Our own consciousness is not other than the Christ consciousness
The words of Christ: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
St. John’s words: “He that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen cannot love God whom he hath not seen”.
Our goal is Infinite Love. True love itself evokes love. So the great love of God finds its echo in our own hearts and awakens our awareness of the Infinite that is in all.
Before this great love we can do nothing but prostrate ourselves.
The Prophet Mohammed said:- “God saith, the person I hold as beloved, I am his hearing by which he heareth, I am his sight by which he seeth. I am his hands by which he holdeth and I am his feet by which he walketh”.
In St John’s Gospel, of Christ meeting the woman from Samaria at Jacob’s well and saying to her: “Give me to drink.” You will remember how this account given by St John goes on to describe Christ saying to the woman: “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water … Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again, but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life … Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship … But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (St John, iv).
Perhaps, therefore, it is worth remembering that one of the next incidents described in the Gospel of St John concerns Jesus’s visit to the Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Passover, where he found the Temple overrun by shopkeepers and money-lenders and drove them out with the command: “Take these things hence; make not my father’s house a house of merchandise!” (St. John ii.16).
Many people interpret this incident as an amplification of the principle which he later enunciated, to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s, concluding simply that he was against blurring the clear distinction between the secular and the spiritual.
But the immediate aftermath of this incident, as described by St John, puts the whole event in a different and more significant light. For when he was challenged by the Jews as to what right he had to do such things and was asked to produce a sign of his authority, Jesus answered prophetically: “Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
The Jews not unnaturally took him to mean the Temple at Jerusalem and questioned how he could rebuild in three days something which had taken forty-six years to construct in the first place. In this (as St John points out) they misunderstood him, because what he was talking about as “this temple” was not the building at Jerusalem but the real Temple of God, which is the body. In this Jesus was making clear that the expulsion of the moneylenders from the Temple was only a symbolic act.
It is from within the personality that we have to get rid of the shop-keeping spirit, a much more difficult and far-reaching change. It is the prospect and realisation of this inner victory which Christ speaks of when he says:
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you, not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (St John XIV, 27).
The peace of which Christ speaks is not peace as the world understands it – the temporary cessation of hostilities, but that inner peace which is beyond the understanding of the Sansarin, because it is to be found only by turning within.
The body and mind are by their very nature the playground of the gunas and the seat of constant activity, whether sattvic, rajasic or tamasic. Through the purification of the mind by effort and by following the time-honoured spiritual path, the Jiva can purify and render sattvic this empirical instrument of experience, the antahkarana, and acquire a clearer vision of the light of truth in the empirical sense. Only then will he be able to penetrate the veil of the gunas to contact consciously the transcendent realm of Atman behind the mind. Karma Yoga is the preparation for Jnana Yoga.
Devotion to right action is a means to the end, “I am the way, the truth and the life”, St John makes it clear that he was speaking as the living personification of the inner light:
“In him was life; and the life was the light of men, and the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not.”
What is that light? It is, in St John’s words, “the light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”
Not just the light which lightens members of the Christian church, but each and every man. Christ’s command to his followers seems totally impractical if we ignore the central place in his teachings which he gives to the existence of this inner light in all men.
When he says: “Be ye perfect even as your father in heaven is perfect,” he seems to be demanding the impossible.
But the perfection already exists within each and every man; it is that of Christ in the heart, the inner light of the true self, Atman. It is already perfect and eternally so and can never be anything else. But we need to open our spiritual eyes in order to see that perfection.
As Christ himself said: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
Today more than ever we need to realise the universal message of Christ in this troubled and anything but peaceful world in which we live.
It is the theme of the eternal which places St John’s Gospel in a broader frame than the other three gospels. John uses a new vocabulary. Jesus is light, life and truth, the very Word itself.
Verse 14 of chapter 1 says: “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten Son of the Father.”
These words “the only begotten son of the Father” have a mystical significance, and it is the literal interpretation of these words which has fostered the narrow and blinkered view that truth is a revelation of Christianity alone, confined to a certain time in history.
For, as we know, the Lord manifested not only as the wondrous Christ, but as Krishna, Buddha, Rama and in other less well known guises too.
Meister Eckhardt said in one of his sermons that the words “The only begotten son” meant the image of God which receives its whole existence from the Father.
Another way of expressing this is to use the Lord’s words “as Thou, Father, art in me and I in Thee”.
Meister Eckhardt says that when we read: “God has sent his only begotten son into the world,” it does not apply to the external world in which the Son ate and drank with us, but that it is to be understood to apply to the inner world:
“As truly as the Father in his simple nature gives birth to his Son naturally, so truly does he give birth in the most inward part of the spirit, and that is the inner world. Here God’s ground is my ground, and my ground is God’s ground.”
Truly, says Meister Eckhardt, there is such delight and such great immeasurable joy in this divine state that no one can tell or reveal it all.
Here we are reminded of the words of the Upanishad: “Words fall back, baffled…” Yet this second birth of God-realization, the true goal of life, the purpose of our sojourn on earth, is to be experienced and understood, when we are ready, through the Grace of the Lord.
As the Gita says: “To those, ever devout, worshipping Me with love, I give that devotion of Knowledge by which they come to Me.”
May our most gracious Lord Jesus Christ, enlighten our hearts by the radiance of His presence and the power of His word so that we may become ever worthier instruments to carry his message of spiritual peace, joy and goodwill to the people of these shores in and through the Holy Yoga. May all feel His presence.
The birth of Jesus is celebrated traditionally in midwinter at the darkest time of the year, and it is celebrated as a festival of joy, joy at the reappearance of the light of the spirit at a time of gloom and despondency when life is at its lowest ebb and darkness covers the earth. It is a fulfilment both of the great prayer of the Upanishads:
“Lead us from darkness to light, From error to truth, From death to immortality,” and also of the promise of the Lord in the Gita that he manifests his light wherever there is a decay of religion. Even in the outer sense light is that which sustains life; there would be no life on the earth without the light and warmth of the sun’s rays.
But the dependence on light is true in a much more fundamental sense of the light of the spirit. St. John’s Gospel emphasises this great truth in the opening chapter when it says of the creator:
“In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; And the darkness comprehended it not.” (John, I. 4-5)
And John goes on to make clear that the light of which he speaks
“was the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” (John, I. 9)
It is not difficult to understand these words when one remembers the teaching of the Vedanta philosophy: that the Lord enters the world of nature both as the principle of life and as the light of consciousness.
In the seventh chapter of the Gita the Lord speaks of the world being produced by the combination of Nature and that higher imperishable principle which is the very life by which the universe is upheld (Gita, VII.5). And in Chapter XV he speaks of a fragment of himself, the eternal Jiva in the world of Jivas, acquiring a body by entering the mind with its senses and abiding in Nature (XV. 7-11).
This is the light which lightens every man that cometh into the world. And it is what the Christian mystics speak of as “the light of Christ in every man”, the Kingdom of Heaven hidden within the personality, the Inner Light of which the Quakers speak.
As the Lord says in the Gita Shastra:
“I am seated in the hearts of all” (XV. 15);
“that light which residing in the sun illumines the whole world, that which is in the moon and in the fire, that light do thou know to be mine.” (XV. 12).
Shri Shankaracharya, commenting on this verse, says that light here may be understood to mean the light of consciousness (chaitanya). Today the world needs the message of Christmas more urgently than ever, because in the darkness of ignorance many false Gods and false prophets have been placed before man for his worship, encouraging the pursuit of unfettered individualism and the worship of sense pleasures, wealth, power and fame.
But the spiritual truth is a universal truth, which has not lost any of its relevance to man’s predicament, and man will not regain his peace of mind and permanently satisfy himself until he turns again to the wisdom contained in the great spiritual traditions. The quarrels and disagreements between different traditions and different peoples arise because of the concentration on superficial and unimportant differences in the outer rituals or expressions of the holy truth. Until man recognises that the true light, which enlightens every man who comes into the world, is to be found, not in the membership of any church or mosque or temple, but within the personality itself, he is like the blind leading the blind.
This is the message which Jesus Christ came to give: that only when we have removed the beam from our own eyes, can we see clearly the essential spiritual truth, which unites all mankind into one family, because the same inner light lightens each and every individual, no matter what his creed or colour may be. May this true spirit of Christmas enter the hearts of all mankind and lead to the secure peace on earth and goodwill to men which was promised to the shepherds on that first Christmas night, almost two thousand years ago!
What is it that we celebrate at Christmas? Is it just the birth of an unusual baby to Mary in the stable at Bethlehem two thousand years ago? If it were, it would be a commonplace event, not worthy of the attention it has merited. Yet that birth has dominated and moulded the course of western history for the last two thousand years. We can find an adequate explanation only by reading the wise words of the spiritual teachers of East and West.
As St John tells us in the first chapter of his gospel: “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten son, which is in the bosom of the father, he hath declared him.” (John 1.18)
God is unseen because – as we read in the ancient Indian scriptures –
He is “beyond the reach of mind and speech”, but He manifests himself for the good of mankind within the world of time, space and causation.
As the Lord proclaims in the Bhagavad Gita:
“Though I am unborn, of imperishable nature, and though I am the Lord of all beings, yet ruling over my own nature, I am born by my own Maya.
“Whenever there is a decay of religion and an ascendance of irreligion, then I manifest myself.”
“For the protection of the good, for the destruction of evil-doers, for the firm establishment of religion, I am born in every age”. (Gita 4. 6-8)
Many Christians, while accepting that Christ was an incarnation of God, refuse to believe that God has manifested Himself in human form at any other time than on that first Christmas Day in Palestine, forgetting that not only all mankind, but the whole universe, is the Lord’s and all that is within it.
When we think of the scale of the whole of the known universe, which modern science has revealed to us, it seems incredible that such a small and insignificant event as that which occurred in the stable at Bethlehem about two thousand years ago could have been unique or bear such far-reaching consequences, not just for the earth, but for the whole universe.
Our own earth is an insignificant satellite of one star among millions, which we call the sun, on the outer reaches of the Milky Way, and many thousand million of other Milky Ways or other galaxies can be seen spreading out in every direction in space as far as the most powerful telescopes can reach.
In this universe the number of planets like the earth must be literally almost beyond our ability to conceive; but the relative uniqueness of Jesus’s birth – as of all other manifestations of the divine within the world of time – is that it represents one of those momentous instances in which the Lord of the universe manifests himself for the good of his creatures in the finite realm of becoming. No wonder that the Lord proclaims in the Gita:
“Many births of mine have passed, O Arjuna; … all these I know, but thou knowest not.” (4.5.)
If no man has seen God at any time, and we can come to know of Him only through hearing Him declared by His incarnations and the teaching of His saints and sages, how can we conceive of the spirit, and where are we to seek for it? Nowadays, many people think that Jesus was just one man among many, perhaps an unusually good one, but (in principle) no different from anyone else.
Well may we remember the words of the Lord in the Gita:
“Fools disregard me clad in human form, not knowing my higher being as the great Lord of being.” (9.11)
But St John gives us a clue as to where the spirit is to be found, seated within all beings, when he says of Christ that in him was life, and that life was the light of men. (John 1.4)
The spirit, which represents the unborn Christ, is the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. (John 1.9) If this is so, the unborn Christ abides in the hearts of all beings, as the light which shineth in darkness, which the darkness does not comprehend.
One of the great sayings of Christ: was “Know ye the truth and the truth shall make you free”, and John at the end of his gospel says: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”
It is only through seeking to know the light of the spirit where it is – hidden within the personality within the heart of man – that we can know the truth and the truth can make us free. It is this light of consciousness which illumines the mind and reveals the world to us, but itself can never become an object of knowledge to the mind.
“You cannot know the knower of knowing … the understanding of understanding”. “The Self is the clue to all this, for by it one knows all this.”
This is the key to the way into the kingdom of heaven, which Christ said was within us. St John quotes the words of Christ, spoken as he finished his mission on earth:
“I have glorified thee on earth; I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. “And now, O father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory that I had with thee before the world was.” (John 17.3-5)
The Divine Spirit, the Christos, has assumed many different forms in the history of this planet, but, following the divine law, it, the ever-unchanging, manifests itself according to the needs of the evolving jivas.
Two thousand years ago the Christos appeared again as the meek and gentle Jesus to show the way to erring man to his real home, Our Father who is in heaven, as Jesus taught us in the Sermon on the Mount. In the Gospel of St John talks of the relationship of Jesus to our Father in heaven and of the way to come to Him.
The crucial point in the life of Jesus, as recounted to us by his apostles, is that his resurrection was preceded by his crucifixion. Alas, this joyous event, the resurrection, has become a matter of doubt, uncertainty, speculation and division among those who would want to believe in this divinity of Jesus and in his promise
“I am the Truth and the Way and those who follow me will not walk in darkness”. This is our real need: we who walk in darkness want to know the way to the light, the light which is God himself. It is a universal law that no need is without its remedy.
Seek and ye shall find One of the most significant aspects of the teachings of the holy Yoga is that it insists on the active investigation of the spiritual truth. The message of all the great spiritual traditions may be the same, but it is not sufficient to rest content with blind faith in the greatness of the teaching or the spiritual stature of the founder. The message itself is a call to seek and find the spiritual truth which has been proclaimed. The emphasis on the search for enlightenment is clear both in Hinduism and in the Buddhist faith which developed as a kind of early Protestant reform movement within it.
But the Christian teaching is no less definite in its command and its promise:
“Seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you.”
The turning-point in this search comes when the Jiva realises, for the first time, that its goal will not be found somewhere else, in the outer world, by journeying from where one is to Cairo or elsewhere, chasing the reported rumours of the buried treasure there, only to find that it is actually hidden below the place from which he had started out, and that it is by turning the gaze within that it is to be found.
As the Avadhut Gita tells us: “When, as a pilgrim, I began to journey towards Thee, then my little notions of the all-pervasiveness of Atman died.”
God is not to be found externally as an object among objects, and you will not discover Him by seeking his presence within the world of time, space and causation. He is both everywhere and nowhere, because he is nearer to thee than the jugular vein, as the Koran asserts.
“This Self is free from day and night, and therefore the conception of its pilgrimage in time and space is no true one,” says the Avadhut.
The tenth man is not lost; he has never been lost. Like the voice of the boy, unheard in the chorus, the still small voice of the spirit is already there to be heard, but we have to silence the noise of the mental tumult, the rave party carried on by the desires within the mind, before we can hope to hear it.
As the Gita says, the mind is both the friend and the enemy of man, and the Avadhut echoes this thought: “The whole universe is a projection of the mind; therefore it is a mode of the mind. The true nature of the mind is bliss, and when the mind is stilled, bliss absolute is revealed.”
God-realization is not something that the mind itself will ever be able to describe or experience. “Consciousness absolute being unknowable by the mind, how can speech explain it?” But when the noisy tumult in the mind is silenced, then it becomes clear. One of the great Jnanis of the West,
Meister Eckhardt, maintained that the nature of God is understanding (intelligere). “Outside God, (he says), there is nothing, inasmuch as it would be outside existence,”
because existence is the first of created things. One is reminded of the verse in the 13th Chapter of the Gita: “That which has to be known I shall describe; knowing which one attains the Immortal. Beginningless is the Supreme Brahman. It is not said to be ‘sat’ or ‘asat'”.
Shankara comments on this verse that, being beyond the reach of the senses, it is not an object of consciousness (like a pot) accompanied with the idea of either existence or non-existence. And he quotes the verse from the Kena Upanishad: “It is other than the known and above the unknown.”
For Meister Eckhardt understanding or awareness is more fundamental than existence. He points out, in this context, that St John’s Gospel says: “In the beginning was the Word” and not that “In the beginning was being”.
Both Eckhardt and Saint Augustine make the point that, to be the Creator of being, God must be above being. The great Vedantic dictum, “Brahman sattyam, jagan mitthya”, sums up the final spiritual truth.
The Avadhut Gita says “All this world is a magic show, like a mirage in the desert. Concentrated bliss, alone and secondless, is Shiva, and that is the Avadhut.”
But let us not forget that the Avadhut Gita ends with a practical message:
“When the mind is uncontrolled, then the body, which is the object of affection to the ignorant, also suffers, and when the mind is controlled, then the body also remains in good estate. Wherefore, all ye lovers of wisdom, protect your minds from the feeling of pleasure, and engage them in spiritual wisdom.”
“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
So said Christ and his coming brought a fresh opportunity to realize the spiritual light in all its purity, perfection and immediacy. This light and this opportunity are always with us. This light does not increase or decrease in intensity: it is man’s sensitivity to it that varies. The holy Adhyatma Yoga may be seen as a sure way of maximising our sensitivity to this unconquerable spiritual power and ensuring that we have the ears to hear and the eyes to see what really matters.
Jesus is so compelling and unique a spiritual personality that his followers in the main have taken it for granted that He alone is an incarnation of God the Father, that He is the one Saviour, and that the religion which came to be called Christianity is the only true one.
Perhaps one of the greatest advantages of living in a multi-cultural society is our familiarity with other approaches to the spiritual life, many of which pre-date Christianity itself, and which also share, at their core, precisely the same values taught by Jesus. Rama, Krishna and Buddha are regarded by their devotees as incarnations of God and are given the same reverence and love as the devout Christian gives to Jesus.
As with Christianity, the other world faiths have led innumerable sincere devotees and seekers of Truth to the supreme spiritual wisdom, by whatever name we might call this ultimate goal of life.
“Many paths there be
To reach the mountain’s height
But all who climb there see
The same moon’s light.”
At Christmas in particular we bring to mind Jesus’s teachings on the wisdom of being childlike as a necessary prelude to our rebirth as illumined beings. We remember how Jesus rebuked his disciples when they sought to ward off those who brought young children to be blessed by their master:
“But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them and blessed them.” Mark 10.14-16
For any spiritual seeker, the way of the little child is worthy of contemplation. For the little child is unconsciously free from the obstacles of pride, passion, pretence and suspicion. It lives in the present, is open to what comes and has no hardened mental patterns that determine its reactions. Impressions enter an unprejudiced mind, a mind that has ears to hear and eyes to see. Of course this way of the child is activated unconsciously, and therefore has no direct spiritual value or meaning to the child itself. In contrast, the task of the serious spiritual aspirant is to recover consciously this open-mindedness, and to throw off knowingly the burden of egoism in all its guises. The supreme message of Jesus is that the kingdom of heaven is within us, or in the words of the Upanishad,
“That thou art”, tat twam asi.
But this message will not take root in man’s mind or strike the ground of his being unless he learns to suspend his worldly wisdom and prudence, and to accept the spiritual truth without comparison, through the medium of his stilled and purified mind.
Jesus said: “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight.” (Matthew 11:25)
The passion and resurrection of the Holy Lord, Jesus Christ, is a great spiritual mystery. Its real significance can hardly be grasped by the mind, but, as a spiritual event, it strikes a chord of recognition in the purified buddhi alone, where it is known to be the ultimate triumph of Truth transcendent. It symbolizes the complete surrender of one’s identity with the limited ego, and the jiva’s reversion to its fundamental and normal nature as Sat-Chit- Ananda. In the early pages of the Gospel of St John, John the Baptist says:
“He must increase but I must decrease.” (3:30)
The secret of spiritual life is to know which phases of our life must be expanded and intensified, and which should decrease and drop away. Just as Jesus taught:
“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind”,
So too the holy Gita impresses the same message: that the blessed Lord should become the dominant focus in the antahkarana, as more and more of our inner life is saturated in the awareness of His presence as the very essence of our being. This is the means that will reveal to us the supreme secret of life: that one’s own Self is identical with God, the only Reality.
“Thus steadied, with Me as thy supreme goal, thou shalt reach Myself, the Self.” (9:34)
The Christian world is in no doubt about the greatness of Christ as a spiritual figure and as a supreme example of human courage, who offered no resistance even when faced with the pitiless destruction of his own life.
Yet the profundity and transformative power of the inner teachings of Jesus are not always recognized. It is not always made explicit in the Christian tradition why we should seek to realize His presence in our own soul, and how we may set about doing so. Still less are we granted the revelation that Jesus is none other than a manifestation of the supreme Self in apparently objectified form for the purpose of awakening us to our Reality.
The blessing of the Holy Yoga is that it makes this inner development and approach clear, meeting a desperate need by prescribing the methods through which we may realize Christ as the indwelling Lord and our own Atman. The same principle applies to all the holy incarnations of the Lord.
Christ is Krishna and Krishna is Christ, and all the Avatars are worthy of equal reverence.
“Christ is risen, alleluia!”
This greeting proclaims the triumph of Truth, that is, the realization “Satyam eva jayate” – Truth ever triumphs, and that nothing in this transient world of fast-fading illusory forms ever mars or taints its splendour and radiance. Those with insight know directly that there is no death, only the awareness of that immediate and immortal spiritual presence that is the ground of our being and the only self-luminous Reality.
Shri Dada was once asked who he thought was the greatest of the Christian saints. He replied that in his view the woman who brought to Jesus the precious perfumed oil (called spikenard), and anointed his feet with it, was among their number. We remember the episode, as found in the Gospel of St John:
“Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.”
She gave and did not count the cost. She gave with devotion. She sought no return, no favour, not even His blessing. She gave silently, resolutely, ignoring the disapproval of the disciples, ignoring the indignation of the one who said:
“Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence and given to the poor?” to which Jesus replied: “Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.”
It is a reminder that in the spiritual life, conventional values are subordinate to the higher spiritual intuition, which often exposes the pretence and hypocrisy that shelter in the human heart, and may manifest as ‘righteous indignation’ and a rejection of the unexpected. Marjorie Waterhouse identifies the source of this tension, when, in her chapter on Training and Discipline, she writes:
“The greatest barrier to inner progress is unteachability, arising from desperately held preconceived ideas, egoism and fear of change. My teacher used to tell people to come to hear the truth as a patient comes to a doctor-with faith and receptivity, and not in a condition of questioning or argument…”
Again and again, the intuitive responses and initiatives of Jesus give his hearers a glimpse of the workings of their own antahkarana, of the hidden motives of their own heart, which is an essential stage in the purifying process of self-knowledge.
Another example is the story of the woman who was arrested for committing adultery and brought before the rabbinical authorities for judgement and punishment. Jesus was present in the synagogue on the occasion, and the Scribes and Pharisees brought her before him, saying:
“Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?’ Their motive in asking Jesus was not an impartial quest for wisdom or higher understanding, but to elicit some response that would prove that Jesus was a rebel and renegade as regards the time-honoured customs of the faith. “
But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them,
“He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.”
This response had a devastating effect on the assembly, forcing those around him to look within and examine their own hearts. For our own heart is the region that should have the first claim on our awareness.
As Rumi expresses it in the Masnavi: “He knows a hundred thousand superfluous matters connected with the various sciences, but that unjust man does not know his own soul. He knows the special properties of every substance, but in elucidating his own substance essence he is as ignorant as an ass, Saying, “I know what is permissible and unpermissible.” Thou knowest not whether thou thyself art permissible or unpermissible. Thou knowest this licit thing and that illicit thing, but art thou licit or illicit? Consider well!”
In this instance, those around Jesus showed receptivity. As the Gospel of St John tells us:
“And they which heard it, being convicted of their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her: “Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?” She said: “No man, Lord”. And Jesus said unto her: “Neither do I condemn thee. Go and sin no more.”‘
In this incident, Jesus, through word and gesture, shook the heart’s veils and coverings. Blessed are those who eyes were opened through being witnesses or participants in this event and who were changed. Then Jesus said:
“I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life.”
Those who heard Jesus declare “I am the light of the world” reacted by saying: “Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.”
But Jesus was bearing witness, not to any limited self, but to Paramatman, the Self of all. The universal Self, with which he is identified, is the true soul and substance of all, discoverable through self-knowledge. When Jesus bids us: ‘Follow Me’ or ‘Come and see’, it means to make a definite advance, through enlivening our spiritual practice and through outwitting the ego with its weight of fixed ideas and its fear of change. This is how we shall discover that our own consciousness is not other than the Christ consciousness.