Unknown year, June talk, Serial 00623

00:00
00:00
Audio loading...

Welcome! You can log in or create an account to save favorites, edit keywords, transcripts, and more.

Serial: 
NC-00623

Keywords:

Suggested Keywords:

Description: 

Year Talks 1/2

Photos: 
Notes: 

#ends-short; #item-set-118

Transcript: 

So the Corinthians gives us an insight into the early Church, we see all these divisions in the Church already, we often tend to idealize the Church of the Apostles, the Paginatists, all very holy, St. Paul calls them sanctified in Christ, called to be saints, but still they quarrel among themselves, just as people do today, it's good to remind ourselves that that is the condition of the Church, called to be saints, but living also in a very human way. And so he finds, first of all he gives thanks to God for the grace of God which was given you, and every year we were enriched in him, but then he goes on to say, I appeal to you by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, all of you have grieved, there to be no dissensions among you, but united with the same mind and the same judgement. And that of course is always the goal of the Church, but we never attain it, because human beings are so different, we all see things differently, and from the beginning until the present day you get so

[01:03]

many different understandings in the Church, and yet we have within all these differences to preserve the unity, and that was what Paul was aiming at. So he says reportedly there are quarrels among you, and some say I am of Paul, some of the Poros, I am of Cephas, I am of Christ, and the early Church was much more diverse than we tend to imagine. Today biblical critics recognise that there were many different forms, if you like, of Christianity, but first of all the Jewish Christianity of James in Jerusalem, which was in a good deal of conflict with the more Gentile Christianity of Paul, and then you had the school of St John had its own very special way of understanding Christ and the Gospel, and each of the Churches had their own way, so there were all these diversities, and yet there was of course a profound unity. So here some are saying they belong to Paul, probably the more Gentile

[02:06]

groups, some to Apollos, who was a well-known orator, a great speaker, whom Paul also admired, then Cephas, of course, is Peter, and some were appealing to him, and some saying they were simply of Christ. So we shouldn't think that all the differences in the Churches today all over the world are so unusual. They were starting here, and they've always been, and one has to accept that as part of the human situation, and at the same time try to discover a unity beyond all these differences. And so St Paul, first of all, he says, I baptize none of you, and apparently this baptism is called, if you baptize somebody, he belongs to your group. Rather like today, if you're baptized into a particular Church, then you belong to that Church. So Paul wanted to avoid that. He didn't baptize anybody as far as possible. He mentioned a few groups that I had baptized. Christ did not send me to baptize,

[03:13]

but to preach the gospel, and not with innocent wisdom, but because of Christ the empty of his power. And again, you see, he saw this kind of ritual baptism can divide people, and also eloquent wisdom can divide people. We've got all sorts of theories and doctrines which they put forward with eloquent wisdom, and Paul wanted to found it on the cross of Christ, and that is really this surrender to God. You see, in the cross, Jesus surrenders himself totally to the Father. He gives himself up totally, and the only way we can achieve unity in the Church is when we go beyond ourselves, our limited human understanding, even our great innocent wisdom, whatever we may have, and make that surrender to God. Find the inner truth of our own being, and be open to the truth in God, in Christ. And so Paul lived out that total surrender to God in Christ, and that's why he was

[04:15]

able to found churches which, in spite of their differences, yet were united in this common faith. And so today, in spite of all differences in the Church and in the churches, there is a common faith in Jesus Christ and a common desire to do his will. That is really the basis of unity of the Church. So we all have to ask for that grace to be able to make that surrender to God in Christ, of our own will, of our ego, of ourselves, and then be able to open ourselves to the grace of Christ, to the Gospel, which comes through the gift of God. It's not something we have to talk about, or we say, but something which is revealed in us, communicated through us. So I think we're all challenged in this way to respond to that call of the Gospel. This whole contrast, the poly of the cross to the wisdom of the world, and this wisdom he was

[05:24]

considering was Greek wisdom. It was Greek philosophy of his time, and it was a real wisdom, but it was a human wisdom with human limitations. And against that he puts what he calls the poly of the cross. And I think one has to understand that it is this going beyond wisdom, going beyond the mind. See, as long as you remain at the level of the mind, the mental level, you can have science and philosophy and theology, and it can be very impressive, but you haven't got the heart of reality. You're still living in a world of images, of science, of concepts, which is limited and doesn't reach reality. And the reality is only reached when you go beyond the mind. That has been the teaching in India for centuries, and the teaching of St. Paul. And the cross is when you die to yourself and your ego, your mental person, and you open yourself to the transcendent, to God.

[06:25]

And the poly of the cross is their self-surrender to the transcendent. And it seems foolish because you're not following the wisdom of the world. And today, you see, it's this whole scientific humanism that prevails over all the world, this very profound, tremendous knowledge of science, of physics, and biology, and psychology, of all these things, economics, and politics. You've got vast knowledge, and it's highly organized, and it's extremely practical and efficient in its way, and it's created the civilization in which we live. And yet it's all fundamentally defective, and the whole civilization, as people realize today, is in danger of collapse. I mean, it certainly will collapse in time, just like the Roman civilization collapsed. And beyond all that, science and technology and all this, is the wisdom of God, which is not an apparent wisdom, you see. It's when you go beyond the mental and the rational and discover the hidden mystery behind it all.

[07:31]

And that's the mystery of the cross. Jesus wasn't a wise man who gave people a lot of scientific knowledge and so on. He taught the kingdom of God, which is a mystery, and he lived it out by dying, dying on the cross. He became nothing practically, you see, and yet through that death comes resurrection, comes the real meaning of life. So that's what St. Paul is talking about. He says, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, the cleverness of the clever, I will force. That is all human wisdom. It's ultimately radically imperfect and doesn't answer the real needs of life. Then he says, where is the wise man, where is the scribe, the debater with his aid? God has made foolish the wisdom of the world. And it did really happen, you see. The Greeks had their wisdom and it was profound in its way, but it was limited. And only when the gospel came was that Greek wisdom taken up to a higher level and really fulfilled. And so today's scientific humanism has got a lot to teach us in democracy and all this.

[08:36]

We have to accept and learn from it, but by itself it's totally inadequate and can't answer the human needs. And the gospel is something to give, which no scientific humanism or technology or anything you like can give. And that is what the church has to give to the world. For since in the wisdom of God the world did not know God, through wisdom it pleased God. So the folly of what we preach, to save those who fear, the folly of what we preach is to go beyond your mind, you see. Everybody thinks the mind, the rational mind, science and philosophy is the limit. This is human wisdom. And the message of the gospel is that the truth, reality is beyond all this human wisdom. And you only find it when you surrender yourself to God, to the truth, to love. You go beyond yourself and then you discover the truth. For Jews demand science and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, stumbling block to Jews and body to Gentiles. See, the Jews demanded science and it's true to some extent at least, you see. They always

[09:40]

look for external signs, miracles and so on. If you were a prophet, you had to perform certain miracles and they would often come to Jesus, show us a sign, you see. And Jesus was not prepared to give signs of that kind, merely external phenomena. And you get that in India, you see. You have many people with these siddhis, we have Sathya Sai Baba, and he has all these siddhis, these powers. And if you go to his ashram, he'll produce ashes and crucifixes and jewelry and what you like, give to people. These are signs, you see. He's got the siddhis, but that isn't what seeks wisdom. That doesn't answer the needs of life, you see. The same way the Greeks seek wisdom and then, as I say, the world today can give you scientific wisdom at an extraordinary level, but that again doesn't answer the real need. We preach Christ crucified, the stumbling block to Jews and polytheists and Gentiles, and it's not the physical suffering, you see. I sometimes think that people think of the cross, think a lot of physical suffering,

[10:41]

and unless we go through physical suffering, we're not following Christ. But that is wholly illusory. The essence of the sacrifice of Christ is the sacrifice of his will to the Father. To the surrender of himself to the Father. It involves suffering in his case, but it doesn't necessarily involve it. And suffering is not the way to God. The way is through surrender of your ego, of yourself, and when that takes place, then you may suffer, but transformation takes place to get this experience of God. To those who are called, those Jews, the Greeks, Christ, the power of God, and the wisdom of God. When you go beyond the mind, beyond the self, you discover this hidden power and this hidden wisdom. And actually, when the Church came into the Roman Empire, they had all these Greek fathers and Latin fathers who had this wisdom. St. Basil of St. Gregory of Lisbon, St. Gregory of Lisbon, John Chrysostom, all great early men who had this wisdom, which was Greek wisdom, transfigured by gospel, by the cross. And so that's what we've

[11:48]

inherited. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. This apparent foolishness, you see, where you're not a wise man in the ordinary sense, but you have a wisdom beyond the wisdom of the world, and it's apparently weak, you see. All these armaments and so on, nuclear powers, tremendous power is there, and yet it has no ultimate power to save the world at all. And the apparent weakness of the gospel, a weakness of people who are ready to surrender themselves. Take Mahatma Gandhi as a good example, you see, a very simple, weak man, and yet he conquered the whole British Empire. And that is what happened, that Jesus also conquered the Roman Empire, you see, through the weakness, apparent weakness, which is real strength. So this is the paradox. We all have to live and discover how the gospel is stronger than all these powers of the world. It seems so strong, and it seems so weak, and often in us it is so weak, because we haven't really achieved that power and wisdom

[12:51]

the gospel has. But then that's what they're called to do, so we ask for the grace to discover this power and wisdom. It's better for the Corinthians to remember Corinth was a very cosmopolitan city, and the Christians there must have been a very mixed lot, none of them very distinguished. So St. Paul says, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth, not many were wise. God chose what is foolish, what is weak, shame the strong, what is low and despised, even the things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are. And a very deep principle of the gospel here, that the gospel

[13:53]

rests not on man, but on God. And of course, in the course of time, with a great many wise and powerful and influential people come into the church, and it gets more worldly, it gets more human, but still the fact always remains that whatever is good in the church comes not from people as such, but from God. And St. Paul always reminds us of that, because the greatest problem in life, as everybody knows, is one's own ego, the self, the self-centered personality. And the problem is how to get out of it. And that's why Paul objected to the law, because if you keep the law, you've got something to boast on. You do your regular duty in mass and so on, so you can boast on it. But when it comes to grace, salvation, it's entirely from God. And Paul's whole doctrine really is that the whole Christian life comes as a gift from God. Baptism, the Holy Spirit, this whole thing is this gift, and we don't do anything for it, we receive it. And that's the only way one can get

[14:58]

free of egoism, and one realizes one has nothing of oneself. Our body, our being, our possessions, our capacities are all from God. We have nothing of our own. And then he has this very remarkable saying, you see, he is the source of your life, in Christ Jesus. Everything comes from him, who God made our wisdom, our righteousness, our sanctification, and redemption. See, Christ is our wisdom. Our wisdom is not our own. It's something which is not our own, which is from another, you see. And our righteousness is not our own. Whatever good we have in us comes not from ourselves but from God. And our sanctification, whatever holiness we have, is entirely this gift of God in Christ. And redemption also, of course, comes directly from God. So I think really Paul goes to the heart of the Gospel. Some people think he changed the Gospel and so on. Certainly his language is very different from that of Jesus in the Gospel. But really I think he brought out

[15:59]

the deepest meaning of the Gospel, this recognition of human beings as themselves are capable of nothing of final good. We can do all sorts of good things as far as this world is concerned. As far as salvation, eternal life is concerned, we can do nothing. The total dependence on God. You know, in India there's two schools. Many of you know the school of the monkey and the school of the cat. It's in South Indian Tamil tradition. And the school of the monkey says that just as the young monkey clings to the mother, so we have to cling to God and then he will carry us. But the other school says no, just as the cat picks up the kitten in her mouth and the kitten doesn't have to do anything, just to allow herself to be picked up, so we have to allow God to carry us. Don't even have to cling. So everything comes from the grace of God. It's really a great blessing to be able to realize that. That's the real problem of life.

[17:00]

In this reading, it's in full contrast the teaching of the Gospel with his words of wisdom. I could not come but claiming the testimony of God in lofty words or wisdom. That no nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And it is true, you see, that the Gospel does go beyond all words and all knowledge. And I think it's very important, we have to transcend all words and all knowledge. So as the Buddhists say, we use words to go beyond words to reach the wordless essence. And all genuine religion is going beyond words and beyond concepts, beyond language, beyond modes of thinking to this experience of God beyond. And that is what St. Paul really means by the cross of Christ. I decided no nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And Jesus is this dying to the world. He's on

[18:13]

the cross, he dies to the world, he dies to the whole of this created reality to open to the uncreated. And that is really the whole problem of life. We live in this created world with our created body and mind, with our created limitations, but we all have a desire and a capacity for the uncreated. And the whole purpose of life is to draw people out of their limited created being into this uncreated being of God. And Jesus is the one who takes us beyond our creation into the divine. You see, the resurrection is the passage from created reality to the uncreated. And through his cross, he enables us to go beyond ourselves. So he says, I was with you and witnessed much fear and trembling, my speech nestled across the words of wisdom and spirit of power. And it often goes together, you see, so much fear and trembling. And often, this experience of God brings much fear and trembling. It's something overwhelming

[19:20]

very often. And it takes you right beyond yourself. And people get very disturbed by it. Sometimes it's a sort of dark night on the cross described that everything seems to collapse, you go into total emptiness. And then you experience God, you experience this reality beyond. And it does have physical effects very often. People get physically weak and disturbed. We were reading with Swami Satchitananda, it's not an uncommon experience, had this burning sensation over his body. It went on today. Ramakrishna had the same. And he used, Swami used to go and bathe in the water. But as soon as he got out of the water, the burning sensation came again. Same with Ramakrishna. So these are physical effects, you see, when you go beyond your normal creative being and open yourself to the divine, often these physical effects take place. And one had to be prepared for them. And Paul obviously experienced

[20:23]

that, you see, it was much fear and trembling. And my speech was in the demonstration of the spirit and the power. And with this physical weakness, it often goes, you see, the spiritual power. And that's really what the gospel is about, is how to get beyond the creative limitation and experience this power. And I think often most Christians don't really experience that. They have faith and they believe and they go to mass and so on, but they don't go beyond all these outer forms and these words and thoughts to this experience of power, of mystery. And yet that really is the sign of the spirit, that we get that power from God, this demonstration of the spirit and the power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of man, but in the power of God. On the other hand, we have to be aware of this power of God. It sometimes manifests in physical phenomena,

[21:27]

sometimes in weakness, but sometimes also in exuberant speech and expressions and so on. But there again, these are only creative effects. One must always distinguish, you see, between the spirit himself, who is beyond, and the creative effects in the body, physically, and in the psyche. And the psychological effects are often produced by shouting hallelujah, praise the Lord, all this sort of thing can come. It's quite the expression on the human psychic level of this experience of the spirit. The spirit himself is always beyond. We've got to go beyond the body and beyond the mind, the soul, to experience the spirit. We actually are calling out to get beyond the love of the spirit. You can't produce it, you can't get hold of it. You have to allow it to come and to demonstrate its power in you, that is really the goal of the gospel. It gives an account of Christian wisdom. As you know, the Church tends to stand in India

[22:38]

for charitable works, and very few look to us for this wisdom, this transcendent wisdom, which has been the search for India from the beginning, this Jnana. Jnani is one who has this wisdom from above, nothing for India looks for. And Paul gives a very clear account of what this wisdom is. He says, among the mature we impart wisdom, but a wisdom this age, or the rulers of this age, are doomed to pass away, and pass the secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages by glorification. And it's always been understood that beyond ordinary human knowledge and understanding, there is this higher knowledge, this higher wisdom, this Paravidya. Vidya is ordinary knowledge, the Paravidya is the supreme knowledge. And Shankara, the legend, distinguished

[23:39]

up Paravidya and Paravidya. Up Paravidya is this lower wisdom, but Paravidya is the higher wisdom, which is beyond. And that is what India has sought, and what we have to seek. It's a hidden and secret wisdom. It isn't one that can be expounded in ordinary human terms. It has to be experienced in the depths of the soul. And that is what St. Paul is speaking of. None of the rulers of this age understood it. If they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. The rulers of this age are thinking of Pilate, Herod, all the rulers of the world at this time. And they didn't see this wisdom in Jesus. Jesus was the embodiment of this divine wisdom manifested on earth, and they couldn't recognize it. And that is the problem, that it's not easily recognized. And then he goes on to describe it. What no eye has seen, or ear heard, or the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love Him. And if you read the Upanishads, you see again

[24:46]

and again they speak of that knowledge, that wisdom, which you cannot see, you cannot hear, you cannot know by ordinary means. It has to come by revelation. It has to come by a gift of God. So that is what India seeks, and what the church has also called a reveal. God has revealed to us through the Spirit. Well, the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. And that, as you know, is this. We always make this division between body, soul, and spirit. There's wisdom of the soul, the mind, and reason, and so on, which is good as far as it goes. But beyond that is this wisdom of the Spirit, which is communicated by God. No one can achieve it by himself. It says in the Kartu Upanishad, it's a great text, not by much learning, not by the Vedas, not by wisdom, it says, not by knowledge, it says, knowledge to be learned. He whom the Atman chooses, he knows the Atman. The Spirit of God is given to those whom he chooses,

[25:48]

to whom he reveals himself. That is what St. Paul is speaking of. Well, the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. And this depth of God is his Guha, this cave of the heart, where God dwells in each person. And when we open the heart, we discover this depth of God. Again, the Kartu Upanishad says, the wise who, meditating on the Self, knows the Ancient, a module one, who is difficult to be seen, who is hidden in the dark, who dwells in the abyss as God, he passes beyond joy and sorrow. You see, it's this hidden mystery which is in the depths of the soul, in the depths of creation, and it can only be discerned by those who have this gift in the Spirit. Then he goes on to explain very clearly the Spirit in man. What person knows a man's thoughts except the Spirit of the man in him. So no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. And we have received the Spirit not of the world, but the Spirit which is

[26:54]

from God. So you have this point of the Spirit, and you receive the Spirit of God. And it's only at the point of the Spirit that we have this understanding, this insight into the mystery of God. It's so important, you know, because the vast majority of people, even Christians, Catholics, still think that knowledge which comes through reason and understanding is the highest knowledge. Like theology, all theological knowledge is rational, conceptual knowledge, good as far as it goes, but limited. But genuine knowledge goes beyond reason and concepts and experience in the depths of the soul. And that is experience in the Spirit. You see, the Spirit is not the mind. Mind is in the lower nature. Altogether, the Spirit is beyond the mind. So it's in the Spirit that we experience the Spirit of God. And so we have received not the Spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God.

[27:54]

The only way you enter in the depths of the Spirit, you realize all that God has done. Specifically, I see in the book for most people, they don't realize. They think they're living in a world of chance and of rational order and so on, but not. There is a divine Spirit present in the whole creation. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom, but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who possess the Spirit. And again, the same thing in the Upanishads, they always say this wisdom should not be imparted to those who are not prepared for it and only misunderstand it. It can only be imparted to those who have the Spirit which can receive it. So this is the wisdom which we have to seek and find. And then he goes on to say the unspiritual man. And I think the Greek is the Anthropos Zoukikos. It's directly the man of the psyche of the soul. And so it says, quote to the Anthropos Zoukikos, it's the man of the Spirit,

[28:57]

the Pneuma. It says that for always to take with the psyche, the lower knowledge, the lower mind, from the Pneuma, the Spirit, the Atman, the higher mind. So the unspiritual man, the Anthropos Zoukikos, does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God. They are folly to him. He's not able to understand them because they're spiritually discerning. You see, the vast majority of people simply reject this knowledge. They think it's pure fantasy and all the real knowledge is scientific knowledge, what you can prove by science, mathematics, that is real. Anything beyond that is speculation or fantasy. And that's a common, the ordinary humanist, that's what they believe today, all through the world, that it's a common understanding, it's taught in universities, and it's the generally accepted view. And it's totally deceptive, you see, because it failed to recognize this higher wisdom, which has always been recognized in India, in China, in the Muslim tradition, in Christianity, we've always known there is this higher wisdom.

[30:01]

The spiritual man judges all things, but it's himself to be judged by no one. For who is there in the mind of the Lord, say a destructive, we have the mind of Christ. And the Christian believes we have, through the baptism, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we have this mind of Christ. It has to be to know God in the way that Jesus knows him, you see, the share of mind, the consciousness of Christ. And that is spiritual wisdom, and that is the gift of God, you see. So this is extremely important. As I say, in India, you see, Christians are not connected at all with this kind of wisdom, this jnana. They're not supposed to have it at all. They're just very practical, good, kind, charitable people, but they're not wise. And we have to recognize that the Church has always had this tradition of wisdom, also the Fathers through the Middle Ages, right to the present time, though it's rather scarce today, I must be admitting. But that is what they're called to do, to have this wisdom which comes from God, which is given in the Spirit, which is not theological,

[31:07]

philosophical wisdom, but is beyond it, is communicated in the heart. And we have a special calling in meditation, to open the mind and to open to this inner spirit, this experience of God, as we can start calling it. I'm going to speak to you tomorrow, the Feast of the Holy Trinity, which is also the festival of our ashram, in the name of Satchit Ananda, which we see as the symbol of the Trinity. And Saint Paul here speaks first of all of God, we have peace with God, then through our Lord Jesus Christ, and then he speaks of God's love that's been poured into our hearts with the Holy Spirit who has been given us. And these present the three persons, as we call them, the Trinity. Of course, it's a mystery which can't be expressed in words, that these words, the tradition over which

[32:11]

we try to express something of it. And I think if we think in terms of Satchit Ananda, we can also add something to the understanding, first of all, that God the Father is the ground, the source, the substance, the origin of all. And God reveals, communicates, manifests himself in Jesus. And God is manifesting himself in the whole creation, in all humanity, in all holy men. Jesus is the summit, as it were, of this self-revelation, this self-manifestation of God, brings all things to a head, as Saint Paul says. And then God is communicating himself in the Holy Spirit. The Father eternally reveals himself, manifests himself in the Son, and communicates himself in the Spirit. And that is the love of God, this communion of love which flows between Father and Son, and flows over the whole creation. God reveals himself in all creation, in all

[33:15]

humanity. Then the Spirit of God, the love is present in creation, even in the atoms and molecules and elements of nature. There is a power which is eventually the power of love. It's a power of energy manifesting in the material world, and then manifesting in life, and then in human beings, love becomes manifest, and our function is to discover this love which is present in the whole creation, in humanity, and present in each person. And we have to realize God, is to realize that love, that Spirit, which is present in each human being. So the mystery of the Trinity is really something which we have to live, live in the presence of God, the Father, the source of all, continually or always, and then to realize his manifestation in all creation, in humanity, coming to the head in Jesus, and then to recognize this Shakti, this power of the Holy Spirit in the

[34:19]

whole creation, in humanity, and finally revealed as pure love, you see, it's pure self-giving in love, it's the Holy Spirit, and that is what is communicated to each one of us. So we all need to reflect on this mystery of the Trinity, especially when we belong to Shakti, Ananda, Asra, or the Father is the being, the source of all, and the Son is the consciousness, the wisdom of the Father, and the Holy Spirit, the Ananda, is the bliss of love. So that's how we try to relate the two together. I remember St. Paul was speaking of this wisdom which is given to those who are mature, and he compares that with wisdom those who are bathed in Christ.

[35:19]

I could not address you as spiritual man, but as man of the flesh, as bathed in Christ, and he has this contrast between the spiritual man, the Anthropos pneumatikos, the man of the spirit, and the man of the flesh, or the natural man, the Anthropos psychikos, the man of the psyche, the soul, not of the spirit, and so he says, I fed you with milk, not solid food, you're not ready for it, and still you are not ready, you are still of the flesh, and it's a little misleading this term, the flesh, it means human being under the dominion of the passions and desires of the flesh, or simply under the dominion of the ego, in our nature, it's a whole man under the dominion of the ego, it's merely what St. Paul means by being in the flesh, and of course most people still remain in that state, they have their faith and have some aspiration beyond it, but they very

[36:20]

rarely go beyond what he calls the natural man, while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh, behaving like ordinary men, and that is his criterion, you see, to be of the flesh is to behave like ordinary men, who live according to the mind of the ordinary natural man, you see, and the vast majority of people live according to nature in that way, every sort of humanist is a person who lives according to those principles, and not to something which is beyond, and the fall of the gospel is always going to be beyond the natural man, beyond the flesh in that sense, through this experience of the spirit, and so he says, when one says I belong to Paul, another says I belong to Apollos, are you not merely men, and in the church, you see, there should not be these divisions, and yet of course we find also history, we've had this experience,

[37:23]

we've become acute, some are of Luther, some of Calvin, some of Peter, and so the divisions have now become sort of established, there in the Corinthians, they were just beginning, now they are fairly established, so then he says to Paul and Apollos, there are many servants through whom you bleed, and I have for planted Apollos' water, but God gave the growth, and it's really tragic that in the church, you see, all these divisions have grown up, and one follows one, and one follows another, and we're still not able to get over them, it's not unusual, it's expected to happen, but after several centuries, that they should still go on, and each one convinced that they're right, that is the extraordinary thing, each Christian church thinks they're right, I was just reading the other day, there was a new moderator of the Presbyterian church in Ireland, and he announced that he would never attend a

[38:27]

Roman Catholic mass, because that's not the way the sacrament should be observed, so he's fully convinced he's right, you see, and we're convinced we're right, and we would go on being divided till the end of time, apparently, so this is a real tragedy, and ecumenism is trying to overcome it, and has gone a very long way, there's no doubt, but we're still in that state of division, we should really be ashamed of it, I mean, it simply means we're of the flesh, we're ordinary men, we're not Christians, really, when we live in that state of division, so that's where we are. Then he says, we are God's fellow workers, you are God's field, God's building, you see, in the mind of Paul, the church really is the work of God, it's the house of God, those who serve in that house are God's fellow workers, and those who have received his gifts from God, like a field which God plants, like a building which is building up, but it's entirely a work of God, and those who live in that spirit are those who are responding to the grace of God in their lives,

[39:30]

and those who live in the flesh are simply following their natural habits of mind, and they sound all right, and they're good in their limited way, but they're not Christian, they're not going beyond the ordinary human, you're merely men, so to speak, so that's the challenge of Christian life, that you're a Christian, it's so easy to call oneself a Christian, really, living off of what Paul would call a life of the flesh, like an ordinary man, with all these divisions, and we have all these divisions, even caste divisions, because in the church at the end, we've got all these caste divisions, just the fact that I'm Hindu, and yet it's totally anti-Christian, you see, so there again we have to challenge ourselves and face the real limitations of our Christianity today. Paul gives rather an interesting insight into spiritual life in this reading, he says, according to the grace of God given me like a skilled master, I've made a foundation,

[40:32]

another man is building on it, and each man take care how he builds on it, no other foundation can anyone lay than Jesus Christ, and one can take that in a broad sense, that in every human being there's this image of God, which in a sense is Christ in each person, there is that image, and each person has to grow in that image, or build upon it, as Paul gives the illustration, and some may build with gold, silver, precious stone, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become manifest, and as one can say, there's an infinite diversity of human beings, that hidden spark, that hidden jewel, whatever you like to speak of the jewel in the heart of the lotus, that jewel is present in every human being, and people build on it, and of course it depends a great deal on circumstances, situations, and some build

[41:34]

with hay or straw, some with wood, some with stones, some with precious stones, and obviously you can't judge others, each has its own gift from God, but everybody has to grow from that space, from that original center, and of course many don't discover that center, they go building around the surface all the time, they never discover the jewel in the heart of the lotus, discover the hidden mystery, but when we do discover it, then it begins to grow, as Paul said, it's revealed by fire, and fire of course is something very universal, the reading in the Upanishad about that fire which is in the sun, the fire which is in the earth, and the fire which is in the spark of each person, it's the universal fire, that's not a physical fire, or even a psychological, it's a spiritual fire, and everybody is judged by that, the jewel is there, and the jewel

[42:38]

is a kind of fire within, and we're judged by this way in which we respond to the gifts of God, whatever they are, and they may be very limited, and very human, not religious at all, but everybody has something to work with, and something to grow from, and we're all tested by the way we respond to life, to people, to the world around us, and so on, and if any man's work is burnt up, he will suffer loss, so he himself will be saved, but only as through fire, and it's an interesting idea, you see, we may have a little straw and hay which gets burnt up, but he will be saved as through fire, the idea that there is something in each person which is eternal, which is immortal, and that eternal immortal being in us survives, though it's tested all the time by fire, so there's a very deep sort of insight contained in this

[43:39]

reading, and I think we all need to become more and more aware of this jewel in the heart of the lotus, this hidden mystery in the heart of every human being, and the call to grow from that, to allow the image of God to grow in us, and as I say, it's allowing it to grow, you can't make it grow, there's no precise way to get rid of it, your self or ego is the way that it allows to grow, and as you surrender it, then the growth takes place, and God works within you, as St Paul said in the last reading we had, we are God's fellow workers, we are God's field, God's building, but to allow God to work in us, to let that inner mystery grow in us, to transform us gradually, so that's the call of the gospel. St Paul begins with this striking saying, you are God's temple, God's spirit dwells in you,

[44:49]

and this is really, I think, a very new idea in Israel, you see, the temple in Jerusalem was God's dwelling place, everybody looked to that, and some extent it was an external religion, seeing God in the law, seeing God in the temple, and the great change when, in St John's gospel, Jesus says, destroy this temple, three days I will raise it up, and St John has spoken of the temple as his body, so the temple instead of being an external structure, became this body of Christ, and each Christian as a member of that body, is a temple of the Holy Spirit, so it's a profound interiorization of religion, and that's what happened in India, of course, after the early Vedic period, you got the Upanishads, you got this interiorization, instead of offering an external sacrifice, the yajna and the fire sacrifice, you offered everything in the fire within, and you realized God within, so this is where one of the

[45:54]

great meeting points between the Hindu and the Christian, this discovery that we are the temple of God, you know the beautiful saying, I've quoted it, the Chandogya Upanishad, that in this castle of the body, there is a little shrine, and in that shrine there is a lotus, and in the lotus there is a little space, what is that, which is that little space in the heart of the lotus, and that is God, you see, God dwells in the heart of the lotus, in the depths of the soul, in this temple, you see, which we are, there's really a wonderful concept, if anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him, for God's temple is holy, and that temple you are, and then he goes on to speak of wisdom, the wisdom of the world, and he's thinking, you know, of Greek wisdom, but we can apply it to modern science, you see, modern science is the wisdom of this world, very impressive, it does marvelous things, it's also

[46:56]

extremely limited, and we have a way to go beyond it, and so he says, if no one boasts of men, then this extraordinary statement, all things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or the present, or the future, all are yours, you are Christ, and Christ is God, this idea, you see, that we've been taken beyond this world altogether, beyond all the limitation of time and space, into the eternal reality, what's the meaning of redemption, we've been taken in the resurrection, Jesus goes totally beyond, and he takes us with him, beyond time, space, present, past, future, death, life, death, all these belong to this dualistic universe we're thinking of this morning, the world of dualities, and he's gone beyond into the eternal, and we have taken with him there, and notice the phrase, I think it's important, all are yours, you are Christ, and Christ is God's, not God's, the New Testament never says Christ is

[48:01]

God, you can say so, and later theology does, and it's quite correct in its way, but it's not the way of the New Testament, Christ is of God, you want to say he's God from God, if you like, but he's always from the Father, see, Jesus is always from the Father, and apart from the Father, Jesus is nothing, he's nothing apart from the Father, as a Godhead, he receives from the Father, so it's a very important, because you see, it means he's also with us, he's God with us, isn't he, isn't God up there, and so you are, all are yours, and you are Christ, and in Christ you are of God, you see, Christ is of God, we're all taken up into the divine life in and through Christ, you see, it's such a very profound doctrine, which we all need to accept up. Let's keep in our prayers for a moment. Paul says here, that one should regard as the servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God,

[49:15]

it's equally important to realize this history of Christ, as he calls it elsewhere, that the origins of Christian faith is a mystery, that is something beyond human comprehension, we often think about some dogmas about the Trinity incarnation, we know all about it, but they are simply human expressions of a mystery which cannot properly be expressed, and we always have to go beyond all words and all doctrines to the mystery of Christ, to the reality, and that's what we try to do in prayer and meditation, think beyond word and thought, experiencing the presence, you see, then we become aware of the mystery, it's unfathomable, it's like the ocean, you can only just take the entrance, and feel just the outskirts of it. Moreover, it's required of stewards, they be found trustworthy, this idea of stewardship, you may be familiar with Mahatma Gandhi, you know, he always said that all private possessions, wealth and so on, they're stewards, these things

[50:18]

are entrusted to us, very profound understanding, and so of course with the history of faith, we're entrusted with this gift of God, it's something given us, and we're entrusted to make use of it, and to offer it to others. It is a small thing that I should be judged by you, or by any human court, I do not even judge myself, I'm not aware of anything against myself, and I'm not there by pity. It is very important, because of course we have to judge ourselves to some extent, because the confession is trying to judge yourself, but we should always remember that such judgments are very superficial, what we know about ourselves is very limited, and the real person is hidden, and only God knows the real person. Sometimes we exaggerate our virtues, other times we exaggerate our vices. Many people have what they call a bad image of themselves, think themselves very sinful, and weak, and bad, and so on, and that is an obstacle, we shouldn't

[51:21]

judge, we're not capable of saying how good we are, or how bad we are, let's surrender ourselves to God, and allow that judgment to come. You see, it is the Lord who judges me, therefore do not pronounce judgments, before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light things now hidden in darkness. We were all in the present, with this hidden mystery, and we don't see clearly who we are, what we're doing, and so on, but it does, see when you meditate, you get a certain awareness of the present, and a certain awareness of your own behavior, you see it more light, and how you act, and so on, it's always imperfect, never adequate, the same also gets some insight into other people, how they act, it's always limited, and always incomplete, and we always have to leave the judgment of the Lord, it's always beyond us, and it will come when the Lord comes, and that is simply the final opening to truth, you see, the coming of Christ is simply the final

[52:21]

revelation of the mystery, that is all, the mystery is present in Christ, in his human nature, in his death, his resurrection, but under a veil, and the second coming is the removing of the veil, when Christ is fully revealed, the truth is fully known, and that is so when the Lord comes, when he will bring things now hidden and dark, and disclose the purposes of the heart, you see, at the moment of death, all the external paraphernalia disappears, both of our bodies, and of our minds, and the reality is prepared, the hidden purposes of the heart, to discover who we are, and what we're really thinking, and wanting, which is often hidden from us, it's only then that we know ourselves as we really are, then every man will receive his commendation from God, truly, as I say, we know who we are, we realize ourselves in God, and we only know ourselves as we are, when we know ourselves in God, and God in us, and for many that come to death, but they can

[53:23]

also come to some extent in life, when we learn to meditate, go beyond our limitations, discern the describes the condition of the apostle, really applying especially to himself, he doesn't apply to so many others, and the contrast between the way they suffered, and the comparative well-being of the ordinary Christian in the church, and I've applied all this to myself for your benefit, and makes this point, you may learn not to go beyond what is written, that none of you

[54:31]

may be puffed up in favor of one against another, remember the situation in the church in Corinth, it's this, the different groups, one supporting Paul, another Apollos, another Peter, and so on, and he makes this very important point, what of you that you did not receive, then you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift, this is surely one of the cardinal points of certainly of Christian understanding, that whatever gift we have, whether of faith or of grace, is always a gift, it's something we receive, and we always tend to appropriate it to ourselves, I have this, I do this, I am this, and only reversal can take place, when one learns to see everything as a gift, your body is a gift, your life is a gift, your intelligence, whatever gifts you have, all, and then of course, with the faith, grace, prayer, all is gift, and once one realizes that,

[55:31]

it makes a much profound difference, and that is getting rid of one's ego already, so the ego appropriates all these things, feels satisfaction, because you've got this and that, and when you get rid of that and realize it's all gift, you can't attribute to anything to yourself, it really reverses one's whole attitude to life, and it's really very profound, that point, and then he contrasts these Corinthians, who are of course self-satisfied Christians, you could call them, rather typical, with himself, who of course is rather the extreme in the opposite direction, he says, without us you'll become kings, would you give reign, so that we might share the rule with you, very ironical, you see, they're all very doing well in the church, very pleased with themselves, but I think God has exhibited us apostles of the last of all, like men sentenced to death, we become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men, and may sound a little exaggerated, but it is true,

[56:35]

when you look through life at all, that we really underwent the most extraordinary sufferings and persecutions, then he would be stoned sometimes, and then he'd get up and walk off, and so on, he had a tremendous power to endure everything, and precisely because he'd lost his ego altogether, whatever happened, he saw it was Christ in him, that's what totally transformed his life, and that's what he boasts of, there's nothing, I have nothing of myself, we are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise, we are weak, but you are strong, you are held in honor, but we in disrepute, and there is that contrast, you know, that people who take their Christian life easily in the world, do very well, and can be very pleased with themselves, but they don't really get an example of Christian life, whereas the Pauls, or the Francis, or the various saints, they appear more like fools, and they're weak, and they're held in disrepute, and so there's a deep truth in this, that when you get on well in the world,

[57:40]

and everybody appreciates you, there's nearly always a sign of something wrong, and when you feel these obstacles, and difficulties, and so on, very often, not always, it is a sign that God is working with you, but one mustn't exaggerate that, you know, it sometimes happens that those who are really living a totally Christian life, do get great respect, people like Mother Teresa, for example, you see, she's held in honor actually everywhere, and yet everybody feels she's the most authentic Christian, one could say, of others, so one shouldn't exaggerate that because you're well off, there must be something wrong with you. Then he says, to the present hour, we hunger and thirst, we're ill clad, baffled, and homeless, we labor, working with our own hands, and presumably this is true to some extent, you know, but he didn't always hunger and thirst, he earned his own living, and he lived in a church, Corinth, or Ephesus, or the people who died in the Greeks,

[58:42]

he's rather dramatizing it, I think, but it's an important aspect of Christian life, that you can be exposed in this way, and yet be stokely sustained by the grace of God, and in labor, working with our own hands, he was always rather proud of that, he was a test tent maker, and wherever he was, he tried to earn his living in that way, rather than depend on others. Then he said, when reviled, we bless, when persecuted, we endure, when stoned, we try to conciliate. This, of course, is extremely close to the Sermon on the Mount. Paul must have been aware of the Sermon on the Mount, not in the form we know it probably, but it must have come down in the tradition, and so he really felt that he was living out this, what he had said would be the calling of his disciples, when reviled, we bless, when persecuted, we endure, when stoned, we try to conciliate. We have become, and are now, as the refuse of the world, the offscoring of all things. It's an extreme, of course, and some saints have certainly experienced it,

[59:49]

and I think, in a sense, one has to be prepared for it, and it's like many things in the Sermon on the Mount. We saw when the person strikes on the one cheek, turns to the other, and so on. These are sort of models which often do come real, people do experience these things, and one has to have a disposition that is prepared for such things. You may not be exposed to it, actually, but one should recognize that there is a possibility in Christian life of being exposed in that way, and really being rejected, and being the offscoring of everything, as he says. So, it's not easy, you know, to reconcile the extreme Christian asceticism, or whatever you like to call it, in the Sermon on the Mount, or in St. Paul, with ordinary Christian life. Most people are not called to endure these extremes, but sometimes it does happen, and of course, in times of great persecution, you can have extreme suffering involved by quite

[60:53]

ordinary people, who are suddenly faced with tremendous trial and suffering. So, we have to see these things as a part of life. They can happen, but we needn't think that they always should happen in a normal Christian life. ...the body of Christ, and I was reading from St. Paul, which gives an interesting insight on it. In fact, we all have to remember that the body of Christ in the Eucharist is the body of the Resurrection. I think some people misunderstand, and the language is a little difficult to stop him eating his flesh, drinking his blood. If we think of it in material terms, it becomes rather objectionable, but then we realize that it's a spiritual body, and a spiritual blood. The body of Christ in the Resurrection is not material in the ordinary sense. It's

[61:54]

transformed by the Spirit. It becomes a spiritual body, as St. Paul calls it. That's not limited by time or space. The body of Christ in the Resurrection goes beyond time and space, and the body of Christ in the Eucharist is present everywhere. When we do celebrate the Eucharist, the body is present. It's not a time-space body at all. Also, St. Paul suggests something more. He says, the cup of blessing which we bless is not a participation in the blood of Christ, the bread which we break is a participation in the body of Christ. So the body of Christ in the Resurrection is not limited. It's not time by time and space. It's not limited to Jesus alone. It's the body of Christ in the Resurrection. It's open to all humanity. It passes beyond the limits of human nature and opens that human nature to the divine. We're all called to share

[62:57]

in that body and in that blood. We become partakers of that body, that blood. We become partakers of this new mode of spiritual life, spiritual existence. It's a little difficult to, if we say spiritual, we tend to think it's immaterial altogether, not corporeal, and not real. And we emphasize in the Eucharist that the body of Christ is a real body and real blood, but it's not material in the ordinary sense. It's not limited by time and space or by causality or by chemical substance or anything. It's a spiritual body which is transcendental and which we become members of that body. We share in that body, share in that blood. So it's a very, very deep mystery which we all need to reflect on. I think many people see it in a very crude material sense and it really puts people off. Because if you think of eating flesh and drinking blood, it's not at all attractive. And if it was merely material flesh and blood,

[64:00]

it would be a kind of cannibalism. But if it's a spiritual body and spiritual blood, then it becomes a divine mystery. It becomes something very profound which answers a very deep need in our nature that the material should become spiritual. Because that is really the whole Christian mission. The material is taken up into the spiritual. The body and blood are taken up into the divine life. The divine body, the divine blood becomes a transfiguration. So that's really the mystery of the cerebrum. In this Theater de Corinthians, it all deals with various scandals. First of all, we had this scandal of divisions in the church. Now we have this scandal about this man who's living with his mother's wife, presuming it's his stepmother. And remember, Corinth was a commercial city of very poor morality, so it wasn't unexpected that this sort of thing should arise.

[65:04]

And it's interesting the way St. Paul deals with it. He says, first of all, he complains, you see, that they are arrogant. Instead of trying to defend themselves, he commands, him who has done this be removed from among you. And then he gives his authority, though absent in the body and present in spirit. And as if present, I have already pronounced judgment in the name of the Lord Jesus, on the man who has done such a thing. Paul had this very deep sense of his authority from God. God had given him this authority as an apostle, and he spoke in the name of Jesus. And I don't think one can call it presumption. There was a real indwelling of Christ in him, and he was conscious of it and of his responsibility. And so he tells them, when you are assembled, my spirit is present with the power of our Lord Jesus.

[66:07]

The Holy Spirit was in him with his power, and he's experienced it again and again in so many different ways, as you know. So he has that consciousness. God said, deliver this man to Satan, for the destruction of the flesh, his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. That's a strange phrase for us, deliver him over to Satan. What it means is this, that in the early church, it was understood that the world was under the dominion of Satan. He has said himself this world is under the power of evil. And when you were converted and baptized, you passed from the power of Satan into the power of God, Christ. And the church was his haven of salvation. And to be excommunicated, as Paul is demanding for this man, was to be delivered over to Satan. You see, you would be deprived of the saving power of the church and the sacraments, and were exposed again to the power of Satan. But it was done for the destruction of the flesh,

[67:13]

for the spirit may be saved. In other words, it was to make him realize his fault, and to be converted to turn back again. So there's justice in it, but there's also mercy and compassion. First of all, the community had to be set free from this person who would corrupt it. And then he himself, by being exposed to the power of evil outside, would realize his mistake and be able to turn back and be saved. So it's very interesting. We wouldn't think of things in that way today very much. We've got it all regulated by sacraments and so on. But the principle is there of excommunication. You're cut off from the body of Christ and exposed, therefore, to the world, the powers of the world. And then by repentance you return and are saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. And then he uses this example of leaven in bread. Leaven is yeast,

[68:16]

as you know, and it's the yeast that makes the bread rise. But it was considered unclean. Leaven is a germ, isn't it? And it, of course, it makes the bread rise, but it's also a principle of...

[68:32]