Why I Am Not Only a Christian
Let's start with what is it to be Christian anyway? Who says? Is it to accept Jesus of Galilee as your personal Sign of God? Is it to understand and see Jesus Christ as the very Appearance of the "Heavenly Father" or Divine Person? Is it to be a devotee of the Incarnation of the Radiant Divine -- with the Messiah from the Jews as that One?
The name "Jesus" is a misspelling and mispronunciation that resulted from the translation of Yeshua's name after his death, first into the Greek Iesous (pronounced "ee-ay-SUS"), and then from the Greek Iesous into the Latin Iesus. The Latin Iesus ("ee-ay-SUS") wasn't pronounced as "Jesus" with a "J" because the letter "j" didn't come into the English language until the middle of the seventeenth century. The King James Bible, written at the beginning of the seventeenth century, has the name Iesous ("ee-ay-sus"), with no "j." So even in English, no one spoke the name "Jesus" until sometime after the middle of the seventeenth century.
"Christ" is also Greek, meaning "anointed". Many theologians propose that this means receiving the spirit baptism of God -- wherein one floats in divinity, drinks the holy nectar of free feeling, and resonates to the vibrance of self-transcending love. Joshua, the Anointed, full of spirit baptism, overflowing with love of the divine nature, condition, and substance of even this world, demonstrated ecstatic sacrifice, divine communion, yogic powers, and identity with the very divine. Or so it seems from the reports. Likewise, it appears that Joshua of Galilee was not only anointed with spirit, but also anointed others with spiritual force -- a force conveyed by his actions, words, and mere presence. If "Christian" refers to being anointed by the spirit force of God and celebrating the nectar of freely feeling, then I pray I am Christian.
Jesus the Christ certainly demonstrated to the Middle East and the West the efficacy and power of the ancient way of "Sat-sang" -- conscious relationship with the Divine Person. Through the heart-immediacy of the personal relationship with the Divine Person, the divine Condition of the world, thought and self is quickly found to be already the case. The kingdom of God is ready for you. Will you give your heart to the Person of Love?
By these accounts, I am a Christian. I love the very person of God, personally. My love for the Master of the Christians overflows in my core and baptises my heart. He gave mercy to humankind and extended the most intimate love from family and friends through community and province to everyone, Jew or Gentile, enemy and all. If to stand in awe of his great demonstration constitutes what it is to be "Christian", then count me in.
If helping the weak, turning the other cheek, and loving your neighbor via dedicated loving of our very divine nature are examples of the teachings of Jesus of Galilee, then you can say that I am of Christian sympathy. If making a commitment of turning from seeing this world as matter, flesh, and others (and acting like matter and body and others are things to be managed) to seeing the world, body, and others as spirit or energy (and intermeshing with them) typifies the "Christian understanding", then I join the chorus of the Pentecost and Einsteinians.
In the Way of Satsang, bowing to a master is not a mythic understanding of a psychological or neurological process, it is not mere membership in a magical club of grown-up children. Real religion is not about belief or membership. It is to learn the arts, graces, and skills of self-transcendence that empower our intimacy with others, the natural world, and our divine condition and Ground of Being. Every trade and art has its masters, and (to state the obvious) to learn from a master is the most efficacious way of growing in the master's art and spirit. Religion is not dogma, it’s relationship.
In matters of the heart, it is said that the Heart Itself makes/ takes birth. These are the great holy heroines and heroes of our common history. In contrast to ordinary and even extra-ordinary humans (humus, Latin, rich earth; in Hebrew, adam) who grow up to the light, it is said that from time to time, the Light comes "down". These masters are the "heaven born" Ones, born of the Father, One with the spiritual source and ground perfectly.
These "downward-coming persons" of the Heart or "ava-tara" create a most natural attraction for us humans. It is wonderful to fall in bright love (bhakti) with such a "Sat-Guru" (Lighted-Teacher), for they provide a clear window to the Infinite. This adoration is seen in the Gopis' distraction to Krsna, by all saints, East and West, in adoration for their master, and by every “believer” who follows the Way of the Master.
In Hinduism, this chosen person was "Ishta" (usually the teacher or master, the guru). Loving anyone is a form of ishta practice, for beloveds are chosen by your heart. The greatest of adorations is found in the company of God-possessed masters who love profoundly and unendingly. Ishta Guru Bhakti Yoga (or the Heart Yoga of Sustained Embrace of the Chosen Teacher) is the Royal Gift of avatars.
The distinction between humans growing up and avataric descent was the pivotal debate at the Council of Nicea in 325. Was Joshua of Galilee descended from God or a God-infused, but human-prophet? Was Jesus the mouth of God or the messenger of God?
The protagonists were Anthanasius (Mouth of God) and Arius (messenger of God). Their argument went something like [Arian version]: Jesus was a human, and no matter how much God infused him, the limitations in the structure of being human would dictate that he be considered similar to God, full of God, taken over by God even, but not God Himself. Anathansius (and the vast majority) replied: God can do whatever he wants, if God wants to take form, be born, no problem; the Infinite is not critically qualified by the finite. Period. The principle of avataric incarnation is the greatest teaching, they said. The Nazarene was not similar, he was the Same.
In the language of Greek that they used to argue their points, "similar" to the "presence" of God is homoiousia; but "same presence" as God is homoousia (sans i). The Council voted ~300 to 2 for homoousia, the "Same", stating that there was not an iota of difference between Jesus and the essence or substance of God. This is why the Nicene Creed says, "God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made. Being of one substance with the Father....". Every time you hear the words "not an iota of difference" you can recall how revered the ancient way of Satsang was.
It may be most efficacious to learn from a master, but to learn from the avatar is not easy. Jesus advocated profound change. First, renounce the mortal dross of temporary pleasures and appreciate the happiness of love and giving that does not pass. Turn about from self-orientation to being a heartful servant and lover. Convert attention from the limitations of the flesh to appreciation of the body blessed. Turn from the world of mechanical comings and goings to another appreciation: the sublime condition of every dance, system, person, and paradox.
Sustained turning to the heart and spirit delivers the practitioner into the paradoxes of love. "The Father and I are One" was taken as a "proof" of the "Homoousian" argument, but Joshua of Galilee spoke for everyone (and to everyone): the ground of being is One with divine love.
In the Christian scripture, the Greek word for this turning was metanoia. Meta-"beyond" or "above" (in the sense of senior principle) + noia, "knowing". In other words, beyond what we think we know, there is another view that mysteriously appears as we open to it.
Beyond mortality and ordinary knowledge, the ineffable is unknowable. We turn to the open divine, we turn to understanding our real situation and feel how we are a finite arrangement within an Infinite Field. We naturally feel how the benevolence of our Infinite Field outshines the loss of forms that pass.
In originary Asklepian medicine, this metanoia was the requisite pivot that leveraged true healing. From the Hellenic cult of the caduceus, metanoia is translated as "changing your thinking habits or disposition". From the Christian scripture into Latin then English, metanoia is usually translated as "repentance".
While the word "repentance" has acquired the bad tastes of guilt-burdened children, it retains essential meaning. Its Latin etymology reveals its roots in "to turn from pain". The teaching is: Turn from the mechanical views of mortal convictions and justified hurt to the free spirit or fundamental energy that constitutes every thing and everyone. Turn from matters of this world to the colors of being then to Light itself.
Turn to the Light, turn from closed and closing to open and opening, turn from self-fascination and self-satisfaction to self-transcendence and service. Turn from Eros love to Agape.
As we convert our focus from short-termed pleasures to longer lasting happiness, we turn from the pain of things that expire upon the earth and turn to the heart and breath that inspire all. Repent: the estate of the divine is at hand, he said.
To enter the Kingdom is to enter the holy Temple of our Radiant Ground. It is to find oneself in the ocean of life, "saved" from drowning in mechanical destinies; and by such holistic recognition, we freely feel our selfishness, our ugly laziness, our self-oriented lovelessness, our misdeeds or missing the mark of our core (harmartia in Greek, synn in Old English). By the heart recognition of our real, divine situation, we fear our weaker side and darkness no more; we are saved by what is already the case. Metanoia, the estate of divinity is at hand.
Metanoia is also seen in Jesus' proposition that a person must be born again into the spirit to see the Palace of the Divine. This is not a myth to be believed, hell no. We must look through the story or parable forms of early religions to their meanings. This is not a philosophical categorization and subsequent disposal of the "moral of the story". Instead, we stay attuned to the heart of the matter, so to speak. We should listen to the stories and metaphors in an open and blessing disposition, then hermeneutically winnow the deeper meanings. On the surface, myths, tales, and stories of extraordinary people are believed. Archetypes emerge as metaphors, pointing to the light and person beyond the ordinary mind. This holy light cleanses our mortal sentiments, and deep and open understanding emerges.
Metanoia: repentance: conversion of all matters to the heart; metanoia: transformation, sustained change from the orientations of the mortal ego to the view of others and the whole; born again into the blessings that outshine even death.
In every field, we turn from the superficial to the core, from the material to the heart of the matter. The discipline of this conversion changes ordinary matter into a holy light, at hand, now. Here, disciples float in the body of God, suspended in a nexus of joy, and are lighted by a matrix of holy brightness. Blessed be.
Christianity and the Teachings of Jesus are in a family of religions whose core is relationship with the Person of God, known through the Incarnate One. Immature Christians confuse Jesus' ecstatic exclamation of unity with God with exclusive and provincial proclamation and cannot grasp how Jesus could be everything they believe him to be, but not exclusively. God and His Forms was not a one-time thing! This is in line with the Nicene argument: the Infinite is not limited by the finite. "When righteousness declines and there is no love, I assume the form of man and I come again. But I am not born and I shall never die." (Bhagavad Gita)
Narrow exclusivity and ownership of God is evident in the preciousness of every fundamentalist, and arrogant insistence of superiority in the local name of God poisons every religion. Wanting to convert the world before converting our own heart is not service to the greater whole or to supreme being.
The arrogance of fundamentalists and the narrowness of believers do not deter me from being only a Christian. Rather, I am a practitioner of the Way of Satsang, which has many manifestations. It is the Way of the Company of the Beloved “Divine” Master; the Way of the Truth and Love revealed there, and in the Company of fellow practitioners.
I honor practitioners of all masters and avatars. Thus, I love Christians, Muslims, and Jews; I love Jesus, Mohammed, and Moses; and I also love Krsna and the Hindus, I love Gotama Sakyamuni and the Buddhists; Lao-Tzu and Confucius, and the list goes on. Yes to all practitioners, but with one restriction: any proclamation of superiority or exclusivity is treated as the arrogance or immaturity of children.
No one, no religion, no way owns the truth; each one only points to the paradoxical Way of Intimacy with the Ground and Person of Groundless and un-personal infinity, the formless feeling of being, eternal intoxication with the Beloved, being sublimed by the nectars of supreme being. I have been baptised in this Vast Heart Joy by my Beloved Master, Avatara Adi Da, my Ishta in Satsang. Let every one come to the Perfect Peace of Heart-Joy. Let every Master help, guide, and baptise.
Like the bumper sticker says, "God is too big for any religion". But while no religion owns God or receives extra providence, we cannot jettison the heart of the matter; because believers are childishly arrogant does not justify our rejection of religious beliefs (or our retreat into adolescent arrogance in scientific materialism, self-congratulatory abstractions, and consoling insights).
We must appreciate belief as the understanding of childhood, and we must appreciate clever, constructed, and de-constructed knowledge as adolescent and always partial understanding. Integrating irrationality, rationality, and mere construction is the lighted ground of each sense and all sentience; not demanding or clinging or vaporous; nor set aside and separate or within any nexus, but like the touch of an intimate: inherently wise, faithfully open, and naturally being. This rest-depth and super-rational responsiveness intercourses with penetrating, mature, and formless understanding.
This fullness and clarity is not a clever achievement nor delivered or undone by great thought. This gift has always been paradoxically "found" in the Company of the Master, the Divine Sphere of holy Light. Every Christian worth his salt has exclaimed the sufficiency of relationship with the Person of Love; has praised the Son of Man as the Son of God; and has felt themselves to be personally blessed with providence and joy. The same goes for every devotee of every Avatara who taught or teaches or will teach through the immediacy and elegance of Satsang.
At the shores of oceanic God and by a stream of Avatars, I am not only a Christian. At the feet of my Beloved Adi Da, I am baptised in supreme being.