Read more from the Being Truly Human December 2021 Newsletter
A lecture delivered by Phiroz Mehta at Attingham Park, Shropshire on 26th February 1956 as part of a conference on ‘Christianity and Politics’
Continued from part 1 and part 2
A few of those men and women who trod the Way realized that immortality. They became enlightened and experienced the significance of Supreme Godhead — not merely determinate, theoretically deduced, rationally postulated God, but the unspeakable Godhead, the Nameless One in which God, Christian or Moslem, Trinity or Single Being, is subsumed. Those few persons, by treading the Way to the end, were able, here-now, to become aware of existence in a different way. They were able to still the flow of discursive thought in full waking consciousness. In other words, they transcended the temporal succession of uprising-proceeding-ending, that is, of the endless round of births and deaths in their own moment-to-moment consciousness. Thus consciousness was transformed into super-consciousness, which functions in the mode of immortality. In super-consciousness, you are aware of existence in its wholeness, its full integration, and not as a collection of bits and pieces, not as a unidirectional succession of events, not as a recapitulation of the past by means of memory nor a function of the future through anticipation. In super-consciousness, your awareness is at one with the ceaseless creativity of all existence — this is a true meaning of omnipotence, negating the immature conception of a determinate God being able to do what he pleases; your awareness is at one with the as-it-is-in-itself-ness of the totality of existence — this is a true meaning of omnipotence, negating the absurd idea of a universal, encyclopaedic factual knowledge of a determined course and plan of things and of all determinate subjects and objects of sense perception and discursive thought; your awareness is a completely accepting awareness of the whole “as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be” — this is a true meaning of the teaching that God is Love, for out of such acceptance alone you can transform and redeem, re-create and create.
It was this immortal super-consciousness of eternal existence which was realized here-now by the great Teachers in India, such as Kasyapa, Bṛhaddiva, Surya (a woman), Satyakama Jabala, Nachiketā, Ajātaśatru, Śaṇḍilya, Vamadeva, Prajapati Paramesthin and Yājñavalkya — to mention only a few of the less well-known names — by Gotama the Buddha and a great number of his disciples, by Śri Kṛṣṇa and several others. It was realized in other lands by Zarathushtra, Lao Tze, Enoch, Elijah, Jesus the Christ, Plotinus and others. These men were the Holy Ones, rightly termed the Sons of God. Since this supreme realization is the final step which has to be taken in meditation, or silent prayer as Jesus called it, by oneself alone, Plotinus called it the flight of the alone to the Alone, by which, the Son of Man becomes the Son of God, and is called the Alone-Begotten of God. And also, because this realization can the achieved only after man is free of all desire, of all sin, the transformation of the adult, human Son of Man into the full-fledged Son of God is described symbolically as the Immaculate Conception leading through a Virgin Birth to the living manifestation here and now of the Son of God.
This immediacy of realization is experienced by you yourself, uniquely and individually, if and when you can stay the course in God-fearing to the very end. Such is man’s divine destiny.
Naturally, then, we reject any claim of the indispensable intermediacy of any teacher; and ten times more easily do we reject the claim of any Church to indispensability, and to being the sole fount of truth, guidance and authority. We see that such claims, as well as activities like militant evangelism, are clear evidence of the egoism and of the lust for spiritual merit of those who make them. We grieve on account of the attitude of the bigot or the zealot, an immature soul, who decried faiths other than his own. We grieve that the scholar who investigates non-Christian religions is the victim of his conceit that his is the Olympian point of vantage from which all else, necessarily inferior, must be judged. We regret most of all that the scholar has quite failed to grasp, or even to deeply understand, the fact of super-consciousness, and to see that the Vedas and the Upaniṣads and the Gita, like the Gathas and Pitakas are fundamentally teachings about different states of consciousness leading to super-consciousness. When your great scholars refer, for example, to the Buddha as ‘the wisest of the Hindus’ (Rhys Davids), and still worse, as ‘this Oriental John Wesley’ (Dr. A. C. Bouquet), they betray their woeful ignorance of the Spirit, and especially of the nature of the supreme religious experience. And when not one of them has given clear indication that he nicely appreciates the fact that the Great Teachers had realized immortality here-now in full super-consciousness, we must necessarily reject your findings and your pronouncements where the heart of all religion is concerned, however much we esteem your admirable achievements in lesser contexts. I would like to mention here that Religion in its supreme sense may well be regarded as the way the great Brahmaputras, the Sons of God, live their lives. And because the innermost heart of Religion is of a quality and state which utterly transcends our mortal, dualistic, ordinary life and experience, it is both inappropriate and meaningless to introduce comparison in this realm. It is the foolish and the mischievous who think and act in terms of the superiority of one Teacher and his teachings as compared with all others. In this matter, monotheists — Christian, Moslem and others — have blundered more sadly than Hindus or Buddhists or Taoists.
I would like to see some evidence forthcoming that it is understood that Jesus, Śri Kṛṣṇa, Zarathushtra, the Buddha, and some others, manifested in their own persons an evenly balanced combination of the mystic and the yogi. In them, therefore, love and wisdom, the intuitive and the rational, action and restraint, were beautifully poised. I would like to see authors of lives of Christ clearly expound, or even mention adequately, the more important signs which characterize him who has realized super-consciousness. I who am not nominally a Christian feel that you have not done justice to Jesus Christ, at least in connection with the supreme religious experience. In your portrayal of him, you have presented someone much less than the Perfected Man who is a Son of God. Further, I have been disappointed to see that the orthodox doctrinal, Christian conception of God, though solacing in its humanity, comforting in its hopefulness, exalting in its promise, admirable in its apotheosis of man’s virtues, powers and capacity, nonetheless falls short where the reality and significance of Divinity itself is concerned. And this is so because you have limited yourselves to a theoretically deduced, rationally postulated God, and sometimes confused this with the Nameless Reality Itself; you have arbitrarily laid down that God is a Transcendent Being wholly other than the creature, man, and as such cannot be other than what you have laid down; and above all, you have failed to see that all the teachings embodied in words like God, and in phrases like the Kingdom of Heaven, have emerged out of man’s experience of super-consciousness, out of man’s realization of immortality here-now. I make an exception in the case of the greatest of the Christian mystics. But theirs is not the orthodox, sanctioned doctrine. If it only were, the rigid barriers placed by the orthodox Christian doctrine of the Church between man and Christ, and between man and the Supreme Reality would not exist.
But for all that, not for a moment will I say that we of other faiths, or of a nameless faith, have something superior or better, because superior and better are terms which have meaning only in the dualistic world of mortality; and so I discard them altogether in the context of the immortal. Not for a moment will I say that our Way of Life, as in contradistinction to yours, could, or should, be a Way of Life for all men. Our various ways of life, which are individual strivings in unique ways to transcend sin and sorrow and mortality, and so to realize Eternal God, are all tainted with our own failings, and at the same time are all joyously expressive of God Immanent in us. Our various ways of life appropriately express what we are at the moment. They are all needed by the different peoples who live in the different parts of the world; hence the aggressive totalitarianism embodied in any and every effort to convert all mankind to one faith and to one way of life is deplorable.
Christian culture, like all strictly monotheistic cultures, is necessary for the discovery and fulfilment of true individuality. But rampant egoism and aggressiveness have bedevilled these cultures. Buddhist, Hindu and Taoist cultures on the other hand lead to a revelation of the true meaning of ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’ and of loving your neighbour as yourself. The fundamental peace which has to be made is the peace within oneself between Spirit and organism, a peace which becomes unbroken and holy when you have trod the Way to the end. And when you have indeed trod the way to the end, and experienced immortality in full super-consciousness, you have shattered the massive but brittle circle of sin which keeps you separate from the Eternal. Then you know once and for all that you are not exclusively yourself but that you are in all things, living and non-living, and that you and the Eternal are in indissoluble union. Then you can truly live the unitive life. Then you experience here-now what is called the blessed felicity of everlasting fellowship with God. Therein you are yourself as well as the so-called other person; you are yourself as well as one with God. And in this unspeakable communion of Love, this two-in-oneness or the multitude-in-oneness, you fully experience the reality of loving your neighbour as yourself, and simultaneously of loving God with all your heart and soul and might.
Saying these things, I have but spoken practical counsel for sound polity and economy, for just and humane society. For the unfolding panorama of the life of our community is the expression of what we are ourselves interacting with our environment. Unhappily, like people in a bad dream, you waste your opportunities by expending too much energy in dealing with conditions, objects, systems and methods. You strive and struggle with the external world driven by the torment of frustrated desire and repressed ego. And so you are always at war with your gracious mother, Nature; always, she is brutally ravished by the self-glorifying achievements of her own sons and daughters. And also, you are always at war with your neighbour, forgetting that whether you call him friend or foe he is undeniably your fellow man, and that you and he are under bond of brotherly love to one another, and of self-surrender to the Universal Mother and to the Transcendent Father. I say, therefore, that our most important practical concern is to change ourselves by treading the Way. Our greatest problem is our own misconceived self, our ego, and not our environment or political or economic or social condition. You turn in vain to some other person for wise counsel. You look in vain to some external power for good government. The truth is that wise counsel and good government have to come out of your own self — that is the inescapable responsibility of individuality. You yourself have to be the Wise Counsellor; and on your own shoulders, fairly and squarely, lies the government of the world. The world is none other than you, the individual. The world is epitomized in that fathom-long organism which is you. If you grow into the likeness of your God, you will inevitably tackle external problems in the good way.
Therefore I say that the New World of heart’s desire is none other than the New Man himself. Hand in hand, let Hindu and Buddhist, Moslem and Christian, let each and every man in the world tread the well-loved path of his own choice, that path that suits him best, constitutionally and temperamentally. Fling away all fears and false conceits, vain beliefs, vain hopes and anxieties. Wear away the prison bars of the petty self, meet the Supreme seated in your heart, and experience the peace of that perpetual miracle — immortal God dwelling in mortal self, dwelling unstained, in radiance that had no beginning and will never know an ending. Realize these things within yourselves. So shall the rose of your salvation bloom here-now in the light of heaven itself.
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