Elihu now recounts the spiritual history of India, to Mary and Elizabeth.
“Again Elihu taught; he said, The Indian priests became corrupt; Brahm was forgotten in the streets; the rights of men were trampled in the dust. A mighty master came, a Buddha of enlightenment, who turned away from wealth and all the honors of the world, and found the Silence in the quiet groves and caves; and he was blest. He preached a gospel of the higher life, and taught man how to honor man. He had no doctrine of the gods to teach; he just knew man, and so his creed was justice, love and righteousness.
“I quote for you a few of many of the helpful words which Buddha spoke: Hate is a cruel word. If men hate you regard it not; and you can turn the hate of men to love and mercy and goodwill, and mercy is as large as all the heavens. And there is good enough for all. With good destroy the bad; with generous deeds make avarice ashamed; with truth make straight the crooked lines that error draws, for error is but truth distorted, gone astray. And pain will follow him who speaks or acts with evil thoughts, as does the wheel the foot of him who draws the cart. He is a greater man who conquers self than he who kills a thousand men in war. He is the noble man who is himself what he believes what other men should be. Return to him who does you wrong your purest love, and he will cease from doing wrong; for love will purify the heart of him who is beloved as truly as it purifies the heart of him who loves.
“The words of Buddha are recorded in the Indian sacred books; attend to them, for they are part of the instructions of the Holy Breath” (Aquarian Gospel 11:1-12).
At the time of Buddha people were mentally and spiritually crippled by the false belief that they had to rely on others for their spiritual welfare. Whether priests or teachers, the authority figures of the time insisted that without them spiritual knowledge and attainment was impossible. But Buddha proved this to be completely wrong. Having followed such authorities, he found that he had only managed to gain exotic experiences and abilities, but he had not found liberation. Turning from all teachings and teachers, he looked deep within, practicing the Silence, and became enlightened. Subsequently he emphasized that he had been self-enlightened–that no doctrine, god, or teacher had bestowed enlightenment on him. According to Buddha we do not need any kind of external input or boost from an external source. Rather, we need only uncover what is already there. That is why, even though He established the two simple rites of Baptism and Eucharist, Jesus insisted that they were ways of setting and exerting our own individual wills; that they had a benefit, but the benefit was internal–and revealing of our ever-present enlightenment.
Because self-reliance and an understanding of our self-sufficiency is so imperative: He had no doctrine of the gods to teach; he just knew man, and so his creed was justice, love and righteousness. It is true that theism can be a deadly thing for religionists when the identity of God and man is not comprehended and acted upon. The idea of deific power(s) that dispenses fortune and misfortune, before which we are helpless and that we need to please and placate, is not just wrong, it is destructive. Buddha sought to free us from that false bondage which keeps us from the realization of our real nature–and a great proportion of that bondage is superstition in the guise of religion.
Furthermore, Buddha refused to give any teachings that were not practical. He refused to talk about gods, creation, and elaborate theories of karma and the origin and constitution of human beings. Every word he spoke had a practical application. He had no abstract doctrines. Every single discourse he gave consisted of material that could be applied in practical, daily life. He even refused to say whether man had a self (atman) or not. Instead he urged his hearers to find out for themselves by applying his teaching. Those who wish to impose their ideas on Buddha claim that he taught there was no God (or gods) and no soul. He did not. He refused to dogmatize and define, saying that anything he might say on the matter would be surely misunderstood. He did teach three doctrines: karma, rebirth, and nirvana. What else do we need to know? Buddha diagnosed the disease and prescribed the cure, always pointing us back to our own selves, for we have nothing else to work with, really. “And so his creed was justice, love and righteousness.”
Dealing with hatred
Hate is a cruel word. If men hate you regard it not; and you can turn the hate of men to love and mercy and goodwill, and mercy is as large as all the heavens. Here, too, Buddha was going against the prevailing attitudes of the time. In the West, spiritual seekers usually become much too involved with externals, including “doing good.” In the East, because of such a firm understanding that reality lies within, seekers tend to become much too self-involved, forgetting everybody else. I heard a woman tell about being in Western India walking down a road and coming on a man who had just collapsed and was bleeding from striking his head on a rock. He was lying partially out in the road where traffic was zooming by. She attempted to drag him to safety, but he was dead weight and very hard to move. Sitting on the sides of a nearby bridge were two Hindu monks. When she asked them to help her get the man out of the way of the cars and trucks, they answered: “We are sadhus [monks]. We don’t do things like that.” Then she asked if they would go for help as she stayed to look after the man. In response they got up and walked away in the opposite direction, leaving her to do it alone. This is not atypical. When Swami Vivekananda started the Ramakrishna Mission at the end of the nineteenth century, one of the aims of the monks was the assistance of suffering humanity. The majority of other monks condemned this aspect of their mission, and even referred to Ramakrishna Mission monks as “bedpan sadhus”–until they got ill and could find help only from those bedpan sadhus. Even today many disapprove of the noble and selfless service rendered by Ramakrishna Mission–a classic example of perverted thinking on the part of those who think themselves spiritual.
Buddha faced the same ignorance, but persevered in teaching the necessity for positive interaction with our fellowman. See the all-around wisdom of the Buddha set forth here. A person can disregard the ill-will of others through mere stoicism and even through egotism that makes him despise those who hate him. Therefore Buddha went on to teach that we should heal those who hate us by helping them to open the inner fount of love, mercy, and goodwill. Yes–we can transform their hatred into love; such is the power of those who rightly aspire to Buddhahood (Christhood). We have a moral obligation to recognize and exercise that power. Nor should there be a limit to our mercy; it must be as vast as the sky. But this is only possible when we open the infinity that is within us by meditation.
Good contrasted with evil
And there is good enough for all. Evil is small, and therefore measured; but goodness is boundless, beyond measure. So “a good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good” (Luke 6:45). Never does real good run out, so if we find our kindness, mercy, and love running out or getting thin, then it is not the real thing, does not come from our inner supply of real kindness, mercy, and love. Nor are there some that can be beyond the scope of our good will. If it is real, it embraces all. We cannot reserve it for “the deserving.”
With good destroy the bad; with generous deeds make avarice ashamed; with truth make straight the crooked lines that error draws, for error is but truth distorted, gone astray. The last clause is the key to the first of the sentence. “Error is but truth distorted, gone astray.” Evil does not exist, really; it is a corruption of good. Therefore it can be dissolved by our resolutely thinking, speaking, and doing the good that is the reality of the illusory evil. Dark is nothing but the absence of light. Bring in the light and darkness is gone. We can do the same thing in practical life. And we need to concentrate on good–not on evil. Those who “combat evil” only compound evil. We can dispel evil through good alone.
And pain will follow him who speaks or acts with evil thoughts, as does the wheel the foot of him who draws the cart. “For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). Buddha’s simile is good, for there is no sneaky or clever way to pull a cart and not have it move along right after us. Also it makes clear that the result of an action springs from the action itself–and nothing more. The idea of reward or punishment dispensed by some metaphysical forces or supernatural beings because of the breaking of some arbitrary spiritual law has no place in Buddha’s realistic view. And just as we cannot pull the cart and not have it move, we cannot elude the consequences of our acts, ever.
Most religion is centered around the idea of escaping the consequence of our acts (and thoughts), usually to the profit of the ministry or priesthood. But we cannot fool Mother Nature in the form of karmic force. The attempt to cajole God into denying Himself and working injustice to cancel justice in the form of cosmic law, is outrageous and does not work. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). So says Saint Paul. And so said the Buddha, who gave us the way to stop pain: quit pulling the cart in the wrong direction.
He is a greater man who conquers self than he who kills a thousand men in war. It is a lot easier to beat a thousand men in war than to conquer our lower self. The greatest heroism is in the realm of the soul. That is why in India spiritually advanced people are called Maharaj–great king–even if they have no social recognition or status. For those who rule themselves are truly great kings, more than those who rule other men. I always find it funny when at the beginning of The Shadow radio program I hear the words: “The Shadow, master of other men’s minds….” Yes, that is how it is. It is a lot easier to master other people’s minds through external persuasion than to master our own mind through inner endeavor. “He that ruleth his spirit [is better] than he that taketh a city” (Proverbs 16:32).
He is the noble man who is himself what he believes that other men should be. The meaning is clear. The wise make sure that they are themselves the embodiment of what they would teach to others. Those who are living demonstrations of their teaching are the proof of the teaching’s validity. We sometimes hear it said that it does not matter if Buddha or Jesus really existed; it is the ideals that matter. That is pure balderdash. If Buddha or Jesus did not exist, then the teachings are just pie in the sky with no proof that it is possible to really follow them–or that they are worth following. We must be what we believe, not just believe. We must be what we teach, not just teach. Otherwise we will be like parrots reciting a string of mathematical formulas with no comprehension of what we are saying. We will embody ignorance, not wisdom; so what will those become who listen to us?
Return good for evil
Return to him who does you wrong your purest love, and he will cease from doing wrong; for love will purify the heart of him who is beloved as truly as it purifies the heart of him who loves. Here, too, love is not just an egoic emotion or attitude. Love is the spiritual power of Christ that is released through the cultivation of interior life through meditation and a compatible mode of thought and life. Love is light in the darkness, and can banish the dark of evil when it enters into the life of those we love. Through love we can heal, purify from sin, and save–as did Jesus. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do” (John 14:12).
Elihu’s closing words are wisdom for us all: “The words of Buddha are recorded in the Indian sacred books; attend to them, for they are part of the instructions of the Holy Breath,” the Holy Spirit.
“The land of Egypt is the land of secret things. The mysteries of the ages lie lock-bound in our temples and our shines. The masters of all times and climes come here to learn; and when your sons have grown to manhood they will finish all their studies in Egyptian schools. But I have said enough. Tomorrow at the rising of the sun we meet again” (Aquarian Gospel 11:13-16).
We will see later on that many years after these words Jesus was proclaimed The Christ in Egypt; and then he went to Israel to begin his public ministry.
Read the next section in the Aquarian Gospel for Yogis: God and Prayer