By Fred Pruitt
Jacob Boehme, a German mystic in the early 1600s, wrote that a true Christian has no sect, and his church is within him wherever he goes. It's always Sunday, and he carries his priest and sacrament within him.
Mohandas Ghandi, at least in the movie, when rushed by enraged Hindus shouting out about the injustice and violence they had received from rioting Muslims, became agitated with those of his own profession, and told them he was a Muslim, AND a Christian, AND a Hindu.
A man of God (and I speak without reference to physical gender) walks in the peace of God. The peace of God is the Eternal Presence, undeterminable by our senses, but which is nevertheless the center of our Being.
And walking in that "peace" is what Boehme was talking about, and at least in some sense what Ghandi was trying to portray to his followers. The Eternal Internal, truly has no sect. It has nothing to do with what church we go to, what our doctrinal positions are, what country we live in, what our political affiliations or opinions are, what we do for a living or how much money we make. It doesn't even have anything to do with what "religion" we belong to.
It simply has to do with one thing, and one thing only. Is the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us?
What is the determining criteria for this?
Jesus was pretty harsh about people professing His name.
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." (Matt 7:21)
That's pretty harsh, and is somewhat "anti-Pauline" if you get right down to it. He seems to be saying that it matters what we DO.
We must come to the place where we don't "just" hear the Word of God. We aren't given the Word to just titillate our senses with wonderful ideas and philosophies. We are meant to move into the Word of God (the Living Christ, the Logos, the Universal One, I AM, the Eternal Internal) not just as a nice set of ideas or a belief-system that we have written down in our course syllabus, but as our Living Inward Reality, the Actual Sustenance on which we feed every moment of our existence.
Anyone who has ever seriously taken up the quest for the Grail has met the opposing knights along the way. Around every curve in the trail, they come riding up, arrogantly swaggering their superiority, brandishing their swords, deliciously predicting our defeat.
They seem so incredibly formidable, in their battle-scarred armor and mounted on their tall, fierce steeds. No sane person would want to go another step.
But the Quest for the Grail grabs some, and they can't let it go. It's do or die, and though their weapons seem inferior and the enemy before them seems ten times their strength, they ride on into the battle. Victory is not assured beforehand. The enemy seems to be the one with the overwhelming odds. It looks like all is going to hell before even the first swords clash.
In the Arthurian legends, it is the inward purity of the questers that determines if they will defeat the foes. But let me leave that for a moment and go back to Jacob Boehme. In the Quest for the Prize as described by Boehme, a Noble Champion appears at the moment of defeat. The battle is all but lost. The soul has been overwhelmed by a foe more powerful than itself. The moment of death is upon it, though it fought valiantly with all its heart and strength.
But suddenly, out of nowhere, rising up in the midst of defeat, the Noble Champion takes up the fight.
In the Arthur tales, the heroes are always almost defeated, but somehow at what seems undoubtedly to be the moment of death, they gain new strength and are able to make the last fatal blow to the enemy. In the heat of battle, down on the ground, with the enemy standing over them in haughty derision, readying to lop off their head with one more swing of the blade, death a second or two away, death looking them in the eyes and saying, "See, I told you I would get you," unexpectedly and almost unconsciously, their hand glances across the sword beside them they thought they'd lost when they were unhorsed, and in one last desperate attempt to hold onto life they pick up the blade and plunge it into the heart of the enemy. They live to ride another day.
There is a struggle to attain the Grail. The Grail is the Known and Experienced Presence. The inward Reality of the Christ of God, the Logos, the I AM, the Alpha and Omega, dwelling not in some far off heaven, but eternally in the very center of our own selfhood. The enemy is the embodiment of all the reasons and impossible odds in front of us that tell us there is NO WAY we can find our way into the center of ourselves, and on deeper into God Who dwells at the ground of our being. We are too distracted by surface fluctuations, so the enemy tells us, or too scarred, or too marred, or too ugly in visage and deportment.
You can call the enemy Satan if you want to. He's real enough to merit being mentioned by name.
But it is the Noble Champion who takes up the battle. He doesn't come like the Cavalry with bugles blaring and guidons unfurled, but with silence and unseen strength, which has nothing to do with countering the taunts of the enemy, making no attempt to prove him wrong. His accusations are not worth arguing.
When the Noble Champion arises in the substratum of our consciousness, permeating by His Presence everything into Wholeness, darkness becomes Light.
Suddenly we see. It always was Light. The evil knights who opposed us and blocked our way were lying. It had nothing to do with our strength, our purity, or our worthiness. It had nothing to do with how much we fought, how hard we struggled. Because right there before us, right there in our midst, in the middle, bright as Day, Big as Life, Shining, IS the Holy Grail.
The Grail is the Everlasting Source, the Cruse of Oil that never runs out, the well of water springing up into everlasting Life, the water which quenches your thirst forever, that deep down in the center of your being removes fear from the entire landscape evermore.
The Noble Champion climbs up into us from within us, exuding a strength beyond our own but which we surprisingly find to be our own. He takes our form.
And now we get back to the beginning of this. We take God and Christ in the beginning of our faith lives to be our Strength and our Source, with no inkling of where that will lead us.
First it leads us smack-dab into our own inadequacy, our own unworthiness. From there into death and despair. We are undone; we know our integrity is a will 'o' the wisp, ephemeral, the product of a faulty imagination.
And then there is the Rising. HE Who died and rose again, NOW arises in the very self we had come to hate. A Living Christmas, a Yulelog that never burns out, burning with the FIRE of Unending Passion, irradiates the Whole of our Being, and not just our own Being, but like "the lightning [that] cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. He fills the Whole landscape, so that all you see, from the east to the west, north and south, is His passion which has filled everything.
In that new landscape there are no enemies. Those who claim to be are lying. Those who oppose you really don't. (They only oppose themselves.)
Finding no one to be your enemy, you are free to love unreservedly. You don't have to be on guard, to be wary. (You are, but you aren't.) You are wise as a serpent, harmless as a dove.
When the Divine permeates you, when you recognize Him by faith as ALL in all, Divine Passion which seeks only to give life overtakes you. You live no more to get, but to give. But not out of some fantasy that you're some sort of wonderful giving person, but out of having found out to the uttermost that you had nothing, and He Who has risen in you is All. And that He who has called you, is faithful also to accomplish it.
Boehme went on to say that the true Christian, while having no sect, is at home in all of them. He finds God wherever he goes.
51 And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,
52 And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.
53 And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.
54 And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?
55 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.
56 For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them.
For that, you toss out everything. There are no rules in love, except to do whatever it takes to save lives.
"Salaam Aleikum" is Arabic for "Peace be unto you."
Which is what our Lord said. Amen. Selah.