By William Grice
I hope the photograph I have just printed out via my Apple Mac gets to be translated as beautifully as it looks to me now, on a very hot afternoon on July 20th, when it eventually reaches you via the printed newsletter.
To the left of the Georgian building is the new dining area; to the right is the equally new building which houses the bedrooms, wherein we lived, moved, and had our being. The building comprising the focal point of the photograph seemed so much more Georgian because of the very juxtaposition of the modernity by which it is flanked. Rooms here were spacious and airy, providing an ideal setting for our meetings, and the peaceful atmosphere was most conducive to listening to recordings of Phiroz’s talks together. Some of us also found their special places for contemplation and meditation in such quiet corners as the oratory, or the church with its chapel of splendid oak carvings.
It is perhaps the grounds which were most widely used by the group, individually as well as collectively. We were certainly blessed with perfect weather for walking barefoot across the lawns, and, when Bob and Renate visited, for the group Chi Kung sessions under shady trees. This was in a spot in the left foreground of the photograph, by the half-concealed section of the ‘ha-ha’, a source of mild amusement when discovered by unwary Chi Kung practitioners. The remoteness of the setting near the Sussex Downs further enhanced the quietism, and the clear night sky, free of the obscuring light-pollution of conurbations, was a star-studded inspirational sight.
This was my first experience of Summer School on a residential basis, and I gained infinitely more from it than is possible on a day visit, as one would from diving into a swimming pool rather than sitting on the side and just dipping a toe in the water. Our thanks to Carolyn and Ron for organising the school, and to Geoffrey for his introduction to our venue.
A talk given by Phiroz Mehta at Dilkusha, Forest Hill, London on 17th July 1982
The question is: What form of religious education is helpful to open up children to the religious life?
I do think it is an extremely good question because it is for one thing so difficult to answer. In connection with this question, my mind turned to one of the Long Discourses of the Buddha entitled the Lohicca Sutta. Lohicca was the name of a Brāhman teacher who came to the Buddha. Mostly it was Brāhmans who came to him, Brāhman priests, teachers and so forth. Lohicca asked the Buddha this question: “Who is the blameless Teacher, or how can one become the blameless Teacher?” If you carefully study that Discourse you will discover at the end that the only blameless Teacher is the Perfected Holy One himself. (I think it is practically the last one of the Long Discourses, the Dīgha Nikāya). There is an extremely significant point involved in that. If the truly blameless religious Teacher is one who is the Perfected Holy One himself and we apply that to our ordinary secular everyday life and our family life and so on, the answer to the question of how to open up one’s children to living the religious life gets its own answer in its own way, namely that if the parents are perfect parents, then they will inevitably and naturally open up the religious life of the child.
What is one of our great difficulties where religious education is concerned? What do we do with our children where religion is concerned? We start off more or less all over the world by taking them to worship, the church, the temple, the mosque, whatever it may be. The little child sees a certain ritual being performed and all sorts of gestures, genuflexions and so on, and there is someone who conducts the service. In some cases there is no one who conducts the service. In certain Zarathushtrian religious ceremonies, no one conducts the service, everyone just takes the Zarathushtrian prayer book and reads through so many of the prayers, and that is about all. So the child is quite unable to make head or tail of all this mumbojumbo, as the child might call it! Also it must be remembered that with a very few exceptions the rituals and the prayers are in the original languages, the Zarathushtrian rituals and prayers are in the Avestan language, the Hindu in Sanskrit. The Christian now has changed, it used to be Latin. It was in Latin that the rituals and prayers took place. The child does not know a word of all these different languages! To this day there are only literally a handful of Parsis or Iranian Zarathushtrians who understand Avestan at all. It is just a closed book to them, all these long recitations and so forth. But the parents impress upon the children that, in order to live the good life and afterwards to reap the right reward after one is dead, it is necessary to do all this. Of course modern Zarathushtrian children are a little too cynical to believe all that! They say, “Frankly, when you’re dead, you’re dead!” I agree with them! It just does not matter whether you have mumbled so many prayers every day of your life or not.
That is one aspect, and then there is the other aspect which of course touches essentially social behaviour. This social behaviour has the sanction of religion behind it. You must be truthful, you must be kind, you must be pure, not do evil things, and then the usual things, the commandments, the advices as they are called, and so forth. All that has to be fulfilled in life. But how is that to be fulfilled in life? The child has certain inborn natural drives. After all we are descended from primates. The group of primates started something like thirty or forty million years ago, and man is the fourth subdivision of them. There were first the prosimians, then came the monkeys, then came the ape, and man. A particular branch of the primates gave birth to the evolution of two parallel lines, the pongids, which include the gorillas and the chimpanzees, and the hominid line which ultimately became man. So these two lines went parallel, but all life has certain other influences embedded in it, and this is the influence of the evolution through the reptilian and the mammalian stages. Our own brain, for instance, has a reptilian part, the R-complex as they call it, which is responsible for aggressiveness, fear and such characteristics. Then there is the mammalian part which is responsible for the natural affections and care for the young and looking after them. On top of that all, living in an uneasy truce with the primitive reptilian and mammalian brain, is the cerebral cortex. So we are born with a certain amount of conflicting factors at work, we cannot help it. We have natural tendencies to be angry, to be hateful, to be jealous, to be fearful, to be aggressive and so forth. They are there, and you cannot explain this to a little infant. The child reacts instinctively because that part of the brain is influencing that child’s behaviour. As the child grows up, of course, the influence of our social and cultural development imposes a restrictive influence upon these natural reactions. So every child grows up with a certain amount of conflicting forces working upon it.
If you introduce religion in terms of fixed doctrines and dogmas and concepts of heaven and hell and life after death and all the rest of it, it is a little bit too much really for the child to cope with. Most of it just gets suppressed and sinks into the well of the unconscious mind. But it acts all the time, and the more that goes into the unconscious the more it exercises a more powerful influence than the conscious mind. Virtue for most children means behaving in a manner and doing those things which will bring themselves good results. This in itself is a source of conflict, because if you live in the world self-oriented, you are living for yourself, against the external world. It takes a very long time for a child, in fact in ordinary adolescence the child has not the ability to appreciate these points. Some children may, but most children do not, appreciate the point that oneself is an integral part and parcel of a much greater whole. Every person that the child meets is the other person. “This is me, I am I. You are different, even the ones closest to me, Mum and Dad and my best friends at school…” They are also others still to me, I can’t imagine myself as completely inter-related and completely interacting with them. I value them and are nice to them through natural instinctive affection and also because of constant social contact in which I gain food, pleasure, toys and all the rest of it. So there is this element of conflict all the time being introduced to the child by the ordinary ways in which what is called religion is presented to it.
Then again there is the intellectual aspect. The child asks, “Where did I come from? Where was I before I was born?” Mamma almost invariably answers, “You were in my tummy. “ When a child is told that he or she was in Mummy’s tummy, the child wonders the very next moment, maybe, or the next week, or the next year, “From which part of my mother did I come out? Did she vomit me out?” I remember my mother told me a marvellous yarn about how I was born, how I came into this world! She did not say that I was in her tummy. She said she was sitting in the garden one evening and then suddenly God appeared and shouted to her and called her by name. (My name is of course Phirozshah, the masculine, and she was Phirozbai, ‘bai’ is the lady). God shouted her name and said, “Quick, quick, hold your sari out, I’m going to give you a baby!” And she did, apparently, that is to say that I imagined that she did! God dropped me into her sari which she held out! Oh, the adoring gratitude I felt to my mother that she saved my life! If I had fallen on the hard ground, I might have died! Sometime during my lifetime I have wondered whether it would not have been better for me to have fallen on the ground and have been saved a lot of trouble! However such are the sort of things that go through a child’s mind. But it seems to me far better to let the child know the truth straightforwardly in a simple way.
Associated with the questions “Where was I before I was born and where do I come from?” is the question “What happens to me after I am dead?” Because invariably every child meets with death all the time. There is a fly which is swatted, or the child sees a butcher’s shop with all those animals which are killed, or knows about funerals when somebody next door dies and there is a funeral. The child sees all that. “What happens to that man, where is he? Am I going to die? Or shall I be able to live forever? I don’t like the idea of dying, I want to live for ever.” I know how in my own case my great search intellectually, right from about the age of five or so, was, “What is the meaning of immortality, living for ever and ever?” That is how it was put to me, in terms of time, living for ever and ever, and I just had not the knowledge or the intelligence developed to be able to consider these questions properly at all. All that one is taught is, “You be good, you live a good life,” which means of course obeying your parents and pleasing them and your teachers, and working hard at school and looking after yourself carefully, and when you grow up doing a good job and earning a lot of money, marrying and having children and afterwards living to about a hundred years, and when you die you will go to Heaven! “And where is Heaven, what is Heaven?” Then the pious upward turned eyes looking up to Heaven, the skies, the starry skies! “You will go to Heaven and there you will find God and his angels and all the good people who lived in the world.”“What happens to the bad people?” “They go to hell.” “What happens in hell?” “They suffer frightful punishments.”
So you see, an extraordinary mountain of absurdity is put upon the little child’s head by having these ideas given to it. If parents were really honest they would answer these deep questions which the child naturally asks (without knowing at all how deep they are) by saying, “I don’t know. Can we find out, can we enquire, can we study, can we in some way or other discover the answer to these questions?” If parents were to tell their child quite honestly that they do not know the answers, not only to these questions but to so many others also, that they are unable to inform the child, then the child will have a much greater trust. I remember very well how I was told so many things in Zarathushtrian terms. But in Ceylon where I lived all my early years until I was nineteen there were of course Hindus, Buddhists, Mohammedans, and Christians. There were no Jewish children or friends of mine that I knew. I used to talk to them about these things. Especially in Asia generally and particularly in India and in countries like Ceylon, children are constantly talking about these things. They are less intent upon kicking a football than upon making these enquiries and so forth. They used to tell me different things; they had ideas quite different from the ideas which were presented to me. And so of course another source of conflict, “Who is right, my parents and priests, or those people’s parents and priests?” If a child happens to be one who innately is interested in these things in what we would call religious matters, (and this is rather rare), it means tremendous conflict in the child and uncertainty, a sense of insecurity grows u p. If the parents were to say openly, “I don’t know the answers to these, but we can find out as we go on”, and if there is this feeling of security in relation to the parent from the child, then the child will be more willing to accept the instructions about social morality and behaviour. This is the starting point.
After all a child in the midst of a whole lot of children, not only in the kindergarten but from that age upwards, is learning first and foremost to be a good citizen, a good social human being. No, I should not say good because the definition of good is very difficult in this context, but an acceptable creature! “He is one of us, so he is acceptable.” This acceptability is of very great importance in childhood. We want to be accepted not only by our parents but also by all others with whom we come into contact. Acceptability also means a considerable degree of security which means that a child feels safe with fellow human beings. The child of course in relationship with other children will come across all kinds of difficulties, quarrels and so forth. Children quarrel very easily and just as easily make up the quarrel afterwards. But what is almost never presented to the child (because the parents themselves are quite ignorant of it and incapable of living up to it) is the fact that each child is completely interrelated with and interacting all the time with all others. This consciousness of otherness with respect to everything which is outside one’s own body is the very devil in our lives all the time. Look how competition takes place, how wars take place, because of this consciousness of others and difference, of unacceptability if the other behaves differently or believes this or that. These are the deep things. Now if the parents themselves lived pure good lives in the real sense, and are perfectly honest and harmonious amongst themselves, husbands and wives together, then that influence on the child will be very strong. It is no good telling a child to be loving and kind and considerate and so forth if the child does not see real loving kindness and considerateness and good behaviour between its father and mother. This is very very important. I know too well what a tragic influence it is upon a child when father and mother quarrel and shout at each other and so forth.
So both parents have to live the religious life in its deep sense. One may include the ritual aspect of religion because it has a subtle, unconscious influence upon the child’s psyche, there is no doubt about that. I remember so well in my own case that I used to sit with my mother in the afternoon and repeat the prayers on the verandah looking out onto the sea, the Indian Ocean, in the late afternoon with the sun setting, and also in the mid-afternoon with the bright sun and the lovely rippling of the little waves all along. This was something which filled me with wonder and reverence and a sense of awe, all of which was not fear. It was not fear, but it was a sort of delight that God made all this world and it was so beautiful and it was made for us, and a sense of deep gratitude welled out. But what is peculiar to me may not apply to some. But it can apply to most children because children are extremely sensitive, and they are extremely receptive, and they will naturally take into themselves whatsoever really helps to strengthen the at first unconscious recognition of something Transcendent. Of course the name is given, God, you can give any name you like. But when that recognition of something Transcendent is fed in the right way, it will flower out sooner or later.
The fact remains that every single creature, every single thing in the universe, every atom, every sub-atomic particle and the entire universe, is Transcendence embodied. I think it is one of the tragedies of Christian theology that it separated God as the Creator, the Eternal, Immortal Being from His Creation. “He is the wholly other than this, this is the mortal, the perishable”, and in so much of Christian outlook this is something to be despised, and looked down upon. And I am afraid that it is not exclusively Christian, it occurs, I think, to a certain degree in Buddhistic teaching the Foulness of the Body meditations, and all that sort of thing, and there is raised up a certain disregard and rejection of the body, which is perfectly ridiculous actually. I am not surprised that it arose in the time of the Buddha twenty five centuries ago, it was there already in Brāhmanical teachings that the body is something which is mean, which is to be despised, that the senses are the seducers and so forth. The senses are not seducers at all. We get seduced through sense impressions because we are ignorant. If we were not ignorant our sense impressions would not seduce us at all. Our senses are the only real cords of communion with Totality. When intellect, with all its machinations and all its deviousness and all the rest of it, has ceased to exercise its rather baneful influence, then what is there left but the senses? If the sense functioning and the response to all sense functioning is pure and perfect, the senses are the real cords of communion. If you have ever experienced any touch of Transcendence, you will discover that that is perfectly true. Neither the body nor the senses are to be despised. The body is the perfect thing that you have really and that you are, and the body is not merely a body, as all these rather doleful teachers have taught! This must be carefully understood.
When you say body, it implies at the same time the whole of the psyche, it implies the whole of the mind, it implies the whole of Totality altogether. It takes the universe to produce each and every creature and plant and so forth. We are ignorant of this activity of the universe as a whole. When we use a phrase like “The One Total Reality”, what does it really mean to each one of us? It is on the whole just a string of words, “One Total Reality”, three different words whose meanings you can look up in a dictionary. The consciousness which really has grown into full awareness of the One Total Reality is something utterly different from the petty little meanings of the dictionary. It is utterly beyond concept and word, it is a living power, a living influence. That is why, if we ourselves live in such a manner that this comes to life inside us as parents, then we will spread that influence all around us all the time, we cannot help it, we will not need to want to do the right thing, to wantto be a good influence and so forth, we will inevitably be the right influence, because all this really is natural and spontaneous. It has not got to be a thought out good deed sort of thing, the Boy Scout “bob-a-job” type of goodness. It is nothing of that sort.
Look at the sun. Can it help shining? Its very nature, its very constitution is such that the tremendous atomic explosions which take place constantly pour out light and heat and all sorts of radiations which are for the sustenance of the whole solar system. Each one of us has that divine potentiality within himself, within herself, and if we can so live that that divine potentiality flowers out naturally then it will be impossible for us not to be good. You see, the whole world has suffered for ages on this point. “The religious life is a miserable life, you have got to give up this and give up that and so forth.” Would you like to preserve your disease or give up the disease? Would you like to preserve misery or be free of misery? Look at it that way. The religious life is the truly human life, human in the truest sense of the word, and insofar as we are capable of living like that and do bend all our energies towards that living, we will inevitably influence the children around us, we cannot avoid it. And not only the children but all other human beings with whom we come in contact. This is the point. So where the intellectual aspect of opening up the child’s religious life is concerned, we have to help the child, not impose ideas, any ideas, but help the child to grow into these conceptions — more than conceptions — to try and become conscious of the reality of these deep things. You draw out of the child what is already there. As I say, every creature is Transcendence embodied, but that Transcendence in its embodiment is hidden. The embodying is an imprisoning effect, it is an enclosing effect. We have to try and free the child from the enclosing aspect of it and let its fundamental reality, its ultimate truth that it is Transcendence embodied, gradually emerge. This is the meaning of e-ducing, of e-ducating, to educate means to draw out of (educere, to draw out of). It is like that.
And it is a happy work, it is a fine work, it is a work which inevitably and invariably produces a condition and relationship of love, harmony, purity, goodness, wisdom, all these things, and beauty above all, because then the living human being actually flowers out. That human being is utterly beautiful. It is a case of having the ability to see the beauty. If one’s eye is single, one’s whole being is full of light, and because of that one will see beauty everywhere and in everybody and in everything. I have experienced this myself. In my unregenerate days which were not so very long ago I used to have very strong views, and critical views, about people who drank heavily and were a terrible sight, especially when we were living in Peckham. Twelve years we spent there and there were pubs close by, and sometimes (I was in my fifties then) when I used to see these drunken people come out, I used to feel such a reaction against them. Then gradually all that changed (not so gradually, it changed pretty quickly too). One day I saw somebody drunk, haggard looking, lined, come out, and suddenly I saw beauty, utter beauty, the hidden beauty which became open to me suddenly. When that sort of thing happens to you yourself at any time, anywhere, (it has to be a vital, living experience, the experience of that beauty must not be just a thought, something imposed by logical thinking, but a real, inward, conscious experience), once that happens then always you have the ability to see beauty where others would say, “What a mess”, and this, that and the other. But you can see it.
So now, the educating of the child by one’s living example and living influence is perhaps the supreme way in which one can open up the life of the child to religious living.
Phiroz Mehta wrote four chapters of The Health Cookery Book, probably in the early years after the Second World War. He seemed to have intended it for publication, but it does not appear ever to have been printed
Continued from part 1
Whilst scientific facts must be well borne in mind, all fads and fancies, speaking generally, are best avoided. But sometimes, they must be indulged. For if you are not happy when you eat, you cannot extract the full value out of even the most scientifically prepared food. All rules must be generally followed, and occasionally broken — with discretion — in order to get the best out of life.
All foods are good foods, and you can eat whatever you like, provided you will observe certain principles first, and take your liberties — in moderation — afterwards.
First, remember the two main purposes of food:
The first is a question of assimilation; the second, of elimination. It is the problem of elimination which is sadly neglected, whereas you will find everyone over-anxious about nourishment. Most of us are over-nourished; we eat too much food and that of the nourishing kind rather than the cleansing kind. When we take too much food, it is the food which eats us up rather than we who eat the food! That is why so many people have quite the wrong appearance, instead of being strong and full of vitality.
Nature has made ample provision to nourish us. It is our duty to attend to the cleaning job by choosing the right foods.
We have to balance the nourishing and elimination foods. Here is a list of each kind for general purposes:
You will notice that foods like wheat and oats perform both functions fairly equally, because of the “roughage” they contain. This roughage acts like a broom sweeping the intestines clean.
Here is an important classification which you should always follow carefully:
Under normal circumstances, children should not be given any artificial preparations, patent bodybuilding foods, and certainly no tea, coffee, chocolate, sugar, sweets and candies, or any preserves, - in short any foods which are deprived of their natural vitamins and mineral salts, or tampered with and spoilt by man. For infants, no food equals mother’s milk. Not only physically, but also psychologically, it is essential for the infant to have its own mother’s milk till weaned. If it does not, it always suffers from some disability or defect in body and character when grown up to adult age. The mother of course must take good care that she is quite healthy and eats correctly, from well before pregnancy, onwards through all her remaining years. Only when she is unhealthy does it become necessary, unfortunately, to substitute foods other than mother’s milk for the infant.
It is wise to observe the following points when choosing foodstuffs, and when preparing them:
In connection with point (e) above, you should use:
As far as possible, do not eat the products entirely deficient in vitamins — “polished” rice, soda crackers, tapioca, starch, refined sugar, hydrogenated oils.
Also avoid milk heated twice, green vegetables cooked with soda, fruit or vegetables cooked for a long time, white flour, and egg substitutes.
The flesh formers, and repairers of tissue lost through muscular activity are the protein containing foods — principally eggs, cheese, meat, fish, beans, peas, and lentils. Man’s tendency through the centuries has been to overeat the proteins. The excess amount decomposes in the intestines, and gives rise to various ailments and diseases of a serious nature. The actual amount of protein necessary for the average adult is only about two or three ounces of the dry weight of the daily food — say roughly one-eighth of his total daily food. Instead of this, the usual amount, even today, in spite of great improvement in this direction, is nearly three times in excess — before the Great War it used to be seven times in excess of what it should be. Consequently there is an excess of uric acid in the system, and we have the high degree of prevalence of rheumatism and kindred complaints.
Meat or fish once a day, taken in moderate amounts is quite sufficient. Lean meat, cod and herring, and plain white fish are best. Of the meats, mutton, lamb, rabbit, veal, and reliable beef are best; of poultry, chicken is best. If you want to enjoy good health always, definitely avoid all high game, fish of the oyster and lobster variety, and all the meat dishes of the paté de fois gras and jugged hare type, and also the whole host of manufactured meat drinks. Take them if you like them — but remember you have to pay the price in terms of money and health. It is preferable also to avoid all forms of pig food, and all the insides of an animal: liver, kidneys, etc. Naturally, you may ask why? Well, the liver, like the kidneys, is a “filth filter” of the animal system. One of the functions of the liver is to extract out of the circulating blood, and store up, all the unwanted matter present. Some of this matter is poisonous, and if allowed to circulate in the blood would kill the creature. Organs like the liver save life by acting like a filter, and holding these poisonous substances within them. If the liver continously does this and never gets a chance of being cleaned out itself, we get the various liver diseases — and they are rather terrible — and finally death. So why eat these filth filters which are sources of disease to ourselves? But on the other hand, in strict moderation, you can enjoy liver and kidneys and be lucky enough to suffer no consequences.
Continued in part 3, part 4, part 5 and part 6
A talk given by Phiroz Mehta at the Convent of the Cenacle, Grayshott, Hampshire on 14th April 1981
Could you please explain the meaning of Baptism by water and Baptism by fire in the Christian scriptures? Why did Jesus’s Baptism by John come before the Temptation and not after?
The Baptism by water refers to an earlier stage of development, namely when the psyche is well on the way to complete purification. The Baptism by fire comes towards the end of the process when, not only is the psyche made empty, but the whole of the mind is emptied as such.
The emptying of the psyche and purification of the psyche, when the conflict of the dualism of good and evil, of virtue and vice, is finished with, is the Baptism by water. The Baptism by fire comes when the person is able to enter into the very deep states of consciousness which have been denominated in the Upaniṣads as the third avasthā. This third avasthā corresponds in our ordinary everyday life to the deep dreamless slumber. When this happens the complete unification of Transcendent love and wisdom functioning through that person lays to rest for ever all the archetypal conceptions and ideas and beliefs which were animating forces for development before that. In the Buddhist presentation it is called the infinity of ākāśa and the infinity of viññāṇa, ākāśarepresenting the Void, or if you like to use the ordinary word “space”, which is pregnant with the plenitude to come. When one enters such deep states of consciousness one is already very sensitive to all the archetypal forms of expression of the One Primordial Creative Energy and the associated grades of consciousness with all that. All that is laid to rest, because all that is part of the whole existential process, and existential manifestation. One goes completely beyond that and these are laid to rest. But it is the fire of the spirit which brings about that laying to rest of all these conceptions and ideas which last through centuries, because those grades of being represent this Primordial Creative Energy in those forms which persist through time. When they are laid to rest, then time and the timeless state give place to Eternity in the real sense. Remember that both time and the timeless are confined within time limits. One enters a timeless state at a certain moment on a certain day and emerges out of that timeless state at another moment on another day, so to say. At the most it can last seven days and nights at a stretch, no more. So the limits of the timeless state are set in time, so timelessness must not be confused with Eternity. Eternity is something quite different, totally inconceivable, wholly non-descript. That is why I cannot say more about Eternity, apart from saying that the Primordial Creative Energy acting in Eternity produces all the grades of being which have been represented in the scriptures as angels, archangels, the demons, the destructive forces, the constructive forces, the suras, the asuras, and all the other names which are applied.
So the Baptism by fire leads to the ultimate realization possible to Man. Remember, ultimate realization possible to Man, because Man as he is constituted can go thus far towards the realization of Transcendence. Transcendence itself is not only the unknown but the unknowable and the unrealizable by Man as he is. Possibly as the human race progresses, if we as a race progress in the right way, a new kind of creature may come into being possessed of more senses than we have. It may possess six or seven or eight senses, I don’t know. That creature would naturally be able to function at profounder levels than anything that we can attain.
I have explained this more in terms of Hindu-Buddhist scriptures than the Christian scriptures as such, because in the Christian scriptures I do not know what has been said with respect to the Baptism by fire. The Baptism by water which takes place physically is only a symbolic Baptism. The actual Baptism is the purification of the psyche which takes place in the individual afterwards. The Waters of Life sweep through the psyche utterly cleansing it, Life in its purity and perfection. Hence it represents the moral development of the person which is the indispensable basis for the development in the higher spheres, so to say. You remember how it is said in the New Testament that Jesus after the Ascension when he shows himself to the disciples says, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” That has a tremendous significance. “All power” means that Transcendence itself functions utterly freely through that mind. There are no archetypal ideas, or concepts even, present any more. There is complete perfection, the Ultimate Peace of the Ultimate Origin. Why did Baptism by John come before the Temptation? Well, that is exactly how it happens. The symbolic Baptism precedes the Baptism by the pure Waters of Life because it is the sort of sign or signal for the individual to undergo that stage. These are all symbolic things. Of course the strange part of the story is that when Jesus goes to John to be baptized, Jesus already is the sinless one, the purified one. But he tells John to do this because it is the proper procedure.
Jesus said, “Resist not evil.” Why then in the Gītā did Śrī Kṛṣṇa urge Arjuna to fight?
I think the wording of the question is in the wrong order. Kṛṣṇa in the Gītā precedes the birth of Jesus. The time, the circumstance, were quite different. The Gītā is understood, or rather misunderstood, I would say, as the urging by the incarnate Lord of the World to the disciple to engage in physical warfare. There may have been a battlefield known as Kurukṣetra, but consider carefully the presentation of the Gītā as such. Here were two mighty armies, embattled forces, fighting. Do you mean to say that they are just going to sit quietly whilst the Lord of the Universe gives profound religious teachings to his disciple? The situation is complely absurd. But the dramatic sense of the author of the Gītā was of just that nature that he chose to present the whole situation in an impossible manner. What is this fight actually? First of all, who is Kṛṣṇa, who is Arjuna actually? The author of the Gītā is himself Kṛṣṇa and himself Arjuna. In the 10th discourse verse 37 he gives out the secret. “Of the sons of Vṛṣṇi I am Kṛṣṇa.” (Vṛṣṇi was the clan to which Kṛṣṇa was supposed to belong. The name of the author of the Gītā was Kṛṣṇa - Kṛṣṇa Dvaipāyana Veda-Vyāsa). Then he goes on to say, “Of the sons of Pāṇḍu I am Arjuna.” (Pāṇḍu was the father of the five brothers, Yudhiṣṭhira, Bhima, Arjuna and the other two). Then he says, “Of all the great seers in silence I am Vyāsa”, (the great seers who can enter the silence, the deep silence, the silence of the chattering in the head and so forth, which in Buddhist terms would be the second jhāna ). He ends up by saying, “Of poets I am Uśanā.” (Uśanā was one of the poets of the Ṛg-veda who flourished long before the date ascribed to the Mahābhārata). So what does all this mean? It can only mean really just one thing. Kṛṣṇa Dvaipāyana Veda-Vyāsa, the author of the Gītā, was one who had realized Transcendence. He, in the state of that I AM consciousness, the ehyeh asher ehyeh of Moses, in that state he himself is Kṛṣṇa. He is the Supreme Teacher. In his ordinary state of consciousness functioning through the senses and discursive mind and so forth, he is every man, represented as Arjuna. So Kṛṣṇa the author of the Gītā finds the form of the divine dialogue a most useful and sensible form in which to present the teachings. After all, supposing any one of us is the Perfect Holy One, would we go about saying, “I am God”? We might get locked up, literally, not merely metaphorically! So you see, this form of the divine dialogue was a very convenient form in which to present the teachings realized by the Perfected Holy One who was a man or a woman, like you or I. We must remember this.
In all those cases in the Old Testament where it is said of the prophets that the spirit of the Lord moved them to pronounce this, that or the other, or the angel of the Lord came and inspired them to say this, all these are symbolic ways of saying that you yourself, having realized that state, fulfil the purpose of your existence in that particular circumstance in which you are placed, and are moved to say these things. If we realize that, then all the difficulty associated in modern times with accepting literally the old doctrines and dogmas, all that disappears. One sees it as a very sensible, rational fact. Also it is a fact which emphasizes the nature of our human destiny.
Can one have a healthy mind without a healthy body?
Yes. Mens sana in corpore sano. A healthy mind in a healthy body, the old Latin statement. If the body is healthy it conduces towards a healthy mind, but the concept of healthy mind through the ages is a concept which is a worldly concept. It is not a religious concept, it is not a truly human concept. Remember, the human is the happy creator. What sort of a being is the happy creator? I do not mean creator in the sense in which a great musician or poet or scientist or a philosopher is a creator. I mean something other than all that, something which belongs to the context of Transcendence itself, not to the context of finititude, temporality and mortality. There have been Perfected Holy Ones who necessarily had healthy minds but they suffered physically, quite a lot. One of the outstanding examples of that in our own day has been Ramana Maharshi. That is one example, there have been other examples too. So you can have a healthy mind without a healthy body, but a healthy body is certainly conducive towards a healthy mind. It has its disadvantages too, if you have a very healthy body. You experience it yourself and see. There are certain difficulties which that tremendous vitality introduce. You become self-obtrusive very easily and self-assertive if you are very healthy. You become conceited. I have met such people.
Krishnaji has often said that if we see something in ourselves right down to the roots it is finished with completely. Now it seems that no-one I’ve known and certainly not myself has ever experienced this in any shape or form. This obviously is a very much deeper level of seeing than we know anything about.
Yes, this is the kind of thing I am referring to when I say you become the Truth. You become it in mind and consciousness, not in psyche and consciousness. When the psyche is purified it is an unresisting medium, it is a nexus for the free inflow of Transcendence and the free outflow. There is never a stoppage. That is why that sort of person is a benedication to the world in which he lives, all the time. He is like the sun shedding its light and heat and life and warmth everywhere. When you really see in that sense that is the real knowledge. The true knowledge is that sort of seeing, this sort of consciousness which emerges. What you are really conscious of, naturally and spontaneously expresses itself through all your thought and feeling, your word and your deed.
In his teaching Krishnamurti does not seem to think it at all important to know about other religions and often says that he does not read books on such matters. Could you comment.
Krishnamurti does say that nowadays, perhaps he has forgotten all the books he has read! In the books which were produced in the 1920’s, if you go through them, you will find him distinctly conducting a class for the study of Paul Carus’s Gospel of Buddha, and also for the study of other religious texts. Don’t forget that he was brought up in the milieu of the Theosophical Society, where there were very brilliant pundits around who spoke to him and taught him what there was to teach about the Upaniṣadic and Buddhistic teachings. What happened with Krishnamurti was that, after the death of his brother, he went through a complete transformation. That particular event was so tremendous for him, it was as if the whole world haddied for him. When he came out of that death, so to say, all the conditioning to which he had been subjected was completely rejected and he saw very clearly one of the profoundest teachings which he gives out. The mind of the individual must be completely free of all beliefs, convictions, ideas, imaginations and so on, if that mind is to be touched by the Immeasurable and experience the supreme Truth as such. You see the implication there. The implication is that all our conditioning, every bit of it, every single belief, thought-form, idea, conception, all must be out. The mind must be completely open, completely empty, because then the mind in that state will receive directly the Transcendent Truth, and that Truth is of such a nature that, if this purified mind receives it, it will not degrade that Truth by making thought-forms about it. This is the important thing. So a person of that sort lives completely in tune with Transcendent Reality, all the time. It is said of quite a good few of these teachers in India that they are permanently in samādhi and in touch with the Transcendent and so forth. But if you look sufficiently deeply into it you will see that these are false claims. That is not the case, they are not permanently in samādhi, because they do and say certain things which betray just where they are actually. If you come across somebody who is a self-professed spiritual teacher, or if he touches worldly goods, and worldly wealth and comfort and all the rest of it, or if he also accepts the adulation of the foolish multitude, then you can use your blue pencil very effectively!
Nowadays I suppose Krishnaji does not read any religious books at all. He reads instead detective novels and scientific works. He keeps himself well acquainted with all that happens in the world and with all the progress made in the world in the realms of science and social developments and all that sort of thing.
“He does not think it important to know about other religions.” What happens when we study all the religions? With rare exceptions, we merely collect a heap of doctrines and dogmas from here and there and make a selection. We go through a syncretist activity which is not really helpful, which is not really creative, because we choose that which pleases us. It satisfies our intellectual curiosity and therefore we take it as such, and then make a nice Irish stew of the whole thing and present it as truth, and of course build up wonderful followings. People say, “What a marvellous man he is. He knows this and he knows that, “and all the rest of it. You can just set all that aside. Stand on your own feet absolutely. Listen to anybody and everybody you meet, yes, converse. But converse, that means exchange, not monologue. You will easily spot the monologist, he will always be talking of himself and what he has discovered and what he has achieved. The person who really has seen something of truth, and if the sense of Transcendence is beginning to awake, will never talk of himself. He will be self-less, not just unselfish. Any decent person can be unselfish and go through this conflict between selfishness and unselfishness, but it takes a true human to be self-less.
Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.” Could you talk to us on the profound meaning of these words.
“Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.” We have to go very deeply into this to understand it. You know how the first verse of Genesis is mistranslated: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” The Hebrew is: Bereshyt Barah Elohim et Ha Shamaim Vay et Ha Eretz. The first three words, Bereshyt Barah Elohim are translated as “in the beginning Elohim”, and then Shamain Vay et Ha Eretz as “created heaven and earth.” This is a mistranslation of Bereshyt Barah Elohim. Barah is the past participle and Bereshyt means “out of the unknown origin” in this context. (If you study your Qabalah very carefully you will discover this). This is the proper presentation of the Transcendent Reality, the best possible presentation in terms of words. “Out of the unknown origin there emerged Elohim who separated out heaven and earth.” The word Elohim which is translated as God is compounded of Eleh, which is the Eternal What, and Mi, the Eternal Who. The Primordial Creative Energy, the Eternal What, and Absolute or Pure Consciousness, the Eternal Who, in interaction, in their first activity separate out what is called heaven and earth. Earth means the movement towards concretion, and heaven the movement which produces all those grades of being which are intermediate between the Transcendent itself and its concretest expression, between spirit and matter if you like to use simple words as such. Heaven and earth, then, essentially represent all that, the manifested universe, the physical universe, as such, together with all the grades of manifestation which come in the different stages between the concretest expression and the subtlest expression, which is the Absolute, the Supreme Spirit, if you like to use that phrase.
I said a little while ago that with the Baptism by fire all these grades disappear, the whole lot disappear. “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.” What is the word of Jesus? The spoken word, an idea, a thought? Not at all. The word referred to here is a symbolic term, it is the same as the Creative Word, the Creative Vibration. If you study the Hellenistic presentation of the teaching of Hermes Trismegistos, which of course is the Greek expression of the original Egyptian teachings, you will find this phrase coming in, “The thought in the Mind of God,” and God is referred to as All-Father Mind. It is very interesting, it is so akin to the Buddhistic concept of Mind as the Supreme. I think it is Huang-po who identifies pure Mind with the Buddha, with the Absolute. Those three are an identity. So this Mind, as I have often said, is that archetypal aspect of the Creative Energy which releases Cosmos out of Chaos, Chaos being understood as the state of vibrant quiescence. If we take the Trismegistic phrase “the thought in the Mind of God”, and if then God is presented as something Transcendent and therefore belonging to the context of the Infinite, the Eternal and the Immortal, what sort of a Mind does God have? For us the word Mind is immediately associated with the brain and with our gross mental processes of thoughts and feelings. It is just the psyche as such, the psyche in its earliest manifestations. But surely God cannot be thought of as possessing that sort of Mind. The word which is used is “thought” in the Hellenistic presentation. Our thought is just a string of words. When we think, we are talking silently, that is all, that is our thinking, or we are having a series of pictures passed through our consciousness, or of sounds, whether of man-made music or whether of the sounds of Nature, or whatever it be, or of smells or tastes, in other words all the manifestations which are sensuous, belonging to the senses. That is our thinking, and that thinking has no creative power. Any aspect of our thinking along those lines will not bring some-thing out of no-thing, it will not produce a plenitude out of a chaos, out of a void. So you see, the thought in the Mind of God is something quite different.
Consider again the Mind as this creative energy, this creative power. Thought is the particularisation of this creative power which releases an actual form or shape, whatever the grade of being may be, through all the different grades of being. So if in Genesis it is said, “And God minded let there be light, and there was light”, it is a literal fact. There is this creative energy actually at work. You will find this sort of thing through many of the religions. Zarathushtrianism has similar things in the Gāthās. This thought in the mind of God is the symbolic way of talking of the Word.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Notice carefully, “The Word was God.” That means this Promordial Creative Power itself, the Absolute Pure Consciousness itself, that is, the Word. This is the thing which has this creative power, and that of course cannot pass away, because that is the actual context of the Transcendent, the context of the Infinite, the Immortal, and the Eternal. It has no beginning, it has no end, it has nothing like a developmental process in its own rights, in its own sphere. If you study the Zohar you will find what is called the theosophic doctrine of the Zohar, and that is the original theosophy long before the days of Madame Blavatsky! Moses de Leon who produced the Zohar flourished in the 14th century, and it is between 1380 and 1386 that he produced that work. It is a tremendous work, but one has to have some awakened sense of Transcendence oneself in order to be able to interpret what is put in human words in these things. So you see, “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.” And when Jesus said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth”, after the Ascension, it is simply an affirmation of the complete unity of Jesus, not as the entity Jesus, but as the embodied Transcendence which functioned through Jesus back in its own context of the Infinite, the Eternal and the Immortal. That is how I see it.
So in a way, without making a verbal thing out of it or getting depressed or whatever, one has got to see that one is existing on the periphery of things.
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