THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST
The belief in Christ is in the church, the book of Christ is with the clergy, the spirit of Christ is in the illuminated soul. The spirit of Christ can be traced in Christ's own words where he said, `I am Alpha and Omega,' I am first and last. By this he meant, `I was before Jesus was born, and I shall be after Jesus has gone.'
`I am Christ' means `I am now, and I shall be till the end.' In this the Master identifies himself with that light of which we read in the Vedanta, and which existed thousands of years before Christ, the divine light which is recognized by the Sufis as the Spirit of Guidance, and which is also mentioned in the Qur'an. This light of Christ is symbolized by the lantern in the story of Aladdin, in the Thousand and One Nights. And it is this same light which the Hindu legend speaks of when it says that there exists a cobra with a light in its head, and when it searches for food takes that light in its mouth and by its illumination it can go about in the forest. It is the light of life of all men and all beings, seen and unseen. In reality it is the essence of light.
Where is this light to be found? It is to be found in the sun and in the higher intelligence; but this phenomenon of light occurs in all different forms. Even the spark that comes from the heart of the stone when it is struck represents the same light. Also the light that manifests in the blossoming of plants, in the ripening of fruit, in the light that we see on a moonlit night, and in the rising and the setting of the sun. It is all one and the same light manifesting from the unseen to the seen, yet existing in the unseen to a much greater extent than can be seen with our eyes.
One might ask why, if God is all-sufficient, should He have made the Christ Spirit? An example will explain this. A farmer wanted to go to a place, which was at a great distance from his farm. And he thought how during dark nights with storms and winds and fogs one very often loses the way. Therefore he made a lantern to light him in case there should be a dark night, so that it could guide him on the path. It was his creation; he made, he prepared the lantern for himself in order to be guided by it.
This creation is nothing but the manifestation of God, and man is the culmination of that manifestation. God did not make man as a carpenter makes a chair, for the carpenter uses wood, something different from himself, in order to make the chair. But God made man out of Himself; in other words God manifested as man, and in His manifestation the One has become many, the unity has become variety and has become a puzzle. Thus life on earth for man is in the first place a puzzle: he does not know where to go and where not to go, he does not know what to do and what not to do. From the beginning till the end he is puzzled as to what is right and what is wrong. The wiser a man becomes the more difficulties there are. This shows that there are storms and winds, mists and fogs on this life's path which his eyes do not see but which the soul experiences. And in order to make these difficult times easier, a lantern is given which is God's own spirit, and which He made for His creation in order that man may take this lantern to guide him on his path.
Not only human beings have this lantern, even beasts and birds have it. In herds of animals there is always one that guides them. In flocks of birds there is one that guides and sees from which way the wind blows. The one that leads knows which way to go and the other birds follow him. In India, a beautiful story is told about elephants, by those who live in the forest. They say that in a herd of elephants there is one which is the leader and takes the branch of a tree in its trunk and goes ahead examining the ground where it walks in order that those which follow may not fall into a ditch. It is also alert to the sound of gun and arrow, and detects any atmosphere, which may be unwholesome for elephants. But sometimes there is an unwilling elephant. It goes astray and is lost, and in order to catch it men dig pits in the ground so that when this lost elephant goes near one it may fall into it, and after two or three days they come and capture him.
This is a beautiful picture of the work of the Christ spirit. When one understands this one cannot blame those who say, `Christ is our Savior,' or, `Christ is our God.' They may not see what the Spirit of God is in our interpretation, but there is nothing wrong about it except that they do not know themselves what they are saying. If one sees divinity in Christ, there is nothing wrong about it. If divinity does not manifest through man, then where is it to be found? Is divinity to be found in the heavens alone? And if on the other hand someone else calls Christ man, he only raises the standard of man to the highest point; and in this there is truth also. Only , the two do not understand each other's meaning, and they each say that the other is wrong; and this arises because they do not believe that he who is often called Christ, the Savior, is in reality the savior spirit.
With elephants that savior spirit is the one that guides the herd; and a loving mother, a kind father, an innocent child, a helpful friend, and an inspiring teacher, all represent to a greater or lesser degree that savior spirit. The one who saves a man's life by jumping into the water does not do such a great work as the one who saves a soul who was groping in the darkness.
But then, one might say, what about the whole world, the whole humanity? Each soul is connected with the other, and there is not one soul, which does not undergo the influence of the whole cosmos, consciously or unconsciously. Every cell sooner or later has an effect upon the whole body. Therefore, if one looks at it rightly, there is no exaggeration in calling a liberated soul the Savior of the world; but if one only holds it as a belief, one does not know what it really means.
Naturally the liberated soul is like the living drop of blood. Scientists have discovered that blood transfusions can give new life.
A soul who has risen to great illumination can inspire and invigorate the whole of humanity, just as one powerful man can influence a whole nation. He is then called the man of the day, and he may have an influence, which can raise man to the height of heaven. If a material man can do this to the whole nation, why then should not a spiritual man have such an influence upon the whole world? Whether we recognize it or not, it does not matter. But there are souls in the world whose influence is greater than that of the so-called man of the day about whom so much is written in the newspapers.
If Christ existed before he was known as Christ, what was he? And if Christ will be after he has been known as Christ, what will he be? We are too limited as human beings to determine this; to try to do so would be nothing but folly. But at the same time, have we not known inspirers of humanity before Jesus? Have there not been prophets like Moses and Abraham and Zarathushtra, inspirers like Krishna and Buddha, whose influence has been felt all over the world? What were they? If truth is one, if wisdom is one, if human personality is one, if God is one, then what are they if not the same spirit? Those who saw them have called them Buddha or Krishna; but they were all one and the same, the same lantern, the same light although in different globes.
After they have gone the light comes in another form to illuminate humanity. Does not that light work in our everyday life? In our deepest distress, in our greatest confusion, a friend, a relation, or a teacher comes and tells us something he himself does not know to be the message of wisdom. And sometimes it comes in such a queer way; perhaps in the form of a change, and we do not understand from whence it comes, so that we do not even believe it. But at the same time the inner guidance comes just at the moment when we have need of it. It comes perhaps from an innocent child, the word that is the message of God. For the light is hidden.
Those who say that after Jesus Christ they have not seen the light being kindled any more, limit Christ. Those who see the Christ spirit in all the various globes which are the light, they are the ones who really see Christ.
Christ identified himself with the Spirit of Guidance instead of with the personality, which was known as Jesus. And people have limited that divine wisdom, that Spirit of Guidance, to the personality, which came as Jesus. And they forgot that he himself said, `I am Alpha and Omega,' which means all the prophets and seers who came before Jesus whether it were Abraham or Zarathushtra or Buddha or Krishna. He identified himself with them. That is why he said he had not come to give a new law, but to fulfill the law, by which he also indicated that the guidance would continue afterwards. It was really a declaration of that identity in which Jesus lived, but not that in which the people recognized him.
Jesus Christ also said to some, `I will come,' and to others, `The son of man will come.' It was one answer to two mentalities: to the souls who could recognize his identity he said, `I will come,' and to those who could not realize his real identity he said `Someone else will come; whenever wisdom is lost, Christ will come.' The real meaning of this is, `I will come in another form, which is myself just the same.' It is a puzzle of words only for those who want to puzzle themselves. For those who wish to get out of the maze it is easy and simple. But human nature enjoys complexities and prefers to make the truth as difficult as possible.
Hazrat Inayat Khan
Hazrat Inayat Khan was a Sufi teacher from India who started "The Sufi Order in the West" (now called the Sufi Order International) in the early part of the 20th century.