Unknown year, December talk, Serial 00647

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It occurs both in Matthew and Luke, and gives an insight into the inner life of Jesus, which is very rare, and reveals this relationship to the Father.
And Jesus' whole life centred on this relation to the Father.
They call it his Abba experience, Abba Father.
And this is what is distinctive in Christian revelation.
In India we have a revelation
God as Brahman, as the one reality.
And there is still an experience in Hinduism, it says, I am Brahman, aham brahmasmi.
And it's an experience of oneness, oneness with the supreme, and a very profound experience.
But Jesus experienced God differently.
It wasn't simply oneness, it was a communion.
It's a relationship.
I express it in St John's Gospel, I am in the Father, the Father is in me.
He who sees, perceives the Father, but I am not the Father.
See, the Hindu is Aham Brahms, I am Brahman.
And that is an insight, it's a mystical experience.
But Jesus experienced himself in relationship.
And the difference is, you see, if you say I am Brahman,
It is one reality, it is satchitananda, being, consciousness and bliss, and it is a marvelous experience, but it remains an identity of being.
But when you say, I am the son of the father, it reveals a communion, it reveals God as love.
You see, love is relationship, and the ultimate reality is not simply being, not simply consciousness and bliss, the ultimate reality is love, it is relationship.
And this makes a lot of difference to our lives, whether we're seeking to discover the one reality, to be one with it, an identity of being, or whether we're opening ourselves to a love which unites us with God and with human beings in God.
You see, the Christian revelation is that Jesus knows himself in this relation to the Father, and he shares it with his brethren.
No one knows the father but the son, and he to whom the son will reveal.
And as I mentioned yesterday, Jesus had this unique experience of God and came to share it with others.
And that is what is special of the Christian revelation.
Every religion begins with an experience of ultimate reality.
The Buddha has an experience under the bow tree, and he called that reality nirvana.
And then the Hindu sages and the Upanishads had their experience of Brahman.
And they spoke of this nirguna Brahman.
And Jesus had this experience of ultimate reality, but in relationship, as sonship to the father.
And therefore, as I say, as love.
So he has this unique experience, and he comes to share it with others.
So we've become sons in the father.
each one of us is called to be the son or the daughter, if you like to speak of it, in the father.
And it comes through the communion of the spirit.
See, it communicates the spirit to us, to each one, and that spirit is the spirit of God, is a communication of the very being of God, which is love.
God communicates that love in the spirit, and in that love we know ourselves as sons to the father, sons in the son,
and sons to the father.
So this is the Christian revelation, and it's unique.
Each religion has a unique revelation.
The Buddhist vision of ultimate reality is nirvana.
It's a unique revelation.
And the Hindu revelation of the ultimate reality is Brahman or Atman.
It's a unique revelation.
And this is the Christian revelation.
And we have to recognize the validity of each at the same time to see their
differences and to see what is unique in our own Christian experience.
So we ask that we may also enter into that, you see, to experience the reality of God as Father, ourselves in the relationships of sons and daughters, and experience Him the indwelling Spirit.
It all comes from there.
When we experience the indwelling Spirit in our own heart, our own spirit, then we discover our relationship to the Father and to the Son.
And this is the
Christian calling.
Today, the memory of St.
Francis Xavier.
As you know, he came to India in the 16th century and preached the gospel of God and then all down the coast of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
And his community still survived to this present day.
And he was a man filled with the love of God
preach the gospel with tremendous power.
And as you know, he went on beyond India, as far as China and Japan, with this tremendous zeal to preach the gospel.
But the other side of it was that St.
Francis Xavier shared the view of the church at that time that all who were not baptized Christians were going to hell.
And the motive of his missionary activity was to save people from hell.
And I think we have to recognize this.
It was a limitation of the Church which endured right into the present century.
It was a universal beast that unless you were baptized as a Christian, you were going to hell.
And no doubt there is foundation for it in the New Testament itself.
There's a great deal.
Paul speaks of the heathen, the Gentiles, being condemned and judged by God.
And it's persisted all through the history of the Church, but there have always been other voices in the New Testament itself and in the Fathers who recognize that God's grace is universal and that salvation is offered in some way to all.
But we need to remind ourselves of this very negative view.
And I'd like to give you one or two examples, because we have to face the fact, you see, that the Church did accept this view, and it had immediate consequences.
This is a book on inculturation by a father in Bombay, and then he quotes something of the indulgence prayer of St.
Francis Xavier which says, Behold, Lord, to your dishonor, hell is being filled with these people, all the people of India are going to hell.
And then the superior general of the Jesuits wrote to the Jesuits in India,
of non-Christians who, like vile slaves, still serve Satan, and with him are sons of wrath and perdition.
And then a grand-nephew of Francis Xavier visited the Mogul court and told him that Muhammad was in hell.
and that all Muslims were going to hell.
And that was the view.
Saint Francis Xavier thought that all Brahmins were devil worshippers, all Buddhists were atheists, and all Muslims, or Mohists as he called them, were infidels.
And they were all on the way to hell.
And unless they were baptized, they couldn't be saved.
So that's the background.
And right into the 19th century, there was a bishop
Hartman, who was a famous missionary, came to India in 1841, and he said to his people, I leave you, if I leave you, it is for this reason alone, snatched from eternal destruction by the light and grace of the gospel, all these souls.
So that was the mind of the church until recently.
And we can't forget, you see, it's caused terrible resentment among Hindus.
You see, educated Hindus know about all this.
And in Goa, you know, they destroyed all the temples, and they introduced the Inquisition, and people were practically forced to become Christians.
Because after all, if people are going to hell, you can do almost anything to rescue them.
So that was the situation.
It's really only since the Vatican Council, as I say, the other view was present in the Church.
Even the New Testament itself, God willing, it's all meant to be saved from the knowledge of the truth, and there are many aspects of that.
And then among the fathers, Clement of Alexandria, and many of the fathers who recognized that God's grace was universal and salvation was present to all,
And even in the Middle Ages, I think it was St.
Thomas Aquinas, supposing somebody in India was really a just person, seeking God, he said God would have sent an angel to him.
He would surely have rescued him, you see.
So there was always a belief that if you were just and seeking God, salvation would come.
But the other negative side was overwhelmingly strong.
And as I say, it was really only the Second Vatican Council in the Constitution of the Church and then the Declaration on Non-Christian Religions which changed this attitude totally.
And it put it very strongly.
It said that to this people of God belong or are associated all Catholics, all Christians, and indeed all humanity,
because all have a common origin and a common goal.
God created all humanity for salvation, for the knowledge of himself, and the grace of God is offered in some way to every human being.
No one is excluded from salvation, except if he chooses to harden his heart and resist, we can't say, but the offer is there to every human being.
And it specified Jews and Muslims who believe in God and there are people who don't believe in God and yet follow their conscience.
And it said anyone who tries to follow his conscience, acrossly, can also be saved.
And of course there are millions of atheists today who are very conscientious people, more conscientious than most Christians.
They're very zealous for truth, for justice, for humanity, and they reject God because they think this kind of God that they hear of is not worthy of respect at all.
and they reject every idea of God, but they believe in justice and truth and human goodness.
So, we have to see the world in that context today, that the Christian mission is to spread the gospel of God's love, and Francis Xavier was filled with the love of God, and really his motive behind it all was to wake people to the love of God, to give their lives to Him,
and we cannot deny it, and he was a great saint therefore.
But of course he shared the common understanding of his day.
The heathen, non-Christians were all on their way to hell.
And today we recognize the grace of God present everywhere, among all people, in all religions,
But at the same time, we recognize God has revealed himself in Christ, in Jesus, in a unique way.
The love of God was revealed in Jesus at his death on the cross, his resurrection, and in the church, in a unique way which we want to share with others.
There is something unique in Jesus which everybody can find, which brings grace and salvation to all.
But we don't deny the possibility of salvation in every other religion and outside every religion.
So I think if we take it there in that way, then mission becomes meaningful.
You see, mission is dialogue today.
You come to share the knowledge of Christ and the love of God in Christ with others.
And then you share their understanding of God, their understanding of his providence and his grace.
And of course, in India we have a tradition of the love of God which is incredible.
You see, you take Manikavasara, you see, we're reading this great Tamil mystic every day, and he's absolutely consumed with the love of God, you see.
And he himself, he said, I was a cur, a dog, and I was living a base life, and he came and he rescued me,
showed me his love and he made me one with him.
a wonderful mystery of grace, you see, in that soul of Mani Prabhasa in the fifth century or maybe after Christ, but still a Hindu, you see, and of course the multitudes of others who have been filled with the love of God and consumed by it, and who have given their lives to it.
So we recognize that God has revealed himself in India in a wonderful way, but also there is a unique revelation of God in Christ which we want to share with them and we want
their love of God which is revealed to them.
And we should remind ourselves, as I say, you see, that for many Hindus, this whole rejection of Hinduism, a part of Christianity, is a tremendous... you know, it upsets them terribly, it makes them very angry, you see.
And so when people hate the Church, it's not necessarily because they hate what is good in the Church, it's because they know the history of the Church,
and the way it has rejected other religions and killed people in the name of Christ.
You see, that is the tragedy which we face.
So we have to see both sides of it.
And on the other hand, to realize that the love of God was present in St.
Francis' Haven and has always been present in the Church, and it's always been offered to humanity.
And we ourselves have the calling to offer that love of God in Christ.
You see, that is something unique which he's given to us.
which we want to share with others, but we recognize also the gifts of God in other people.
We read many of these stories of miracles of Jesus in the New Testament, especially those of healing the blind, the lame, the dumb, the sick, those with evil spirits,
These were all seen as signs of the messianic age.
Israel had looked forward to the time when God would visit his people.
He would set them free, and a new age would dawn.
And with the coming of Jesus, the first coming, there was a beginning of that age.
And these miracles were signs of the coming.
He healed a few blind people, a few sick people, a few lame, dumb, and so on.
But these were only signs, tokens, as it were, and we're waiting for the final coming, for that final fulfillment, when humanity is set free from all this disease, sickness, suffering, death itself.
And I think that's the perspective we have to live in.
That's the meaning of Advent, you see.
Advent is this coming of the Lord, and Israel was looking forward, and Jesus was a great sign that God had come.
God has come among his people, but still
it wasn't fulfilled.
That's why, in part, the Jews don't accept Jesus as the Messiah, because he didn't fulfill all that was expected.
But we look forward to this second coming, and that is when all will be fulfilled.
And I think we have to have that hope, that expectation, you see, that all sickness, suffering, death are temporary.
They belong to this temporal world in which we live, and all this is going to pass away, and the new world is going to come.
It's difficult, you know, to envisage it, and it can be rather fantastic in a way, but our images and fantasies are only ways in which we try to open ourselves to the mystery.
And obviously it's beyond our comprehension.
You see, we're living in this time-space world with our limited human minds, our limited human capacities, but we have this hope, expectation of another world, another mode of consciousness.
And there are signs of it.
You see, the fact that Jesus had this power to heal, to set people free, is a sign that there is in the world a power which can set people free.
And even in India also we have signs of this.
We're reading this book about Swami Rama, the Himalayan masters.
I may not believe all that he says necessarily, but quite clearly among these Himalayan sages are all these powers of presence.
knowing the time of their death, being able to cast off the body, even being able to disembody themselves.
There are many powers which are claimed.
I say we needn't believe that all are necessarily exactly as he says, but the fact that people have that expectation, you see, is itself significant.
All through human history there's been this sense that this is not the final stage, we're not in the state we're intended to be.
There's something in our nature beyond all this, beyond sin and suffering and death.
There's this tremendous hope, expectation, this belief that we're created for something more, you see.
And that you'll find all through the world from the beginning of history.
And Jesus' coming is a sign that this is not a vain hope.
The people were healed.
The sick were healed.
The blind did see.
The lame walked.
The dumb spoke.
Evil spirits were cast out.
People were renewed.
And then of course, finally, he rose from the dead.
Death was overcome, he was set free from death.
So these things have happened and they're signs of what is going to happen.
And we live in that faith, in that hope, in that expectation.
And I think it's particularly important today because people get overwhelmed with the present world.
It's so overwhelming, it so presses on you on every side and death and suffering is there.
It looks as though there's no end to it.
And then, but we know there is an end, there is something beyond it.
And Advent is the time when we look forward to that end of that coming, that renewal, that fulfillment.
So we ask for the grace to renew that faith, that hope in our lives.
We read in this Gospel today how John the Baptist prepares the way of the Lord and fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah.
This is one crying in the wilderness, now aware of the Lord.
And so he calls people for repentance.
They come, talk to him, baptize in the Jordan.
And then he says, I baptize you with water.
One coming after me.
He baptizes you with the Holy Spirit.
And if you reflect on it, you realize that at the end of all this dispensation, grace, revelation, is his gift of the Holy Spirit.
God communicating this life to humanity.
That's the end of all religion.
Humanity should share in the life of God, in the life of love, of truth, of grace, of holiness, of all that we can conceive.
And that is what is offered and what is given.
And I think we all need concretely to reflect on it.
And all the dispensation of providence, all the picture and the prophets
and John the Baptist himself, and all the sacraments of the church, and all the doctrine, and the incarnation itself, is all connected to that one end, that humanity should share in the life of the love of God, that is the end of all creation, the end of all redemption, the end of all human existence.
And in a very deep sense, you see,
We speak of the coming of the Holy Spirit, the coming of Christ, but in a deep sense the Holy Spirit is always there.
He doesn't change.
The Holy Spirit is always there.
We are not aware of it.
And repentance is when we turn away from sin, turn away from ourselves and discover the presence.
The presence is always there.
And we are hidden from it, it's hidden from us because of our human conditioning, our human sin, our human limitations.
But the grace of God calls us to go beyond our sins, beyond our limitations, and to become aware that that Spirit is present.
It's a great mystery, you see, that it's present to all humanity.
Every human being is hoping in some way to that Holy Spirit.
It's present to all.
And all religion is a way
free people from their own bondage, their sin, their limitations, and help them to discover this mystery of the spirit, which is always there waiting for us and allowing us to share in His light.
So perhaps we can reflect, you see, it's a marvellous mystery to think that all the sorrow and suffering of the world is tied with humanity and all the rites of religion and all the bliss that people have.
This is one reality, that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God... Immaculate conception, the faith that Mary was conceived without sin and
I was saying it's based to some extent the way it's expressed on a full redemption theology.
I've been reading in Matthew Fox this difference between a full redemption theology and a creation theology.
And in the full redemption theology, every human being is born in sin, separated from God, destined to hell through eternal loss.
And only those who are rescued from this state can be saved.
and Mary was one who was rescued by the grace of... all knowledge is the grace of God and Christ.
But a creation theology, which is much more profound than FDZ or St Thomas Aquinas, is that every human being is created in the image of God.
Every human being has an image of God, and it's an image which is destined to grow.
It's like a little mirror which reflects God.
Unless it's composited, it will reflect more and more.
So every human being has this image of God, and sin comes to cloud that image, to darken it, to shadow it, sometimes totally to obscure it.
People are really exposed to sin in that way.
But it varies immensely, and many, many people are, I won't say totally free from sin, but that image of God has grown in them from childhood, and many holy children
and their mothers have cherished them, and they grow in a holy innocence, and the shadow of sin is very little.
And Mary was one, clearly, who was totally free from that shadow.
By the grace of God, she was preserved in that innocence, and she was allowed to grow, and she really represents what a human being is meant to be.
See, we were all called, created in the image of God, and called to open ourselves to the grace of God, to the Holy Spirit,
Since we grow, and as we grow from childhood to adolescence to maturity, the image of God should gradually grow in us until we reach perfection.
And we read in the epistle, it's a beautiful example of what human beings are intended to be, you see, it says, he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world.
See, not only Mary, but every one of us was chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world as an eternal calling, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.
See, God doesn't create without any meaning.
He creates everybody to be holy and blameless before Him.
A multitude should be holy and blameless before Him.
And He destined us in love to be His sons and daughters through Jesus Christ.
to the praise of his glorious grace which is freely bestowed on us in the beloved.
It's a free gift of grace, you see, we're created in that image, and then the grace of God, the Holy Spirit, comes to make that image grow.
And so a gradual transformation takes place.
And Mary must have grown in that way, you see, day by day, responding to the Holy Spirit, so that she became, as she matured, she became a fully human being.
totally filled with the Holy Spirit, and that is the goal of our existence.
And then we believe also that she was assumed into heaven, and the base of that is, you see, that the human being is a psychosomatic unity.
The image of God is not merely spiritual, it is the human being is in the image of God, the body-soul.
And as the image grows, the body-soul becomes more and more under the influence of the Holy Spirit.
That's how we're all intended to be.
We have this image of God in us, and as the child grows, the body grows, so the soul and body grow together into unity.
And the Holy Spirit creates that unity of body and soul.
And so in Mary, the body and soul grew together in unity until at the moment of death,
She could pass beyond.
You see, the present way we die is completely wrong.
It's due to sin.
There's this terrible separation of the body and the soul.
They were never created to be separate.
They were created as a psychosomatic unity to grow into perfect unity in the spirit.
And then through sin we lose that integrity.
We lose that integrity and then gradually we split and the body separates all from the soul, and so we get this terrible disaster of death as we experience it.
That's not the mind of God, that every human being should be able to grow into that unity through the spirit and pass beyond this life as if it were a preparation of growth where we gradually grow into unity in the spirit.
and then at the moment of death we pass beyond.
And we should remember that the body is a field of energies, you see, we mustn't think of it as this solid thing which we perceive now, it's a field of energies, and that field of energy undergoes a gradual transformation as it's penetrated by consciousness.
The soul is the conscious principle and it penetrates the body, matter, and the soul and body go together so that the body is...
are impregnated with consciousness, and then the consciousness is taken up into the life of the God, the Holy Spirit, and the whole human being grows into a total unity.
And that was achieved in Jesus, and it was achieved in Mary.
And it can be achieved in many, many others, and that is all our testimony, really, is to go together, this integrity of being a body and soul, totally surrendered to the Holy Spirit and gradually transformed by it.
So I think we need to see in Mary the model, you know, not some isolated instance.
The words were, in famous poems, she said, our tainted nature's solitary boast.
well, something in it, but it's not that everybody is miserably in sin and so on, and one person is free, it's that all are called to that freedom, to that purity of spirit.
And we don't know how many have actually realised it, but we do know that Mary was created in that way and that she was able to grow in grace continuously, and eventually body and soul to be totally transfigured by the spirit.
That is the calling of every human being.
we've created in him from the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.
That is our calling of each of us.
So we ask Mary's intercession that we may share in her glory, share in her love, share in her fulfillment, and that the Church as a whole, and humanity as a whole, you see, since the core of all humanity is to grow in this way, body and soul, to be integrated into the Spirit, and so to be transformed.
So we ask this grace for ourselves, for the Church, and for the world.
This feeling gives us an insight into the message of the gospel.
Sometimes religion is seen as something very hard, a pathetic exercise.
You have to go through many trials and difficulties for the cross to attain to the resurrection, and that is one aspect of it, the strife, difficulty, conflict.
But there's another side to it, which Jesus brings out here, which is more consoling in its way.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.
Elsewhere he said, take up your cross and follow me.
For I am gentle and lowly in heart.
You will find rest for your souls.
My yoke is easy and my burden is light.
And I think we often make the mistake of thinking that if we want to become spiritual we have to crucify the body, overcome our evil tendencies, fight against ourselves and attain the victory.
and it is maybe one aspect of it, but a much deeper one where we go beyond the body and beyond the psyche, the soul, and all its problems, and we discover a deeper center within us.
And that is really the whole secret, that beyond the body and the soul, the psyche, there is a deeper center, the pneuma, the atman, the spirit within.
And we open ourselves to that when we are
empty, when we're humble, when we're poor.
You see, visit all the poor in spirit.
That is the essence of it all.
There's a poverty, a simplicity, an openness to God at the depths of our being, and that is where we find rest.
And it's very easy in its way.
See, it's not a struggle against yourself and so on, it's discovery of something deep within you.
See, within every human being there is this hidden mystery, this
The image of God we were reflecting on yesterday, you see, the image of God, the virginal innocence, is in every human being, and it's covered over from infancy on.
We cover it over with so many desires and passions and fears, and all these problems of the world come and accumulate on top, and it becomes completely obscured.
And then we have to break through that, and that's where there may be struggle and suffering and asceticism, all these things may come in.
But they're really quite secondary.
The only purpose of them is to break away all this hard crust which has grown over us, and to open up the hidden mystery, the inner center, this image of God in us, and allow that to be open to God.
You see, that is the point where we're open to God.
Everything else conceals God and hides us in this world.
And when we break through, then God breaks through into our inner center, and this transformation takes place.
That's why he says, you see, I am gentle and lonely of heart.
That is the very essence of the gospel, you see, this gentleness and loneliness.
And it's the opposite, you see, of what most people think and feel.
And in a sense, if you want to get on in the world, it's no good being gentle and lonely.
You have to be hard and strong and fight your way and overcome problems and so on.
And so there is said struggle.
But you have to reach the point when you realize that you can't do anything of yourself.
You do all you can, and then you realize that you are not capable and that you've got to find something deeper in yourself, something where you're open to a power greater than yourself.
That's the secret, to discover within us something greater than ourselves.
And then this opening takes place.
And then, as Jesus says, my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
You see, sometimes we emphasize to take up your cross and let a man deny himself, take up his cross and follow me, he cannot be my disciple.
But it's not this denying oneself, it's not afflicting the body and so on.
You see, it's denying the ego, not allowing your ego-centered personality to take over, to break through that and allow the deeper person, the inner self, to be revealed.
And then that is easy, and the burden then is light.
So there's a paradox and a problem, I mean, there are two sides to it.
But once we learn to break through the ego and to open up the inner center, then God works in us, you see.
Then it's not we who are doing it, but something else begins to work in us, the spirit begins to take charge, and God achieves his purpose in us.
phrase in the letter to the Ephesians where he says that we should walk in those works, that we should do those works, which God has prepared that we should walk in them.
See, God has prepared our lives, everything we ought to do, and we've only got to walk in it.
But of course, we've got to open ourselves, to allow that to take place, to allow God's action, God's plan to work itself out in us.
So we all have to ask for this positive spirit, I am meek and lowly of heart, and then from that comes this openness to God, then this power comes to God, and then our lives begin to be directed.
We're no longer directing ourselves.
What would life be like to me, to him?
So it's very expected this prophet-like to Moses.
So when John the Baptist appears in the wilderness preaching this message,
They say, who are you?
Are you Elijah?
He said, no.
Are you the prophet?
He answered, no.
Then who are you?
And he quotes the prophecy of Isaiah, the voice of one crying, in the wilderness made straight the way of the Lord.
One of these great prophecies of the messianic age.
And Israel was expecting this messianic age, a new age which would begin.
And then John confesses, I am not the Christ.
And there were many followers of John the Baptist, even quite late, people who were following John the Baptist and never heard of Christ, which could have been a kind of rival religion.
And John's gospel was written in that context to some extent.
And so John replies, I am not the Christ, very emphatically, but one comes after me, the thong of whose sand I am not worthy to untie.
I baptize with water, and he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.
And so John comes to prepare the way for this new event.
And when we celebrate Advent, we're always waiting for this coming of Christ.
And it comes in various ways and stages, just as Israel was looking for the Messiah, and it came in one way at the coming of Jesus, but it also was
waiting for a final fulfillment.
He didn't bring everything to fulfillment.
And we're still waiting for the fulfillment, and we're waiting for a new birth.
And I think we always have to live in this expectation.
The old world is always dying, it's going away.
And we live in a time of great changes, great evolution is taking place today, a sort of transition from one age to another.
Very like the time of Christ, there was a great crisis at that time, an expectation.
Even the poet Virgil, same time, wrote a poem, speaking of a wonderful birth which was to take place.
And today, there are many expectations of a new age.
People feel that something new is coming.
And in a real sense, something new does come into life.
Again and again, a new world comes into being, and then
It passes and again there is a new world.
And so we have a right to expect a coming of a new world in a large scale and also on the small scale in our own lives.
It's very important to realize we're all open to this mystery of God in Christ.
It can come into our lives at any moment.
And we have to be ready for it.
It can easily pass us by.
We get some inspiration, some grace.
and we feel we're called to something, and then we may lose sight of it, forget about it, and we go back to our ordinary way of life.
But we have to be waiting for those moments of grace.
They come into everybody's life.
It may be something quite small, it may be something very great, but it changes one's life.
If one is listening, one undergoes a revolution, a change, and a new dimension enters into one's being, a new understanding of life.
So I think in Advent particularly, we're all waiting for that coming of Christ, and we all have to be watchful that we don't miss the opportunity, because God doesn't simply come again and again without any response from us.
You have to be very sensitive.
It can be very slight.
Something very small can happen, and yet if one follows it up, it has immense consequences.
And if one fails to follow it, then nothing happens.
So we all have to ask for grace to be ready for that coming of Christ, here and now, in our midst, and then in the world as a whole, that perhaps there is a coming of Christ in the world today.
There is a new age beginning, and we have to be aware of it to be ready to respond to it.
So we ask for this grace for the church and for the world to be ready for that coming of a new age, coming of Christ.
It's really the gift of the church, the gift of grace, you see.
In this gospel, this question is raised, the baptism of John, was it from heaven or from men?
And as I say, it raises this question, how do we discern whether something comes from heaven or from men?
And today it's not at all easy.
In the past, people normally belonged to a particular religion, whether Christian or Hindu or Buddhist
and you lived within your religion and you had guidance through it, and the way was made fairly clear.
But today, for the vast multitude of people, there's no clear direction.
They may have been brought up as Christians for a time, but very often they've left that behind, and they go in search of other guidance, and the same with Hindus and others.
So, today,
The world is open in that way, and to discern whether the thing comes from heaven or from men, from God or from this world, is not at all easy.
There are all these cults, you know, and they all have some value.
Each one has its own gift.
Get a man like Rajneesh, you see, he's a man of extraordinary vision, you know, and he's studied all the mystical doctrines of the different religions, and he's got his own charism, he can talk for hours,
in a very impressive way, and he has many followers, and they totally surrender to him.
They feel they've found God in him.
And that's only one example.
Perhaps the Sai Baba is an even more remarkable example, and there are dozens of them.
There's one in America, Star Free John, and you may know him.
His original name was Franklin Jones.
and he was simply a young American.
He began to have very remarkable experiences and they grew and he developed a very profound philosophy.
He'd written a lot of books and really quite extraordinary understanding he had of the ultimate spiritual reality.
But like so many of them, he identifies himself with the supreme reality.
He thinks he is God, if you like.
He is the supreme.
And you see, many of these cults today, they claim that they've got beyond all the human limits, they've experienced God, the infinite, and they are that infinite, they are that one.
And he's totally convinced, and he has followers, very distinguished people with doctorates in philosophy and so on, and psychology, and they follow him.
It's the same as Sathya Sai Baba, who claims to be God, who has realized God,
He was saying, you also are God, but you have not realized it, but I have realized it.
And he has thousands, millions probably of followers, you see.
So how do you discern in this?
It's not really at all easy.
There are obvious things we have to learn, obviously, to discern the ego.
You see, the great problem is that we're all centered on an ego, a self-personality which grows up from childhood and focuses our whole being.
It's perfectly normal, you have an ego, you have to...
become a person.
But then, of course, the danger is you close in on your ego.
It becomes the center for you, and then you see everything in terms of your own ego, your own self-centered personality.
And the beginning of new life is when we learn to go beyond the ego, when we surrender that ego to God, to another.
And that's where, of course, the guru comes in.
You surrender to the guru to try to get beyond your ego.
But then, of course, a guru may also have an ego.
And this is the great problem, you see.
So many of these great teachers, they have got extraordinary spiritual insight and so on, but they've also got a spiritual ego.
They have a carnal ego and a spiritual ego.
And it's terribly dangerous.
And I say this star-free jar is a perfect example of it, but there are many others.
I remember one famous Hindu swami who has many, many followers, and another swami who
equal number of followers, said his ego from head to foot.
So that's the problem, you see.
The ego always gets into the most spiritual understanding.
We have a profound understanding, and yet your ego will be at the center of it, you see.
And that is the great problem.
That's why I think St.
Paul is saying, you know, if I speak for the town of men and angels and have not this agape, this charity,
thinking was, so if I know all mysteries and have all faith and do all miracles, have not, because I would pay, I'm nothing.
And so we have to discern, you see, there are more obvious egoisms of
of lust and pleasure and power and all things people seek.
Well, that's fairly obvious, I'll get beyond that.
But it's the spiritual fascination, you see, which is the danger.
And as I say, today it's not easy because people have not got a spiritual guide, you see.
There are millions of people who not find a spiritual guide in the church or in any place where they are, and they go in search of a guide.
I think it really all depends on this inner purity of heart, the purity of your search.
You've got to have a desire for truth alone.
And this is where this discernment comes in.
You have to discern your egoism, where you're being led astray, and where you're going beyond your ego, beyond yourself, and where you're really coming in contact with
God, with heaven, with the truth, you see, and there is in all of us, there is an instinct for the truth, you see, there is something in us which guides us, if we allow it to do so, but then we have to get through so many veils of ignorance and obstructions to the truth, you see, to know that truth of ourselves and of the world.
So I think we all have to ask for this guidance and to, day by day, there is no safe route, you know, you can't simply say, now I am on the way, I just go on.
You have to be watchful all the time to see that you are really seeking for God, for truth, for love, for the ultimate.
and you're discerning everything in the light of that.
You see, all that you do and say and all the world around you has to be judged in the light of this one truth which you're seeking.
Mahatma Gandhi was perhaps one of the best examples.
He was a limited man in many ways, but he had this tremendous zeal for truth.
He said, for me, God is truth, truth is God, and he really sought truth all his life.
And as I... ...to go out to the ashram today,
and for especially our two founders, who motioned out for it as so, for it, Haram Arudhya Ananda and Abhishekta Ananda.
This is the supreme spirit, the bliss of Christ.
And they came to India to establish this ashram and to bring about this meeting of Hinduism and Christianity.
And this is one of the great challenges of the world today.
We have all many different religions and they're often in conflict and always separated.
And yet the world today sees the future as this convergence of religion.
They're all converging on an ultimate truth.
And each has its own message to humanity.
We cannot deny today that God has revealed himself in India through the Vedas, Upanishads, Gita, the whole tradition.
of Hinduism.
God has revealed himself in the other rest of Asia through Buddhism, but from Sri Lanka to Japan.
And God has revealed himself in Islam from Arabia spreading out east and west.
And God has revealed himself in Christ.
And we are called to bring together these revelations to see how one
and communicate with the other.
And there's no clear way.
We're all in pilgrimage.
We're all moving to an ultimate reality, an ultimate truth, which is beyond all.
Because no religion can express that ultimate truth, that ultimate reality.
And so we're all in this pilgrimage, and we all have this calling to relate our own religion to others.
And we try to be faithful to our own religion, our own revelation.
Each has its unique value.
God has revealed himself in Jesus in a unique way.
And each one of us, as a Christian, is called to find God in Christ, in the communion of those who share in the mystery of Christ.
But then we recognize that others are called to know God in other forms.
and we have to see how they relate to one another.
And it's not clear, as it never will be clear, till the last day when we shall all see the reality as it is.
But we have to work towards that.
And today the great challenge of these two things is dialogue and inculturation.
When the Pope came to India two years ago, that was the theme.
Wherever he went, he spoke of dialogue between religions and inculturation, Christian religion being
lived and shared in the culture of the different countries of the world.
So that's really our challenge and this ashram was founded for that very purpose, to be a place of meeting where the Hindu and the Christian and people of other religions also can meet and we begin to see how we
As I say, it's not clear, and it cannot be clear, because ultimate truth cannot be expressed.
It's an inexpressible truth.
God cannot be named, you see.
We have to... and we're all on pilgrimage towards that truth, and we all have to be faithful to the truth which has been revealed to us.
And then in the light of that truth, we try to open ourselves to God's revelation, other people, in other religious traditions.
And it's a challenge to everybody today,
and there are many false paths of any kind of syncretism, simply mixing religions, and there are also the opposite fundamentalism, where you can't see anything but your own religion.
But there is the other movement, which tries to relate to religions authentically together, to see them in the light of the one ultimate eternal truth.
So this is our calling, and this is where we try to follow the example of our founders.
Each of them was a man of genius.
holy men, but they were also men of genius, great scholars who really... Fr.
John Morsanai, he, you know, was a pioneer in France, who first of all had this vision.
He was learning Sanskrit in Tamil when he was already in France, and he had this vision of an Indian church, and Fr.
Le Seu Abhishekthananda
When he came to India, he immersed himself more and more deeply in the Hindu tradition.
Finally, he went to live in the Himalayas through Takasi and absorbed this tradition of spiritual wisdom.
See, there is a spiritual wisdom in India which has a message for the whole world.
And we're called to share in that wisdom, to enter into it, to assimilate it, to live it, and to bring it to fullness in Christ.
That is our particular calling as Christian sannyasis and Christian ashrams.
So we try to realize more and more what God is calling us to, and every year it changes.
You see, the world is awakening all the time.
Things have totally changed from what they were 20, 30, 40 years ago, and now we're all beginning to see the vision of a church and of a religion where religions of the world come together, where they discover their inner unity, where they begin to relate to one another in an authentic way.
As I say, it's a challenge, it's no simple secretism that you just follow any path.
It's following the inner truth, you see.
God is present to each person as truth, and as each person follows the truth in him, in her, they converge.
They don't see their way very often.
Most of us are journeying in the dark, but we're following the path, following that light, and we have faith that it'll lead us to the ultimate truth, to God himself, to the final reality.
So let us all on this day make this dedication to this ultimate truth, to that Word of God, which is the final revelation of God in which we're all journeying.
And in this Eucharist we celebrate the presence of Christ among us, Christ in his fullness.
See, in the Eucharist, Christ is present in the resurrection.
It's the resurrected Christ who's gone beyond all limitations of human nature,
has entered into the fullness of the Godhead and comes to us from within the Godhead, sharing his life, sharing his flesh and blood, his very being with us.
And it's in him and through him that we come to relate ourselves to other religions, to the rest of the world.
So we ask for this grace to be open to what God is trying to say to us all, say to the church, say to humanity today.
Enter into this Christmas season,
when we prepare for the event of the Earth of Christ.
We read the story of St.
Matthew, his conception by Mary.
And when we try to see this Christian revelation in the context of India, I think it's important to see the difference of the two traditions.
In both of them, there's an overwhelming experience of divine reality.
the time of the Buddha, the time of the Upanishads, an overwhelming experience of transcendent mystery.
Brahman often, when names are given, has no name, this utter transcendent mystery which invades human life.
And in India, it gave the sense of the unreality of this world.
That was the prevailing sense.
In the Vedas, it was not so much so.
Vedas are still very much belonging to this world.
But sometime about 1000 B.C., that period, the sense of the unreality of the world simply overwhelmed India, comes in the Upanishads and comes in the Buddha.
See, the basic thing in the Buddha, all is passing, all is suffering, all is unreal.
They're living in a world of total unreality.
But when you realize that unreality, you realize the eternal reality, nirvana.
the fullness of life and reality, you see.
And that is the Indian vision.
And as a result, all through Indian history, there's very little sense of history in India.
It's a world of dream, of imagination.
And the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the Puranas, they're all wonderful stories, symbolic stories with deep meaning, revealing the mystery of God, but in a comparatively unreal world.
semi-real world of beautiful legends and stories.
And when we take the birth of the Buddha, for instance, his mother is supposed to have conceived him as a virgin and to have had a vision of a white elephant which entered into her womb and he came out from her side.
The whole thing is mythological.
And all these myths have meaning, you see.
They have deep meaning, but they're not historical.
It's not real.
The story only comes out about 500 years after the birth of the Buddha.
It's quite obviously a legend.
Same way with the story of Krishna, whether Krishna lived, we don't know.
There must have been somebody behind it.
But it's not historical, it's legend.
And then he becomes a beautiful symbol of the divine reality.
You see, there's no doubt that Buddha and Krishna represent that divine reality and they inspire the people to see God in them.
It's a wonderful thing.
but it's not based on history.
And it seems to me, you see, the biblical revelation is this revelation of God in historic time and place.
And there is a legendary element in the Bible, obviously, and there is a mythological element, but it all tends to center on history.
There are two worldviews, you see, and each has its own unique value, and we must learn to value them.
The Indian view, whether Buddhist or Hindu, it's a revelation of God, you see, but not in the context of historic time and place of this world reality, this world beyond.
And in Israel, there is the, obviously the transcendent is there all the time, but it's always coming into history.
It begins with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob.
They are semi-historical, you could say.
There's still legend there.
Moses is clearly historical, but again, there's a lot of legend of all the plagues and so on.
And then as we come to David and Solomon, we begin to enter a concrete human history, definite historic stories with all the brutality and imperfection of human existence.
And so then through the prophets we come, through the birth of Christ, and with Jesus we enter into historic time.
There are Roman historians who tell us about Jesus himself and about that situation, and we're right in human history.
And then these stories come of the birth and the death and the resurrection and so on, in the context of history.
I think we must, you see, always see each thing in its proper context.
If you took this out of the Hebrew context, it could easily be seen just as a myth, a legend of a virgin birth.
But in the context of Israel, we have to see it as part of historic revelation.
God coming into a real human suffering world, you see.
And that surely is the real meaning of incarnation.
The Word became flesh, entered into this historic reality, and suffered and died in the midst of this human world.
As I say, we enter into Christmas time and we reflect to this, that is the mystery we celebrate, that God the infinite, eternal, this transcendent mystery is present in this world, in the suffering of the world, in our flesh, in our human condition, and he enters in to share and to raise it up, to transform it and to bring us to the eternal life.
So the two traditions meet
and share, and they're complementary, and we each have to learn to appreciate our Christian danger is to be too tied to history, to historic reality, and to lose sight of the transcendent.
The Indian is to be focused on the transcendent and to lose sight of the reality, but we try to bring the two together.
And in our own lives, we realize that God is there, the infinite transcendent, and history is here among us, but it's among us in this flesh and blood,
human situation in which we are.
So we pray for our insight into this mystery.
During this week of Christmas, we read these stories of the infancy of Jesus, and people today ask, are these stories true, or are they just inventions?
And the problem is that people today think of truth in terms of phenomena, what appears.
And if you can verify a phenomenon, they say that's a fact.
But by learning that there's much more to it than that, reading Rumi, the great Persian mystic, he made that distinction between form and meaning.
The outer forms of things, the phenomena or the appearances, the question is, what is the meaning of the phenomena of the appearance?
And even in science today, they're gradually discovering that phenomena are very
difficult to observe as you get below the atomic level to the sub-atomic, these phenomena begin to disintegrate and you lose sight of them.
Eventually you get waves of probability behind everything.
And so we realize today science is trying to find the meaning behind the phenomena.
That is what our real concern is.
And in the ancient world they were much more concerned with meanings than phenomena.
Sometimes they got the phenomena wrong
but they were seeking for the meaning of human existence and the meaning of the history and the world around them.
And Israel, all through its history, was trying to find the meaning of the events taking place.
They began to discern this God, Yahweh, was revealing Himself in the events of their history.
They were delivered from Egypt, and you might think it was just a group of nomads who'd been enslaved and then getting free, but they saw behind it God Himself, the Lord of creation, was setting their people free, bringing them into the land He'd promised, and preparing them all the time.
reading their history again and again through the Old Testament, they read it again and again to see more light, to see what is really happening, what is the meaning behind all these events.
And so with the expectation of a messiah, they saw this promise of a king who was going to reign over them, and they tried to discern what was the meaning of this.
So when Jesus was born,
These events took place.
We don't know exactly what happened.
We don't know exactly when it happened.
Probably it was born about 4 B.C.
or something like that.
And the phenomena are not easy to discern, but what the church is concerned and the evangelist is concerned to ask, what was the meaning behind the phenomena?
Mary conceived and bore a child.
What was the meaning of that event?
And that is really what this story of the angel and Mary's response to it is.
But it's the real meaning behind events.
And you've slept on it all the time.
We're trying to see what is the meaning of things that are happening around us on the world scale.
We ask, what is the meaning of this meeting of, say, Reagan and Gorbachev?
It's a great event which had taken place in the last week or so.
What's the meaning of that for humanity?
And then when Jesus is born of Mary, we ask, what is the meaning of that for humanity, for the world?
And Luke gives us an insight into that, that it's the fulfillment of these prophecies to Israel.
Israel had had this deep experience of God, and found this presence of God, the events of their history.
And Luke and the Vandivists saw that the whole history of Israel, and in a deep sense of the world, had come to a head in this birth of this child from Mary.
It's that the meaning of it is that God had entered into this world and was working in the history of Israel.
And now at this point in history, he'd entered into the world in a new way to take birth from the Virgin Mary.
And so we reflect on this and we try to see the meaning of that, you see, for our lives and for the life of the world.
And it is that by the word God, we mean the ultimate meaning of life.
and of history and of humanity and of the universe.
God is that ultimate meaning behind all the phenomena, all the forms, outer forms.
What is the meaning?
And we find that meaning and we give it the name of God.
And then we say that this God, this meaning of the whole of human history of life, has entered into our human existence and is born of Mary.
And we find, therefore, the meaning of human existence in the birth of Jesus.
He is God revealing himself in a human existence, in a human event.
and coming into our lives at that point.
So, I think we're all, you see, today we're searching for truth, and we must be deceived.
You see, the problem, as I say, is a rather childish flu has grown up, that truth is in phenomena.
If you see the phenomena, and if you have a thing on TV, then that must be true, you see.
It's really there.
There's a cricket match going on, and you see it on TV.
This is the reality.
But of course it's nothing of the sort.
There's just a lot of waves of energy there on the screen and so on, and you're interpreting it all the time.
What is the meaning?
How do you interpret all the phenomena around you?
And so you try to interpret all your life, what's ever happening to you, what's happening in the world.
We try to interpret and we find in the birth of Jesus from Mary the center which gives us a meaning for the whole of our existence, you see.
God has entered into our human existence and becomes present to us in Jesus in his birth from Mary.
So we all need to reflect on this meaning of our life.
Many people believe it has no meaning, you see.
They only observe the phenomena and everything seems chaotic all around you.
And life has no meaning at all for the vast majority of the people.
And others have faith, and they begin to discern beneath all these events some reality, some meaning, some significance.
And we all have to build up our world of meaning.
What do these things signify for us?
How do we understand our world?
And it's probably for each one, and the Church herself is trying all the time to relate
these events to the world around, to the world in which we are being, what does it mean to us today that Jesus was born of Mary?
So perhaps all through this season we all need to reflect what does it mean for us, what does it mean for the world, what does it mean for the Church, how does it give meaning for our lives and for the world as a whole.
When I reflect over this solemn profession which I made 50 years ago, I think what impresses me is the change which has taken place over these years.
When I made this profession of a Benedictine monk, it was long before the Vatican Council,
the divine office and the Mass were in Latin and very solemnly chanted seven times a day and the whole Mass with all its ritual for which we were accustomed and Vatican Council, all that disappeared.
And the same theology, the theology of St.
Thomas Aquinas and we all studied him and built our
lies around that theology, and all that has passed away, or at least it's gone into the background.
And we were in a structure of the church, canon law, which we all accepted without any question, and that also has now begun to be seen in a new light.
So, tremendous changes have taken place in these last 50 years, in the church and in the world, and they're still taking place.
And of course, for me, coming to India was the greatest change of all, moving from a Western culture, Western civilization, to this world of the East.
And it changes one's idea also of a monk.
Because in the West, a monk makes a solemn profession to a particular religious community, particular congregation, a particular order, Benedictine order.
And it binds you to a certain way of life, consecrated to God in a very real way, but also limited in many ways.
And we have to remind ourselves that Saint Benedict codified monastic life, as it were, made it available to the ordinary person.
And it's gone on for 1,500 years in the way he organized it.
But behind Sir Benedict is the deeper call of monasticism of the fathers of the deserts of Antony and others, who simply felt this call to give up all things, to give their lives to God alone.
And that remains the essential monastic vocation, is giving one life to God alone.
And here in India, of course, there has been this long tradition of sannyasa.
And the sannyasi also may belong to a particular order.
There are orders of sannyasis, but that is quite secondary.
And the sannyasi primarily is one who simply gives his life to God alone.
total surrender to God alone.
And I think that's what I find meaningful now and particularly for us as Christians to recognize that when we give our lives to God in Christ, we give our lives to God in all humanity.
We're no longer limited by the limits of the church.
The church is a very limited human community, largely centered in the West.
But Christ belongs to all humanity.
And we read this gospel, no one knows the Son but the Father, no one knows the Father but the Son.
And to know the Son is to know the
whole of humanity contained in the sun.
Christ belongs to all humanity, he redeems all humanity and he is the goal of all humanity.
And we find in him the fullness of life, fullness of human life and the fullness of divine life.
And when we give our lives to God in Christ, we give our lives to humanity as a whole.
And I think today that is what impresses us, what makes it most meaningful, this sense that humanity is one, and we all belong to this one humanity, and Christ belongs to that one humanity, and has redeemed that humanity.
And so when we give our lives to God in Christ, we're really giving it to all humanity, trying to make ourselves available to
all the needs of the world.
So, perhaps we can all think of this vocation in that light.
As I say, it's not limited to monks or to religious, it's not limited to Christians either.
It's the call of humanity to be totally surrendered to God and certainly given to one another.
That is the one end of life, to be totally given to God, and in and through God, in and through Christ, who is God manifest in man,
to be given to humanity as a whole.
That's the way I try to reflect on this mystery.
Perhaps you'd like now to share your own view on it.
In this gospel Mary speaks as the Virgin of Israel.
She speaks in the name of Israel and all its
dealings with God, or rather God's dealings with Israel, all His promises and hopes and plans for the redemption of Israel and for its final fulfillment, which as we saw is His plan for the redemption of humanity and the final fulfillment of the world.
Israel is a symbol, and Mary is a woman, a virgin, who represents this whole humanity before God.
As you know, this is a great text today for liberation theology in view that the gospel comes to liberate humanity from all oppression and injustice.
And there is very great meaning in that because there's been a great tendency in the church to consider salvation as something purely personal or individual very often.
Save your soul is your aim in life.
And the result has often been that Christians, particularly Catholics, have been occupied with their own personal salvation and their own little group, and have ignored the problems of the world around them.
Particularly true in South America, where you have an almost entirely Catholic people, and there you have a very rich number, a very small portion of the people, extremely rich, and you have massive and extreme poverty, even greater poverty than in India.
And this has gone on for centuries, and the church was always on the side of the rich.
All the priests and bishops came from the rich, and the poor people were just left there.
They had their faith, of course, a tremendously strong faith, and they filled the churches, but they weren't liberated.
They were left in their suffering, in their poverty, in their oppression.
And so this movement of liberation theology has arisen, where they speak now for the people.
The church is trying to stand with the people,
And you have these basic communities, communities of people, lay people coming together.
to share their prayer, share their Eucharist together, and to reflect on their human situation and how God comes to liberate them from their human suffering and their human need.
And this has been a really wonderful revolution, and there are tens of thousands of these communities in Brazil alone and in other parts of South America.
So there is a tremendous hope in that.
At the same time, there is this danger that we go to the opposite extreme
and giving up this idea of individual salvation and fulfillment in the Kingdom of God, we think only of liberation in this world.
But in the greater theologians like Leonardo Boff, for instance, there is a very deep balance.
He's a Franciscan and he has a deep sense of spiritual
meaning of life.
And I feel we have to try to keep this balance.
Here in India it's extremely important.
We have the same problem.
We have the masses of the poor and suffering oppressed, and we have this need of liberation.
But at the same time we have to realize that the liberation is, it has to be on a material level, but fundamentally the liberation is always on the spiritual level.
How to make people realize themselves as human beings and as a whole of God for each person.
and for the people as a whole.
And quite obviously, the Magnificat is a song of the end of times.
You see, always the New Testament is this coming of the Messiah at the end to bring all things to fulfillment.
And we don't see that fulfillment.
We don't see all this happening.
It says, His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of low degree.
He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away.
But quite clearly, the hungry are not being filled with good things.
They're starving all over Africa.
In India, if not actual starvation, they're on the verge of, of course, subsistence level, just surviving.
And so, in many parts of Asia as a whole,
So these things have not been fulfilled, and this is what we call eschatological.
It's always looking, what is the plan of God for the end?
And it's very important that we should have that before us, and therefore we try to help the hungry to find good things.
We try to put down the rich and to put down the mighty from their seats.
But at the same time, we realize all the time that this is a plan of God working out over the ages, and it only comes to fulfillment in the beyond, beyond this world.
And there's two dimensions, and it's very difficult to keep the two.
Either we think of the world to come, as was done in the past very largely, and you tend to neglect the world, or you think of the world and you forget about the world to come.
and to try to keep in one's life that balance, that we are concerned with the present world and the problems of humanity, but at the same time we're always aware of this plan of God beyond the present.
If you really put your hopes in the present world, you're always going to be frustrated, there's not going to be any fulfilment, but if you're concerned with the world and at the same time go beyond and realise that God is working out a plan in humanity, in the world, we are being called to this state of freedom.
fulfillment of where all will be... receive all that they need, then I think we can get a sort of balanced view of life.
And I feel in India that it's extremely important, because the tendency today is almost overwhelming everywhere, not only in religious... mainly among the religious, but also elsewhere.
There's this sense that the church has this option for the poor, we must be totally dedicated to liberating the poor, to helping them to find justice and so on.
And all that is good, but it's a limited view and it won't succeed.
You can do all you can, but you're not going to bring about all this.
And unless you keep the other in mind all the time, and unless in your innermost heart you're worshipping God, finding God within your own inner sense and your own inner being, you're not going to really to bring liberation to people.
People don't only want liberation from hunger
and need and oppression, they want the inmost liberation where they discover God.
Everybody has a hunger for God.
And many poor people, you see, it's another aspect which many forget, even in India people seem to forget it, that so many poor people have this extraordinary inner peace in their hearts.
I know one person after another from the West
come and said, how when you go to the villages here, among the poor, you find there's something in them which you don't find among the rich.
It's very tragic, you see.
When people get rich, they get discontented, they're always wanting more, and there's always problems there.
And these poor people, living from day to day, have a sort of inner contentment, an inner peace in their lives, which other people have lost.
But we don't partake that from them.
Often people come into the villages and upset everybody and tell them, you've got to change your lives, you've got to get a better
living and so on, and all the peace and joy which they had in their lives begins to go.
They get like everybody else, struggling to get better than their neighbor and so on.
I always tell the story of a friend, Laurie Baker, who married a doctor from Kerala.
They lived in a small village in the Himalayas, miles from anywhere, a hundred miles from a road.
And they were there for about 15 years.
They had a little dispensary, a little school.
And they said they were on a subsistent level.
People just survived, you see, all the time.
But everybody helped everybody else.
And it was a very happy community.
It was a beautiful life they were living.
And then the government had learned about all these remote villages, felt they must be uplifted, must be brought up to a better standard of life.
And so they built a road.
and began to send government officials in to raise the standard like the village.
And they said in one year the whole village was ruined.
Everybody now was trying to get a job, government job, to get the better of their neighbor.
The competition came in and all that care for one another, that really living as a community, sharing with one another, was simply lost.
So it was done with the best intentions and
Today people are realizing, you know, all over the world, all these charitable organizations, Oxfam and all the rest, they're realizing that often they've done more harm than good, that their development projects do not work out as they'd hoped.
You come along and you bring money in and you bring all these ideas and you upset people, and very often they're not better off in the end.
than they were before.
In fact, you know, poverty is growing rather than decreasing in spite of all these efforts at development.
So this is a tremendous problem we face, and it's perfectly right to be concerned with that human situation, but unless it's done in the context of this final liberation, which Christ comes to bring as a final liberation, a final fulfillment
then we're going to fail in what we're seeking.
And it's a personal thing, you see, unless in one's own life one is seeking God, seeking the final truth, final fulfillment, then one is not going to help other people.
It's a question of your own personal values.
If you have those, then you can do anything for others, and you will help them.
But if you don't have this inner conviction, this inner aspiration to truth, to love, to fulfilment in God, in this world,
then you're not going to give people what they ask.
If you read the story of the birth of John the Baptist, he was accompanied by all these miraculous events.
His father has a vision in the temple and he goes dumb and then they wait for the birth
He has a revelation that his name is to be John, and the same is given to his wife Elizabeth, and everybody marvels at it.
And these are what we call psychic events, and today we're beginning to discover beyond the physical world there is the psychic world, and beyond that is the spiritual world.
There are three worlds, and we all live in all these three worlds.
There is a physical world which has its own laws.
And Western science has, for two or three centuries, has been exploring the laws of the physical world.
And they're perfectly valid in their own limits.
They're extremely limited.
And the attempt to impose those laws on the whole universe is a complete illusion.
And many of us have grown up with the idea of living in that world with physical laws which are absolutely fixed and rigid and nobody can go beyond them.
And as I say, now we're gradually discovering that beyond this physical, there's a psychic world, and the physical world is open to the psychic world.
And we all experience it every day, and the smallest thing is if I raise my arm, my mind wills, the body should obey, and the body obeys.
But of course, it's very limited.
But now we're discovering that the psychic power has extraordinary power over the physical.
I've just been lent a book on a surgeon in America who was brought up in the ordinary medical science thinking that there are rigid laws, the person's got cancer, they're going to die, and you tell them, sorry, I can't do anything for you, they're going to die, and the person dies.
And then he began to discover that when a person decided not to die, they did not die.
And this came again and again.
And the most extraordinary cures took place.
A person in absolutely desperate condition with terrible symptoms all over him would make up his mind not to die and everything would disappear.
And so gradually we're learning that the physical order and the physical body is subject to a psychic order, a psychic body, a psychic power.
And we all have this power in us.
And we have, gradually, to change our attitude.
You see, most of us were brought up in this belief as a physical world with absolutely rigid laws which nothing can remove.
And we're discovering that it's not so.
And the miracles of Jesus, He's walking on the water, or turning water into wine.
He's a simple, a psychic power working on the physical.
It's not specifically spiritual.
We'll get to that in a minute.
It's a whole psychic power.
And the same way, we think if we have a disease, we get a virus, we go around the ashram.
It's all right, I can't help it, I've got the virus, I'm going to be ill.
But if you make up your mind you're not going to be ill, you won't be ill.
It depends, I won't say entirely, but if they work one on the other, there are physical laws and you can't ignore them, but they're open to the psychic and you can gradually control these physical forces and you can learn inner freedom.
And this surgeon, he gives case after case, it's been extraordinary, his whole life has changed, has he discovered how you can help people to take their
knife into their own hands and heal themselves.
There is a healing power in us which can overcome all these forces of the body of nature and can set us free.
So this is one of the great discoveries that is being made.
Then we have to reckon beyond the physical and the psychic, the soul and the body, there is the spirit, the yuma, the atma.
And that is the all-pervading spirit which pervades the whole universe, pervades every human being, and we all have, beyond our body, beyond our soul, our psyche, we have this yuma, this spirit.
And that is the point where God is in us and we are in God.
And every human being has that point of the spirit.
But for most people, it's being obscured or completely lost.
And original sin is the fall from the spirit into the psyche.
You lose touch with the spirit, the universal, with the eternal, and you fall into your psyche, which is dominated by your ego.
The apankara, the eye-maker, is the governing principle of the psyche, you see.
And we're all enclosed in this ego.
And most people today think there's nothing beyond the ego.
But in reality, the ego is simply a limiting force within the psyche, and it's totally subject to the spirit of new life once it realizes it.
If it chooses to close it in itself, it can shut the spirit from it.
The moment it begins to open, then the spirit begins to work on the psyche and on the body, body and soul, and the transformation takes place.
And this gives an insight into what happens at death, which I have been reflecting on a great deal.
You see, at the moment of death, your physical body begins to disintegrate, through its vital power it actually disintegrates, and your psyche, your soul also begins to disintegrate.
You see, as long as you haven't got a body, you can't think, you can't feel, you can't
use any of these powers of the soul, and so the soul also, the psyche, begins to disintegrate, but the pneuma, the spirit remains, you see.
And that is you.
You are not your body, and you are not your soul.
Most people think they are.
Your body is a physical organism which is changing every day and every hour, and your soul is a psychic organism which is changing every day and every hour.
Your feelings, your thoughts, your desires,
All changing, beyond your body, beyond your soul, your spirit, your heart.
And that is where you're always in communion with God.
You may ignore it altogether, but God is in you, and you are in God at that point in the spirit, and nothing can destroy that spirit in you.
And so at the moment of death, the body disintegrates, the soul disintegrates, and you realize yourself in the spirit.
You become aware of your infinite and eternal being.
See, the body and the soul are in time and in space, and they're always conditioned by the causality of time and space.
And the spirit is not in time and is not in space, it's in the infinite and the eternal.
And the moment of death you enter into the spirit and you become aware of this infinite eternal reality in which you are, in which is your very being.
And you see there are three possible reactions to that.
Some people are so enclosed in their ego
They can't face the spirit, you see, they've convinced themselves there's nothing beyond the ego, beyond this limited human personality, this is me and I've nothing beyond.
And in reality, until your ego goes, until you realize this is not me, you can't be saved, you can't discover the spirit.
And if you choose, you can close yourself into your ego and refuse.
And that would be hell if it took place, it may not ever take place, you could be totally
your ego in a totally illusory self.
The ego has no existence except from the spirit.
See, the body exists by the spirit and the soul exists through the spirit.
And we imagine the body exists in itself and that the soul exists in itself.
That is the illusion, that is the maya.
And when we get beyond then we know that the body is controlled by the spirit and the soul is controlled by the spirit, and we have become open to it.
But as I say, you can simply live in this illusory ego, this illusory self, and be finally lost in illusion.
That would be hell.
Not lost in illusion, but lost in the self.
On the other hand, the vast majority of people,
have a little opening to the spirit, they're still aware beyond their ego there is something, maybe very vague, and as long as there's a slight opening to the spirit, then the ego can begin to dissolve, it can begin to break down and become aware of its real being, of the spirit within.
And the purgatory is that gradual breaking down of the ego, it's losing its limitation, its illusion, and discovering its true self.
And then the third state are some people who've discovered this, that we're not this body, we're not this soul, we are that eternal spirit, you see, and they simply pass from this, as the body, soul, dissolve, they enter into the world of the spirit, the infinite, the eternal, the transcendent one in whom we all live and move and have our being, and that is salvation.
So really that is the choice, right?
I feel today, you see, we're getting insights into this which we've not had before.
We've been brought up with the illusory view of the physical world determined by fixed laws which nobody can break at all, you see, and that's a pure illusion.
The whole physical world is always subject to the spirit, and when Jesus comes, he's living in the world of the spirit.
And he has power over the whole physical world.
Same with many other saints as well.
And same way with the psychic world.
There is this whole world of our thoughts and our feelings and so on, but the spirit is beyond all that and can control the psyche of the soul.
And so when you come to the moment... And on the cross, you see, Jesus surrenders his body and his soul, and the body moves to vitality and put in the grave, and the soul ceases to function as a soul.
The eternal spirit in him revives the body, revives the soul, and returns to God.
And that is salvation.
And the other point is that, that you see, we pass into the world the spirit
But we take with us what we've experienced in the body and the soul.
And that is your personal immortality, you see.
The spirit is unique in you and in me.
Each is a unique image of God.
And we take with us what we've experienced.