One night I found myself in a very difficult situation, and in desperation and as a last resort I appealed to God, in whom I didn’t believe, saying, “If there is such a thing as God, you’ve got to help me”.
I had been brought up in a Christian family and had to go to church most Sundays but I’d never felt it helped me or gave me any peace. I felt worse for going, actually, as the idea of original sin and all the rules meant I could never feel good about myself. Because of my negative experiences with the church, which was Protestant, I found it difficult to believe in Jesus Christ and God. So I considered myself an atheist, I suppose, although I was idealistic and had high moral values.
I still had an interest in spirituality, however, and thought that there must be some metaphysical answer to the ills of the world and I was searching for the key that would unlock the door to the mysteries of life. I felt that there was some force (which I thought of as the life force) which looked after all the animals and plants on the earth without them doing anything. I thought that as I was, surely, just as important as the plants and animals then that force was, hopefully, looking after me too. I felt that if I could be more in tune with that force, without thinking, just like the plants and animals, then I could be healed as well.
So I started looking for a Buddhist meditation group. Buddhists don’t talk about God, I thought, but they seem to be people of integrity and very much at peace in meditation. But it wasn’t to be. All the groups I rang didn’t answer their phones. Eventually I decided to go to Sahaja Yoga, which I had heard about from a friend.
As it happened, Shri Mataji, the founder of Sahaja Yoga, was coming to my city the following week. Her lecture was extremely interesting and covered a wide range of topics including God and Jesus Christ. I thought, “Oh, no!” I was surprised, however, to find that rather than urging us to go to church and become Christians, Shri Mataji openly stated that many Christians were not as loving and forgiving as they should be and that their intolerance and hypocrisy had turned many people away from Christianity because they were not following the teachings of Christ as they should. That had been my experience! When Shri Mataji spoke about God I thought, “I’m not interested in having anything to do with God or religion”. But I was so impressed with Shri Mataji and she spoke about all sorts of other interesting aspects of spirituality as well. I decided I would put aside her references to God and try Sahaja Yoga.
I have never regretted my decision. Sahaja Yoga has been the most wonderful experience of my life. Over time I have learnt that the original teachings of Jesus Christ are quite different from the teachings of the Church which has twisted and distorted many things over time. I have also discovered the mystical aspects of Christianity, some of which were recorded in the Dead Sea Scrolls and kept secret by the Vatican for many years. I do not have to follow the dictates of priests or ministers who interpret spirituality for me, tell me what to do and have power over me. I find real comfort and peace from meditating and from a personal connectedness that I never felt in the church. And, yes, I have learnt from my experiences that God does exist, and has taken many forms over the millennia, not just the form of Jesus Christ.
So if you, like me, have had bad experiences or have become disenchanted with the Church and feel nervous about the mention of God, don’t worry about it. Just put it aside and try Sahaja Yoga. True spirituality involves much more than the narrow view of God and religion that has been promulgated by Christian churches.
And if you like, you too can ask the question, “Does God exist?” or “Is there such a thing as God?” and see how the answer unfolds in your life.
We all have our understanding about Easter’s message and there are so many ways of celebrating Easter.
At the recent Easter celebrations in India, Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi spoke about forgiveness, saying that we should forgive everyone, and that this message of forgiveness is not just for Easter, but for all time.
Forgiveness is the main power at the level of Agnya chakra. This power was revealed and incarnated as Jesus Christ.
Around the time of Easter maybe many of us have faced challenges related to our power to endure and to forgive – a power that ultimately leads to unconditional love.
I’m reading an amazing book, The Measure of a Man, by Sidney Poitier and the vibrations are beautiful. His words are very Sahaj, very similar to talks offered by Shri Mataji. His words have the most profound significance.
Please, see below some quotes from his book − quotes that I happened to read at Easter time. It’s a “cool” and elevating book and I recommend it to you.
Forgiveness works two ways, in most instances. People have to forgive themselves too… That should be a sacred process.
And somewhere along the line, they’re going to realize that there’s no way for them to live with the requirements of their rage, with the requirements of their hatred. They have to find peace, because they won’t get peace from rerunning those emotions.
The above words are totally Sahaj and they talk about the Pure Knowledge of the Spirit at the level of Agnya Chakra, the energy centre that is connected to the element of Light and that was opened by Jesus Christ at the universal level, for all mankind.
The Agnya Chakra, sometimes called the Third Eye, is situated at the centre of the brain. This is the level of the mind. Our mind has two lobes: the ego, which gives us our sense of separateness; and our superego, which has our conditionings and memory. The goal in Sahaja Yoga is to bring the light of the Spirit to the brain and so achieve enlightenment, Self-realisation. The Sahaja Yoga affirmations for the Agnya Chakra are, “I forgive everyone, including myself,” “Mother, by your grace I am forgiven,” “Mother, please make me a forgiving person,” and “Mother, verily You are the forgiveness.”
When the Kundalini passes through this chakra, the thought waves elongate so that the space between the thoughts grows longer. The present moment begins to fill the attention and we enter the state of meditation in thoughtless awareness. Then we can see without colouring or projecting – simply, innocently, like a child.
Jesus Christ, the personification or Deity of the Agnya Chakra is said to have explained, “Unless you be as little children, you cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.” This entry point is “the narrow gate” between the ego (ahankara) and superego (manas). This is the “now” point that remains clear and unpressured, beyond the mind’s remembrances of the past, and beyond the ego’s mental projections about the future.
The mind, like the body, gives us fairly convincing ideas of our existence. However, with an enlightened mind we find, as Shri Mataji has said, that we are not the body, the mind, ego and conditionings, but we are the Spirit. This was the essential revelation of Jesus Christ who fully manifested the Divine qualities of the Agnya Chakra – compassion and forgiveness. His testimony, of undoubted Oneness with His Father, is the Nirvikalpa experience of the Yogi, who has been cleansed and prepared by the Divine Mother, Kundalini. His assertion, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Light,” is the ultimate expression of this enlightened Agnya.
It is through deep meditation, forgiveness and humility that the process of crossing the Agnya Chakra is worked out. The left and right channels cross just below the Agnya. If either of these channels is overly active they create a burden and an imbalance in the subtle body that pressures and closes the narrow gate and has us again feeling alone and unconnected. The right channel is easily inflated with the idea, “I do.” Too much thinking, planning, projecting, over-activity, anger, competitiveness or superiority will cause blockage and also deplete the left side of the essential ability to feel and love. Becoming too “right-sided” means we can enter the hot realm of the supra-conscious, the realm of the future. The left channel can catch if we are overly emotional, too expressive, feeling victimised, wishing harm to ourselves, becoming immersed in the past, and too involved in unhealthy habits, subconscious images or dead ideas. This is the realm where everything from the past is placed, including dead spirits and the Collective Sub-conscious.
A central idea in spiritual evolution is the idea of being “born again”. This is not a process of self- or group-certification. It is the process of Self-realisation in which we break through, surrender the lesser senses of ego and conditioning, and become resurrected, identified with the eternal awareness, the Spirit. Here we go beyond the mind and often humorously witness the play of the ego and conditionings as they battle to have their way. We are still in the world, yet in a detached, joy-filled and loving way. We easily forgive, for not to forgive causes problems. We know and enjoy our own Spirit, the same Spirit in all, and witness the play of the Creation. We are humble before the ultimate majesty of the Creator and also spontaneously experience true love and compassion for the human condition.
I did not want to go. I had travelled to that land of dreams. It was a light, serene place, a restful place. I had gone from life on this Earth. I had left the pain and the heat and gone away; away from my tired, sick body.
But when I heard him his voice was music itself. It threaded my soul back into sinewy surrounds, into the cavities of bone and flesh. Breath was born in my lungs again and my heart reverberated to the sound of his voice. It was my heart which heard his call. Then my ears responded, muffled as they were. My hands tried to pull the cloth from my face. There was the scent of aloes and of myrrh. My steps were slow and weak, my limbs numb. I leaned on the wall with one hand as I came, dragging the weighted linen which wrapped me. Blinded by the light, I felt the shock, the indrawn breath of the crowd but I couldn’t see them.
Then my sister Martha touched me warily. I could smell the wood smoke and warm bread in her hair. Her tears wet my cheek. Then Mary, my other sister, held my hand, rubbing the numbness out. I felt like a child again: their little brother once more, to be cosseted and plied with grapes and oranges.
Then Jesus held a lamp before my eyes and asked me to see. First the lamplight and then his dear face came into focus. We were all smiling. But later Mary came to me when I was resting. She looked troubled.
“Lazarus, this will not pass unnoticed by the men who would harm him. I fear we are near the end. They cannot bear his miracles”.
And Mary Magdalene was with us then. She was the one who saw more than the rest of us. She was completely devoted to Jesus. She came into the room holding the alabaster jar she had bought some time back.
“He will be going soon. We must prepare,” she said.
I was still dazed, not ready to understand the sadness in her eyes.
After supper she came with a basin and water to wash his feet and then rubbed them dry with her hair, weeping silently. Then she broke the top from the jar and poured the perfumed oil onto his feet and tenderly rubbed them. The rest of us sat in silence; except for a late bird ringing its bell tone in the tree outside, everything was stilled as we breathed the rich perfume. Then one of his companions said to Mary as she gathered up the shards.
“But this was valuable ointment. You are an extravagant woman. Why did you not put its price in the poor-box?”
Then Jesus spoke across Mary’s bent head, “There will always be poor people needing money. But Mary has seen what is coming. She understands my destiny. Did you not see her tears? She knows I am soon to leave you.”
He understood our hearts so well. I looked around at his companions, the men he had chosen. Some looked uncertain, puzzled by Mary’s act and by his reproof of Judas. Judas himself did not speak again but looked away, his lips tightly pressed.
A few, like John and I, had unshed tears. But we really didn’t understand him as well as Mary had. What harm could come to him? He who had this day called me back from the grave where I’d been lain three days before? Who could challenge such a commander of men as this?
Now that the year is past I can see that he came back to us four years ago, from the land of Hinde, the land of the Magi, only because he knew he must be killed. He had to allow the terrible, cruel will of the most aggressive men to manifest fully. Only then could he show the power of our Spirit which transcends all. My little death and return was not enough.
There were moments in the days which followed my return, after he was taken, when I could have wished he had not called me back. When we heard that they were torturing him, we could hardly even bear to breathe.
And later, after he and his mother, who is Mother of us all, after they’d gone away to Hinde, then, it seemed to me that it still was not ended: that the proof he’d shown would not be enough yet for people to change, to make themselves like him. There was still so much sadness in our lives.
When we were with him we could see and feel the truth of all that he said. He was clearly the manifest love of our Father. Even the dust of the roads couldn’t dull the radiance of his person. His body was fragrant, as if the flowers gave their perfume to him as he passed. The air around him shimmered and wherever his eyes looked colours grew brighter. His voice cooled our inner ear and caused our restless minds to expand into holy spaces.
But for all that, we couldn’t change the world when he had gone. The light went with him. Only his mother could comfort us then. She was truly a warrior’s mother. Later we realized that she had always known he was to be the sacrifice ─ apparent sacrifice, for death had no power over him. But in the days of darkness when we thought he had gone from us it was his mother, Mary, who drew us together and kept us from drowning in our grief.
We had gone to her house thinking to comfort her, to give voice to our mourning. We discovered her serene. She was arranging flowers in a vase and smiled a little at our pale faces and offered us food and comfort. As more and more people came she greeted each one with words of courage and nourished their poor faint bodies with fresh grape juice and wholesome bread. Some were shocked to find her so calm, so queenly. Had we not seen and shared her great pain? Seen through our tears as we’d witnessed his dying? As we’d clung together in that dark, dreadful place? But now, so soon after, she is untroubled. I marvelled at her nobility as she took each newcomer into her care. We had become quite a crowd, mostly silent but absorbed in the tranquility she spread about us.
Then we heard lively footsteps and all turned towards the doorway. Stephen appeared, glowing, overflowing with joy, breathless from his haste. His words were unbelievable. I thought at first I’d misheard him saying, “He is risen.” But there was no mistake. He looked directly across the room to Mary. Our eyes followed his and through our tears again we saw her smile and move her head in gentle affirmation, “Yes.”
Our hearts filled, and it is wonderful that we did not all leap up and exclaim and make a great noise. I imagine that the silence then was like it must have been at his first birth in that stable when his radiance and hers must have filled every living thing around with awe and peace. Then I understood how she had been able to fill us all with quiet satisfaction, with her own calm. She had always been so sure of him, this mother of warriors. She was absolutely certain of the ability of her son to transcend even death. He had always been like that. And they had known each other from before the beginning of the world. It was with this new awareness that she began to prepare us for the battles we were all to face in the years to follow.
(Photograph: The Resurrection of Lazarus by Jean Jouvenet. Courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org)