Friday, December 20, 2013

Will the Real Christ Please Come to Christmas this Year!

A door that leads to the outside also leads to the inside. A cup is said to be either half empty or half full. Both are true, but one may be more useful than the other.If you are trying to get outside the house, the fact that the door goes outside is keenly of interest to you. If you are dying of thirst, the half cup of water is earnestly appreciated.

The famous interchange in the New Testament that begins with Jesus asking his disciples, "Who do men say I am," is like that door or that cup. Most people, whether during Jesus' life or down through the centuries, see only the man Jesus, who lived in a particular time, said specific things, and lived in Palestine under Roman occupation. Others see his form, his words, and his actions as doorways to divinity itself. I would go further and say, as I have often said, that the answer to Jesus' question to his disciples is the same for him as it is for you or me. The one disciple who answered Jesus' question correctly was, as you probably know, Peter who said, "Thou art the Christ, son of the living God."

The Hindu "bible," the Bhagavad Gita, is a conversation between Lord Krishna (the Hindu equivalent of Jesus), and Arjuna (Krishna's Peter). In both scriptural conversations ("Who do men say I am?") and the Bhagavad Gita, the master (the guru: Jesus, or Krishna) reveals his divine nature as "one with the Spirit (Father)."

The incarnate form of divinity is like that door or that cup of water. As it is Christmas, we'll stick now to the subject of Jesus. Jesus, you, and I, and metaphysically speaking, every atom of creation, are what I say, tongue-in-cheek, "bi-polar." We have a dual nature. (In fact, like the Trinity, we have a triune nature, but let's hold that thought for now.)

While Christians may insist that Jesus' claim was an exclusive one, a careful and intuitive reading of the New Testament reveals this cannot be so. For example, St. John's gospel in Chapter 1 asserts that "As many as received Him gave he the power to become the sons of God." (Note "sons" is plural.) Jesus told his disciples "these things I do (miracles etc.), greater things will you do."

For the human soul to aspire to know God directly, as a Spirit -- infinite, omnipresent, omniscient, all-pervading etc. etc. -- is a tall order. How can you love or even approach something so abstract, so beyond human comprehension? By seeing God, God-consciousness, God's goodness, wisdom, love and so on incarnate in a human being we can relate more meaningfully. Nor does such a fact demean either us or God, for the very universe itself is a manifestation of God's intention, consciousness, and goodness. Yet form (whether subtle such as various forms of energy or gross such a physical objects and human bodies), the universe also cloaks that divinity.

The world, including our bodies and acquired personality traits, dutiful activities, and desires, is both a doorway into and toward the hidden divinity, and, a door that keeps us outside and apart from that divinity. Well meaning adherents or disciples of a great teacher all too often miss the point, mistaking the form of their guru (his appearance, his words, his actions) as the essence and that essence as to be distinguished from all other forms, teachers, teachings and so on. Only true and wise disciples see through the form to the divinity which animates the form and in that broad perspective recognize the divinity in other forms, other great teachers, and, indeed, in all people and all creation.

Is Jesus Christ, however, the "only" begotten son of God? Is he somehow qualitatively different than Krishna, Buddha, and others? Is Jesus Christ, or Krishna, or Buddha direct incarnations of God: God taking on human form?

God has already taken human form in you and I! And, in all creation. This has already happened, in other words. The only greater thing that can happen is for those forms to become self-aware of that divine nature, to become as Paramhansa Yogananda and others have described it, Self-realized in our divine nature. This doesn't deny or reject our form (our human form and nature); rather, it elevates and ennobles the human body and persona to true goodness and godlike qualities.

Jesus announced that "I and my Father are One!" For this alleged blasphemy he was killed by the religious authorities for whom such a claim was the ultimate threat to their privileged lives and positions. Yet he had a body and, one presumes and can sense from reading his words and considering his actions, a personality of his very own.

Thus Paramhansa Yogananda (author of Autobiography of a Yogi), whose own followers including me, believe that he was also "one with the Father," taught that when the soul, after countless incarnations, at last achieves Self-realization, the soul retains characteristically unique traits which, in order to be incarnate at all, are both necessary and part and parcel, eternally, of the soul's Being. Oneness, in other words, does not destroy or sublimate the soul into some amorphous mass consciousness. The soul can plunge into God, swimming in Infinity, but is not destroyed and may, if called upon by other souls (not yet free in God) seeking spiritual enlightenment through the vehicle of that soul and the deep bond between them, reemerge with its unique traits as yet intact. This free soul may take physical form (then becoming an "avatar") or appear in vision, or render assistance through thought-inspirations. In this way devotees have prayed to their respective gurus for many centuries after the guru's human incarnation. In so doing, they have been uplifted, taught, and received true communion with God.

Our nature, then, is divinity in form and therefore dual (or as I like put it, "bi-polar"). But it is also triune because the bridge between these two is the vibration of God from which all forms manifest. God beyond and untouched by creation (as "the Father"), vibrates His consciousness with intention, intelligence, and love in order to "boot-up" or initialize creation. All things in form are moving on the atomic, sub-atomic, chemical and electrical levels, if not in outward appearances (think rocks or minerals). The intelligence of a star, a tree, or a human is hidden because intelligence is "no thing." But the evidence of its intelligence is the form and its functions (including self-perpetuation) that clothes (even as it cloaks) that intelligence. Trees look like trees; chickens, chickens, and so on.

This vibratory energy of creation has many names. It is chanted as Aum, Amen, Amin, Hum, or Ahunavar. It is called the Holy Ghost or the Divine Mother because being holy, pure, a virgin it is the "stem cell" vibration underlying and out which all things become differentiated and take separate form.

The divine intelligence or nature that exists in creation is the only begotten and true son of God. Like a true human son, this intelligence reflects the image of its father, having the intention and attributes of divinity, at least in latent potential. Jesus was the Christ, or anointed one, because he had realized his divinity both within his form and beyond his form in the Father. We all are Christs but we, by contrast, have not yet realized that and cannot yet demonstrate mastery over life and death itself, as Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, and Yogananda demonstrated to close disciples.

Yogananda called his mission to the world the Second Coming of Christ not because he claimed to be Jesus but because the second coming takes place in the birth of the Christ child of divine consciousness in our own heart and mind and soul.

So, will the real Christ come to Christmas? That depends on you! "Tat twam asi." "Thou art That," it says in the scriptures of India. This is who we should say we are! Who am I? I am the Christ, the son of the living God! (Then behave accordingly!) Be careful, however, for he who says he is, isn't. He who says he isn't, isn't. He who knows, knows. One should not boast nor say "I am God." Rather, "God has become this form."

With the blessings of the great ones of self-mastery, we can be guided to Self-realization. Attune yourself to them. Study their lives, teachings, and actions, and make them your own. Walk like St. Francis in the footsteps of the master and He will help you to be free as He is Now.

Meditate daily, serve selflessly, endure hardship and difficulties with equanimity and cheerfulness, and watch and wait, for, "like a thief in the night, He will come!

Christmas blessings to all, and to all, a good night!

Swami Hrimananda aka Hriman