Saturday, February 4, 2012

Wholistic Religion

Light From Eternal Lamps–Essays On Practical Spiritual Life–by Swami Nirmalananda Giri

Wholistic Religion

"Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any [man] from that day forth ask him any more questions."1

In recent years we have heard many things described as "wholistic"–that is, dealing with the whole being. But two thousand years ago our Lord spoke of the need for wholistic religion when He cited the passage from the Torah that said: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind."2 The Greek words for "heart," "soul," and "mind" used by Saint Luke in his translation of Saint Matthew's Gospel from Aramaic were kardia, psychis, and dianoia. Kardia means both "heart" and the core of our being. Psychis means mind, but in the sense that includes the astral bodies. Dianoia means the intellect and intelligence, and encompasses the causal bodies. In other words, we must love God with the totality of our being–physical, mental, and spiritual. That is easy to say, but in our present fragmented condition, how can it be possible? We do not do anything with all of our being at present. Therefore we must find the way to unify all aspects of our existence before we can fulfil this "first and great commandment." We need to consider the things we can do for the unification of our being.

The foremost is meditation. Meditation, being simple, works for the simplification of our consciousness. Therefore we relax into the simple awareness of awareness itself to attune "all of us" to the Divine Consciousness that Itself is a perfect unity. In this way we work to restore the divine image that is the essence of our being. Meditation then works in two ways: it attunes us to divine unity, and then unifies all the levels of our existence. The Kingdom of Heaven is indeed within our reach through meditation.

It is important to keep in mind that Jesus mentions loving God totally before any mention is made of loving human beings. This is because no one truly loves another who has not first loved God. We can be attached to or infatuated with someone, but our attraction is utterly material and egoic. Love does not come into it, because God is love,3 and when we are not living in God we are not capable of love. Moreover, our feelings for one another are in constant flux. Jesus showed this in His life. The same people that shouted "Hosanna" on Sunday yelled "Crucify Him" on Friday. As Swami Yukteswar Giri often commented: "Human conduct is ever unreliable until it is anchored in the Divine." Human feelings are equally unreliable, as well. Only when we have restored the divine image in ourselves will we truly love. The acknowledgment of this pinches our egos, but we are wise if we face the truth. Those who would be loving must first love God. Then we will not love with our little finite love, but the love of God will flow through us to others. It is this transforming love that the world and its citizens need.

It is easy for religious people to fall into two traps: either becoming obsessed with external righteousness and actions, or obsessed with the psychic side of things. Both of these are destructive when there is no true love of God and our fellow human beings. This is why Jesus said that on the love of God and man "hang all the law and the prophets."

The second half of this passage deals with the nature of the Messiah. Naturally, the Hebrews considered that the Messiah would be a man like them, albeit a remarkable one. Further, he would be a descendant of David the Prophet-King. But Jesus pointed out that under divine inspiration David spoke of the Messiah as Lord–that is, Adonai, which the Hebrews used as a "cover word" for the sacred Name, Jehovah. In other words, David was saying that the Messiah would be the Supreme Lord. On the other hand, the prophecies were clear that the Messiah would be a human being. So here Jesus is indicating that He, the Messiah, was both God and man. And so are we, which is the whole purpose of His manifestation. In Christ Jesus our own Christhood is revealed.

We must maintain a careful perspective on our own dual nature. We must be very aware of our present humanity and our actual and potential divinity. If we consider ourselves as only human and therefore, without exception, mortals and sinners, we cannot possibly fulfil the purpose of Christ. For Jesus came into the world to save us from the delusions of mortality4 and sin.5 It is not correct to deny mortality or sin, for they do exist, though as delusions. Darkness is not real in itself, being the absence of light. Yet, there is such a thing as darkness. We must admit this personally. That is, we must admit our ignorance and its fruition, sin, in our own lives–more, in our own hearts. But we do not wail and weep about darkness, condemning it and ourselves, and trying to will or pray it away. Rather, we simply bring in the light and it is dispelled.

We are at the moment mortals. And no honest person denies being a sinner.6 But these are only momentary states which we need to overcome by entering into our true nature as immortal and divine. Once more, meditation is seen to be necessary, for without it the dispelling of our darkness is impossible. With it enlightenment is inevitable and we should work toward that with hope and confidence.

Just as we must not fall into the delusion of thinking we are only hopeless sinners, so we must not engage in the even worse delusion of thinking that right now we are perfect and need nothing but "our selves." For we do not know our true selves, but only our egos. If we mistake our egos for our true selves we will be hopelessly trapped in delusion. Therefore verbal affirmations and arrogance operating under the label of "self esteem" are killers, not cures.

What must we do, then, to know who we are and to manifest it? We must avail ourselves of all the means we have discussed. By meditation we will truly come to see and know who and what we really are. Therefore we must work for the perfection of our humanity in order that it may be transmuted eventually into divinity, saying with Saint John: "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is."7

"The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool."8 Until the revelation of our divinity we, too, should sit–that is, be established–on the "right hand" of God by means of the spiritual life that is "born" in meditation. The statement that our enemies shall be made our footstool is very significant. The "enemies" spoken of are those things, both external and internal, that oppose or prevent our spiritual perfection. It is interesting that these enemies are not to be destroyed or banished, but rather to be made a support for our feet. That is, through dealing with the outer obstacles we shall become stronger than we would otherwise be. And by the transmutation of the inner forces through meditation they shall become repolarized and an empowerment for good.

The final verse of this Gospel passage tells us that after Jesus had spoken so firmly about the nature of the Messiah–that is, about His own nature–no one was able to contradict Him or raise any questions.

All spiritual aspirants are plagued by questions and doubts–some are even deflected from spiritual life by them. Others are certainly troubled and hindered by them on occasion. Therefore we must eliminate such negative threats to our spiritual and mental well-being. The only sure way to do that is to experience the truth about our own Christ nature. And that is possible only through meditation.

Once we know who we are in fact and not in theory, and once we have been established in that consciousness, we shall know peace. We can expect that external forces will continue to fuss and carp–the lives of the saints demonstrate that–but if we have inner peace we can move right on without hindrance to possess fully and forever the infinite Kingdom that can know no end.

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