I

Prayer Is The Answer

O Man! On the eve of the Holy Christmas, kneel down and pray even as the wise men from the East prayed beside the Baby Jesus. That was the greatest Message that Lord Jesus came amongst men to teach. Why have you forgotten so soon?

The breath has been given to you by the Lord, to be spent in prayer. Kneel down and pray: but let the prayer not cease when you rise. Prayer should be lifelong; and your life should be one long prayer.

There are no problems that cannot be dissolved by prayer: no suffering that cannot be allayed by prayer; no difficulties that cannot be surmounted by prayer; and no evil that cannot be overcome by prayer. Prayer is communion with God. Prayer is the miracle by which God's power flows into human veins. Therefore, kneel down and pray.

Greet the dawn of the day, and bid adieu to the setting sun with a Prayer of thankfulness: first for a fresh day granted and last for His Grace received. Thus shall your life be blessed and thus will you radiate His Blessings to all around you.

When the storms of war and unrest gather around you, kneel down and pray. Remember the words of Abraham Lincoln, the greatest architect of freedom. "I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me, seemed insufficient for the day." When the wisdom of politicians and social leaders fails, kneel down and pray: for a pair of praying hands are mightier than rulers of state and winners of battle. At this critical hour in human history, it is prayer alone that can pave the way for peace. Naught else is of any avail.

When, within your bosom rage the storms of lust and anger, vanity and viciousness, kneel down and pray. For, the Lord and He alone hath power over the elements. In thy supplication is thy strength. You will be filled with His Blessings, protected by His Grace, shielded by His Mercy and spurred on the Path of Righteousness by His Divine Will.

Therefore, kneel down and pray. Not for earthly goods nor for heavenly pleasures, but, for His Grace, "Thy will be done, My Lord! I want nothing," shall be thy prayer. For you know not what is good for you, and you may be asking for trouble and praying for perdition. Pray for His Grace. Pray that His Righteousness might descend on the soul of all men. Pray that His Light might illumine the heart of all the leaders of men, and the path of humanity to peace. Kneel down and pray for our Saviour to save the world from its own "misleaders."

May the blessings of Lord Jesus be with you all this Holy Christmas and for ever afterwards. May there be Peace and Goodwill throughout the world! Hail Jesus. Amen.

II

The Voice Of Jesus

Jesus, the Son of God, and Divine Messenger upon earth, is verily the Infinite Love, Compassion and the Saving Grace of the Almighty, descended amidst humanity in the radiant form of a glorious human personality, the like of which mankind has rarely seen. The Almighty Spirit manifested Itself as an embodied Being for the uplift of mankind enmeshed in the binding net of earthly existence. Jesus came with the heartening Message of Hope to a humanity weighed down under the burden of its sinful, ungodly life of mere materialistic sin-pursuits. He came to show the direct and easy way of freeing oneself from the guilt and bondage of an undivine living and of attaining the Joy, Bliss and Blessedness of the glorious Divine Life in the Spirit, or Atman. He taught the gospel of a pure life, a life of perfect faith, childlike simplicity and innocence, selflessness and love of all beings. Jesus lived and preached the sublime doctrine of renunciation of mammon, and worship of God.

Voice of Eternal Being

The Voice of Jesus is verily the Voice of the Eternal Being. Through Him is expressed the call of the Infinite to the finite, the Cosmic Being to the individual, the call of God to man. His Divine Voice is the same, therefore, as the Voice of the Vedas and the Upanishads, the Voice of the Koran, the Gurugranth Saheb, the Zend Avesta, the Dhammapada, and all such sacred scriptures of the great religions of the world. Fundamentally the gospel that He preached is at one with the gospel expounded through these holy books. It is the way of denying the flesh and asserting the Spirit. It is the way of crucifying the lower self to bring about a glorious Resurrection of the Spirit and the final Ascension unto the Infinitude and the Transcendence unto the Divine. It is no other than the Upanishadic path of rejecting Preyas and accepting the Sreyas, the negation of the Anatma and the living of the life in the Atman.

Jesus declares: "Ye cannot serve both God and mammon." In other words, His teaching implies: "Detach. Attach." Detach yourself from material objects of this transient world. Attach yourself to the Eternal Spiritual treasure of Atman. Christ thus teaches us the great way of going beyond all sin and sorrow. His Sermon is that which leads us from the darkness of this worldly existence of birth, death, disease and pain, unto the everlasting Light of glorious Divine Consciousness. It takes us away from the unreality of empirical phenomena to the Eternal Verity of Transcendental Being, from the limited mortal existence to Unlimited Life Immortal.

Who Jesus Was

The vital importance and the deep significance of Jesus and His Immortal teachings will become clear to us only when we consider who Jesus was and how He came into being. Jesus was not an ordinary human being. He was the Divine Power and Love incarnated upon this globe for a special divine purpose. His advent was in the nature of a fulfilment of the Divine Plan for this world-process. This will be seen from the very manner of His birth and its background. Even before He illumined this terrestrial globe by the radiance of His Divine Presence, His advent was proclaimed and preached and broadcast by a Chosen Man of God, whom we know as John the Baptist.

It came about thus. Zacharias the priest and his wife Elizabeth were a holy and pious couple of Judea. We are told how the Angel Gabriel appeared to the good old priest and announced that it is God's Will that a son be born to him. He was to be the one to herald the advent of the Divine Son of God and to prepare the people for receiving Him. This boy, thus mysteriously born through Divine dispensation, grew up into a Holy Man, who came to be known as John the Baptist, and to fulfil Angel Gabriel's prophecy he made ready "a people prepared for the Lord." He thus paved the way for Jesus's incarnation. Later when actually the sacred and blessed hour of the Lord's birth drew near, the Heavens proclaimed His Divinity by a great Light that guided wise sages and the chosen among the faithful to the place of the Lord's Nativity. Thus the Light of the world first shone through the darkness of this world of delusion and nescience.

The Way He Taught

The way in which Jesus lived and taught was simple, yet sublime. His mode of teaching was something extraordinary. Jesus was no academic scholar. He could lay claim to neither degrees nor doctorate. He was not a Pandit or a savant. He had not attained proficiency or mastery in any practical art or science. He did neither indulge in high-flown oratory nor deliver learned pulpit sermons. When He spoke, He spoke but shortly and His brief words were few. His sayings were short, pithy and almost aphoristic. But His words were vibrant with an extraordinary power that were not of this world. They were vital and aflamed. They burnt themselves into the depths of the very consciousness of His hearers. And the reason?

When Jesus spoke, His blessed words came from the depths of a limitless Love and an infinite Divine Compassion that thrilled and thrilled again with an all-consuming, powerful desire to do good to men, to serve, to help and to save. This compassion to purify, to raise and to save mankind verily constitutes the sacred Heart of Jesus the Christ. This Love enlivened His words with a Divine Force, which made them to be permanently enshrined in the hearts of the fortunate hearers of His own blessed times and no less of the millions who read them even to this day through the holy pages of the Sacred Bible.

Practical Spirituality

Jesus was absorbed in the task of showing unto mankind a way out of this mundane life and attaining Eternal Bliss. He came to save man from this ocean of birth-death existence and to take them across to the other shore of Immortal Life. Therefore He preached the gospel of practical spirituality. Leaving aside all abstruse philosophical theory and subtle intellectual researches, Jesus told man how he must live, what he must think, what he must feel, and what he must do. To do this he clothed even the highest truths of spiritual life with simple stories and parables, which even the common man in the street could easily grasp and comprehend. Couched in the form of simple parables, the deepest wisdom of spiritual life became expressed before man, through the sweet and blessed words of Divine Jesus. Innumerable are the divine admonitions of Christ. Even a consideration of a select few of them would help to throw a great deal of light upon the path towards the attainment of the spiritual goal.

"Sin No More"

As we consider the sublime life of the Saviour, one of the very first important spiritual truths revealed to us comes through one of the most moving incidents recorded in the Gospel. The compassionate Lord moving through the city street comes suddenly upon an angry crowd. He sees that they are all taken wrathful with a woman who was caught in the act of sin, and were about to punish her with death. At the approach of the Saviour, the hapless woman takes shelter at His feet, shedding tears of remorse. Jesus turns with His serene and yet compelling countenance upon the angry crowd and challenges them to lift a hand against this woman, saying, "let him among you who is without sin cast the first stone." There is silence. All angry voices die out. Fear enters the heart of the multitude. Dropping the stones and sticks, the crowd disappears. Jesus is left alone with the repentant sinner at His feet. He raises her up and sends her away saying "go and sin no more." In these few words He reveals to us the great Law of the Spiritual Realm, i.e, that the soul which repents sincerely, gets absolved of all sins and receives the blessings of the Divine Compassion. O man! learn ye that if you will aspire for the true Grace, you have but to turn away from your evil ways and resolve that you will "sin no more."

Ingress of Divine Blessing

Should you but take this step of turning away from the darkness of evil in life, and step towards the light of a pure and divine life, then indeed you do open yourself up for the ingress of the Lord's blessings. But if these blessings are to enter into your being and attain their fullness and bear fruit in the form of rich spiritual experience, then you must prepare your heart for their right and proper reception, just as a farmer prepares the soil fully for the seeds to germinate and develop into a rich harvest.

What important part the right and proper receptivity of the seeker plays in the progress of spiritual life is brought out in a beautiful parable by Jesus. One warm, sultry day in Caparnaum the Lord has spent a busy forenoon, preaching, teaching, healing, consoling, inspiring and instructing vast multitudes that had thronged around Him. Towards evening He walks upon the shore of the lake. There, too, the multitudes follow. They press upon Him and Jesus gets into a boat and rowing a few yards away from the shore anchors upon the water. From there He turns upon the eager gathering. In sweet accents His loving words come to them.

He tells them how a farmer scatters the seeds for his field, which is by the roadside. There is a strong breeze. Some of the seeds are blown away and fall by the roadside, where birds pick them up and they are lost. Some seeds fall upon dry, hard rocks. There they have no soil to take root in. They wither up in the sun and die. Yet others fall upon good soil, but being in the midst of thorns and brambles, though the seeds sprout up and the young seedlings grow into small plants, they are choked by thorns and brambles, and finally die. And lastly, those seeds that have fallen into good soil grow, develop, flourish and turn into a rich harvest.

Even so, though the Lord in His Loving Mercy is scattering abroad the precious seeds of spiritual truths that are to bear a harvest of supreme bliss, yet, unfortunately, all do not benefit fully out of them. Some hearts are so much constantly preyed upon by desires and earthly passions (birds) that the blessings of the Lord are not allowed to remain there at all. Some hearts are so totally dry, being devoid of faith and devotion, that in them spiritual truths wither and perish, even as the seeds fallen upon rocks do. In some other good natures, seeds of spiritual life take root, and start to grow, but alas the harsh thorns of bad company, worldly association and impure and undivine environment, choke the young spiritual plant and destroy it.

It is only the fortunate ones, the sincere and earnest seekers who have rendered themselves eminently receptive to all spiritual influences and who have prepared their hearts fully by prayer, spiritual discipline and selfless service, that reap the maximum benefit from the blessings that are ever being conferred by the Lord upon all mankind through His Divine Messengers, the saints and sages and devotees of all times and climes and through the sacred scriptures of all the great religions of the world. Therefore, O aspirant, through Sadachara and Sera, through diligent practice of Yama-Niyama, through the acquisition of Sadhana Chatushtaya, prepare your inward being perfectly, if you wish to reap the glorious harvest of spiritual bliss.

Sense of Values

If you are to ask why indeed should one take so much pains to receive the spiritual seeds, the reply is given through a number of connected parables. They go to explain how unparalleled and peerless indeed is the precious treasure of spiritual realisation. It is far more than all the wealth and enjoyment of entire earth put together. For its sake, a wise man will gladly give up everything. It is like the hidden treasure suddenly uncovered by a man at the plough. Full of joy, he hides the secret until he has sold away all that he had in order to buy the particular field for himself. By this he obtains the treasure which he knows to be far superior to all his petty possessions. Or, imagine a merchant seeking the finest of pearls. Then one day he finds the most precious pearl he has ever seen. Recognising its worth, he sells away all his other pearls, gems and his entire business in order to buy this pearl beyond all price.

Spiritual experience alone it is that gives worth to other aspects of life. Without it the other experiences of life are as nothing. It is like a little bit of yeast which a baker puts into a large quantity of flour. This little bit leavens the whole of the flour. Then again, how does the man of awakened discrimination act in his dealing with the spiritual and the material aspects of life? He knows which is good and which is useless. Therefore, he rejects the material and embraces the spiritual, just as a fisherman having drawn a net full of fish from the sea, keeps the good ones alone and casts away the bad ones back into the sea. The proper sense of values is revealed in this parable. You are told of your duty towards that which is worthy and that which is worthless. Know therefore the rare worth of the spiritual ideal. The seeker should be ready and willing to cast away all unspiritual things and to firmly adhere to the spiritual aim of life.

Be Not Heedless

In seeking to work out the spiritual ideal, one should be ever ready to accept all opportunities that the Lord puts before him for gathering spiritual experience. If he fails to do so, the blessings of God may be withheld from him. "Beware" says Jesus through His effective parable of the rich man and his feast. The rich man prepares a great and delicious feast and sent his servants to bring his friends to dine. But they all made excuses for not coming. Each one had some personal preoccupation or other—one his newly bought land, another his oxen, a third his young wife, and so on. When the rich man heard these excuses, he was displeased. "Go into the city streets," he ordered his servants, "and bring in the poor, the crippled and the blind." When there was yet room, he ordered "go beyond the city into the highways and the hedges and make all the outcastes and the destitute to come to the feast. Those who rejected my invitation shall never taste of my banquet." Even so, when opportunities for spiritual gain are offered, let one not commit the great blunder of rejecting them, for, later on, one will have to lament over the great gain that one deliberately bypassed and missed by one's neglect and heedlessness.

Need for Vigilance

Lastly, we come to the beautiful parable of the wise and the foolish bridesmaids, through which Jesus teaches how if we wish to avail of all spiritual opportunities, we need to be most alert and ever vigilant. Out of ten bridesmaids who fell asleep while waiting for the bridegroom, five were wise and they carried spare oil for their lamps, but five were foolish and they did not. So when they were suddenly called upon the groom's arrival, the lamps of the foolish maidens were out, but the wise ones who had kept the lamps burning bright readily went to the joyous marriage function. But the others were too late and were thus excluded from the rejoicing. So you must ever keep watch, for you never know when the auspicious hour of spiritual blessedness comes.

Thus, through all these beautiful and wise parables, the Lord Jesus taught the valuable lessons of truth, repentance, receptivity, renunciation, ready surrender and ever-alert spiritual vigilance to the seekers upon the path of Yoga and Self-realisation. He taught to us the great lesson of uttishthata jagrata prapya varannibodhata. Thus He lived and taught nearly twenty centuries ago. Thus the Light shone and illumined, and then entered into His Apostles through whom it later spread and enveloped the entire earth.

May all pray to the Blessed Lord Jesus, the Christ, to illumine our inmost being with the Light of His lofty Divine Presence and to graciously bestow upon all the Bliss of Christ-Consciousness. May all humbly strive to follow in His footsteps, and thus rise from darkness into Eternal Light, from this unreal world of ephemeral phenomena into the Transcendental Reality of the Supreme Being. May all rise beyond this world of mortality and attain to Life Immortal! May the power of Divine Love and Grace lift all from this realm of pain and sorrow into the realm of Eternal Light and Everlasting Bliss! Hail to Jesus, Divinity Incarnate. Amen.