“It came to pass when John, the son of Zacharias and Elizabeth, had finished all his studies in the Egyptian schools, that he returned to Hebron, where he abode for certain days. And then he sought the wilderness and made his home in David’s cave where, many years before, he was instructed by the Egyptian sage. Some people called him Hermit of Engedi; and others said, He is the Wild Man of the Hills. He clothed himself with skins of beasts; his food was carobs, honey, nuts and fruits” (Aquarian Gospel 61:1-4).
Saint John never abandoned his hermitical ways, having lived in that manner virtually from childhood. (Tradition says that an angel led him into the desert when he was only nine years of age, and he never left that mode of life.) Even though Jesus said: “Among the men of earth a greater man has never lived than John” (103:22), we see him holding absolutely to his chosen discipline.
Just as John was what he was, so people were what they were–and still are. The foolish called him a “wild man” but the sensible knew he was a holy hermit. Most important, we see that he was a pure vegetarian. This is a fundamental requisite of spiritual life. Those who are not vegetarians cannot advance more than a few beginning steps in the mystical life. This is a fact that knows no exceptions. That is why in Western Christianity every time there has been a spiritual revival or movement, vegetarianism has been a prime factor.
“When John was thirty years of age he went into Jerusalem, and in the market place he sat in silence seven days. The common people and the priests, the scribes and Pharisees came out in multitudes to see the silent hermit of the hills; but none were bold enough to ask him who he was” (Aquarian Gospel 61:5, 6).
Throughout the Aquarian Gospel we find sitting in silence–sometimes for days–is a prelude to speech or action. There is a great lesson for us in this: only from silence does the highest good proceed.
Although he was sitting in silence, multitudes came to see Saint John, for his holiness drew their attention. This is what the Indians call darshan–the blessing that flows to those who simply look at a saint. I have done this for hours in India, and found it quietly transforming. There really is a subtle spiritual force that enters into those that sit with a still mind, just letting a saint’s presence soak into them. There is a kind of quiet awe that arises in those who behold a saint, as well. That is why no one spoke to Saint John.
It is interesting that both John the Baptist and Jesus began their active ministry in Israel at the age of thirty.
The first exhortation
“But when his silent fast was done he stood forth in the midst of all and said: Behold the king has come; the prophets told of him; the wise men long have looked for him. Prepare, O Israel, prepare to meet your king. And that was all he said, and then he disappeared, and no one knew where he had gone. And there was great unrest through all Jerusalem. The rulers heard the story of the hermit of the hills. And they sent couriers forth to talk with him that they might know about the coming king; but they could find him not” (Aquarian Gospel 61:7-12).
But when his silent fast was done he stood forth in the midst of all and said…. Swami Sriyukteswar Giri used to say: “Too much of a good thing is no longer good.” Without speech human life–as distinct from animal life–would be impossible. Yet, it is good to “fast” from speech. For one thing, it helps the mind turn in and ponder itself as well as what we would say when we do speak. Whenever we speak, subtle life force is projected to whoever hears us. Actually, physical objects are affected, as well–their vibrations are literally changed over time. So speech expends energy, and silence recharges our subtle energy bodies. Silence is even good for health.
Behold the king has come. One who has consciously reunited his consciousness with God (Ishwara) is a Son of God and god. He is a true king–a master. That is why in India a monk is addressed as “Maharaj”–great king–because he seeks to reestablish his divine status on the practical level. He seeks to actualize what he presently is only in potential. Such a one deserves all respect and even reverence, for when we are in his awakened presence we are in the living presence of God.
The prophets told of him; the wise men long have looked for him. This is true, but how much better to look for our own divine Self, to ourselves become a King of Spirit.
Prepare, O Israel, prepare to meet your king. An ordinary mind cannot intelligently perceive an enlightened being. They may like such a one, and even say that “there is something” unusual about him, but it goes no further than that. It does indeed take one to know one, and only those that have cultivated their own consciousness can recognize one who has completed the endeavor. Therefore we must change ourselves completely if we would recognize a Son of God and realize our own divine nature.
And that was all he said, and then he disappeared, and no one knew where he had gone. There really was no more to be said. Wise are those who know when to speak and when to stop.
And there was great unrest through all Jerusalem. The rulers heard the story of the hermit of the hills. And they sent couriers forth to talk with him that they might know about the coming king; but they could find him not. Nothing creates unrest in the ignorant mind more than the liberating truth about who we really are. Most people ignore it, and many combat it. Few receive the news with joy and act upon it.
The second exhortation
“And after certain days he came again into the market place, and all the city came to hear him speak; he said: Be not disturbed, you rulers of the state; the coming king is no antagonist; he seeks no place on any earthly throne. He comes the Prince of Peace, the king of righteousness and love; his kingdom is within the soul. The eyes of men shall see it not and none can enter but the pure in heart. Prepare, O Israel, prepare to meet your king. Again the hermit disappeared; the people strove to follow him, but he had drawn a veil about his form and men could see him not” (Aquarian Gospel 61:13-18).
Be not disturbed, you rulers of the state; the coming king is no antagonist; he seeks no place on any earthly throne. Nevertheless, those who are intent on this world are antagonistic to messengers of the True World, because their perspective may influence others and upset their plans. When I was seven years old I met a five year old boy searching the gutters for cigarette butts because he was addicted to nicotine. I saw something in him and spoke to him as best I could to explain the mistake he was making. I had gauged him correctly, and he stopped smoking permanently. The result? His mother, father, brothers and sisters were enraged and set a bunch of toughs on me with instruction to beat me up. I evaded them, but they hated me for a long time. I have known juvenile delinquents whose families became furious when they were helped by good people to reform. Two of my good friends were from rich families who paid their way throughout the world–destroying themselves with immorality and addiction. But when they came to their senses and began to lead good lives and practice meditation, their parents turned on them like raging beasts and did everything they could to force them back into their former follies.
He comes the Prince of Peace, the king of righteousness and love; his kingdom is within the soul. The eyes of men shall see it not and none can enter but the pure in heart. Prepare, O Israel, prepare to meet your king. No spiritual quest can be begun until the quester seriously begins purifying himself–and it cannot be maintained unless he continues to do so.
Again the hermit disappeared; the people strove to follow him, but he had drawn a veil about his form and men could see him not. This is an occult power often possessed by spiritual adepts, including Jesus as will be seen later.
The third exhortation
“A Jewish feast day came; Jerusalem was filled with Jews and proselytes from every part of Palestine, and John stood in the temple court and said,
“Prepare, O Israel, prepare to meet your king. Lo, you have lived in sin; the poor cry in your streets, and you regard them not. Your neighbors, who are they? You have defrauded friend and foe alike. You worship God with voice and lip; your hearts are far away, and set on gold. Your priests have bound upon the people burdens far to great to bear; they live in ease upon the hard earned wages of the poor. Your lawyers, doctors, scribes are useless cumberers of the ground; they are but tumors on the body of the state; they toil not neither do they spin, yet they consume the profits of your marts of trade. Your rulers are adulterers, extortioners and thieves, regarding not the rights of any man; and robbers ply their calling in the sacred halls; the holy temple you have sold to thieves; their dens are in the sacred places set apart for prayer.
“Hear! hear! you people of Jerusalem! Reform; turn from your evil ways or God will turn from you and heathen from afar will come, and what is left of all your honor and your fame will pass in one short hour. Prepare, Jerusalem, prepare to meet your king.
“He said no more; he left the court and no one saw him go. The priests, the doctors and the scribes were all in rage. They sought for John intent to do him harm. They found him not. The common people stood in his defense; they said, The hermit speaks the truth.
“And then the priests, the doctors and the scribes were sore afraid; they said no more; they hid themselves away” (Aquarian Gospel 61:19-34).
There is really no need to comment on this. Saint John’s words are easy to comprehend–as is the negative reaction of the foolish and the positive reaction of the wise.
Read the next section in the Aquarian Gospel for Yogis: John the Baptist – II