Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Yoga of the Christ

Ravi Ravindra's commentary 'The Gospel of St John in the Light of Indian Mysticism' is a beautiful and challenging text.

Reading it on the plane to and from Dubai, I was struck first by how much of my presumed familiarity with the Gospel was imagined. A handful of key texts resonated with memory but many came upon me as if I have never encountered them before (that cannot be true as I have read the Gospel several times from beginning to end).

Like any re-reading, the reader, I, am different and so you notice the familiar differently and highlight different things.

This time I was struck by the compelling account it gives of how we fail to recognise what is in front of us both because it does not accord with our expectations and because it enthusiastically over supplies our expectations.

Running throughout the Gospel is a narrative about how Jesus the Christ fails to meet the religious establishment's assumptions about who the expected Messiah should be and how the populace, hooked on signs and wonders, greet him as their wish fulfilment. Both are to be radically disappointed as Jesus the Christ is offering the hard, interior, way of dying to the everyday, self-centred ego and being now empty being re-born from above, from the entry of the Spirit that saves.

The interior way does not meet the earnest and subsequently angry superficiality of both the religious traditionalists and the crowd and both conspire together to eliminate the troubling offering of a different, more arduous, way.

What is so striking about the Gospel is how few choose to take that way - of dying to self so that they can be re-born, like Lazarus, from the dead.

We are happy to worship the cross just as long as we do not have to take the way of the cross for ourselves.

It, also, gives the most compelling argument for why the current rush to reinforce legislation protecting people's religious feelings are so antithetical to Christianity as they were the very laws that, in first century Palestine, led the religious authorities to crucify one particularly offensive subversive and blasphemer namely Jesus!

It is not our 'religious feelings', usually as disorganised and fragile as any other kind, that should be trusted as a test of the authenticity of a sacred message. We need to have a gathered and co-ordinated intelligence, quiet discrimination and an enabling response that reflects true compassion to pass judgement on any truth (or its absence).

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