To my understanding, the first chapter of Light on St. John by Radha Beas’s as well as John 1:1 – 1:51 from the Bible is an introduction to Jesus’s basic teachings and it provides with some basic information on ‘teacherhood’ as well as an introduction to the Path.
First, it discusses Creation and God’s existence. “The Lord is everywhere and we live and breathe in Him. … which is all love. There is nothing in existence that was not created by this Word of God and that is not sustained by it.”
I think this is too great a concept for a human mind to comprehend so it is up to us as single individuals to experience it for ourselves the way it is presented to us. Occasionally, I have some ‘feelings’ that are so vast that I cannot even express them. The one single word I could put on such an experience would be feeling of ‘expanded oneness’. This is the experience I would consider similar to what is described above.
According to the text, part of the inner journey we can expect to experience is to ‘meet’ the Light and Voice (sound) of God within. Jesus compares the Voice of God to the wind “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth.” I heard other teachers compare the Sound/the Voice to a musical instrument playing. I hear ‘voices’ within that are usually very soft. It is something that awaits for me to explore further though my meditations.
Then the text discusses the way humans can reconnect with God. ”If therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.” When we focus into the eye centre we can experience the Light and Voice of God.
It is fascinating for me to see, how perfectly Jesus’ teachings correlate with that of other teachers of the path. It seems that what we need to do in the physical to make ourselves available has not changed a bit over the time.
The text then goes on discussing the Light of Soul and the veil of darkness. “The Light that we see within, with the inner or the single eye, is the Light of our own soul. … The soul is of the same essence as the Divine Light. It is a drop of that Divine Ocean and is always shining within every one of us, irrespective of caste or creed, country or religion.” “The soul gives life to everybody, and the soul … “
“ …This has clouded the mind to such an extent that it has become an impenetrable covering over the soul – the veil of darkness. “
To my experience, each time I close my eyes and start meditating, the first few minutes are always about the ‘ the veil of darkness’ which prevents me from enjoying or seeing the Light. Each time, however, when I take the time and wait I kind of meet me, the greatness of my being, that is not always presented to me as a source of Light, sometimes it is just a ungraspable feeling of ‘hugeness’.
The text then turns out attention to separation from the Divine and how it is set up and held in the mind. According to the teaching, the veil of darkness is composed of our sins/karmas that prevent us from seeing God. This veil can be perceived in many different ways. I mostly experience it as a glass ball of impenetrable beliefs about how I can protect myself in a merciless world. Sin is but separation, not a particular deed we committed at any point in our lives. Additionally, because of our karmas or sins (various limiting and binding beliefs), our soul got attached to this creation and the mind became bogged down in the so called pleasures and senses of this creation.
Interestingly, my understanding of the ‘pleasures’ has nothing to do with real physical pleasures. To my experience, these so called pleasures we crave are strictly based on the beliefs that we hold about ourselves. These beliefs must be fed daily so we feel OK. In my case, most of my beliefs revolve around the treacherousness of the world and my need to feel safe and away from harm.
Beas says that the mind needs to be purified and move back to its own source at Trikuti. In my understanding, the mind is to be led by the Soul, eventually. The mind must submit to the Soul and serve It. I am not sure, I understand what Beas means by being lead back to its ‘source’.
Beas says that we can only eliminate the veil of darkness via the grace of God. And the way we experience this grace is that we get in contact with a teacher, a man who is sent by God. “There was a man sent from God, whos name was John.” It is simply impossible to get uplifted without the action of initiation and for that we need to personally and physically meet a teacher in the flesh. Without the names (received at initiation or baptism) we cannot lift ourselves up and out of this creation.
For a long time, I believed, that Grace was the act of being released from our Karmas and allowed to live a ‘good life’. Later, I realized, that Grace is the act of being given the opportunity to get liberated, not Liberation itself. Liberation is not a goal to be achieved, but a Path to be walked. Grace is Initiation itself.
. “… because the relationship of the Soul and the Father is that of love … That is why Christ refers to this relationship of the Soul with the Lord as that of the father and son, also as that of bride and bridegroom, because in both these relationships it is the love that binds them. It is purely a bond of love. “
I think this is the main theme that Shakespeare so brilliantly describes in Romeo and Juliet. The very reason why we all, even secretly, want to be in a loving relationship with a mate/partner is because we wish to experience a sense of oneness and unconditional loving – which is unfortunately impossible to achieve in the duality of our physical existence. To my knowledge, no human relationship can match that level of worship, depth, vastness, devotion, discipline and that deep sense of care, we can offer to and receive only from God.
For me personally, this pure Loving is present in my relationship with Jesus. My relationship with God is still to be explored.
With reference to our entrapment, there is this very revealing thought offered by Beas: “We go where our attachment are” It makes so much sense to me – this is the very reason why we keep on recreating the same circumstances and experiences. Attachments are not meant to be enjoyable or pleasurable as such, they are things (fears, deeds, feelings, needs, etc.) that we are drawn to because of our deep seated beliefs that we may have been carrying with us through many lifetimes.
Therefore, the only way out for us is to get attached to the Father, via the teachers “the Word made flesh” who come to our level to help us. Though Beas claims that without attachment to the Son or the teacher himself we cannot create a link to God, I think otherwise. Whereas, both Jesus and the Indian tradition request the followers to worship the Teacher who embodies the Holy Spirit and find salvation through their relationship with the teacher, I am looking for a more personal relationship with God that is attainable via the Names.
The Teacher in my experience is the guide. He may be the focus point at the beginning, until we start having our own inner experiences with God that may become our new reference points. As we start trusting those inner experiences we can let go of the hands of the teacher and walk the path together with God all the way Home.
In the following pages Beas talks about the relationship between John the Baptist and Jesus, the two Teachers who existed, though only for a very short while, at the same time in history.
Then there is a discussion about the reason why teachers come. “the masters, come as a witness to the existence of the Light so that “all men through him might believe”
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, … full of grace and truth”
Then John starts talking about the successors and the fact that the teachings are always the same. “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” It says that Christ was sharing the same message as Moses had done before him, but what Moses shared 1400 years before got ritualized and without a living teacher the messages lost their true meaning. John foretells the coming of Christ who will make the teaching ‘live’ again.
This Chapter is rather expansive because it seems to contain all the basic teachings in a frantic order; talking about our separation from God, our sins, the Teacher who comes to our salvation, then what it takes to be on the Path and its challenges.
Next, there is some discussion of the reason for our separation again which is expressed as a feeling of unworthiness. Then there is a discussion on how we can become worthy again.
“He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.”
To me it means that we must detach ourselves from the world – let go of whatever we consider essential for our wellbeing or happiness in the world – and focus entirely on the Word and on the ‘Word made flesh’ so we became pure (like children) and so we can walk the Path Home.
The feeling of unworthiness is the essence of Kal, this is what keeps Kal alive in us, and this is our mean means of separation. The reason why we need Grace (initiation) to lift us out of our bondage is because we do not feel worthy enough for God’s love for us. Unworthiness looks and feels different to every single one of us. This very feeling runs our live in a never-ending circle of sins and punishment or life and death as it were. It lies hidden inside of us; we all must have this deep seated sense of unworthiness, otherwise we would not invest so much energy into gaining love in the world. A kind of love that never satisfies our needs and that simply cannot provide us with a sense of relief, the pure joy, the sense of happiness that can only come with being free from our sense of unworthiness and separation. The more worthy we feel of God’s loving for us, the freer we become.
As I mentioned earlier, Grace is not something that is there to sort our lives out when in trouble or to make bad things go away so we can feel more comfortable. Grace is our birth-right that we are bestowed upon our choosing to make our journey Home. The rest is up to us. “By our own efforts, without His grace, we cannot go back to Him. When the Father wants us to go back to Him, He will put us I touch with His Son, the Word incarnate, the Master (teacher) who is living at the time that we are in this world.”
I also learnt that all teachers are equal and they all carry God’s message for the seekers. They all come from God and merge back to God after this lifetime. They also often acknowledge each other. I suspect it is to show that the message or teaching they carry is the same as that of the predecessor’s. “Unless a Master (teacher) prepares the people for his successor, they will never care for the successor.”
“Every saint uses the background of the people to whom he is speaking to in order to help them understand the real teachings.” May I add, that it is the very thing that makes it so difficult for us, people of another age, to comprehend some of the teachings hidden behind cultural and historical agendas. And so, this is one of the reasons why we misinterpret what was said there and then.
Recently I watched ‘Prince of Egypt’ where the word ‘Israel’ in relation to ‘my people’ was used a lot. To my knowledge today Israel is a country, the land of the Jews who once called themselves Israelis. From Beas book I gathered that the true meaning of the word ’Israel’ or “God’s chosen people” does not refer to any particular nationality or group of people as such, but to all true seekers, those whom God has chosen to call back Home.
It was also interesting for me to learn that the word ‘Sons’ actually refers to us all, humans – “we are all sons of God – but prodigal sons – and can become His true Sons, His begotten Sons, only when we are led by the Spirit, the Holy Ghost, the Shabd, or Word made flesh, back to His bosom.”
I never understood why water was such an important part of initiation at that time and later as part of the Catholic ritual of Baptism. “When a Mystic comes he baptizes us with water, meaning the ‘living water, the Nectar’, … The same water is referred to as the Holy Ghost, the true Light, the Fire, the Spirit, the Voice of God, the Comforter. It is the Shagd, the Name …” Water represents the names we are given at initiation.
I also learnt that the word Messiahs is the plural of Messiah which implies that there had been more than one Messiah through history, apart from Jesus Christ.
In both Christ and John I see true servants of God who know nothing else but their mission of gathering the souls who are ready to go Home. Christ looks to me like a wondering Messiah whose task was to collect his herd by physically going from one place to another. It feels as if all the stories that are now collected in the Bible are actually recording of his wonderings and meetings with various people until his untimely execution.
Reading the verses made me realize that the greatest joy is when the seeker, the ready soul, recognises its saviour, the teacher who will bless him/her with initiation.
“Hereafter ye shall see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man. It is a really lovely way to say what an initiate may experiences upon initiation.