(To be read at the Service of Universal Worship)
Religious Gatheka Number 21
The Christ ideal is unexplainable in words. The omnipresent intelligence, which is in the rock, in the tree, in the animal; in man shows its gradual unfoldment; it is a fact accepted by both science and metaphysics. This intelligence shows its culmination in the complete development of human personality, in the personality such as that of Jesus Christ was recognized by his followers to be. The followers of Buddha recognized the same unfoldment of the object of creation in Gautama Buddha, and the Hindus saw the same in Sri Krishna. In Moses the followers of Moses recognized that, and maintained their belief for thousands of years. And the same culmination of the all-pervading intelligence was recognized in Muhammad by his followers.
No man has the right to claim this stage of development, nor can anyone very well compare two persons recognized by their followers as the perfect spirit of God. For a thoughtless person it is easy to express his opinion and to compare two people, but a thoughtful person first thinks whether he has arrived at that stage where he can compare two such personalities.
No doubt a question of belief is different. Neither can the belief of the Muslim be the same belief as that of the Jewish people, nor can the Christian belief be the same as that of the Buddhists. However, the wise understands all beliefs, for he is one with them all.
And the question if a person was destined to be a complete personality may be answered that there is no person who is not destined to be something. Every person has his life designed beforehand, and the light of the purpose that he is born to accomplish in life has already been kindled in his soul. Therefore whatever be the grade of a person's evolution he is certainly destined to be so. Discussion of the lives that the different prophets have lived, as to the superiority of one over the other, seems to be a primitive attempt on the part of man, who when not knowing the condition of that particular time when the prophet lived nor the psychology of the people at the time when the prophet existed, he is ready to judge that personality by the standard of ideas which he knows today, does not do that personality justice.
And when a person compares one particular teaching of a prophet with the teaching of another prophet he also makes a great mistake, because the teachings of the prophets have not always been of the same kind. The teaching is like the composition of a composer who writes music in all the different keys, and who puts the highest note and the lowest notes and all the notes of different octaves in his music. The teachings of the prophets are nothing but the answer to the demands of individual and collective souls. Sometimes a childlike soul comes and asks and an answer is given appropriate to his understanding. And an old soul comes and asks and he is given an answer suited to his evolution. When two teachings are brought together, a teaching which Krishna gave to a child and a teaching which Buddha gave to an old soul it is not doing justice to compare.
It is easy to say, 'I do not like the music of Wagner, I simply hate it.' But I should think it would be better to become Wagner first and then to hate, if one likes. To weigh, to measure, to examine, or to pronounce an opinion on a great personality, one must rise to that development first, otherwise the best thing is a respectful attitude. Respect in any form is the way of the wise.
Then there are simple people who hear about miracles, who give all the importance to what they have read, perhaps, in the traditions about the miracles performed by the great souls, but that is the way how they limit the greatness of God to a certain miracle. If God is eternal, then His miracle is eternal; it is always there. There is no such thing as unnatural nor such a thing as impossible. Things seem unnatural because they are unusual; things seem impossible because they are beyond man's limited reason. Life itself is a phenomenon, a miracle. The more one knows about it, the more one lives conscious of the wonderfulness of life, the more one realizes that if there is any phenomenon or miracle it is man's birthright. Who has done it? It is man who can do it and who will do it. But what is most essential is not a miracle; the most essential is the understanding of life.
The soul who realized before he claimed to be Alpha and Omega, is Christ. To know intellectually that life is eternal, or that the whole life is one, is not sufficient, although it is the first step in the direction towards perfection. The actual realization of this comes from the personality of the God-conscious soul as a fragrance in his thought, speech, and action, and proves in the world as incense put on fire.
There are beliefs, such as that of salvation through Christ, and the man who is agitated against religion closes the doors of his heart before having the patience to understand what really it means. It only means that there is no liberation without an ideal before one. The ideal is a stepping-stone towards that attainment which is called liberation.
There are others who cannot conceive the thought of Christ's divinity. The truth is that the soul of man is divine, and that divine, when with the unfoldment of the soul, it reaches the point of culmination then deserves being called divine.
And there is a great difference in the beliefs of people who have various opinions about the immaculate birth of Jesus. And the truth is that when the soul arrives at the point of understanding the truth of life in it collective aspect, he realizes that there is only one Father and that is God; and this world out of which all the names and forms have been created is the Mother; and the Son, who deserves, by his recognizing the Mother and Father, and by his serving his Mother and Father, and by fulfilling the aim of creation is the Son of God.
And then the question of the forgiveness of sin. Is not man the creator of sin? If he creates it, he can destroy it also. If one cannot destroy, his elder brother can. The one who is capable of making, he is capable to destroy. He who can write with his pen, can rub it with his eraser from the surface of the paper. And when he cannot do it, then that personality has not yet arrived at completeness, at that perfection to which all have to go. There is no end of faults in man's life, and if they were all recorded and there was no erasing of them, life would be terrible to live, impossible to live. The impression of sin, in the terminology of metaphysics, may be called an illness: a mental illness, not physical. And as the doctor is able to cure illness, so the doctor of the soul is able to heal.
And if people have said that through Christ sins are forgiven, that can be understood in this way: that love is that shower by which all is purified. No stain remains. What is God. God is love. When His mercy, His compassion, His kindness, are expressed through a God-realized personality, then the stains of one's faults, mistakes and wrongdoings are washed away, and the soul becomes as clear as it has always been. For, in reality no sin nor virtue can be engraved or impressed upon a soul, it can cover the soul. The soul in itself is Divine Intelligence; and how can Divine Intelligence be engraved either with sin or virtue, or happiness or unhappiness. For the time it becomes covered with the impression of happiness or unhappiness; and when these clouds are cleared from it then it is divine in its essence.
And the question of the crucifixion of Christ, apart from its historical aspect, may be explained that the life of the wise is on the cross all the time. The wiser the soul will become the more it will realize the cross. Because it is the lack of wisdom which causes the soul to do all actions, good or bad. As it becomes wise the first thing is that its action is suspended. And the picture of suspension of action becomes a helpless picture, the hands nailed, and the feet nailed. Neither can he go forward, nor can he go backward, nor can he act, nor can he move. And this inactiveness outwardly may show helplessness but in point of fact is the picture of perfection.
There are two questions which come to the mind: What is, then, the meaning of the sacrament, which is said to be symbolical of the flesh and blood of Christ? It teaches that those who give importance to the flesh and blood of the Master are mistaken, that the true being of the Master was bread and wine. If he had any flesh and blood, it was the bread and wine. And what is bread and wine? The bread is that which is the soul's sustenance, the soul's sustenance is the knowledge of God; it is by this knowledge that the soul lives the eternal life. And the blood of Christ is the love element, the love principle, the intoxication of which is a bliss; and if there is any virtue it all comes from that principle.
And there is another question: that Christ gave his life to save the world. It only explains sacrifice, that no man in this world going toward the goal will escape from the test to which life will put him. And that test is sacrifice. At every step towards the final goal to the attainment, he will be asked a sacrifice which will be a greater and greater one as he will continue on the path, where he will arrive at a point where there is nothing, whether his body or mind, or action or thought or feeling that he keeps back from sacrifice for others. And it is that by which man proves that realization of divine truth. In short the Christ-ideal, in other words is the picture of the perfect man: and the explanation of the perfect man, and the possibility of the perfect man can be seen in the verse of the Bible: 'Be Ye perfect as your Father in Heaven.'