Does Everyone Have a Cross to Bear?Feb 27, 2019
Now coming to the next and still greater mystery of the cross: this mystery can be seen in the life of the messengers, the prophets and holy beings. In the first place no one has entrance into the kingdom of God, into the abode of God, who has not been so crucified as I have said just now.
There is a poem by the great Persian poet Iraqi in which he tells, ‘When I went to the gate of the divine Beloved and knocked at the door, a voice came and said – Who art thou?’ When he had told, ‘I am so and so’, the answer came, ‘There is no place for anyone else in this abode. Go back to whence thou hast come’. He turned back and then, after a long time, after having gone through the process of the cross and of crucifixion, he again went there – with the spirit of selflessness. He knocked at the door; the word came, ‘Who art thou? ‘, and he said, ‘Thyself alone, for no one else exists save Thee’. And God said, ‘Enter into this abode for now it belongs to thee’. It is such selflessness, to the extent that the thought of self is not there, it is being dead to the self, which is the recognition of God.
One finds this spirit to a small extent in the ordinary lover and beloved, when a person loves another from the depth of his heart. He who says, ‘I love you but only so much, I love you and give you sixpence but I keep sixpence for myself, I love you but I stand at a distance and never come closer, we are separate beings’ – his love is with his self. As long as that exists, love has not done its full work.
Love accomplishes its work when it spreads its wings and veils man’s self from his own eyes.
That is the time when love is fulfilled, and so it is in the life of the holy ones who have not only loved God by professing or showing it, but who have loved God to the extent that they forgot themselves. It is that state of realization of being which can be termed a cross.
Then such souls have a cross everywhere; every move they make is a cross, a crucifixion. In the first place, living in the world, a world full of falsehood, full of treachery, deceit and selfishness, every move they make, every act they perform all they say and think, prove that their eyes and hearts are open to something else than that at which the world is looking. It is a constant conflict. It is living in the world, living among people of the world and yet looking at a place different from that which the world sees. If they tried to speak they could not. Words cannot express the truth; language is too inadequate to give a real conception of the ultimate truth.
As it is said in the Vedanta, and as it was said in ancient times, the world is maya. Maya means something unreal, and to these souls the world becomes most unreal as soon as they begin to see the real, and when they compare the world with this reality it seems even more unreal. No one in the world can imagine to what an extent this world manifests itself to their eyes.
Think of people who are good – yet not having arrived at spiritual perfection – who are sensitive, tender and kind, and see how the world treats them, how they are misunderstood. See how the best is taken by the selfish, how the generous one has to give more and more, how the one who serves has to serve more and more, and still the world is not satisfied. He who loves has to love more and more, and the world is not satisfied. How jarring life is to these!
Then think of those who have arrived at such a stage of realization that there is a vast gulf between the real and the unreal. When they arrive at that realization their language is not understood; they are forced to speak in a language which is not their own and to say something different from what they are realizing. It is more than a cross. It is not that Jesus Christ alone had a cross, but every teacher who has a portion of the message has a cross.
But then you may say, ‘The masters of humanity who have come at all times and had such a cross to bear, why did they not go to the forests, to the caves, to the mountains, why did they stay in the world?’
There is a beautiful picture that Rumi has made. He tells why the melody of the reed flute makes such an appeal to your heart. It is, he says in his poetry, because first it is cut away from its original stem, then in its heart holes are made and, since the holes have been made in the heart, the heart has been broken and it begins to cry. So it is with the spirit of the messenger, with the spirit of the teacher: by bearing and by carrying his cross his self becomes like a reed, hollow. There is scope for the Player to play his melody when it has become nothing; then the Player takes it to play his melody. If something was still there the Player could not use it.
God speaks to everyone, not only to the messengers and teachers. He speaks to the ears of every heart, but it is not every heart which hears it. His voice is louder than the thunder, and His light is clearer than the sun – if one could only see it, if one could only hear it. In order to see it and in order to hear it man should remove this wall, this barrier which he has made of the self. Then he becomes the flute upon which the divine Player may play the music of Orpheus which can charm even the hearts of stone; then he rises from the cross into the life everlasting.
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