by Swami Krishnananda
(Spoken on Christmas Eve 1994)
‘God coming’ is an expression that designates the aspirations of all life on earth. The world is supposed to get gathered up into a focus of attention at a single point of action when God responds to the call of man. This is what is generally called an incarnation of God. It is not a human being that is born, but the energy of God getting concentrated at a focusing point in this world of created beings, so that while it has all the power of God, and the grace of God, and the blessing of God, it also is directly in contact with people in the world and all created beings on earth.
The Incarnation is a very difficult concept to entertain in ordinary minds. God-made flesh – that is real meaning of the word ‘Incarnation’– in other words, a humanised presentation of the Almighty God in heaven. The Christian tradition believes that there has been only one incarnation of God; and it occurred at one time in the history of time. This is a tradition accepted in the theological circles of Christendom, but there are others who draw more interesting conclusions from this concept of Incarnation on the basis of the omnipresence of God. That which incarnates is not a localised entity, an extra-cosmic someone, reigning far away from the kingdom of the world; but it is coming into formation of that which is omnipresent.
Now, the idea of omnipresence suggests the possibility of God having the power to manifest Himself at any place, in any shape, and at any time. The other religions which do not entirely subscribe to the Catholic tradition, hold the view that there are as many Incarnations of the Supreme Being as there are rays of the Sun. The omnipresence of the light of the Sun is an example before us, to picture before ourselves the power of God. How many rays has the Sun? You may say He has only one ray, which floods the whole earth with His radiance; but you can also say the rays are infinite in number. Both viewpoints may be considered as equally valid.
In certain contexts of the operation of God, He may appear on earth in a super-abundance of power, super-human in nature, and openly declaring Himself – or Itself, you may say – as the God on earth. This was the context of the Incarnation of such well-known super-individuals as Sri Krishna; and we have the case in Jesus, The Christ. If you read the Bible, the New Testament, carefully, not as an adherent to a particular faith but as an impartial observer of the great truths that are revealed in the words of the Testament, you will see there that the omnipresence of God is repeatedly referred to in languages which are not always very open to the prosaic mind. It is Jesus Christ himself who said that, “I know many more things than what I have told you. I shall have secrets before people, and to others I speak in parables.”
The celebration of Christmas as an adoration of the occasion of the coming of Jesus, The Christ, is for all religious purposes, actually a glorification of God Himself. The more you glorify God, the more blessed you shall be; because the glory of God is actually, what you may say, the health of the universe. The world is sick. It is full of maladies and sufferings of various kinds. The grace of God, which floods the universe in the form of His super-abundant manifestations are help-giving forces. They are the panacea for the ills of mankind.
We celebrate this occasion not as the remembrance of a historical occasion or bringing to our memories some person who was born in Nazareth or Bethlehem, but a concentration of God at a particular period of time, necessitated for a particular purpose, whose meaning stands valid for all times. The birth of God in this realm of humanity is an eternal occurrence. God is not a temporal subjectivity. God does not pass away as things pass away in the process of time. When eternity descends, the form of descending also should be eternal. The message that is conveyed through this eternal coming, should also be an eternal validity for all people. We have to remember that God is eternal. There is no time limit for the activities of God. God does not do things now, yesterday or tomorrow. It is a perpetual movement throbbing at the very root of creation, and it shall be there, acting perpetually, as long as God exists.
In a highly mystical perception, we may observe that there is an eternal Incarnation of God perpetually taking place at all periods of time; and His Incarnation is therefore non-temporal, and it is super-historical. The human mind which is bound to the cause and effect relationships in the world of space and time, cannot comprehend this mighty truth of God’s presence in the universe. We think of churches and temples, mosques and holy places of pilgrimage, and mantras and ceremonies when we think of God. This is the routine to which we are mostly accustomed, but they are poor apologies for the greatness that God really is. Whether it is the birth of Krishna or of Christ or anyone whom you consider as the Incarnation of God, at that time when you adore this occasion, you are summoning God Himself into your abode, which is the body, which is this world, which is this cosmos; and who can summon God into oneself, which is the way in which we summon the Incarnation of God?
In this sense, we can make no distinction between God and His Incarnation. It is much more than the impossibility to make a distinction between government and the official. It is of greater significance than what obtains in these lower levels. It is impossible to maintain our mortal aspirations intact when the spirit of God enters us, in this kind of adoration that is the rising of the whole of man to receive the whole of God. Actually, religion is the response of the total that is in the universe to the totality of the longings of humanity. It is perhaps in this sense that we call Christ as also the son of man – not son of Joseph, son of this man or that man – all man put together, humanity in its totality, in its blendedness, in its en masse awakening – that may perhaps be the call that was responded to by God in the form of the coming of Christ, the great Jesus, who taught to humanity the message that is perpetual and valid for all times.
I was asked by one of the devotees a few minutes before – “What are the basic teachings of Jesus Christ, according to you?” I said, “To me it appears all philosophy, and all religion, and all ethics are compressed in the few words and sentences that he uttered.” He did not write huge books, tomes, or give lectures to anybody. His sentences were short, and they were pregnant with all the truths of life.The kingdom of God is within you – make any sense out of it as you please. How could a kingdom be inside you? I and my Father are one. The kingdom of God is at hand. Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. Give the left cheek, if one strikes the right one. Give the coat if one asks for a shirt. Walk five miles if someone asks you to walk one mile. We cannot easily comprehend the meaning of these statements, because these are words uttered by a superman. It is not a mortal message that is given to us. All the scriptures are here in these sentences.
The whole world shall be with you, for you, at your disposal. All these things shall be added unto you. What do you mean by saying, “All these things shall be added unto you?” All these things that constitute the whole world, they shall be added unto you. They shall expand the dimension of your being. How is it possible? There is a condition previous to this succeeding statement – “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” It is hard enough to understand what God is, and more difficult it is to know what His righteousness is. The rectitude that automatically follows from the very notion of God is His righteousness. It is up to you to conceive what God is. We have all kinds of concepts – from the notion of the puny little idol or a stone or a tree or a symbol or a painting or a picture – from all these notions of God, we have concluded various forms of ethics and religion in this world, ending finally into the storms of religious wars. The more the religion, the more the trouble in life as we have seen today, because of our inadequate concept of the eternity that is God; and in our foolish attempt to temporalise God’s existence into a little responding toy giving us what we want through our passions and greed, not knowing that it is eternity that is God. A toy God is a perishable God. You have created a God for your own purposes in the rituals of religion and the forms that the denominations of religion have taken place; and man-made God will not be an eternal God because man himself is not eternal. So with man’s perishing, God also will perish. We want a God who is prior to the coming of man, and that God who is eternal, speaks here as ruling the world in the form of his righteousness. The goodness, the virtue, the righteousness spoken of – in the holy words of the Veda, the form of righteousness is called rita or satya, the cosmic law and the ruling law. The cosmic law is that which controls the operation of the whole cosmos – that is called satya. The functioning of this cosmic law in the variegated departments of life is rita. This is in summing the righteousness of God.
How do you know that you are doing a right action? It has to be approved by God, who is eternal. I was many a time mentioning to people that if you want to know what is the good action that you will propose to do in this world– how do you know that your actions are good or bad – you just place the image of the Supreme Creator before you, and feel that you are just at His feet. The Supreme Creator of the universe is just in front of you, and what will you do at that time? That is righteousness. Can you conceive of doing anything wrong in the presence of that Supreme Being? Bring this picture before your mind in your meditations and your prayers and your celebrations, and you are blessed at that time.
I repeat once again that the messages of Christ are for all times, because they were spoken by the representative of the eternal God Himself. When we celebrate Christmas, or the birth of any great personality, we have the habit of converting it into a kind of social program, merry making and eating, and somehow or other passing it in a kind of gay light, forgetting the suggestiveness behind the celebrations. It is a renewal of the capacity in us to become divine in us, every year during these celebrations. There is divinity in us. It is true, it is granted; but it gets muddled due to the activities of the other organs of sense – the egoism and other things which are the lower faculties of the individual. We require cleaning ourselves repeatedly on occasions, as we clean brass vessels so that they may not look black or get rusted. So annually, we clean ourselves and burnish ourselves with the remembrance of that from where we came, that to which we go, and that which conditions our present life. This deep, dedicated spirit should be in us if the Christmas celebrations are to be a religious exercise, a spiritual meditation by itself.
You are performing this function in the presence of God Himself, and you will know very well how serious a matter it is. You will say that God is far away from us; and it is not a celebration that is done in the presence of God; God is far away in the seventh heaven. This is exactly the mistake in our notion. God is not in the seventh heavens. If He is in the seventh heaven, His righteousness will not bring all things added unto you. Things get added unto you because He is eternally present even here. The omnipresence of God implies also the immanence of God apart from the transcendence. He is far removed above the mortality of earthly religion – it is true. In that sense He is transcendent; but He created the world. Therefore his power is hiddenly present in all that He created. There is a difference between a potter making a pot, and God creating the world. The potter is not sitting inside the clay vessel; the carpenter is not inside the table; but God does not stand like that. The concept of the attainment of God rules out any kind of extra-cosmic concept of the presence of God. There should be a ladder to rise to God, isn’t it? We reach God through a ladder. That ladder is the world. So it should connect us from the earth to the high heaven of God. Therefore the connecting link also should be eternal. A perishable ladder cannot take you to an eternal abode. So there is something eternal present in this world also, though it is apparently perishable in its outer form.
There is an essence and a form in everything in the world. The essence does not perish; the form it is that is destroyed. Though the pot is destroyed, the clay in it is not destroyed. In a similar manner, the constituent elements of the physical world are permanently there – we call them the five elements, earth, water, fire, air, ether etc. – but the form of the world changes in the process evolution, dissolution, etc. This is to say that God’s presence is not a remotely placed ideology in our minds, in which case we would find it difficult to reach God. The mortal cannot reach the immortal. It is only that which is similar that can come together. There is a perishable, mortal, physical element in us, but that is not the whole of us. There is that stamp of God, affixed on our heart, which we call the soul in the human being, speaking like an ambassador of divinity that is the essence of the created human being. That essence is covered over by the demands of play – the clamoring of the sense organs and the greed of mankind – which all cloud this little light that is shed by the soul inside. The cloud has to be made to scud and scatter by the power of the thought that should arise from the depths of our soul itself. Religious performance or meditation is an activity of the soul itself – it is not the mind thinking; it is not the ego performing anything; it is not the psychological organisation that we call religious performance – it is a rising of the spirit in man. It does not rise always. So we have occasions of celebration like the birth of Christ and so on, so that at least once in a year, or some times in a year, we make it possible for us to gather ourselves into the depths of divinity in our own self, so that we think of God truly at least some times in a year. We revel in misery and ill-conceived joys of life for so many days and months of the year. Let there be at least one day, two days, three days at least, to free ourselves from this mistaken notion of our life, and invite God into this tabernacle, this little body of ours. Then it is possible for man to have a semblance of divinity in Him.
Christ is the son of God; he is also the son of man. What do you mean by this statement? Eternity that is speaking and acting through Christ, Jesus, makes him the son of God. The medium through which God responds to the call of humanity makes him son of man. So he is a medium, a connecting link, a liaison, between the world of creation and the uncreated eternal God Almighty. To think such beings, to worship them, follow their advice and live in their footsteps, should be a great blessing to us.
May this Christmas occasion therefore remain in our hearts, not as a celebration of a social type or nature, not a coming together of many people, but a coming together of many spirits which are incandescent with the glow of their aspiration for God Almighty. We are not sitting here as people from the east or the west, speaking different languages; this is an insignificant aspect of our personality. The true nature of every one of us here is that we are little lights inside us. May this group of little candles which are burning in our own hearts become a conflagration of a total aspiration of mankind as a whole, for the coming of God into this world. There have been saints and sages who were very sure that God can come to the world – lift the earth into the heavenly region. There were others who thought that instead of God coming, the earth can go up. So completely can the materiality of the universe be transmuted into the divinity of God that there is no need for God coming; the earth itself is divinised. Matter becomes light, as we have it said in this modern physical science of quantum. Matter is only light – there is no material object here. So God has become light – God is light – and the matter that you see in this world is light only, in a condensed form.
So, may these lights which are under the bushel, as it were, in our own heart, covered with the greed and passions of mankind, be lifted up, and may all these little lights of mankind’s souls craving to have union with God, raise up their hands of light and radiance so that the world be lifted up into the heaven of the Almighty, so that God alone will be. There shall be no other thing than, or external to, God. The belief, and the possibility of accepting the fact that it is good that God alone is – it is great that God alone is; and nothing can be greater than the fact that God alone is; we can be perfectly secure if God alone is – if this concept, this ideology, this religious estimation can be comprehended by us, we are perfectly secure always. No one can shake a hair of our body. We are perfectly safe under the umbrella or the arms of God. We need not be afraid that any Satan will attack us. No Satan can stand before God. He is a greater Satan than other Satans. He will destroy the wickedness of the world. God is supposed to be the death of death, in the words of the Upanishads. The knowledge of the Brahmanas, the power of the Kshatriyas, are the food of this great mighty Being, which eats death itself as a pickle – this is what the Kathopanishad says. We need not be afraid of death also, there, because it gets transmuted into the soul force itself. One becomes here the soul of death itself. Unless the death is negatived, immortality cannot be attained. If death persists, there cannot be immortality. Death has to be transmuted in the same way as matter gets transmuted into the light and radiance of God.
The whole creation in all forms, whatever be the nature of creation, has to be transmuted into the very substance of God. Then salvation universal will take place. God reclaims the universe; absorbs it into Himself; and what happens then? Universal salvation takes place by retracing the steps of creation; and God calling not merely man, but calling the whole of the universe into Himself, absorbing it into Himself, He stands supreme in His glory, in His Virat-svarupa, or the Supreme Almighty Nature.
This blessedness is incomparable. Even to think this thought is a great redeeming factor. Even to ponder about this truth is a blessing. Even to hear these truths is a greatness. All the sins will be destroyed even to listen to these great truths, and to ponder over these, and to make these thoughts your own even for a moment. Wonderful is God! No wonder can be equal to Him, and His creation is equally wonderful! Christ is wonderful! Krishna is wonderful! All Incarnations are great, and we are humble children of God. Under perpetual protection of the Almighty, we shall have no fear. God bless you.