One of the more inexplicable traits of the Western mind that can be traced back for thousands of years is the idea that skepticism is sophisticated, that even a person who has faith will somehow keep a tinge of disbelief or suspicion in spiritual matters, particularly in relation to the “supernatural.” Somehow this is thought to mark out a level-headed person, free of gullibility. “Blind faith” is just about the worst expletive such urbane and worldly-wise can toss about.
The Romans particularly prided themselves on cynical self-satirization (not from others, you understand, only from themselves) which of course extended to their religion, and they were wont to say that nobody really believed in “the old gods” anymore, but that the Roman religion was a link with their heritage, a force for social cohesion, and should therefore not be dislodged. How condescending and tolerant! “How I envy the simple peasant his simple faith” has been a lament in the mouths of such jaded intellects for the last several centuries. Some, such as Thomas Hardy, even wrote poems about it. Ah, the burden of superior intelligence.
Pilate was one of these uppercrust unbelievers. When Jesus told him: “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth,…Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out” (John 18:37, 38). He did not even pause to see if Jesus would give a fatuous answer he could smirk at and pass off in scornful silence or with a telling bon mot. (Perhaps he could not take the risk?).
A prior conversation
Nearly twenty years before Jesus spoke with Pilate, He had lived in the great temple of Jagannath in Puri (Orissa). There one of His closest friends was a Brahmin priest named Lamaas.
“Among the priests of Jagannath was one who loved the Jewish boy. Lamaas Bramas was the name by which the priest was known. One day as Jesus and Lamaas walked alone in plaza Jagannath, Lamaas said, My Jewish master, what is truth?
“And Jesus said, Truth is the only thing that changes not. In all the world there are two things; the one is truth; the other falsehood is; and truth is that which is, and falsehood that which seems to be. Now truth is aught, and has no cause, and yet it is the cause of everything. Falsehood is naught, and yet it is the manifest of aught. Whatever has been made will be unmade; that which begins must end. All things that can be seen by human eyes are manifests of aught, are naught, and so must pass away. The things we see are but reflexes just appearing, while the ethers vibrate so and so, and when conditions change they disappear. The Holy Breath is truth; is that which was, and is, and evermore shall be; it cannot change nor pass away” (Aquarian Gospel 22:2-10).
I challenge anyone to find any writing of religion, philosophy, or holy scripture that say this any better. In fact most of them do not even say these vital truths at all.
Change and decay…
The hymn says: “Change and decay all around I see.” Who can say this is not his experience as well? What does not change? Jesus says that truth does not change, but we come back to the question: What is truth? It is true that I am writing these words. Once I stop, it will no longer be true. It is true that one and one are two, but what happens when all relativity is resolved back into the One and the possibility of “one” as an object it no longer there, what to say of “two”? Yes; only the One is true. That is why in India God is called Sat–the Real, the True.
In all the world there are two things; the one is truth; the other falsehood is; and truth is that which is, and falsehood that which seems to be. Books upon books have been written on this subject. Life is like a motion picture. When the light shines on the screen we see colors, forms, and motion. People are born, live, and die right before our gaze. But they do not. Everything we see is only a modification of the single beam of light coming from the projector. But it passes through the film and overlays the screen as all we behold. When the movie is over the light is turned off and only the blank screen remains–unchanged. So God is the reality that underlies all illusion projected by our mind onto the screen of our awareness or by the cosmic will of God upon Himself. God is the great Magician, the great Illusionist–and we are little apprentices in magic and illusion.
No one denounces motion pictures as lies, false though they be. Why? Because they are not meant to deceive anyone. Everyone in the theater knows that only the screen is there. We, too, know this deep within, but we have blocked it out of our consciousness for time out of mind. The illusion is not evil–it is just illusion. And it has a purpose. Life is an educational training film if we will observe it and learn as we should. All about us is a mere appearance, but an appearance with an intelligent purpose which we must learn and benefit from. Becoming able to see through the illusion to the reality behind it is one of its major purposes.
Now truth is aught, and has no cause, and yet it is the cause of everything. Usually we think of “aught” as meaning “anything” in an intentionally vague sense. But it also means one. When I was a child, older people sometimes spoke of the year 1917 as “nineteen aught and seven.” So Jesus is saying that God is the One that is the Cause of the Many (everything). Yet, God has no cause whatsoever, but is Self-existent. If we look to the depths of anything we will discover God as its source. Even evil? Yes, for evil is not an entity in itself but a state of the distortion of good. All things do originate in God and return to God whether that is readily perceptible or not.
Falsehood is naught, and yet it is the manifest of aught. This affirms what I have just written, but is even broader. All that (at least in appearance) is not God is Zero. That is, it has no self-existence, but is only a modification of That Which Is. Why does Jesus call it falsehood? Because we see it falsely. If we “see true” we will see the True. Jesus is telling us that the world is real and true because it emanates from God; but our interpretation is false, so to us it is Falsehood. But only in our own minds. If we see with the Divine Eye it will be seen as a revelation of Truth. So we should not reflexively turn away or push away anything, but try to see its true nature. Then we may turn or push away, but with a right understanding. The Bhagavad Gita sums it up rightly: we should see all things in God and God in all things.
Whatever has been made will be unmade; that which begins must end.” Sri Ma Anandamayi often said: “Getting implies losing,” and also emphasized that whatever has a beginning must have an ending. If we can really hold this perspective we will live our life in a perfectly realistic (truthful) way. We have to understand what is eternal and what is temporal and value and react to it accordingly. A poem was popular in the nineteenth and early twentieth century about a king who had a ring engraved with the words: “Even this shall pass away.” Throughout his life when bad and good times came, he was always saved from becoming lost in the experience of them and over-reacting to them by looking at the ring and being reminded that “even this shall pass away.” Finally the time of his death came. His hands were folded on his chest, and a ray of light struck the ring, drawing his attention to the inscription: “Even this shall pass away.”
None of these things Jesus is saying is said for the mere sake of intellectuality and philosophizing. It is intended to help us live our life meaningfully.
All things that can be seen by human eyes are manifests of aught, are naught, and so must pass away. This perspective is perfection. “All that we see or seem” (the opening words of a poem by Edgar Allan Poe) are manifestations of God, but their momentary appearance is nothing in the final analysis. Since they must pass away, as sensible people we will not try to make them everlasting. We may use or enjoy them, but we know they will not be with us forever. Grabbing and holding on to them as though they could ever be ours is to court frustration and misery.
The things we see are but reflexes just appearing, while the ethers vibrate so and so, and when conditions change they disappear. All “things” internal and external, including emotions and thoughts, are waves or whorls in the vast energy field of creation that is the Holy Breath (Holy Spirit). They rise (appear) on the surface of the sea of relative existence, remain for a time, and then resolve (disappear) back into the sea. The sea alone remains forever, for:
The Holy Breath is truth; is that which was, and is, and evermore shall be; it cannot change nor pass away. In other words, all that was, is, and shall be are really manifests of the Holy Breath, the Divine Power of God, the Holy Spirit Mother. If we can unite our consciousness with the Holy Breath through meditation we will be enabled to see the “truth” of all things and not be distracted or confused by their “untruth”–their mere appearance. This will be immorality.
One of the greatest mystics of the West is completely unrecognized because of her literary reputation. Emily Bronte was a remarkable self-developed mystic whose poems contain some of the best descriptions of mystical experience, including the state of samadhi. Shortly before dying of tuberculosis (a death she had predicted at the age of eight or nine), she wrote this poem:
No coward soul is mine,
No trembler in the world’s storm-troubled sphere:
I see Heaven’s glories shine,
And Faith shines equal, arming me from Fear.
O God within my breast,
Almighty, ever-present Deity!
Life, that in me has rest,
As I, undying Life, have power in Thee!
Vain are the thousand creeds
That move men’s hearts: unutterably vain;
Worthless as withered weeds,
Or idlest froth amid the boundless main,
To waken doubt in one
Holding so fast by Thy infinity,
So surely anchored on
The steadfast rock of Immortality.
With wide-embracing love
Thy Spirit animates eternal years,
Pervades and broods above,
Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates, and rears.
Though earth and moon were gone,
And suns and universes ceased to be,
And Thou wert left alone,
Every existence would exist in Thee.
There is not room for Death,
Nor atom that his might could render void:
Thou–thou art Being and Breath,
And what thou art may never be destroyed.
This, too, cannot be expressed any better than it is here by the Yogini of Haworth.
Read the next section in the Aquarian Gospel for Yogis: What Is Man?