It is perfectly in the natural order of things in this world that any positive current is opposed–often bitterly and often to the death. One of the greatest evils of the twentieth century was the hellish persecution of religion in the Communist countries, and it continues today in the few that remain and is increasing continually in much of the rest of the world, including the United States.
Persecution and opposition are often signs that we are on the right course. The reaction of evil people can tell us whether we are in the light or in the dark–like them. In my own spiritual search I found this to be true, knowing that only when the evil ones became angered, outraged and threatening could I be sure I was going in the right direction. That is why Jesus said: “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12).
There are many ways to deal with such opposition. Solomon wrote: “If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: for thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall reward thee” (Proverbs 25:21, 22). And Saint Paul: “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” Romans 12:20, 21). The “coals of fire” are the guilt and shame such a person will feel when only kindness and helpfulness are given in return, and which can work to his reformation.
When I was a child a minister told the story of a woman whose husband was inimical to her involvement with the church and was very spiteful to her. When she told her minister this he asked her–with these Bible passages in mind–“Have you heaped coals of fire on his head?” “No,” she replied, “but I poured hot coffee on him!” She did not get the idea. Jesus shows us the right way in this chapter.
“With three disciples Jesus went to Hebron where he tarried seven days and taught. And then he went to Bethany and in the home of Lazarus he taught. The evening came; the multitudes were gone, and Jesus, Lazarus, and his sisters, Martha, Ruth and Mary, were alone.
“And Ruth was sore distressed. Her home was down in Jericho; her husband was the keeper of an inn; his name was Asher-ben. Now, Asher was a Pharisee of strictest mien and thought, and he regarded Jesus with disdain. And when his wife confessed her faith in Christ, he drove her from his home. But Ruth resisted not; she said, If Jesus is the Christ he knows the way, and I am sure He is the Christ. My husband may become enraged and slay my human form; he cannot kill the soul, and in the many mansions of my Fatherland I have a dwelling-place.
“And Ruth told Jesus all; and then she said, What shall I do?” (Aquarian Gospel 77:1-9).
In this chapter we learn about a sister of Lazarus that is not mentioned in the Bible or anywhere else as far as I know. These nine verses are self-explanatory.
Jesus’ diagnosis of Asher
“And Jesus said, Your husband is not willingly at fault; he is devout; he prays to God, our Father-God. His zeal for his religion is intense; in this he is sincere; but it has driven him insane, and he believes it right to keep his home unsullied by the heresy of Christ. He feels assured that he has done the will of God in driving you away. Intolerance is ignorance matured. The light will come to him some day, and then he will repay for all your heartaches, griefs and tears” (Aquarian Gospel 77:8-14).
Your husband is not willingly at fault. Fanatics actually relish denouncing those that disagree with them as evil and demonic, calling them all sorts of defamatory things, spewing out loathing and hatred toward them. They think this proves their purity and orthodoxy when it only demonstrates that they are demons in mind and heart. Christians are especially prone to this, even though they like to talk about how Jesus prayed for his enemies. Again, they are following the motto of all ignorant sectarians: Ignore the Message and Adore the Messenger. It does not work that way, for Jesus said: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” Matthew 7:21-23). This is what awaits these Churchians at the judgment of Christ with which they so love to threaten others. What a surprise is in store for them!
But here we see the true Christ-attitude. Jesus understands that Asher’s problem is in his lack of understanding, not in negativity of will. Consequently he lists his virtues:
He is devout; he prays to God, our Father-God. His zeal for his religion is intense; in this he is sincere. He respects the dedication of Asher to truth as he understands it. Also, he is as much a devotee of God as Ruth. Only yesterday I came across a website that contained articles contending that anyone who did not belong to their particular religion did not worship God at all but a “false god” and even (of course:) demons. O consternation! In a related website someone had posted a response saying in essence: “Twenty years ago I quit your church, and this brings back to me why I did. Go out for a walk and breathe some fresh air and clear your head!” I understood exactly what the poster meant.
Jesus saw value in Asher’s religious outlook, even though it was erroneous. Saint Paul said about his sincere opponents: “I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge” (Romans 10:2). That is, their zeal was godly though mistaken. Where do we see this view in any form of Christianity today, except for a few esoteric Christian groups that are despised and execrated by those who consider themselves orthodox and “mainline” and “the one true Church of Christ outside of which there is no salvation”? Oh, well, as Jesus said: “They have their reward” (Matthew 6:2, 5, 16). And we should acknowledge any good that they possess, if we would be followers of Jesus.
But it has driven him insane. Jesus is not speaking clinically, as though Asher was literally insane, but only morally so. That is, his ignorance has robbed him of all spiritual reason. It is just like the modern day “believers” and “unbelievers” that rail and rage at one another, declaring each other fools and worse–especially the new, “chic” atheists of this century. But in reality they are both crazy with ego and hatred as well as fear of one another’s views since they are equally insecure and fraught with fear. Fear and outrage are their common coin. So naturally they switch sides quite readily and post “I was an atheist” and “I was a deluded Christian” with equal facility. Hate and fear unites them in their perpetual dogfight.
He believes it right to keep his home unsullied by the heresy of Christ. He feels assured that he has done the will of God in driving you away. God Himself said to the prophet Samuel when he went to anoint David (the future Messiah, Jesus) king: “Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (I Samuel 16:7). So God and his messengers do not just consider a person’s words and actions, but the disposition of heart that motivated them. If Asher had acted in any other way, thinking as he did, it would have been a great moral wrong. It is tremendously important that we weigh all aspects before coming to a conclusion about someone. Seeming vice can hide very real virtue, just as seeming virtue can cloak very real vice. To see as God sees is the trait of a Christ, and though we are not yet Christs we can certainly take the example of Jesus to assist us in the path to Christhood.
Intolerance is ignorance matured. This sentence should be known by every single human being and taken to heart. The world would be a vastly different place if all people understood the truth of this and acted accordingly, uprooting from their hearts all traces of matured ignorance. (But please notice that I say “uprooting from their hearts”–not trying to forcibly alter the hearts of others. That is another terrible evil that is an offshoot of matured ignorance, as well.) We should carefully examine ourselves to make sure this has no place in us.
The light will come to him some day, and then he will repay for all your heartaches, griefs and tears. Only today I was listening to an account of the terrible death of a very evil and tremendously destructive man. It was an awful picture of incalculable suffering compounded by a monstrous ego which hated and raged against the only thing that could heal the misery. Yet, ugly as it was, I was not upset by it because I knew that in time that man would come to healing and proceed along the upward way to the Divine Vision. This is a wonderful truth. Bigots and fanatics hate the teaching of Sanatana Dharma expressed in an esoteric creed: “We believe in the law of good which rules the world and by which one day all His sons shall reach the feet of the Father, however far they stray,” for they want those they dislike to be damned to everlasting torment–this, too, being proof of their own profound negativity. But in time they and those they wish ill of will step up into the light and say with the Prodigal Son: “I will arise and go to my father” (Luke 15:18).
His diagnosis of Ruth
“And Ruth, you must not think that you are free from blame. If you had walked in wisdom’s ways, and been content to hold your peace, this grief would not have come to you” (Aquarian Gospel 77:15, 16).
The Aquarian Gospel and the gospels of the official Bible show us clearly that Jesus was a plain-speaking and straightforward man, yet always governed by wisdom and compassion. Obviously Ruth did not follow his example, but fussed and nagged at Asher for his refusal to think as she did. As I once heard a character in a movie say: “There is a difference between caring and being annoying.” How true! We must cultivate wisdom and intuition in dealing with others if we would help and not injure them.
One time two people asked me what I thought about their alcohol addiction. I could feel the tension and fear as they waited for my answer. So I explained that I knew they were really seeking relief from life’s tensions and worries, and that God understood better than I did. Then I recommended that they stop being anxious about being “bad” and relax and pray and look into learning meditation. They went away happy, and I was happy, too, for I knew things would become better for them–and they did. Another time I met two young men whose lives were a moral shambles, and yet whose hearts were good and whose consciences were alive though troubled. When I left they followed me to the door and one of them asked in a sad, hesitant voice: “Do you think we are evil?” I put my arms around both of them together and said: “No; I know you are good. I love you and God loves you and never let anyone tell you otherwise. Do what you know is right as much as you can, and your life will be blest.” I can still see the joy on their faces and feel their response. I know they have gone on the upward way even if very slowly and often imperceptibly. They will one day reign in the kingdom of heaven, however long it may take.
One of the major traits of Swami Sivananda was his great love and optimism for the spiritual future of all he met. Because he saw us as sons of God it became easy for us to believe it and try to manifest it. We knew that even a thousand failures could not make him cease to believe in us and hope for our best. That is how he changed the lives of thousands–just by knowing it was possible. He knew we could–and so we did.
What we sow we reap. If we sow kindness and good will it will manifest in time. People are too precious to treat carelessly and callously. Once I was taken by some fundamentalist Protestants to the county jail. We stood outside the bars of a kind of common room and one of the group harangued the men about sin and punishment by God. Those poor men sat there unresponding, filled with despair and unhappiness. I thought: “These people do not need condemnation, they need hope. They need the real gospel of Christ, that from death life can come forth.” It is so easy to discourage people with thoughtless words and actions. Saint Theresa of Liseaux wrote that God’s justice means that God understands. We all need that insight.
“It takes a long, long time for light to break into the shell of prejudice, and patience is the lesson you have need to learn. The constant dropping of the water wears away the hardest stone. The sweet and holy incense of a godly life will melt intolerance much quicker than the hottest flame, or hardest blow. Just wait a little time, and then go home with sympathy and love. Talk not of Christ, nor of the kingdom of the Holy One. Just live a godly life; refrain from harshness in your speech, and you will lead your husband to the light. And it was so” (Aquarian Gospel 77:17-22).
It takes a long, long time for light to break into the shell of prejudice, and patience is the lesson you have need to learn. The constant dropping of the water wears away the hardest stone. The dropping of the water is not a continual assault on someone, but perseverance in gentle optimism. The disciples of Sri Ramakrishna said that he “could see an ocean in a drop of good,” that he would seek out a spark of virtue in a person and fan and fan that spark until it became a flame that consumed their darkness.
This is what Jesus is speaking about. It takes time, but it must gain results for divinity is the nature of the people we are interested in helping. They do not need to be made into something, but to wake up from the illusion that they are so much less than they really are. A friend of mine only wanted a materially prosperous and carefree life. “Is that so much to ask?” she often challenged me, and I always told her: “No. It is not enough to ask. You are greater than that and destined for infinity, and until you achieve it you will never be truly happy or have any lasting peace.” This is a hard lesson to learn and it really only happens when someone’s inner consciousness awakens. Until then wait patiently and know the best is coming eventually.
The sweet and holy incense of a godly life will melt intolerance much quicker than the hottest flame, or hardest blow. Now there is a perspective for us: Are we what we should be? Have we any right to expect from others what we have not developed in ourselves? Jesus is telling us that if our consciousness is what it should be, the very vibration of purity, holiness, and wisdom, will melt the ice of ignorance and prejudice and free the bound souls. That is why Yogananda said: “Save yourself and you will save thousands.” Before that Saint Seraphim of Sarov would way: “Acquire the Holy Spirit of God and thousands around you will be saved.” So we should be working on ourselves far more than on others–if at all.
Just wait a little time, and then go home with sympathy and love. Talk not of Christ, nor of the kingdom of the Holy One. Just live a godly life; refrain from harshness in your speech, and you will lead your husband to the light. What simple wisdom! Do not talk about it: live it; be it. Then, being in the presence of light, they will find the light.
And it was so. That’s the best thing about truth: it works.
Read the next section in the Aquarian Gospel for Yogis: The Opened Gate