With the “unclean”
“The fame of Jesus as a teacher spread through all the land, and people came from near and far to hear his words of truth. At Behar, on the sacred river of the Brahms [the Ganges], he taught for many days. And Ach, a wealthy man of Behar, made a feast in honor of his guest, and he invited every one to come. And many came; among them thieves, extortioners, and courtesans.
“And Jesus sat with them and taught; but they who followed him were much aggrieved because he sat with thieves and courtesans. And they upbraided him; they said, Rabboni, master of the wise, this day will be an evil day for you. The news will spread that you consort with courtesans and thieves, and men will shun you as they shun an asp” (Aquarian Gospel 27:1-6).
Jesus did not modify his behavior when he returned to Israel after his sojourn in India, for Matthew, Mark, and Luke record the complaints of “the righteous” about his association with just the same kind of people. There is a difference in his response, however. In Israel he just spoke of how much those people needed him and how he had come to uplift them. In India he speaks more metaphysically–to the shame of teachers who well knew the principles but did not live them.
“And Jesus answered them and said, A master never screens himself for sake of reputation or of fame” (Aquarian Gospel 27:7).
Few, then are the masters on this earth! It is almost impossible to find a single teacher of religion that does not completely tailor himself to suit the “taught.”
A friend of mine came from India to America to teach mathematics at a university. He continued to dress just as he did in India, so after several weeks he was approached by two Indian men in hopes that he was a guru or at least a teacher of spiritual things. During their conversation he asked them if there were any dharma activities in the area. “Oh, yes,” they told him, “Swami X lives just over the river.” Eagerly he got the address and phone number from them and hurried home to call the swami’s center and get an appointment. When the day came, he flew there, anticipating the relief and joy of being in the presence of a sadhu, for he came from a family that greatly loved yogis and monks.
He was shown into a room where another Indian was sitting. But whereas Professor Dwivedi was dressed just as he would in India, this other man was, in Dwivediji’s words: “Well suited, well booted, with gaudy necktie and a mass of shiny pomade on his hair.” He assumed the man was also waiting to see the swami.
After sitting there a few minutes in silence the man asked Dwivediji: “Is there anything I can do for you?” Dwivediji replied: “I am waiting to see Swami X.” “I am Swami X” came the astounding revelation. “One moment I was flying in the sky and the next I was crashing to earth,” Professor Dwivedi told me. “I could not believe it. This dandified man called himself a sadhu?”
Dwivediji was not a shy man. He challenged his host on his utterly inappropriate attire and general appearance. “Oh, I have to dress this way,” he was told, “otherwise no one would listen to me.”
“So who is the teacher, then?” pressed Dwivediji. “Instead of them learning from you, you have learned from them! Tell me, do you also ‘date’ so you will not make them feel you are different from them? Why did you come to America to become a worldly man? You could do that back in India, though there people would have the good sense to disregard you as a spiritual teacher.”
And the interview ended.
By contrast, Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh was once urged in Tamil by a disciple to act in a way that would be more “acceptable” to some very rich visitors. “Why should I care what they think of me?” he demanded in English–a language the rich people understood–much to the disciples’ embarrassment.
I cannot count the number of hoops I have seen some “gurus” leap through, both in India and America to please the crowd or a rich few. But the genuine teachers are another article altogether. Of course they are not popular with a lot of people as a consequence. But the true souls seek them out and profit by their association.
Reputation and fame:
“These are but worthless baubles of the day; they rise and sink, like empty bottles on a stream; they are illusions and will pass away” (Aquarian Gospel 27:8).
Easily said! And very easily agreed to by those who have no chance of either great reputation or fame. It is easy to be detached from the things we do not have. The secret is this: desire for reputation and fame is a purely psychological matter, and escaping attraction for them is also purely psychological.
Only Self-knowledge will dispel these illusions in two ways: 1) it reveals their totally illusory nature and 2) gives us a self-image in which they are thoroughly pointless. When we know our Self we need nothing more. People boast because they do not know how wonderful they really are. Consequently they have to create a false appearance of “wonderful.” When you have real diamonds you forget all about glass. Knowing the Self is the solution that eliminates the problem.
Until we gain that true knowledge we will be tormented by anxieties regarding what others think of us, and we may even be foolish enough to believe that we are what others think of us. And since, as Jesus said, reputation and fame “rise and sink like empty bottles on a stream” we are endlessly tantalized, fearful that we will not gain them, and once we do gain them, fearful that we will lose them, even though it is their nature to be lost. What suffering we create for ourselves–and literally for nothing.
Barometers of ignorance
“They are the indices to what the thoughtless think; they are the noise that people make; and shallow men judge merit by noise” (Aquarian Gospel 27:9).
In reading this verse I am reminded of the “applause meters” that once were used by radio and television competitions or game shows. The louder the applause made by the audience the more likely a person was to win–a victory based on noise rather than merit. It is the same with reputation and fame. They truly are barometers of shallow approval or adulation, with little or no reference to merit or excellence. Observation will reveal that popularity has an inverse ratio to the worthiness of individuals and organizations. It has been evident to me for a long time that really good frauds have no hope of success–only the really cheap and obvious frauds sweep upward to the heights. Intelligence and creativity are death-knells in pop culture, whereas mediocrity is lavishly rewarded.
If someone or something is beloved of “the crowd” we can be sure they are cheap and flimsy at best and twisted or perverse at worse. Jesus did not call ignorant people pigs and dogs for nothing (see Matthew 7:6; 15:26; Isaiah 56:10,11; Philippians 3:2). Their taste in all things reveal their character. Conversely, the less something or someone is esteemed popularly the more likely they are to be good and worthy.
This holds true in religion especially. The wildly popular leaders and organizations are usually outrageously fraudulent and outright abominable. A woman I know used to gauge a spiritual group by telephoning and asking questions regarding the kind of people who belonged. She would go through a list of “cool” and “with-it” types. If they attended–she would not. When she called our ashram she asked if certain conservative religious groups would “like” us. She was told No. Then she asked if certain liberal religious groups would “like” us. When she was also told No, she exclaimed: “I’ll be there!”
Just as there will always be those who prefer margarine to butter, the fake to the genuine, so it will be in spiritual matters. People may be deluded, but they have an unerring sense of the true and the false–they avoid the former and flock to the latter. It is very much like a motion picture made in the 1940’s called Lady From Lisbon. The “Lady” was the Mona Lisa which had been stolen from the Louvre during the upheavals of the Second World War. The thieves took it to Lisbon where people were able to travel freely, usually to the Western Hemisphere. Once the news of the theft went out, several people made fake copies of the Mona Lisa and also came to Lisbon to sell them. Every one of the fakes sold readily, but no one would buy the real item. The reason? It looked fake to the prospective buyers, and the fakes looked real. In the photographic negative of an object the light areas are dark and the dark areas are light. The same is true in the judgment of negative people. You can judge something by their reaction to it, knowing that the truth will be exactly the opposite to their opinion. Popularity and “public confidence” truly are only “the noise that people make.” And it is also true that “shallow men judge merit by noise.”
Before and after the advent of Jesus, false messiahs gathered tens of thousand of followers. But Jesus began and ended with twelve–and one of them betrayed him. Later, when he was no longer around, many flocked to be Christians. As Sri Ma Sarada Devi said about the growing popularity of Sri Ramakrishna after his departure from this world: “Now that the Master is only a photograph everybody loves him!”
It is hard to find the real in spiritual matters because it is invisible to most. I have seen great saints completely ignored by those who lived not only near but even with them. The greater a person or teaching the less they are esteemed in the popular “mind.”
The perspective of the wise
Yet there are those who see true.
“God and all master men judge men by what they are and not by what they seem to be; not by their reputation and their fame” (Aquarian Gospel 27:10).
God told the prophet Samuel: “The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (I Samuel 16:7).
Of course all people are divine in essence, and that is the real “truth” of their being. But this divinity is encased in many layers of energy that go to make up the personality and mentality. Although these energy configurations are not ultimately real, they must not be ignored. Divinity is inside the human and the tiger, but we only shake hands with the human. To run the maze of this world rightly we have to pay attention to temporary realities. There is a lesser “are” to people that we must gauge and respond to. But that, too, is far more real than mere public opinion. The crowd shouted “Crucify him!” when asked what should be done with the innocent Jesus. But there were those who saw him rightly, and they were blessed.
We must look deeply into all things with the eye of atmic intuition that has been opened by meditation. We must see people as they are in the energy levels of their present manifestation and evaluate and react accordingly, though always keeping their divinity in mind. (This is not always so easy.)
The truth of truths
“These courtesans and thieves are children of my Father-God; their souls are just as precious in his sight as yours, or of the Brahmic priests” (Aquarian Gospel 27:11).
We are parts of the Eternal Whole, waves of the ocean of Infinite Being. Every single one of us is as much “of God” as is God himself. And our innermost nature is just as inalienable. Each individual, no matter what the outer condition, is of infinite value. And no matter how darkened or tangled the life-path may be, still the movement is toward perfection. From Egypt to Israel is not such a long way, yet the Hebrews wandered in the desert for forty years before entering the Promised Land. They were greatly delayed, but they made it, nevertheless. So it is with us and all others. Even the most degraded life is precious because it is part of the path Godward.
We must learn to distinguish between life and the conditions in which life can be entrapped, and to value them accordingly, for they are not the same.
Jesus further tells his critics:
“And they are working out the same life sums that you, who pride yourselves on your respectability and moral worth, are working out. And some of them have solved much harder sums than you have solved, you men who look at them with scorn” (Aquarian Gospel 27:12, 13).
So we are all in it together, from the amoeba to the highest evolved beings at the top of creation. And God is right here in the midst of it with us, for Krishna said: “I am the Atman that dwells in the heart of every mortal creature” (Bhagavad Gita 10:20). And “The Lord lives in the heart of every creature” (Bhagavad Gita 18:61). God experiences everything we experience. The implications of this are great.
Sinners–honest and dishonest
“Yes, they are sinners, and confess their guilt, while you are guilty, but are shrewd enough to have polished coat to cover up your guilt. Suppose you men who scorn these courtesans, these drunkards and these thieves, who know that you are pure in heart and life, that you are better far than they, stand forth that men may know just who you are” (Aquarian Gospel 27:14, 15).
Jesus is here making a distinction between wrongdoers. There are the trapped and the willfully evil. The trapped do not hide their problems and thus have hope of amendment, but the intentionally evil hide their deeds and practice hypocrisy. There are no limits to their coverings-up. They will even kill teachers of righteousness lest the truth about them be revealed. This is the main reason Jesus was murdered by “the righteous.” ”For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved” (John 3:20).
For the trapped Jesus had nothing but compassion and offered hope, and for the lovers of evil he had only the light of truth–which they hated.
The root of “sin”
All people do foolish and even harmful things, yet some are “sinners” and some are not. How can this be? Jesus makes it clear in few words, saying:
“The sin lies in the wish, in the desire, not in the act” (Aquarian Gospel 27:16).
This is not original with him, but is the teaching of Buddha half a millennium before.
Karma consists of two aspects: creation of a future effect or destiny, and the manifestation or “reaping” that is the effect. Buddha made it very clear that “originating” karma was a purely psychological matter, though it usually manifested physically in its “working out.” Therefore it was the intent of the person that determined the quality and form of the “reaping” karma.
A dizzy person cannot help staggering or walking into things. In the same way, there are those in the grip of ignorance and folly that seem hopelessly caught in patterns of wrong thinking and acting. For these there is a way out, and to them Jesus gladly came for their deliverance. We must realize this, however: Jesus did not just “accept” them and hobnob with them to prove what a liberal, broad-minded and “non-judgmental” person he was. No. His association with them was intended to free them from the destructive cycle in which they were caught. He did indeed accept them, but he did not accept their inner distortion. He came to heal, to do away with that–not in “righteous” disapproval, but in mercy.
There is absolutely no virtue in associating with and “tolerating” evil or evil people. But there is supreme virtue in helping those who wish to escape from bondage to find the way out of darkness into the light. There is, of course, no virtue in trying to drive people into the light. Those who do not wish to be led should be left alone. And Jesus did. Now back to the truly “bad.”
“You covet other people’s wealth; you look at charming forms, and deep within your hearts you lust for them. Deceit you practice every day, and wish for gold, for honor and for fame, just for your selfish selves.
“The man who covets is a thief, and she who lusts is courtesan. You who are none of these speak out.
“Nobody spoke; the accusers held their peace. And Jesus said, The proof this day is all against those who have accused” (Aquarian Gospel 27:17-21).
There is religion which reveals and religion which conceals. The first kind is beloved of those who desire to purify their hearts and rise to higher life. The second is beloved of those who wish to hide their impurity and remain sunken in it. Obviously, the second form is the most sought after. It is unjust to condemn all religion because we see the second type so prevalent. (But of course it is comforting to pretend that “it is all bad” so we can continue to slumber the fitful sleep of ignorance.) Jesus is going to present to us the picture of right religion versus the hypocrisy that usually prevails.
“The pure in heart do not accuse. The vile in heart who want to cover up their guilt with holy smoke of piety are ever loathing drunkard, thief and courtesan. This loathing and this scorn is mockery, for if the tinseled coat of reputation could be torn away, the loud professor would be found to revel in his lust, deceit and many forms of secret sin.
“The man who spends his time in pulling other people’s weeds can have no time to pull his own, and all the choicest flowers of life will soon be choked and die, and nothing will remain but darnel, thistles, burs” (Aquarian Gospel 27:22-24).
“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). The primary sense of this statement is that purification of heart prepares us for the vision of God. But there is a secondary sense, and that is that the pure in heart see God in all. Please note that I say they see God “in all,” not that they see everything as God. What I mean is this: the pure in heart see divinity at the heart of all others, though they clearly see the muck that covers that divinity in most people. They see through to the inner holiness, though aware of the veiling sins. So their attitude is one of positivity and of optimism about those around them. They accept and do not reject. Yet they know well that much is needed to reveal the hidden treasure. The way of the impure of heart is quite different, as Jesus has shown us.
The way it is
Finally Jesus gives us a parable so perfect and so clear that it needs no commentary.
“And Jesus spoke a parable: he said, Behold, a farmer had great fields of ripened grain, and when he looked he saw that blades of many stalks of wheat were bent and broken down. And when he sent his reapers forth he said, We will not save the stalks of wheat that have the broken blades. Go forth and cut and burn the stalks with broken blades.
“And after many days he went to measure up his grain, but not a kernel could be find. And then he called the harvesters and said to them, Where is my grain? They answered him and said, We did according to your word; we gathered up and burned the stalks with broken blades, and not a stalk was left to carry to the barn.
“And Jesus said, If God saves only those who have no broken blades, who have been perfect in his sight, who will be saved? And the accusers hung their heads in shame; and Jesus went his way” (Aquarian Gospel 27:25-32).
May we go that way, as well.
Read the next section in the Aquarian Gospel for Yogis: The Brotherhood of Life