Who will be saved?
Who among us shall see God? When we ask ourselves that question, different answers might spring up. We might soon find ourselves in bitter disagreement with our fellows as to who shall be saved and who not.
In fact, over the centuries, a deep and bitter quarrel has arisen on the subject, resulting in endless, deadly conflicts with ironic names like "holy wars" and "crusades." We have committed the most disgraceful behaviour in the name of God.
But all this division and conflict is spiritually unwarranted, or so we shall find out here. The differences and divisions that have sprung up between us have no independent reality to them.
Let us take the example of quarreling over whose God is God. Sri Ramakrishna thought it ridiculous to dispute such a thing. He had followed several religious paths to their end and found their destination was always the same nameless God.
I have practiced all religions – Hinduism, Islam, Christianity – and I have also followed the paths of the different Hindu sects. I have found that it is the same God toward whom all are directing their steps, though along different paths. ... Wherever I look, I see men quarrelling in the name of religion – Hindus, Mohammedans, Brahmos [a small sect of westernized Hindu intellectuals], Vaishnavas, and the rest. But they never reflect that He who is called Krishna is also called Siva, and bears the name of the Primal Energy [i.e., the Divine Mother or Holy Spirit], Jesus, and Allah as well – the same Rama with a thousand names. A lake has several ghats. At one, the Hindus take water in pitchers and call it ‘jal’; at another the Mussalmans take water in leather bags and call it ‘pani.’ At a third the Christians call it ‘water’, Can we imagine that it is not ‘jal’, but only ‘pani’ or ‘water’? How ridiculous! The substance is One under different names, and everyone is seeking the same substance; only climate, temperament, and name create differences. (1)
What lies at the root of our religious and social conflict?
Ego lies at the root of our conflict
At the root of the world’s conflict is the ego. The ego is our sense of ourselves as individuals. The ego is comprised of our thoughts. In fact, it as if we wander through life immersed in a cloud of thoughts. This cloud of thoughts keeps us from seeing God. It is the only real barrier to enlightenment, but it is no easy barrier to remove. When the mind is stilled, the ego quieted, we are able to know God.
We discover on the spiritual path that the ego is persuasive but unreal. We find that we are not, after all, individuals, but the Universal Spirit. But, until we are enlightened, the ego seems very real and persuasive. It is the source of our wanting. It thrives on action and excitement, friction and quarrels. It craves to feel right, justified, and validated, and, worst-case scenario, will lash out at those it thinks threaten it or any of its interests.
It attaches itself at an early age to what it considers “me and mine.” In later years that attachment expands to include the “us and ours” of family. It can expand to include a block, a neighbourhood, a school district, a city, a province, a nation.
Finally, after acquiring things, it feels the need to hold onto them and creates a self-interest, an agenda, which eventually it comes to share with others. Up rises the notion of "our side" and "their side."
"Our side" can be anything -- a club, a nation, or a religion. We bend all our efforts to see that "our side and what belongs to our side" thrives.
One of the ways in which it shows itself in the religious world is to maintain that only our side will reach paradise or heaven. Is it accurate to say that only one group will be saved and the rest will be lost? Can any enlightened master be found who teaches such a thing?
Redemption is promised for all
In fact none can. The masters are unanimous that all of us will be saved, that redemption is not exclusive to one faith, but the birthright of all.
They are united and unequivocal in saying that exclusivity is not true . Universality is true .
Everyone will see God. Everyone is destined to enter Heaven. Some sooner; some later; but all will eventually.
Let us listen to Sri Ramakrishna teaching his devotees this truth, another Design Element of God's Divine Plan for life.
All will surely realize God. All will be liberated. It may be that some get their meal in the morning, some at noon, and some in the evening; but none will go without food. All, without any exception, will certainly know the real Self. (2)
The Mother will not allow any of her children to go hungry. He who is hungry in the morning will be fed in the morning. He whose appetite is aroused late in the evening will be fed in the evening. (3)
Let me tell you that the realization of Self is possible for all, without any exception. (4)
Everybody will surely be liberated. (5)
I think that Jesus knew this as well, which explains his teaching that “Wisdom is justified of her children.” (6) In the code in which much of the Bible was written, who is “Wisdom”?
As we shall see, "Wisdom" is another name (popular in the Old Testament and the Apocrypha), for the Holy Spirit or Divine Mother (For examples of sages calling the Holy Spirit "Wisdom," see footnote 7). We are Her children.
God has charged the Mother-Spirit with creating and administering the natural law. The purpose of the natural law is to educate us and keep us moving towards our goal: knowledge of God the Father.
The Child of God or Son of God works hand-in-hand with the Divine Mother or Holy Spirit to bring all lost sheep back to God. This whole book is a description of how that happens.
God has commanded that all should return to Him after wandering in the world, without one being lost. When each individual does, Wisdom is justified of Her Child. When all of us do, Wisdom is justified of Her Children. God's Plan is to see that all of us, all points of consciousness, go out into the world, realize Him, and return, at which time Wisdom, the Holy Spirit or Divine Mother, is justified of all Her Children.
"Universal" vs. "exclusive" redemption
Everyone will eat; some in the morning, some in the afternoon, and some in the evening. This is universal redemption. There is no trace of exclusivity here; God, it would seem, has no partiality.
Sri Krishna, an Incarnation of the Divine, taught this truth to Arjuna:
Is born for perfection
And each shall attain it
Will he but follow
His nature's duty. (8)
He does not equivocate: All are destined for perfection and each shall attain it. There is room for great rejoicing here.
I wish to turn to Jesus in a minute. But before I do, I'd like to communicate how I see him. In my view, Jesus is an “avatar” or a “descent of the Divine” into the world and is similar in this respect to Rama, Krishna, Ramakrishna, and Anandamoyi Ma.
Jesus declared himself to be an avatar in the following passage:
Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. (9)
Sri Ramakrishna was given a vision of Jesus during which Jesus merged in his physical form. In the spiritual sense, Sri Ramakrishna "knew" Jesus in a way that you and I could only wish to know him. His considered opinion of Jesus was that he was a Divine Incarnation of God, as the following story makes clear.
One day at Dakshineswar a Christian minister was brought to meet Sri Ramakrishna.
Shivanath Shastri told Sri Ramakrishna: “Sir, one of my Christian friends has come to see you. Having heard of you from me, he was very eager to meet you.”
On hearing this Sri Ramakrishna bowed his head to the ground and said: “I bow again and again at the feet of Jesus Christ.”
Surprised at such [an] utterance, Rev. Sannyal said: “How is it, sir, that you bow at the feet of Christ? What do you think of Him?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Why, I look upon him as an Avatara [Incarnation of God].”
Rev. Sannyal: “Incarnation of God! Will you kindly explain what you mean by it? Is he one like Krishna and the others?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Yes, exactly like that. An incarnation like our Rama and Krishna. Don’t you know there is a passage in the Bhagavata where it is said that the incarnations of ... the Supreme Being are innumerable?” (10)
Turning to his teachings then, let me request that we hear him as an embodiment of the Christ, the second High Power of the Trinity, called by Hindus the Atman, God-within, or Self. Only if we listen to him this way will we hear his promise of universal redemption. Listening from a more restricted context leads to the misunderstanding that only the followers of one religion will be saved. Listening that way creates more problems than it solves.
What Jesus Said
As the God-within, the Christ, the Light of the world, Jesus says:
Interpreting the Biblical code in which this passage was written, I understand that “hath sent me” means that God has mystically permeated matter, the Divine Mother, with the Child of God, the Christ. Krishna referred to this mystery in Chapter 1. In this sense has the Christ been “sent” into the world.
And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. (11)
We’ll find that the masters’ sayings often have more than one meaning. The most basic meaning of Jesus’ saying that “I came forth from the Father, and am come out into the world: again, I leave the world and go to the Father” (12) is that the Christ came forth from the Father and went out into the world. After the fullest degree of unfoldment, the Christ withdraws from the world and returns to the Father again. St. Paul, I think, describes this mysterious event.
Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
... And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all. (13)
“Should lose nothing, but should raise it up on again on the last day” – when we see the brilliant Light of the Child of God and meditate upon it, we are led onwards to the glorious Light of the Father.
When that occurs, we are “raised up again” – that is, we leave this realm of birth and death – on the last day of spiritual darkness and mortality and the first day of spiritual enlightenment and immortality. Since, as we have seen, everyone is destined for enlightenment, the Christ will “lose nothing.”
The First Enlightenment: The spiritual energy reaches the fourth chakra
“Every one which seeth the Son” – let us hear from those who have “seen the Son.” These masters describe their first enlightenment or “spiritual awakening.” The kundalini reaches the fourth chakra and they see a brilliant but discrete Light or star – their first glimpse of the Self, Christ, or Child of God.
The fourth center of consciousness (anahata) is in the region of the heart. Spiritual awakening comes when the mind rises to this center. At this stage man has a spiritual vision of the Divine Light and is struck with wonder at its beauty and glory. His mind then no longer runs after worldly pleasures. (14)
God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts. (15)
A wonderful light arose within my soul. In it I recognized the nature of God and man. (16)
In the abyss of this darkness in which the loving spirit has died to itself, God's revelation and eternal life have their origin, for in this darkness an incomprehensible light is born and shines forth; this is the Son of God, in whom a person becomes able to see and to contemplate eternal life. …
It is Christ, the light of truth, who says, "See," and it is through him that we are able to see, for he is the light of the Father, without which there is no light in heaven or on earth. (17)
Ralph Waldo Emerson
No man ever forgot the visitations of that power to his heart and brain, which created all things new; which was the dawn in him of music, poetry, and art. (18)
I sat crosslegged in the meditation posture. When I had sat thus for some time, I felt myself going out of my body. I saw myself sitting down with the delicate tender leaves of the tree over me. I was facing the east. In front of me was my body and over my head I saw the Star, bright and clear. ... There was such profound calmness both in the air and within myself, the calmness of the bottom of a deep and unfathomable lake. Like the lake, I felt my physical body, with its mind and emotions, could be ruffled on the surface but nothing, nay nothing, could disturb the calmness of my soul. ... I was supremely happy, for I had seen. Nothing could ever be the same. I have drunk at the clear and pure waters at the source of the fountain of life and my thirst was appeased. Never more could I be thirsty, never more could I be in utter darkness; I have seen the Light. I have touched compassion which heals all sorrow and suffering.... Love in all its glory has intoxicated my heart; my heart can never be closed. I have drunk at the fountain of Joy and eternal Beauty. I am God-intoxicated. (19)
J. Krishnamurti’s stirring experience of the star, the Christ-Light, bears out in all details Sri Ramakrishna’s description of what occurs when the kundalini reaches the fourth chakra.
John Ruusbroec testifies that the brilliant light he saw was “the Son of God, in whom a person becomes able to see and contemplate eternal life.” Ruusbroec tells us that it is the door to the Father.
Jacob Boehme recognized the nature of God and man in it. Neither of them saw or is referring to the man Jesus, but to the Light that the Christ is.
All living beings have in their hearts this same Light, this Child of God, or Christ. It is our original, unborn, and undying nature. It has been called the divine spark, (20) fire always burning on the altar, (21) and a fireband plucked from the burning. (22)
In another place, Jesus says: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (23) and “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved.” (24)
I don’t believe that Jesus meant that Jesus himself (that is, the man) is the way and the door (except insofar as any teacher or avatar is). Instead, the very Christ-Light that Ruusbroec, Boehme, and Krishnamurti saw is, I think, the way and the door. Meditating on the Light of the Christ, which appears as a brilliant but discrete point, proves to be the way to apprehending the majestic Light of the Mother, which suffuses all creation, and thence to the transcendent Light of the Father, which causes all creation to disappear. Meditating on this Christ-Light is the only “way” or “door” that opens onto the absolute “truth” of the Father, the knowing of which brings eternal “life.”
The masters say that all of us live in a collective state of perpetual amnesia as regards our true identity. Explains Paramahansa Yogananda: "The soul, a reflection of spirit, while dwelling within [the human body], cannot remember its omnipresent state." (25) But this fact does not change our nature as divine Sparks, which we are by God's Design.
It is this Spark, Fire, or Light that we have abandoned and forgotten. Jesus reminds us that seeing it in the first enlightenment is not enough. The man digging in a field did not stop upon seeing the Treasure; he did not admire it, bury it, and never return. He went and sold all that he had (i.e., divested himself of all other desires than the desire to own the Treasure), bought the field (meditated upon it to the exclusion of all else), and made the Treasure his own (won the vision of the Father by his single-minded efforts). The same with the man who saw the Pearl of great price; he went and sold all that he had and bought the Pearl.
Owning the Treasure or Pearl means going within to take the initial experience of the Christ to its ultimate conclusion, at which point we and the Father are one.
Given that the Christ is our own true Self, another way of saying that the Christ is the way to God is to say “know thyself” if you wish to know God.
Knowing our Self is the way to know God. The Self is the Christ and penetrating into It leads us to the All-Self or the Father.
Franklin Merrell-Wolff is an instance of a sage who contends that Jesus’ use of “I” was meant to convey the universal Self.
“No man cometh unto the Father but by Me.” Thus spake Jesus. But many heard, though few understood, and so they sought the Father through belief in a man who dwelt for a short time upon this earth. But no man is ‘I,’ since ‘man’ is an object while I AM [is] always the subject. Hence, to translate the above quotation as meaning, ‘no man cometh unto the Father but by Jesus,’ is completely to change its meaning. (26)
According to him, Jesus was saying that no man approacheth the Father except by the Self, the “I AM,” the universal subject. In knowing the transcendental Self, we shall know God.
Only through the ‘I’ is Identity realized.
Approached in any other way, God is ever something other than the seeker and, therefore at a distance. To come to the Father is to be one with the Father, and this can be achieved only through the pure Subject or the SELF. (27)
The masters agree that knowing this Self is the way to know the Father.
Whoever sees his nature is a buddha. (28)
To attain enlightenment without seeing your nature is impossible. (29)
To know God is not an easy matter, until one becomes a knower of one's self. (30)
Knowledge of self is the key to knowledge of God, according to the saying: "He who knows himself knows God." (31)
Anonymous author of The Cloud of Unknowing
Strain every nerve in every possible way to know and experience yourself as you really are [i.e., as the Christ-Light]. It will not be long, I suspect, before you have a real knowledge and experience of God as he is. (32)
St. Catherine of Genoa
My Me is God, nor do I recognize any other Me except my God Himself. (33)
Sri Yukteswar Giri
The highest aim of religion is Atma-jnanam, Self-knowledge. (34)
Thus, God has laid down that we must approach Him by knowing ourselves first, by knowing the Light of our own nature, called the Christ, Self, or Atman by various religions.
As divine sparks or Children of God, we are joint-heirs with the Christ that Jesus was. When we realize our true and full identity as that Son of God, one with the Father, we will have fulfilled the purpose for which we were born. We will be enlightened. The lost lamb, the Prodigal Child, will have left behind the things of the world and come Home.
While I have used the illustration of the Light here, some masters do not travel a path that leads to the seeing of Light. Instead they have a realization in consciousness, as Da Free John did (see Chapter 8), see a form of God, as Swami Brahmananda did (also Chapter 8), or follow some other route. I do not wish to be thought as saying that enlightenment must occur one way and not another. Experiences of enlightenment will vary.
Let us return to our main theme. Jesus does not promise salvation only to those who follow the man Jesus. The Christ in all creation freely promises it to all, by virtue of our being the Children of God. There are no strings attached to our birthright. There may be strings attached to when we shall inherit it.
The crooked shall be made straight
Let us examine two other examples of sages predicting universal redemption. In this case, we are not listening to an avatar, a Descent of the Divine, like Krishna, Jesus, or Ramakrishna. We are listening to two enlightened masters -- Isaiah and Lao-Tzu -- who say strangely parallel things.
Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it. (35)
All of us shall be perfected or made straight. Once we are perfected, all of us shall see and know God.
Lao Tzu makes the same prediction.
The crooked shall be made straight
And the rough places plain;
The pools shall be filled
And the worn renewed….
The saying of the men of old
Is not in vain:
“The crooked shall be made straight” -
To be perfect, return to it. (36)
All human beings shall be made straight, their hills and valleys levelled, their pools filled, resulting one day in universal redemption. All can and will return to their original perfection and be redeemed.
So we are not the ego. We are aware of how much death and destruction has arisen by thinking that our side will be saved and the other side won't. God is not on our side exclusively; God is on all sides universally. By thinking in confused ways, we have divided ourselves into tribes and camps, circles and stripes. The unfortunate and mistaken ways of being that I described in Chapter 1 arise and endlessly multiply. They do so because of our misidentification with the ego and all of its states, moods, and desires.
We have come upon two more Design Elements of God's Plan for Life: (1) our nature as we have just described it; and (2) the known outcome (salvation) of the universal drama that we are involved in.
In regards to the first, our nature is that of the Self, Christ, or Child of God – a Firebrand plucked from the Burning. In regards to the second, all of us have God's Promise that we will be reunited with the Fire one day.
Both these Design Elements are in fact our inheritance, our legacy, our birthright. They are intrinsic to us, inalienable. The situation cannot be changed by act of legislature. It does not bend before religious edict. A dictator could not make the situation different even if he killed us in the process (and we begged for mercy). We are all Children of God and we are all bound for salvation.
What difference does knowing this make?
When it is known that we all are Children of God, that all are loved by Him and destined to be redeemed, each one of us faces a choice. Do we continue to conduct ourselves as if only our fellows in faith will sit on the Right Hand of God? Or do we drop that false notion and see things as the masters say they are?
We were not designed to push the service of our own projected self-interest into areas where it works to the detriment of others. Why not?
Because life will push back. And why is that?
Apparently, because God has designed it that way.
Viewed from a pragmatic social angle, gone is any valid basis for such views as master races and subject races, “ethnic cleansing” and genocide, religious wars, slavery, dictatorship, and class domination. Gone is any valid basis for male enslavement and mistreatment of women or the exploitation of children.
Viewed from a personal angle, gone is any valid basis for my asserting myself over others to their detriment. It has to be win/win. We are all of us Brothers and Sisters, Children of God, part of the same family, and universally bound for redemption.
Our entire worldview could shift if we allowed it. The "hundredth-monkey" effect might tip us into global religious tolerance as we realize that we are all Children of God, on the road to perfection.
One event will occur regardless of whatever else happens. The basis of all subordinating (superior vs. inferior) worldviews is, by these revelations, removed. The secret is out: there is no superior or inferior to be found. Spiritually, we are all equal and alike, in nature and in destiny.
For full details on these sources, see “Bibliography.”
(1) GSR, 35.
(2) Ibid., 818.
(3) RAWSH, 172.
(4) GSR, 256.
(5) Ibid., 98.
(6) Luke 7:35.
(7) See, for instance, Isaiah's appositives: “And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom. “ (Isaiah 11:2.) Or Solomon's, in the Apocrypha:
”And who has learned your counsel
Unless you gave him wisdom,
And sent your holy spirit from on high.”
("Wisdom of Solomon" in APO, 195.)
Compare with St. John of the Cross:
”The Spouse ... is the Wisdom of God.” St. John of the Cross in CWSJC, 75. “This flame of love is the Spirit of the Bridegroom, which is the Holy Spirit.” (St. John of the Cross in CWSJC, 580.)
(8) BG, 126.
(9) John 8: 23.
(10) FMSR, 106-7.
(11) John 6:39-40.
(12) John 16:28.
(13) I Corinthians 15:24 and 28.
(14) Sri Ramakrishna cited in Usha, RVW, 25.
(15) II Corinthians 4:6.
(16) CC, 183.
(17) JR, 147 and 74.
(18) ESS, 166.
(19) KYA, 171-2.
(20) Omraam Michael Aivanhov, LAS, Part 1, 22; also Meister Eckhart in Huxley, PP, 15-6.
(21) Leviticus 6:13.
(22) Amos 4:1.
(23) John 14:6.
(24) John 10:9.
(25) SCC, 1, 15.
(26) PTS, 19.
(27) Loc. Cit.
(28) ZTB, 5.
(29) Ibid., 9.
(30) KK, 3.
(31) AH, 19.
(32) CU, 71.
(33) PP, 11.
(34) HS, 6.
(35) Isaiah 40:3-5.
(36) WOL, 22, 74.