Q: In the beginning of Robe of Light the separateness of God and the individual soul is stated and, if I understood correctly, the possibility of the soul to partake in the consciousness of God, but always being separate from Him. Is my understanding correct if I conclude from this that you are saying that perfect union with God is not possible? Or does it mean that it is not possible unless the individual ceases to exist?
The individual spirit is never separated from God, but is nevertheless distinct from God. We are always one with God, but there is a difference: God is always infinite, we are always finite. Although we do not “become God” in the sense of being infinite and no longer individuals, we can participate in certain aspects of the Divine Consciousness. The how of that is what Robe of Light is all About.
Union with God is not only possible, separation from God is impossible. Equally impossible is the cessation of the individual spirit.
Our problem is that we do not realize or experience the eternal order of things. The words of the Prodigal Son’s father could easily be the words of God to the individual spirit: “Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine” (Luke 15:31).
Q: My second question is about the meaning of Jesus Christ’s life for all of humanity. How exactly was his mission important for us? I know Robe of Light deals with precisely that issue, but does that mean that before Christ incarnated, it was impossible for a normal human being to become enlightened? Or more difficult?
The great Master Teachers such as Jesus have a twofold meaning: a universal meaning for all human beings as a manifestation of spiritual perfection which all can draw inspiration from, and a personal meaning for all those for whose benefit they specifically were incarnated at a certain time at a certain place.
Q: What, then, is the meaning of Jesus’ paying back the debt for “original sin” and the concrete consequences for a truth-seeker today versus a seeker 1000 B.C.?
Jesus as a person is unique among teachers because of his having been Adam and therefore with a meaningful karmic connection with a great many people, but that does not make him superior to the other avatars, or even indispensable. As Yogananda often said, we must come to realize that on the highest level there is no difference between one master and another.
Jesus’ incarnation and crucifixion was for the expiation of his personal karmic debt–not to God, but to that segment of humanity in this creation cycle that had been affected by his past negative actions and influence. Yet all humanity has been benefitted by his incarnation to different degrees and in different ways to some extent. However, if Jesus (or Krishna or Buddha, etc.) had not been born, human beings would still have managed because of their innate divine nature.
Every great Master is unique, but not absolutely necessary for anyone. By that I mean that there is no one whose “salvation” depends on a Master without whom they cannot attain liberation (which is what salvation is). Yet, just as individuals from life to life come into association with those with whom they have past karma or present affinity, so it is with the great Way-showers.
However the only requisite for a human being is the attainment of conscious union with God as a result of evolution of their consciousness. Great Souls come into the world for that purpose, and although in the divine plan there are those who have an affinity for one out of the many there is no one savior for all or even for an individual.