“When other certain days had passed, the guide led Jesus to the Hall of Mirth, a hall most richly furnished, and replete with everything a carnal heart could wish. The choicest viands and the most delicious wines were on the boards; and maids, in gay attire, served all with grace and cheerfulness. And men and women, richly clad, were there; and they were wild with joy; they sipped from every cup of mirth.
“And Jesus watched the happy throng in silence for a time, and then a man in garb of sage came up and said, Most happy is the man who, like the bee, can gather sweets from every flower. The wise man is the one who seeks for pleasure, and can find it everywhere. At best man’s span of life on earth is short, and then he dies and goes, he knows not where. Then let us eat, and drink, and dance, and sing, and get the joys of life, for death comes on apace. It is but foolishness to spend a life for other men. Behold, all die and lie together in the grave, where none can know and none can show forth gratitude.
“But Jesus answered not; upon the tinseled guests in all their rounds of mirth he gazed in silent thought. And then among the guests he saw a man whose clothes were coarse; who showed in face and hands the lines of toil and want. The giddy throng found pleasure in abusing him; they jostled him against the wall, and laughed at his discomfiture.
“And then a poor, frail woman came, who carried in her face and form the marks of sin and shame; and without mercy she was spit upon, and jeered, and driven from the hall.
“And then a little child, with timid ways and hungry mien, came in and asked for just a morsel of their food. But she was driven out uncared for and unloved; and still the merry dance went on” (Aquarian Gospel 51:1-14).
“And when the pleasure seekers urged that Jesus join them in their mirth, he said, How could I seek for pleasure for myself while others are in want? How can you think that while the children cry for bread, while those in haunts of sin call out for sympathy and love that I can fill myself to full with the good things of life?” (Aquarian Gospel 51:15, 16).
When my friend the Raja of Chandod went to visit Gandhi, the Mahatma challenged him as to what he was dong for the welfare of the people in his kingdom. He replied he was doing nothing and did not care about the suffering of the people. Gandhiji saw into the Raja’s nature and saw what even the young man did not realize was there. “That is not so,” he told him. “Here is a test: Have a sumptuous meal made for yourself and put in your automobile. Then have yourself driven to one of the villages in your domain at noon time. Go right into the midst of the village and have a table set there with the food, and then you eat it with the hungry people watching. If you can do that, you really do not care.”
“I will–it will be easy,” said the Raja. So he followed Gandhi’s instructions. “But,” he told me, “when I started to take the first bite I looked at the faces around me and my heart was shattered. I could not eat. I asked the people’s forgiveness and went home and began planning how to alleviate their suffering. Ever since then, that has been my purpose in life.”
I wish I had pictures of my walk around the town of Chandod with him to share with you. How the people loved him! They came around and spoke to him with the love of children for a loving father. He listened to all they had to say and advised them about their problems. When I went to the little bank a few days later, the workers there told me of all the things the Raja had done for them over the years, raising the level of the life of everyone living there. He had even given part of his home to house a free school for village children. He lived in utter simplicity himself, not much different from those he cared for. I saw for myself the ideals of Jesus being lived by him–and by others I met in India. No wonder Jesus loved that land.
“I tell you, nay; we all are kin, each one a part of the great human heart. I cannot see myself apart from that poor man that you so scorned, and crowded to the wall; nor from the one in female garb who came up from the haunts of vice to ask for sympathy and love, who was by you so ruthlessly pushed back into her den of sin; nor from that little child that you drove from your midst to suffer in the cold, bleak winds of night” (Aquarian Gospel 51:17-20).
Saint Paul said to the Athenian philosophers that God “giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:25, 26). It is interesting that creations myths throughout the world insist that humanity is descended from a single set of foreparents. This means that humanity is one family whose external diversity cannot overshadow its fundamental unity. Each person is all of humanity in a sense, and therefore to be valued accordingly. None of us is really separate from another; the same divine life manifests in us all. What we do to others we do to all–and to ourself, as well.
Done to me…
“I tell you, men, what you have done to these, my kindred, you have done to me. You have insulted me in your own home; I cannot stay. I will go forth and find that child, that woman and that man, and give them help until my life’s blood all has ebbed away. I call it pleasure when I help the helpless, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick, and speak good words of cheer to those unloved, discouraged and depressed” (Aquarian Gospel 51:21-23).
Jesus’ identity with all people is apparent here. He did not speak fancy oratory about the dignity of humanity and its unity, and then go home to the sound of applause. He acted upon his words and sought out the suffering and helped them. A lot of people get maudlin about “humanity” but have no interest in a single, non-theoretical person in the flesh. Usually they have contempt for them. When we lived in a large city, our monastery gave assistance to a wonderful, caring 24/7 refuge for the poor and suffering. We gathered things they needed, and once a month went there in the evening and cooked the meal for the five hundred people who came there for food. Some people formed a little group to gather items for the shelter, and took the first batch downtown themselves. Shortly thereafter we got a letter from them saying that they had been so repulsed by what they saw that from then on they would bring everything to the monastery so we could take it to the shelter. Jesus did not have this kind of “I’ll help you but don’t touch me” kind of compassion. And neither should we.
During our visits to the shelter we met people who had escaped addiction and criminal involvement through the loving people who were there for them at all times. The name of that place? What else but: Jesus House.
They ain’t Got Fun
“And this that you call mirth is but a phantom of the night; but flashes of the fire of passion, painting pictures on the walls of time” (Aquarian Gospel 51:24).
From childhood I have been amazed at how dreary and weary most people’s “good times” and “fun” really are, and how dreary and weary they themselves are, too, no matter how frantically they claim to be happy and enjoying themselves. Beneath the glitter all is drab and hopeless. Few things are more deadly awful than a party.
A friend of mind was visiting in New York City. One evening her host asked her: “Would you like to see the Four Hundred?” (The “Four Hundred” is a term used for those at the very top of New York City society.) Having heard of them all her life, she naturally wanted to get a look. It was Monday night–subscription night at the Metropolitan Opera where the Four Hundred were seated in the Diamond Horseshoe. (The “Diamond Horseshoe” was the two rows of boxes where only the wealthiest sat in their diamond-decked glory.) So about half an hour before the end of the opera, a doorman who was a friend of her host let them in, and they stood to one side to watch the Four Hundred as they left through the opera house lobby. My friend told me: “The one thing that struck me most, was how unhappy they all looked. Their eyes were so dull and their faces were masks of despair. All the jewels and fabulously expensive clothes looked like something found in a tomb. The old ones especially looked pathetic. It was an awful sight. But as we were driving through the streets afterward we saw people coming from working the late shift in factories. They were striding along, swinging their lunch boxes, whistling, talking, and laughing. Their eyes were bright and smiles were on their face–even though they had just finished eight hours of hard work. The contrast was so great, I can never forget it.”
I think the two dreariest places in this country are bars and dance halls. Looking into them is like looking into Dante’s hell where all have indeed abandoned hope. There simply is no real future in phantoms of the night, flashes of the fire of passion. They really are only painted pictures of a non-existent reality.
Writing of Negendranath Bhaduri, the “levitating saint” in Chapter Seven of his autobiography, Yogananda relays this conversation:
“‘Master, you are wonderful!’ A student, taking his leave, gazed ardently at the patriarchal sage. ‘You have renounced riches and comforts to seek God and teach us wisdom!’ It was well-known that Bhaduri Mahasaya had forsaken great family wealth in his early childhood, when single-mindedly he entered the yogic path.
“‘You are reversing the case!’ The saint’s face held a mild rebuke. ‘I have left a few paltry rupees, a few petty pleasures, for a cosmic empire of endless bliss. How then have I denied myself anything? I know the joy of sharing the treasure. Is that a sacrifice? The shortsighted worldly folk are verily the real renunciates! They relinquish an unparalleled divine possession for a poor handful of earthly toys!’
“I chuckled over this paradoxical view of renunciation—one which puts the cap of Croesus on any saintly beggar, whilst transforming all proud millionaires into unconscious martyrs.
“‘The divine order arranges our future more wisely than any insurance company.’ The master’s concluding words were the realized creed of his faith. ‘The world is full of uneasy believers in an outward security. Their bitter thoughts are like scars on their foreheads. The One who gave us air and milk from our first breath knows how to provide day by day for His devotees.’”
“And while the Logos spoke the white-robed priest came in and said to him, The council waits for you.
“Then Jesus stood again before the bar; again no word was said; the hierophant placed in his hands a scroll, on which was writ, PHILANTHROPY.
“And Jesus was a victor over selfish self” (Aquarian Gospel 51:25-27).
Read the next section in the Aquarian Gospel for Yogis: Claiming Our Freedom