Spirituality and ChristianityIn the West and in the East there is deplorable ignorance. In the West this ignorance revolves around a very great spiritual Master: the Christ. No Christian will doubt the realisation of the Christ or his oneness with his Father, God. No real Indian spiritual Master, either, will deny the Christ's spiritual height and his inner oneness with his Father, God. But some of the Christ's followers have created a philosophy of their own. They feel that every seeker has either to go to God through the Christ or to be condemned to hell: the Christ is the only door and the Church is the only salvation. The Christ is definitely a great world-saviour and the Church is certainly a source of inspiration. But to say that the Christ is the saviour and the only way to salvation is a mistake.
An Indian spiritual Master or a non-Christian seeker will not be able to abide by this opinion or assertion. He will have the utmost admiration, reverence and adoration for the Christ, but he will not say that the Christ is the only saviour. Long before the advent of the Christ, was there no salvation? Will an omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent Creator create only one instrument, one path through which His infinite seekers and lovers can find Him? No, certainly not!
If we study the Vedas, we will know that four thousand years ago, long before the Christ, the Vedic Seers cried to the highest Absolute Supreme most soulfully and communed with Him on the strength of their intense inner aspiration. Was their realisation, their sublime experience founded on imagination? No! Before the Christ was born, many seekers had reached the Father. Since he left the physical plane, many more have reached the Father, both with and without his inner guidance. To say that he is the only saviour is a mistake. There have been, there are and there will continue to be many other spiritual Masters in the world who are spiritually realised and who will also help to carry the ignorant world to the world of Light. Here in this world we have to know the necessity of inspiration. Without inspiration we can do nothing, we can achieve nothing. When a spiritual Master comes into the world, he need not be our teacher or our Guru, but he has tremendous inner capacity and Compassion and this he uses to inspire everyone.
I have the deepest love and admiration for the Christ. At the same time, I can say that I have the closest oneness and intimacy with him. He laughs when his followers say that he is the only saviour, for he sees that they do not know about the Krishna-consciousness and the Buddha-consciousness which he also embodied. When he said, "I and my Father are one," he said this on the strength of his highest spiritual realisation. When he said that no one could go to the Father except through him, he meant that the seeker has to go through Christ the infinite Consciousness, not through Christ the physical person. We are utterly mistaken if we think that the Christ meant anything else by that declaration. We are dealing with the infinite Consciousness expressed through the Christ. His Consciousness is still in the world because he represents and embodies the infinite Consciousness. He calls the Supreme his Father, even as I call the Supreme my Father. The Supreme is the Father of each and every soul on earth.
When others try to convert people, it is because of ignorance. I am a Hindu. I have not come to the West to convert anybody; far from it. I am a spiritual person. In me is Hinduism, in me is Buddhism, in me is Christianity, in me are all religions. A spiritual Master is far beyond the barriers of religion. At the same time, on the strength of his absolute realisation and oneness with the Supreme, he houses in his heart all true religions, living and dead.
Some Christian missionaries used to go to India and say, "Either accept our saviour Christ or you will be condemned to hell. He is the only salvation." Many Indians believed them and were converted. But no great Indian spiritual Master has ever said such a thing or encouraged his disciples to say such a thing about him. The great Indian spiritual Master Sri Ramakrishna never said that we had to accept only him. One of Sri Ramakrishna's dearest disciples, the great Swami Vivekananda, never even pronounced his Master's name when he first came here to the West. Vivekananda felt that if he uttered his Master's name the world would misunderstand him. The message he carried was not in the person of his Master but in his teachings. Sri Ramakrishna's teachings represented the union and synthesis of all religions.
We make a mistake when we try to show others that our religion is the best or our path is the best. Each path, each road, will lead a seeker to the goal. At the end of the journey we all arrive at the same goal, but each individual has to follow his own particular path, the path that suits him. Here at our Centre, we never say that if you go to church you will not be able to realise God. As a spiritual Master, I do not have the least objection if anyone goes to a church, a synagogue or any other spiritual place. As a spiritual Master, I am here to inspire you. Then, when you are inspired to go deep within, you enter into the realm of aspiration and feel the necessity of following a path.
You may feel that the church is your path, that the priest is wonderful and his sermons are inspiring and full of God-intoxication; you may feel that this path will enable you to reach your Goal sooner than any other path. That is wonderful! But someone else may feel that the church and the priest are not helpful and that what he needs is a living spiritual Master in whom he has total confidence. Just because the priest is the representative of a big church, that does not mean that he will satisfy you if you are not meant for him or for his path. But if he pleases and satisfies you, undoubtedly he is the right teacher and his church is the right path for you. I do not wish to take any of you away from your church or your belief. I come here only to inspire you. If you want the Christ, I have the capacity to inspire you to have more faith, abundant faith in the Christ. But if you feel that you are making a Himalayan mistake by coming here and accepting a path like ours in order to approach God, or if you have no faith in any path, then you will sink into the sea of ignorance. Please always try to follow one path and one teacher with sincerity and aspiration.
If you want to increase your capacity in the form of sincerity, aspiration and conscious awareness of the divinity inside you, then you have to be under the guidance of some Master. He may be a spiritual Master, he may be a priest, he may be a teacher or mentor, but he must be one in whom you have absolute confidence. If you do not have confidence in a spiritual leader or a spiritual path, then you are merely wasting your time. Unless and until you have confidence in him and in his path, please do not listen to any Master or spiritual figure and do not follow any path.
You may ask, "At the very beginning how can we have confidence in a path, a Master, a church or a priest?" But I say you can have faith. You don't have to wait two months or two years to have faith or confidence in a particular path. In one brief second you can have faith in someone or in some path. If you are not meant for him, then you will never have complete faith in him. You are not the loser; nor is he. You may ask yourself, "How is it that I do not have faith in him when so many adore him?" It is just because he is not meant for you. Do not curse yourself because he is not meant for you. Immediately forget about him and look elsewhere. The teacher will not feel miserable. He will not say, "Oh, you have a wonderful soul, so you have to become my disciple!" No! The teacher will smile and immediately give you his loving inner concern so that you may reach God in some other way. He will offer gratitude to the Supreme because he knows that the Supreme knows what is best for you.
A real teacher will always feel that the most important thing is for an aspirant to realise God. He does not want to be the only illuminer, the only saviour. He wants only to be a faithful instrument of God. When I say that I am an instrument, I really mean it. I am not God; far from it. God is your Father as much as He is mine. God is not anybody's monopoly. But I am a conscious instrument of His, while unfortunately you are not. But tomorrow you can be a conscious instrument if you follow the inner path of spiritual discipline.
There are some students who do not immediately see the light, but they see it later on. Those who see the light immediately do not see a better or a higher light than those who see the light a few months later. If you do not have the capacity to determine which is your path at the very first moment, then what will you do? Will you stop going to a place just because you are not sure of your path or your teacher? No! You have to continue your inner search with all the sincerity at your command. If you are not certain of your inner spiritual path, please try to continue with one path for at least three months. Days run into weeks and weeks into months very quickly. If for three months you follow a particular path continuously, faithfully and devotedly, and if you come to the conclusion that the path is not meant for you, then I can agree with your decision. If you immediately feel your inner oneness with the Master and the path, undoubtedly you are lucky. But in case you are not so fortunate, then during the three-month trial, the path and the Master will test you and you will test them. After three months you will be in a position to make your decision wisely, to judge yourself and also to judge the spiritual path and the spiritual Master. If you are sincere and patient in your search and if the spiritual teacher has true power, then you will know within three months whether or not a particular path is meant for you.
But if you go once to this place, once to that place and once to some other place and then make your proud decision that this or that path is not meant for you, at that time you are making a deplorable mistake. You will simply move from one place to another like a fly. No path will satisfy you because you are not really giving any path a chance. If you continue moving in a restless way, who will be the loser? Not the path or the teacher. The true spiritual guide will never be the loser if you do not accept him, because he is totally one with the Highest. The loser will be the one who is wasting his precious time by not realising the proper path, the proper teacher and the ultimate Goal. Some who do this kind of thing will continue to search sincerely, but many will totally lose interest in the spiritual life. Out of many, perhaps one or two will actually find their path but most are forever groping in the dark.
If you really want God, then please stick to one path for a considerable amount of time. A sincere student is bound to get something from each path and from each teacher. That benefit is called inspiration. But the seeker's own teacher will be able to take him beyond inspiration and kindle the flame of aspiration in him. This is something momentous. The fact that the teacher has kindled the flame of aspiration in the seeker shows that the teacher has considerable concern for the aspirant's realisation, which must be achieved. The teacher will play his role through his inner Concern, Compassion, Love and Blessings. The student has to play his role through his inner dynamic sincerity and his constant cry for a better life, a truly spiritual life. This is the life that makes us genuinely happy, the life that enables us to have peace of mind, the life that finally makes us one with the highest Absolute.