The teachings of holy Jesus are based entirely on spirit. God is all in all. He teaches abandonment of the world and extreme love of God. His teachings are more other-worldly than worldly. His own life was the purest life of a great incarnation of God, but Europe has not accepted the spirituality of the teachings of Jesus. It has been interpreted as materialistic. For instance, more importance is given to his physical body than to his spirit, and the physical body also not living, but dead. He is worshipped as the body, and when he was buried, it is said that he rose, that is to say, his body revived itself from death to life. In this connection there is no mention of the spirit, which is one, eternal and deathless, beyond time and space, and ever blissful.
The Church, too, has materialised the teachings of Christ and allowed many abuses and also almost meaningless ritual which has little to do with the great spirit which Jesus taught and represented.
One result of this misinterpretation of the teachings of holy Jesus is that everything spiritual is considered in terms of materialism. Take, for instance, Christian Science or the healing given in some churches. It is all materialism. They think of the body and the body. They forget that the body is made up of avidya, and in spite of any care it is one day doomed to destruction.
Several people who are in the holy Yoga begin to think that Yoga gives youth, physical health, money, reputation, influence, powers of healing, and so forth. The other day I was told about one of my daughters that she looked so young and radiant because she was in Yoga. This is a misconception which must be removed at any cost.
Our body is maintained by our past karma. The Rishi Ashtavakra, the author of the great classic and guru of King Janaka, had eight bends in his body. At one time Swami Mangalnathji was in such poor health that he looked almost as if dead when seen from a distance. This applied not only to Yoga, but to Christianity also.
The holy Saint Francis lost his eyesight before he was forty, and he was crippled. The author of the famous Summa, the holy saint and the greatest philosopher of Christianity, died before he was fifty, and before his death he was in a state of ill health. The holy saint Augustine suffered severely from gastric trouble before his death. We do not want to go on multiplying illustrations to show that the practice of Yoga does not mean any material advantage. I do believe that God can bestow upon anybody any material advantage, but when a Yogi knows that it is all avidya he does not care whether he lives ten days or twenty years longer.
The greatest concern of a Yogi is self-control, vairagya, detachment, and ceaseless devotion to the Lord. When he begins to develop the Yogic spirit, he is decentralized from his individual body, and he begins to feel that all bodies are his body. Swami Rama Tirtha, who became very ill at the age of thirty-three, always used to say that all bodies are the bodies of Rama. It is therefore to be learnt very carefully that the advantages in the realm of avidya are not the spiritual advantages.
A Yogi has to know how far he is detached from the sense objects; how far he has forgotten himself in the exalted state of love of God; and how far he has renounced himself in favour of Guru and the Sangha. When egoity is to be reduced, the body itself is included in it.
Europe has remained highly materialistic at heart, and therefore the spirit of Christ has not been fully understood. Let us, therefore, every day practise detachment, forgetfulness of the body and dedication of the personality to Guru and Govinda. Let us not mind whether we live a hundred years longer or ten years longer. All that is necessary is that the remembrance of God is uppermost and that the teachings of the Gita are made living texts in our heart, and that all we are, all we have are at the disposal of the Guru, the Sangha and Shri Shanti Sadan.
To think of the body is negation of all spirituality. There is a cult in India which believes that by following it you can have all material advantages and also spiritual advantages. It is the cult called Shaktism. One of its chief exponents is Aurobindo. It looks like Advaita and many of its texts begin with Advaita, but it is, in fact, Maya worship, and Maya is accorded the place of God and is said to be ever the same with God. Let us be careful.
Those who believe in this avidya-ism believe in name and fame for their organisation, pomp and show, great buildings and many disciples. It is said that one of the great exponents of the Vedanta in Bengal was proud of the fact that Sarah Bernhardt thought of inviting him to her dressing-room.
The glory of Dada’s teaching is that it is the purest Vedanta. He lived the teachings in all purity, and he taught his disciples also the same. Those who had wealth in his Sangha and those who had very little were accorded the same level for seats and were treated with the same affection and given the same service. In this sense the holy Yoga is true Christianity, and nobody can be a Christian unless he is devoted to the spirit.
There is no passage in the Gita or in the holy Gospel which denotes that the body is God or that matter is more important than spirit. The holy saints have given up the world, and if avidya were God they would have revelled in it. This is a very important lesson to learn, and the more we learn of it the better it is.