AVATARA • INCARNATION
BY: SADHU SUNDAR SINGH
From: Wisdom of the Sadhu: Teachings of Sundar Singh.
Seeker: Sadhu-ji, I see that you live in deep inner peace, and I, too, long to find this peace. Can we imperfect mortals ever hope to experience true oneness with God?
Sadhu: We all have a natural, inborn desire to see God. But God is infinite and incomprehensible. No one can see God without being of the same infinite nature as God. We are finite, and so we cannot see God. But God is love. He is also the source of our craving to know and love him. Out of this love God took on a form that is comprehensible to us mortal beings. Through this act of love we can now share in the joy of the angels by seeing and knowing God directly. This is why the Master said: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”
God knows well the inner state of every human being and reveals himself to each heart in accordance with its needs. There is no better way for a person to enter true spiritual life than by encountering God directly. God became man and dwelt among us so that we might not fear him as something terrible and foreign, but instead see that God is love.
Seeker: I can understand that the infinite God is incomprehensible to us mortals. I can also understand that the power, or spirit of God, is at work around us. But how can this God be a man as well? This seems impossible.
Sadhu: The Almighty God and God Incarnate and God the Spirit are one. In the sun, there is heat and light and they are all one. But the heat is not the light and the light is not the heat. So it is with God. The Master and the Spirit both proceed from the Father to bring light and heat to the world. God the Spirit is fire that burns away all evil, making our hearts pure and holy. The Master is the true light that drives out all darkness and leads us to bliss along the path of truth. Yet all three are one, just as the sun is one.
Seeker: Tell me more about this Master of yours. Did he write down instructions for us to follow like other religious teachers?
Sadhu: The Master never wrote anything down, nor did he ask his followers to record his teachings. His words are spirit and life. Spirit can only infuse spirit. Life can only infuse life. The Master’s teaching cannot be contained on the pages of a book. Other great teachers left behind books to replace the living voice, to guide and help their bereft followers. But the Master did not do this, because he has not left us. He is always with us, and his living voice guides and counsels us. His followers recorded his teachings after his ascension as a help to those who cannot yet perceive his living presence. In the end, however, when people ask me, “What made you a follower of the Master?” I can only answer: the Master.
Seeker: But don’t your scriptures reveal the truth about God?
Sadhu: They reveal much to us about the life and teachings of the Master and about the nature of God’s love. God the Spirit is the true author of the Bible, but this does not mean that every word, taken on its own, is holy or inspired. It is not the words in themselves, but rather the meaning that is inspired. The language used by those who wrote the books of the Bible was the language of everyday, not the language of spirit. Only when we make direct contact with the author, that is, with God the Spirit, can the meaning become clear. Just as many do not understand the Master, so too, they can not understand his words.
Seeker: I want to believe the truth of what you say, for I see its fruits in the peace you experience, but it is difficult for me to understand or accept.
Sadhu: God has created us with spiritual faculties and powers, but these must be used or else they will decay and be lost. Faith must be fixed on the living God or else irreverence and sin will rule; they will lead to doubt and ultimately destroy all faith.
Sometimes people say that they are ready to believe in God if only this or that doubt is removed or satisfied. Can one go to a doctor and ask that the pain of a broken arm be removed before the bone is set? This would be ridiculous because the pain is the result of the break. Once the limb has been set, the pain will pass away by itself. Doubts are spiritual pains that arise from our sin. Irreverence has broken our spiritual oneness with God. We must first restore spiritual union with God; then doubts with regard to the existence of God or the divinity of the Master will disappear on their own. Only then will the pain fade. Only then will we experience the wonderful spiritual peace that the world can neither give nor take away. The Master reveals God to us so that the union between God and us sinful humans might be restored. He has opened the way for us to enter his heavenly realm. Whoever sincerely seeks truth with an open heart will find it revealed in the Master.
We do not need knowledge of Hebrew or Greek, but we do need to be united with the Spirit. This Spirit guided the prophets and followers who recorded his words, and this spirit alone can reveal their true meaning to us. The language of the Master is spiritual, and we can only understand its meaning if we are awake in spirit. We do not need to know or understand anything about theological questions or criticisms. Indeed, a child can most readily grasp the Master’s teaching, for the child is still united with the spiritual world from which it came. But those who possess wisdom that is only of this world can never understand, for the Master’s spirit is not in them.
Seeker: If sin and irreverence have broken our relationship with God, then can’t we restore it simply by leading a righteous life?
Sadhu: A cobra remains a cobra, no matter how many times it sheds its skin. There was once a village girl who daily dusted the cobwebs from her house. Once as she was doing this, she also prayed, “O God, as I am cleaning this room, please also cleanse my heart.” Then she heard a voice saying: “Daughter, you will have to cleanse the room again and again as long as the spiders remain. It is better that you drive the spiders from your house.” But she was not able to drive them out because they were hidden from her and too clever to be caught. Likewise, we see the signs of sin in our lives and struggle against them, but only God can remove the roots of sin from our souls.
Some moral teachers and many religious leaders say, “Do good works and you will become good people.” It is absurd to suggest that a bitter tree will become sweet by constantly bringing forth fruit. A bitter tree can only become sweet by being grafted onto a sweet tree. The life and qualities of the sweet tree can then flow with its sap into the bitter tree, driving out all its inherent bitterness. In this way the tree becomes a new creation, capable of bearing sweet fruit.
We may well have the longing to do what is right, but everything we do is corrupted, tainted by our own selfishness and sin. Only if we recognize our sinfulness, as well as our inability to do what is right, and turn to the Master who grafts us onto himself, do we become new creations. Only then are we capable of doing good works. So I say, “First become good, and then you can perform good deeds.”
Once a young man fell over a cliff. By the time he was rescued he had lost so much blood that he was almost dead. His father rushed him to a doctor, but the doctor said: “He will certainly die, unless someone can be found who is willing to provide enough blood for a massive transfusion.” Now the father’s heart overflowed with such love for his son that he offered his own blood, though he knew it would cost him his own life. So by the sacrificial love of his father, the young man was given new life. We, too, have fallen headlong from the mountain of righteousness and lie broken and wounded by sin, with our life fast ebbing away. But if we turn to the Master, he freely gives us his spiritual blood so that we might be saved from death and regain life. Indeed, he came to us for this very purpose.
INCARNTION [Sadhu Sundar Singh] 1