Unknown year, July talk, Serial 00636

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Well, it speaks here of this ministry, this diakonia, service, and today we see the cost forever for the Church, rather, this ministry, this service, humanity as a whole, and we've launched all disgraceful, underhand ways to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word. And there's always a danger, you know, this disgraceful and underhand way, it's a danger of proselytism, people want to make people Christians or make them Muslims or whatever, and then you think you must use any means to do it, and it's what people dislike in India particularly, any kind of proselytism where you give advantage to people and they think, oh, you'll become a Christian, you'll become a Muslim or whatever, and we always


have to be aware of that. St. Paul says, the open statement of truth is to commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. And the only gospel worth preaching, you see, is one that appears to the conscience as truth, and unless we can make it known as truth to the conscience, we're not preaching the gospel, we're giving some lessons of our own, maybe, but it's not the reality. I mean, that's very important, you see, the only reality is when it's received as truth, everybody has an instinct for truth, and when people recognize the truth, then in their conscience, in their spirit, then that has been the religion, that is generally conversion, but when any other notion comes in, then it's not genuine. And then he says, even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing in their case, the God of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers.


And there is a veil over people's minds, there's no doubt, you see, people are blinded by the propaganda going around all the time, and you don't see the truth, you get blinded by it. And then an awakening has to take place, and then you see it as truth. And he says, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel, the glory of Christ, is the likeness of God. You see, when you wait to see in Christ the likeness of God, it's not so clear. And you recognize in that holy person, you recognize the presence of God, the presence of truth itself, of love. And that is the real conversion you have to see. For what we preach is not ourselves, if Jesus Christ is Lord, then ourselves is your servants for Jesus' sake. We don't preach ourselves, and then again, it's very difficult in your preaching not to


put yourself into it. You don't know how the ego goes into all spiritual life, and above all, perhaps, if you're a bit successful as a preacher or anything, you get a name and people come to listen to you, then you begin to preach yourself, not consciously of course, but unconsciously, your ego goes into it, and your word is spreading in your own name. And on the other hand, we preach Jesus Christ as Lord, but ourselves as your servants. And we understand that very much. Every minister has a... the word minister means a servant, you see, a d'accordé, a service, and it's to be at the service of the world, as they call it, that will enable people to realize the truth. People have an instinct for truth, a constant service, an instinct for truth. And when that truth is given in a way that is meaningful, then people respond. And that is their own conversion, that is their own religion. But it is God who said, let light shine out of darkness to shine in our hearts.


It is the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. It is God who said, let light shine out of darkness. And we're seeing it as light and dark, one of the most typical symbols of truth and untruth. You see, as we were saying yesterday's story, wasn't it, evil is always darkness, shadow, unreality, you see. And truth is always light and reality. And so the God who said, let light shine out must shine in our hearts to the light of the knowledge of the glory of God. You see, it's only when that light of truth shines in the heart that we recognize the presence of God in Christ. Then we say, that is true religion, that is true conversion, and that's what we all have to see. It's really an eternal experience, you see. This light has to shine in the heart to the light of the knowledge of the glory of God. It has to be a gnosis, an experience of God's reality coming into our lives.


And that's really what we seek all the time. So again, all through this, therefore, you get this emphasis on the inner light, you see. And it's such a great danger in all religion, you see externals of religion, and the doctrines and the rituals and so on, and people may be attracted by them, but that is external religion. It's only when the inner light awakens, you see the truth, God who said, now there is presence under those signs, the ritual, the doctrine, then the religion begins, then there is conversion. There is no master in our life to guide us. Questioner asks a question inaudible


all sorts of pains and problems. And not only the body, but the mind also is so much afflicted by so many problems all the time. And yet there is this power which is not of ourselves, which is present in us, and which can change our lives so profoundly. And then he says, we're afflicted in every way, but God's crush protects us, God doesn't despair of persecution, of forsaken, of downed, of destroyed. And we all experience these changes of fortune. Almost every day brings good and evil, pleasure and pain, and so on. And one has to learn how to take both. Tendency is when you're also in pain and suffering, you come back, and then when you get somewhere you cling to that. But one shouldn't cling to either. You know what otherwise means. When old people, they start to be detached in pleasure and in pain. You cling to pleasure, they will suffer pain.


And if you attach yourself to the pain, then you're always divided. You never get the equanimity. And the truth is always to be beyond the pleasure and the pain. There is something in us which is beyond all these dualities, beyond all human conflict. There is a level of the psyche, of the soul, which is beyond these opposites. And that's where we have to try to be. They say we're always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so the life of Jesus is a manifest in our body. In a sense, the divine life, the life of Jesus is a divine life. The divine life is in us all the time. And when we're exposed to suffering, the divine life is still there, as it was with Jesus on the cross. And when we experience joy and fulfillment, the divine life is present there. So there is beyond the human, there is the presence of the divine. And that's the only way we get any peace. Then we go beyond the human dualities and conflicts and discover enough peace, enough


joy, which is the presence of God in us. For while we live, we're being given up to death for Jesus, saying the life of Jesus is a manifest in our mortal flesh. It's always, you see, death and resurrection, life and death, are always working. And we live in this world, you see, of opposites, death and life, and pleasure and pain, and how to live through both, you see, not to cling to the pleasure of the life and to reject the pain of death, but to accept both. And then we find something beyond us, you see, there's something beyond death and life, beyond pleasure and pain. So death is at work, and that was the very spirit we viewed. Then he goes on to say, I bleed, and so I spoke. And this is not a denationalist faith, at least to begin with. You see, we bleed that there's something beyond the body, beyond the mind, there is this power of the spirit. But first, it may be about a particular faith. And then faith becomes experience. And that's the way you see it.


You've heard the term once, faith, that the power of God, the power of Jesus Christ, is present in us, into experience. And then it's not into meditation. In meditation, you're trying to calm the body, calm the mind, and then you become aware there's something deeper than the body or the mind, the presence of the spirit, and then you get guidance in your life, something beyond the mind. So you largely remain on the mental level, but always in the duality, so you're always exposed to conflict. But when you go beyond the mind, then you enter into the unity of the spirit. And then you get to see in our life, you see, like guidance. And that's what we all have to seek. And then he says that the Lord Jesus will raise us also with him and bring us with you into his presence. It's brief, you see, but we're passing through this world. We go through this world of dualities and conflicts, and we experience already something


of the inner truth, the inner peace, and we're looking for the time when we pass beyond the dualities altogether into the unity of the truth, the unity of God, the holiness, the epicenter, the goal to which we're moving all the time. And for it's all for your sake, for this grace extends to more and more, more and more people who make peace, thanksgiving to the glory of God. And as we experience it in ourselves, we share with others, and so it grows. And that is the way truth and life grow, that one person always shares with another. You can't hide it. And so you create a sphere of truth, of life, of fulfilment, and then that can gradually expand. So that's a human situation. We're always in the dualities, and yet there's something beyond the duality, always present. And as we become aware of that, it grows, eventually it changes our lives. And we must be going to be guided by that inner truth, with our life, with our love,


with our name, with our presence, with Christ, with everything. That's the supreme. Questioner 1 I was saying this, what's the second verse of the Galatians, one of the more mystical writings of St. Paul, and it comes out very clearly in this passage. He says, for our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being rejuvenated. And we always keep in mind the inner man and the outer man, and the inner nature, the outer nature. And many people are only aware of the outer nature, they're only the external world, and they never reflect on themselves, never discover this inner person. And yet we don't become mature human beings until we learn to discover this inner self.


And in India, I read a wonderful article, it's the inner self, that's the great discovery in India, the high order phenomena, the outer world, it's the reality of the inner self. The famous verse in Upanishad which says, the creator made the senses to turn outwards, therefore man becomes open, not to look to himself, but one way or another, his own immortality, look to the inner part of the self. And the self is not your ego or outer self, it's the inner reality which is in God, and God is in you. And so when you come to the inner part of God, and what is the great mystery of the outer world? The great mystery of the outer world is that most people see people as completely obsessed with the outer world. And one of the sciences of modernism is exploring the outer world, and the rest of it. They're simply living in the world of nature, of outside reality, never discovering the inner truth, the inner reality.


And so Paul goes on, this great momentary affliction of preparing for an eternal breach of glory is beyond all comparison. All the experiences of this world are there to prepare this breach of glory. It's a symbolic phrase, of course, but glory is the experience of God. It's going beyond the human, realizing the reality of the divine. Because you look not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen. And people today look only slightly on the things that are seen. It's about 90% of people, their inner world is what can be seen, the outer world. And then if you discover the inner world, the unseen, they think this is real. If you can see it and touch it, then it must be real. But if you can't see or touch it, if it's something in your mind, if you can't see or touch, it appears unreal. And therefore if you feel reality, the outer world is the shadow, the occurrence of this inner reality.


Reality is within. The outer is the mirror of it, protecting it. Reality is within. And the things that are seen are transient. The things that are unseen are eternal. Remember that everything you see is passing away. Every moment, every atom is dissolving. Every moment dissolves. Reality is in constant touch and change. And that is the great insight of the Buddha. You see, all is passing, all is sorrow, all is unreal. And the phenomenal world is always changing, passing, and every moment it's dissolving. And it's always there for the cause of suffering. You see, there's no satisfaction in things that continually change and recover. And it's ultimately unreal. It's all a passing phenomena. And the reality is behind it. It's within. It's invisible. And reality is in the mind, in the heart, in the spirit within. And so thinking in religion is discovering the inner reality and realizing the outer


self or the outer image of the reality is only a reflection, a mirror, a shadow, whatever word you like to use, and just learning to live from within. You were reading the same in Kabir, quite a good example, where he says, The moon is within me, and so is the sun. All the universe is within us. The appearance is outside, but the reality, all these things, is in the mind, you know, the inner person. And the unscratched drum of eternity is solidly within me, but my deaf ears cannot hear it. The invisible reality is within, but you don't recognize it. You see, that is the problem. And he relates it to the I and the mind. As long as you're encouraged in your ego, you're encouraged in the outer world, and you don't see beyond it.


Once you get beyond your ego, the I and the mind, the akamkara, then you discover the reality, which is in everything and beyond everything, which is in you and beyond you. And that is the awakening to truth, to reality, to God, to meaning in life. There's so many people who go round and round outside and never find the meaning of life outside you. But sometimes the only thing that awakens you is if you get ill or you have an accident or your wife dies or something, then you begin to reflect and you perhaps begin to discover something behind it. As long as things go well, and you're making money and you're getting on in the world, you just go on living on the surface of life, you never discover the reality. It's very often lost. It's a place where people come to discover the reality. I am no longer the reality of God and truth. There are two brothers...


You know, he speaks of God as an earthly vessel and now he speaks of it as an earthly tent. The earthly tent we live in is destroyed. We have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. And it's a really deep view here that our present body is this earthly tent. Quite obviously that's coming to an end. But in the Hebrew view, you don't simply lose your body. You're clothed in another body, a spiritual body. It's something, it's a contradiction in terms. As I mentioned earlier, you see, today a body for us is an organized system of atoms, molecules, of energy. An organized system of energy is a body, you see. And it can exist on a certain material level, but it exists also on another level, on a


spiritual level. So when this earthly body, the earthly tent, drops off, the clothes of the spiritual body. You see, Christian understanding. You see, as I said, the spirit is the source of the life, both of the body and the soul. And when the spirit ceases to animate this earthly body, casts it off, then it reduces the spiritual body. And that is the resurrection, the spiritual body. So the whole thing, you see, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. This spiritual body is an eternal body. It's a dwelling place of the spirit in this human being, you see. Here we groan and long to put on our heavenly dwelling, so that by putting it on we may not be found naked. You see, the Hebrew had no sense of a pure spirit. For him that was something unreal. And human being is a body soul. It always has this body. And so he didn't, the idea that you simply drop your body was quite foreign to him.


But the idea that the body could be renewed, become another spiritual body, that had a deep meaning. So we long to put on our heavenly dwelling, so that by putting it on we may not be found naked. And that's where we get this idea of the resurrection of the body, you see. It's not simply the spirit set free from the body, but the body transformed, the natural body transformed and becoming a spiritual body. But while we're still in this tent, we say with anxiety, not that we will be unclothed, we will be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Very interesting, you see. He doesn't like the idea at all of dropping the body. In India, that's much more common. Many people feel we want to drop the body and become the spirit. But I think this is a deeper view, you see. The spirit is not simply mind and thought and so on. The spirit is in the body. And when this body is totally possessed by the spirit, the spiritual body, probably without a body at present, is not possessed by the spirit.


The spirit, it derives its life from the spirit, it's governed by laws that bring it to death and corruption. And so the Jew and St. Paul look forward always to be clothed in, you see, that we will be further clothed, what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. And the mortal body becomes an immortal body, you see. The perishable becomes an imperishable. And he has prepared us for this very thing. God has given us the spirit as a guarantee. And the resurrection is a sign of that. You see, Jesus didn't simply depart this world in its spirit. The body was transfigured in the resurrection. The body became a spiritual body, an eternal body in heaven. And that is the destiny for all. And the sign of it is his gift to the spirit. The spirit in us, it's always there actually, but it becomes animated by grace. And then when it's animated by grace, it can transform the body as well as the soul.


So our destiny is the body and the soul should be totally transformed by the spirit. And sin is a state where the body and soul are kept separate from the spirit. That is our fallen state. The body doesn't follow the law of the spirit, the soul doesn't follow the law of the spirit. So when both surrender to God, then the spirit takes possession of soul and body. And that is the resurrection, and that is the state to which Jesus passed the resurrection, and which we are destined to pass. We are all called into the new life and the resurrection. We will be clothed with this heavenly dwelling, with this eternal dwelling. It's a beautiful idea when you think of it. In this letter to the Germans, it's supposed to speak of this love of Christ, but to separate us, I think, in the whole creation, we have to separate us from this love of God in Christ Jesus.


And it says, what is this love of God in Christ Jesus? And obviously it has many meanings. I suppose for everybody it has somewhat different meaning. Love is something infinite, we all experience it in different ways. And clearly for St. Paul of the early church, the love of God was experienced in Jesus in a unique way. And perhaps this is the distinctive Christian experience. If we compare it with the Hindu experience, the Protestant Hindu is the Sat Chit Ananda, being, knowledge and bliss. The experience of absolute being, transcendent reality, which is also pure consciousness, pure knowledge, and gives absolute bliss. And that is considered to be the ultimate reality, the Sat Chit Ananda. And it can be experienced in prayer and in meditation.


It can go beyond the limits of ordinary existence to this being beyond everything. And your consciousness goes beyond normal consciousness into that transcendent consciousness, the Chit, and you experience this Ananda. And many Hindu saints and sages have had this experience again and again. And it's a unique experience of God. It obviously is not quite the same as an experience of love. But again in Hinduism there is a Bhakti tradition where there is an experience of the love of God. But what was distinctive in this experience of love of God in Christ? Obviously it comes from the passion, the death, the resurrection. There's no greater love, there's no man than this man, laid down his life for his friends. And this experience of a love which gives itself up to death,


obviously that is the root of the experience. But you see in the disciples it went to the depths because it was a love which gave itself up to death and then came through death into resurrection. And that is the uniqueness of it. Others have given their lives for others, but to go right through death into resurrection, that is the unique experience of Christ. And that is the way we experience, I think, this love, we experience this total self-giving love to the point of death and then going through death. And obviously the absolute limit to which anybody can go is to go through death into eternal life. So, as I say, I think for everybody this love of Christ, God in Christ, is unique. And we each have to open our hearts to receive it. You see, it's a gift. God is revealing himself in Christ, communicating himself, and at the depth of our being we are open to that.


Every human being is open to the transcendent, one way or another, and to be open to that love, to experience it, coming into one's own life, changing it. That really is what this calls for. And as St. Paul says, it's stronger than anything in creation. Most of us don't experience it very easily, obviously, but he himself had experienced every kind of suffering and so on, but he knew that this love was stronger than anything in creation. And that is faith, really, that there is that power of love which is stronger than all the forces of evil and destruction and violence and hatred and death itself, you see. So I think we need to reflect on it. It's a tremendous mystery. Nobody can say what the love of God is. It's a fundamental mystery which we can experience, each according to our capacity, and as secretality can grow and we discover more and more what it is, still we don't have a place to be more aware of what that love is. Questioner asks a question in English.


As you know, this second act of corruption is a mystical doctrine, and St. Paul makes very clear here that these two levels of being are always of good courage. While we are at home in the body, we are away from the law. We work by faith or by sight. And I think one would have to keep in mind these two levels of reality or levels of consciousness. You see, we live in one world, the world of the senses, the feelings, the outer and the reason, the outer world, and then beyond that, with prayer and meditation, we become aware of a transcendent reality which is beyond and yet within. You see, the transcendent reality is beyond this world, but it's also immanent in it. It's transcendent and immanent. And that is the world of the spirit. And many people simply live in the external world, thoughts, feelings, desires, and so on, and don't see beyond.


But those who are awake, who feel enlightened in any way, like tape, look at that tape, they are beyond the outer world, the outer feelings and thoughts, the inner world of reality, of truth, of love. And that's what we have to discover in our lives. With a good courage, we would rather be away from the body and at home with the thoughts. You see, leaving it away from the body means not being engrossed with bodily thoughts, feelings, desires. The body is a whole of this psychic person, this suki, this soul, you see, the natural man, the rational man. And as long as we are living in that being, which is also the ego, the icon, as long as we're in that state, we're away from the Lord. We're not aware of the reality of the spirit. The Lord is spirit. And so, there are two worlds always, and we're all involved in both. We both become aware of the outer world around us and we're easily absorbed into it.


At the same time, in prayer, in meditation, in our faith, we become aware of an inner world, an inner reality, which is the reality behind this world. And that's what it means having at home with the Lord. Whether we're at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him. So, whether we're involved in the world or whether we're in prayer, we try to do what is left constant with the will of the Lord, the will of the spirit. You see, once you've awakened by faith to that inner reality, try to guide your life by that truth, by that light, and then you get a direction in your life. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive good or evil according to what is found in the body. Ultimately, we're all judged by this inner light, this inner truth, this inner reality, which is in everybody but can be totally hidden or can be seen just in glimpses or can become the guiding light of one's life. And meditation, you see, after going beyond the body,


beyond the mind, also deep, and awakening to the inner reality and allowing that to grow and become the guide of one's life. And it's the whole problem is how far we achieve this. We go beyond our normal human calculating mind and awake to the inner light, the inner truth. So, I think it's tremendously important, you know, and it challenges everybody all the time. We can easily simply fall into a worldly way of life, a worldly way of thinking, judge everything according to the light of the world, even in a religious way, simply ignoring the reality of faith. We have faith hidden away somewhere, but all our life our judgments are according to the world. Or we can allow the light of faith to penetrate. Faith has to become knowledge, you see, gnosis, wisdom. Faith is unbelievable, you see. It has to become experience. We have to become aware of the light, the truth, and allow it to penetrate the world around us


and guide our life, guide our thoughts, guide our attitudes. So, I think we're all challenged by this. You know, I'd say this method, for the greatest thing, is very penetrating. It's a real mystical doctrine, how to get beyond the outer world, the outer self, and discover the inner reality, the inner truth. Questioner's question is inaudible. Questioner's question is inaudible. It's theology and yet it's entirely mystical and it's very tremendously meaningful. You see, it says, from now on we regard no one from a human point of view, even though we once regarded Christ from a human point of view, regarding thus no longer.


And this human point of view, as you remember, is the ordinary human psychological understanding. We have this natural psychology, mind and will and reason and imagination, all these type of things, and we see the world in that way, and then beyond that there is this superhuman transcendence. That's the real point of view, that is the view of the spirit, the Atman. And if we once regarded Christ from that point of view, we do so no longer. You see, before the resurrection, disciples regarded Christ from a human point of view. He was a great prophet, a great teacher, maybe he was the Messiah, but it was all entirely on a human level. It was only with the resurrection that the transformation took place, and they saw everything in a totally new light. And that is Christian experience. Until we enter the resurrection, the new life, we don't see things as they are. And then he has a wonderful phrase, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.


The old has passed away, the new has come. It's a new mode of consciousness, you see. The levels of creation is the physical level, and then you get the biological level, and then you get the psychological level, and then you go beyond the psychological to the spiritual, and to be in Christ, to awake to the spiritual reality, to the spiritual truth. And then you have a new creation, it's a new mode of existence, you see, altogether. And we need to emphasize this, because you see, many people live a Christian life on a merely human level. They have faith, they believe in something beyond, but it doesn't work in their lives. They just go on living as an ordinary human life. So the faith is there, and it's something, but when faith grows into knowledge and experience, then the inner transformation takes place. And then you get the new creation, you become something new, and the old passes away, the new has come. And then he says, all this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself,


gave us the ministry of reconciliation. All this comes as a pure gift of God. You can't achieve it yourself at all if you don't have faith, and faith opens you to this action of God, and then it takes place. Something comes in and reconciles. You see, as long as you're living on the human level, you're not reconciled with God, you're in conflict with this deeper reality. Like people, the unconscious. You see, people live on a human level, and they think that's all there is, but deep down in their unconscious, there's something struggling to come to birth, and that's what causes all the conflict in human life. When you recognize that, and allow it to come forth, then the inner transformation takes place. And that is the ministry of reconciliation. The human being, his body, soul, the whole sacramento of being, is reconciled with the spiritual reality. You become whole. We're pregnanted now, and when you open up to this level, you become whole. And wholeness and holiness are arguably the same.


You become a whole person, a holy person. And that is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world with himself. It's one of the greatest phrases in the New Testament. In Christ, God was reconciling the world with himself. See, the world fell away from God. When you fall away from the spirit into the psyche, into the normal human existence, you fall away from God. In Christ, because he dies to that level of existence, on the cross, and then passes to the new level, he sets us free from this bondage of the human, and awakens us to the spiritual reality. Yesterday we read, he died for all. No, I didn't mention it yesterday. The love of Christ controls, we are convinced that one has died for all, and therefore all have died. And this is Paul's understanding, you see, that humanity is one. It's really the key to the New Testament. Humanity is one being,


one, as I mentioned, St. Thomas Aquinas says, omnes homines unus homo. All men are one man, one cosmic man, one cosmic person. And we're all members of that cosmic person, and that sin enters into that cosmic man, he's divided, fragmented, it's the experience now, and God in Christ takes hold of that fallen man, reconciles him, reintegrates him, makes him whole again. And so we are all, we're all born into a world which is fallen, sinful, and destined for death, and we're born into a world which is redeemed, and reintegrated, and made one. So the two forces are always present in everybody. And so all this is from God, who in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusted us the ministry of reconciliation.


And you don't do it yourself, you see, you can't reintegrate, you can't redeem yourself, you have to allow it to take place. God has done it in Christ, and always has asked of us, to accept this reconciliation, to accept redemption, to accept forgiveness, to accept the grace of the Holy Spirit. It's all a total acceptance of what has been done. It's been done for all humanity. All humanity is redeemed, God has asked that each one should acknowledge that, and open themselves to it, and allow the reconciliation to take place. So that's our calling. So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal to us, in the future on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. You see, simply you're asking to allow this grace to take place in you. It's not something you've got to do, it's something you've got to allow to be done in you. It's much more difficult in many ways, but all egocentric, we want to do things for ourselves, we want to save ourselves, do some great work, and satisfaction and what not,


but really it's allowing the grace to work in us, to take that surrender which allows God to be God, to work in you, to live in you. And then he has a wonderful praise, for our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, that in him we might become the righteousness of God. See, Christ in himself had no sin, but he accepted the sinful condition of humanity, suffering, death, fear, hunger, and all the rest. You see, he accepts the human condition, the fallen condition of man, and then we might become the righteousness of God. We're not righteous in ourselves, you see, we accept this gift from God which is righteousness, which is truth, which is love, which is grace, which is God himself, you see. So we're chained from being subject to sin and death, to being open to grace, to truth, to love. So as I say, this is the heart of the gospel, it's tremendous mystical theology,


and it's so important, particularly in India, you see, all Indian philosophy is mystical, it's all based on the experience of God, of immense profundity, and St. Paul is giving us here the Christian experience, it's akin, but still distinct, and it's really how we as human beings experience God, become God through life, you see, that's our destiny. So we all need to accept this great mystery. Thank you. We go on with this letter to the Corinthians, and as you know, it's a very personal letter, today's reading is meticulous, but Paul says it's a personal experience, such an extraordinary variety in its way. First of all, he says, we teach you not to accept the grace of God in vain, and it means the grace is always being offered,


but of course we can fail to accept it, but now is the acceptable time, and now is the day of salvation, and that now is always there, and it's learning to live in that now, not to think things off all the time, live in the presence, live in the now, live in the presence of God, it's always there, and you'll recognize it, and you'll respond to it. And then he goes on, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way, and then he gives this great variety of experiences, and it's a very popular experience, as any human being ever has, all these diversities of life, all the good and the evil, and I think it's a great lesson here, we all tend to want to avoid all the evil, all the suffering, all the pain of existence, we have the pleasure and the peace and the happiness, and yet we have somehow to learn how to live with the opposites, it's very difficult, the world is made up of opposites,


the whole creation is a union of opposites, and if one can learn to live with the opposites, then one keeps a certain serenity, a certain balance, but if we're always looking for the good, then we get the evil, if we're always looking for the pleasure, we get pain, so on and so on, so we have to learn to live with them, and then they can be moderated, we don't get overcome by them, that's the whole teaching of the Bhagavad Gita, how to live without detachment, in pleasure and pain, and honor and dishonor, success and failure, and so on, so St. Paul says, in adjurance of frictions, hardship, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, tumults, labors, bodily hunger, and he went through all these things, we know, you get the record of it, and, you know, he was stoned and taken up for dead, and walked off, and so on, an extraordinary capacity to endure, and then he has a rather mixed bag of virtues, he says, purity, knowledge, forbearance, kindness,


the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit is actually put in the middle of all this, but the Holy Spirit is really the source of all purity, knowledge, kindness, forbearance, and so on, and then genuine love, truthful speech, and then again, the power of God, which, of course, is working through all these things, and then with the weapons of righteousness on the right hand and the left, in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute, and that is something very difficult, really, and I think we always have to face it, how to live with ill repute and dishonor, it needn't be anything very grave, but always there are people who spread rumors and say things against other people, and one's always exposed to that, and to learn to live with it again, you see, not to take it too seriously, and it always seems that one of our deepest, this marvelous idea of detachment, you're exposed to all these opposites, but you don't give way to any of them, when you get pleasure, you don't give way to it,


when you get pain, you don't give way to it, when you get honor, you don't think everything is good, and when you get dishonor, you're not upset, it's learning that sort of evenness, you see, yoga is so much about evenness of mind, we're always the same, it's very, very difficult to get, it's possible to get that sort of inner awareness beyond the opposites, you see, there's something in us which is beyond the opposites, beyond the dualities, the wonders, as they say, and we have to get beyond, and then there's an inner peace which can deal with all these conflicts and falses. So he says, in honor, dishonor, in ill refute, in good refute, we're treated as impostors and yet are true, as unknown and yet well-known, as dying and yet only live, and punished and yet not killed. It's very powerful, really, and very profoundly true, you know, I mean, it's, as I say, there is this sort of dualities in the whole of life,


these opposites, and, you see, as being treated as impostors and yet true, as unknown and yet well-known, and dying, behold, we live, and perhaps that's the heart of it, dying, behold, we live, you see, the whole Christian life is death and resurrection, and it doesn't take place once, it takes place continually, it's important, there's a daily death and resurrection, and to live in that polarity, you see, as I say, I think we all tend to want that one dimension only, to be living in happiness and pleasure and so on, and to ignore the other, but when we accept both, then we get the equilibrium, we get a harmony which is beyond the opposite, and as sorrowful as always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, you see, it's quite true. First of all, he said, our mouth is open to you, our heart is wide, we're not restricted by us,


we're restricted in our own affections, and St. Paul makes a great deal of this heart, we speak of the heart chakra, and it's the centre of the affections, and love is not only in the affections, or in the emotions, love is in the inner spirit, the depths of the being, but it expresses itself through the heart, and St. Paul always, too, you get agape, this love, but you also get this affection, this loving relationship, and it's very powerful in St. Paul, this sense that, you see, I speak as to children, widen your hearts, and in all traditions the heart, you see, is the centre, we have the sacred heart of Jesus, beside you the human love of Jesus, and the heart is the centre of human love, and that human love has to be guided by the divine love, and formed by it, but still it's something in itself important.


And then he goes on to this problem, you see, do not be misinterpreted with unbelievers, and this is where the problem arises, I was saying this morning, you see, that today we're trying to enter into dialogue with other religions, but we have to face the fact that right from biblical times onwards other religions have been totally rejected by the Church, in the Old Testament the Jews rejected every other religion, it was false, diabolical, and only the Jews had the true knowledge of God, and the Christian Church inherited the same view, and St. Paul gives it us here, you see, that what partnership have righteousness and iniquity, what fellowship has light with darkness, what accord has Christ with Belial, what has a believer in common with an unbeliever, and so all who have been Jews or Christians were regarded as unbelievers, and they were rejected as iniquity,


as darkness, and as Belial, as sin, and this is a very great problem, you see, we've inherited this tradition for thousands of years, really, all through Israel and all through the Church, we've never accepted any validity in other religions until the Second Vatican Council, and then we began to change, and today we've tried to change this, but we're working against the tradition, and we have to face it, you see, it's no good pretending that the Church accepted other religions again and again, they were simply denounced as evil, satanic, and most Catholics in India were brought up to think that Hinduism was diabolical, and to go to a Hindu temple was a mortal sin, you went mixing with the devil, and that is our inheritance, you see, and we have to recognize it as the past, it was a fatal mistake, it was made right from the beginning, and today we realize it was a mistake,


that God is present in every religion, and when people sincerely approach God, God is present to them, and today we're trying to see the values in each religion, it's totally untrue what has a believer with an unbeliever, we have relations with everybody, even with an atheist, see, an atheist is a person who rejects certain images and concepts of God, and he may have a more profound awareness of God himself, of truth, of justice, of goodness, than the believer has, you can't judge people by their external forms, you have to say what is the heart, and an atheist may have a sense of justice which the ordinary Christian doesn't possess at all, and so obviously still more with the Hindu, now with the Buddhist, you see, a Buddhist doesn't believe in God, so you think he's an atheist, but the Buddhist has a profound sense of transcend, and the two characteristics of the Buddha are wisdom and compassion, prajna karma, wisdom and compassion,


and that is God, you see, he speaks of God under another name, but each religion has its own way of understanding, we have to appreciate each religion and recognize that they were interrelated, as I was saying this morning, we try to recognize each religion has its unique value, Christianity has a unique revelation, we have to be true to the revelation of God in Christ, but we have to recognize God is present in other religions, speaking in another language, in other forms, and we have to relate them to Christ and to one another, so you see, a passive agnostic, if people believe the Bible's the word of God and you've got to take it all literally, then it blocks all attempts of dialogue, you see, and many, many Christians, you see, evangelicals and propundamentalists everywhere, Catholics, well as Protestants, many in the charismatic movement simply reject other religions as diabolical, so we have to face that it's there,


and it is totally false, you see, it's a false view which has been propagated century after century and has prevented the Church from recognizing the values of other religions, and then it goes on to say you are the temple of the living God, and that is the positive side of it, you see, as I said this morning, why religions reject others is because they've discovered a unique truth, God is present to you, God the Infinite, the Eternal, is present to you, offering himself to you, and you want to be true to that, and other people have another view of God, another view of truth, which you reject, rightly, you see, and there is a call to affirm the truth as you perceive it, but then you've got to recognize that other people have their understanding of truth also, and you have to relate, you cannot simply reject truth, so it's not easy, you see, as I say, it isn't simply you can all, all religions, one is as good as the other,


and we can mix them all up, that is not the answer at all, but neither is it that one religion is true and all the rest are false, God is present in each religion and outside all religions, whenever there is a human being made in the image of God, God is present, and we have to recognize God in that person, whatever his beliefs are, and then we have to relate all these different aspects of God's revelation to the one truth, and that is the work of the theology of religions, which is really beginning today, and we're beginning to work it out, so I think we ought to reflect on this, we often try to cover up the past, you see, as though we were always open to other religions, but in practice I think we can say until the Vatican Council, I don't think you'll find one statement, authoritative statement of the church recognizing the values of another religion, they've always seen the negative side of all religions and renounced them and rejected them, and today we have to recognize the positive values in every religion


and relate it to God's revelation in Christ, that is the real work of theology today. In this case, it's a little bit of a more personal part, as you know, there's a conflict in this church, this is all done by the stronger person who's been living with this stepmother, isn't it, and it caused great concern, and he returns to her with this subject, he says, open your hearts to us, we have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one, and I say this to condemn you, but I said you are in our hearts to die together and to live together, and I think it's very remarkable, this kind of living relationships that St. Paul had with his communities,


the very sharing in the life and death of Christ, they really live together and die together, and I think we all have to learn that, solidarity, you see, we grow up in a world where people are thought to be isolated individuals, their bodies are isolated individuals, and people find it difficult to come together, but in the ancient world generally, and in India still to some extent, and in the Christian church, there's a sense of solidarity, you're members of one another, and that's something we all need to recover, it's an illusion, these separated individuals are distinct, they're not separate, they're all members of one another, and we have to learn to live together and to die together, I've great confidence in you, great pride in you, I'm filled with comfort, with all our affliction and all the joy, and then he goes on to explain all the problems he had, when he went to Macedonia,


was afflicted, fighting without any fear within, the comforts and so on, and then he speaks, you see, of the effect of his letter, he wrote a rather strong letter, and it had a great effect on him, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoice still more, he got a response from there, which gave him great joy, for even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it, I see that letter grieved you only for a while, and I rejoice, not because you were grieved, because you were grieved into repentance, you got a godly grief, that you suffered no loss, a godly grief produces repentance, it leads to salvation, it brings no regret, but worldly grief produces death, a very important distinction, you see, between godly grief, sorrow, which opens the heart to God, you recognize your weakness,


your failures, your imperfections, and so on, and you turn to God, and you get sorrow, but you get great comfort, you get a sense of being accepted, and each day people feel more and more, now you accept oneself, accept one's limitation, one's failure, one's weakness, and so on, and when accepting it, surrender it to God, and then you feel that you are accepted as you are, and you get a gracefulness, you get a change takes place, so that's what he calls this godly grief, and the opposite, you see, you can get depressed with yourself, you feel hopeless, and no good in it, and so on, and then that leads to despair, and saying to someone this afternoon, there's two ways of looking, you see, there's a way of looking at yourself where you think you're bad, and condemn yourself, and that can be very harmful, you have to learn to love yourself,


to recognize God's presence in you, that there's something lovable in every person, every person has something in them from God which is lovable, and one's got to recognize the goodness that one of the great changes today, you see, in the past we tended to emphasize our sin, and I'm a sinner, I'm repentant, and so on, obviously that's one aspect of things, but if it's overdone, it becomes very harmful, you get a bad image of yourself, you get depressed, and you feel you're no good, and today the emphasis is much more on one's essential goodness, everybody is essentially good, everybody's made in the image of God, there's something essentially good in everybody, perhaps we are spoiled, corrupted, depraved, all the rest of it, but the essential goodness remains, and we all ought to have to recognize it in ourselves and in others, and that is the godly grief, you see, when we recognize that in spite of all our pervertedness,


and so on, there is this essential goodness in us, and that is a sort of grace of God, and then he says the effect of this, what eagerness it produced, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what zeal, what punishment, every point you prove yourself guilty, and the other way is obviously a profound emotional change, and we have a sort of very deep renewal, and again, you know, repentance at a very deep level, it awakes all the feelings from the unconscious, you see, there are a whole mass of feelings which are suppressed in the unconscious, and as long as they remain suppressed, they become a force for despair and disgust, and so on, and once those feelings are released, and you're able to express them, then they are set free, and you get this renewal in your life, and that's obviously what took place with them, so although I wrote to you,


it's not on account of the one who did the wrong, you see, it all started with this man, not on account of the one who suffered, nor that your zeal for us might be revealed, and so on, and then it goes on a little more personal thing about Titus, his happiness with death, and they say it's very personal, this letter, and yet people always manage to make these personal things much more than personal, they become very human, and of course they're all related ultimately in relation to God, it's how you give out your life in the presence of God. Paul is speaking here about collection, and it's rather interesting that he makes so much of it, and collection can be a very mundane affair, you pass around a bag and people contribute, and it can become very commercial, but since Paul makes it something very profoundly religious


and involved in the whole mystery of faith, it's very, very interesting the way he treats it. He says, he wants you to know about the grace of God that has been shown in the churches of Macedonia, for their extreme poverty is overflowed in a wealth of divinality of their part, and you see this, they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own free will, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints. This idea was very strong that the richer churches should care for the poorer ones, and it still exists today to some extent, but I think it's something we all need to reflect on, as I say, it's the money business of the church, it can become very commercial, it can even become corrupt if one's not careful, and it should become really part of faith and of love, it should be an expression of the inner person. Incidentally, I think it's rather important in an ashram


not to charge anything. People often ask, how much do you charge? We say, we don't charge anything, and I think it's extremely important, you see, what you give should be given freely, and in many Hindu ashrams it's the same, for instance, at Lamanastram Tiruvannamalai, they simply ask if you want to make an offering, you make, and that's what our principle is, and it means, you see, that money doesn't become, as I say, a commercial affair, it becomes a freewill offering, it becomes an expression of love, and that's very much what it should be, and that's what St. Paul is making of it. He makes a lot of fuss about it, in a sense, but you see, as you excel in everything, in faith, in utterance, in knowledge, in all earnestness, in love, see that you excel in this also. So it's part of the whole work of faith, you see, and interesting, utterance and knowledge. Utterance meant more this, probably speaking in tongues, or even just simply praising God, but knowledge, this gnosis, was one of the characteristics of the Christian church,


and it isn't so today. We've rather lost this idea of gnosis, of spiritual wisdom, and that's jnana in the same word, in Sanskrit, and that's very typically Indian. We need to have both faith and love and knowledge, gnosis, and then it should be expressed in this concern for others, not only for the poor, but concern for people in need generally. I say it is not a command, but expression of others, that your love also is genuine, and there he gives it a deep theological background. We know that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, though he was rich for your sake, he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. And you get it, of course, in the letter to the Philippians, how he emptied himself to perform the servant in order to help others. So the whole principle goes back to this, that Christ shows his love by becoming poor for our sakes, enriching us, and so we also can become rich


by sharing with others. I give my advice and so on, that your readiness and desiring may be matched by your completing it. Apparently they made this offer, but it hadn't yet been completed, and so Paul is asking that they should fulfill all that they have promised. And then he puts it rather delicately, I do not mean that others should be eased a new burden, there's a matter of equality. Your abundance at the present time should prepare their want, so that their abundance may supply your want and maybe equality. He always tries to sort of balance it in that way. Probably the church in Corinth, you see, rather rich city, probably like Bombay rather, you see, and so they should be able to contribute to the poorer church, particularly Jerusalem, and it was rather poor, so that they could balance themselves back there. And so he who gathered much had nothing over him, he who gathered little had no left. So it's a rather good example, you see, of how this thesis of money in the church


can be dealt with. And it's always one of the dangerous spots because so many scandals can arise if you just have this problem with the bank of Ambrosiano and so on. I seem to have gone over it now. But it is a problem in the church always, and if all this business of money can really be seen as a part of faith and of love and as a spiritual reality, then it makes all the difference. So I think we need to reflect on that, as I say, because many people sort of treat it as a business arrangement and you give so much and it's your duty, but it should be such more than that. It should be a real sharing of love with others. The Jews have a very tragic story. You see, Christianity was originally a purely Jewish religion. Jesus came as the Messiah and his disciples accepted him as the Messiah, the fulfillment of the expectation of Israel.


And they had no idea of separating from Israel. They went up worshipping in the temple, they attended the synagogue, they were circumcised, and they expected the law to be continued. And it was only gradually that the problem arose that Gentiles began to come into the church. And remember when Cornelius, a Gentile, wanted to be baptized, Peter had to have a special revelation to make him realize he could receive a Gentile into the church. So it was beginning as a Jewish religion and then it began to let in the Gentiles, the non-Jews, and gradually, of course, the non-Jews, the Gentiles became more and more dominant and the Jews became a very small minority and the church began to break away from Judaism. And that's when this tragic breach took place and it was made worse than it might have been. It always happened in these things. Each side hardened against the other.


The Jews hated the Christians because they were separating from Israel and the Christians hated the Jews because they were clinging on to their own religion. And it went on for 2,000 years nearly, this terrible conflict between Jews and Christians. And Christians would never accept the Jews for anything but unbelievers, people who refused to believe in Christ. And the Jews saw Christians simply as people who betrayed their own religion. But today we are trying to enter into a new relationship and the whole Christian-Jewish dialogue is quite changing and we recognize today the validity of much of the Jewish position. You see, Christianity broke away from Judaism, took all these Greek, Roman customs and so on, and became a Gentile religion. And it lost much of its Jewish tradition in the course of it. And consequently, today we're trying to see how Judaism still remains to millions of people,


it still remains a valid religion, a life-fulfilling village. And the best Jews today, they try to see Christianity as another way of expressing the mystery of Israel, which they're prepared to respect. And I think today, you see, we're learning to respect differences. In the past, if people differed from you, felt they were wrong, they were wicked, and they must be rejected. But today we try to see how people can, sincere people, can have differing views on the most fundamental matters. And we have to respect one another's differences. So perhaps that's the great change we could make. Here in this letter, St. Paul shows his great sympathy for the Jews. He said he would even go on to be rejected from Christ, if he could save them. And he certainly felt it very deeply. But as time went on, the breach grew more and more, and there was really hatred on both sides. And that was very tragic, and that's what we have to try to make amends for,


and to realize that there are billions of sincere Jews who really follow their own tradition, believe it to be the true way for them, and we have to respect it. And of course, they also now try to respect the Christian faith. St. Paul goes on with this theme of this collection, and perhaps we might reflect a little on this use of money. It's one of the great problems, really. Money corrupts everybody, including people in the church. And I always think one has to make that, you see, the dangers we trust in money. Obviously money is necessary to provide our food, clothing, all that we have. We must have money, and if we're responsible for community, then we'll just get money for the community, and responsibility is there. And without realizing it, we really put our trust in money. We must have it. And it's a great danger in religious communities


that people are irresponsible, so they go all out to get the money that is necessary. And I think we often forget to make the step of surrendering it to God, that we need the money, and we can take provision in various ways, and yet one can make that surrender of it. It's a sort of, it may seem, rather small thing in a way, and yet in prayer, if one really surrenders to God, if you're in need of something, make the prayer to offer it to God and ask. And as you learn and experience it, you get most extraordinary answers to prayer. You've read many stories, you know, of people who really trust in God, and they seem to be like the last penny is there, and then suddenly somebody comes along and gives them exactly what they want. You see, there is a real providence if you wait for it, but if you're always calculating, sure that you've got enough for everything, God can't get a look in, you see. So I think it's surrender. And to be, you know, dependent on providence,


when I was in a monastery in England, we had a very small income, and we just managed from month to month, and we really learned to trust in God in that way. And I remember one time, we were just about at the limit, and somebody wrote from Africa asking for some money for a cow, and we thought, well, we've not got enough for ourselves, what can we do for them? And then we thought, well, God is asking us to give to them, and so we gave the money, and the next day money came in for us. And it happens again and again like that. You make an act of faith, you give something out of love, then you get it back in another way. It's no good calculating that you'll get it back, you've got to make the sacrifice, and then you receive what you want. So, as I say, I think one has to learn how really to commit the daily necessities of life to God, and then we take necessary measures of this. It's a difficulty, you have to take the measures and so on,


and then you think they've become everything. You forget about it, it seems more trivial, why haven't you thought to God about it, you can get it from the bank and so on, but it's not so, you see, there is a real providence behind it. And in the New Testament, of course, in the Sermon on the Mount, it's extremely, do not be anxious, be all dying of what you should eat, what you should drink, what you should put on, for Heavenly Father knows you are in need of these things, and He wants us to have that faith, that trust, then to take necessary measures, not for density, don't simply reflect the duty of providing what is necessary, but to do it in dependence on divine providence, with a constant surrender to that providence. So I think perhaps we all need to reflect over that, and that's what St. Paul is talking about in the Sermon on the Mount. He says, the point is, he who sows sparingly will reap sparingly,


he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully, and again, you see, it's very true, to do things bountifully is to put faith in God, you see, you make that offer, and then you get your reward. Each must do as he's made up his mind, without compulsion, for God loves the church together, to be able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, you may always have enough of everything, and be provided in abundance for every good work. See, that faith, that if you really commit your life to God, you get what you need, it's pretty easy to believe, and sometimes you may get disappointed, you really don't, and we don't make the total surrender, we do it rightly, we surrender so far, but really, those who have made the total surrender, all through history, and the saints have done it, they get this extraordinary providence working in their lives, and I've known many people, you know, who've gone without... wandering without money at all,


without any provision for your journey, simply trusting in providence, and they've all told me it's been quite extraordinary how you may not get what you want, and you may starve for a while, but you always get what you want at the end, because one brother went from here up to Benares, and he hadn't anything, and he called it a convent, the Rana Rana, or Kurara, I think, and they wouldn't take him in or do anything for him, so he went to the bus stand and lay down in the bus stand, and some Hindu came up and asked him if he knew where to go, and he said no, and he took him to his house, and he fed him, let him sleep, and he spent three days there, and I've had a beautiful experience with it. You see, when you surrender yourself and you have nothing, God provides in a quite extraordinary way, so it's a real blessing which we all have to learn, and it's difficult. Once you have a community, you're responsible for others, you can't just leave things, but with all the provision, you can still have that faith,


that trust, and then you get this reward of God's grace. There's a more controversial part of this letter. You know there was a great trouble in this church in Corinth. Only one letter at least is missing, and we don't know the exact circumstances, but clearly there had been some conflict with Paul, and some people were rather tending to despise him, so he reacts rather strongly, and he says, I may treat you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, and it's very striking, of course, how Paul immodels himself on Christ, and this meekness and gentleness, you see, Jesus has said, I am meek and lowly of heart, and you shall find rest for your souls, so clearly though Paul didn't know Jesus, that tradition came down to him. He was well aware of the gospel tradition as we know it,


and then he says, I who am humble when face to face with you would bold you when I am away, and the charge against him was that his letters are very strong and powerful, but in his presence he's rather weak, and probably hadn't much of a presence, they say he was rather short and not very significant, but of course he always felt he had this power from God, and then he asks here, I may not have to show boldness, as I come to show you again, some are suspected of acting in worldly fashion, then you see he'd been accused of acting in a worldly way, and he was exposed to this kind of accretion, and then he defends himself, though we live in the world, we're not carrying on a worldly war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly, but have divine power to destroy strongholds, very conscious of this power, the gospel of Christ is not in words, but in power, he says, of course it's a little dangerous this,


one can exercise power in a dangerous way, but he always feels this power comes from God in Christ, and that he's exercising what his God was exercising in him, so he says we destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God, make every thought captive to obey Christ, and Christ in him, you see, where is this inner self, it is the Lord within, and there is the Christ without Jesus, which he calls Christ according to the flesh, but Paul is bearing Christ within, where is the Lord within, this inner guide, this inspiration of presence of God in his own heart, and that's what he's following all the time, and trying to overcome any obstacle of that knowledge, which is a mystical knowledge, as we saw through the face of God in Jesus Christ, that's the vision that Paul has, being ready to punish every disobedience


when your obedience is complete, so he looks in his disciples, oh, this disobedience is really this surrender, you see, no, the whole aim is to bring oneself to that point on the surrenders to Christ within, to the Spirit, to God, you see, that is the aim, and disobedience is when we withdraw from that, we center on ourselves, become the center for ourselves, so there is a deep spiritual meaning behind all this, but of course it involves a very particular human situation, and we go on in the next readings as we go further into this conflict that is present in this church in Corinth. And today is the actual... Paul is involved with this controversy with this church in Corinth,


and there were some people who were opposing him, and they make these criticisms of him, and... this is... it's a very interesting example, you know, he's trying to assert his authority, and if he wants to do it not in a human way at all, but simply the authority which he believes he has from God in Christ, and he's very sensitive, trying to at the same time assert the authority at the same time, not to sort of force himself in any way. So he says, if anyone is confident that he is Christ, let him remind himself that he is Christ, so are we. And you see, there were people there claiming authority over, against St. Paul, some said we are of Peter, we are of Paulos, and so on, you see, and the others of Paul. So there was a division in the community,


and St. Paul reminds them they're all of Christ, Christ alone has this authority among them. If I boast a little too much about authority which the Lord gave for building rather than destroying, I shall not be put to shame. He boasts of his authority in the sense that he has this conviction that this authority is given from God. And this is the great problem, of course, with all authority in the state as well as in the church, that all authority ultimately comes from God, and any minister, as a ministry, exercises that authority in the name of God. It's very true of a secular ruler that would interpret it, but in the church it's quite obvious. You see, anybody who has an authority receives it from God, and there's a minister, a servant, who is charged with that authority for the building up to sustain the church and the people. And so he feels justified in boasting of that in the sense that he affirms that he has that authority. I would not seem to be frightening you with letters.


They say his letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech is of no power. It's very interesting, you see. It's quite strong, vivid, and it's a bore, you know. It's a big letter line, very powerful. But his bodily presence is not very impressive, and his speech wasn't very impressive. It's rather interesting, and you really have to accept that. Humanly speaking, he's a small man, they say, and apparently his speech wasn't very eloquent. It's Apollos, you see, who had the reputation of being a very eloquent speaker, and Paul may have appeared rather inferior in that way. But he says that such people understand that what we say by letter when absent, we do when present. And whether it's humanly he's weak or not, he appears to have this authority through God, to speak in the name of God, of Christ, and therefore has that power to exercise it over him. Not that we venture to cross or compare ourselves


to some of those who commend themselves, but when they measure themselves by one another, compare themselves to one another, they're without understanding. You see, they're bringing it all onto a human level. This is always happening, of course, in the churches elsewhere. You get people... the whole thing is brought to a human level. One person is more eloquent, one person more learned, one person more capable than another, and so they commend themselves and they get a party to follow them, and so on. And St. Paul would have nothing of that. He feels that all authority comes from Christ, and all gifts come from God through the Holy Spirit, and each person is merely a servant, a minister, who receives his gift from God. And so he won't compare himself with others in that way. It's very interesting, you see, that in a controversy like this, it's all brought down to a human level, and it's all our problem, you see, in religious life and every other. It gets on to a human level, and then people, conflicting personalities, oppose one another, and very well we go beyond the human personality,


of course, effectively, beyond the ego, discover our presence in Christ, in the Spirit, that we're able to transcend these conflicts. And that's always his aim. We would not go beyond limits, but we keep to the limits God has appointed to reach even to you. You see, he has a limited authority, but it's a real authority from God, to reach to them. We're not overextending ourselves, though we did not reach you. We were the first to come all the way to you, to preach the Gospel. And this is another point now, you see. Paul was the first person to bring the Gospel to Corinth, and therefore he has a special regard and a special authority among them. And he rather made it a point, as he brings out a little later, not to go and preach where other people had already preached, if Peter or somebody else had gone, then Paul normally wouldn't go there. He left that to them. So he goes on to say, Our hope is that as your faith increases,


our field among you may be greatly enlarged, that we may preach the Gospel in lands beyond... Sorry, I've left out something. Yes, sorry. We do not boast beyond limits in other men's neighbors. You see, other people have preached the Gospel in different places, and they have authority there, and St. Paul feels where he preached, he has authority there. It's rather interesting. It was the early church, that was really how things worked. Each apostle had his own sphere of influence, as it were, and they left it to one another in that way. So he has his own field, and his hope is, Our hope is that as your faith increases, our field among you may be greatly enlarged, that we may preach the Gospel in lands beyond you, without boasting of wealth, already done in another's field. So he goes there, and he's hoping to go further,


but all the time he has his own sphere of influence, as it were, which he feels was given him by God in Christ. He's got this particular calling, and this particular field of work. It's an interesting understanding, and it was a way of avoiding unnecessary rivalry, you see, in preaching the Gospel. And then he said, It's him who boasts, boasts in the Lord, it's not the man who commends himself, but except the man whom the Lord commends. So he always brings it back to that point, you see, that it's not what you're doing, but the Lord is doing in you. And that's what we've been reflecting on all this time, in yoga and everything else, is how to get beyond the egos. And all these conflicts arise, and people center on themselves, their own personality, their own gift, and then you conflict with others. Only when you go beyond the individual human person, open to the Spirit and to the Lord. Because the Lord is in each person, you see. Every person in the Spirit is open to the Lord, to God, Christ, to the Supreme.


And all human conflicts can only be solved, ultimately, when we go beyond these human limitations and open to the transcendent. And you see, today we've rather lost that view. In the ancient world, they always had that view. They were very human, and there were many conflicts, but they always had the understanding there was something beyond the human to which you could reach. For most people today, that does no longer exist, you see. There's nothing beyond the human. The human is the limit. The rational mind, science and all this is the limit. And once you're in that level, you cannot resolve conflicts. They just go on. You can deal with them to some extent from day to day, but the final resolution will never come. So that's the challenge today, really, how to go beyond the human conflict and discover the truth of God, the One, the Spirit, which is within every being, you see. It is in the whole universe. And the Lord has His power to give guidance,


to give peace, to give understanding. But that's our problem today. You mentioned that the issue of Qatar... Some think this part of the letter to the Corinthians really belongs to another letter. It's a little uncertain. Maybe some letters were put together. You see, before it was rather peaceful, as though everything was settled, and now all the problems seem to have come up again and all is very much disturbed. It doesn't really matter very much, but we get a very different situation in a way. It begins with a very beautiful phrase. I feel a divine jealousy for you. I betrothed you to Christ to present you as a pure bride to her one husband.


As you know, every human being is a bride before God. And this idea that we're betrothed to the one husband is very profound. The whole humanity is called to this marriage union with God, that is the meaning of it. And then he says, I'm afraid, as the serpent deceived, be it by his cunning, your thoughts shall be led astray in seer and pure devotion to Christ. And he makes this rather remarkable statement. If someone comes, preaches another Jesus, the one we preached, or if you receive a different spirit, the one you received, accept a different gospel, the one you accepted, you should live to it regularly enough. This idea that there is one Jesus, one spirit, one gospel, is very profound in a sense, but it can also be misleading because actually the one Jesus, the one spirit, the one gospel is a mystical truth. It can't be precisely put into words.


And when you put it into words, you often substitute a theory about Jesus, a doctrine about him, or about the spirit, or about the gospel, for the gospel itself, the gospel is, and Jesus himself, is this word of God, the spirit, you see, the eternal spirit, you see. The ultimate reality always goes beyond our words and concepts. And as soon as we put it into words and concepts, we begin to endanger it, and very easily we lose the inner truth. But St. Paul had this profound spiritual wisdom, understanding of Jesus, knowledge of the spirit, and of the gospel, and that's what he wanted to give to others, and he's afraid of receiving some other doctrine. And then he says, all this controversy, I'm not in the least inferior to these superlative apostles. See, there's a real conflict there between these different leaders. He mentioned, you know, some say we're a Cephas Peter,


some of Apollo, some of Paul, some of Christ, so they're all divided in that way. And then if I'm unskilled in speaking, I'm not in knowledge. Every way be this plain to you. Comes back again, you see, they said he writes wonderfully, but his speech is not very impressive. So obviously he's very sensitive about this. And then it comes back again to this rather curious business about serving without cost. He seems to be extremely sensitive about that. See, did I commit a sin in abasing myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God's gospel without cost to you. And apparently, you see, I think he himself says that the one who preaches has a right to be supported, and I suppose it was normal for a preacher, an apostle, to be supported by the community. But he didn't want that. He didn't want to feel he was dependent in that way. He says, I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you. You got the support from others.


And when I was with you and was in want, I did not burden anyone. My needs were supplied by the brethren who came from Macedonia. Difficult for us, you know, to reconstruct the situation. Obviously, these things are very sensitive. Where you get your support from is very important, and you're dependent on the people who support you often, very often. So obviously, there was a difficult situation there, and he wanted to avoid being dependent on them in any way so that he was free to preach the gospel, as he understood it. So I refrained, and will refrain, from burdening you in any way. As the truth of Christ is in me, this, in the regions that I care, why? Because I do not love you, God. Because I do not love you, God. Because I do not love you, God.