“The Beautitudes According to Vedanta”
 Reverend Bernadette Voorhees
March 6, 2016
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Today we’re beginning a series of lessons looking at the teachings of Jesus through a branch of Hinduism called Vedanta. Vedanta evolved from the Vedas, the most ancient of Hindu scripture & teaches all religions are true in that they all lead to the goal of God realization. Vedanta reveres all great Spiritual Teachers & aspects of God worshipped in different faiths, believing them manifestations of 1 underlying Truth.

“The Sermon on the Mount” is a collection of 8 APHORISMS found in the Gospel of Matthew 5:1-12. APHORISMS are short MEMORABLE SAYINGS WHICH COMPEL INSIGHT. At the root of each is Jesus’ awareness of 1ness or spiritual unity with God & all God’s creation.

Swami Prabhavananda writes, “Jesus travelled all over Galilee & Syria preaching. As the news spread of an extraordinary teacher, crowds gathered to see him, as they have done for thousands of years in the Orient & still do at the approach of a God-man. People from Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judaea & from beyond the Jordan River. Jesus taught the multitudes according to their capacity. His Sermon on the Mount contains his highest teachings & was reserved for his Disciples, the 1’s spiritually ready. He took them to a hillside where they wouldn’t be interrupted by those who wanted less than his supreme truth.” Swami Brahmananda said, “Yes, people come to us. We have treasure to give them but they only want potatoes, onions & egg-plant. The multitudes aren’t yet able to understand the Truth of God. Every Spiritual Teacher has 2 sets of teachings. 1 for the multitudes & 1 for Disciples. Jesus’ 8 Beatitudes outline the requirements of advanced Discipleship.”

1. Blessed are the poor in Spirit; for their’s is the Kingdom of Heaven. A Disciple must be open minded. If a person’s mind is full of education, wealth, or preconceived ideas of what spiritual life is & how he should be taught their mind isn’t teachable & receptive to new ideas. A man came to a great teacher asking to be his Disciple. The teacher realizing the man wasn’t mentally ready asked, ‘Do you know what you have to do to be a Disciple?’ The man said no & asked the teacher to tell him. ‘Well, you have to fetch water, gather fuel, cook & work & study for many hours. Are you willing to do all that?’ The man said: ‘1st tell me what the teacher does.” ‘Oh, the teacher sits & gives spiritual instructions in his quiet way.’ ‘Ah!’ said the man. ‘In that case, I don’t want to be a Disciple. I want to be a teacher!’ Before we can become a teacher, we must learn to be a Disciple. A Disciple is “poor in Spirit.”

2. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. "
Have you mourned the loss of a worldly pleasure, possession or relationship? A deep sense of loneliness, mourning & desire must be felt before God reveals itself. We can’t make spiritual progress if our attention is still looking out there for a Source. Most people are satisfied living on the surface of life. They may feel something is missing but think this lack can be filled by some physical object: a job, relationship, car, house, whatever. Sri Ramakrishna said: ‘People weep rivers of tears because a son is not born or they can’t get riches. But who sheds even 1 teardrop because he or she has not seen God? This false sense of values is the result of spiritual ignorance. As Spirit we create matter through the formative power of mind. But in our spiritual ignorance & confusion we identify with matter rather than Spirit. We are dreamers caught up in our own dreams.”

The True Self is as different from the body as clothing is different from the body. We can intellectually understand this & when diseased still say, “I am sick.’ The True Self is different from mind. Yet when a wave of happiness or suffering arises, we say, “I am happy or I am miserable.’ We also over identify with relatives & friends. What’s happening to them seems to be happening to us. We identify with possessions. We lose money, a job or relationship & feel as if we’ve lost our identity. Such spiritual ignorance is common to all humankind. It is only removed by identifying with Spirit not matter. A Disciple must come to the point of feeling; “Nothing can give me peace or lasting happiness except God & Truth.” Only then does God draw man’s mind to himself as a magnet draws a needle & comfort comes.

3. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
The Hindu Mystic Patanjali said, ‘The man who is confirmed in Non-Stealing becomes the Master of all riches.’ Non-stealing is giving up the idea or delusion that we can possess anything. We suffer because we’re centered in Ego & believe we’re separate from God & thus from what we seek. Can you possess the air you breathe? Do you own the air around you or in your house? Meekness is living in continual ego or self-surrender to the greater Self/ Spirit. This frees us from all sense of me, mine & I. Meekness is being free of all sense of attachment. This doesn’t mean that we must get rid of wealth, family, friends, etc. We are to think of ourselves as God’s servants into whose care He has entrusted His creatures, planet & possessions. Everything is God & everything belongs to God. When we realize this we find everything belongs to us after all “& we inherit the Earth.”

4. Blessed are they hunger & thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled. In the Old Testament righteousness is synonymous with deliverance from evil & union with God. Jesus is talking about the experience of God not moral virtues. “Seek 1st the Kingdom of God & all else will be added unto you.” Our interest in God must be stronger than our interest in the gifts of God. Our attention must be on invisible Spirit more than visible matter. Is your interest in God as strong as your interest in worldly objects? Even a slight desire to know the Divine Reality is a beginning. We all start with self-effort & work to develop love of God by practicing the Presence. As we practice the Spiritual Disciplines of Prayer, Meditation, Worship & Spiritual Study our slight desire to know God intensifies until it is a raging hunger & a burning thirst.

Sri Ramakrishna said: “Cry to him with a yearning heart & you will see him. After the rosy light of dawn out comes the sun: likewise, longing is followed by the vision of God. He will reveal himself to you if you love him with the combined force of these 3 attachments: the attachment of a miser to his wealth, the attachment of a mother to her new-born child & the attachment of a chaste wife to her husband. Intense longing is the surest way to God-vision.” As you direct thought energy towards God 1 gigantic wave is raised in mind which engulfs all the cravings & passions, which distract you from reaching this spiritual goal. Story: A Disciple asked his teacher, “Sir, how can I realize God.” ‘Come,’ said the teacher, ‘I will show you.’ He took the Disciple to a lake & both jumped in. Suddenly the teacher reached over & pressed the Disciple’s head under the water. After a few moments, he released him & asked, “Well, how did you feel?’ The Disciple gasped, ‘I was dying for a breath of air!” The teacher said: “When you feel that intensely for God, you won’t have to wait long for his vision.’

5. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
One of the Yoga aphorisms of Patanjali correspond to this Beatitude: “Undisturbed calmness of the mind is attained by cultivating friendliness towards the happy, mercy & compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous & indifference towards the wicked.’ Envy, jealously & hatred are universal weaknesses in man stemming from ignorance of our true nature; overcome them by raising an opposite wave of thought. When someone is happy, don’t be jealous. Be happy with him. When someone is unhappy don’t saying, ‘he had it coming.’ Be merciful. When someone is bad, don’t hate him. Be indifferent to the wicked. Any thought of hate, jealousy, envy, etc., raises a similar wave of energy in your own mind, increasing your own sense of separation. If we want to find God, we must become God-like. Sri Ramakrishna said, “What is the difference between man & God? Man, if you hurt him once, will forget all your previous kindnesses & remember the 1 time you failed. But if you forget God & sin against him hundreds of times, He will still forgive all your faults & remember the few times that you sincerely prayed to him. Sin exists only in man’s eyes; God does not look to man’s sins.’

6. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
In every religion there are 2 basic principles. 1. The ideal to be realized. 2. The method of realization. Every religion of the world proclaims “God exists.” Every great spiritual teacher has taught that man’s purpose is to realize God & be reborn in Spirit & Truth. When you know who & what you are, that knowledge frees you from fear. But that isn’t the end of the spiritual journey. You must put that knowledge to work in your own life. The word perfect means ‘complete or whole.’ On the cross Jesus said, “It is finished.” As we journey from Jesus to Christ, polarity reverses. Instead of you thinking the Christ ideal you realize that the Christ ideal thinks you. Heaven is visible on Earth as you to the extent that you know & express God. Our minds continually receive sense impressions through our 5 senses. These sense impressions dissolve when we start receiving inspiration. We are no longer conformed to this world. We are transformed through the renewing power of mind. According to Yoga Psychology, there are 5 root causes of sense impressions influencing mind.

Is having ignornace of our divine nature. God dwells in & around us, but we aren’t conscious of this truth. Instead of seeing God, Ego mind is busy naming all the creatures which we believe to be real & apart from God. A man sees a rope lying on the ground in the dusk, believes it to be a snake & has a reaction just as violent as if it were real but it is still just a rope.

Is having a sense of ‘Ego’ projected by ignorance makes us ‘think’ we are separate from God & each another. We need a sense of ‘self or Ego’ in order to realize that we are Spirit Expressing. The problem is identifing with that ego self & not the greater Self as who & what we really are. We are the “Observer, Observing & the Observed, 3 in 1” but we get caught in the middle.

3RD & 4TH
From a mistaken sense of ‘self’ we develop attachment & aversion; likes & dislikes. We are drawn to 1 thing & push away another. This mental push/pull keeps us from realizing it’s all God. Desire & aversion are obstacles to the experience of God because they say, “God as this is bad, God as this is good.’

Is having the thirst to live, which Buddha calls ‘tanha.’ Clinging to life or fear of death is natural. Only the illumined soul has no ignorance, no sense of Ego, no attachment, no aversion & no fear of death; the influence of outer sense impressions have vanished. Swami Prabhavananda writes, “If God offerred everyone Enlightenment this moment, most would refuse. Even if we’ve been seeking God, we momentarily draw back in panic when we’re about to have this vision. We instinctively cling to surface consciousness afraid to give it up, even though doing so means passing over into Infinite Consciousness, compared to which our normal consciousness is ‘like a thick night & a sleep.” God created us in His image & likeness. We’re already pure & divine. Are you holding on to lesser truths about yourself? Sri Ramakrishna said, “Repeating constantly I am a sinner, 1 really becomes a sinner. One should have faith to say, “I have chanted the holy name of God. How can there be any sin in me? In India children are taught to hold onto a pillar & spin around it –without danger of falling off. In the same way, hold on to God & realize that the experiences of pleasure & pain are impermanent. Hold on to the pillar of God & cravings obstructing God-vision loose their strength.”

7. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
It is written, ‘He in whose heart God has become manifest brings peace, cheer & delight everywhere he goes. In the presence of a ‘peacemaker’, our troubles are forgotten & our hearts are full of love. Uplifted by such a presence, we no longer have a desire to quarrel because we’re engaged in the love of God. We can’t bring peace until we realize our oneness with God & establish peace in our own inner kingdom. 8. Blessed are they which are persecuted by righteous’ sake: for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.’ Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you & persecute you & shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice & be exceedingly glad: for great is your reward in Heaven: for so persecuted they the Prophets which were before you.” Worldly people don’t understand the value of spiritual life & may mock Spiritual Seekers. You won’t react to their ridicule if your mind is fixed on God. A young monk was traveling. When he got tired, he lay down under a tree. Having no pillow, he rested his head on a brick. Some women going to fetch water saw the monk lying there. They said to each other, “Look that young man has become a monk & yet he can’t do without the idea of a pillow & has used a brick.” Hearing them the monk said to himself, “They are right to criticize me.” He threw away the brick & lay down with his head on the earth. Presently the women returned, seeing the brick gone, they said: “That’s a fine monk! He felt insulted when we said he needed a pillow & has now thrown his pillow away! The monk thought: “If I have a pillow, they criticize me & if I don’t that doesn’t suit them either. From now on I will try to please God alone.” A truly spiritual person doesn’t care what others think. ‘Resist not evil.’ There is in truth no ‘evil.’ It is an Ego judgment & impermanent. There is only God & Heaven is always present. A spiritual person sees God as Atman, dwelling within his heart. He sees God as Brahman, pervading the whole universe. He worships God in every creature. A saint is 1 who has overcome the tribulations of the world even while living on Earth. His mind is dead to the touch of the external. It is alive to the bliss of Atman. Because his heart knows Brahman his happiness is for ever.

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