


But his mission was to Israel. And only afterwards did it go beyond. And so he encounters this woman and he uses the language of the Jew where they refer to all Gentiles as dogs, the unclean people. I must never forget that. It happens in every religion. You have your holy people, and outside are the dogs. The Greeks were the educated people of the world. All the rest were barbarians. I don't know if you were Greek or you were a barbarian. And the Chinese also, they had the middle empire, and they were the civilized people. Everybody else was uncivilized. So every nation tends to separate itself in that way. And so Jesus takes that Jew and he says to her, it's not fair to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs. You see, the children's bread is his gift of God to Israel, and the Gentiles, the dogs, are not fit to receive it.


But this woman perseveres. She has great faith. Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master's table. And anyhow, he says, woman, great is your faith. God gives you desire. And so, implicitly, he breaks through that barrier. Though he doesn't do so immediately, implicitly he does, and he opens it up to the world as a whole. And this is our problem, you see, that every religion tends naturally to center on itself. Each religion has a unique message from God, a unique experience of God, and they want, above all, to preserve that. If you're a Jew, you'll have the law given by Moses, you'll have the prophets, a unique gift from God, and the Jew wants to preserve that at all costs. And in order to do so, you naturally reject anything which is opposed to it in any way. And then you go on to reject anything that is outside it. So you isolate our own religion.


It's exactly the same with the Muslims. He has the Koran, the Buddha from God, revealed by an angel to Muhammad, and this is a unique gift of God to Islam. And so you want to preserve that at all costs, and in doing so, you reject everybody else. And even in Hinduism, it's much less intolerant, but nevertheless, Vedanta is the supreme wisdom, and Hindus must preserve that supreme wisdom, and in doing so, they will reject others. Until recently, a Brahmin or a devout Hindu was not allowed to go abroad. If he did, he had to be purified when he came back. You were polluted by going abroad. And still, for any stranger to come into the house, into the inner house, you pollute the house. So, you see, there's a reason behind this. You've got unique experience of God, unique gift of God, and you want to preserve that at all costs.


And if you simply are indiscriminate, then you may lose your gift, and so you reject other people. And every religion tends to reject others, you see, and so they isolate themselves, and then they come into conflict with one another. Jew comes into conflict with a Muslim, and the Hindu with a Muslim, and the Christian with all of them. So, we all isolate ourselves, and reject the others. And what we're trying to learn today, and it's not so easy, you see, is to preserve the truth of your own religion. You can't reject that, whatever you are, a Hindu, a Muslim, or a Buddhist, or a Christian, Jew. You have to preserve that truth which has come down to you. But at the same time, you have to learn to respect and to understand, as far as possible, the truth of the other religion. And this is something new, really. I don't think it's ever happened before. Well, no, it's not quite true. It has happened before.


And particularly in India, you see, Ashoka, he established Buddhism, it's the religion of India in the 3rd century before Christ, and he set up these pillars all over India, and he told them, you must respect all religions. It's very interesting. He was a Buddhist, and he wanted to spread the karma everywhere, but that meant that you also respected the other religion, the Jains, the Hindus, and others. And there have been similar movements, even Akbar in the 16th century wanted to reconcile Hindus and Muslims and Christians, and so on. But of course, these movements have been very small, and only today, really, are we trying to learn how... You see, the danger is, if you start mixing with other religions, you lose your own tradition, you lose your own unique experience of God, revelation from God. And how to reserve the truth of your own religion and yet to be really open


to the truth of the other religion. That's what we're trying today. So I think we all need to reflect on this, which, as I say, is not easy. It's easy to mix them all up, to say they're all the same, there's no difference between Christians, Buddhists, Jews, and so on, they're all the same. That is illusory. And it's equally easy to say, no, this is the true religion, all the others are wrong. But to be able to say, the truth is in this religion, and I accede to that truth, but I recognize the truth in other religions. That is what we're challenged to do today. And it's not easy. And you have to have that discernment, you see, of the truth in your own religion. And of course, we tend to mix up a lot of very secondary, accidental things in our religion, think this is the truth which we should preserve. To take an example, many Catholics until recently thought that Latin was the language of the Church. And without Latin, you wouldn't be a Catholic at all. And that was a pure illusion, you see. And the Latin is gone, we realize now.


But before, as many of you will remember, everybody thought Latin was the language of the Church. You cannot have Latin in any other language, and so on. So we have these accidental elements which are identified with the truth, you see. And then we narrow ourselves, and of course reject others, to how to learn to discern the essential truths of each religion, and then to relate them. Because truth is one in the end, you see. There's only one truth, one reality, one God, who is manifesting in different ways. We have to discern that unique revelation in Christ, in each religion, and then relate them to one another. So this is how it's going to go, the only truth. There are many aspects of the story of transfiguration. First of all, it's supposed to remember, it took place at the time of the Feast of the Tabernacles, when Israel remembered its time


when it was wandering in the wilderness, living in tents, and felt weak. They lived in tents to remind themselves of their time when they were wanderers in the desert. And it's very significant that from time to time people go back to a crucial period in their lives. That journey in the wilderness was crucial for the whole history of Israel, and a renewed memory. Perhaps one might make a comparison with the pilgrimage to Sabarimala, which takes place every year, and pilgrims go to this forest in Kerala, and once in a year they go back to the forest. You see, we all live in cities, towns, villages, and these have all grown up. We all come from nature, from the earth herself, and it's good to leave civilization behind and once in a year go to the forest, go to nature herself, and renew ourselves in that way.


So Israel renewed herself in her journey through the wilderness, year by year, the Feast of Tabernacles. And of course this was the time when the law was given to Moses, and Moses also was filled with this spirit of God, and it manifests itself in the light, and Moses came down to the mountain, his face shone, and they had to put a veil over his face so he couldn't look at him. And it's not an uncommon phenomenon. There's a wonderful story, many of you know, of Sir Seraphim of Sarov, the great Russian mystic. He lived in a hut in the woods, and in the far north, in the snow, and one of his disciples went to visit him one day, and they stood conversing in that snow there, and then Seraphim said, look at my face, and he looked, and it was dazzling like the sun, he couldn't look at it, this brilliance, this shining face, and Seraphim put his hand on his shoulder


and looked into his eyes like that. So this is an example, you see, these are phenomena of the spirit. When the spirit is present in a person, it normally doesn't manifest in the body, it manifests in the soul in various ways, but there's always a hidden presence, and in Jesus there's always that hidden presence of the spirit, and normally it didn't manifest in an unusual way. People could mistake him for, they weren't impressed, they went to Nazareth, they always said, this is the carpenter's son, and they saw nothing in him, and presumably the majority of people didn't see anything special, just a Jewish rabbi, maybe a prophet, but nothing more. But at times he allowed this power of the spirit to come through, either in his body, or of course in his miracles, in his healing, and so on. And so on this occasion, that power of the spirit shines through and reveals this mysterious power within him, and of course also brings us witness


of Moses and Elijah, and of the law and the prophets. We need to show that the law and the prophets both prepared the way for Jesus, and then the voice comes, and again these voices and visions, remember they're normal, they're not abnormal. Today many people don't experience them very much, they live in a materialist society, but in ancient times visions and revelations and voices were normal in India still to the present day, and so this voice comes in the cloud and reveals Jesus as a son witnessed by the law and the prophets. And so it's a revelation of the hidden life of Jesus. You see, there was always the outer life that he was about to go and so on, and then there's the hidden life. And in every human being there is a hidden life of the spirit, and as the spirit grows stronger it manifests itself more and more clearly. Sometimes they say, you know, in a brilliance of light like that,


in the orthodox church that is an accepted thing, this magic table they call it. And perhaps one should remind ourselves in Tamil Nadu, Ramalinga Svanegar, very, very holy man who lived in the last century, and he's supposed to have had a light body. They say he could never be photographed, he's only photographed in clothes and so on, and certainly that he could have spoken short of the death of his body. So these phenomena are present, and they would manifest in a very special way in Jesus. But we want to remember that, as I say, it's a manifestation of the spirit, and at the resurrection this part of the spirit took total possession of the body. Here it was just a temporary phenomenon, it shined forth. In the resurrection the body was totally transfigured and went beyond time and space, you see, it appeared in time and space to the disciples and then it went beyond,


and that is the total transfiguration. And that is the final destiny of human beings, the spirit doesn't often shine through the body in this way, but all human beings are destined for the body and the soul to be totally transformed by the spirit, and therefore go beyond the present space-time world in which we live and experience the fullness of the divine life, and that's what happens at the resurrection. So the transfiguration is a kind of premonition of the resurrection, a manifestation in a limited way of that final transfiguration which will take place at the end. So we all need to reflect on these mysteries. You see, we live in this materialistic world and we never see or hear anything of this, and we think all this is just fancy stories, ignorant people imagine these things, but of course these are realities which are experienced all over the world. In India these things are not uncommon, and these things happen, there are these phenomena


of lights and voices and radios and so on, and they are realities which have been experienced and known. And on the other hand, we should neglect too much of them, they are manifestations. They are manifestations of the spirit which is beyond all these things. The spirit is beyond all voices and all appearances of any kind, and is such a transcendence. So, as I say, these are mysteries we need to reflect on and to realise they are real, and yet there is something beyond them. There is the ultimate reality of the spirit which is in each one of us. The mystery of the presence of the spirit which is in each one of us waiting to manifest itself in different ways. We all have that gift of the spirit and we are all destined for resurrection, for transfiguration. In this Gospel Jesus says,


If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Whoever would save his life would lose, and whoever would lose his life, bisect or find it. And the word translated life is really soul, suki. It's a mistranslation. They are afraid to say soul. They think if they sit to tell people they must lose their soul, they'll get upset. But the fact is that we have to distinguish between the soul and the spirit, and unfortunately that distinction is being lost. That is very real, since the fall of the early fathers. It's quite essential to distinguish between the soul and the spirit. And the soul is the ego, the psychic personality. And that is what has to be lost, you see. As long as we center on our psyche, our soul, our limited human personality, we are shut off from others, we are shut off from the world.


And only when we surrender that psyche, that soul, that ego, and allow the spirit to take possession, we are always set free, open to others, we are open to God. And so it's denying one's health, it's denying one's psyche, one's soul. And you see, it's a disaster that people have lost the distinction between the soul and the spirit. They think the soul is everything. You lose your soul, you've lost everything. But the soul is not. The soul is this limited human personality, and beyond that limited human personality, in every human being there's a spirit, a numer, the atman. And that is your real self, and that is your real life. And only when you find that do you find freedom. So Jesus is really telling us, you see, that anyone can come after it and deny himself, that psyche, that limited human self, take up his cross and follow me. And the cross is the surrender of that ego.


You see, Jesus on the cross surrendered his psyche, his soul, his whole being, to the Father, and thereby set free humanity from his bondage to the ego, to the self. And that is the whole purpose of life, to get free from this ego, this lower self, to open to the higher self, the true self, where we're one with each other. You see, in that lower self we're all separated, divided in conflict. When we surrender that, which Jesus did on the cross, then we open ourselves to the whole of humanity, to the whole of creation, and to God in the whole creation. So that's really the meaning of this, thinking up the cross. And we must stop. There's a danger of thinking the cross in the physical terms, as though the essence of Jesus' sacrifice was all the physical suffering. But in a real sense that was quite accidental, to redeem the world without any physical suffering. It was part of his particular calling to suffer in that way.


But the real surrender, which he made and has to remain, is surrendering himself to the Father. Self-surrender. And that's what everybody's called to do. It may involve physical suffering, it may not at all. That's not the fundamental thing. It's the inner surrender, which is the essence of the cross, is self-surrender. Sometimes people say, you know, the ego is this I, and the cross cuts off your ego and sets you free. And that is what the real meaning of the cross is. And then he says, what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forgets his life? You see, it's the wrong thing, and loses his soul. And this gaining the whole world, you see, is when you think your salvation is going to be in the outer world. You look for possessions, you look for the prosperity in the world. You're looking outward all the time, and of course it eludes you all the time.


And when you turn within and discover your inner self, then you find your freedom. And then he says, the son of man is to come with his angels and the glory of the Father, and repay every man for what he has done. And this coming of the son of man is really the finding of the true self, you see. The son of man is man himself in his real being, in his fullness of being in relation to God. Jesus reveals the fullness of humanity, the son of man. And when we are judged, we're judged in the light of that humanity, whether we've been really human or not. There's nothing more than that, but to be fully human, and to be fully human is to realize yourself, to discover your inner spirit, your openness towards humanity. And that is the final judgment. And then he says, I say to you that some standing here


will not taste death before they see the son of man coming in his kingdom. And this coming, the son of man coming in his kingdom is the fullness of humanity, the final destiny of humanity. And in one sense, you could say, that came at the resurrection. You see, at the resurrection, Jesus surrendered himself totally to the Father and was raised up to this new life, the life in the spirit, the body and soul eventually fulfilled in the spirit. And another coming of the kingdom was at Pentecost, because through that surrender to the self, that fulfillment, Jesus brings the spirit. And at the moment of Pentecost, the disciples were taken up into that world of the spirit. So there was, in a sense, a coming of the son of man in his kingdom versus the resurrection at Pentecost. But of course, we're still waiting for it, because humanity as a whole has to pass through death to resurrection, to this new life,


to this life in the spirit. That's why we're all waiting for the coming of Christ, waiting for the coming of the kingdom. That is the final fulfillment of humanity as a whole. And humanity passes beyond its present state, its limited, human, divided state, and opens itself to the fullness of life, this transcendent state where we all experience our oneness with one another and our oneness with God in Christ. So that's the yesterday of man, as the Bible understands it. The gospel challenges us in many ways. Many people think that walking on water is a miracle, an act of God. Jesus was demonstrating that he was God. But I think that's really a misunderstanding that applies to most all the miracles of Jesus. Because there are these powers, in India we call them siddhis, which exist in human nature. And these powers are found in all religions,


in all situations, even outside religion. Many people know today various healing powers and other microsomatic phenomena which occur. And these powers can be simply neutral, they can be used by God, but they can be used by the devil. There are all possible uses of these powers, and they're all present in India today, we find all these powers being exercised for good and for evil. And I think it demands, you see, a different attitude to the world around us. We've all been brought up in what we call the Cartesian universe, the universe where mind and matter are completely separated. The material universe is something spread out outside of us, obeying mechanical laws and owned by science and controlled by science, and it's completely outsiders. And the mind is something quite separate which observes this universe outside us. Well, that is a view which grew up in the 17th century


and prevailed for two centuries, and today is almost completely demolished by science itself. There is no mechanical universe outside us at all. The man and the universe are interrelated and interdependent. We're part of the physical universe. Our bodies are organisms, part of that whole organism, the universe, and we're all living as part of it. If we weren't breathing air, we wouldn't live for a moment. If we didn't have water, day by day, we wouldn't live, if we didn't take inclusion of the universe around us, we wouldn't live. We're interdependent entities all the time. And this interdependence goes throughout our whole being. We're totally interrelated and interdependent of the universe around us. And we can relate to it in a normal way, but there are other ways of relating which are more profound


and which have been known from the beginning of history. The shamans, for instance, in all Asia, Arctic regions and so on, and North America, they have known for thousands of years this power of discovering a hidden power in nature. Not only the merely physical aspects of nature, but a deeper psychological forces of nature and spiritual forces. And they discover this spirit in nature and the spirit in man. And that's what today we're beginning to rediscover, you see, that there is a power, a spirit of God present in the universe and present in human beings. And when we open ourselves to that spirit, then these powers are manifested. And it's very interesting, you see, Jesus first of all went up the mountain to pray. He spent his time in prayer. He was opening himself to that power of God, the spirit of God that was dwelling in him. And when that power was awakened, then he could come down to the disciples


and he could walk on the water. And there's no reason to doubt that when these powers begin to awaken, you could get, say, this control first of all over the body and then over the world around us. Even as a quite common phenomenon, as you know, in India, here in Kuletanai, at the annual feast, people walk on the fire. It's a well-known thing. They build a long fire, as long as this chapel, and put logs of wood and it's burning there all the morning. And when it's all red-hot burning, people walk through the fire. And they don't get burnt. A few do. They have accidents. But normally they don't. And that happens all over India. And they pray and they offer themselves and they walk through the fire. So these are common phenomena. They're not anything extraordinary. But they are signs of something much deeper, you see, that beyond our physical being, our psychological being, we all have in us a spiritual power.


It's hidden, but latent. In Jesus, that power was fully manifest. It was in total control. But in most people, it's either not manifest at all or it only has just the glimpses of it. But I think we all need to realize there is this power within us. And it applies to disease, you see. We think disease is something outside us. A germ gets into us somehow and begins to work on us. And then we get some medicine and we get rid of the germ. But that is extremely superficial and pure. Disease is an organic relationship between you and the world around you. And when you're in proper health, then you're in harmony with your environment. When you get out of harmony, and it can be a purely psychological cause, as we know, you get out of harmony with stress and anxiety, and your body begins to get diseased, you see. Simply, we're psychosomatic beings and we're always being affected by our environment. And on the other hand, as you learn to open up the spirit within,


the deeper center, you learn to control disease. Of course, many people have learned, many yogis have gained complete control over their body in that way. And we can all gain a certain control over disease, if we learn to be surrendered to the spirit. So I think the lesson from all this is, you see, that beyond our physical being and our psychic being, we all have in us a presence of the spirit. And that presence of the spirit is present in the whole universe, in the whole cosmos around us, in all human beings. And we can relate in the spirit to the world around us and to other people. And then we get a... The same lesson as we had in St. Matthew, he would lose his life or rather his soul, that's my correct translation, and he will save his soul from losing. And we're reflecting, the soul is your, whatever, your limited human person, and beyond your soul is your spirit


that are open to humanity and to God. And Jesus is teaching us how to go beyond the soul, the limited human person, and open to the divine. And, you know, he says, he who loves his soul, he'll lose it. He who hates his soul in this world will keep it for eternal life. And this soullessness, this ego, this limited personality, which is not evil, but it becomes evil when we identify ourselves with it. When we identify with it, then we separate from others, we become in conflict. When we transcend it, surrender it, die to it, then we open to others and to eternal life. It's the real secret of life, how to get beyond this ego personality, which everybody has, and which, as I say, is not evil. We have to have this ego,


it has to grow as a child, it has to find a personality, to become distinct, and yet always to go beyond it. It's the two things, to achieve a personality, some don't even achieve it, and you have to, and then you have to go beyond it, you have to share with others. And that is the life of the Spirit, and that is the real message of the Gospel. And any attempt to create human unity, to share with others at another level, is always a failure. People are realizing today, all these big charitable organizations, neither birth in India nor elsewhere for years, and they all began to realize that merely to pour money into the country and give people things does not answer the need. It makes people dependent, it makes them greedy. The more you give them, the more they want. And everyone's discovering now that it's not the way, it simply is a false trail. And we're discovering that what you have to do is to help people to find their own capacities


and to contribute themselves. People feel fulfilled when they have responsibility, when they feel that they're being called upon to do something, to give. People like to give, not only to receive. I always remember a friend of mine, his wife, were in a very remote village in the Himalayas for many, many years, and they had a school there, a dispensary, and they lived very happily with the people. And they said, all these people were extremely poor, they were really on subsistence level, the poverty line, but they all shared with one another. It's very common in a very poor village, Haridwar, they would share with one another. I knew an English girl who lived in a Haridwar village, and she said that it was simply accepted. When you were in need, you simply went to your neighbor if you wanted some sugar or some rice or anything, you simply went to them and they gave what they had.


And then when they were in need, they came to you. It was an understood thing, you simply shared. So they lived in this village like that, and they were very poor, but they were happy, they were sharing, and it was a good spirit in the community. And then the government got aware of these remote villages and decided to bring them up, and so they built a military road within a certain distance and then linked it up, and then they began to send government servants to raise the standard of life in the village. And they said in one year the village was totally ruined, because everybody now wanted to get a government job, to get money, to get better than their neighbor. This is a terrible lesson, you see, it's all done with a good intention, you go into a village, you bring money into it, and you raise the standard of life, and then you get this competitive instinct comes in, and it's ruining people, you see, they want to get better than their neighbor, everywhere it's happening, people want to get a better job, and you put your neighbor down and you push yourself forward,


and so you get this money economy and this competitive economy, and yet it ruins people's lives, and the opposite is this shared life. And today we are realizing that what people need is to be able to share with one another and almost feel they have something to give. You don't want to simply be receiving, you see. It's the same with the gospel, you see, we've had the idea before, we go and preach the gospel to all the people and so on, and we carry the gospel with us, and we never thought we'd have anything to receive, just have to give, give Christ to others. It's a beautiful idea, but people don't want just to be receiving, they've got something to give, they have their experience of God, which they want to share with us. And when you begin to share, then both sides feel happy. Again, I remember, I mentioned it one month, I think, we had a meeting at the Ramakrishna Ashram in Trivandrum, a group of Christians, and we asked if we could meet and share with them. And at first they were afraid of it


because they thought we were coming there to give the gospel to them, to convert them, you see, and of course we wanted the thought. But when we did go and explained we want to share with one another, we share our understanding of Christ, and they understand their understanding of Shiva, Vishnu, their religion, and that opened the path completely. There was a wonderful sharing, went on for years after that. You see, when you're open to others and share with them, then people are happy. And it's the same in a village, you see, if you can go into a village and find people's capacities, what they're able to do, you can also give some help, of course you give some help, but also you bring out their capacity and they're able to do it, to share. I think this is tremendously important. You see, it raises people's dignity, they feel themselves somebody. And when you're simply giving them, you put them down, really, you see, they're just objects of your charity.


And it goes deeper, you see, what you're doing, and you're still working from your ego, you see, you as this rich person, you come and you give to that poor person, you're doing something to them. But when you go beyond your ego and open to the spirit, then in the spirit you all share, you're all one with one another in that spirit. So that real charity is not simply giving to people, that's a spurious charity. Real charity is loving the way you... And love is always shared, you give and you receive, you open to others. So this is the great lesson, how to get beyond the ego to that, you see, the spirit is charity, is love. That is what Jesus came to give. He didn't come simply to get people better living, you see, to get food and clothing and medicine and education. All these things come with it. As he said, seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added. And the kingdom of God is the kingdom of love. And when you open your heart to others,


you share with them and let them bring forth what they have, then that sharing, the kingdom of God comes, and then you have this mutual experience of shared love. And that's really what we have to seek. And the world is seeking this everywhere and none of the answers are adequate, normal answers, whether the charity of the rich man giving to the poor or the state taking over and giving to everybody. It's even more oppressive than that, I think, as people are realizing. But to create this community of love which is beyond the ego, and unless people are prepared to go beyond themselves and experience this gift of God. You see, this love is a gift of God. It's not something we do any longer. We're receiving it from God and we're sharing it with one another. So I think we all have to ask for the grace to see this and to put it in practice as far as we're able. This message of the gospel


about coming as a little child is very important because the child represents the innocence of human nature. Every child is born into this world with this image of God. In the depths of all human beings there is that image of God, the receptivity to the spirit of God. But as the child grows, all the traditions of human existence begin to cover that image from the very moment of birth. All the language and the ways of people, this shadow begins to overshadow this image of the child. And we build up this personality with our own personality and all our racial, our traditional way of life and so on. This sinful humanity begins to shadow the child.


And this is happening in all of us all the time. This innocent child in the heart that is overshadowed all the time by the world, the whole world of humanity, the whole world in which we're living. And conversion is when we recognize this worldly nature in ourselves and recover the innocence of the child. And it's a constant thing because we're always being overshadowed. Day by day the world is around us and its views and attitudes are infringing upon us and we have to renew ourselves day by day to free ourselves from the shadow, from this burden which we carry and open ourselves to the divine light. You see, at the heart of every human being is the child which is open to the divine light. That's the image of God in us. And when we free ourselves from this burden of sin, then this image of God,


this inner light, begins to emerge and we begin to discover ourselves. So, Jesus really came to awaken this image of God in each person and allow the person to discover themselves. And so he says, whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of God. And humility is simply discovering one's own inner nature. And this is rather an important point, you see, that there are two ways of looking at this. One is to think that we're all burdened with sin and we do that very commonly. We say we're all sinners, we teach other people they're sinful. But there's a danger in that that people get a very negative view of themselves and they feel we're weak and sinful and we're bad and God can help us, of course, but still we get this very bad image of ourselves


and we need to correct that by saying it's true that we are weak, we're sinful, we're separated from God, but still, in every human being, that image is never lost. The image of God remains always. It can always be recovered and everybody is essentially good. Essentially, in the depth of our being, we are this image of God and the shadow has come over it, the sin has come over it and obscured it and hidden it, but still the light is there, the truth is there in every human being and we have always to rediscover this light. And then Jesus says, whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, since you do not despise one of these little ones. And, you see, to recognize a hidden child, an image of God, in every human being, it may be overshadowed so that you can't see a glimpse of it. And sin can simply dominate a person


and explore all the truth in them. And yet it remains, there always is, a hidden mystery in every human being and we have to recognize it. And then Jesus gives the example of the sheep that is lost. You see, it goes astray and it loses its original innocence and it's betrayed in all these ways, but still the shepherd goes in search of it. And he says, if a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go in search of one that went astray? And if he finds it truly, he rejoices over it more than the others that never went astray. The Fathers interpreted mystically that this sheep that went astray is the human race and the angels were there and they were sharing the light of God, but the human race went astray. And God went in search of this human race to discover it,


to bring it back to the top. And then he said, it's very beautiful, it is not the will of my Father in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. God is in search of all those who have gone astray, and God recognizes that there is this hidden presence, this image of God in every human being, and God goes in search of it. And that's what we all have to do, to try to find behind all the sin of the world, the hidden mystery. You see, it's a great danger, because sin is so obvious. When people do such terrible things, we see all these murders taking place every day, and rape, and violence of every sort, and crime spreading everywhere. And it's easy to say, all these people are narcissists, they've gone astray, and of course they have, but in all those people, there is this hidden mystery. And if you really go into it, when you try to go behind


some terrible crime that's been committed, or people are living a life of prostitution, or whatever, when you go behind it, you see a human being with so many different problems, and so much more complicated, and behind it all, you can always discern, there is a search for truth, for goodness, for love. It's gone astray, but it's always there. And always we have to try to discern behind the sin and the evil of every human being, this hidden mystery, which can be redeemed. And when we recognize it, we can draw it out. If we recognize the good in the person, we can draw it out. If we simply condemn the person, of course then we shut them out from this place. But if we open to it, then we may not change, and we may not see much of it, but still we can call on that hidden mystery in each person, that image of God. And God himself is seeking


that lost sheep, that's the old sign. He's searching to discover the hidden image and to bring it to life. And Jesus said that angels always see the face of their father who is in heaven. You see, where the image of God is, there we're open to all these angelic influences. And the child is open to all this world of the angels and all the spirits. And then sin comes over, and we forget the angels altogether. We think they're just myths and fancies, but of course they're there. And when the shadow of the world goes away, then we see God himself and all the hosts of angels and saints and so on, and the presence of what this great mystery all the time. And the child, and the child in each person can see that. The angels are always present, and we see the face of the father with the angel. So that's the calling. And when we celebrate the Mass,


every time we say, now with all the angels and archangels, and all the saints, we praise your glory. We enter into the presence of the angels when we discover our own image of God in each one of us. In the Earthly tradition of the Gospel, we have this problem of human conflict. And it's the main problem of life, that wherever we come together, we begin to quarrel with one another. Jesus says at the end, if two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them. One can also say, if two or three are gathered together without God, without Christ, there is quarrel among them. It's almost impossible for two or three people to live together without quarreling. And that is our human problem. We're all made different. Each is unique. Each has its own unique way of thinking, feeling, attitudes, and mind. They're all bred in us and developed in us.


And we can't get on with the other person. I remember reading a story of some soldiers in the war. They were placed in an extremely isolated place, which is remote from any contact with other people. And their frustration was so intense that they hung up a sack so that they could go and beat the sack from time to time to get rid of their anger, their frustration, and their rage. And so people find that you get frustrated and angry and want to kill one another. And it happens, of course. You see it all over the world today, this terrible conflict. You see in the Netherlands, this extremely beautiful place I visited about 20 years ago, really peaceful and beautiful place where Christians and Muslims have been living together for years. And then something sparked off a cloud and it's torn to pieces, as you know. You see the same thing in Sri Lanka, the same thing all over the world. These terrible problems arise.


And it's all because we're all self-centered. We've all got this... It's a gift from God that we have this unique self, but then we center on that self and we separate from others. And the problem is how to get beyond this self-centeredness. And in the Gospel, Jesus gives some indications. First of all, if your brother sinned against you, tell him it's fault to be you and him alone. He listened to you against your brother. And of course, we can try and reconcile. It all doesn't work. He does not listen. Take one or two others. Every word may be confirmed. And we can try to deal with it as a community. And he says, if it proves, tell it to the church. This word church is only used twice in the Gospels, and only in St. Matthew's Gospel. And almost certainly, it's the Aramaic Baha'u, which was the congregation of Israel in the Old Testament.


And Jesus came to make this new Israel, this new congregation. And of course, that was church. And so, first of all, you try to reconcile with the person. Then you try to bring a group. And then you try to reconcile with the community, the congregation, the church. And still, you may not be able to reconcile. And ultimately, we have to go beyond ourselves. It's the whole problem of human life. As long as we remain centered in ourselves, we're always in conflict. And we all think, it's not because we think we're doing wrong. It's because we think we're doing right. All the quarrels arise because people are convinced that they're right. It's not because you're... Sometimes we think you're wicked, sinful, you're doing wrong. And that's the cause of problems. But it's not. It's because you're holy and righteous and convinced that you're right and other people are wrong. That's where all the problems arise. All the great revolutions,


the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the Chinese Revolution, they're totally convinced that they were right. You see? Liberty, fraternity, equality, freedom of the proletariat, getting rid of your chains. And so you go all out for that. And then all the quarrels begin and you begin to kill the people who don't agree with you and you have concentration camps. The whole list of sin and evil goes on again. There's no answer on that level at all. And the only answer is that if it's really in the Church, you have to go beyond yourself, beyond your ego, open up to the Spirit of God within. And to open up to Christ is to open up to the Christ within, the Spirit of God within. And in all of us, there is something which transcends ourselves, something where we go beyond ourselves and we open to love, to this agape. And this love is not an ordinary love, obviously. It's a unique gift, you see, the gift of the Gospel of Christ


which is agape, this love which is totally unselfish, totally self-giving. And Jesus demonstrates it on the cross. He totally gives himself to the life of the world. And we are called to give ourselves. See, the opposite of being self-centered is giving ourselves, sharing with others. So that's the challenge for us all the time. As we all know, it's extremely difficult. No community can live in peace. The most Christian communities are all quarreled and all the apostles quarreled among themselves, you know. Paul and Barnabas were brought together, they quarreled and Paul and Mark separated from them. So every human being has this sort of basic tendency to... Because you think you're right, you see, that is the problem. It's not because you think you're wrong or you're doing wrong. You're convinced you've got a sort of goal in life and you're centered on that, you feel this is the need and you focus on that and you're oblivious of any other kind.


And of course we do it with religion, you see. Each religion is convinced that it's right. The Jew, the Muslim, the Christian, and to a large extent also the Hindu and the Buddhist, each is convinced that theirs is the truth, you see. And of course there is a profound truth in each, but you limit yourself to your own truth and you reject all other aspects of truth. And today we're trying to learn how to be true to your own truth and to be faithful to that, but at the same time to recognize truth in the other. And this applies to all Jewish situations. If we could recognize the value in the other person, they're saying something contrary to us, but there's something there which is meaningful, something which we can accept. And it applies also to oneself, you know. You see, there's a danger in ourselves. We reject certain aspects of ourselves. We think they're wicked, they're sinful, and we reject them. But we're learning today that you've got to learn to accept yourself, accept your sinfulness and your painlessness


and your pride and vanity, and learn to deal with that. It's no use just rejecting it. That suppresses it and it comes back. But when you face it, accept it, and find there's something positive in all evil. You see, nothing is purely evil. Evil is always a defect of the good. And when a person does evil, he's always seeking some good, and there is some good in it. So when we learn to see the good and the evil in ourselves and in others, then we begin to cooperate and then we begin to find an answer. But of course, as I say, it means going beyond oneself. It means surrender to the Spirit. It means openness to God, to Christ. So this is the problem, the old case in which we all have to work on day by day. And there's no answer in this world, really. The time of reconciliation will only come beyond this world, but still we have to work towards it to create harmony in ourselves,


harmony in the community, harmony in the Church, and eventually harmony in the world. We have to work towards it however much we can day by day. The problem of forgiveness is a great mystery. Jesus makes it clear that it's not a rational thing at all. Peter comes up and says quite reasonably, how often should I forgive? Seven times, he's very generous. And Jesus says not seven times, but seventy times seven makes it quite beyond all reasoning. See, it's not a matter of reasoning at all. In the same way, he gives the example of a man who owes ten thousand talents, isn't it? Ten thousand talents, that's a huge sum


of thousands of rupees. And he's forgiven. And then he finds one who owes a hundred denarii, might be a hundred rupees, and he won't forgive him. So the point is the lack of all forgiveness. And I think as long as we try to deal with forgiveness on a rational basis, calculating how often we should forgive and so on, we never reach anywhere. And really, you can't deal with it on a rational way at all. As we all know, when you try to forgive somebody on that level, it's almost impossible. You try to forget about it, but it keeps coming back, and then you say you've forgiven him, but you find actually you haven't. It's not a human, rational procedure at all. And as long as we remain on that level, we never really forgive. And the same way, we're never really forgiven, as long as you feel, look at things simply from a rational point of view, ask, how can I be forgiven? I've done this.


But when you go beyond your reason and make a surrender to God, to the spirit within, something quite, another dimension enters in. And that is where forgiveness is. It's not in the rational mind at all, or the rational will. It's in this transcendent mystery, and we surrender to that mystery, and then this forgiveness comes, something of grace of God, a gift comes into our lives. And we realize that we are forgiven. You see, many people can't accept forgiveness. They judge it all rationally, they've done this and that, and they can't accept forgiveness. And you can't accept it on a very human level, but when something else comes, then it simply takes place. The whole thing changes. And forgiveness doesn't mean that you forget about it, or that you suppress it in some way. It means a total change takes place. Something mysterious enters in, which transforms the whole situation. And that applies to ourselves,


when we realize that we are forgiven. And when we realize we are forgiven, we're able to forgive the other. Not rationally, not according to any human calculation, but by some mystery of grace, you see. I think it's so important to realize that you have to go beyond this human calculation. I remember a story told once about a man who was in a concentration camp in Dachau or somewhere in Germany, and after the war he was... Sorry, who was one of the guards in one of these camps. And after the war he had a conversion, became a Christian, and he met another person who had been a prisoner in that camp under him. And he went up to that person and wanted to shake hands. And that person found it almost impossible to shake hands with this person


who had been the guard in the prison in the concentration camp, and made a tremendous effort to sort of ask for Jesus to come and reconcile, and was able to shake hands. You see, it was not a human thing to do. You can't forgive like that humanly. But when you go beyond, then something happens. And that's the mystery of redemption, you see. We're not forgiven by any calculation at all, but by sheer love, by sheer grace, by sheer gift. And that is redemption, that is love. So we all have to learn how to experience that love, that forgiveness, and then to be able to share it with others.