This short essay is a meditation on Vedantic Christianity, which is a recognition of the essential, mystical truth of Christianity and its perfect parallel in the spiritual system of Advaita Vedanta, inspired by the Great Swami Vivekananda and his masterwork of spiritual philosophy Jnana Yoga. In all my writings, I do not consider myself a teacher but merely an enthusiastic spiritual seeker who cannot but express the joy in my heart as I discover the Truth of Vedanta and mystical Christianity. As always, I am deeply indebted to the great living master of Advaita Vedanta that is Swami Sarvapriyananda and his many lectures on Youtube for awakening my spiritual hunger and teaching me what little I know about Vedanta.
11 In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, enslaved and free, but Christ is all and in all! (Colossians 3:11)
“He, the One, who vibrates more quickly than mind, who attains to more speed than mind can ever do, whom even the gods reach not, nor thought grasps, He moving, everything moves. In Him all exists. He is moving. He is also immovable. He is near and He is far. He is inside everything. He is outside everything, interpenetrating everything. Whoever sees in every being that same Atman, and whoever sees everything in that Atman, he never goes far from that Atman. When all life and the whole universe are seen in this Atman, then alone man has attained the secret. There is no more delusion for him. Where is any more misery for him who sees this Oneness in the universe?” ~ Swami Vivekananda, Jnana Yoga
Christ is all and in all! The Eternal Atman, the One, is outside everything, interpenetrating everything! How much in our lives would change if we truly internalized those spiritual facts!
See how close the pure heart of Christianity is to Vedanta! St. Paul was a pure mystic. He saw clearly that the deepest Truth of Christianity implies no division in the world of humanity. He saw clearly that Christness is not and was not localized to a single human man hailing from the small village of Nazareth 2,000 years ago and otherwise absent from the great, cosmic expanse of this universe. As Richard Rohr puts it, “Christ” was not the last name of some man named “Jesus” but rather a universal principle of divine incarnation.
The Word has become Flesh! Not “The Word has become a single guy from Nazareth 2,000 years ago.” No! The Word has become flesh itself and indeed does not and cannot exist separately from Flesh. They are One and the same expressions of a single underlying Absolute reality.
The Word is an expression of Oneness, a manifestation of the Infinite, of the Absolute, incarnated in the entire cosmos! This is what Richard Rohr calls the Universal Christ.
This conception of a Universal Christ is Pure Vedanta. And Vedanta is Pure Christianity. Swami Vivekananda said, “A true Christian is a true Hindu, and a true Hindu is a true Christian.”
They are one and the same for the essential spiritual conviction is the same: to see the divinity in the whole cosmos, from the lowliest amoeba in a mud puddle in the saddest, loneliest, most barren place on Earth to the highest exaltations of culture and philosophy! It is all the same. Darkness and light. Suffering and joy. The beggar and the rich person. Man and woman and everyone in between. All tribal differences become erased in the great universalizing spirit of Advaita Vedanta, which preaches the single, simple message that we are all One with Brahman, the Absolute, Existence-Consciousness-Bliss.
We are all expressions of the Absolute Oneness of reality! It is easy and natural to despair at the great morass of misery and suffering in the world, to see the world as twisted and tangled in evil and ignorance.
But when we truly and deeply internalize the Truth of Pure Christianity, Pure Vedanta, the scales fall off our eyes and we see that the Kingdom of Heaven is right here, right now, and the world becomes Divine. We see God in everything. We see everything as One.
That pain in my back? It is divine. That suffering in the death of my dearest loved one? It is divine. That corruption in the lowest of politicians and corporate cronies? It is divine. That missile aimed at the children’s hospital? The truest yet hardest message of spirituality is that this too is an expression of the Infinite.
Does this recognition of divinity in the suffering of the world mean we simply stop working towards the Good and just gawk at the manifest beauty of the world like small children unwilling to work towards making a difference? Far from it. The recognition of the inner divinity of humanity, good and evil, is the most powerful of motivators to work toward the overcoming of suffering and evil, for it makes the suffering intrinsic in the carrying out of the Great Work itself divine. True spirituality makes the pains of selfless, ethical action bearable.
What is a bit of sweat and toil and pain and hardship in service of the inner divinity of our fellow living beings? Compared to the Infinite glories of Absolute Oneness it is infinitesimally nothing!
Thus, Vedanta and Christianity are at their core practical spiritual philosophies. The true manifestation of the spiritual life is selflessness, which is the ground of all ethical behavior. For if you and your neighbor are but One single unitary divine reality, how easy it becomes to look past their annoying and frustrating behaviors and love them as a manifestation of divinity, to see Christ in them just the same as you see it in the sacred temples and churches.
Your neighbor becomes your temple. The Earth and all its beauty become your temple. The starry sky is your heaven. The soil beneath your feet becomes holy. The crawling worm becomes your Christ.
This vision is so beautiful but it is hard for the common person to realistically sustain in everyday life. As Swami Vivekananda points out, it is all mighty and fine to have these lofty ideals of divinity and Oneness, but when the jerk in traffic cuts you off, how quickly our temperature raises and we see him as pure evil!
This is why all the great spiritual masters have recommended the practice of spiritual discipline, either in prayer, meditation, selfless service to others, devotion, worship, mantra, etc, etc. It is this spiritual discipline, ingrained into our Soul lifetime after lifetime, that deepens and internalizes the ideals of religion into a true manifestation of ethical behavior rather than a dry intellectual belief system that vanishes into smoke the first time we are exposed to the slightest bit of real-world pressure.
This is why the Christs and Buddhas of the world are rare indeed. But what’s important is they show us clearly these ideals are possible to internalize and manifest truly in this life, as living, breathing, flesh and blood human beings. These great spiritual masters operate as symbolic models that it is possible to achieve true freedom from the delusive ignorance that sees the world in its totality as devoid of holy Oneness and that it’s possible to transcend the limitations of our fleshly nature.
But the first step on the spiritual path is to get a glimpse of the essential truth of Pure Christianity, Pure Vedanta, or whatever other pathways to the Infinite. Sri Ramakrishna said, “All religions are true. The important thing is to reach the roof. You can reach it by stone stairs or by wooden stairs or by bamboo steps or by a rope. You can also climb up by a bamboo pole.”
What is the goal? To see with utter conviction that all this suffering and contradiction and evil mixed up with goodness and pleasure and joy are all equal manifestations of the same underlying substrate of Divinity.
But what is this Divinity? Christianity calls it God. Vedanta calls it Existence-Consciousness-Bliss, or Brahman.
Both attempt to convey through the limitations of language the same essential idea: that of absolute unlimited Infinite Conscious Existence, unbounded by time, space, causation, finitude, completely unchanging, completely eternal, all-pervasive, universal, completely indivisible, beyond all predicates and attributions of properties, transcendental, unitary, pure, whole, holy, perfect, and the ultimate source of Illumination for the bright Light of Awareness we call Pure Consciousness.
Christ recognized that he was absolutely One with God. Vedanta preaches the same message: thou art that. This perfectly Pure Existence-Consciousness-Bliss that is the ontological ground upon which and through which all conscious experience and all existence are possible, is not a separate reality from the reality of your Self. Your Self and Brahman are one and the same reality, completely and perfectly identical in every possible respect.
That is one hell of a conclusion!
But it is True! Deeply and utterly true. And when we realize this Truth, internalize it, and manifest it in our lived experience we become utterly free from all limitation, free from birth and death and suffering. For how can we die if our Inner, Most True Self was never born? How can we suffer if our True Self is unchanging? How can we be set apart from Nature when we are perfectly One with all of existence?
This is the heart of Pure Christianity. Christ is all and in all. When we know that Truth in the core of our being we will find heaven on Earth.