MOKSA – RELEASE
BY: SADHU SUNDAR SINGH
Excerpted from Wisdom of the Sadhu, available FREE in e-book format
Seeker: Sadhu-ji, you say that our sinfulness has separated us from God and yet our destiny is to live in oneness with him. How can we overcome the separation?
Sadhu: First, we must see that we have become unclean through our own sinfulness. We may try to cover this sinfulness with good works, but our good works are like dirty rags unless our hearts are cleansed first. When Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit and were ashamed at their own nakedness, they tried to cover themselves with fig leaves. But fig leaves were too scanty a covering, so God gave them coats of skins to clothe themselves. Our attempts at good deeds are not enough to overcome our sinful inclinations. Nothing will protect us except the robes of righteousness the Master freely gives us.
Many of us have learned by bitter experience that our own efforts at goodness can give us neither peace of heart nor certainty of eternal happiness. When a rich young man approached the Master and asked how he might gain eternal life, he said, “Good Master!” and the Master rebuked him saying: “Why do you call me good? There is no one good except One.” This young man had lived a devout life in accordance with religious law, but he lacked true peace of heart. The Master could see that he wanted to be good and upright, but he failed to recognize that the Master himself was the source of life. When the Master offered no rules or commandments and instead offered him the chance to give away all his possessions to the poor, to abandon his inner uncertainty and to enter into the Master’s company, the man went away sad and unfulfilled.
If good works and religious observance had given the young man spiritual peace, he would not have sought out the Master in the first place. Not only did his moral efforts fail to give him peace, they hindered him from accepting the Master’s offer. Not long afterward, an equally zealous man named Saul encountered the Master. Unlike the rich young man, Saul immediately left everything, gave up all he had and followed him. Everyone who ceases to trust in human goodness, and turns to the Master for release, shall receive true peace and spiritual life.
Seeker: Does God really forgive us for what we have done wrong? Is this what you mean by salvation or release?
Sadhu: God is love and forgives us freely. But God does even more than this. Forgiveness alone is not enough to release us from our sins. Complete release only comes when we are free from the urge to sin. It is completely possible for us to receive forgiveness and still die from the consequences of our sin. The Master came not only to announce our forgiveness, but also to deliver us from the disease of our sin, from its consequences and from death – to break the relentless cycle of sin and death.
Consider the man who suffered from a debilitating disease of the brain. At times it would cause him to act irrationally and unpredictably. Under the influence of one such attack, he unwittingly struck out and killed another man. At trial, he was sentenced to death. But when his relatives appealed for mercy and explained the medical reasons for his temporary insanity, the governor granted clemency and pardoned him. But before his friends and relatives reached the prison to share this good news, the man had died as a result of his illness. So he gained nothing from the governor’s pardon. Quite apart from the pardon, he needed treatment for his disease. Only then might he have lived to enjoy his release.
It is treatment we need, not just forgiveness. In ancient times, religious law forbade people to drink the blood of animals or to eat certain foods. These customs undoubtedly arose from the belief that such foods caused certain illnesses or, perhaps, that they would foster some savage animal behaviour. The Master has said, “My flesh is food indeed and my blood is drink indeed,” for they provide spiritual health and life.
Seeker: This teaching is hard. Who can accept it?
Sadhu: After the children of Israel fled slavery in Egypt, they lost faith in God and grumbled about all they had to endure. Things became much worse when they came to a place infested with poisonous snakes, where many were bitten and died. Then the people were sorry for their grumbling, and they asked Moses to pray to God for relief from the snakes. Moses prayed and was directed in a vision to make a snake of bronze and set it high on a pole. Anyone who was bitten had only to look upon the bronze snake, and the poison of the snakebite was made harmless.
Now, there were some who still grumbled and murmured, “If Moses would provide an antidote or some medicine against the poison, that we could believe, but what effect can a bronze snake have on real snake bites?” So in their unbelief, they refused to turn to the bronze snake, and they died. In the same way, the Master provides release from the deadly poison of sin if we turn to him in faith. Those who refuse to believe because they cannot understand the work of the Master with their minds will perish. But they will perish from the poison of their own unbelief.
Remember that the heart, not the head, is the temple of God. Spiritual and religious ideas are matters of the heart – not the head. If our hearts are filled with the presence of God, then our minds will also find enlightenment. Our physical eyes are useless, unless the light of day illuminates the world around us. Similarly, our minds and the eyes of our understanding are useless without the spiritual light of truth. The wisdom and understanding of the mind can easily be turned to clever instruments of evil if they are not subjected to the light of spiritual truth.
The Wise Men followed the star to Bethlehem. But when they reached Bethlehem, they no longer needed the star, for they had found the Master, the sun of righteousness. When the sun rises, stars lose their radiance. In India we have many genuine truth seekers who faithfully follow their star, but it is only starlight that guides them. In the Master we have the glory of the sun.
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