Message of Universality

BabajiBabaji’s Universal Christmas message

Dear ones, all:

On Christmas day, 2010, which is also the eve of Holy Mother’s birthday (Sri Sarada Devi), I feel compelled to write you all a message of universal empathy and concrescence prompted by my loving wife, Loke Ma.

Over our Christmas breakfast this morning we talked for a time about the adverse and contrary nature of the world’s competing, even warring, religions, and how this one thing which can bring love and understanding to people’s lives, and to this over-burdened world – the exquisite adoration of the saints and seers of the various religious traditions of the world – is always being misunderstood and, thereby, misused.

Loke Ma told me this morning of seeing a few items on the web which prompted her questions.  One of them was a sort of faceoff between Oprah Winfrey and some Christians over her “rejection of Christ” aired on one of her television shows. She replied that her views were influenced by the more tolerant approach of Eckhart Tolle, as are Jim Carry’s opinions on religion.  The entire conversation caused me to think on the unfortunate chasm between philosophy and religion in the West, and how India – for all her present problems – has always kept these two crucial solutions united and interconnected.

The Christian faction of Oprah’s audience that day was armed and ready with their rebuttals, with their one weapon of choice – “Christ is the only way.” It is most strange and ironic to me that the fundamentalists of this day and age can be in possession of the Truth, yet not know a thing of what they are actually saying.  That is, one would have no problem convincing a true Universalist that Christ is the only way, for Christ to such as these is a universal figure, not a personality.  To a Universalist (and I use the term in the broadest possible sense), Christ, Krishna, Buddha, Mohammed, Moses and others share the same soul, mind, intellect, and spiritual perspective, despite differences in outer religious form.  That these superlative souls did not share the same body (a declaration that is even suspect) poses the only real difference, as well as that of phases of time and physical locations.  But to stand up and state adamantly that Christ is the only way while maintaining a purposefully divisive and separatist stance and attitude goes against all that Jesus taught and epitomized.  Additionally, and interestingly enough, there was no such thing as Christianity when Jesus was embodied.  He was simply a real Universalist Himself, thus a true human being.

Further in this vein, a true Universalist also knows that, in the case of the major amount of souls on earth, “One gets to the Father through the Son.” The Cosmic Being, therefore, is the last form of which an aspiring soul, realizing his internal spirituality and oneness with the Father, will perceive – either at the time of death, in sublime inner vision, or in deepest meditation. It matters not which form of the “Son” or “Cosmic Form” appears at such times – Sakyamuni for the Buddhist, Mohammed for the Muslim, Krishna for the Hindu, Christ for the Christian – for all forms are soluble into the “Almighty Father.”

And this is one very obvious shortcoming which the Christians of today, of all times really, labor under, and all of us raised in Christian influenced countries as well.  The absolute Truth is that God is formless, i.e., exists beyond all forms.  The ancient Rishis of India called this, “Existence Itself.”  There is no denying It without denying all that is, everything in the twin realms of being and becoming.  But no ideology of formlessness really appears in the West other than that of the atheist and the scientist (nonexistence after death, and “the void”).  However, these two views only represent the proverbial “rock and a hard place” for wiser persons.  So any fool may call out that Christ is the only way, but it flies in the face of the fact that the Formless Essence, call It the Almighty Father if you will (or Allah, Brahman, Prajnaparam, Samadhi, etc.), is the  final convergence of all ways.

So the wise conclusion here is: “know of what you speak.” Enough of this endless arguing and disagreement, not only among adherents of separate religious factions, but even amidst fellows of the same religion whose backbiting and infighting has made a caricature of true religion and honest philosophy.  That is, if it is not bad enough that we cannot find common ground for religious tolerance with the peoples of other religious perspectives, we then cannot even agree with members of other denominations of the same religion!  So, if I am a Catholic, a Methodist, a Lutheran, a Baptist, a Presbyterian, a Jehovah’s Witness, an Adventist, etc., there is no agreement among us and I have successfully split Christ and His all-inclusive humanized religion into a thousand shards, each reflecting only a tiny fragment of His divinely intended Universal Religion.

And so the warring of religions is a confusing house of mirrors, and the turning of one’s back on members of one’s own religion a fresco-adorned window pane of shattered glass.  What essence, even residue, of the original teachings of the Prophets can exist in such a condition?

My own attention and reference point for this age – though I would never demand that others accept it exclusively – is that of the recent Avatar, Sri Ramakrishna.  Living as He did in the mid to late 1800’s, He saw the condition of the contemporary world and where it had been over past centuries, and also delved deeply into many religious traditions to find the common truth at the foundation of all of them.  In addition to His message and establishment of the Motherhood of God (one amazing facet of His advent), He has blazed the way for the building of bridges between religions, traditions, and denominations who have become lost to one another – more of a salubrious healing solution than a mere short-lived reconciliation. His way of proceeding is unique and marvelous, and I will bring my own message to a close with its description, in part.

As far as the important subject of Universalism is concerned, there were two main aspects to His way: first, and in usual Vedic fashion, He refuted the opinions of those who would place their own religion above those of others by Himself accepting each one in its own place, even before entering into the practice of them individually; and second, He practiced each religion/pathway separately from all others so as to glean and distill the essence of each of them without risking admixtures and interference from the others.  His success at this most subtle level of integrated religion, philosophy, and spirituality, caused beings like Mahatma Gandhi, Sri Aurobindo, and well-known Western savants, even many liberal-minded Christians, to proclaim Him and His realizations as both authentic and transformative – what to speak of original and unique to human history.  That is, many beings had spoken of Universality in the past, but none had ever entered into both It’s spirit and It’s practice with such one-pointed immersion as He, and with such success in the face of the entire human population.

A question: what is so hard about seeing that the formless Being, call it God if you wish, has many entrances suitable for all living beings – especially given that all beings, from celestial, to human, to subhuman – are children of God?  Sri Ramakrishna used to say that the Christian, the Muslim, and the Hindu all come to the same reservoir looking to satisfy their thirst, and that each goes away with what he seeks.  They may arrive at separate purchase points, or ghats, and they may call the liquid by various names such as water, pani, and jal – aqua, (even H2O) etc. They may have even departed the lake carrying its bounty in different shaped vessels – like a jar, a sheepskin bag, a bottle, or a vase – but the liquid itself remained the same, despite all these variations.  We do not need intricate deity worship or complex philosophy, as precious as these are to those who cherish them, to understand this story, this fact.

Another story of Ramakrishna, similar in scope, meaning, and simplicity, is of the farmer who allows his herd of cows to mix indiscriminately in the field all day, but who wisely brings them back to the barn for milking at dusk and places each one in its own stall.  The meaning is obvious when applied to religion, spirituality and Universalism. We, human souls, all have our own “stall,” our core religion, and the ideal of each – Christ, Buddha, Mohammed, etc., is our own beloved Ideal as well.  No wonder we are born into these various folds; not for no good reason.  And, as Sri Krishna states in the Bhagavad Gita, none is more dear to God than another. Impartiality is an inherent facet of nondualism.

Therefore, under the vaulted ceilings of the Universal Lord’s huge Cosmic “Barn,” we all merge and live in harmony. What happens to religious denominations in Oneness?  The point of life is to bring such understanding into the world and demonstrate that the earth is one great Church as well, as in “My Father’s Mansion has many Chambers.” Then, and then only, will ignorance, of the kind that causes endless suffering and untold miseries, depart us and leave us in the divine state we were intended to be in.

So back to Hollywood and fundamentalist Christianity, the way to comprehensive understanding, to authentic Universality that heals and satisfies all, is neither via narrowness in the name of religion or a green eclecticism which accepts all ways but practices none of them. In other words, neither fundamentalism, eclecticism, ecumenism, and certainly not materialism, can hold a candle to the real (I)deal – Universalism.  It demands of us not only catholicity (an original ideal of true Christianity), but the need to actually practice the religion of our choice, leaving others to do the same.  As Swami Vivekananda has stated about this, “We can compare notes later.”

In the meantime we must dive deep into the tenets of our own religion and understand what its founder has taught.  If we can do this we will find that all dissension will die away in the “open space beyond all religion” which will then descend upon us and soothe and occupy our minds.  For where is argumentation when the potential arguer is busy pursuing Truth via his or her chosen Religion?  Does he or she have time for “dissing” others when the mind is all embroiled in the wonder of the Ishtam, the Chosen Ideal – Christ, Buddha, Krishna, Moses, Mohammed?  Then there is the Mother of all these fine Sons – but that is a subject for another message, down the line a ways.

We who are eternally sheltered under the massive “Barn” of Brahman via SRV Associations send out our heartfelt blessings to all beings on this 2010 Christmas morning.  As the Upanisads state, “May all beings gain healthy bodies; may their life-force flow unimpeded; may their minds expand in capacity to know and love the Absolute.  Om Peace, Peace Peace.” Amen.