Lord Jesus Christ

 Saint Matthew, one of the disciples of Jesus Christ, informs us in his Gospel of the wonderful spiritual experience that Jesus had. Saint Matthew says: “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And a voice from heaven, saying, this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

  Saint Mark also reports of this wonderful spiritual experience of Jesus Christ in his Gospel in these words: “And it came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.  And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: And there came a voice from heaven, saying Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.”

  Another disciple of Jesus Christ, Saint Luke speaks of this experience of Christ thus:  “Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son: in thee I am well pleased.”

  This is an experience of descending Supreme Being into the human consciousness and it of the highest order that persons completely devoted to Divine get when Divine’s grace is there. It is impossible to describe this experience in human language, for it is beyond all normal experiences of ordinary human beings. However, over the ages attempts to describe the same for the benefit of mankind have been made by those who have had such light. Very many images and similes have been coined in their efforts of expression. One of them is an image of the descending of something like a dove from above into the receiving person’s consciousness. The peace, complete assurance in the form of an enlightenment, happiness in the form of a bliss and answer  to all questions or doubts one may entertain (before this experience), which are brought by this supreme experience are beyond the capacity of words to convey. We shall refer to historical records of some other persons who have had similar spiritual experience.

  Now, as we know, the experience of Supreme Being is not an easy thing. It takes a greatly long cycle of time on the path of creation and according to the scheme of things that is supreme secret of Nature. The period of one human life is flicker of moment in these matters and the secret scheme is unfolded over a period of time spanning very many human lives.

  From the relative point of view of the Divine working, happenings are determined beforehand and still, from the relative point of view of earthly world, things do not happen until there is determination of the highest order on the part of the individual concerned. This determination of the individual is always sought to be shattered by the fountain of evil forces, namely, Satan, Mara or Asura.

  Like Mahavira, Buddha and countless other divine people from prehistoric times to modern times, who had to combat and defeat the Evil Head, Jesus Christ was also confronted with the anti-divine and was sought to be threatened and then allured by enchanting promises. But he spurned the allurements and held fast in his determination to tread the divine path.

  Saint Matthew, the disciple of Jesus Christ, informs us how Satan tried to allure Jesus Christ in these words:  “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, it is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

 “Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, (6) And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

  “Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

  “Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

  “Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

  Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.”

  Saint Mark in his Gospel tells us that when Jesus Christ saw heaven opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove, and a voice coming from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, he was immediately driven into the wilderness. St. Mark says:  “And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.”

  Saint Luke, the disciple of Jesus Christ, describes the Satan’s demeanors against Jesus thus:  “Being (in wilderness) forty days tempted of the devil And in those days he did eat nothing; and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. And the devil, taking him ups into a high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whosoever I will give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.”

  But Jesus Christ rebuked the Satan for his threat and refused his allurement. Jesus held fast to his determination to serve the Divine and to none else.

  The whole creation is divided into two opposite elements: the forces that serve Divine and the forces that serve all that that is opposed to Divine. On the path of communion with Divine, the march is not easy. It is climbing up. It is struggle with oneself also. There are elements with us also that serve the anti-Divine. In the steep climbing there is struggle all around: within oneself and struggle with the forces of anti-Divine that are there outside in the world. There are allurements, if these measures fail, and then there are threats; and threats of all sorts. In this path of onward journey there is only one protection: protection provided by Divine. Nothing else works here. This protection is provided to those who surrender to Divine. And, this exercise calls for complete sincerity on our part. This is the secret and this is the key. Throughout the history of spiritual development of mankind, or the evolution of her consciousness, we consistently find this secret and key in operation. It has been with Lord Jesus Christ, it has been so with Lord Buddha, it has been so with all other pioneers of mankind’s civilization.

  When an individual is opened up to Divine and comes into His communion, he no more remains fixed with the frame of reference of human being; he no longer sees things from the point of view of human beings. He, then, knows the secret of all secrets; he knows what human being knows and also that which the human being does not know and, till he remains what he is, cannot know.

  The greatest problem confronting a human being who has got communion with Divine is this: he knows the secret of secrets; he has compassion on those who do not know; he is moved by that compassion to inform that secret to all those who are ignorant of the same and  need to know it. But he is put to the task of finding the suitable means to convey the secret, the message. It simply cannot be conveyed through mere language. Then, Divine visionaries, prophets, seers and sages try to communicate the message through examples, parables, paradoxes, personal conduct and the story of their own life. We find so in the case Lord Jesus Christ also.

    Saint Matthew informs us of Lord Jesus having said thus:  “All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spoke he not unto them.”

   He further says thus:   “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying. I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundations of the world. Matthew And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not: and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.”

  Lord Jesus Christ was in with communion with Divine and he always spoke as a person of authority who himself had seen the reality and knew the secret of secrets. He spoke as he was commanded to speak by Divine.

  Saint Matthew speaks of the Lord thus:  “And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astounded at his doctrine; For he taught them as having authority, and not as the scribes.”

  A human being in body and flesh has several limitations and constraints; he is not only limited in knowledge of things around him but he is rigidly stationed in a specific time-frame. He lives and acts with the events and circumstances that are placed readymade before him.

  He has no escape from this severe limitation. And, even an individual who has communion with Divine, though living in the knowledge of infinite and the secret of secrets, is made to accept by Divine the limitation of dealing with the events, personalities and circumstances of his particular times. Though such person knows the purpose and fate of his life, he knowingly and willingly completes his part of the cosmic play.

  Things in our mysterious universe are predetermined in their nature in the ultimate analysis, and yet they do not seem to us to happen that way. Though the unfolding of universe is a cosmic play, of which plot and theme are made out beforehand by Divine left only to be acted upon, nonetheless this play has to be acted upon by its actors with all the seriousness that could be there. The only difference here is that the ignorant ordinary human being (and all life) conducts his part knowingly and the prophet conducts his part with full knowledge. Lord Jesus Christ, the prophet of mankind, spoke of the eternal truth and the words in which this eternal truth was conveyed thus: “Matthew: Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”

  Given the hard facts that the contents and nature of the message that prophets intend to communicate to the ordinary and ignorant laymen are the secret foundations of universe and that this subject for its conveyance to public admits only a language couched in parables and indirect indications, the task of prophets becomes doubly difficult.

  On the one hand, they are constrained to employ  parables  and examples to make things clear and unambiguous, on the other they have no alternative but to use contemporary circumstances, events and personalities, even though they the message they convey in this manner is immortal and applicable to all times that are yet to come and that have passed.

  For the ignorant and ordinary people who live in the times of a prophet, and therefore are aware of the context of the peculiar circumstances then prevailing, it may not be too difficult to grasp the inner truth of the message. But it is not so simple for the people in later ages.

  These succeeding generations find themselves placed in distance not only of time but of circumstances and contexts. These later generations of people are apt by natural human tendency to take those words that were used thousands of years ago and in different circumstances in their literal sense. The depth of the intent sought to be conveyed by symbolic parables is rendered shallow by over simplification.

  The profoundness of the message is reduced to mere scripture. It is natural thing. It is the effect of time that is eternal on the message that is eternal.

  However, despite the ill effects of time, there still remain in the utterances made and the parables used ages ago by prophets golden keys that are capable of opening the gates of secret treasures once indicated by them. These keys are preserved intact in the parables and examples used in the language and serve as the sustaining and life giving force of the prophetic message.

  Let us try to locate these golden keys in the words of Lord Jesus Christ.

   Saint Matthew says thus: “At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them. And said, Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. The field is the world; the good seed are children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one…”

  A child possesses by nature certain positively precious virtues that make him childlike. And, these virtues are acknowledged the foundations of civilization of mankind. To become childlike, a grown up person has to unlearn many things that he or she has learnt over the growing years. Lord Jesus Christ summons a child and put him in the midst of his disciples and tell them to be like him, to be like child. To properly understand the secret of this commandment, we have to appreciate two aspects of this teaching. Firstly, what virtues are there in a child, which are not found in the grown up persons and the grown up disciples are told to learn once again from child; and secondly, what is the utility and purpose of acquiring once again these virtues by tedious practice and learning.

  How old a child should be to serve the example, an infant, a child of 5 or 6 years of age or an adolescent boy? What is the guiding star to find the answer?

  There are certain virtues that are ingrained by nature in child with his or her birth and which go on eroding in child with his growth over the years. And, modern times, these virtues are systematically sought to be eroded by our education. It is really very difficult to unlearn the things that we have learnt over the years and to learn once again the things that are childlike.

  A child, not only of human beings but even a young one of animals to a great extent, is sincere in his or her approach. There is no trace of deceit in his behavior. What he or she says, he or she means it. Sincerity is the first virtue that a child possesses and grownups are made by surroundings to unlearn and substitute with deceit.

  On the path of evolutionary ascent of consciousness, or in spiritual matters, sincerity is the first requirement. Without sincerity in full measure, spiritual awakening is unthinkable. Without this virtue, all pretensions of spirituality are farce, all preaching is deceit and all claims are the service of anti-Divine.

  When Lord Jesus Christ uttered the following words, he meant this virtue of sincerity:  “Matthew: Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men…. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. After this manner therefore pray ye…. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.”

  The second virtue that a child possesses is that of surrender of his care and well-being to his or her parents or guardians. A child is dependent on the support offered to him or her by the guardians and there is not an iota of rebellion on his or her part against the command of the guardian.

  In evolutionary journey of human consciousness towards Divine, there is second requirement, rather imperative of the first category, of complete surrender to Divine care and protection. Just like you make an experiment in material science and get the confirmation of the supposed result (hypothesis), one can make an experiment here in this field. You be complete sincere in your efforts and then surrender to Divine with the complete sincerity (like a child does to his parents) and then compare the results of your experiment.

  You will find miracles take place; things happen that science cannot explain; you may try to explain by bringing an element of chance. But then go on repeating your experiments and get the miraculous results, till all scope of explanation by chance is eliminated. Thirdly, a child does not have many thoughts. His mind is not yet developed and mature. There are not his thoughts to intervene and oppose his sincerity and surrender. He has faith in his parents. These thoughts in grown up persons have very great authority in all matters. They come uninvited when we are called upon to be sincere, bear faith and surrender to Divine and oppose these foolish acts; they reason: it is illogical; it cannot bear fruit; the very idea of sincerity or faith or surrender is ridiculous! It is a conspiracy to dull our personality, these thoughts assert. But let one be wise.

  You should make an experiment and verify the result yourself. Uttering of Lord Jesus Christ is not vain speaking in this respect. Happenings that are deemed impossible by reason may occur even in modern times also as they happened during the life of Lord Jesus Christ, as attested by Matthew, when he says thus: “And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is spirit; and they cried out of fear. But straightaway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”

  But can you overrule the objections of your thoughts, tell them to wait and embark on the path of experiment? It is really difficult to unlearn many things and become childlike. Lord Jesus Christ had taught this secret to mankind ages ago, when he said:  “Matthew: Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done (……) to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.”

  Why should a person be sincere, bear faith or surrender to divine? Why should he or she toil to unlearn things that he or she has learnt with great efforts and labor over the growing years? Why should he or she become childlike?

  We are not concerned here with the people who do not want to proceed further and go ahead. We are not concerned here with the people who are self-content with the present state of their existence.

  We are concerned with those who, though having everything that the world can offer them, feel that there is something lacking in life. We are concerned with them who toil tirelessly in their life, get what they wanted and then realize that all these rewards of hard work are not that satisfying as they had expected, that they would be made to leave the world still unsatisfied and without possession of these hard earned rewards. We are concerned here with evolution; moving ahead and ascending towards a plane of consciousness that is higher than what human beings presently possess.

Early Christians’ spirit of true faith:

  Historian Edward Gibbon remarks a very interesting aspect of the life of early Disciples of Christ (that is, a few hundred years after his death) that has an important spiritual significance. It was their freedom from verbal fundamentalism and sincerity of heart. Gibbon informs us thus:  “The ancient Christians were animated by contempt for their present existence, and by a just confidence of immortality, of which the doubtful and imperfect faith of modern ages cannot give us any adequate notion. … It was universally believed that the end of the world and the kingdom of Heaven were at hand. The near approach of the wonderful event had been predicted by the apostles, the tradition of it was preserved by their earliest disciples, and those who understood in their literal sense the discourses of Christ himself were obliged to expect the second and glorious coming of the Son of Man in the clouds, before the generation was totally extinguished, which had beheld his humble condition upon earth, and which might still be witness of the calamities of the Jews under Vespasian or Hadrian… The doctrine of Christ’s reign upon earth was at first treated as a profound allegory, was considered by degrees as a doubtful and useless opinion, and was at length rejected as the absurd invention of heresy and fanaticism. A mysterious prophecy, which still forms a part of the sacred canon, but which was thought to favor the exploded sentiment, has very narrowly escaped the proscription of the church.”

  He continues:  “The divine inspiration, whether it was conveyed in the form of a waking or of a sleeping vision, is described as a favor very liberally bestowed on all ranks of the faithful, on a women as on elders, on boys as well as upon bishops. When their devout minds were sufficiently prepared by a course of prayer, of fasting, and of vigils, to receive the extraordinary impulse, they were transported out of their senses, and delivered in ecstasy what was inspired, being more organs of the Holy Spirit, just as a pipe or flute is of him who blows into it. “.”

  Gibbon very rightly notices that the earliest Disciples of Christ had more devotion of heart (that is of the real worth in spiritual attainments) than skill of mind (that may make the faith look and appear more reasonable or acceptable). He says:  “It is very honorable circumstances for the morals of the primitive Christians, that even their faults, or rather errors, were derived from an excess of virtue. The bishops and doctors of the church, whose evidence attests, and whose authority might influence, the professions, the principles, and even the practice of their contemporaries, had studied the Scriptures with less skill than devotion; and they often received in the most literal sense those rigid precepts of Christ and the apostles to which the prudence of succeeding commentators has applied a looser and more figurative mode of interpretation. Ambitious to exalt the perfection of the Gospel above the wisdom of philosophy, the zealous  and of patience, to a height that it is scarcely possible to fathers have carried the duties of self-mortification, of purity, attain, and much less to preserve, in our present state of weakness and corruption.”

  A true devotee of Christ at that early period knew the value of controlling his sensual tendencies and desires in the matter of realization of divine Light and he tried to gain mastery over them. Gibbon states his keen observation in this regard thus:  “The first sensation of pleasure was marked as the first moment of their abuse. The unfeeling candidate for Heaven was instructed not only to resist the grosser allurements of the taste or smell, but also even to shut his ears against the profane harmony of sounds, and to view with indifference the most finished productions of human art. Gay apparel, magnificent houses, and elegant furniture were supposed to unite the double guilt of pride and of sensuality: a simple and mortified appearance was more suitable to the Christian who was certain of his sin and doubtful of his salvation.”

  The true followers of Christ, at that puritan period of early Christianity, knew well that the desires of human beings distract them from the path of divine pursuit. These Christians, much unlike of today, ranked the celibacy at the highest in the order of virtues. Gibbon takes notice of this conviction of early Christians when he says: “The chaste severity of the fathers, in whatever related to the commerce of the two sexes, flowed from the same principle; their abhorrence of every enjoyment which might gratify the sensual, and degrade the spiritual, nature of man. … It was their unanimous sentiment that a first marriage was adequate to all the purposes of nature and of society. The sensual connection was refined into a resemblance of the mystic union of Christ with his church, and was pronounced to be indissoluble either by divorce or by death. The practice of second nuptials was branded with the name of a legal adultery; and the persons who were guilty of so scandalous an offence against Christian purity were soon excluded from the honors, and even from the alms, of the church. Since desire was imputed as a crime, and marriage was tolerated as a defect, it was consistent with the same principle to consider a state of celibacy as the nearest approach to the divine perfection.”

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  1. Trackback: To a Christian friend Prasanth: In reply to his comment | Indian People's Congress

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