Symbols of the world's religions



Elizabeth Patterson

Love is as you experience it. Love varies in degree, and the ultimate final state is union with God.

Meher Baba in His "Sayings" has stated: "True love means the dedication of one's self or the complete surrender of one's self to the Beloved. It seeks the happiness of the Beloved without the least thought of obtaining happiness from the Beloved."

There is little question that most of us desire love for the sake of our own happiness, at least indirectly. Yet we might pause to consider that our fountains of inspiration — the great love poems of the ages, the great music which throughout all time has inspired love, the rare expressions in art that have stimulated the heart of multitudes — would in most instances never have been created if the artists had fulfilled their own earthly happiness. The background of the artist's life is usually one of unsatisfied longing. It is the very difficulty of the attainment of true love that, like the ever receding "Holy Grail," lures the soul from profound depths to ever greater heights. The heart that love has carved deep can contain greater and greater love. The bliss of God is a state beyond the dual action of experiencing love, for it is its very Source. The final state has been intimated by Christ in His words: "I and My Father are one."

Love often stirs the heart through a little thing in life, and at the same time has the possibility to end with the greatest thing in life. As much as we all desire love, it is rare to find one soul who dares even the thought of its ultimate completion, rising above all duality and play of opposites to become truly One through God-realization. The personification of Divine Love on earth is the God-Man, who is Love, Lover and the Beloved.

Mystics of all faiths in every land have sought God with intensity of longing. Fervor is invariably a quality of these lovers of God. Rare souls among them who arrived at sainthood, that beatific stage where God is seen face to face, have left to mankind a rich heritage of inspiration and experience which was their inner life. Churches or mosques or temples have claimed their remains after they passed away, and canonized them within the fold, though during their lifetime these ardent, unbounded saints rarely fitted into the pattern of creeds. Mostly they lived apart and sought God through intimate experience of Divine Love which overflowed into their everyday living, and which could not be circumscribed by convention or formalism. They wanted God more than man. They wanted God more than their very lives. They sought and found Him through various paths; but the blessed experience of Divine Love was the same.

If it chanced that these saints possessed the spirit of evangelism, their very fervor and extremity of vision drove more people from them than ever were turned into followers during their earthly life. Of St. Francis of Assisi, we are told that his love embraced all creatures; and one day when the human listeners turned away from his sermon, leaving him all alone, he preached to the birds of the air and these sensitive feathered creatures were irresistibly drawn to him. Even of Christ, the Master, we are told by St. John: "Many therefore of His disciples, when they had heard, said, 'This is a hard saying; who can hear it?' From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more."

The greatest of iconoclasts were never the heretics of the accepted order; they were such as Christ, Krishna, Buddha, Zoroaster, Mohammed; and they functioned within the religion of their respective birth. From them dates the passing of the old order. The message of love proves ever the great emancipator. New religions arose only after these great living exponents of their own teachings had departed from earthly existence. Even scriptures were set down oftentimes by disciples after the Master's mission was finished on earth. No external religious form took place during their lifetime. Their own spiritually perfect being was the very temple of God.

From time to time in the history of religions there have been revivals when man asserted his right to know God for himself and demanded his own experience uncircumscribed by rites and creeds. No amount of persecution could dim such fervor, and only when the experience ceased to be direct and intimate did the wave subside.

Religion itself is inspired from the living example on earth of God as man. God the abstract can be worshipped from afar, prayed to, meditated or pondered upon; but when Divine Love awakens the heart the affections become concentrated and objectified. God the Beloved has ever appeared in the form of a Savior. He who, like Christ, has become one with God is God-Man.

Every religion has its man who is not only of God, but is God. To the believers He is the true manifestation of God on earth. Despite the insistence on their own avataric manifestation, these great religions all foretell the return to earth of God as man. The "second coming" is a part of every faith, even the more primitive ones. Many Christians today are given reason to think that St. Mark's prediction is near its time of fulfillment. "But in those days ... after the tribulation ... then shall they see the Son of man."

How can we recognize the true Messiah? This has been many times asked of Meher Baba. In a series entitled Questions and Answers, Meher Baba has replied: "The feeling and inspiration for things sublime, and Divine Love, are imparted by a real Messiah to anyone who comes in contact with Him. A false Messiah cannot do this. Through His Divinity the true Messiah gradually attracts the world to Himself, and the people come to know and feel that He is real. The knowledge and feeling of confidence in His words and works grow gradually into certainty, and masses follow Him drawn by an irresistible force. A mirage attracts the thirsty, but soon it is discovered to be an illusion and not the life-giving water. A false Messiah may attract the attention of the people through outward appearances, by force of personality, or by intellectual dissertations about spirituality; but he cannot do that which the true Messiah can do, i.e., arouse the highest ideals in men and touch the hearts of millions."

Should we be among those seekers of Truth who look for, or accept, a new manifestation of the Divine One on earth? How best can we receive and serve Him? Following the path of Divine Love has ever been advocated in scriptures. The way has been expressed by Christ in the words: "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another, as I loved you." The Master drew mankind through His personal example of all-compassionate Love, yet He did not make it easy to follow Him. He enjoined those who would follow to "leave all." Christ said: "He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he that taketh not his cross and followeth after Me is not worthy of Me."

To follow a Master has ever required complete detachment. Many centuries before Christ, Krishna said words to this effect: "One who is never affected by circumstance, one who is calm in all trials, who no one else's moods or behavior upsets, one whose faith is never shaken, one who is cheerful even in the jaws of death — such a one only is worthy of loving Me."

An ancient tale which illustrates love for the Master as the way of attainment has been related by Meher Baba: "In Rama's time a yogi once did penance for one hundred years. There was another man who loved the Master. He did no penance, no limiting. He only loved Rama. One day the Master went walking in the jungle. The first yogi opened his eyes and said to him, 'Oh, Rama, when will I see your formless face?' Rama replied, 'In fifty years.' The yogi was frightfully disappointed and said, 'I made penance for one hundred years and I suffered much, and still fifty years to wait!'

"The next day the Master accosted the happy devotee, and this loving one asked, 'Oh, Rama, when will I see your formless state?' Rama replied, "After fifty more lives.' The devotee said, 'So soon!' And thereupon he got into such an ecstasy that he died; and as he was dying he saw Rama's formless state." Concluding, Baba added: "Love is the very essence of Godhood."

Meher Baba has declared: "The highest state cannot be explained or expressed in words; thought cannot grasp it; the mind cannot know it. It is the state of the soul beyond the mind — it can be understood only when experienced. I can make you experience it by making you realize it."


TREASURES, pp. 3-7, ed. Jane B. Haynes
1980 © Meher Spiritual Center, Inc.


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