Questions: Baptism: “Resist not Evil” and the Gīta: Beliefs: “My Word Shall Not Pass Away”
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.