Tagged: Joseph

“Is Peace the basis of your religion?” BY: BK T.D Joseph

Article by: BK. T. D. Joseph, Bangalore, India tdjaum(AT)gmail.com – If you have questions or remarks about this article, please contact the author.
“When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”—Luke 14:1-11

This warning originally given by Jesus Christ to religious leaders should sound alarm to all the unsuspecting members of Christian religions. Christianity has degenerated into DIVISION-MAKERS (presently over 41,000 sects, each believing they are the appointed channel of God) in sharp contrast to the identifying mark of the true religion as “peace-makers.” (Matthew 5:9) If peace is not the very basis of your religion, nothing should prevent you to make peace your very basis as it qualifies you to become a “child of God,” a prospect that is better than anything this world can offer. (Matthew 5:9) It is also the most important duty of an individual. “Whatever puts an end to conflict and brings about unity and harmony is Dharma,” Bhishma told Yudhishthira in Mahabharata. Hence the questions that arise are: What is peace? And with whom or with what do we have to make peace?

To know what peace is, one should first know what purity is as it is the mother of peace. (Matthew 5:8, 9) Purity is not something that is added or acquired, but is the innate property of a thing or a person. When we wash our soiled cloth or clean a dusted mirror, we remove the dirt that has been accumulated on them, and say now it is clean or pure. When authorities remove undesirable elements (all the intruders, the disloyal, cowards, the inefficient and the discontented) from a country’s army, we say now the army is purged and clean. Hence purity implies removing the acquired dirt, and unfolding the inherent good qualities in a progressive way. These two actions will attract the good towards a person, the result of which is peace. Hence purity is the CAUSE, and peace is the EFFECT.

Thus peace means everything which makes for one’s over-all good (not just absence of troubles). It is a state in which one experiences the presence of ALL good things. Good things will not happen automatically, but require appropriate and proportionate effort (Gita 6:40; 8:7). Highest good can happen only with developing good relationship with the Highest Person, our Ultimate Father in the Heavens, who is the RULER of the universe (Gita 5:29; 8:9); presence of all other good things can happen with right relationship with other two RULING entities—our soul, the ruler of the body (Gita 3:42; 15:9) and the nature where Law of (Karma) action and reaction rules. (Gita 5:14, 15; 13:20; Compare 6:17, 40.) Hence to have peace one needs to be in harmony with God, Soul, and Nature.

Harmony with GOD

The term harmony means being tuneful, forming a pleasing combination, and being free from disagreement or conflict, all of which bring a love-bond. This requires that you (1) learn about God’s qualities, and His style of acting, and (2) display the same qualities, and (3) finally adopt His style of acting.

What are His qualities? From our experience we know that when we connect to GOD through meditation, we experience wisdom, purity, peace, love, happiness, bliss and power. We are His children or souls, possessing the same qualities in miniature, just as the effect contains the essence of its cause. (If one does not feel these qualities within, it is because he has forgotten his very nature and has started looking for them outside.) Interestingly, wisdom, purity, peace, love, happiness, bliss and power are best experienced when we forget the body and the world, as happens in meditation. What is common with these qualities is that they all have their SOURCE in GOD, hence they are permanent, changeless or exist ALWAYS in Him, or they are sat “THE REALITY” (Gita 17:26) or satyam (THE TRUTH). Gita here uses sat as the designation of the SUPREME REALITY, THE ABSOLUTE and THE IMMUTABLE, or “the sarvasya Dhatarah, THE SUSTAINER of all” as Gita 8:9 puts it, not just as an antonym of lie. That is why the wise, like Mahatma Gandhi, defines God as SATYAM (THE TRUTH) in the sense of SOURCE of all good things. Bible too calls Him “God of TRUTH.” (Psalms 31:5). God applies these qualities towards his children in a most beneficial way (shivam) hence is benefactor, and uses them in a most beautiful, appealing, holy way (sundaram) hence is constantly pure. Thus “Satyam, Shivam and Sundaram” are referred to as His principal attributes, and we are requested to “become master Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram.”—Murli 05.03.1971.

Hence harmony with GOD means:
• Living in SATYAM—in awareness of one’s true nature that I am nirakari (I am a soul, a spirit being—not the costume called body) manifesting its qualities: wisdom, purity, peace, love, happiness, bliss and power.
• Applying these qualities in a way most beneficial (shivam) to one’s self and others or becoming nirvikari (without deviating on to vices which always harm the self and others).
• Using them in a most beautiful, appealing, holy way (sundaram) or becoming nirahankari (having no sense of doership—ego—which disfigures one’s inner beauty. “To be egoless means to be simple; that which is simple is beautiful”—Murli 11.03.1971).

Nirakari, Nirvikari, Nirahankari
These were the three words that Bhahma Baba kept more pronounced in his parting message, which shed light on the very essence of dharma or spirituality. Interestingly, this reminds us of a warning found in the Bible. If you turn to chapter 3, verses 19-21 of the Gospel of John (the 4th book of the New Testament), you will find this alarming thought that will touch everyone on earth for the good or the bad:
The judgment is based on this fact: God’s LIGHT came into the world, but people love the darkness more than the light, for they prefer to continue with their worthless/wasteful acts. All who do worthless acts hate the light and refuse to go near it as they do not want their sins to be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are in harmony with God.

Harmony with SOUL

Soul is THE POINT OF CONSCIOUSNESS within the body which is also called: Spirit, Atma, Living-Being, Inner-Self, Life-Energy, Pure-Consciousness, Essence… etc. Being the child of God, it is the exact representation of its Father’s very being; and is the substratum that wears the costume called body, hence the core of one’s being—pure consciousness—which has the potential of manifesting God’s cardinal qualities. So, what does harmony with soul mean? Everything what is implied in harmony with GOD, the SUPREME SOUL, THE SUPREME FATHER applies to individual soul too—first learn about soul’s qualities (wisdom, purity, peace, love, happiness, bliss and power), and its style of acting, and then display the same qualities, and adopt its style of acting:

1) Soul does its duty silently—it is always awake [even when we are asleep] overseeing the vital works such as breathing, various circulations, digestion of food, repairing-renewing-replacing of cells and other countless activities in our body. At the same time it will not cooperate with anyone who is careless with his body. For example, when someone takes alcohol for the first time, it will make him vomit, which is a clear warning: do not repeat this harmful act. If person continues with his erratic behavior, soul will react appropriately and proportionately, result of which will be disease (dis + ease), or even damage of some vital organs like heart, kidney etc. This is how soul reacts to any careless acts such as immoderate eating / sleeping / working / recreation habits.—Gita 6:16, 17.

2) Soul impartially observes all happenings without judging them as favorable or unfavorable. This is because it is rooted in wisdom, hence has over-all view or larger perspective (unlike the narrow view maintained by ego that includes only me, and my things & my people), hence views every happening as part of the whole. It is an irrefutable fact that cosmos as a whole is beneficially designed, and backed by constant care by a loving Father. Take the example of provision of food that nourishes us, or flowers that delight our eyes and nose—billions of future generations of fruit-bearing trees or flowering plants remain PROTECTED in the memory of a tiny seed.

Again, what humans leave as waste is recycled by trees, which, in turn, provide food for humans. So is the case with all other life-sustaining provisions. Thus viewed from larger perspective, the WHOLE arrangement is good. Hence soul knows it is not fair to be sad or worried about some individual experience or happening which is, of course, only a part of the whole. If WHOLE is good and acceptable, part also should be good and acceptable. Hence soul does not categorise happenings as favorable and unfavorable. In fact, it is the intellect (fallen into body-consciousness) that does such judging/interpreting purely on the basis of its own convenience. Hence such views are not permanent; they keep changing according to convenience. For example, news of price-rise (makes producers happy, but consumers sad), or news of an international ban on alcohol (will be viewed good by the majority, yet as bad by its producers & consumers). Thus it is pointless to interpret any happening as favorable or unfavorable; pleasant or unpleasant; or good or bad.

3) Soul remains unaffected by any happenings as it knows everything has a CAUSE which involves many factors visible or invisible, obvious or obscure; perceptible or imperceptible. It is like a drama which has so many factors gone into its making, and in which an individual actor has freedom only on perfecting his own role. It also knows that we do not have choice in many major things such as when and where to be born, what should be the shape of our body, color of our skin, sex, socio-economic-politico-environment we live in, behavior of our own beloved ones and friends, when and where to die … etc. whereas we have choice only on very minor things such as what to cook, eat, wear or what mode of transportation to use and so on.

Hence harmony with Soul means:
• Doing one’s duty silently and fully focused (whether others do or not, whether being watched or not) and also refusing to cooperate with others in their impure acts.
• Impartially observing all the happenings in one’s life—without interpreting them as good or bad.
• Remaining unaffected by all happenings in one’s life.

Harmony with NATURE

The third and the last entity with which one has to be in harmony is nature. What does harmony with nature mean? Here too, firstly know its make-up and then its style of functioning. The physical world is full of forms, which are made up of five basic elements:

Solid, water, fire, air, and space [which, despite their hostility to each other, work harmoniously for the sustenance of all beings—animate and inanimate]. The nature of what is formed is that it has to be INEVITABLY disintegrated some time later. Hence its style of functioning is that in nature, (1) things come into existence, (2) remain for a while and (3) disappear after some time. This is the reason why the ancient sages called the physical world as jagat (Sanskrit), which is a combination of first letters of three words—jayate (coming to existence), gachati (remaining for a while), tishtati (disappearing after some time), all of which indicate the TRANSIENT NATURE of world and things in it. This insightful term, jagat, indirectly teaches us that we should not cling on to what is transient, and if we do, we are bound to suffer. The more attached we are towards body, objects and relatives, the more miserable life will be. Because what it offers is “in truth, the source of misery” and would “appear as nectar in the beginning, but become poison in the end.” (Gita 5:22; 18:38) This is why Jesus started his famous Sermon on the Mount saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit (those with no sense of possession/attachment): for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Then he talked about making the purity and peace as one’s very basis, and finally the eternal benefits of serving the ULTIMATE BENEFACTOR, the Father in the Heavens. And he concluded his Sermon with this warning: “Everyone that hears these sayings of mine and does them not, shall be likened to a foolish man, which builds his house upon the sand (those who build their lives in body-consciousness). When the rain came, it fell.”—Matthew 5:3, 8, 9; 7:11, 26, 27.

Hence harmony with nature means accepting its transience (not arguing with it, asking why this is so or how that is so …), which involves the following responses:
• Welcoming what comes, or whatever happens in one’s life.
• Enjoying or loving what remains, or what the nature has allotted to one.
• Saying good-bye to what goes out or to the past.

Interestingly, living in harmony is always beneficial even in a lokik sense. When you wish to build a house with your hard-earned money, you try to be in harmony with as many things as possible. Because, you may have observed Government agencies demolishing certain newly-built houses as they are not in harmony with requirements. This may remind us an interesting paragraph in Spiritual Miscellany [page 602, BKIVV Publication] “the government generally has a Master Plan which shows which will be the residential area, which will be industrial or business area and where the green belts will be located. One will not be permitted if he plans to build a residential flat in a green belt. If he does, his newly built house will be razed to the ground by a bulldozer. Similarly, one will have only frustration as the results of one’s plans and actions if one does not keep it within the framework of God’s own plan which is for the benefit and welfare of the whole mankind. So one has to act in consonance [harmony] with it. In other words, one ought to know that, besides Shrimat (rules of conduct for yogi), there is also Shri-yojana or Divine Plan. So let us work as per His will according to the proverb “Man proposes, God disposes ” which is true only at this time, i.e. the Sangama Yuga, when God plans and works for the re-establishment of a new world order.”

Remember: you can have peace ONLY if you are in harmony with the above mentioned three RULING entities which are inseparable from your life: God, Soul, and the Nature. (Gita 7:29; 8:3) Contraction from or conflict with any or all of them means no peace. (Gita 5:21, 22) Peace is for those who take delight in God’s dictates (shrimat), not for those who engage in worthless activities, declares Bible also. (Psalm 1:2, 3; Isaiah 48:17, 18; 57:21) The time is fast approaching when God the Father is going to say: ‘Friends, move up to a better place.’ (Luke 14:10) Will you be there among that blessed group?

[This site can help you to find out, to your satisfaction, that Brahmakumaris measure up to the qualification Jesus mentioned in Mathew 5: 8, and 9: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”]

P Purity
E Enlightenment
A Action befitting that enlightenment
C Contentment resulting from such action
E Exit from false supports: Body, Assets, Relatives (Gita 18:66), which are symbolized by three lines of ashes on Shiva Linga.<

Personal Experience: Experiencing Brahma Kumaris by: T. D. Joseph, Bangalore, India

As noted before, there is a section for “personal experiences with the Divine” which is open to any creed, religion or philosophy. The aim is just to share with others that which has touched our hearts and many times cannot be “proven,” that which has made a difference in our lives. This is important for experiences are the basis of life as well as of spirituality.

Face to face with God’s people

Born and bought up in a pious catholic family, it was quite natural for me to become an altar boy first, and then to join the Seminary to become a priest. While I was continuing my studies in a Jesuit Seminary, back home something revolutionary was taking place: my mother started studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses [also known as WATCHTOWER SOCIETY, who study the Bilbe very deeply]. Each time I went home for vacation, she used to defeat me on Biblical subjects, and finally convinced me that only Jehovah’s Witnesses follow the Bible 100%. Eventually, I became one of Jehovah’s Witnesess in 1988. As my interest intensified, I took up their full-time ministry (what they call Special Pioneering). After two years, I was invited to their Branch Office in India to work as a Translator for their Magazines and books—which enabled me to delve deep into the Bible. It was surprising to read in the Bible that ‘true worship is based on REASON.’ (Romans 12:1) Obviously, Bible does not encourage anyone to accept any belief which does not appeal to his reason. I resolved to take only those beliefs which would satisfy my REASON. The first thing that struck me was Bible’s crystal clear teaching on Karma Principle.

Bible and Karma Principle

Reason suggests that spirtuality means living based on truth or ‘living out the truth’ (1 John 1:6). I was wondering why the Christians—including Jehovah’s Witnesses—do not take the Cause and Effect principle (the TRUTH behind all happenings) seriously. Science declares that “To every action there is ALWAYS an equal and opposite reaction.” Bible unequivocally states: “Whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7) “EACH of us will give an account of ourselves to God.” (Romans 14:12) Jesus simply underlined this great truth when he said: “STOP sinning or something worse may happen to you.” (John 5:14) Coversely, it implies: ‘START a life of purity, or a virtuous life, something better may happen to you.’ By this he clearly meant that man has to reap in proportion to what he sows—his good acts will bring good results, and his bad acts will bring bad results! Jesus was fully aware of the outworking of this (Karma) principle, hence declared John the baptist is the re-incarnation of Elijah. Yet Jesus knew that many will not accept this important teaching of Cause and Effect or its extention—teaching of REINCARNATION, hence presented this teaching with this introductory verse: “if you are willing to accept it,” and closed it with a dispassionate note: “Whoever has ears, let them hear.” (Matthew 11:14, 15) By saying them he put the truth of Karma or REINCARNATION beyond all disputes or arguments, and made individuals free to accept it regardless of their family beliefs or religious teachings.

Early Christians—including Church Fathers like Origen—believed in such a simple law of life, simple truth about man, that one must reap the consequences of his action immediately or later, in this life, or in the next. After all, it is not more surprising to have another birth than the present one. If this birth (which is a miracle) is possible, what is the difficulty for the same miracle to repeat itself? Not only our body (which is made up of billions of cells) is a miracle, but each cell, if seen enlarged, is also a miracle with facilities and arrangements within it like that of a country’s capital city. Yet, these cells appear, remain for sometime and disappear after a while, hence are completely replaced every seven years, says the science. This means if you are 50 years old, you have lived through 7 different bodies, and now you are in your 8th body—whether you are aware or not, whether you agree or not. What happens in seven year period happens at the close of one’s 70-80 years life-span also. Soul never stop existing—which makes it possible to reap what one sows. This knowledge would make every-one responsible-minded. Once convinced, one can never afford to engage in loose-conduct, presumptuousness or taking everything casually, but will act to the benefit of himself and others as he now knows that what he will receive what he gives. Cause and effect principle is one of the most important teachings of Brahma Kumaris, and they are very serious about it.

Bible also asks us to be proactive (not a passive listener) when it says: “Test everything. Hold on to what is good (originally kalos, Greek, meaning intrinsically good or fine).” This commandment, found in the Bible (1 Thessalonians 5:21), applies to all humanity as human’s nature is to use reason and to never be satisfied with what is available, but to search for better, best or fine, and to make continuous refinement. Man has obeyed this commandment in physical realm, with regard to his material comforts. That is why we have more and more sophisticated versions of cars, computers, mobile phones and the like than their first generation versions.

I thought of applying this commandment in spiritual realm, with regard to religious teachings. My graduation (Philosophy) and post-graduation (Yoga) subjects, and also my working with the Publishing Department of Jehovah’s Witnesses helped me to have a closer look at all major religions, and as a result I could pick up what is best in them. How nice it will be, I thought, to have a group of people practicing all these best things presently found scattered in all religions. I asked: will there be a group of people like that?

I was like a detective who is searching for a missing person holding his photo in his hand. Looking at the photo, it is very easy to identify the missing person even among a busy crowd. My picture of God’s people was:
-They should be connected to God directly.
-They should be serious about purity, practicing celibacy even among married couple.
-They should not dilute the principle of Karma (Cause and effect).
-They should give woman (man + womb is woman) a predominant role, not a secondary role.

I was searching. Then came a lead in the form of some CDs, entitled Life Skills by Sr. Shivani of Brahma Kumaris, which my wife got from her friend. And while discussing purity/celibacy, her well-thought out comment—our happiness/pleasure is not dependent on another person, and there is something called super-sensuous joy that can be obtained through Raja Yoga Meditation which will make any sense-derived pleasure too insignificant. This was a surprise to me to know that there is a group who, as a whole, practice celibacy. If that is the case, this group of people, Brahma Kumaris, is definitely worth examining, I reasoned and resolved.

This led into my wife and me taking up the seven-day course on Raja Yoga Meditation with Brahma Kumaris in Laggere (Peenya, Bangalore) in October 2011. As the course was progressing, it was surprise after surprise: I could see that whatever I thought as identifying marks of God’s people were there already with Brahma Kumaris, and even more features previously never thought of. The Sister, who took the course, explained that God’s promise to incarnate when “there is a decline of Dharm (Righteousness) and a predominance of Adharm (Unrighteousness),” found in Gita 4:7, has already been fulfilled in our generation among Brahma Kumaris, of course not in the sense of incarnation people in general understand it to be. In other words, God has already arrived, and He is using a corporeal medium and enlightening us with the deep mysteries of creation, and the art of living the new and pure Golden-aged life-style. When I sought some more clarification on this Gita verse, she gave me a book, entitled “THE TRUE ESSENCE OF SRIMAD BHAGWAT GITA” written by Raja Yogi B.K. Jagadish Chander Hassija.

Reading this book, for me, was like aviation fuel catching fire reducing all my doubts and confusion on Gita into ashes. It gave me clear understanding on God’s present day incarnation, proved God is not omnipresent using Gita verses themselves, and explained how to conquer vices—in such a simple way no one has done before, which was another surprise to me. On page 30 of the book, under the subject SOUL, it is lucidly explained that man is a soul, a divine being. When man falls from this soul-consciousness and thinks ‘I am this body,’ he “senses the distinction between the male and female, and this generates the SEXUAL DESIRE. Due to awareness of the body one senses the difference between one’s kith and kin and strangers, and this leads to ATTACHMENT; and attachment leads to GREED which, if not satisfied, causes ANGER. With acquisition of wealth and prestige, and the respect and admiration, which he is able to draw from others, all of which give rise to ARROGANCE.” This simple explanation of how evil originates helped me to realize how easy to conquer vices through a switch-over to soul-consciousness and to restore original purity.

Then came, the climax of all surprises: the cyclic explanation of history as repeating itself at every 5000 years of which the first half could be figuratively called as DAY and the other half as NIGHT, and now we are deep into the transitional stage (called the Confluence Age), and that Golden Age will become a reality here on earth very soon. Though difficult to accept in the beginning, on a second thought it made sense in view of the avalanche of proofs.

Look at the pillars of present world system: eventual deterioration is a fact of life. All religions started in brotherhood, but ended up being road-dividers. Hospitals came into existence to alleviate pain of the suffering mankind, but degenerated into money-making machine. How unselfish the politicians are when they start their career only to become a synonym for corruption in the end. Religions, hospitals and politics are part of history, and what is true of part is true of the whole. It is like the saying: what is in the micro is also in the macro and vice versa, or just as the structure of the atom reflects the structure of the universe and vice versa.

If man can develop bad qualities and go down into any extent, as witnessed in our generation with world wars, terrorism etc. doing harmful things in historic proportion, it is also possible to do the reverse—to behave befitting one’s own original nature—peace, love, bliss, knowledge, power and purity! This has been successfully proved among Brahma Kumaris as they are being taught DIRECTLY by God himself—a fact that I soon realized on associating with them.

I feel greatly honored to have come in contact with God’s people. I believe in their mantra: When I change, the world changes, and am determined to carry out my responsibility of becoming the change I want to see in the world, and helping others to do the same.

T. D. Joseph, Bangalore, India (tdjaumATgmail.com)