And Jesus looked upon the multitudes who pressed about for selfish gain. The men of learning and of wealth, of reputation and of power, were there; but they knew not the Christ. Their eyes were blinded by the tinseled glitter of their selfish selves; they could not see the king. And though they walked within the light, they groped about in dark–a darkness like the night of death. (Aquarian Gospel 104:1-4)
And Jesus looked upon the multitudes who pressed about for selfish gain.
Nearly all human beings are fundamentally addicted to ego and materialism. Me and Mine are the real gods humanity worships. So whenever someone appears in the world who possesses supernatural powers people flock to them, clamoring for all the things that Me and Mine demand insatiably. When this happens, the besieged get a reputation for being major spiritual personalities, religious leaders. But this is total nonsense, because the crowds are not wanting anything of spirit or religion, though they are utterly willing to use God and the saints to get more of the world for their ego’s use.
In India this is rampant, giving rise to the illusion of Spiritual India as contrasted with all other countries that are quite straightforwardly material. But if we visit the popular spiritual figures in India we find that although they truly are centered in God, the multitudes are coming to them for the same old world-binding commodities. This was my own experience. Anandamayi Ma especially was hounded day and night by Gimmes. Once several people traveled with me to India and Ma set aside an entire morning to speak with each one individually. Toward noon, when the interviews were all over, Ma came out where a lot of people were waiting. I was struck at the expression of quiet joy in Ma’s eyes: a radiation more than usual. I wondered what it meant, and then realized in the same moment that it was because every person she had spoken to that morning had asked only about the realization of God and spiritual practice, nothing else. Usually Ma was asked about everything else but that, so her busy morning had been a kind of spiritual vacation for her.
I could tell quite a few stories, some funny, about the mundane things people came to Ma seeking. Sri Ramakrishna said that his throat cancer was to get rid of such people so only those interested in God would come around him. He further said that it especially kept away those that were afraid they might be asked to give money for the expenses of his treatment and lodging! Finally no one came to him except those seeking God. At the end of his life Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh stopped giving any talks at satsangs, but just told jokes and asked riddles. So the seekers after gain and advantage decided he had become senile and stopped coming around. O! what joy and blessing he bestowed on us who remained. For this reason many of God’s holy ones throughout the world stay hidden, revealing themselves only to a few whom they swear to secrecy. Once someone wrote a pamphlet denouncing Sri Ramana Maharshi as immoral and dishonest. When he saw it, he was very pleased and commented that it should be sold right outside the ashram gates so such people would read it and not come in.
The men of learning and of wealth, of reputation and of power, were there; but they knew not the Christ. Their eyes were blinded by the tinseled glitter of their selfish selves; they could not see the king. Those who are big in their own eyes are not able to see others, including the holy ones of God, what to say of God himself. As Jesus said: “Verily they have their reward”–themselves (Matthew 6:2, 5, 16).
And though they walked within the light, they groped about in dark–a darkness like the night of death. What a sad picture, but as true as it is tragic. Walking in the aura of the saints, literally in the Light of God, blind in their inner eyes, such people wander around in the darkness that is death, the death of unawareness and unknowing. “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).
And Jesus cast his eyes to heaven and said, I thank thee, Holy One of heaven and earth, that while the light is hidden from the wise and great, it is revealed to babes. (Aquarian Gospel 104:5, 6)
In the Gospel of Saint Luke we find: “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein” (Luke 18:17). This does not mean that we are to be simple-minded and simplistic. Rather, we are to be as sensitive and intuitive as a child can be, and as open as they are, ready to accept the invisible realities and the powers that adults so pathetically deny. One of the most accomplished yogis I met in India said to me: “The devas [beings of light] are always around children up to the age of three.” If only children could have the company of such yogis to tell them, as did Jesus: “Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you” (John 12:35).
Then turning to the multitudes he said, I come to you not in the name of man, nor in a strength my own; the wisdom and the virtue that I bring to you are from above; they are the wisdom and the virtue of the God whom we adore. The words I speak are not my words; I give to you what I receive. (Aquarian Gospel 104:7-9)
The wisdom of the masters does not come from mortal teachers, but from the higher reaches of consciousness where the divine insight comes directly to them in meditation. Those who listen to their teachings and take them to heart will have the beginning of a subtle connection to those highest worlds in their own subtle bodies. If they foster this, they will begin to access those realms of higher consciousness. This is how it is possible for masters of all ages to become our living teachers. They live in the light and we reach up to that light. This is why in Mahayana Buddhism they say that the moment a person resolves to seek higher consciousness a multitude of buddhas and bodhisattvas become aware of their resolve and come to help them. Through these great ones we receive wisdom from God. Then in time we, too, shall communicate directly with the Highest.
Come unto me all you who labor and pull heavy loads and I will give you aid. Put on the yoke of Christ with me; it does not chafe; it is an easy yoke. Together we will pull the load of life with ease; and so rejoice. (Aquarian Gospel 104:10-12)
I will give you aid. God and the masters give us assistance, but we must put forth the will and a great deal of effort. Otherwise we will not evolve, will not progress in our development. This is a positive fact. The egotistic and materialistic insist that God do everything for them as well as ensure that they will not reap what they have sown. Otherwise they will declare that he is not a God of love. Is that supposed to devastate God? Shame him into compliance? Not likely.
Put on the yoke of Christ with me. Long before we began to even conceive of spiritual life, much less live it, Jesus took up the yoke of Christ and trod the way to Christhood. He has done it successfully, and so can we.
It does not chafe; it is an easy yoke. At least it is so for those who wish to walk the Way of Christ. Otherwise it is intolerable and impossible. It is all determined by the will.
Together we will pull the load of life with ease; and so rejoice. Let us join his company and win the kingdom as he did. He will be with us each step of the way. That is what discipleship is all about.
A Pharisee, whose name was Simon, made a feast, and Jesus was the honored guest. And as they sat about the board, a courtesan who had been cured of her desire to sin by what she had received and seen in Jesus’ ministry, came uninvited to the feast. She brought an alabaster box of costly balm and as the guests reclined she came to Jesus in her joy, because she had been freed from sin. Her tears fell fast, she kissed his feet, and dried them with her hair, and she anointed them with balm. And Simon thought, he did not speak aloud, This man is not a prophet or he would know the kind of woman that approaches him, and would drive her away. (Aquarian Gospel 104:13-17)
Two interesting and significant things are told us about the main figure-subject of this account: she had been cured of her desire to sin, and came uninvited.
It is a blessed thing to abhor all forms of wrong and to be resolved to never engage in any of them, but the inner desire to do wrong may remain and be a shame and torment to the aspirant. It is much more blessed to have no desire or attraction to wrong. The desire for wrong is a terrible and perilous spiritual disease, and as long as it remains the person is in grave danger. Most people are so immersed in actual wrongs that they only think of those things as the problem, but when they correct their outer behavior they then come face to face with the real monster of evil within them: the affinity and desire for wrong. Some moral cowards give in to such attraction, rationalizing that to do otherwise would be hypocritical, but the noble of heart struggle with the beast, slay it as Saint George did the dragon, and become free. This woman had been cured of the desire for evil through her own efforts and the blessing of Jesus through whom she had become a “worker together with him” (II Corinthians 6:1).
Simon was a rich and powerful Pharisee, yet this woman came into his house uninvited and going into the dining room anointed Jesus’ feet with her tears and fragrant ointment. This was against all convention. No man, especially a rabbi as was Jesus, would even speak with a woman in public, so think what a shock this was for Jesus to allow her action. It was supremely scandalous to others. But it tells us about the fervency and sincerity of her repentance and her devotion.
On Sri Ramakrishna’s birthday in 1883, he remarked to a few of his disciples: “One cannot be spiritual as long as one has shame or fear. Great will be the joy today. But those fools who will not sing or dance, mad with God’s name, will never attain God.” In the devotional scriptures of India shame and fear are considered two of the eight fetters of delusion which prevent someone from attaining spiritual realization. Therefore Sri Ramakrishna counseled a devotee, Sri Vijay Krishna Goswami: “Surrender yourself completely to God, and set aside all such things as fear and shame.”
Love had erased all fear and shame from the woman’s heart, as it must from ours.
But Jesus knew his thoughts, and said to him, My host, I have a word to say to you. And Simon said, Say on. And Jesus said, Sin is a monster of iniquity; it may be small; it may be large; it may be something left undone. Behold, one person leads a life of sin and is at last redeemed; another, in a careless mood, forgets to do the things he ought to do but he reforms and is forgiven. Now, which of these has merited the higher praise? And Simon said, The one who overcame the errors of a life. (Aquarian Gospel 104:18-22)
Methodius of Olympus who lived in the last part of the third century wrote a book modeled on the dialogues of Socrates. The question was: who is the more virtuous, those who do no wrong because they are not tempted to wrong, or those who do no wrong even though they struggle against great temptation and the desire to do wrong. The conclusion is that those who struggle are the most virtuous. Here we find the same principle applied: those who cleanse themselves after long years of wrongdoing merit great praise.
And Jesus said, You speak the truth. Behold this woman who has bathed my feet with tears and dried them with her hair and covered them with balm! For years she led a life of sin, but when she heard the words of life she sought forgiveness and she found. But when I came into your house as guest you gave me not a bowl of water that I might wash my hands and feet, which every loyal Jew must do before he feasts. Now, tell me, Simon, which of these, this woman or yourself, is worthy of most praise? But Simon answered not. (Aquarian Gospel 104:23-28)
What converted the sinful woman? Hearing about the punishments of hell? Learning of the retribution reaped through karma? Wanting the rewards of heaven? Meeting a charismatic person and becoming a follower out of personal adoration? Finding a group of people that made her feel at home and part of a spiritual family? Feeling she needed some kind of direction in her life? No; even though these are the reasons most people today join a religion, and are the motives that promoters of religion work on to get members.
“Conversion” is an outdated term in contemporary religion. In the past, change of heart and life was the fundamental cause of taking up some form of spiritual life. Stories of people whose lives were totally changed in a moment by the action of divine grace abounded. Entire books were written proving the reality (and sometimes the superiority) of a spiritual path just through stories of those who had been changed “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” by a spiritual awakening or opening.
Now, unfortunately, it is all a matter of what the seeker can get out of it on a very mundane, selfish and ego-centered level, continuous entertainment and diverting novelty being an absolute requisite. A church that cannot put on a good show will lag far behind the megachurches whose budget for stage equipment, lighting, musical instruments and performers is more than the entire income of the churches they outdistance. People no longer are changed: they become confirmed satisfied consumers and users.
Jesus tells us the secret of the woman’s transformation: she heard the words of life. The Gospel of Christ by its eternal message of the fundamental truths of unfolding life in the spirit, of the path to becoming the sons of God and Christs, opened her intellectual understanding, but the live-giving vibration that pervaded the very voice of Jesus was the main force in her hearing the inner voice: “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light!” (Ephesians 5:14).
Then to the woman Jesus said, Your sins are all forgiven; your faith has saved you; go in peace. And then the guests who sat around the board, began to say within themselves, What manner of a man is this who says, Thy sins are all forgiven? (Aquarian Gospel 104:29, 30)
Jesus told her the secret as well: Your faith has saved you. She saved herself by intuiting that higher life was possible and searching for it. Salvation comes from within, from our essential being: the spirit at whose core God dwells eternally. “The Lord lives in the heart of every creature.…The devoted dwell with Him, they know Him always there in the heart…. He is all their aim. Made free by His Knowledge from past uncleanness of deed or of thought, they find the place of freedom” (Bhagavad Gita 18:61; 5:17).
Those who heard Jesus speak the words of assurance to the woman asked themselves what kind of man would tell another that their sins were forgiven. But they never found the answer. Like Simon, their false righteousness blinded them to the saving holiness that dwelt in Jesus and in all who would follow him back to the Father-God.