Since probably over 90 percent of those who will read this book are souls who have incarnated into a Christian tradition, it will be useful to see how Jesus Christ, his life and his teachings fit into the universal philosophy which we have been discussing throughout this book. We celebrate and mourn His birth, death and resurrection every year. Have, however, we understood His message? Why did He come? Why did He choose to be crucified? What was He trying to teach us? No one could ever understand the mysteries of Christ and His Divine Mission. Nor can we comprehend the totality of His message, for it can only be experienced upon the transcendence of the ego and the mind, and not with the rational mind itself. But I would like to share with you here some of my humble thoughts concerning these important parts of His life, His birth, His death and resurrection, which we celebrate yearly.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN JESUS AND THE CHRIST
Let us refer again to the example of the divine lake and the divine well which we mentioned in the previous chapter. The divine underground lake is God, or, in Christian terms, the trinity of the Father – Son – Holy Ghost. Although three names are used, they describe one being. We can call the three of them Christ. Jesus is the name which we give to the temporary form which the Christ took about two thousand years ago. Christ is the Universal Consciousness about which we have repeatedly referred to in this book. Jesus was the projection of that consciousness into physical form so that we could see it and be moved by his message. Jesus was born, crucified and resurrected. The Christ could never be born or die. It is unchanging, omnipresent consciousness. Jesus was one form of the Christ. We are all, to a lesser degree, manifestations of the Christ. Imagine that Christ is an infinitely powerful electrical energy source and that we are all light bulbs. Each of us is a slightly different light bulb. Some of us are fancy light bulbs, others simple, some white, other brown, others yellow and red. We have various names and categories written on us like Greek, American, Turkish, Russian, Christian, Hindu. Moslem, Jew, Socialist, Capitalist, Communist, male, female, young, old, etc. All these different types of light bulbs, with different names written on them, are powered by the one (and only) electric current, which we can call the Christ Consciousness. Whatever light they may be expressing, is in the final analysis, a projection of this one Christ Consciousness. We use this word Christ Consciousness in order to refer to that one consciousness which is the cause of all. St. John called it the «Logos». He also called it the Light. He also called it Love. It is the Logos, the cause of everything there is. It is the light, the life of everything there is. It is love the binding force of unity, which will create the kingdom of heaven even here on Earth. For as Christ said, «They will not say here is the kingdom of heaven or there it is. For the kingdom of heaven is within you». The Kingdom of heaven is the eventual reigning of the Christ consciousness within us. We will experience the Kingdom of God, when we allow God to make his kingdom within us. According to St. Paul we are the «temples of the living God». God, as the Christ consciousness, is living within us. It is, however, sharing that «temple» with a lot of other residents, desires, fears and activities. When these other inhabitants of the temple are gradually limited to a single room, then the rightful occupant can really move in. Returning to the light bulb analogy, each of us as a light bulb is emitting a certain wattage. The wattage available from the Christ Consciousness is unlimited. But we, as conductors, are not pure enough to transmit very much of this current and manifest it into light here on the earth plane. As we purify ourselves as conductors, then more and more wattage will be able to flow through in the form of greater peace, love, wisdom, creativity and perhaps even some of the miraculous charismatic powers which flowed through the Apostles after the Pentecost. (Although it is not suggested that one try to develop these powers.) Jesus was another type of conductor. He had no impurities, no resistance. He was pure conductor of the Christ Consciousness. He was the Christ Consciousness appearing on earth. But this does not mean that all other beings are not also projections of this Christ Consciousness. If we are one watt bulbs, Jesus was a million watt bulb and Christ is an infinite power source.
CHRIST IN OUR FELLOW MAN
Understanding this we can no longer limit Christ to the form of Jesus. The fact is that we really do not know what Jesus looked like. We have a large variety of artists’ interpretations; some golden haired (which is unlikely considering his place of birth). Others with more Arab – Jewish features, others with Black or South American features. Each culture has created Jesus in their own image. It is extremely beneficial to use the form of Jesus as a focal point for coming into contact with and worshiping the Christ. But it would be a mistake to limit the Christ Consciousness to that one form. The early church fathers realized this, and for this reason suggest in the Philokalia as does also a pilgrim monk in his book The Way of the Pilgrim that we focus on Christ as an energy – light form rather than as a physical form. Christ tried in various ways to help us realize that he was not limited by the body of Jesus. He said, «I am in you and you are in me and I am in the Father and the Father is in me». He obviously could not have been speaking about the physical body which we call Jesus. He was speaking as the Christ Consciousness which is in and around every person. It is in us. We are in it. When He spoke about the judgment day and how the Lord would say to us that we fed or didn’t feed Him, or helped or did not help Him, He was trying to give the same message. For we would ask, «But when were you in a condition requiring that I help or feed you?» His answer obviously indicates that He is in every being. He gave us the sacraments of Confession, Repentance and Holy Communion in which we symbolically take his body and blood once again into us, reestablishing that connective link, that unity with the Christ Consciousness. We need, however, to broaden our concept of Christ and love for Christ, to include humanity and love and service towards all of humanity. How do we loose this connection? We loose it when we function out of ignorance in an ego-centered manner. The Christ Consciousness is the basis of our existence. There is no other source of existence. But we are not, however, aware of this. We are not witnesses of it. We are not witnesses (martyrs) of the Truth of our unity. Thus we are Amartyrs, (Amartoloi) sinners in the sense that we act egotistically out of ignorance. Holy communion is the reestablishing of that condition of unity, after confession and repentance bring about the realization of our mistaken perception and generate real desire for change.
THE BIRTH OF CHRIST
The birth of Christ then is not limited to the birth of Jesus. The birth, crucifixion and resurrection of the Christ are daily events occurring hundreds of times each day in each of us. The Birth of Christ has to do with the birth of the Christ Consciousness within us. It has to do with the birth of wisdom, truth and love within us. It has to do with the birth of a feeling of oneness and unity with all beings. It has to do with the death (crucifixion) of the Ego and resurrection of the Christ within. Christ will be born within us when we care as much about those around us as we care about ourselves. Otherwise, although Jesus may have come and gone, Christ is still dead to us, because He has not been born within us. Thus, although we celebrate Christmas and Easter as specific times of the year, the reality is that every day can be Christmas or Easter. On the other hand we can also live a continuous Good Friday, in which the Christ Consciousness is continually crucified. Let us consider the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus the Christ and see what kinds of messages we can derive from these events.
CHRIST PLANNED TO BE CRUCIFIED
It was planned long before He descended into the earth plane. It was already written in the Old Testament that it would happen that way. He knew it would happen, mentioned it to his disciples and even pushed Judas into his role.
JOHN 14.26: Jesus answered, «I will dip some bread in the sauce and give it to him; he is the man». So he took a piece of bread, dipped it, and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered him. Jesus said to him, «Be quick about what you are doing».
It was all a divine plan designed to imprint an important archetypal symbol into the minds of men; a way of getting men to wake up; a piece of live theater to shock us out of our ignorance, our sleep.
Sai Baba, a great holy man now living in India, has said in a lecture he made on the life of Christ during Christmas of 1977. «The Divine Messengers God sends us to earth are like precious gold and diamonds. The more they are troubled, tested, accused and attacked, the more their spiritual fame spreads in the world».
Christ was determined to be crucified. He could have avoided it so many times in front of the Jewish elders and in front of Pontius Pilate. But He was purposely non cooperative, acting in exactly the way He would need to so as to leave them no choice but to kill him. How else could He prove his Godhood in such an effective way and give us so many messages simultaneously?
THE PAIN AND THE JOY
Most of us have the tendency to focus on the pain and the suffering of Christ. We have identified with it, we have cried, felt guilty. Then the joy and the ecstasy of His resurrection and victory over death and thus all the powers of life. This is useful. It is a cathartic, emotional cleansing and even a physical cleaning for those who fast during the Lenten period. It is a new beginning, an opportunity to start all over again, to forget the past way of life; to live more spiritually, more in harmony with His teachings. Unfortunately this often does not last long. It is all happening on the emotional level. Lots of enthusiasm and self-promises but little wisdom or self-control. Perhaps it is time to go beyond the pain and the joy of this event and try to penetrate some of the deeper messages which we can apply in our daily lives. We can experience the emotional cleansing, but then also go beyond it, use it as a propelling force towards deeper thought and more firm conviction in the application of the spiritual truths which we already know. There are so many lessons which we can learn from the crucifixion and the resurrection of Christ. Let us examine some of them which come to my mind. Surely there are many more.
THE LESSON OF SURRENDER, DEVOTION AND LOVE
We are told that surrender, devotion and love for God is the simplest and most direct path to spiritual liberation. This is the unified agreement of almost all religions including Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. Christ gave us a living example of what true surrender, devotion and love mean in action. He was more dedicated to the Truth, to the principles of right living, to His Father, to our evolution and spiritual awakening than he was to his own body, to his own comfort, to his own life. He was willing to suffer ridicule, abuse, torture and even death rather than not stand up for that which he loved and was dedicated to. The spiritual path is often full of such trials. People are afraid of change, of growth. Their insecurity drives them to panic and even violence towards anyone who tries to elevate their consciousness ie. Socrates, Gandhi, Martin Luther King. Thus the message here is, don’t be small. Be full of courage. Do not be afraid to stand up for that which you believe. It is better to suffer abuse than to give up our connection with the truth which we know in our hearts. We tend to be so weak, so afraid, so spineless, so easily changing our opinion, hiding the truth of our feelings and beliefs in the face of resistance, ridicule or rejection.
THE POWER WITHIN US
With His example, Christ gave us the message that there is a great power within us and that we can do wonders. We must believe in ourselves, in God. With that faith we can move mountains or even conquer death. One may wonder whether that power is God’s or ours. What’s the difference. Where is God? Inside us. We are the temples of the living God. His power resides within us. It is His. But our lesson is to use it properly in harmony with the Divine Plan, so as to create paradise, and not hell, here on earth. He is the power and we are the manipulators of that power, the co-creators. Until now, we are doing a pretty bad job of using that power. We have created a world with a considerable amount of pain, hurt, loneliness, violence and famine. We must find that power again within us, and use it now with its proper companion – love. Power without love, as man has used it until today, is destructive and ugly, like our cities. Power with love is creative and beautiful like nature.
THE POWER TO FORGIVE
That power then gives us the strength to stop being «small human beings», holding on to our little resentments, hurts and anger. What childishness, immaturity! Christ gave us another message with his suffering. Learn to understand. To understand what? Exactly what he said in referring to those who abused and killed him, «They know not what they do». Anyone who has studied the psychology of the human being will realize that all negative actions come out of fear, insecurity and ignorance. When people harm us with their words or actions, they are acting out of insecurity; out of a low level of consciousness. They are not capable of doing otherwise. As we grow into higher level of consciousness we will understand that, and we will forgive. He forgave even those who killed Him; and He even prayed for them. This message has failed to seep into our hearts, even though two thousand years have passed since that powerful event. We forgive not for the other’s sake but for ours. We are the ones who suffer as long as we do not forgive and forget what ever has happened. The other was simply acting on the behalf of the Divine Plan in doing what he did to us (and to Jesus). It is a test. How will we react? It is our opportunity for spiritual growth, for growing out of our small egos into the light and understanding of the soul. Jesus passed his test and showed us how it is done. How? Simple. Understand that the other is acting out of ignorance, insecurity and fear; understand also that this event is happening to us for a reason to test our wisdom, strength and love. Forgive that person. Learn what we can from the experience. Develop inner strength; forget the whole event; and love the individual. There is a great difference between suppression of negative emotions and the transcendence of them through wisdom and love. In such a case a small part of our ego must die.
DEATH OF THE EGO – RESURRECTION OF THE SOUL
The ego is the prison of the soul. The more inflated its walls, the more the soul is squeezed into inaction. Spiritual growth occurs in the same way as the process of life – birth, growth, decay, death and the birth of something new. If the old trees in the forest do not die, then the new ones cannot grow. If we do not remove the old, worn out, useless parts of our bushes and roses, then new buds cannot spring forth into life. Unless the old habits and programming of the ego die, bit by bit, then the latent spiritual qualities and powers within us cannot have space to blossom forth. It is not necessary for us to pass through a physical crucifixion. Through continual self-analysis and spiritual effort we can let old parts of ourselves, ie. fears, attachments, desires, habits, which have lost their usefulness, to drop off; just as the fruit drops off the tree leaving the energy to now be directed to new buds and flowers. As He said, «Until a man die and be born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven».
WE CRUCIFY HIM EVERY DAY THOUSANDS OF TIMES
Why do we mourn so much for His death? Because we crucify Him every day so many times. Who, or what, is the Christ? Christ is not a man who lived two thousand years ago. He is the power of spirit, life, God, which lives in us today. He is the Christ Consciousness, which lives in every being everywhere, including the animals and plants. He told this to us over and over. But it is not yet possible for us to understand this, because we have not reached the stage of our evolution where we can feel or experience this Christ Consciousness in ourselves – so how can we see it in others. Thus we crucify the Christ Consciousness every day in thousands of ways, every time we choose matter over spirit, safety over the truth, comfort over evolution. Every time we ignore the suffering and needs of others, when we prefer to watch TV rather than alleviate the pain, the hunger, the loneliness around us – His pain, His hunger, His loneliness. But we are still too asleep to feel it. We are anesthetized by sensual pleasures, superficial social interaction, fears, pride, greed and various other symptoms of ignorance. We are not to blame, however. It is our level of evolution, our level of spiritual maturity. But at least we can start trying to wake up and realize what we are doing. Every moment we have the choice to crucify Him or resurrect Him in our own being. We spend our money (is it really ours?) on expensive clothing, furniture, pictures for our walls, alcohol, food which we waste, simultaneously destroying our own health, or on travels to various parts of the world enjoying our luxuries and comforts, while we forget that Christ is dying of starvation in Ethiopia, Somalia and Asia. Thus we crucify our souls and resurrect our egos every day. No wonder we need tranquilizers, cigarettes and alcohol to relax. No wonder our children turn to narcotics. What have they got to believe in? We haven’t even given them the chance to meet Christ so that they can have the choice of crucifying Him or not. He was never born for them. He never existed for them, because we resurrected Him in ourselves so infrequently by really loving, giving, serving and forgiving others, or by getting free from our weaknesses, attachments, comforts. Every time we are bitter, we are bitter towards Christ. Every time we hate, we hate Christ. When we harm, we harm the body where Christ lives. We cheat, lie or abuse the temple of Christ – regardless of the other’s understanding of that or his religious beliefs. For Christ is the Universal Consciousness living in all beings, regardless of their religion, political beliefs, nationality, color, social class; and regardless of their behavior, whether they are saints or sinners. The Christ Consciousness in the Saint is awakened, in the sinner it is still dormant – asleep.
GOD IS NOT A FORM
He gave us also the message that God is not a particular form, but really a type of universal consciousness. Each of us has direct access to that divine consciousness. Christ, through His resurrection, removed the necessity of a third party in order to have contact with God. He brought God into our hearts, minds and bodies. By leaving the physical form and sending the Holy Spirit, He made it easier for us to realize this. If He remained in his physical form, it would have been more difficult to comprehend this truth, for we would have in our ignorance believed that the Christ Consciousness was limited to the body of Jesus.
JOHN 14.4. «You know the way that leads to the place where I am going».
JOHN 16.7. «But I am telling you the truth. It is better for you that I go away, because if I do not go, the Helper will not come to you. But if I do go away, then I will send him to you».
JOHN 16.13. «When, however, the spirit comes, who reveals the truth about God, He will lead you into all the truth».
This was a very important new message for the people at that time; one which can be of great use to us. God does not exist outside of ourselves in some heaven. He exists as the «Force of Life» itself, the power of nature within our own bodies and minds.
This power, this Christ Consciousness lies within us, but it is covered up by the expansiveness of our ego. Our work is simple. Have faith. Relax; begin to look into ourselves. Be silent and listen to the «small voice of God», the Holy Spirit within us. Reduce the concentration on external events of our lives. Have faith that the power of nature will provide for us, if only we harmonize ourselves with its flow – which means living for nature; living for humanity. Humanity, in its totality, is a large section of the manifestation of the universal consciousness on the physical plane. When we serve humanity, we align ourselves with this spiritual power and It will, without doubt, care for our needs. Our needs not our desires.
A TRANSFER OF RESPONSIBILITY
Some become angry with God and stop believing in such a universal power when they see how things are going in their lives and on the earth in general. Christ, with His crucifixion, resurrection, ascension and eventual sending of the Holy Spirit, transferred the responsibility for what happens in our lives, and in general on earth, to us. God came, showed Himself with His miracles and powers, with His love and His message, and then left saying in a sense, «It’s up to you. It’s in you, You have the Holy Spirit. You have a connection to God. It’s all in your hands now. Get together, pray together, work together, love one another, share everything that you have. Connect yourselves to God, through prayer and concentration, and everything will be revealed to you. Everything will be fine. I have given you all the help I can. I am the power, but you are the instruments of creation here on this earth. It’s your mess and you must clean it up». So, when we see what is happening in Ethiopia, Somalia, India, the Middle East, Iraq, Iran, San Salvador, Chili, New York, London and Athens, we have nothing to do but stop being selfish, stop being lazy, and start living our lives with a focus on service and love for others. We don’t have to go to Africa to do it. Here, all around us, there are lonely children, adults and elderly, the blind, the poor, the handicapped. There is corruption all around us which must be cleaned up. There is inertia within us which must be overcome. We can join together, help each other, share with each other, trust in each other. Or else we can continue «crucifying» Christ daily.
(Methods for concentrating on the Christ Consciousness both as the form of Jesus and as the formless Universal Consciousness are given in the book The Art of Meditation).