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Archive for the ‘Theology Articles’ Category

ONE WAY-MANY PAHTS

The Inclusive Way of Christ

                 John Martin Sahajananda

       gumersindo-meiriño-sahajananda  There are two important statements of Jesus which are the foundation of Christianity and which are also problematic to the inter-religious dialogue.  They are:

I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn.14.6.), and “Go into the whole world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. He who believes in me will be saved and he who does not believe in me will be condemned” (Mk.16.15).The first statement has been interpreted to mean that Jesus Christ is the only way to God and everyone has to believe in him in order to be saved. The second statement is interpreted to mean that Christ has given the mission to his disciples that they have to proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The good news they need to proclaim is that Jesus Christ is the only way, the truth and the life; he is the only son of God and he is one with God. It is also an invitation to the non-Christians to accept this truth and convert themselves to Christ and become Christians.

This kind of interpretation is causing lot of conflict with other religions and also causes difficulties in inter-religious dialogue. If one holds this position real dialogue becomes impossible. Other religions would like Christians to say that all religions are equally valid ways to God. This means that Christ is a way to God and no the only way. Official Christian Churches have difficulties to accept this position. Catholics would like to say that there are seeds of truth in other religions but Christ is the fullness of truth. There is a ray of light in the other religions but Christ is the fullness of light. Their arguments have no rational basis but are based on belief. With this kind of attitude inter-religious dialogue and pluralism becomes a problem to the Christian belief. Some prefer to say that ‘my religion is true for me but I respect other religions’. Gandhi seems to have thought that all religions are imperfect and they need to learn form each other.

 

Hinduism seems to be much more open to religious pluralism. There are two important statements in Hindu scriptures which reveal this openness. The first one is the much quoted statement from the Rig Veda which says:  ekam sat vipra bahuthi vadanti, Truth (God) is one but sages describe it by many names.  The second statement is from the Bhagavat Gita, in which Sri Krishna says to Arjuna, ‘In whatever way people worship me in the same way I fulfil their desires (accept and bless them). O Arjuna, in every way people follow my path’ (Gita 4.11). The first statement gives possibility to the pluralistic expressions of God and the second statement gives possibility to the pluralistic ways to God.

Is it possible that a person like Jesus Christ who had such a profound experience of God can make statements which are so exclusive? Some think that he never made these statements. These statements are seen as expressions of the belief of the early Christian community. It is the contention of the author that Jesus certainly would have made these statements as they have universal, inclusive and liberating value.  If they look exclusive it is our interpretation that needs to be questioned and not the statements themselves. The urgent need of Christianity today is to reinterpret these two statements of Jesus in such way that they become universally valid, unifying, liberating and give a possibility for spiritual growth.  Any new interpretation of these statements should be based on the good news that Jesus proclaimed to the humanity.

 

The Good News of Jesus

                  Jesus began his ministry proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God saying ‘the time is fulfilled; the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the good news (Mk 1.14-15) In the gospel of Matthew we have a short version: Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Mt.3.2). There are many interpretations given to the expression ‘kingdom of God’. The expression ‘the kingdom of God’ used by Jesus is loaded with so many aspects that it is impossible to define it. It can only be described. Jesus himself did not define it but described it in so many ways. In general, it has two aspects: objective and subjective. Objectively it reveals the universal presence of God. It means that God is everywhere and the whole of creation and humanity are within God. The statement that ‘The kingdom of God is at hand’ means that God is everywhere and everything and everyone is in God. The word ‘repent’ is an invitation to realize this truth.  Subjectively it reveals the ultimate relationship of human beings with God. Human beings are ultimately one with God. Jesus said, ‘the Father and I are one’ (Jn.10.30). Kingdom of God is also an experience of the unconditional love of God, who radiates his love like sun both on the righteous and un-righteous. It is the experience of the radical love of God and the radical love of neighbour. ‘The Father and I are one’ is the experience of the radical love of God and ‘whatever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters you do unto me’ is the expression of the radical love of neighbour.  It is also the experience of the new covenant in which God writes the Law in the hearts of human beings. When Jesus had the experience of God at his baptism, God said ‘you are my beloved son’ (Mk.1.11). It is writing the Law in the heart of Jesus. God did not reveal what he should do and shouldn’t do, but who he was. It is also the birth of a new human consciousness, a universal mind, in which a person can say ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’. It is also the descending of the spirit of God which transforms our humanity and creation. It is the experience of new heaven and new earth. It is transcending our relationship with God as creatures and realizing ourselves as the sons and daughters of God. It is also freedom from the God of history, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and experiencing the God of eternity, I am who I am (Ex.3.14). Jesus said’ before Abraham was I am’ (Jn.8.58.)

Before Jesus proclaimed this good news he had to find it within his own life. What he realized within, he proclaimed to others. Jesus told to his disciples, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation” (Mk.16.15). They have to proclaim the good news that God is everywhere and everyone, and everything is in God, and that humanity is ultimately one with God. This good news has to be proclaimed to the whole creation and not only to human beings. It means to proclaim to all creatures that they are the manifestations of God. It is proclaiming the dignity of human beings that they are greater than religions and they have the truth within themselves. It is also an invitation to human beings to realize this truth through repentance. Repentance is a process of inner purification through which human beings come to this truth, which is their true self. If they do not do that, then they live in ignorance and they live from false identity and waste whole life.

 

How did Jesus find the kingdom?

We can see four important moments in the life Jesus before his crucifixion and resurrection. The first moment was his birth as a human being to Mary, his physical mother. In that sense he was fully human being. The second moment was the day of his circumcision, on which he entered into the collective consciousness of Judaism. He became a Jew and he was a hundred percent Jew. As a Jew he might have said that Judaism was his way, his truth and his life, as he was in the womb of Judaism. He related with God as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, his ancestors. In this stage religion is greater than human beings. The third moment was his baptismal experience in which he came out of the womb of religion (in a sense all religions) and entered the universal presence of God. In this experience he realized that God was everywhere, and everyone and everything was in God. He also inaugurated the new covenant in which God wrote the Law in his heart: ‘you are my beloved Son’ (Lk.3.21-22). Now Jesus’ consciousness is no longer confined to his religion but he became a universal person in which Jews and Gentiles (the whole of humanity) were united. Now he says ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’. When he was in Judaism, his religion was his way, truth and the life, but now he himself is the way, the truth and the life. In the first (old) covenant religion is the way, the truth and the life but in the new covenant human being, as a universal person, is the way, the truth and the life. The fourth moment was when he realized that the Father (God) and he were one. In this level God is the way, the truth and the life.  With this experience Jesus’ ascending journey came to an end. He felt the mission to communicate this good news to the humanity, particularly to his spiritual tradition, and invite people to enter this experience through repentance.

So Jesus began his life journey as an individual, and then entered the collective consciousness of Judaism, from there he moved into the universal consciousness (Son of God), and from there into the divine consciousness. This is the way that Jesus discovered the kingdom of God. The statement of Jesus ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’   belongs neither to the first level, nor to the second level, but to the third level. If Jesus makes this statement as an individual then Jesus, the individual, becomes  the way, the truth and the life and every one has to believe in Jesus, the individual, to be saved. If Jesus makes this statement as a Jew, in the collective consciousness, then Judaism becomes the way, the truth and the life and everyone is invited to become a Jew to be saved. Certainly Jesus was not making this statement as an individual or as a Jew. He was speaking from the universal consciousness. The universal consciousness is not an individual or religion, but embraces individuals and religions and transcends them. In this consciousness the way is within himself. He is initiating the new covenant.

This new covenant has two aspects: freedom from the past and freedom from the future. It is freedom from the past because Jesus does not follow any person or any belief from the past. If he follows anyone from the past or any belief from the past then that person or that belief becomes the way, the truth and the life, and he cannot say that he is the way, the truth and the life. Jesus even said ‘Before Abraham was I am’ and he also used the expression ‘I am”. This ‘I am’ is universal I am (not divine I AM).  This ‘I am’ also gives freedom to the future in the sense that it does not become a way to the future, but the future is for itself. Persons in the future can say like Jesus “I am the way, the truth and the life’. If they say that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, then the future is giving continuity to the past and then it is no longer living in the eternal present. To say ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’ is to live in the eternal present, eternal now, in which a person becomes the vehicle of divine eternity and not of the past or the future. The virgin birth is the symbol of this birth of eternity which has no contact with the past, represented by Joseph. It is the experience of the indwelling presence of God (Emmanuel). It is also to live in the universal mind in which a person lives for all, for the whole creation, but not for himself/herself or for his collective consciousness. A person who lives for himself or herself needs a religion to guide him/her. A person who lives for all does not need a religion, a scripture, an authority. He himself/herself becomes the way, the truth and life. Jesus said. “It is written in your Law but I say unto you” (Mt.5.43-44). He had authority even on the sacred scriptures.india-sahajananda

 

Jesus also said, ‘No one comes to the Father except through me”. This means that no one can come to the experience which Jesus had, in which he could say ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’ and ‘the Father and I are one’ unless they go through the same way through which Jesus arrived at it.  What was the way? It is a journey from individual consciousness to collective consciousness, from collective consciousness to universal consciousness, and from universal to divine consciousness. This is the way through which Jesus came to it and this is the way for every one.  .

 

The Way Jesus Proposed

Even though Jesus said that he was the way, the truth and the life, he also proposed a way through which people can enter the kingdom of God.  This way is one but Jesus described it through many ways:  the way of repentance, the way of rebirth, the way of becoming like little children, the way of losing oneself, the way of dying, the way of growing, the way of searching, and the way of grace. These are not exhaustive and one may find other expressions also.

 

The way of repentance: Jesus said: the kingdom of God is at hand, repent (Mk.1.14-15), or Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mt.3.2). The way of repentance is the way of growth. If we take the journey of Jesus from the individual to the divine, repentance is part of this journey. If a person is in individual consciousness, repentance is to enter collective consciousness (religions). If a person is in collective consciousness repentance is to enter universal consciousness. If a person is in universal consciousness repentance is to enter divine consciousness. When Jesus used the word ‘repent’ he was inviting his listeners to grow beyond their collective consciousness and enter into the universal consciousness and from there to the divine.  His listeners were already in the collective consciousness of Judaism.  The baptismal experience of Jesus is a kind of repentance in the life of Jesus. It is the transition form the collective consciousness into the universal consciousness. Christian baptism is an entry into the collective consciousness. It is like the circumcision of Jesus though which he entered Jewish collective consciousness.  Repentance is not a one day business; it is a continuous growth in our relationship with God.

The way of rebirth:  Jesus told to Nicodemus: “Unless you are born again you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven”(Jn.3.3). Nicodemus thought he had to go back into the womb of his physical mother. It would have been impossible to do so. But Jesus was referring to the collective womb of his religion. Nicodemus was in the womb of his religion. He needed to come out of his religious womb and enter in the universal presence of God, where he can live in the eternal present. “The wind blows where it wills but you do not know from where it comes and you do not know where it goes, it is like this who is born of the spirit”(Jn.3.8), said Jesus. It is freedom from past and freedom from future. If a person is in an individual womb, he/she has to come out of it and enter the collective womb. If a person is in the collective womb he/she has to come out of it and enter the universal womb of God. If a person is in the universal womb he/she has to enter the unitary womb of God. In every level there is rebirth.Shiva_sahajananda

The Way of Becoming like Little Children:  Jesus said, “Unless you become like little children you can not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt.18.3). This statement has to be understood in different levels. Jesus is not telling that everyone should become children physically, which is impossible. A person who is 35 years old cannot become 5 years old physically. A person who lives in a religious identity acquires the ages of that religion. If a person is in Christianity then that person’s age is 2010 years, even though that person may be 30 years physically, as Christianity began 2010 years ago. If person is a Hindu this person is more than 3500 years old, as Hinduism has its origin there. If a person is Buddhist then his/her age is 2500 years old as Buddhism began at that time. So in the religious level our age is identical with the age of that religion. Can we become children in that stage? It is not possible. The backward we go in time the older we become, and the forward we go in time the older we become.  If we come out of the womb of religion, which belongs to time, then we enter the universal presence of God. We enter the eternal now. In this stage a person is a just born child. There is a difference between a child physically and a child spiritually. Physical child is innocent and ignorant and spiritual child is innocent, because it is free form past and future, but also wise as it sees the limitations of past. One can go a little further and realize one’s unity with God and become an eternal child like God. God is ancient but he/she is also an eternal child.  So when Jesus invited people to become like little children, he was inviting them to realize their unity with God, which is the kingdom of God.Cristo yogui india (1)

The Way of Losing One’s Self:  Jesus said: “If you lose your self, you will gain it. If you gain your self you will lose it”(Mt.16.25). This losing and gaining has to be understood in different levels. If we are willing to lose or give up our individual self we will gain our collective self. If we are willing to lose our collective self we will gain our universal self. If we are willing to lose our universal self we will gain our divine self. It is by losing our lower self that we will gain our higher self. If we cling to our lower selves, the individual and collective, we will lose our higher self. So Jesus invited people to lose their lower selves in order to find that higher self, which is finding the kingdom of God.

The Way of Dying:  Jesus said, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies it remains alone but when it dies it gives a mighty harvest”(Jn12.24). This statement may have different interpretations. One way of interpreting is that it is by dying we move towards the kingdom of God. Again this dying may have many levels. A person who lives for himself/herself, dies for himself/herself. If a person dies to his/her individual living then he/she may live for his religious community. So if a person is living for his/her religion, then when this person dies he/she dies for his/her religion. If a person is willing to die for his religious identity then this person lives for all humanity. So when a person lives for all humanity this person death is also for all humanity. If a person is willing to die even to the universal identity then the person enters into God and lives like God. So the more we die, the more fruitful our life becomes. It is through continuous dying that we enter the kingdom of God. Jesus did not live only for himself or for his religion, but he lived for all, not only for the present people but also for the past people and the people of the future. It is for this reason that his death is for all. He is the saviour of the whole of humanity and creation. Only a person, who lives for all, dies for all.

The Way of Growth:  Jesus said: “the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. It is a smallest all seeds. But when it grows it becomes so big that the birds of the air will come and make their nests in it”(Mt.13.31-32). The seed is the symbol of our limited and individual consciousness. Our individual consciousness has to grow into divine consciousness in which there is a place for all individuals and collective consciousnesses (religions), represented by the nests. The kingdom of God does not exclude any individual or religion, but transcends them and embraces them.  It also invites individuals and collective consciousnesses to grow into divine consciousness. It is by growing continuously from our limited boundaries into the space without boundaries that we enter the kingdom of God.

The Way of Seeking: Jesus said; “the kingdom of God is like a merchant in search of pearls. When he found a pearl of great value, he sold everything and bought that pearl (Mt.13.45). Here the merchant was a seeker. He was searching and in his search he found the precious pearl. Jesus also said, “first of all seek you the kingdom of God and its righteousness and all things will be given unto you.”(Mt.6.33). To become a seeker is a very important stage in our spiritual evolution.  It is not sufficient to remain as believers and followers; we must become the seeker of the kingdom. The precious pearl is our true self, our divine self. When we come across our true self, then we give up our finite self, the ego. The kingdom of God is the highest divine-human relationship. It is the experience of our unity with God and living from that unity in which a person says that it is no longer he/she that lives but God lives in him/her.

The Way of Grace:  Jesus said: ‘the kingdom of God is like a man who found treasure in the field. He buried it again, went home, sold everything and bought that field” (Mt.13.44). This man was doing his usual daily work in someone’s field. As a surprise he found the treasure. He was not expecting. Since the land does not belong to him and the treasure was more valuable than all his property, he joyfully sold everything and bought that field. The treasure in the field is the symbol of our true self, our divine self. The property he sold is the symbol of our finite self. When we find our true self we discover that our finite self is nothing in comparison to it. We give it up joyfully and hold to our true self. It is renouncing our ego and accepting our true self without a choice. This giving up can be described as positive renunciation. This discovery came to the person as a surprise, as grace. Of course our spiritual journey is completely a grace of God. God may lead us through specific ways, techniques, structures and religions but he is not bound by all these. His/her grace can manifest outside established structures and religions he has revealed. It can come even without being asked for it. It is the expression of the unconditional live of God.

There is only One Way to God: What we discover from the above explanation is that Jesus is proposing that there is only one way to God. It is to renounce our ego or to expand our ego. Both ‘renouncing’ and ‘expanding’ are one and the same. It is renouncing our individual ego for the sake of collective ego, renouncing collective ego for the sake of universal ego, and renouncing universal ego for the sake of divine ego. The more we renounce the more we expand. The word ‘renouncing’ has a negative connotation so it is better to use the word ‘expanding’. It is growing: a mustard seed growing into a tree. The purpose of every religion, every spiritual practice and every scripture is to help human beings to expand or renounce their ego. The danger comes only when people stop growing and confine themselves to their individual ways or collective ways. Then these religions and techniques, instead of helping people to be free from their egos, imprison them in their egos.

This ‘expanding of our ego’ also implies growing in our relationship with God. It is growing from creatures into sons and daughters of God, and from there finally realizing our unity with God.  In the individual identities and the collective identities we may have plurality of relationships with God. Each individual relates with God in a unique way and each spiritual tradition relates with God in a unique way. The declaration of Rig Veda that Truth(God) is one and sages call it by any namesand the Sri Krishna’s teaching to Arjuna, ‘In whatever way people worship me in the same way I fulfil their desires (accept and bless them)’ are very suitable to this level. But this level creates individual pluralism and collective or religious pluralism. It also creates divisions and conflict between different ways and religions. There is no permanent solution at this level for the unity of humankind. Inter-religious dialogue cannot achieve much. It becomes ineffective. It asks for tolerance, acceptance of the other and learning to coexist. In universal consciousness a person transcends all ways and means and experiences the indwelling presence of God. Here a person declares ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’. In the biblical tradition it is the experience of the new covenant. Here a person transcends individual pluralism and collective or religious pluralism and discovers the essential unity of humanity. Here unity is not based on the spiritual practices or belief structures, which is artificial, but on our human nature. It is the discovery of the image and likeness of God, which is like a pure mirror and in which God reflects in his/her fullness. In discovering our essential nature all the boundaries disappear. A person can still grow further and discover essential unity with God and declare, ‘God and I are one’ or God alone is. Jesus said ‘The Father and I are one’.

 Even though Sri Krishna told Arjuna that ‘in whatever way people worship me in the same way I fulfil their desires (accept and bless them, he also told him ‘Abandon all spiritual paths (dharmas) and surrender to me; I will deliver you from all your sins (Gita. Ch.18 🙂 Abandoning all spiritual paths means abandoning our ego. It is our ego that needs spiritual paths and it is our ego that creates spiritual paths. In this surrender of the ego one discovers one’s original self and enters the universal presence of God where sin can never enter. But this surrender is possible only when a person realizes the limitations of all spiritual paths to free one from sins. Even though Rig Veda says that Truth or God is one but sages describe it in many ways, the Upanishads go one step further and declare ‘Aham Brahmaasmi,[1] I am Brahman or God andTat Tvam Asi,[2] you are Brahman or God. It is not only that Truth or God is one but also that human beings are ultimately one with that one Truth or God. It is going beyond individual pluralism and collective pluralism. This is the liberating message of the Upanishads. Only in that experience do we arrive at the final destiny of our spiritual journey, our ultimate rest, our ultimate fulfilment and our inner peace. It is only there that we find our infinite being, infinite consciousness, and infinite bliss:saccidananda.Cristo yogui india (4)

The Way of a Mountain: We can use two images to describe this spiritual evolution: a mountain and a tree. Many spiritual traditions have their temples built on the top of a hill or a mountain. They are the places of pilgrimage.  Our spiritual journey can be seen as a journey from the bottom of a mountain to the top of a mountain. As individuals we each begin our journey at the bottom of the hill at different starting points. As we move higher and higher we come closer and closer and our journey becomes collective.  As we move still higher we almost become one. Finally when we reach the top of the hill we realize our unity with God. So it is really a journey from individual identity to divine identity. As we climb higher and higher we are expanding our identity or consciousness. It is also a process of renouncing our lower forms of ego and growing into higher levels of ego. It is a journey from multiplicity into unity. In general there are  some shelters built on the way if pilgrims would like to take a rest for a while. These shelters are our belief structures, either individual or collective. There are our resting places but they are not permanent settlements. If we settle down in these temporary shelters, then we stop our spiritual journey or evolution. When Abraham was called by God to leave everything and go to the place which God would reveal to him, it is said that he was living in tents. A tent is a temporary shelter at the end of the day to take rest and then to be removed when a person starts the journey the next day. It is the same with our spiritual journey.  We may erect individual tents or collective tents on the mountain but we should not settle in them permanently. Our goal is to reach the top of the mountain.  What is consoling on this journey is that God or truth is there from the bottom of the mountain to the top of the mountain.  Everyone is on the path of God and no one is outside God.  This is what Sri Krishna meant when he told Arjuna,’in every way people follow my path’ (Gita. 4.11). But ultimately one has to go beyond all the paths, beyond ego. It is also a journey in humility. The more a person grows the more humble he/she becomes. Only in the individual level and the collective level there can be a sense of superiority or inferiority but in the universal level and the unitary level a person becomes very humble. It is because at these levels there are no others essentially but only functionally. Jesus said, ‘the Father and I are one” and then he washed the feet of his disciples, an act of great humility.

The Way of a Tree: Another image is a tree. A tree has leaves, branches, trunk and roots. Leaves represent our individual identities. Branches represent our collective identities. Trunk represents our universal identity, and roots represent our divine identity. At the level of leaves we have pluralistic relationships with God. We have individual pluralism. At the level of branches we have pluralistic belief structures. We have religious pluralism. At the level of the trunk we have essential unity of humanity. We transcend individual pluralism and religious pluralism. At the level of roots we have our unity with God. A tree represents the whole truth. It contains all levels of truth. In that sense no one is outside the tree, outside the truth. At the level of leaves truth is fragmented into individuals. At the level of branches it is fragmented into belief structures. At the level of the trunk it is the fragmentation of creator and creation. At the level of roots it is all embracing. We see one truth, one way and life. When Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’ its deeper meaning could be that Jesus is the whole tree. He contains within him all levels of truth. He invites everyone to grow from the fragmented truth into the fullness of truth. It is a journey from many to one, from diversity to unity.

The Inclusive Way of Christ: The way of Jesus is not one way among many other ways to God. It is not the only waythat excludes all other ways to God but it is the way that includes or embraces all the other ways to God in a dynamic way. It includes all individual ways, leaves (individual pluralism) to God but invites them to recognize the need of the branches, collective ways. It includes all collective ways (religious pluralism) but invites them to recognize the need of universal way (trunk). The universal way is the end of individual ways and collective ways. Finally this way invites everyone to move beyond universal way into divine way where a person says: God is the only way, only truth and only life. This is the way of the tree. This way is not only ascending to unity but also descending back to diversity. It is not only reaching to the top of the mountain but also returning to the bottom of the mountain. It is not only going to the roots but also coming back to the leaves. It is not only vertical growth but also horizontal. It is growing into the radical love of God and the radical love of neighbour. As one grows higher into the love of God one also expands into the love of neighbour.

Christianity, so far, has interpreted Christ’s message in a very exclusive way. This interpretation does not do justice to Christ. It is the need of Christianity to day to discover the inclusive message of Christ and contribute for peace in the world.

In spanish in De Oriente a Occidente

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ImagenEn el siglo XX, sobre todo en este siglo, la ciencia y la fe estuvieron divorciadas. Parecían, todavía se lo sigue pareciendo a muchos, que tenían caminos encontrados.

Pero si uno mira a la historia observa algunos datos donde la convivencia ciencia y fe era más fraternal.

Esto se nota, por ejemplo, en la historia de la Astronomía. No se puede hablar de la gente de ciencia que mira a las estrellas sin tener en cuenta a los hombres de la fe, en concreto, a los jesuitas.

Así lo resume Guillermo Gazanini Espinoza en su artículo de Religión Digital que pueden leer a continuación:

Guillermo Gazanini Espinoza / Secretario del Consejo de Analistas Católicos de México. 16 de junio.- Para los católicos comunes y corrientes, podría ser sorprendente que algunos religiosos estén dedicados enteramente a estudiar las estrellas, hacer ciencia, a conocer y divulgar el orden natural más allá de la atmósfera de nuestro mundo.

Y es que el 15 de junio, Francisco se reunió con sus compañeros, los jesuitas dedicados a la observación del cielo, herederos de una tradición científica astronómica que se remonta hasta 1582. La visita del Papa fue un acontecimiento en tuiter; a través de la cuenta @SpecolaVaticana, los astrónomos mostraron su alegría por ser anfitriones del Pontífice, sumándose a la constelación de religiosos, hombres de ciencia y Papas cautivados por la observación del cosmos.

El 21 de diciembre de 2008, Benedicto XVI trajo a la memoria de la Iglesia la personalidad de varios antecesores suyos en el trono de Pedro que fueron apasionados de la astronomía, “Entre mis predecesores de venerada memoria ha habido cultivadores de esta ciencia, como Silvestre II, que la enseñó, Gregorio XIII, a quien debemos nuestro calendario, y san Pío X, que sabía construir relojes solares…” Y, en adición, la Santa Sede se aprestó a la realización de un Congreso Internacional sobre el caso Galileo en mayo de 2009.

Una de las instituciones más fascinantes y, paradójicamente, desconocidas para la mayoría de los católicos es la existencia del Observatorio Vaticano, el más antiguo del mundo y de mayor prestigio y respeto en la comunidad astronómica internacional.

Su fundación se remonta a la Constitución del Papa Gregorio XIII por el que se creó el comité para estudiar los datos e implicaciones sobre la reforma del calendario ocurrida en 1582. Este comité incluyó al padre Christoph Clavius (1538-1612), matemático jesuita del Colegio Romano, quien explicó la reforma del calendario gregoriano. Sus aportaciones a la ciencia merecieron que el tercer cráter más grande del lado visible de la Luna lleve su nombre.

Desde entonces el papado ha manifestado su interés y apoyo hacia la investigación astronómica. De hecho, tres observatorios fueron fundados por iniciativa pontificia:
El observatorio del Colegio Romano (1774-1878);
El observatorio de la Capital (1827-1870) y,
La Specula Vaticana (1789-1821) en la Torre de los Vientos dentro del Vaticano.

Los tres observatorios alcanzaron su cenit a mediados del siglo XIX con las investigaciones del jesuita Angelo Secchi del Colegio Romano quien clasificó las estrellas de acuerdo a su espectro. Con el Papa León XIII se reestructuró formalmente el Observatorio Vaticano a través de Motu Proprio Ut Mysticam, del 14 de marzo de 1891, por el que señaló le necesidad de que todos vieran claramente que la Iglesia y sus pastores no están opuestos a la verdad y a la solidez de la ciencia, sea divina o humana, animando a apoyarla y promoverla con la mayor dedicación posible.

En 1935, el Papa Pío XI estableció el Observatorio en el Palacio de Castel Gandolfo y, desde esa época, ha estado bajo encargo de una comunidad de jesuitas astrónomos. Hacia la década de los 80, y debido a la luminosidad de la ciudad de Roma, se llevó a cabo la fundación de un segundo Observatorio en Tucson, Arizona, y a la eventual construcción del Telescopio Vaticano de Tecnología Avanzada en el monte Graham. Actualmente, el palacio papal de Castel Gandolfo continúa sirviendo como cuartel general del Observatorio y ha sido anfitrión de encuentros internacionales en las escuelas bianuales de verano.

Sin embargo, se han presentado necesidades de espacio; por un lado está la actividad científica en las instalaciones y, por el otro, el crecimiento del número de jesuitas que se proyecta en el equipo de astrónomos en los próximos años, ha hecho necesaria la ampliación de las antiguas instalaciones del Observatorio. De la misma forma, el palacio pontificio continúa recibiendo grandes concentraciones de personas y de dignatarios que visitan al Pontífice en los meses de verano. Tales actos no son compatibles con la residencia de los jesuitas dedicados al estudio, la enseñanza y la investigación.

Por ejemplo, las escuelas de verano del Observatorio y los Congresos Internacionales, realizados regularmente en el palacio pontificio, requieren de instalaciones que están cercanos a los aposentos del Papa y, debido a la seguridad y privacidad del Santo Padre, deben ser reasigandos en lugares distintos.
Para resolver lo anterior, El Vaticano ha ofrecido al Observatorio un antiguo monasterio que se localiza en los jardines adyacentes al palacio veraniego, renovado y ampliado de acuerdo a las necesidades de la comunidad de jesuitas astrónomos.

De acuerdo al reporte 2012 que la Compañía de Jesús rinde al Santo Padre, la comunidad de astrónomos a cargo del Observatorio Vaticano en Castel Gandolfo y Tucson está integrada por José G. Funes, director; Pavel Gabor, Richard Boyle, Guy J. Consolmagno, Christopher Corbally, John Hollywood, Jean Baptiste Kikwaya, Sabino Maffeo, Alessandro Omizzolo, William Stoeger, Jozef M. Maj, David Brown, Albert J. Duilio, Gabriele Gionti, Paul R. Mueller y Jonathan J. Stott.

En 2009, el Observatorio Vaticano y la Compañía de Jesús se unieron a la celebración del Año Internacional de la Astronomía dando a conocer sus investigaciones a la sociedad en general, conmemorando 400 años de la primera contemplación de los cielos a través de un telescopio hecho por Galileo Galilei.

La observación de las estrellas, conjugando fe y razón; escudriñar lo celestial gracias a las ciencias del ser humano, la contribución de la Iglesia a la humanidad donde notables hombres de fe dejaron su impronta iluminando la historia universal a pesar de los inútiles e iracundos esfuerzos de los laicistas que se empeñan a decir que la Iglesia es una institución oscurantista, fanática y retrógrada.

Fuente: http://blogs.periodistadigital.com/sursumcorda.php/2013/07/16/astronomia-en-la-iglesia-tambien-los-cur

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Fully Human and Fully Divine- conclusions

 By Br. John Martin Sahajananda

 

Prophetic monotheism and the Dvaita (dualistic) system of Hinduism place emphasis on our separateness as human beings. Qualified non-dual monotheism puts the emphasis on the close interconnection between God and human beings. Non-dual monotheism emphasizes our essential oneness with God.

 

The first two have to do mainly with our humanity and the third one has to do mainly with our divinity. Christianity holds that Jesus was/is fully human and fully divine. Jesus integrated these three levels of consciousness within himself. He was human in every sense, a true son of God and one with the Father.

 

He opened this possibility to every truth-seeker. Each of us, whether we are conscious of it or not,  is fully human and fully divine. Divinity, we could say, is our source and essential nature and our human form is its manifestation or its vehicle. Divinity and humanity are intimately united in us all.

 

To realize our essential unity with God and live with wisdom and compassion in functional dualistic relationships in this world of time and space is, perhaps, the greatest miracle of life.

 

May all beings in the world be happy.

Br. John Martin Sahajananda

THE END

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Growing into the Love of God and Love of Neighbour

 By Br. John Martin Sahajananda

 

In IDM, the focus is on growing into the love of God and love of neighbour. “The Father and I are one” and “whatever you do for the least of my brothers and sisters that you do unto me” are the two pillars of this monotheism. One has to begin with the dualistic love of God and love of neighbour, and grow into the qualified non-dual love of God and love of neighbour and finally arrive at the non-dual love of God and love of neighbour.

 

In a dualistic love of God, a person says: ‘God is my creator, I am a creature and my neibhbour is another creature of God.’ In a qualified non-dual love, a person says: ‘God is my Father, I am a manifestation of God and my neighbour is also another manifestation of God.’ In a non-dual love of God, it is seen: ‘Only God is. My Real self is God (aham brahma asmi) and the Real self of my neigbour is also God (tatvamasi).’ — It is God loving God.

 

In the first level, our knowledge (jnana) of God is dualistic, our relationship (bhakthi) with God and neighbour is dualistic and our actions (karma) towards our neighbours are dualistic.

 

In the second level, our knowledge of God is of a qualified non-dualistic kind and our relationship with God and neighbour is qualified non-dualistic and actions towards our neighbours are qualified non-dualistic.

 

In the third level, our knowledge of God is non-dual and our relationship with God is non-dual and our actions towards our neighbours are non-dual.

 

Grounded in IDM, our life-experience arises not only from deep wisdom or jnana, but from loving devotion or bhakthi and selfless service or karma.

The purpose of our human existence is to awaken and grow in consciousness, thus to manifest holy love, energy and grace in all our relationships

Br. John Martin Sahajananda

Continued next week

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The Integral Dynamic Monotheism of Jesus

 By Br. John Martin Sahajananda

 

I would like to suggest now a different kind of monotheism that I believe Jesus modelled or exemplified and which can bring full freedom to each of us if we embrace it. I’m calling it Integral Dynamic Monotheism (IDM) and describe it as follows.

 

In this monotheism, God alone is. God alone is eternal (sathyam and nithyam). God cannot be put into any human categories. He/She/It is absolutely independent, creative, timeless, peace and love. God is personal, impersonal, and, at the same time, beyond these and all other opposites.

 

God isn’t an object or form but rather formless, like an infinite space. Our concepts of God are like houses that we build within the space. The infinite space allows the building of houses according to the needs and capacities of human minds, but the space always transcends them.

 

Our finite human mind can never build an adequate house to fill or accommodate the infinite space. God is the unconditioned space and systems (especially belief systems) are like conditioned space, within walls, as it were. Systems can never satisfy our deepest needs.

 

Creation (names and forms) is nothing less than a manifestation of God, and as such, is not illusory. It is, however, unreal in the sense that it isn’t eternal and infinite. Creation, like all the forms that constitute it, had/have a beginning and an inevitable end. All forms are temporal.

 

The universe is essentially one with God, but functionally different, like water and ice, energy and matter etc. Water and ice, as we have seen, are essentially one, but functionally different. Likewise, energy and matter are essentially one, but functionally different. We too, it could be said, are essentially one with God, but functionally different:

 

Names and forms are like mirrors in which ‘God’ reflects. When the reflection identifies with the names and the forms, it feels that it is finite and no more. However, when it looks to its source, it realizes it’s oneness with God.

 

We each have the opportunity in this life to evolve or move beyond our present spiritual capacity and experience more deeply our essential nature. The mystery we call ‘God’ undoubtedly has many different aspects for us to explore and experience if we will but drop our narrow concepts and go forward with an open heart and mind.

 

IDM is Integral: This monotheism I’m drawing attention to here integrates all the systems mentioned above and also other possible systems, but always transcends every system. God or Truth cannot be put into any system. It’s essentially non-dualistic but functionally qualified non-dualistic and dualistic.

 

This monotheism doesn’t exclude any mode of spirituality, but embraces all spiritual paths that help us to grow in our relationship with God, the Source of all, and with one another. The spiritual paths of wisdom (jnana), devotion (bhakthi) and action (karma) aren’t seen as exclusive, but mutually complementary.

 

IDM is Dynamic: The relationship between us and God isn’t static but dynamic. It’s a process of ascending and descending (or vice versa). It is like climbing a hill and coming down again (or vice versa).

 

We could, for instance, grow in our relationship with God, from a dualistic consciousness to a qualified non-dualistic consciousness and from there to a non-dual consciousness. Then we could move in consciousness from a non-dual awareness to a qualified non-dual awareness and from there to dualistic awareness again, and thereafter, fluctuate from one consciousness to another as our life-experience unfolded.

 

One can live from these three types of consciousness at the same time without any contradiction. It’s an essential unity of functional duality and non-duality. A useful metaphor could be a tree. The tree is essentially one, but functionally it has different parts such as leaves, branches, trunk and roots.

Br. John Martin Sahajananda

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The man of the full granaries

The heart of the man is a mystery, and one of the characteristics of this human heart is the radical dissatisfaction it suffers from. It is never totally satisfied; this is why it has been considered a restless heart. It is Saint Agustin’s definition: Our hearts are restless until they rest in You. And from that restlessness, we have tried to understand Jesus constant invitation to “be born again.”

Christians, more than any other man, are never satisfied with their achievements. It is not necessary to go back to the mother’s womb in order to be born again, as Nicodemo used to think. Neither is the effort for novelties, of the new for the new, necessary. Christianity is urged by the responsibility of the future.     

The new man is that who, having reached certain height, discerns who is awaiting him; and when he is over him, he glimpses a new peak. There are always new peaks awaiting and calling us. But the man who stays still in his achievements becomes fossilized. We are referring to Christians who always walk towards the best. It is not about the effort for novelties, but about a constant search. A real man is that who is never pleased with what he has and makes progresses from his current achievements to the new ones.

There is a meaningful example in the Gospel; Jesus Christ clearly explains: “There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest? And he said, ‘this is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, and be merry! But Jesus said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom they will belong.” (Lk. 12. 16-20.) That man stayed still, thinking it was enough. Christ reacts before that attitude: – You are dead, this night you will be judged. He is referring to the Christians who, installed in their Christianity, think they know everything. The world is full of old Christians who hinder, as Saint Paul said: “For them, the name of God is blasphemed,” they hinder.   

The same was said by the Pope Benedict XVI not long ago in the opening mass of the Synod on the Eucharist: those who convert God in an empty devotion are actually expelling him of their lives, as well as those who deny him. An atheist with worries is much better than a Christian with no worries. A new man is much better than an old Christian.

The man is the core where God lives, and God is the God of the alive, not of the dead. So, we do not follow novelties, we follow this endless and interminable illusion as trying to hunt a butterfly that always escapes… And it will always be like this. This is our destiny and our glory: to walk.  

We know that the texts of the Gospel are always surprisingly new, and will still be new in ten millions years time. And we are surprised due to the fact that, this old man we are, functions thanks to paradigms, and inherited outlines. A paradigm is a system of thought that filters the information you receive, some information is kept and other is overlooked. 

For instance, if somebody tells you: -God died today at seven forty-five in the morning… you reject the news. Why? Because you know that God is immortal… Every day and every moment, we filter the information we are interested in from that we do not care about. Right now, you rejected many of the things we are saying, probably because you do not care. When referring to the religious paradigm, the problem becomes quite serious because, if you teach a child that God punishes those who do not behave, it will remain in the child’s paradigm and he will automatically think: -God is waiting for me at the corner to punish me.  

Let’s make it positive. To the child that has been disturbing for one hour, we should say: -God is pleased when you are a good boy, and the boy interprets that “good” means “being quiet.” This is the meaning of “good” we instill into the child: do not disturb! Let’s apply it to religion: -God is pleased when you go to mass, God is pleased when you receive Holy Communion, etcetera. Here we have one paradigm: being a good Christian means going to mass, and the world is full of Christians who think that, once they have gone to mass and received the Holy Communion, they are able to devastate the Amazons or anything that were before them, they do not care.

This is the old and aged Christian who ignores Jesus Christ talking about the new man. This is due to his desire of having the same (as the man of the granary), of keeping things unchanged to have everything under control. Christians are always new and happy, despite being 80 years old. Christian faith is not a list of things to believe or commandments to put into practice; it is a free and loving response to God’s will. Friendship with God never distorts the man; we are distorted by our desires of keeping in the past. God never distorts the man.

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Integral Dynamic Monotheism

 By Br. John Martin Sahajananda

We have here considered different types of monotheism:

Firstly, the simple monotheism of the Upanishads, which affirms one Reality (God, Brahman, Atman etc.) without a second, and which teaches we are ultimately one with that Reality (tatvamasi).

Out of this came the non-dual monotheism of Shankara which affirms that there’s only one God and that the world in all its forms is illusory or unreal.

A further development of this system was the qualified non-dual monotheism of Ramanuaja, which affirms that there’s only one God and that the universe is his ‘body’.

These systems were contrasted with prophetic monotheism, which affirms that there’s only one God and that his creation is essentially different and separate from him.

Prophetic monotheism was seen to have some parallels with the dualistic monotheism of Madhva, which affirms that there’s only one God, and that the material universe is also eternal and essentially different from God.

The experience of Jesus, recorded in the gospels, doesn’t fit exclusively into any of these monotheisms.  His experience is the marriage of Prophetic and Hindu monotheisms. So I’d like to describe him (but not to define him) as an Integral Dynamic Monotheist.

Br. John Martin Sahajananda

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