In our recent Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi Tribute, we revisited the fact that it was only fifty years ago a black person couldn’t eat in the same restaurant, use the same public restrooms, or public transportation waiting rooms or seats as whites.
Today fanatics blow themselves up and innocent bystanders in the name of God, expecting thereby to earn entry to the pearly gates.
So it is no surprise that some followers, perhaps most followers of Jesus Christ and self-appointed representatives of his teachings, proclaim Jesus Christ the greatest, indeed, the only son of God!
[By the way: the placement of Jesus’ picture here on the altar at the Ananda Meditation Temple (in the middle and slightly above the others) does not signify a stature greater than any other. It’s artistic…..in fact, really, it’s the ladies who do the flowers who insist upon it! ]
In this week’s Sunday Service reading, the metaphor which Paramhansa Yogananda gives is that of the wave and the sea. No mere wave can claim to BE THE SEA. Jesus may have realized his Oneness with the Father but he himself never claimed to BE THE FATHER, as a result, thereby. He made constant reference to his doing the will of the Father in a variety of circumstances, including his healings of others. He promised to send the HOLY SPIRIT. Jesus consistently deferred and referred to a reality far greater than himself.
He promised his disciples that they would do the same things as he, greater things than this, he said. St. John in the same first chapter of his gospel (quoted in the reading) said, as we so often quote here at Ananda in accordance with Yogananda’s teachings, “That as many as received Him to them gave He the power to become the sons of God!”
In today’s quotation from the bible St. John says the “world was made by him.” So, I ask you, did Jesus Christ, the man, live in a human body BEFORE the world was created? Absurd. Elsewhere he said, “Before Abraham WAS, I AM.”
The divinity of Jesus, therefore, belongs to the ages. It supercedes its own appearance in the human being known as Jesus. To be “only begotten” (a phrase Jesus himself never used, according to the New Testament), refers to this overarching divinity which Yogananda and others call, variously, the Universal Christ Consciousness. This refers, inter alia, to the underlying divine consciousness that not only created the world (in the beginning) but lies immanent, or inherent, latent, at the heart of every atom of creation.
It is the “son” because, in terms of the Trinity, this only begotten divinity is the offspring of the Father which “is in heaven” – meaning which is “above” and transcendent of creation, untouched by creation. Just as a playwright can write the story, the hero and the villain, the buffoon, and himself be none of them, as they are but a creation of his mind, so too God the Father Transcendent, the Infinite Spirit, perfect Bliss, remains untouched.
He leaves unto the other two aspects of Himself, the Trinity, the work of creation: the Mother (a Virgin, pure and untouched by the creation which she manifests) does the housework through the holy, divine vibration (the “Word”) which underlies all differentiated manifestations; and the only-begotten son of the Father, the Christ Intelligence, hidden and unseen in the womb or center of every atom of creation gives the intelligence and the impulse (and in humans, the free will) to carry on the work of creation from within.
All great prophets come and express universal truths, clothed in the language and the metaphor of their times and their people, addressing their particular needs at a particular time. Each represents a ray of the divine and universal truth and none, like the wave, can claim to be the “final” Word.
It is the mother, this vibration to which I would like to turn today. We have here this weekend David Eby. David, a professional cellist, has dedicated his life to exploring and sharing the music of Ananda, written by our founder, Swami Kriyananda. He guides the musicians and singers of Ananda Village and elsewhere in their technique and attunement.
Music has the power to change consciousness for the fact of its vibratory power. Music is its own language and is a universal language. It uses the tools of melody, harmony, and rhythm, but its seed language is consciousness and the vibration of consciousness.
I was saying to David that when I was a teenager and listening to rock and roll, e.g. the Beatles, I usually couldn’t understand the words owing to the noise of the music. In many songs, in fact, the words are only carriers, hosts as it were, to the underlying message. I love you, yeah, yeah yeah! Gadzooks….. and yet, we may laugh, but isn’t that the basic theme of most of the world’s folk and popular music? Is not love what makes the world turn ‘round? Human or divine, debased or platonic……
Music is far more important to the upliftment (or the degradation) of consciousness than we, with our proud intellects and insistence in being guided solely by reason, are able to admit.
We can turn that to our obvious advantage. For Paramhansa Yogananda taught that “Chanting is half the battle!” A yoga pose can change our state of mind or our mood; meditation can help us transcend anxiety and fear; so, too, can chanting (aloud or mental) can raise our consciousness.
Few can practice yoga or meditation more than a small percentage of our waking hours. But everyone can at least mentally chant “half the time!” Think of it! Half the battle!
This goes also for the music of Ananda. Chanting, defined narrowly, is not always enough. Our minds crave variety (how many old Beatles songs “pop” into my head?). Our minds like to chew on the words of music and understand them. We want to dwell on their meaning, extract their practical advice, and be moved by their inspiration.
“Brave were the people” “Walk like a man” “Father, now that I wander with Thee” what wonderful melodies and meaning we have been given. “Still your mind if you want to pray” as we sing to the Egyptian goddess, Isis (as a form of Divine Mother)!
If you struggle with finding the time, overcoming the resistance, or going deep into meditation, don’t give up but add to your efforts chanting, for it is half the battle! Ananda has a collection of CD’s (also at East West Bookshop) for your IPOD, MP3 player, car, or home! Don’t wait. Soon you’ll be halfway there.
Aum, aum, aummmm.......