Unknown year, September talk, Serial 00643

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Many people feel it's quite impossible, it's nothing but enemies and turning the other cheek and killing the people who want to borrow from you, and so on. But I think it really means another state of mind, as long as one lives in the ordinary state of mind, which is the ego mind, there's no way in which one can fulfill this. You just have to recognize it as something beyond altogether, not practical, as most Christians do, they don't try to practice this at all, they feel this is just something ideal which we can't expect to follow, and you have to leave it like that. But clearly Jesus expected something else, he expected this kind of conversion and this change of heart, this metanoia, the change of mind, the change of heart, and it's another


mode of consciousness, another way of seeing the world, and it completely destroys this whole dualistic world, you see, in which are the good and the bad, and the just and the unjust and your friends and your enemies and all this, all this world of dualities, and most people live in that world of dualities and they never get beyond it, but there is a way of going beyond the dualities, and that in India has always been seen as the goal of life, to get beyond all these oppositions and wonders, as they're called, and enter into the adwaita, the non-duality, where you no longer see people as your enemies or even as your friends. You find all this in the Bhagavad Gita, it's very, very clearly put forward there, this total detachment, when you get detached from the world, from people, from things, and you open yourself to the transcendent, then this change takes place,


it's a total change of mind, of heart, of attitude, and you no longer see the world in the same way. And particularly with regard to enemies and friends and so on, you go beyond the external and the outer form of things and discover the inner reality. Behind every human being there is this hidden mystery. We speak of the Atman, the self, the spirit, you see, it's hidden in every human being. When you go beyond the outer person and the inner person, you see, and to the inmost, the inner self, then you transcend all these contradictions, all these dualities, and discover the hidden mystery. And Jesus was clearly living from the heart of that mystery, you see. And he speaks of it always in terms of the father. He says, love your enemies, do good, expecting nothing in return, and


he is son of the Most High, he is kind to you, ungrateful, selfish, be merciful as your father is merciful. Do good and expecting nothing in return. Just reading Bhagavad Gita, the gift which is of value is to expect nothing in return. There's always that sort of egoism. You see, you do something, you want to get something back in return. When you learn to give without expecting, then this change takes place. You surrender to God, the father, and something else comes into one's life. And this is the real secret of life. And of course very, very few people discover it in any religion, at least of all in Christianity. Very few Christians even attempt to follow this. They see it as a remote ideal for certain people, but not by any means to be followed in ordinary life. And yet it's the real challenge, you see. It's against the whole order of the world in which we're living. Everybody


says, this is nonsense, you can't live like this at all. And in a sense it's true, you can't live an ordinary life in this world if you go on living like that. But you can live another kind of life, and it is always possible to live another kind of life, to relate to God in a new way and to people in a new way. And it's a struggle and it demands a great deal, but it changes everything. It makes the whole life completely something new. And that is what the saints have done and what people have done in all religions and especially perhaps in Christianity. We've always had people who lived this life and said this example. So we all have to try to answer the challenge. And it's, you know, in each person it's different. You can't sort of lay down a law for everybody. It's no longer laying laws, you see, judging and so on. It's going beyond altogether. And then you see how to order your life. You go beyond the ordinary to become aware of God's presence


and then you see how to relate to people, how to order your life, what to do becomes clear. And it comes mainly in meditation because you see in meditation precisely we try to go beyond the dualistic mind. You let the dualistic mind with all its judgments go and you try to open yourself to this non-dual mystery, to the spirit within. And then you get the inner guidance, truth, and that sets you free and enables you to change your life and to see your life in its true perspective. So I think we all have to ask for this as a gift for the church and for the world. Without this there's no salvation, you see. The world goes on getting and destroying everywhere. And only when people turn back and discover this, does the change take place. Mahatma Gandhi was one who discovered this, you know. He lived this. I think all his life he really lived this gospel truth. And he changed himself


and he changed the world in a way. But of course not in any quality. Very few were able to. But he showed us how it could be done. So we all have to ask the grace to discover this mystery in our life. It's possible from a very psychological fact that we all see the world in front of people in the context of our own inner disposition. We imagine seeing the world as it is. Even the external world of trees and things around us are really projections in a sense. There are all sorts of vibrations of energy coming into us all the time and we project this three-dimensional world around us. And it's true as far as it goes, but it's extremely limited. For instance, we see the sun rising and setting every day, rising in the east and setting in the west. That is projection. It's an illusion. It's an appearance. It's an appearance true to the senses, but it's not true otherwise. And so also with


our understanding of other people, we think we're seeing people as they are all the time, but we're really seeing them through our own lens, as it were, through our own disposition. And because our mind is colored in some way, we see that other person through that color and we get a distorted view. And it's very difficult to cleanse the mind, cleanse the heart, and to see people as they really are. And Jesus gives the example of having a log in your own eye and seeing a speck in the other person. And we all tend to do that. We don't see our own faults. We don't look into ourselves, see what we are. We look out and we see faults in other people, quite obvious to us. And so we try to correct other people all the time, or if we don't try to correct, we judge them and condemn them. And so we live in this very distorted world. And the capacity to look within and discover one's


own distortions, one's own mirror within, and to cleanse that mirror, that is really the great work of prayer, meditation, and especially meditation. It's to try to free oneself from all these prejudices, you see, which are ingrained in us. And it's so important to realize they're ingrained in us from childhood, deep in the unconscious. You see, we don't see things as they are. We see things as we've been trained to see them through our environment, through our culture, through our whole tradition. Even the language you use, you know, you see, every language has its own particular character. It sees the world in a particular way. And if we imagine that our language is true, that is an illusion. It's true as far as it goes, but in certain limits. I believe, for instance, in America they say, the Puerto Ricans and other people like that, that their whole way of thinking is different from the white people's


way of thinking. And still more the black people's are there, but people think in a different way, and their language is different. And then we think ours is the real one, and we try to make people conform to our way of thinking and feeling and expressing ourselves. So to learn these diversities of human nature and our own limitations. Every language has its limitations, and every human being has particular limitations. And to try to realize that we're all limited in that way. And then, of course, we have our own personal limitations, that we are prejudiced in a certain way against certain people, certain things. I mean, racial prejudice is a typical example, you see. People can't help it in a way, but all through Europe and America, it's the prejudice against black people. People, it's ininstinctively, people have that reaction. And they don't think it. They say, oh, I'm perfectly free and I expect them, but in reality there's a prejudice working all the time. To some extent people can't


help it, it's simply born in them and bred into them, they have that feeling. And you act upon your feeling. So to discover these prejudices, sex prejudices, and racial prejudices, and religious prejudices, perhaps above all, you see. People are trained in a particular religion, they see everything in the context of that religion, with all its limitations, they don't realize that it's a limited view, and that other people have a totally different view. It's particularly different with the Christians. We're all taught that our religion is true, and we grow up in it from childhood, and we judge everybody in the light of that. But only slowly we discover that our religion is limited. The way we conceive our religion is a very limited way, and in most people it's even a distorted way, it's quite unreal. And then we go judging Hindus and Muslims and Buddhists and condemning them because they don't think as we do. And so all of us today are trying to learn how to see the limits of our own understanding, our own mind, our own will, and then recognize other people


with their limits also. It's to recognize there are other ways of seeing life than the way we do. It's much more difficult, but then it's absolutely necessary because all these terrible conflicts in the world come because people see things in their own way and don't see them in any other way. Their way is right, what I think is right, and this person is wrong, and therefore we want to kill him or to imprison him or whatever, to destroy him in some way. So it's more like a self-discovery, it's to know the self, and actually finally to know the self, as the Indian tradition says, there's only one self, there is one truth behind all these adversities, and to know that truth, that self, is the supreme achievement of human existence, to know that self. And then when you see the self, then you see everybody and everything as they really are, as God sees it. There's only one way untruth. God sees all beings, all people, as they really are. And just so far as we've


gone here, to God we begin to see people or others as they really are. But it takes a long sort of discipline, a long practice of, as I say, of meditation, because in meditation one should try to free oneself from all these prejudices, these ingrained ways of thinking and feeling, acting, and open oneself to the transcendent, to the present within. So that's really the call we all have, and it's very, very difficult, but be aware of one's limitations, and limitations of one's thoughts and one's ideas. We all tend to think, I know what is right, you see, and my judgment is true, you see, and it's true within your own limits, it's perfectly true what you say. You say the sun rises in the east as far as sense appearances go, it's perfectly true, but from another point of view it's totally untrue, the sun's not rising at all. And so with that judgment you may see somebody else, maybe something wrong, and your judgment within its limits is perfectly true, the fact that you're doing


something according to a certain standard is wrong. But there may be another standard which is quite different, and you have to learn to recognize there are other ways of seeing things, and it's not easy of course, but that is wisdom, and you begin to see there are other ways of thinking and feeling and seeing the world, and then we begin to get a harmonious view, we begin to get an integrated view of truth, of reality, and then we go to the one truth, you see, the one self, one spirit, this world. So this is where we are calling today. It's possible to have a very great meaning in our lives, and Iter puts the totally wrong view of life with Jesus. He says, how many times shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him, and it's been seven times. And this whole idea that we've got some, I've


got this important person and people are offending me and I've got to forgive them as much as I can, it's total delusion, you see, it's centering on your ego, you've got your ego, your private self, and other people keep injuring you, and you keep forgiving them. And the whole is really a game that has no meaning. The whole centering on the self is the precise error which you're falling. And Jesus brushes the whole thing aside, he says under 70 times 7, or 700 and 70 times 7, you could say, there's no meaning in this ego forgiving other people, you see, you've got to get out of your ego, that's the essence of the whole thing. And as long as you remain in it and pretend you're forgiving people, you're just deluding yourself. And most people live in that delusion, they're trying to forgive other people, they do it theoretically, but in practice, of course, it doesn't work until you've got free of your ego and surrender to the spirit of God within. You've no freedom,


and you've no real self at all. Now real self is not this separated, isolated individual ego with all its fears and hostilities and forgivenesses and so on, but the inner self, the spirit within, who is one in you and one in me, and when we open ourselves to the spirit within, then there's no question of forgiving somebody or of being injured. You're beyond the whole mechanism of injury and forgiveness, you see, you have to open yourself to the spirit within, the presence within, and then you receive total forgiveness, total freedom, total openness, and you're one with others. And that is what we have to strive for. But as long as we remain on this level of judgment, you see, that he's done wrong and I forgive him, I'm very generous, I do it seven times, maybe seventy times, still you're under the illusion, you're not capable of forgiving anybody, or in order to, of course, forgive anybody, you've got to go beyond your ego and your injuries and your self-importance to discover


that you are one with that person. There is a hidden mystery in you, which is also present in him and in her, and in that you are one, you are beyond all this level of injury and forgiveness. So we ought to ask to discover the hidden mystery of the spirit within every person, and when we open ourselves to that spirit, then we transcend all these levels of conflict and dislike and hatred, and of forgiveness, you see. Forgiveness still belongs to this level of injury and self-importance. It's to go beyond all that and discover the oneness, that we're one in Christ with all, and that we receive forgiveness and they receive forgiveness. We can't forgive anybody, God alone forgives and gives, and not only forgives, but gives, gives himself for us and enables us to live in him and he in us. So that's the real meaning of life. So we have to ask to this place to go beyond our ego, that is


the whole point. ...today the mystery of the cross, and it has many different aspects, many ways one can think of it, the ways it influences people's lives, but I think perhaps the most fundamental is this idea of self-surrender. It's a great paradox, of course, Jesus came to overcome the sin of the world, this evil existing in the world, and he overcomes it by giving in to it. He doesn't fight it, he allows it to triumph over him in a sense. All the power of evil comes and he accepts, he allows them to put him to death, to extreme suffering, and that's this tremendous paradox which is difficult to understand. We have tremendous problems in the world today, everybody knows, on every side, violence and hatred and cruelty


and then of course disease and suffering and oppression, all these things accumulate and people want to overcome all these powers of evil, and many think they can do it by some means of their own, and they devise various methods, and sometimes they achieve something, but obviously nothing is finally achieved. And Jesus took this extremely paradoxical way. He had all this power from him, from God, and yet he chose to be crucified, to be condemned as a criminal, to suffer pain and finally death. And it's almost the exact opposite, you see, of what anybody would think. He apparently achieves nothing at the end, he's dead and it's all over. And yet we know that through that suffering, through that death, redemption of the world was achieved. Something radical was changed in the world,


and the power to overcome evil was released. We don't see it, it's true, the evil still remains when we're faced with all these problems, but by faith we know a power is present in the world which is able to overcome all death. And it was shown in the resurrection. In the resurrection, Jesus went beyond death, and death obviously is the final evil. Everybody turns to die and that seems to be the end, and Jesus showed it's not the end, it's something beyond death, and that is totally fulfilled. You go through death, dereliction, suffering and privation, you come to fulfillment, to the fullness of life and truth and love which we're seeking. So I think we all have to face this paradox and this mystery, and ultimately it seems really self-surrender. It may involve suffering, but it's a great mistake to think that the world is saved by suffering. And Jesus suffered a lot obviously, but in a sense that was accidental. He could have saved the world without any suffering. It's this


surrender of the will to God which is the essence of sacrifice, and that is the essence of the sacrifice of the cross. And it happened that, being born a Jew and living in a very hostile environment, subject to the Roman Empire, he was crucified. That was accidental in a sense, historical circumstances, but the surrender he made of his will to the Father, accepting his will up to death, that is the essence of the sacrifice, and that's what we're all asked to do, in our own particular circumstances, make a total surrender of our will to the will of God. And of course to discern the will of God is half the problem, how to know what God is asking of us, and we only know it as we surrender. It's like learning to swim. You learn to swim by swimming, and you learn to surrender by surrendering. You make some little surrender, and then you discover you can make something more, and then you can make something more, and gradually you learn what self-surrender means.


And it's infinite, you see, it goes on and on. But that's the way of salvation, the surrender to the will of God day by day. Many of you will know a book called, well it's translated into English now, I think it was, I forget, the French was Abandon à la Providence Divine, literally Abandonment to Divine Providence, and his teaching is simply that, that at every moment of life you surrender to the will of God. It may be perfectly attractive, it may be having your breakfast, or maybe meeting a friend, or reading a book, or it may be having cancer and losing your child. It may be immense suffering, but at every point simply God has come into your life to make your surrender, and that is perfect sanctity. And it takes Our Lady as an example. That's rather important, perhaps, you see, because we know Our Lady didn't suffer anything very great. She stood at the foot of the cross


when she had the bad pain of her son, but she lived her life as he sees it, daily surrendering to the will of God, as it came to her day by day, the ordinary work of life in a village of Nazareth. And yet through that total surrender she became perfect, she became totally filled with the Holy Spirit, totally expressive of the will of God, the love of God. And that's what everybody can do, whatever our situation, we may be quite pleasant surrendered to the will of God, it can be very pleasant, it can be a joy, but it can also be very painful, and we just have to accept it as it comes, day by day, good and bad, joyful and unpleasant and so on, and allow this mystery to work in us. And that's the mystery of the cross, you see, the surrender to the will of God is the mystery of the cross, and it's the mystery of salvation. And when we do it, we not only save ourselves, we enter into that mystery of redemption and we assist the redemption of the world. Suppose that I make up what


is lacking for the suffering of Christ, but of course there's nothing lacking in a way that we can join ourselves to that mystery of surrender, of self-sacrifice, and then we become instruments of redemption, of salvation for others. So I think we all need to reflect deeply on this mystery of the cross, and not take a negative view of it. Many people, you know, it's all suffering and death and pain and you've got to go on and on, but that life seems a burden and a misery, and that is not the truth, you see. The truth is that self-surrender, which may be totally joyful and is always joyful in some way, even in the midst of great pain, if you make your self-surrender, there's an inner joy, an inner peace. It's a great mistake to think that suffering is, you know, physical suffering is necessary for causes of misery. It's not at all. If you learn how to accept suffering coming from God, you get a deep peace and joy in the midst of it. So the mystery of


the cross is not a mystery of suffering and of pain and oppression and all the things we don't want. It's a mystery of how to deal with all the situations in life in such a way that they become creative, they become redemptive, they become something which renews and transforms us, and that is where the mystery of the cross is. Well, it's very important. We put before us these two ways of spirituality, and recently they've been compared with the way of fall and redemption and creation spirituality. And the way of fall and redemption, the way of John the Baptist, has been the predominant spirituality of the church for many centuries. Those people think their spirituality is the way of self-denial, of cynicism, of self-conquest, of humility, of self-debasement. And many people grow up with that tradition, and they have a very bad image of themselves, they


say we're sinful, we're wicked, we must repent, we must do penance for our sins, we must obtain forgiveness. And obviously there's a certain truth in that, seeing the reality that we all are subject to sin, we all have fallen. But the other side is even much more important, actually, that in spite of sin there is an essential goodness in human nature. Every human being is created in the image of God. However much we may sin, that image remains. You see, the light just goes, but the image remains. The capacity of goodness and love always remains. And creation spirituality emphasizes this essential goodness. Every person is essentially good. It may be veiled by innumerable failures and weaknesses, sins, but yet essential goodness is there, and God can always reawaken that goodness, that image that can inspire the person to change. And so Jesus came preaching this creation spirituality.


You see, John the Baptist was the ascetic, the burglar, doing all this penance. And that is one way, and for many people it is the right way, some it's the only way. But for most people, especially today, it's not the right way at all. People get into a depression as a result of it. Many people today, they leave the church for that very reason. They were taught in childhood they were sinful, and they was never always recognized how sinful they are, and how God is a judge, and they're going to be punished for their sins, and all this is sort of built into them, and they feel they must throw the whole thing over and recover their natural innocence, their capacity for God, for love. And so the movement today, as I say, is away from this full redemption spirituality, though obviously it has its essential truth that's projected, but away from the domination of that to the creation


spirituality, we recognize the goodness of creation as a whole. See, again, the tendency to reject the world as evil and under the power of sin, that the world is created by God as an essential goodness. And then, as I say, the essential goodness of human nature, to realize each person has this capacity for God, everybody has a capacity for God, and to realize in ourselves, some people have complained, they're told to love God, and to love your neighbor as yourself, but some people don't love themselves at all, they think they hate themselves, and I'm wicked, and I'm sinful, and I must change. And yet you have to love your neighbor as yourself, because in your neighbor is the same image of God as in you, and you're both created for love, for good fulfillment in God. And so we try to do it, recover this creation spirituality, the central goodness of the world. Again, the world is full of evil, all sorts of tragedies and penalties happening


all the time again, but it's an essential goodness in the world, an essential goodness in human nature. And if we simply dwell on the sin, the error, the darkness, we get frustrated and then despair, and when we recognize behind the sin and the darkness, the light, the truth, the love, the mystery of the presence of God, then again we have hope and fulfillment. So we have to try to open our eyes to this mystery of God's presence in the world, God's presence in all of humanity, above all perhaps God's presence in ourselves, each one of us has this capacity for God, and as we respond, we are drawn more and more into His love. And we read that beautiful text in the letter to the Ephesians which expresses it so marvelously that He's put an end to the law of commandments and ordinances. See that? The whole thing is this commandment of ordinances. And you see, it's a little tragic, I think, that for centuries the Ten Commandments were taken as a basis of catechism to teach children.


But in the real sense of the letter, the Ten Commandments have been superseded. See, we're not here not to kill, not to steal, not to do this, not to do that, that's all very well, but something else has come into our lives, we've got a new birth, a new creation has come, and we need to begin the capacity to love and to surrender and to enjoy and to fulfill ourselves. Christ came to get free us from the commandments, you see, His submission to a moral law, where we're slaves to the law, and to set us free, to make us realize God, that we're all in God and God is in us. This is the new vision, the new creation. And He abolished this, the vision of the commandments, and created one new man. You see, the moral law now separates us from God and from one another, we're all under this dominion of sin, but when we surrender ourselves to God, we transcend the commandments, we don't do things because we ought to do them, or because somebody's telling us we must do them, we


do them because the love of God has been put into our hearts, and we want to do it, but we do it spontaneously from that love that is in us. So that's the new message of the gospel, you see, and let's be obedient that it sums up the whole history of the gospel in a marvelous way, as setting us free from sin and the law, setting us free from sin and from the law, and opening us to the world of grace, of truth, of love, of transformation. So that's really what we seek today, and there's tremendous search today, you see, the old way has simply been rejected. Millions of people will not accept this old spirituality any longer, old sin and death and negation, you see, and they're looking, opening themselves to a spirituality of creation, of grace, of fulfillment, of love, of self-transcendence. And many go astray, obviously, and many mistake it, you just indulge yourself, if you're not


careful, but there is a true way of self-transcendence, of creative love, and that is the way Jesus really came to give us and to live itself. This gospel is remarkable for many reasons. First of all, perhaps it's necessary to explain that at the time of Jesus and the Roman Empire, people were crying at their meal, their legs stretched out behind them, and apparently it was quite common for people to come and stand around and share in the conversation and so on. So this woman came along and she anoints his feet. And the remarkable thing, first of all, is that he has associates with this woman at all. You know, the Jews, very strict, a rabbi would not associate with a woman, and still less would he allow a woman to touch him. And Jesus allows this woman


to approach him and touch him, and what is worse, of course, she was a sinner, presumably a prostitute, and yet he still allows this woman to kiss his feet. So this is astonishing, and that shows the way Jesus broke through the conventions of the time. He was supposed to even associate with a woman, still less to touch her, and allow her to touch you, least of all when the woman is a sinful person. So he breaks through all those conventions, and then he says at the end something very remarkable, because she has loved much, much will be forgiven. And I think it's a great insight on this whole mystery of grace and salvation, the question of love. And see, the danger is that the righteous people, like the Pharisees, tend to suppress their love, they suppress their sex, they suppress their feelings, and they live by their reason and their will, and so they become righteous in a way, they live an orderly life to a large extent, but their feelings, their sex, their


deeper aspects of their love is suppressed, and they often become very hot, it's very inhuman. And on the other hand, you see, people live by love, and they go out and love other people, and they get into all kinds of problems as a result, but there is an instinct of love which is at work, and that love can easily be turned and changed, and to give it to God and find a deep fulfillment. And that seemed to be so with this woman, who was seeking love. Many millions of people, young people today, they're in search of love, and they go in the wrong way, and think that just by promiscuity you'll find love, but of course it drains away as a result. But still they're in search of love, and sometimes they come around and they begin to discover the real meaning of love, and how it can be fulfilled. And this woman found it in Jesus, this love which she'd been giving to others, she felt she could give to him who drew her to him, a deep love of self-surrender, of total self-giving,


and also repentance, feeling she'd missed the way before, now she found the true way. So I think it's very important, you see, that Christianity, and more generally, is a way of love. And there's a danger, that's why St. Paul always contrasts the law and grace. See, the law is a space of reason and will and morality, you try to control yourself not to give way to lust, and that's all very good as far as it goes, but you very often suppress your feelings, and then you become cold and inhuman. And it's a great danger of religion, people become cold and inhuman, and they suppress other people because they're suppressing their feelings. And on the other hand, people give way to their feelings and they cause a lot of harm, but sometimes they find their way, and that love finds its proper outfit, and is able to be given totally to God, and given totally to others. And that's what we're seeking, how to give that love to God, and then be able to give it to others.


So we all have to ask this, how to learn this way of love? And the way of righteousness is not enough, unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness that's described in the Galatians, as it is said, you will not enter the kingdom of God. The only way is through love, but love directed, love finding its proper path, love fulfilled in God, you see. I thought it would give us some insight into the case of women in the church. We were reading yesterday how Jesus accepted this sinful woman, comes and washes his feet with her tears, wipes with her hair, and he accepts her and says, because she loved much, that she's been forgiven, and accepts her. And today we read how he goes preaching to the villages, and he's accompanied by these women, and then all the women are being healed by him, through evil spirits and infirmities. All undergone a conversion, Mary Magdalene, whom seven


demons have gone out. Demons are these powers which possess people, we would call it psychological disease, of a very severe character, which he's been healed totally by Jesus. Then Johanna, the wife of Guza, Herod's steward, would have been a person of some substance, Susanna and many others. There were probably women with some wealth who were able to support the community. And this shows a great light, you see, on Jesus' attitude to women, that he accepted them among his disciples, and then when he went preaching, they went with him. And today we're trying to discover, rediscover the case of women in the church, because they've been almost banned from the whole authority in the church. And today, as I say, we're trying to rediscover the proper place. It's difficult to realize how intensely


patriarchal in the first place all the Semitic religions are. The father is the patriarch, the father is the master, and women in all the Semitic religions, Christianity, Islam, have always been suppressed. I think, as far as I know, a woman could never enter into the temple, the main part of the temple, it was kept outside. I think today a woman cannot go into the mosque, the main part of the mosque for worship. They've always been kept out. In Christianity, we've not gone as far as that, but we've practically ignored women. It's an extraordinary fact, when you think of it, that until quite recently, and by many people still today, when we turn to the community, we say, pray brethren, orate fratres. One half of the human race is simply ignored, and the other half is rejected. Pray brethren, you see. Fifty percent are not brothers at all, they're sisters. And in the words of


consecration, until recently we had, this is my God, it's given for all men, so it's not given for all women. Now we've changed it to say for all. So gradually the church is trying to change this sexist language, and we're only realizing slowly how sexist it is. It's all marked on the one sex, it's made to dominate over the other. And we all use it in our language, and it's difficult to change the language, you see. The Bible itself comes from this patriarchal tradition in which women were kept in the background, and so the language of the Bible is sexist. It uses the word man when it means men and women, and so on. So today a great revolution is taking place. It's not only the women's movement, but in the church itself, and everywhere people are discovering. I myself discovered how I use sexist language naturally, and I have to change it around. So then we're talking


about man, you're talking about humanity, or the human race, or a human being. You don't say men or man. And it may seem a little thing, but women today feel abused by it, you see. They're simply being pushed and suppressed by it, linguistically, and therefore your attitude of mind, if you use that language, your mind follows your language, and you think of women as something below. No woman today can go into the sanctuary. She's not considered pure enough to enter into the sanctuary. It's an absurdity, you see. And of course the whole question of women priests arises, which is not the main question. It's women ministry, you see, whether priesthood is another matter and needs less discussion, but the question of the ministry of women. Women have an equal right to ministry in the church with men, and they should be on an equality with men. But the whole ministry of the church is in the hand of men at present, you see, celibate men. And we have to discover how to change


things so that we can have that proper place. So these are all matters of reflection, and all over the world today people are reflecting over this, trying to discover how the Holy Spirit today is calling us, you see, to recognize the place of women in the church. And of course it can't be indiscriminate. Men and women are not just the same. And the mistake is made when they're just psychologically, not only physically, but psychologically a woman is different, and they have something unique to bring, you see, to the church. A woman minister is different from a male minister, just as a woman doctor is different from a male doctor. She can do things which a male doctor can't do. Same with a nurse, same with many other things. Women have their own particular gifts, and their own psychological gifts. They bring something to any assembly, to any meeting, to any assembly of people together. A woman brings something which the man cannot bring. They complement each other. And if we exclude the woman, we're excluding something in human nature, you see.


And that's why the church and our society becomes unbalanced. We're living in a totally unbalanced society. It's a male-dominated society today, and that's why we're dominated by science and machinery and all these impersonal things which the male mind invents and uses, and the feminine is quite different from that. I mean, the feminine is not mechanical and scientific at all. It's intuitive and imaginative and effective and has a feeling. So there's two complementary psychological capacities that are there, you see, and we all need them both. We all need feminine, feminine, and masculine, and they have to come together in harmony. So we need, as I say, to reflect over this and lift it facing the church. Scandal. Everybody would be horrified today if anybody behaved in this way. Here's the same wages to somebody who worked for one hour, somebody who works for the whole day.


And quite clearly, Jesus is going against all the laws of social justice. And when he says at the end, may I not do with what is my own, it's like a capitalist saying, I'll give you the wages that I think right, you've got to accept what I say. And so from that point of view, it's totally unjust. And yet, Jesus gives it this as a model. And I think we all have to realize the limits of social justice and the limits of all morality. See, we'd like the world to be ordered by the rational scheme of morality, that God would be doing everything just right, everybody would get what he deserves. And that's our idea of justice and morality. And of course, it has a certain validity, and we have to work for it a certain way, but we always have to realize its limitations. I think it's extremely important today to realize the limitations of all reason and morality. We think reason,


we want to organize the whole world according to reason, scientifically, to manage everything. With technology, we could have a rational system by which we organize everything, economically and politically. We're all trying to create this rational, moral universe. And it never works. It breaks down every time. And it's not the goal, you see. There's something beyond reason and morality. And the whole message of the Gospel is to go beyond reason and morality. There's nothing rational or moral about this parable at all. But it's a mystery of grace. And the mystery of grace is beyond reason. And when we learn to go beyond our reason, we begin to discern the truth. And today, people are beginning to discover these limitations of reason. You see, in science, for instance, it's very interesting. For years, for a thousand years, people believed in Ptolemaic astronomy, that the sun and the stars moved around the earth. And they worked a marvelous system out, with


cycles and epicycles. They fitted everything in. But, of course, it couldn't fit everything in. At a time came when they discovered if you could see the earth moving around the sun, you could explain things much better. And so the new paradigm of Copernican astronomy came in. But the other was quite valid within its own limits. And same with Newtonian science. We had this idea of solid bodies moving in time and space, and it explained everything in a wonderful, rational way. And Newton's science lasted for two or three centuries, and everybody thought it was final. And then came Einstein relativity and quantum physics, and the whole Newtonian system collapsed. And people discovered it's valid within its limits, but outside those limits it's completely invalid. So we all have to realize there are limits to reason. It has its own value, and social justice has its very positive value, but it's not the goal. It's not the final thing, you see.


But take a very simple example. If you say the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, it's perfectly true from one point of view, from the point of view of sense appearances. If you say the sun rises in the west and sets in the east, it is untrue. But again, you're saying the sun rises in the east and sets in the west is only true according to sense appearances. When you go beyond that, if you go further mathematically, you'll know that it's not true. The sun is not rising or setting. So things can be true on a certain level, and we can live with them on that level, but we have to realize they're not valid on another level. And so with all our reason and morality, it's all we have to organize our lives according to reason and morality, but we have always to see that there's something beyond reason and morality. And the gospel is that something beyond. When we discover it's a deeper law, actually it's the law of love. Love is not reason and morality. Love goes beyond all these things. And when we open ourselves to


that transcendent love, that grace, we discover a new law. And the gospel is this new law. See, the whole early church was concerned with this problem of the law and grace. And St. Paul's great insight of the law was wonderful. The law of Moses, which is not in the law of reason and morality, was very wonderful as far as it went, but it couldn't bring you to the goal of life. It couldn't bring you to the fulfillment. And only grace takes us beyond. So we all have to learn. We have to use our reason. We have to try to keep the moral law within those limits. But then we have to realize there's something beyond reason, beyond morality. The gifts of God, the grace of God, the love of God is something that takes us beyond all that. And then when we begin to live our lives in accordance with that law, the law of love, then this transformation takes place. And perhaps one could just reflect on that, reading from St. Paul, where the paradox is there,


you see. St. Paul says, I can find Christ in this world. I try to serve people here. I do my best. I work for social justice and so on. That is my calling. But there's something more than that, something better than that. I want to be with Christ. It's better. So Christ is here among the poor and so on. You serve him there. But there's another way beyond that, where you go beyond the present situation altogether, discover the innermost mystery of Christ. And that is better. So St. Paul says, I am hard-pressed between my desire is to depart and to be with Christ. For that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary. So to live our life in this world is necessary. And we have to practice reason and morality and try to live it as best we can. But we've always got to remember there's something beyond this world. And that is far better. And the better part


is to depart and to be with Christ. Then we enter into the force of truth and love. So the paradox, you see, life is a paradox. And it's no good pretending that it's a simpler matter. There is a world of reason, morality, science and technology. And we have to live in that world and to work in that world. But always aware that there's a world beyond. There's only a certain level of truth. And there's a deeper truth beyond truth of love and of grace. And that takes us beyond all this altogether. And that is the mystery of the grace of the gospel. So we ask her how to place that into the mystery. I have a memory of St. Matthew the Apostle. And in effect on this history of the apostles, they had this calling. They were sent to the apostles. They were sent to obtain the gospel. But the gospel is contained always in a particular situation. And it differs, changes from age


to age. When Jesus was preaching now with St. Matthew, it was a question of the righteous. The Jews or the Pharisees felt that only the righteous who kept the law were close to God. And others were sinners and they were rejected. And Jesus came to preach to the sinners, the people who were rejected. And as he says, I came not to call the righteous but sinners. And that was the aspect of the gospel at that time. And then a little later, the problem came of Jews and Gentiles. The early apostles thought of the church as church of the Jews. They thought everybody would be circumcised, follow the law, and then accept Christ as the Messiah. And it was there for St. Paul to realize that you didn't need to be circumcised to become a Jew. Faith in Christ set you free from the law. And that was the great message of the early church, that the church was open to the Gentiles. And that message was preached


through the world. And today, perhaps you see the gospel in the context of the present world, particularly here in India. And the great difference today is that we see always missional gospel in terms of dialogue. It's what the Vatican Council introduced. It's the first time in the history of the church to recognize the values of other religions. You can't just preach the gospel to people as though they have nothing there to give. Every nation has its own gift from God. India has had this wonderful gift from God from the beginning. You have the Vedas, you have the whole Hindu tradition, you have the Buddha, Buddhist tradition, you have Mahavira, the Jain tradition, you have Guru Nanak, the Sikh tradition. All these are ways in which God has revealed himself in India. And today, when we preach the gospel, we have to do it in the context of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Harshism, all these religions of India. And merely to give it without reference


is simply to ignore people. And if you ignore people, they ignore you. And that is why in all these hundreds of years, only 2% of India has been touched by Christianity. Nobody is going to accept the religion which ignores your own religion. So today we're challenged, you see, when we preach the gospel, we have to preach in the context of Hinduism, of Islam, of Buddhism. And it is much more challenging, much more demanding. It's also much more meaningful. And I think it applies to all of us, you see. You can't take Christianity as an isolated religion anymore. You always, whoever you are, you have to relate it to your neighbor. We're living among Hindus, among Muslims, in the North, among Buddhists and others. And we have to relate to these people, relate the gospel to them. It's not something isolated. It's got a message for the Hindu, for the Buddhist, for the Jain, for the Sikh. But it has to be presented to each one in a way that is meaningful. And


we ourselves, you see, have to reflect on the gospel continually in the light of other religions. That is why we read from the texts, from the scriptures of other religions in our prayer. We're reading the present moment from the Vedas. Midday, we read from the Koran and from other scriptures. In the evening, we read from Kabir, who is both Hindu and Muslim, a wonderful mystic. So we always have to reflect on our faith in the context of other religions. And it has a mutual effect, you see. As you preach the word of Christ to others, it opens their hearts and minds to a new aspect of truth. And as you learn to meditate on the scriptures of other religions, you begin to see Christ in a new context, in a new perspective. So the church grows in that way. So this is the challenge today, that we have to present our faith in the context of other faiths. And interfaith dialogue is the core of the church today. It's very instructive that when the Pope came to India


two years ago, that was his message, wherever he went, that we have to enter into dialogue. Religions don't want to fight each other and to condemn each other, but to share with one another. Each has its own gift from God and each has something to contribute to the fullness. And we all have to learn how to relate to the other traditions and to see them all in the context of Christ, in that fullness which God wills for humanity. So this is the core challenge of religions. We were reading in this letter to the Ephesian yesterday a kind of summary of Christian contemplation and we get a kind of summary of, we call it, moral life, spiritual life, the living of the gospel. It says, I beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you've been


called. And then he gives the characteristics, you see, of this life. So loneliness and meekness with patience forbearing one another in love. And this loneliness and meekness is very fundamental. Jesus said of himself, I am meek and humble of heart, meek and lonely. And loneliness is putting oneself below, onto the earth. And the word humility comes from humus, which means the ground. It's being below people and things and seeing from there. And then meekness is the action which springs from loneliness. When you're low, you're meek and patient and forbearing. And the opposite, of course, is being high up and then being aggressive and dominating other people. So this is the great lesson. Loneliness and meekness of patience forbearing one another in love. Eager to maintain the unity of the spirit


with the bond of peace. The sense that there is a unity of the spirit. You see, the spirit is one. It's distinct in each person and yet it's always one in itself and it's what binds us together. We're all different, physically we're all different, psychologically we're all different. And at that point of the spirit, we join one another, we discover this inner unity. And that's the source of the unity of the church, the source of the unity of humanity. There's no other maturity. We get beyond our physical and psychological differences and discover this inner unity of the spirit. And then he goes, one body, one spirit, thus you were called to one hope that belongs to your cause. It's the idea of one body and one spirit. He's thinking, of course, essentially of the church. One can apply it to humanity as a whole. Today we're much more aware of this solidarity of humanity. We're all members of one body of humanity, right? Going back to the very beginning and extending to the end, St. Gregory of Nyssa had a beautiful phrase where he said that the whole of humanity


from the first man to the last man is one image of him who is, of God. The whole of humanity from the first man to the last, from the first woman to the last woman, is one image of him who is. It's one image of God in the Son of Christ. So that's the idea of the one body and one spirit, as you were called to one hope that belongs to your cause. And then one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. Always think if you want to find a formula for Christian unity, you can't really find a better one than that, you see. One Lord, one Lord Christ, one faith, quite precisely faith in the one Lord is what unites. One baptism, which is right, which initiates you, one God and Father of all. It's worth keeping that in mind. Faith for all Christian unity, and who is above all and through all and in all. And that's important also, you see. God is transcendent, he's above


all, he's also through all and in all. He's transcendent and immanent. And that's very fundamental. We get the transcendence without the immanence, or we get the immanence without the transcendence. Because God is infinitely beyond everybody and everything, and totally present to everybody and everything. St. Augustine had a beautiful phrase, he is a summe or summa meo et intimae or intimae meo, more higher than my highest being and more intimate, more within me than my innermost being. That is the paradox. But grace is given to each according to each as he did. So it's a beautiful expression, I say, of the model of Christian life. The story of Jesus and his mother and his brethren occurs in all the three Gospels, and it's extremely important that Jesus rejected this bond with the family, and it's one of


the basic demands of the Gospel. He was only 12 years old, went up to Jerusalem, and his family went back, thinking he was with them, and he remained behind. And they were very upset and came and said, did you not know, I must be about my father's business. He broke from his family to be dedicated to God as a father. And then when he began his ministry, his mother, at the Feast of Cana, wants him to do something for them. He says, mother, what have I to do with thee? He breaks his bond with his family. And then this incident occurs. They come to see him in the crowd, and he simply says, who is my mother and my brethren? And this is a basic detachment from one's family, from one's race, from one's caste, from one's whole human bond. And yet it doesn't mean any lack of personal love. At the last moment, at the foot of the cross, his mother stands and he says, son, behold


thy mother, mother, behold thy son. You have a deep personal bond, but you're not attached. And if you look around, you'll see that all the conflicts of the world, practically, come from this attachment to one's family. Maybe one's family, maybe one's caste, maybe one's tribe, maybe one's race. All the conflicts arise from these attachments. In India, we have this caste conflict. We had it in Bilipuram just recently, people being killed over it. And in Africa, it's tribes. Tribes are killing one another. Even in the modern states, the tribe try to dominate the others. Just in India, in politics, one caste tries to dominate the others, and so on. And then you have the wider racial conflict. And in South Africa, you have the white and the black people, same in America. It's always attachment to your own group, your own set of people. And that sets you against others. You're so attached


to your own family, your own tribe, your own caste, your own race, that you come into conflict with the others. And I think on a wider scale, you have the Arabs and the Jews, always in conflict with one another. And then it applies also to religion, because most people belong to religion because they were born into it. 90% of people are Christians because they were born Christians. They're Hindus because they were born Hindus. They're Muslims because they were born Muslims. So you're attached to your religion. And it's a human attachment. It's not divine at all. It's attachment to your own group. And so you come into conflict. Christians come into conflict with the Muslims and the Jews and Hindus come into conflict with Muslims and so on. And even in Northern Ireland, you have Catholics and Protestants, and it's a racial conflict. See, the Protestants in Ireland were colonists who came in the 16th century from Scotland. They belonged to a different group, racial group, and so


they come into conflict with the others. So this is the source of conflict in the world, is this attachment to one's own particular group. And I think we all have to be aware of it. Most Christians are not aware of this at all. They go on completely attached to their caste or their race or whatever, just as much as anybody else. But Jesus came to teach us to break this bond of attachment. And it doesn't mean that you don't have love. When you're detached from somebody, you can love them purely. You don't have an egoistic love, which creates conflict. You have a generous love, which creates harmony. So you can love your people and your caste, your tribe, whatever, and your religion, but you're not attached to it, and it doesn't therefore cause conflict. And Jesus came to teach this total detachment, and Kabir always speaks of love and detachment. People think that if you love, you must be attached, but attachment is egoistic, and it binds you. And true love


is unselfish, self-giving, and opens you up to others. There's a good illustration of this in Ramana Maharshi, the great seer of Chidambaram and I, and he left his home and his family, went to Arunachala, lived in a cave there. And his family discovered where he was, and they came to bring him back. And they tried to persuade him, and he took no notice. And then his old mother came, and she wept before him for three days and implored him to come back. And he remained like a stone, took no notice of her at all, hardly said anything. And the old lady went away disappointed. That sounded very ha-ha, very inhuman. But later on, she recognized who he was, she came to the ashram, and he cared for her for the rest of her life, and he presided over her cremation and had a shrine for her there in the ashram. He had total love, but total detachment. And I think this is what we all have to learn, how to have love and detachment, and not to mistake attachment for love. A


mother thinks she loves her child, but she's attached to the child, and maybe destroying the child, because she can't let it become free. And a love that is detached lets the person become free, lets them be themselves, helps them to find their true being. And that is true love. And Jesus came to teach us that kind of love. So we all need to seek that love, which is also detachment. Jesus sends out his disciples to preach and to heal, and he gives them these instructions. And he says, take nothing for your journey, no staff, no bed, no bread, no money, and do not have two tunics. And for most people today, this is extremely remote, they can't even imagine it. But here in India, this has been a norm for hundreds of years, and thousands


of years. And still today, it's fairly normal. The sannyasi precisely goes about with none of these things. He normally has, he doesn't take a staff, and some do have a staff, nor a bed, nor bread, nor money, and doesn't even have two tunics. It's quite common to have simply one shawl and one dhoti, and just wash it and feel it whenever necessary. And so this can be taken absolutely literally in India. And I think it's important, there should be a model like that. As I say, for the vast majority of people, the vast majority of apostles for that matter, it's not possible in most of Europe and America. It's not possible at all because of the climate. And therefore, it has to be adjusted and adapted, obviously. And behind it is this radical detachment, you see. It's not simply that to follow these


precise prescriptions, that's not the essential thing. It's this radical detachment from possessions, from money, from all these material needs. And that is possible for everybody who could be living in quite a luxurious style, and yet be really detached from it, not attached at all. And on the other hand, you could be living in great poverty and be extremely attached to everything. I've known sannyasis like that, who really renounced and they have their one goatee and so on, and they go from place to place, but they're terribly attached to their food. I remember one who came here once, and he said he just wanted a little milk, a little bread, and total simplicity. But unfortunately, one day the cows didn't produce the milk, and the brother went along to tell him there was no milk. And he got into a furious rage. He said, no milk? What do you think? How can I go through without my milk? So you get attached to your one little thing, you see. And on the


other hand, as I say, you can have quite a lot of things and yet be really detached among them. So the lesson for everybody is this radical detachment, but also I do feel there should be some who manifest it literally, where it is possible. And in India we've always had this tradition, sometimes a sannyasi lives in a cave. And there are many today living in caves. Somebody was telling me just recently of a sannyasi they met up in the Himalayas in Gangotri, right up in the mountains in the snow, and living in a cave there with a dhoti and a bare minimum, and just a bare minimum of food, and meditating the whole time. His guru would come to him occasionally. But that is possible, you see. And there should be some models like that, people who live with total simplicity. So I think we all have to find what is our calling, and some are called to live in comparative


luxury. If you're teaching in a college or something like that, you have to have a standard of life there. And on the other hand, if you're working in a village, you're going to live with very great simplicity. And there's no reason why we shouldn't live the standard of life of the villagers. But even the villagers live in a better style of life than a true sannyasi, and so there should be also the model of sannyasa. So we all need to reflect what is our calling, and how to be radically detached from whatever situation we are in. There's a strange story, which we get also when Jesus asks Peter, who do men say that I am? Some say you are Elijah, some are the prophets. And we find it a little strange with a very strong sense of human individuality today, which for us is a separate being, and we don't see any real connection. But the ancient people always had a much less sense,


a more sense of solidarity, of oneness. Primitive people as a whole feel much more their membership of a tribe. The individual often counts for very little. And so they had no difficulty in believing that the dead came back. Jews had this idea that Elijah would return, and others liked that John the Baptist could be raised from the dead, appear in another form. And of course in India we have this long tradition of reincarnation, of transmigration, go from body to body. And it's not easy to understand. I think we have to have two things in mind. One is that there is a distinct individuality in each person, and the other is that we all are members of one another. We're not just isolated, separated individuals. And the modern sense is really illusory that we're all isolated, separate beings. And perhaps one can see it


a little in the sense of this body, soul and spirit, the human being as body. And in bodies obviously we're all separated, each has a separate body. When it comes to the soul, we're much less separated. We all share in many things, particularly as I was saying, a tribe of people and a clan, a family, feel this very close connection with one another. And we do all share, we have the same inheritance very often. And so there is a certain community in the soul, but still souls remain distinct in many ways. And then we come to the level of the spirit, and that is much more profound. That's our deepest level of being. And at that level there is a much more profound unity. In the very deep center is only one spirit of all humanity. And with regard to reincarnation, a very striking saying of Shankaracharya, the Lord is the only transmigrator. The one Lord, the one spirit is manifest in all humanity


from birth to birth. That's a very deep idea, that there is one spirit in all humanity, a separate body, separate souls, but the spirit unites us all. And we're all one in that spirit. And the purpose of the incarnation was to restore people to that unity in the spirit. One body, one spirit, the author of one hope of our calling. And perhaps today we need to recover that sense of human solidarity. Humanity is one, and it gets divided because of our divided minds, we are all separated. But when we go beyond the mind, which is always dualistic, to the deeper level of the spirit, we begin to realize this unity. And Jesus, you see, himself realized that unity of humanity in himself. He realized that all humanity is one. So the deep sense in which he was John the Baptist, he was Elijah, he was Moses,


all these things come to a head in him. So we need, I think, to keep the two. There is a distinct individuality which is important. We all have our own way. We have to fulfill ourselves in a unique way. God manifests himself uniquely in each person. And yet, beyond those differences of individuality, of body and soul, there is a deep unity of spirit. And the unity of spirit doesn't abolish differences. People often think once you get this spirit, then all differences disappear. It's a sort of blank unity. But it's not. The unity of the spirit is a profound, organic unity. It brings all things together in one, and yet doesn't simply dissolve them into a blank unity, an identity. So there is a unity in difference. We're all different, and yet we're all one. And it's a mystery. And when you come to the spirit, it's beyond the mind, you see, so we can't speak of it properly. And it's very difficult for us. Either we have to say we're all different, and each


one, we have a resurrection of the body, and we're all separate again. Or you tend to say all differences disappear, we're all one. But the truth is, we're one in difference, and there's a differentiated unity. And the body of Christ, the ultimate state of humanity, is a unity in difference, a differentiated unity. Just as in the Godhead itself, there is unity in difference. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are one God, one spirit, one being, and yet they are distinct. There is a differentiation in the unity. So it's a great mystery, and I say no words are adequate to it, but you've got to keep the two aspects in mind, not to sort of simply dissolve all into a simple identity, or to keep everything simply separate. But somehow there is unity in difference, a differentiated unity. The question is made, as Peter said, you are the Christ, or the Christ is God, and of course


he's the Messiah. Christ is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Messiah, the Anointed One. And when you've said that, you've still left a great mystery. I think we often imagine that we know who Christ is, who Jesus is. And some people say Jesus is God, and then they imagine that they know who Jesus is. But God is a total mystery. St. Thomas Aquinas said that God in himself is omninoid notus, absolutely unknown. People talk about God as though they know his creator, all this thing. These are human terms, human language, speaking of something that is totally beyond our comprehension. So the first thing is to realize we're in the presence of a mystery. God is this unfathomable mystery in which, through which we live. And that mystery comes through to us in Jesus in various ways, various terms. He's the Messiah, he's the Son, he's the Image, he's the Word. These are all human terms by which this mystery


is communicated. And it's always under availed. We never see it fully. It comes to us, and it comes to each one differently. And that is where prayer comes in. You see, you only discern what is meant by saying that Jesus is the Christ. You only learn it in prayer. It's only when you go beyond your ordinary intelligence, open yourself to the Spirit, that you discern the mystery, you discover something that is hidden mystery. I think we all need this so much. You see, there's so much religion which is simply on the surface. People talk all the time, and they think they know what they're talking about when they talk about God or about Christ, but they don't know what they're talking about because these are great, unfathomable mysteries, and to pretend that you know them is sheer delusion. And so we all have to have a little humility, realize how little we know, and that all knowledge comes not through human understanding, though it has its place, but through prayer, through this openness to the Spirit of God within. And then the mystery reveals itself, we discern


what it proves. So we all have to ask, you see, who is this Christ? Some say he's Elijah, some say he's John the Baptist, some say he's one of the prophets, and we may say he's the Messiah, the Christ, or the Son of God, or God, but we're all using words, none of which is adequate, and which point to something beyond our comprehension. And we all have to be looking towards that unfathomable mystery in which we're living, and which is drawing us to itself, revealing itself in different ways, all of them inadequate, but manifested in some way, and we're all in search to discover that little mystery. And in India we call that mystery the Brahman. The Brahman is the unfathomable mystery, and in China they call it the Tao. Tao is the unfathomable mystery, and a Tao which can be named is not the eternal Tao. You can't name this mystery. And the Buddha, perhaps, was more understanding than anybody, he refused to name it. He called it Nirvana, and the later followers called


it the Void, Sunyata. So we're all in the presence of this mystery, and it comes through to us in these various ways, and we're all trying to discern it, and we discern it in prayer. It's not by talking, or even by thinking at that place, but in prayer we go beyond words and beyond thoughts, we enter into the mystery, and then it begins to reveal itself, and that is the only true knowledge, which comes through unknowing. We know by knowing is one way, but it's a known by unknowing, and we go beyond ordinary knowledge and discover the mystery in ourselves. So we have to ask for that grace of this beautiful God to go beyond oneself and discover the hidden mystery, which is God, which is Christ, which is this love, which is being revealed to us. This possibly raises this paradox, which comes again and again in the New Testament, that


the righteous people, the religious people, rejected Jesus, and the harlots and the tax collectors, the outcasts of society, accepted him to a great extent, and were always faced with this problem of religion. Many people, vast number, reject religion today, very largely for that reason, because religious people are the people who they God calls them and say, I'm coming, and they don't go, they accept religion in theory, and in practice they don't follow it, and that brings religion into contempt. And then there are other people who won't have anything to do with it, but actually their lives correspond, we all know how frequent it is, maybe an atheist, a communist, whatever, and they may be living a very dedicated life, and the religious person may be living a very undedicated life. So we're always faced with that paradox, and of course the answer is not simply to reject religion as anything,


but how to make religion really meaningful, and we're always faced with this paradox with religion, that it's not easy to live out religion authentically, and perhaps the root of the problem is this, you see, that the essence of sin is self-centeredness, self-love, complacency, self-interest, all that is the essence of sin. And unfortunately, if you're religious and trying to live a good life, you're always in danger of being complacent, being self-centered, thinking that you're all right. And on the other hand, if you're one of the outcasts of society, the martyr of your life, living a bad life, you've no reason for complacency, and you're often more open to the Spirit of God. And that's the paradox, you see, and it's what happened with Jesus. The scribes and the Pharisees were the righteous people, they were really trying to live by the law of Moses, they were living a very dedicated life. The Pharisee


in the temple said, I give tithes to the poor, and I fast regularly and so on, I do all my duty, so God ought to reward me. And the publicans and the backs of the Lord have mercy on me, I'm a sinner. And so he went justified, not the other. So we all have to face this problem self-centeredly, you see. And a religious person can be extremely self-centered, and therefore very far from God, and the irreligious people can be very un-self-centered and very open to God. But of course, there's no need to be irreligious in order to be open to God. We have to find a way of following a religion, and trying to follow the law of righteousness, and yet be empty in ourselves. And of course, we have in the epistle, reading of Philippians, that Jesus gives that extraordinary example, and really is extraordinarily thinker, you see, he comes to reveal the perfection of man, what human life is called to, and he


comes to die, to suffer and to die. And again it's a paradox, you see, that when you surrender yourself, give up your life, you receive it, you become what you're called to be. And while you cling to yourself, cling to your life, cling to the world, you lose what you're looking for. So we all have day by day to face this paradox in religion, it's always the opposite of what it ought to be, you see, instead of religion being the way of prosperity in the world, getting on and being appreciated by everybody, Jesus shows the way of being rejected, and of losing his life. And on the other hand, when we really open ourselves to God, we may suffer, we may be rejected, but we experience something beyond this world altogether, and that is what religion has to give. It has to give an experience of God, that beyond this world there is something infinitely great and wonderful, which people


simply lose sight of, and which is open to those who are humble, who seek it with all their hearts. And that is really, each one of us, we have this call to respond to that, a call of love, you see, that is the great call, and when we respond to that, then we find what we're seeking, and that is when we totally surrender ourselves, love is self-giving, and when we surrender ourselves, we find ourselves, we find the true meaning of life. This gospel again gives us this paradox that Jesus reverses the normal standards of the world. Disciples are arguing after who shall be first, the greatest among them, which is very normal and natural, and Jesus reverses the whole understanding, and puts this child in the midst of them. And there's a very deep meaning in this, that I think what distinguishes


a child, as Jesus has in mind, the child is totally dependent, totally receptive, and our attitude towards God is to be one of total dependence, total receptivity, to be totally empty. You probably, many of you know the story of the Zen master, the disciple came to him for instruction, and they took tea together as custom, and he started pouring out the tea, and when it was full, he went on pouring, and it began to overflow, and the disciple said, Master, it's overflowing. He said, yes, I know, and I said, you're like that, you're so full, I can't put anything into you. And we're all full before God, we all create this persona, this mask, this personality, which grows up and becomes a hard crust, and hides the real self, and the real self, this image of God, is this little child in each person, which is totally open, totally receptive, totally empty, ready to receive at all times.


So we all have to rediscover the child, and the whole world is doing the opposite, you see, it's trying to make you important, to build you up, to make a personality, to get on in the world, and so on, and you form this great persona, it's a mask, a thing which you put over yourself, and you hide yourself behind it, and we all create this mask, and then to break through that, and to rediscover the child, in oneself and in others, because in every person, behind the mask, there is the hidden self, there is this self which is like a child, simply receptive, dependent, empty, ready to receive, open to the grace of God. So we ask for this grace to rediscover the child in ourself, to live from that, that inner simplicity of heart, that poverty of spirit, see, that's not the poor in spirit, for in spirit there is an empty, poor, ready to receive, and the opposite of that is for a rich, powerful, and God only wants to rest this grace, receptive to it.