These words of Thomas a Kempis, speaking of his spiritual ideal, Jesus Christ, in The Imitation of Christ, express a unique characteristic of a Son of God. Self-realized and God-realized beings, true spiritual Masters teach from what they know and have experienced within themselves, not from scriptures, hear- say, or from "figures and words that pass away".
All such teachers have one message to give to the world, though the language and terminology they use may be different. They teach that God's kingdom is an inner reality to be found within each and every human being. God, the supreme reality, is love. God is spirit, the living Word. To find God and to worship him "in Truth" we must find a way to be in touch with that Word or spirit within us. Like them, we need to turn within ourselves, reach beyond the limitations of the physical plane and raise our consciousness to spiritual realms.
If we go deeply into any of the great world religions, we will find this one message in all. No Son of God, no true Master, claims his teachings to be new, unique or exclusive. Jesus himself said, "Think not I am come to destroy the law or the prophets; I am come not to destroy but to fulfil" (Matthew 5:17).Through his ministry he was reminding his disciples of that same law and teachings already there within their scriptures.
History shows us, however, that when the great seers and mystics leave the physical plane, the subsequent generations of their followers rarely attain the same heights of spiritual wisdom and understanding as their Master. Lacking understanding of the truth within, not having any personal experience of union with God at the level of spirit, they have to depend upon doctrine and external "words and figures that pass away".
Thomas a Kempis, in the same passage, goes on to say: "Our own opinions and our own senses do often deceive us, and they discern but little." In the natural course of things, as the followers of the Master rely on intellectual understanding rather than mystic experience, outer practice and worship gradually replace inner practice and worship, rituals arising from cultural considerations are confused with spiritual reality, and the original message of one spiritual truth and a common inner path is obscured. This is how religions are born.
The saving grace for humankind is that saints, Sons of the one Father, keep coming to the world to remind us of what is real. They answer the longing of those who crave for a truth that is eternal, who want answers that make sense to people from every faith, time, country and clime. To reveal this timeless truth, the mystics refer to the scriptures that are familiar to their audiences, drawing their attention to the spiritual reality they no longer understand.
Light on Saint Matthew was the fourth book prepared under the guidance of the Master, Maharaj Charan Singh, to explain to people of a Judeo-Christian background the mystic teachings of Jesus Christ. The preceding three books were The Master Answers and Thus Saith the Master, both addressing topics of general and biblical interest, and Light on Saint John, which explains Christ's mystical teachings from the point of view of the Gospel According to Saint John.
The present volume, including the Introduction and Conclusion, was prepared from discourses given by the Master on passages from St Matthew's gospel. The manuscript was compiled from tapes recorded in India between 1967 and 1972, and in America during the Master's tour overseas in 1970. On such occasions it was the Master's practice to first elaborate on a specific text and then respond to questions from the audience to further clarify the passage in question.
Since those days, much research has been made public in the field of the Christian scriptures. Maharaj Charan Singh never claimed to be a Bible scholar. He took the gospels as they are given in the King James version and explained them from the ordinary person's point of view. But being a mystic, not only did he understand the inner truth buried within them, he also saw how people come to misunderstand the teachings. He understood how the human mind behaves. He would smile when he related how his own words or actions were sometimes misrepresented by his own disciples-incidents taking on a miraculous colour before coming back to him.
Without any background in the Christian scriptures, his assessment of the gospels was remarkably accurate. Observing for example that Mark, Luke and Matthew had large sections in common, he chose Matthew as being the most authentic. Generally speaking, and reaching their conclusions through research and analysis, most scholars would agree. They have noted that while Luke tends to paraphrase its sources, often diluting the original message, and Mark is more interested in miracle stories than in the teachings, Matthew-although it has its own particular point of view-reproduces its sources most accurately. The Master simply chose the gospel that presented Jesus' mystic teachings in the clearest manner.
He also selected particular passages for explanation. He would point out that the gospels were not written by the direct disciples of Jesus and had also passed through the hands of many copyists, translators and others who had their own opinions of what Jesus taught, before coming to us as they are now, two thousand years after Jesus lived. It is interesting to note how often the passages he chose to ignore are those which scholars have also come to regard as least authentic.
As a mystic, the Master was able to see many things in the gospels that escaped or baffled common understanding. There are times when he brings out meaning on what might appear as the flimsiest of evidence. Yet a study of other literature of early Christian times shows that this is the way that some early Christians also understood the texts.
His reference to reincarnation with regard to "Agree with thine adversary quickly" (Matthew 5:25 on), for example, is not without precedent in early Christian literature. Similarly, his explanation of the parable of the sower may differ from a traditional interpretation of its meaning, yet early Christian texts clearly explain the seed as the creative Word of God just as Maharaj Charan Singh does in his commentary.
Many examples of the Master's insight could be given. They all point to his unerring perception as a mystic, to the spiritual accomplishment that distinguishes the living Master from the ordinary person. In touch with "Truth" directly, in contact with the living Word of God within themselves, these Sons of God are able to draw from that "spring of water welling up into everlasting life" (John 4:14). They come to earth for this purpose, so they can guide others to the same.
Since most of the discourses were given in different places or addressed to different audiences, there was naturally repetition within the tapes. Where this repetition serves to enhance the meaning of the explanations of the gospel, it was retained in the manuscript. Where the questions put by members of the audience related to a passage in the gospel, they were included and placed in the appropriate sections of the book. To organize informal spoken language into a written commentary for publication, the editors, working under the Master's guidance, had also to consider the arrangement of passages for ease of reading and continuity, and the appropriateness of idiomatic phrases associated with the Master's spoken rather than written style. For this revised fifth edition, some minor, non-substantial changes have been made in these areas. The presentation of the text has also been reconceived to make the movement from discourse, to question, to answer, and back to discourse, more transparent and smooth-flowing.
To the many people who have put their time and effort into the book since it was first conceived by the Master, the members of the Society would like to express their thanks on behalf of the sangat. And to the Masters who provide us with the precious opportunity to learn how to serve, we cannot begin to express our gratitude, nor can we presume to comment on the real significance and value of their presence among us.
Saints may come at any time, in any country. Every mystic or saint has the same teachings to give, the same message or spiritual truth to share with us. Saints do not come with any new teachings, nor to lay the foundation of any religion or to condemn past mystics. But we forget their teachings after they leave this world, so saints again come in some other place to revive the same teachings, the same spiritual truth. No saint comes to create a religion. They just come to share their spiritual experience with us, to put us on the path and take us back to God. Therefore, if with an unbiased mind we try to go deep into the scriptures written by any mystic, or into their sermons, we will find the same spiritual truth.
First they try to explain to us that whatever we see in this world has not sprung up by itself. There is some power at its back, someone who has created this creation-call that power God, call it Lord, call it anything else. He, and nobody else, has created this whole creation. All that we see is nothing but his own projection. After creating us, he has shared the same life with every part of his creation. He is everywhere in it. And yet, being part and parcel of it, we do not see or realize the Creator who is living within every one of us.
Why do we not see the Creator? Because we have forgotten him. We have become blind as far as he is concerned. We are attached to this world, and our attachment brings us back to it again and again. So due to that attachment, we are all blind and see nothing but darkness within ourselves. Unless we are able to eliminate that darkness, we will not be able to see him. And unless we meet the Creator within ourselves, we will not be able to escape from birth and death, from the transmigration of the soul.
How can we eliminate the darkness and see the light or life which the Lord has kept within every one of us? When the Lord wishes, by his grace only can we eliminate that veil of darkness. When the Father wants to pull any soul from the creation to his own level, he sends somebody from himself to our level. After having sent him-call him a saint or a mystic, or the son of God, give him any name-he is like us in the flesh and is also at the level of the Father. He has access to him and also experiences the same light within himself. There is no veil of darkness between him and the Father.
Why has the Lord given the saints this privilege of seeing that light of life while being at our level? Because the Lord wants that, through them, we should also experience the same light which they experience within themselves. It is through their living guidance and help that we also can eliminate the veil of darkness from within ourselves and see the light.
So unless we see that life or light within ourself, we do not escape from this creation and we cannot become part and parcel of the Creator, who can be realized nowhere outside until we have realized him within. Having created us, he is within every one of us. That is why this body is referred to as a temple of the living God, or as a house of prayer, or the house of the Lord.
Mystics come to explain to us the necessity of going back to the Father and put us on the path leading back to him. They not only baptize or initiate us; they help us travel on the path to go back, to merge into and to become one with the Father. That is the main purpose of the coming of a mystic. They do not come to create peace in this world. Their work is not that of a social reformer. If that had been their purpose, this world would have been reformed long ago and there would have been peace by now-because when we read history, every country and nation has had the privilege of producing great mystics, great souls. But in spite of them, the world is the same as it was probably thousands of years ago. We have not improved in any way at all. So their purpose is not to improve the lot of the world or to create peace in it. It will go on as it is. Their main purpose is to take us away from this miserable world, this creation, and to make us one with him.
Christ also had the same teachings and spiritual truth to give us, and I will discuss the teachings of Christ from Saint Matthew, in that light. I am holding here the New Testament, the King James Version printed in your country. I am very well aware that I am no authority on the Bible because that is not my background. I have hardly read the Bible except during the last few years. But as I am very fond of reading the writings or the scriptures of past mystics or saints, the Bible has also become one of my favourites. When I read the Bible, I find the same teachings which have been given to us by other mystics of past ages and which Christ has also tried to give us.
You are probably quite aware of the history of the Bible. It was not written by Christ. What you read in the Bible are not the exact words which he spoke, nor were any notes taken by anybody during his lifetime, nor was the Bible printed during his lifetime. I am told that it was written quite some time after his demise. And then, it does not contain the teachings given by the direct disciples of Christ, but what was known to people through those first disciples. That is why you read that it is according to Saint Matthew, according to Saint John. So you cannot interpret the Bible literally as you would interpret a book of law.
For example, you heard the lecture yesterday. You know that the sermons given by Christ were to very simple people. They were poor farmers, fishermen and carpenters, not men of letters or intellectuals as we find people are now in this world. So if today you try to bring the speech onto paper, try to write down notes of what was said yesterday, with your best intellect and intelligence you will only be able to reproduce exactly on paper perhaps a small portion of what was said. And that too will not be the exact words which you have heard, but only the gist of the lecture. And that is after hearing it with your own ears. You personally listened with all your attention because you came to the lecture for that purpose.
So if today you go home and tell a friend what was said to you yesterday, only twenty-four hours ago, and if he, after twenty-four hours, tries to reproduce that lecture on paper, he will not be able to reproduce word by word what you told him. At best, he will be able to reproduce only a portion of what he heard from you. His words, especially, will be his own, according to the ideas he may have been able to grasp. And then, if that same writing were to be translated from one language to another, and then again to another, you can imagine how much would remain of what was said. When you translate anything, a lot of the beauty and much of the meaning of the words is lost. Where the translator does not understand, he 'straightens' the language or eliminates a word or gives his own meaning to it. Hence, many things are lost in translation.
Even with our own Sant Mat books, some are translated from Hindi or Punjabi, or from my discourses, and many things are lost, misquoted or misinterpreted. As you know, the Bible has passed through so many interested hands, and many things have been eliminated, suppressed or added. People have twisted some of the teachings of Christ for their own selfish ends. So what you read in the Bible today are not the exact words of Christ, nor of Saint John, nor of Saint Matthew.
And of those people who heard Christ lecture and were attracted to him, some were diseased, some were lame, some were lepers. They were only attracted to him because he performed certain miracles; it was that which brought them. They did not even come to him with the intention of knowing his teachings, but all the same they did get the teachings from him because that was his main mission in coming to this world.
It was through those people that we now know the teachings of Christ! And then their version was translated into so many languages. Therefore you cannot take every word of the Bible as if it were the spoken word of Christ. You have to understand the teachings by reading the whole of it because his teachings are scattered throughout the Bible. They are like scattered jewels, and you have to collect them together to know the gist of Christ's teachings. So one should always try to read the Bible in that light, not as if it were the direct words of Christ.
Send as free online greeting card
Email a Friend