Dr. J. Das
Kabir Association of Canada
Teaching of the Masters (Part 1)
Throughout the ages people have felt the need to believe in a Supreme Being or Power or God. They feel that life and all of nature are a mystery and cannot be understood by our rationality. Science has given us many answers about the physical aspects of the world, and is probing into the universe. But science has not answered the basic human urge to know or understand who we truly are, if we remove our labels of name, race, caste, culture, religion and professions. Once these are removed we do not have an identity, and cannot properly relate to others in a meaningful way. Yet we do exist. So who are we? It is to find answers to this and related questions that people have the need to turn to a Supreme Power that holds the secret of the universe with all of us in it.
Our senses are limited and our eyes can perceive only a small band of visible light in the huge electromagnetic spectrum. We cannot see beyond ultra-violet and infrared wavelengths, yet a large spectrum of wavelengths are on either side of visible light. The same limitation holds for the other sense organs. So how do we get knowledge of attributes such as the soul, the mind, God, Spirit, Self, Maya, Life Force, liberation, bondage, and similar questions relating to life and the cosmos? It is difficult or impossible for us to teach ourselves so that we can truly understand Reality in which everything else exists. But there is an inner unexpressed need to understand more of ourselves, and the world and the universe. Ultimately, we have a need to know God. To fill this need to know ourselves and have some inkling of what God is, spiritual masters have come in our midst over the ages to enlighten us.
We are made up of the body, mind, intellect and soul. The body is made up entirely of earthly material. From conception, the embryo takes up substances from the food and drink of the mother. The food and drink are of the earth. The embryo grows to the fetus, then to the newborn, all the time taking in earthly material. During the rest of life for growth and maintenance of the body, a person ingests things produced from the earth. At death the body returns to earth. Another being takes up the materials the same way, so there is a continuous recycling of earthly matter in all beings. So the body is not reality. The mind is both conscious and subconscious as is commonly known. The conscious mind functions from moment to moment and not continuously. The subconscious mind functions mostly as storage for memory, feelings, attitudes, hang-ups, and other personality traits. But the mind can be put to rest by a hypnotist, or in dreamless sleep, in coma or under surgical anesthesia. Can the mind then be said to have reality? The same can be said of the intellect which cannot function under these circumstances. Both the mind and intellect can go haywire by the ego, and passions of anger, greed, lust and so forth. What then is the basis for our dear life and all of its attributes – both positive and negative? Do we deserve to seek further knowledge, or are we content to drift along the river of life, facing stresses, depressions, anxieties, violence, frustrations and all the other problems we are familiar with? Is there any way of understanding life so that we can enjoy love, peace, harmony, brotherhood, self-empowerment, and other positive attributes?
Answers to these pertinent questions are available if we truly seek. We need to find the basis or the “ground” on which existence depends, and how we can “adjust’ our thinking and understanding to make our life sublime. We need to free the mind from accumulated static dogmas, doctrines and practices, and be open to the Universal Spirit that has no boundaries.
Teaching of the Masters (Part 2)
People intuitively believe in a Supreme Being whom they call by different names. The named Being is the same in spite of ‘labels’ applied to It or to Him or to Her. Anything that can be named must have a finite existence in time and space, and must be cognizable by the senses. It has to exist in a duality in which the one who thinks he cognizes the other, and this other – the Supreme – must be outside of him. This state of affairs nullifies the omnipresence of the Supreme. Has any one talking of the Supreme known It (Him, Her) by the use of the sense organs? How then can the Supreme Being be named and described in various ways? Sooner or later we have to ask ourselves these questions, and try to find adequate answers so that we can direct our spiritual energies in the proper direction to reach a certain goal towards which we feel we are heading. If we do not, then we would be tossed about by the vicissitudes of life, and not find a safe mooring, and our energies would have been spent and our days ended unfulfilled.
There are several topics we need to deal with as raised in the above paragraph. Let us consider omnipresence of the Supreme – God. Simply stated, God is everywhere. This “everywhere” does not mean the earth alone that is no more than an invisible speck in the Milky Way galaxy that consists of billions of stars, and our sun is only one of them – and its only a medium sized one. Outside of our Milky Way galaxy there are billions of other galaxies in an expanding and infinite universe. So where do we place God? Omnipresence means “everywhere at the same time”. What sort of a Being can have this attribute? This is a question we need to consider if we wish to follow a meaningful religious or spiritual life.
This omnipresent Being is also eternal as it is infinite. What is meant by “eternal”? Does It have a beginning or will It have an end? There is no beginning or end of the Supreme. The masters have explained that God is beyond time and space, and beyond name and forms. So what name and what form do we give to God? Does the name any religious system gives to God the proper name? And every religion has its chosen name or names for God. Can we name the un-namable? So it is clear that the names we give to God are for our convenience in communicating with one another of the same belief system, and no more. If we can name that which we cannot perceive with our senses, and which is un-namable, then God is no more God. So where are we to go from here?
Another question is the gender of God. In nearly all scriptures, writings and discussions God is referred to as “Him”. Who figured out that God is male? In calling God by a male designation, we are unconsciously urged to do so by identifying with the human male. So what about the human female? Does she not have an equal representation in the name of the Supreme? Can God be a male or a female and still be omnipresent and eternal? Male and female represent limitations. Can we limit the infinite and eternal? Are we perhaps confusing ourselves, and not taking the trouble or initiative to un-confuse us? We need to ponder on this issue if we are to be on the proper path to reach the nebulous goal, which we feel we are going to reach.
If we think that God is neither he nor she, as we have been trying to understand, then perhaps we can say God is “It”. “It” would indicate a neuter gender, and would be more in keeping with a Force or Energy or Universal Intelligence or Consciousness. We are familiar with the terms “Cosmic Consciousness” Cosmic Intelligence” Cosmic Being” and so forth. Would this not better fit the definition of omnipresence, infinity and eternity, and not yet mentioned omnipotence, and free us from calling God a male or perhaps a female, and impose limitations on It? We have to come to grips with this question also if we are to see our way clear to reach our spiritual goal.
Now let us consider the concept of duality. Duality indicates that there is an observer and something outside of him that he observes. It is the “pair of opposites” we are familiar with such as “me and you”, “here and there”, “good and bad” and so forth. In all religions people speak of God as being elsewhere, and they direct their prayers to “Him” who is in heaven above, or in Swarga or Satlok. At the same time people also say God is everywhere. This is contradictory, and denies God’s omnipresence. How can we reconcile these contradictions so that we are clear in our minds that we are following the proper path to our spiritual goal? Yet, as spiritual beings, we must reconcile them, for there is a uni-versal “Unity” in which we exist. Only when we have a satisfactory answer to these can we have an intuitive knowledge of our integrative relationship with God whose omnipresence unites all of us.
Teaching of the Masters (Part 3)
In the previous articles we have discussed the concepts of omnipresence, infinity, duality the possible “gender” of God, and our place in this infinite universe. We would need to return to these from time to time in future discussions according to how the subjects unfold. We need to be aware from the very beginning that we are using words to try to understand and define concepts and attributes that transcend words of any language. Words are symbols to represent sounds that form words. Words as words have no inherent meanings. They symbolize things, ideas, concepts, feelings and other attributes. But our understanding of all of these depends on our exposure to them before, so that we have a memory of the “things” or concepts that the words symbolize. The word “apple” has no meaning until we associate it with the fruit. So according to the number of words and ideas a person has, we would roughly determine his level of education.
From the above we see that a person’s education may be tied to his exposure to symbols (words) over time. But there is another type of knowledge that does not depend on words. In fact words cannot describe it. Take for example “love”. We all “know” what love is, but can we make someone understand or feel love if we use words to explain it? Can we make someone experience the sweet taste of sugar by describing the taste to him? Thus, some types of knowledge are intuitive, and come from within, and must be experienced personally to become knowledge for that person. To explain this point Guru Kabir said that if you repeat “God” “God” “God”, and you would get to God, then repeating “sugar” “sugar” “sugar” would make your mouth sweet, and repeating “food” “food” “food” would fill your stomach.
The point being made here is that to delve into spirituality we need to use words in the scriptures as instructions, guides, encouragement, yearning for Self-realization, and for developing faith, devotion and dedication. Scriptures would help to the extent that we develop and purify ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually. Once we practice these disciplines and are “elevated” to a certain degree, then we begin to develop an inner or intuitive knowledge of our real Self as spirit that is divine. It is this inner knowledge that gives us enlightenment, and frees us from passions of ego, greed, lust, anger, attachments, envy, hate, violence and worldly, material bondage, and confers freedom on us. This is the goal that our spiritual masters have come in the world to teach us. Are we ready to accept and practice the teachings? Let us truthfully and honestly answer this question for ourselves, and develop and awareness of where we are, what we have to do, and where we have to reach.
The above explanation of the use of words is to lay the foundation for future discussions of the soul, God, spirit, omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence, eternity, infinity, creation, and similar topics that are likely to arise in pursuing the subject “Teaching of the Masters”.
In the universe there are two obvious forms of manifestation as matter and energy. Science tells us that matter cannot be created or destroyed, but can only be changed from one form to another. Also, energy cannot be created or destroyed, but can only be changed from one form to another. They both exist in eternity and infinity, though scientists estimate that the universe is about fifteen billions years old and that it is ever expanding. Matter and energy are co-existent and depend on each other for manifesting their nature. There cannot be any sunlight without the sun (matter) or magnetism without the iron. There can be no matter without energy as in the atoms. The atomic bomb illustrates this principle. There is a “strong force” that holds the subatomic particles in the nucleus of each atom. Thus, the whole universe manifests as different combinations and permutations of energy and matter.
Science tells us that the universe started as a “Big Bang” about fifteen billion years ago with such a tremendous force that it is still expanding. We would leave out the theory of “dark energy – dark matter” that is thought to keep the universe expanding. The thing that went “Bang” is called the “Singularity” of very dense matter so that it contained all the matter that is now in the infinite universe. But from where did this “Singularity” come into being, and what motivated it to explode. Science does not have an answer. But the universe is here. And as far as science can tell us, and masters instruct us, the universe is infinite and eternal. Every particle in the universe, from the subatomic to the huge galaxies, is in constant motion, undergoing changes over huge periods of time, yet maintaining an overall harmony. Is there perhaps some form of intelligence involved in the functioning of the universe? We are all involved, so we should try to have some understanding of our place in the universe. Only then can we understand the teaching of the Masters.
Teaching of the Masters (Part 4)
Previously, matter and energy were discussed briefly, and spirit was mentioned. Actually, spirit is the basis of all existences in the universe. Spirit has no form, location, dimension or any other measurable property, yet it is the greatest force in the universe. And since energy is involved in every ‘activity’ or motion in the universe, we can say that spirit is the basis for the manifestation of all other forms of energy. In this part we will discuss spirit manifesting in us, and try to understand how it can be used to overcome tragedies affecting the world.
In order to understand the problems of the world, it is necessary to understand the human being. How does a person understand himself and his relationship to others? Is he merely a physical being that possesses a mind, emotions and intellect, or is he, perhaps, a spiritual being, possessing these attributes? Ordinarily, we see people as individuals with their individual personalities, likes and dislikes, motivations, aspirations, behavior and so forth, and accept them at that level. We do not see people at the deeper level, that they are spirit. Is it not valid to say that we are spirit that possesses the body, mind, emotions and intellect? If we look at people as spiritual beings, then we would realize that this spirit is of the same essence in all of them. We can say that the spirit of God dwells in all beings. This allows us to see our brotherhood in all. But in order to understand the spirit we need to examine our sense of ‘being’.
In every person, there is a sense of being, a sense of awareness of the self. A person instinctively knows that he ‘is’ and that he ‘exists’. This knowledge manifests in two ways: #1 – the physical, external and superficial awareness of the self as the body with a form, a name, a race, and a gender, and other external characteristics. #2 – the spiritual, internal and deep sense of awareness of the self that cannot be defined by any external characteristics. The first is common knowledge to all humans, and people will describe themselves with the external, physical characteristics. If someone is asked: “Who are you?” the person will most likely respond by giving his name, or his profession, or his relationship to a significant person. This is how he observes himself, and also how others observe him. He fits into a label that has been fostered by himself, his family, society and religion. For nearly all practical purposes, this definition of a person is adequate, and places him in a context, which he, himself, and others readily perceive and understand. However, this definition does not persist under all circumstances, as we shall see.
If the knowledge of the self were dependent on the physical being, then this knowledge should change with changes in the physical being. In childhood, there is a total awareness of being, and this same awareness persists throughout growth into adulthood, old age and even up to the time of death. The knowledge of being or existence remains constant, though the body has undergone significant changes. Another example: A person weighs 150 lbs. and has an awareness of his being. He now gains 150 lbs. and weighs 300 lbs. His awareness of being still remains the same. Now if he loses 100 lbs. his knowledge of being still remains the same. It did not double with doubling the weight, nor did it decrease by reducing the weight. We can see then that the self does not depend on the physical aspects of a person. There must then be another attribute by which to understand a person’s being. This is where the second or spiritual attribute enters.
There is an underlying basis by which the self becomes aware of being. This basis is non-physical and spiritual in nature. This attribute is called the spirit, or the soul or the Divine Spark that gives life. It is on the basis of this that a person has his physical existence, and is described by external characteristics. In spiritual life, we need to understand the immanent, self-existent soul that is connected with Infinite Being i.e. God. It is this connection with God that is the same for all people, though agnostics and atheists may not agree. This realization confers brotherhood, harmony, love, peace and unity.
Now, returning to the problems of the world, if people can see the basic unity of the self as spirit that is the same in all beings, then people will see themselves ‘reflected’ in other beings. It is like looking into a mirror and seeing the reflection of your physical self. Spiritual knowledge will allow the spirit to be reflected from and in each living being.
Some people may argue that a spiritual life like this is not practical, and that the physical is the practical way. If we look throughout history, we would find that the purely physical has not brought about the desired state that we would like. We also know instinctively that if we live the spiritual life, then the world will certainly be a much better place. Dedicated spiritual people have achieved a great deal of peace, love and harmony, and they have shared these with other people. If all people would develop the same attributes as spiritual people, then we can indeed have a better world. All the current violent problems externally, and the problems internally, will definitely decrease or be abolished. We would then begin to understand the teaching of the masters.
Just as clay is transformed into various kinds of pottery, similarly One Consciousness manifests itself as so many finite intellects.
Measure not with words the immeasurable.
Edwin Arnold English poet in The Light of Asia
Teaching of the Masters (Part 5)
The omnipotence of God has been mentioned previously but not discussed. Omnipotence in Hindi is sarv shaktiman. The word is derived from the Latin omni (all) and potentia (power, energy). In this essay we will look at what omnipotence is so that we can form some idea of this ‘all power’ and how it operates in the universe. I must admit here that I am not a physicist, so the discussion would be from a simpler angle and, hopefully, understandable by the average reader.
Energy was mentioned before. We would now discuss it in more detail. Scientists say that energy manifests in four ways – gravitation, electromagnetism, strong force and weak force. Gravitation is what gives us weight, and this is due to the fact that gravitational force attracts two or more bodies of matter towards one another. The earth’s gravity acts on all things so they all have weight. Each one of us also pulls on the earth due to this gravitational force, but we are so small that our pull on the earth is negligible. The force of attraction between any two bodies of matter is proportional to their mass and their distances apart. The farther apart two bodies are, the less is the gravitational pull. So the very heavy space vehicle on earth becomes weightless in space. That is how the space station remains in orbit. You may be familiar from watching television that astronauts float around in their shuttle in earth orbit due to weightlessness. Another example would be a person’s weight on the moon which has about one/sixth the mass of the earth. A person weighing 150 pounds on earth would weigh only 25 pounds on the moon. Just so all celestial bodies exert gravitational pull on one another, and they maintain a certain ‘balance’ by spinning in orbits. The orbital velocity balances the centripetal and centrifugal forces to keep them in orbits. This gravitational force operates in the whole universe.
The second force is electromagnetic force. This force acts on electrically charged particles and holds electrons and protons together in atoms, and holds atoms together in molecules. Unlike electric charges attract, and like charges repel each other. Similarly, unlike magnetic poles attract and like poles repel each other. Electricity and magnetism act on each other so that a wire moving in a magnetic field will develop electricity, and also if a magnet is moved towards or away from the wire. The electromagnetic force operates in the atoms so that the electrons spin around the nucleus of the atoms, and that the protons are held together in the nucleus of the atoms. Atoms combine to form molecules due to this force. Molecules of the same kind that are held together form an element such as gold, copper, oxygen etc. Molecules of different kinds combine to form compounds such as sugar, flour, cement, medicines etc. All the matter in the universe consists of atoms and molecules in different combinations.
The other two forces are the strong and the weak that are in the nuclei of atoms. The strong force holds the subatomic particles, mostly quarks, together, and the weak force causes radioactive decay of atoms. Quarks are particles that are held together by the strong force to form protons and neutrons in the nuclei of atoms. The power contained in the nuclei of atoms is revealed in the nuclear bombs that can each destroy a city as happened in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan by United States during the second world war.
Scientists theorize that all these four forces together arise from the unified force or unified field theory. This is not yet confirmed. Scientists also theorize that there is a ‘God particle’ that is fundamental to all manifestations. It is reasonable to say that all the energy or force in the universe must have a single source from which they manifest in different ways. We can call the ‘source’ God or the Absolute Being, or any other name, since God has nothing to do with what name we give to ‘Him’. Since all the energy in the universe is from God, we must admit that God is omnipotent. It is His omnipotence that keeps every particle, and every process and function, from the non-living to the living, working in harmony. We are part of the universe and take part in this universal harmony.
Teaching of the Masters (Part 6)
We have previously discussed the omnipotence and omnipresence of God. In this essay we need to explore what is meant by the omniscience of God. Since all of us are limited in our ability to know the Infinite and Absolute Being, we can nevertheless try to formulate some ideas of what omniscience can possibly mean. Let us say that we need to “stretch” our minds so that we develop a greater understanding of nature and how we fit into it.
Omniscience is derived from the Latin Omnis (all) and sciens (knowing). In Hindi or Sanskrit it is sarvagya. The question now is what or who is all-knowing, and what does all-knowing mean. The universe is infinite and as far as anyone can tell, it is eternal, so how can we form any ideas about omniscience that applies on the universal level. Fortunately we have intelligence that helps us to understand things if we apply it both objectively and subjectively to seek knowledge.
Knowledge is derived by certain means, and all people seeking knowledge use them consciously or unconsciously. The means are: 1. Observation. We observe things and events all around us, and we develop an awareness that certain things always happen under the same circumstances. For example, if you apply heat to water, it would become hot and then evaporate. This can be repeated by anyone anywhere, and the same results would occur. This then becomes knowledge. 2. Experimentation. This involves keen observation, measurement and recording of then results. Others repeat the experiment, and if the same results are obtained, then this becomes knowledge. All scientists use this method and scientific knowledge increases over time. All the scientific advancements around us are derived by this method, and we are all benefiting, as our lives have been made better. 3. Analogy. This involves comparing things and events, and if they always bear the same relationships, then we develop knowledge. A simple example would be, whenever there is smoke there must be fire. 4. Intuition. This type of knowledge develops from within oneself. Expressions such as “I have a hunch”, “I just got a bright idea”, or “I woke up with this idea”. Spiritual knowledge is nearly entirely intuitive knowledge, as we realize this at a personal level. It is an inner experience, and cannot often be explained in a meaningful way to others. 5. Authoritative. This is knowledge derived from authoritative sources such as books, scriptures and experts in different field of knowledge. A great deal of our knowledge is derived from this last category. There is an overlap in all of these ways of obtaining knowledge, but no matter how each of us derives knowledge, our type and level of knowledge vary, so no two of us can have exactly the same knowledge at any time in our lives. In the acquisition of knowledge by any means we have to use our rational ability, and mentally categorize them in memory for use as is needed.
Now coming back to omniscience, who has the capacity to have all the knowledge in the universe? Certainly, it could not be a person for people have finite abilities, and cannot grasp infinite knowledge. So again we must return to God as the only Being that has this ability. Just as we have ascribed omnipotence and omnipresence to God, just so we must ascribe omniscience to Him. All the knowledge that people have is merely partial discoveries of the knowledge already present in nature, in the universe and in God’s mind. But since we have a tiny fraction of the intelligence of God, we are able to have a tiny fraction of God’s knowledge. But sometimes we get carried away by our ego and assert our importance forgetting that God holds the strings to our puppet-like lives. We need to accept any knowledge we have with a good dose of humility.
We can look at omnipresence from two viewpoints. 1. God’s viewpoint. This, as already mentioned, is that all knowledge is “contained” in God, and manifest in the universe. The intricate biochemistry and biological functions in all of us are beyond our full understanding. Even if we know why a function occurs in us, we do not know how it occurs. Similarly, we have minimal knowledge of our solar system, and next to nothing of the infinite universe. Yet all the knowledge is in God’s mind and only He knows how and why we are all here, and our ultimate destiny. 2. Human viewpoint. In spiritual teaching it is often stated that if you know the basic component of things then you do not have to know the individual things in their various forms. For example, if you know gold, then you know that it is gold in the bangles, earrings, brooches, necklaces etc. If you know clay, then you know that everything made of clay is just clay. If you know one mountain, what need is there to try to know every mountain? By extension, if you know the basic component of all things in the universe, then you do not have to know each thing in the universe. This type of knowledge is meaningful only after you have withdrawn your physical senses from the material universe, and turned your mind inwards to “see” the basis of all existence. When you know God, is there any need to know in detail all the things that proceeded from God? You now know the source. This is the teaching of the masters.
Teaching of the Masters (Part 7)
RELIGION! The very word conjures up the positive feelings of faith, hope, reverence and salvation. In many others it conjures up the negative feelings of brainwashing its adherents, priest-craft, moneymaking, unproven dogmas, and that religion preys upon the gullibility of people. Still, there are others in whom religion conjures up hardly any sentiment at all. Such diversity of reactions, or lack of them, depends on the varying levels of religious awareness of people. Some people believe, without questioning, in what is written in their holy books, or in what they are taught by religious teachers. Some people question all the basic tenets on which religion is based, and, by not finding adequate answers, they relegate religion to the “dusty storage areas” of their minds. Some people become atheists and deny the existence of God, while others become agnostics because they do not know whether or not God exists. Thus there are these four categories of people:
1. Those who believe in God and adhere to a religion;
2. Those who are atheists and deny the existence of God and thus follow no religion;
3. Those who are agnostics, not knowing whether or not God exists, and thus they “sit on the fence”, and
4. Mystics. These people get only a fleeting glance, or none at all from the public.
The reason is that its adherents follow no organized religion, and seek no praise or recognition, but quietly endeavor to realize God within themselves and in others. To this group belong the saints and saviors of the world. To this group God is the only Reality on which the transitory manifestations of the world and the universe depend for their existence. In this article I shall outline what religion really is, and how it can be used to achieve the goal which its adherents wish to achieve.
Before proceeding further, it is necessary to define religion. The word is derived from Latin “re” which means “back or again”, and “ligere” which means to “bind or tie”. It thus means to “re-unite or bind again”. Now, what needs to be re-united or bound together again? The answer to this question will supply the foundation on which religion exists. Religion deals with the Soul and God. The soul is often erroneously thought to be separate from God, and it is the work of religion to make its followers realize the unity of the Soul and God. The Soul is Spirit, and God is Spirit. Neither can be sub-divided. “Re-uniting” them is thus the sole function of religion. All other virtues, good deeds, forms of worship, love, charity, kindness, purity of heart, etc., are mere details that prepare the person for realization of that UNITY. Knowledge obtained by constant training and practice, and not mere belief, is necessary for this realization. This experience is called Self-Realization, or God Realization, or Liberation, or Salvation of the Soul. When the soul becomes aware of its own Eternity, it must, by definition, be saved, and the work of religion comes to an end.
As you can see, the goal of life is Self-Realization, which is the same as God Realization. Religion is only the means by which this realization takes place. Yet there are many people who make religion the goal instead of the means, and end up causing much religious strife, confusion, intolerance, bigotry and hypocrisy. If we are to progress spiritually, we must effectively use religion as a tool to achieve the desired end. Professor Allport stated: “Religion is the search for a value underlying all things, and as such is the most comprehensive of all the possible philosophies of life. A deeply moving religious experience is not readily forgotten, but is likely to remain as a focus of thought and desire”. The “value underlying all things” is God, Who is Omnipresent. Lord Buddha said: “The gift of religion exceeds all gifts; the sweetness of religion exceeds all sweetness; the delight of religion exceeds all delight; the extinction of thirst overcomes all things”.
Religion is said to be the lengthened shadow of one man. Such a man is a saint, a prophet, a saviour, or a Satguru (Eternal Teacher). There have been many of them in the world. Their pure “shadows”, however, have been distorted by “clouds” super-imposed by well meaning religionists who are often swept up by “Religious Mania”, and lose sight of a logical, simple and natural approach to a religious life. Such religionists, though zealously motivated, are at varying levels of spiritual darkness, or conversely, of spiritual wisdom. Spiritual enlightenment comes only when the mind is set free from the various prevailing dogmas and doctrines, and is allowed to inquire within where the seat of all wisdom resides. In this connection Allan Watts stated “The work of the church ends when the knowledge of God begins”. Spiritual ignorance is the greatest handicap to a spiritual life, and spiritual ignorance is rampant in the world. How then can people derive any benefit from the religious life they are following?
Over seventy-five percent of the world population belongs to a religion. Examine the current problems in the world, and examine the hearts of people and try to correlate the world situation with the number of religious people in the world. Can you not allow yourself to ask the question: “What is religion doing for the world?” Think of the wars and bloodshed of innocent victims; the murders, suicides, abortions, child sexual abuse, pornography; hate, greed, intolerance, anger, selfishness, cheating, stealing, lying, bribery, etc. One does not need to extend the list further. How can people have peace, harmony and love when so many things all around are disruptive and anxiety producing? The infallible Law of Karma will definitely see to it that suffering continues until everyone cleans his or her spiritual house. In connection with the suffering in the world, Guru Kabir stated “The secret of escape from this plight is within your body. But you do not find it because, with lamp in hand, you search for it outside of yourself”. The whole creation is engulfed in the fire of passions and sorrows, and consumed by worldly desires and ambitions. Without the knowledge imparted by the Master, man, the bond-slave, will keep on wandering aimlessly. Guru Kabir says: “Listen dear seeker! A day will come when you will have to pass from here, leaving behind even the loin -cloth covering your nakedness. Of what value are all your worldly desires”.
What then do we need to do to improve the world and ourselves? The world’s well being depends on the well being of each one of us. In order to make any progress, we must first set the mind free from the shackles of those religious teachings that are not consistent with the realization of the unity of the Soul and God. This unity can be realized only when life is purified to the utmost, by discarding all passions of lust, anger, attachment, greed and egotism, and replacing them with love, service, giving, humility and meditation. These must be practiced from childhood, so that the personality can be molded into a spiritual one, and they must be practiced daily so that they become automatic manifestations of the personality. Only then can the purified soul realize its UNITY with the pure Being of God. This is the ultimate goal of all of us that the masters teach us.