(To be read at the Service of Universal Worship)
Religious Gatheka Number 13
The words of Christ in the Bible are: 'I am Alpha and Omega', which means 'I am First and Last'. Would this then mean 'I came on earth only when I was called Jesus, I gave the message and went, and then never came again?' If that were the meaning of 'I am Alpha and Omega', it would have no meaning. Really the meaning is, 'I was, am and shall be'.
Now about the question that arises in the enquiring mind: Who may this Alpha and Omega be? What he was before Jesus Christ? What would he be like after the time of Jesus Christ?' For those who put the water of the Ocean in a pitcher that water is from the Ocean, but really the Ocean is the Ocean. For those of the different creeds who have different forms of worship and dogmas and say 'This is the teaching of Christ,' Yes it is true, but it is not all the teaching of Christ. It is as true as to say, 'This is the ocean', if one brought water from the ocean in a pitcher; it is true, but there is an ocean. This shows that a shield called Jesus Christ brought the message. It was the shield that was Jesus. This is the secret of that Alpha and Omega spirit of Christ.
If one can only see that spirit hidden behind different shields one would be constantly in the vision of Christ. In the smile of the innocent child, there is Christ, in the warmth of the mother's heart for her child Christ is hidden. In that unselfish, self-sacrificing love of the father, there Christ shows himself. In the kindly attitude of a friend you can see the spirit of Christ. What is there which has beauty, tenderness, gentleness, which has not the spirit of Christ? From those who keep Christ away from them he is far, but in reality they have covered their eyes themselves. It is not the fault of Christ, it is their own fault, not that of Christ who speaks in the whisper of the wise people of all centuries, who speaks aloud in the voice of the prophet, the Warner who comes now and then; the same coming sometimes, sometimes hiding himself, the same always. Man's doubt and skepticism prevent his seeing him. When Christ came in the form of Jesus those who saw him did not recognize him.
Another side to consider is that the idea of miracles is attached to the person of Christ. In reality the greatest miracle of Christ that any wise man can see is the miracle of Christ's living heart; not wonderworking, but the living God presented to the world; it was the lighted faith which helped the darkness to vanish, not dogmas, or doctrines, or theories; all that came afterwards. He went to fishermen and said to them, 'Come hither, I will make you fishers of men'. What does it mean? Does 'fishers of men' mean fishers of money? No, he meant by this: Let love be alive in your hearts, that the whole world may become your customers.
If you analyze what he said, what he taught was very simple. It was not elaborate words and theories, there was not any great literary skill. What was it? It was, where the arrow came from. The word was an arrow from the depth of his being. In the Bible it is often said that revelation came with a fiery tongue. What does it mean? If the heart is burning the flame comes in a word.
Where is God? God is in the Heart of man. When it is the voice of God that rises in the heart of man it is a divine word. The words of Christ are a tongue of fire that pierces the heart of man.
Christ's saying 'fishers of men' does not mean making you clever that you may take advantage of man. It is not cleverness. On the contrary the message of Christ is simplicity, sincerity, gentleness, innocence, which beyond and above all proves the purity of the heart. In the East the Christ attribute is called Mansumiat, innocence. It takes a different point of view from the ordinary one to see the value and power of innocence. Every person when born on earth is born an innocent soul. He gets the experience of the world and becomes worldly.
Then the more worldly he becomes the more the beauty and power and angelic attributes are covered by the knowledge of the complications of the world. As he develops he tries to learn still more and to bury the spirit of innocence as deep as possible, until the Christ-spirit is altogether covered. What he knows is what he has learned in this mortal life, this false life. And what can the knowledge of falsehood bring? Falsehood. The generality is seeking for falsehood and gets falsehood. This can be seen by the simple fact that the man clad with artificial clothes is welcome in society. This shows that man cannot stand the bare truth.
What were the prophets who came in all ages? Whose message did they bring? It was the message of Christ, the Christ-spirit spoke through them. The message has never been advertised. It has never been made an object of publicity. They sacrificed their lives to all the opposition on their path. The path of the prophet is the path of constant trouble . The question arises: If it was the voice of Christ in the words of the prophet why cannot he speak now or why will he not speak in the future? It is only one voice calling all the time, but man closes the doors of his heart.
The explanation of what the prophet is is that the prophet is the artist. As the artist draws the picture of nature and brings its beauty before man in a form that man can tolerate and admire, so it is the work of the prophet to bring before men that bare truth that man cannot tolerate, in a form that he can tolerate and can admire. Whether man understands it or not, that is another question.
Another work of the prophet is that he is all things to all men and for each one he has a special message. There is no world-message, there can not be a world-message. A world-message, yes, in the spirit, but not in manifestation. In manifestation to every individual, to every sect, nation, race, there is a special message. Although the people of every sect have made the prophet their own, yet that is as absurd as to limit the sky to one's own country, as if Switzerland had a special sky, as if there were a special sky for England, one for France. How can one limit the sky? The earth can be limited, not the sky. Can the Muslims, the Jews, the Christians limit Christ? Can they say Christ was of the East, not of the West? Could the West limit Christ, as they say Christ was the Master of the West? This means limiting the spirit which was for the blessing of all. Limitation is in the shield that hides the spirit, not in the Christ self. In the same way people limit the spirit of Christ by saying it is only spoken of in one particular book. In the book it is kept as the water from the ocean in a pitcher, but to say that it is only there, means that the ocean is only in the pitcher, there exists no ocean.
No doubt from everywhere in the world the answer of Christ will come if you call him. If you look above or below, Christ is before you if your eyes are opened. If everything is closed you do not know Christ nor does Christ know you. This shows there is a wall covering, separating man from Christ externally and inwardly. That means that if a person will find him within he will find him without, but if he does not find him within neither will he find him without. Those with closed hearts will implore Christ to come and will wait for thousands of years and he will not come.
How will they recognize him if they do not recognize Christ in their own hearts first? Everything is recognized first in the heart. The pearls are pebbles before the swine. Have they no eyes? They have, but the eyes of the heart have not recognized the pearls. Man recognizes the pearls and distinguishes them from pebbles because inwardly he has first recognized them and distinguished the pearls from pebbles. Do not think that there is not a gulf between man and man as between the swine and man! Man can prove worse than the animal, man can act worse than the devil. The devil is a miniature of man's wickedness, as the angel is the miniature of man's greatness. It was the human being which was honored by being Christ; it is the human being who is pictured in the form of Satan. Think what a gulf there is between man and man!
To take off the cover separating man from Christ a process is necessary. This process is the same that is taken to take away the stains and lines from paper by rubbing. The process is Safa, from which comes Sufi. Safa means to clean, to wash, to erase, and by this the soul is purified. This shows the mission of Sufism, and the work of the Sufi Order. Every process of meditation and concentration is to wash the soul of the stains of earthly experiences. The real use of any exercise or practices is that the Christ-voice may become audible, that the light may manifest. Once a person has heard this voice, once he has seen this light, do you think that he hears or sees anything else afterwards? No, the ears are dedicated to Christ when once one has found Christ in one's own heart.
The principal teaching of Sufism is that the heart of man is the shrine of God, to recognize God in one's own heart, to feel His existence, presence, virtue, goodness, all manner of beauty. It must be remembered that the whole life around us is a life of falsehood. The more you see and experience the more you see how very false it is, how much disillusionment there is. The only way of getting over it is to light the lamp in the darkness of night, and all will be cleared. The secret of life is this, to produce beauty in ourselves. When beauty is produced in the heart, then all that breaks the heart vanishes and the whole universe becomes one single vision of the sublimity of God.