Christ – A Combination of God and Man
by Swami Krishnananda

(Christmas Message spoken on December 24, 1992.)

We observe today, in this holy ashram of Sri Gurudev, the coming of Christ, which is known everywhere as the celebration of Christmas. It is a rejoicing that is made manifest in the outer life of people, a rejoicing that the Saving Light from high heaven has descended for the redemption of mankind.

It is the belief and a requirement in every form of religious aspiration that the salvation of mankind is not within the jurisdiction of mankind alone, but it is in a realm that is above mankind. All religion presupposes the presence of a Power that is supernatural and superhuman. Mankind never believed that it can be saved by itself. Man cannot save man, because every man is like every other man. The saving factor is in a region which is necessarily something ranging above human jurisdiction, human thought, human feeling, and human envisagement of values.

The advent of Christ, or the coming of the incarnation, is the way in which the human need, taken in its totality, visualises the descent of this Power as overwhelmingly redeeming and excessively transcendent to all concepts of human value. This transcendence is not merely evaluational, but envelops and covers every conceivable field of human existence.

An incarnation cannot be equated with anything that is human, neither in the sense of material values nor ethical assessment. The concept of virtue or righteousness or any evaluational procedure applicable to mankind is seen not to apply to the region from which and through which the incarnation operates. This is the meaning of the transcendence of divinity and anything that is godly, over and above what man can conceive as even the highest possible achievement. The highest achievement conceivable by mankind is transcended by a single incarnation. All humanity throughout history, for ages together, compressed into the highest possible assessment or understanding, cannot equal the radiance of a single incarnation, or the coming of God, in any manner whatsoever. Here is the inner significance of the excessively superior character of the spiritual outlook of life, in comparison with any other mode of living in the world.

"The way spiritual is one of the ways in which man can live in the world" is what the common populace may be thinking. The way spiritual is not one of the ways or modes of living; it is a total transvaluation of values that takes place when we become spiritual. We cease to be human for the time being, at least for the moment when we feel that we are really transformed into a centre of spiritual aspiration. The humanity in us also is outgrown by the indwelling presence of Divinity, which is the incarnation, as far as the seeker is concerned, in the form of his longing for God. The asking for God also is the work of an incarnation of God. This incarnation takes place in the midnight of the senses; Christ and Lord Krishna were both born at midnight. These analogies of religiously mystifying experiences tell us that the closure of sense activity is a requirement for the luminosity of Divinity to manifest itself adequately. When the senses are awake, the Spirit is sleeping; when the Spirit is awake, the senses close themselves.

Therefore, celebration of this august occasion of Christmas is not merely a merry-making occasion for the people in the world, a few hours of freedom from our normal work-a-day existence. It is not a joy of the feelings or the emotions, it is not a psychic action taking place in our celebration, it is a participation on our part in the spirit that has descended in the form of Christ. All religion is divine participation. When you are unable to go participate, you are inadequately religious or spiritual. In this sense it is that many a master has proclaimed that religion or spirituality is not doing anything, it is a kind of being something. God is known as Supreme Being, and not just doing; we do not say that God is Supreme Doing, we say that God is Supreme Being. And a participation in a ray of His Being – call it incarnation or any operation that can be regarded as divine in this world – such a participation alone can be regarded as spirituality, and each one should know for oneself or herself to what extent this participation takes place in one's life.

Truly speaking, is hard to be entirely spiritual in one's daily behaviour, outlook and even thought, because man is man. The humanity in mankind presses itself forward and tries to drag the general outlook of life to the periphery of sensory activity and mental operations, and rarely do we delve into our spirits. Our life is sensory in the way we generally work in the world, and it does not go beyond the mental realm at any rate, inasmuch as everything that we do is connected with seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching. All activity is within the circle of these types of sensory activity, and this activity is connected with the way in which the mind thinks. We may say our whole life is psycho-sensory, rarely spiritual. We think and we act, but we are rarely capable of delving into the being of our personality. We move, we are in a state of procession, transition, an onward progression, as it were, in our daily life of activity, but we have not a moment of what can be called ‘being’ in our life. We never are. We are supposed to be what can be regarded as our being, but we seem to be in a fluxation of psychic activity and sensory operation. All our life is activity, and not anything of the nature of being. Each one may try to make an assessment of the situation in our life, to find out to what extent we have been in ourselves, apart from the activities in which we are engaged – the work that we do and the engagements in which we are engrossed in the life we live right from beginning to end. We have to carefully distinguish between being and doing, as I mentioned, and only that part of our life which is capable of being designated as being can be regarded as the spiritual part of our life. Anything other than that is temporal, transitional, earth-earthly and mortal.

The mortal element is not the framework of the descent of Christ. It is the immortal essence that descends into the immortal that is in the human being. This is the reason why it is the midnight of the senses. It is so because the outer pressure of the spatial and temporal structure of our life ceases in the night of mental and sensory activity, and we seem to be what we are, at least when we are in the midnight of our deepest Self – which is to say, when we are just as Pure Being. When we are silent in ourselves, when the psychic activity is hushed – to repeat, when we are, and we do not identify ourselves merely with processional activity of any kind, God descends into ourselves. This descent is as difficult to understand and appreciate as the life of Christ Himself. We may read the Bible, we may read the Scripture and go through the entire story, and yet we may not be able to inwardly appreciate fully the significance thereof because listening to the story and appreciating the instruction and the meaning of the Gospel is not identical with our true participation.

A saint it is who really participates in the coming of God; that is why a saint is also a Divine Being. Divinity manifests itself only in that receptacle which can contain it. A mortal framework cannot contain an immortal descending force, just as a powerful elephant cannot be confined to a dilapidated hut, which may break down by the power of the elephant. A well-seasoned metal is necessary to act as a framework for the conducting of electric force. Electricity does not pass through a rope made of coir. In a similar manner, we may say that Divinity does not reveal itself in that which is not divine. God participates in Himself when this descent takes place, which means to say that God, as present in the deepest recess of the human being, becomes the recipient thereof, the receiving receptacle of the light of the higher heaven.

The heaven above coincides with the heaven within. "God is in heaven" is what we generally say and what we are told. When we say that God is in heaven and the light of God descends from above, we speak of the transcendence of God, but when we say that heaven is within, we speak of the immanence of the very same high heaven. The highest is also the deepest and the innermost. The highest heaven, which is the abode of the Almighty, is also the innermost recess of the bottom of our own heart. It is into this divinity of the inner recess of our being that God descends.

Christmas, therefore, is a spiritual participation on our part. It is a recollection of our old forgotten heritage, a memory that we bring back to our conscious level of thinking. That which is within tries to keep before its vision its harmony, its relationship and its kinship in the high heaven from where it has descended.

We said that Christ is the Son of God, and he is also the Son of Man. He is the Son of God because he is the radiance that emanated from the highest heaven, the Almighty Father. The Supreme Transcendence involved in the coming of the incarnation is implied in the words ‘Son of God’. The response of God to the needs of humanity is implied in the designation ‘Son of Man’. It is Man with 'M’ capital. It is not one man calling God; it is mankind as a whole, the species of humanity, the very earthly involvement summoning the presence of this utter transcendence. The earth finds itself inadequate to bear even its own burden.

Mark this little distinction that is to be made here: There is in each man an ordinary man, and also a total man. When the Total Man in each man, this higher man, call this man by any appellation whatsoever, summons the highest in Heaven, the Son of God descends as the divine response to the call of the Total Man, and he also becomes the Son of Man. He is the need of Man, and therefore he is the Son of Man. He is an incarnation of God, and therefore he is the Son of God.

The highest in man, therefore, is commensurate with the highest in heaven. Divinity and humanity go hand in hand here, walking as friends, as it were, like the two birds described in the Upanishads. One is busy eating the fruits of life, while the other bird merely perches on the branch of the tree of life, gazing at this panorama of existence and eating nothing, which means to say wanting nothing, coming in contact with nothing and having relationship with nothing, because it itself is all things.

In Christ we find a combination of man and God. The ideal man and the ideal divinity can be seen blended in proper proportion in the personality of Jesus the Christ – ideal behaviour, utmost goodness, greatest charitableness, the humbleness of the most humble that we can conceive of, and the grandeur of the greatest that we can imagine in our mind. The greatest and the humblest come together in the saint and the sage, such is the incarnation. When God becomes man, He will behave like the ideal man, but also as the ideal manifestation of God. We will never find it easy to understand how God and man can come together in a single personality, because we always feel and are accustomed to think that there is a great contradiction between being man and being God. But the superman, known as the incarnation, is a negation of this erroneous concept, where the mortal can visualise the immortal in a mysterious manner – as in the Bhagavadgita Arjuna could see the Visvarupa of God – and God the Universal can become the particular in the so-called visible, localised personality of humanity.

Here is the grandeur of the incarnation. To contemplate this, to find an occasion to meditate on this aspect of divine work in this world, we have occasions of this kind – Christmas, which is the hour and the moment when we honestly, in the heart of hearts, refurbish ourselves and become different in the quality of our being. Not different in any possessional character of our life, we become different in quality. When the celebration is over, the quality of our life has changed. This change is internal in the sense that it is spiritual. The deepest in us has touched the highest, and God has descended into us. If this feeling can become our own and we live by this feeling, we have truly and properly celebrated this wondrous Christmas, which gazes at us every year at this moment, reminding us again and again that God never forgets man and God is ever with us.