Listener: Sir I have heard or maybe read somewhere that you are a Christian, is that right?
Acharya Prashant: I love Jesus, l love Krishna, I love Buddha, they are all wonderful. There is no doubt that there is a lot about me which is Christian. I won’t even say Christian, I would say – in tune with Christ, in accordance with Christ, in love with Christ. Obviously I do not follow the way of life suggested by the Church. So going by rituals and organized conduct, there is hardly anybody who would call me a Christian, but essentially if a Christian is one who loves Christ then I am absolutely a Christian.
You know what I love about the Christ the most, you would be surprised – His words are wonderful, his short life was glorious but what I like the most about him is that he was a very handsome young man. Obviously all we have is images of his physical form but I am so sure that he would have been one hell of a beautiful man. In fact a lot of my students are in there 20’s and I often quote ‘Jesus on the Cross’ to them as a perfect example of what vigorous youth is like, what is means to be fully young. To me Jesus epitomizes the fullness of life, the rebellion of a young man. He is absolutely lovable.
L: Sir I heard you saying that Jesus was like a river, calm and flowing but I have never seen you behaving sweetly with your students or the audiences, you look a bit tough on them though.
AP: I love my audiences too much to be sweet with them.
L: Sir I have barely seen you talking about Prophet Mohammad. Do you promote his teachings?
AP: Yes of course. We organize learning camps in which we take up holy texts from all ages, all parts of the world, all traditions, all religions, saints, prophets, philosophers, theologians, teachers. We have taken up Prophet Mohammad as well. We have talked on him. Few of my good friends, good students are devout Muslims.
You see when you are immersed in the essence of what the teacher has said then it really happens, I am not speaking from theory, it really happens that you see the great convergence in the words of all saints and all prophets. In fact that is an exercise that I actively encourage my students to take up. This exercise goes like this – Take up three excerpts from three very different scriptures and show that they are all pointing towards the same. So one could take up Lao Tzu, Meera Bai and Saint Francis. Small excerpts from all three and find that all of them, being hundred of years and thousands of miles apart, are still saying the same thing.
Or one could take up Jesus, Farid and the Upanishads and find that they are all converging, and that is such an enabling exercise. You know the student does not even come to know how much he has learnt. To see that all the flowerings are drawing their nourishment from the same route is to really reach the essence of God. Often it happens that one gets stuck at the prophet and does not reach God but when you see that all prophets are, in their own way — and remember I must also add that the ways of all prophets will be limited ways — their ways will be limited by their personality, by their situations, by the environment of their times, by their education, by everything that goes along with living like a person.
So their ways will be very limited. But one cannot be looking only at his words or his actions, one has to go deeper than that with great closeness, with great love. Instead of having the attitude to find a fault one has to figure out, if it doesn’t resonate with the truth it probably couldn’t be what he said, and the moment you say that immediately the real meaning opens up.
Yesterday when we were with “The Sermon on The Mount” there was this thing by Jesus on divorced women and it is very easy to misinterpret it, it is very easy to trace misogyny in it. But if you are in love with Jesus then you will know that someone like him can never say anything that is not befitting the standards of the absolute and then the moment you say that the real meaning opens up and the real meaning is stark and beautiful.
In fact then you are left wondering that could this beauty have been possible had Jesus expressed it any differently. Then you also know why it has been expressed in a cryptic way because only in that cryptic way does the meaning present itself, open itself up so nicely, so eloquently. So same with prophet Mohammad, a lot of what he said can be taken as pedestrian or violent. That can be very easily done. But one has to go to him with love, with a certain consideration, with a remembrance that Arabia of his time was actually a very violent place, that very prophet operates with a set of external conditions and hence his words must be taken in that regard, and then you will find a totally different man talking. You will feel good about that man.
L: When I read Quran, it’s not very easy.
AP: Yes, I agree with that.
L: Sir I am also very cryptic about the books of Christianity..
AP: All the books. It is not only about the books of Muslims or books of Christianity, even in the Upanishads there are many utterances and the Upanishads are supposed to be very dialectic. They were meant to be instruments of teaching. But even in them, there the discourses are supposed to be the purest because it is just the conversation between the teacher and a student, even there you will find things that are quite baffling. Sometimes you have to ignore them, sometimes you have to say that why must I be too interested in this, let me flip another page and move there.
L: Jesus was very courageous.
AP: Yes of course, he is so much like a hero from a novel or a movie. You see, why I like him as a young man, the substance is there and the style.
L: Even if we chase pleasure, we suffer. Even if we chase Truth or God we Suffer. In both the ways we suffer
AP: These are two different kinds of sufferings. There is one suffering that you get when you chase pleasure. It is that first type of suffering, man made. Then there is another suffering that you get when you chase Truth. In either case you’ll suffer, whether you chase pleasure or whether you seek Truth. Choice is yours, which suffering do you prefer. If you chase pleasure you’ll suffer and if you seek Truth then too you’ll suffer. But in these two types of suffering there will be a qualitative difference. Which one do you want? Suffer you would, that is inexorable. Now which kind of suffering do you want?
L: Sir, Truth doesn’t bring pleasure?
One day I tried lodging a formal complaint, “Why don’t Truth come along with pleasure?” He said, “I am so big and pleasure is so small then how can I come riding pleasure.” I said, “Alright! why can’t pleasure comes riding you?” He said, “I am an absolute solvent, when pleasure comes riding me he gets dissolved in me.”
So, Truth and pleasure do not go together.
L: Sir what about joy?
Joy is for men and pleasure is for kids. Joy is only for those who can handle it. Joy is the pleasure that you get when your heart is being stabbed. It is a pleasure but that kind of a pleasure, only real men can take it. Pleasure is the pleasure of toys, pleasure is the pleasure of kids. Joy is the pleasure of taking it on your chest. Joy is the biggest pleasure.
That was joyous moment (pointing towards the moment when Jesus was crucified). That is the perfect expression of Joy. How else can a mortal body take it. One small pin, if it penetrates the skin, you know how we require it, don’t we and here you have thick ones which are all over your body and then you are carrying it on your back. How else do you think you can live through all this and no grudge, no complaint?
L: Sir, Christians believe that they are responsible for the suffering of the Christ.
AP: Christians unnecessarily blame themselves for the condition of Christ. Christ was joyful. You don’t need to think that you brought suffering to him. Nobody can bring suffering to Christ. Christ is so joyful that he chooses suffering.
L: When Jesus told one of his disciples that what’s going to happen to him then the disciple was suffering to the fact that Jesus is going to die then Jesus said to him that why you are attached to the body, the flesh. You don’t understand what I have been teaching all time.
AP: In that sense Judas was no sinner, “I am just helping you meet your destiny.”
-Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity
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