Volume 4 - Issue 12 DECEMBER 2006
The Greatest of All…Is Love
By Mr. John Behner
This is the transcription of Mr. John Behner’s talk during Christmas, 2005 in the divine presence of Bhagavan Baba in the Kulwant Hall. Mr. Behner is the Zonal Chairman of International Sai Organisation, Zone-II (Latin America).
My loving Pranams, at Bhagavan’s glorious Feet. Dear brothers, sisters, and students. I am here exactly twenty five years to the day, to tell you our experience that occurred at Christmas time in 1979. Actually when we first read about Swami, my wife said to me that if we had lived at the time of Christ wouldn’t we have gone to see Him? Of course, I agreed.
That year the celebration was in Whitefield, Bangalore and the students presented a drama on the life of the Jesus Christ after which Swami gave His Christmas message. And after Swami’s discourse, the boys came with large containers of rice delicacy which was served on plates.
Served by the Divine
It was so special those days as Swami Himself served every single one of us in that auditorium. After my wife received a plate, she said “Thank you” and Swami immediately said, “It is My duty”. Now imagine this: we come to India, to see the Divine in person and He is serving us a plate of food and saying that it is His duty!
At that time I was the General Manager of a multi-national corporation. I went to meetings with the Chairman of the Board in New York and he had never served me a plate of food! In fact it was difficult to give him a handshake. So, this incident with Swami actually was the turning point for us and our family; it literally started us on our spiritual journey.
We also know that Jesus Christ was teaching the same thing when He told us “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” And this idea of serving others is not something new but we do have to put it into practice. We actually know little about the life of Jesus. It’s strange because we know a lot about Lord Krishna, we know a lot about Lord Rama, but only Swami can tell us many of the details of Christ’s life.
The little we do know about Jesus when He was young was that He came to India when He was still a teenager and He must have come looking for spiritual information, but we don’t know too much about the details. You could ask whether Jesus had a guru? Rama had a guru, Krishna had a guru and Jesus must have had a guru but what was Jesus learning? The Vedas, the Upanishads, the Ramayana and the Bhagavad Gita were all available 2000 years ago. Wouldn’t Jesus’ experience have been very similar to our experience when we come here to Prashanti Nilayam? Wouldn’t He have learned many of the same things of what we are learning? I am sure that’s what happened.
Jesus learned that Man has the potential to discover his true divine nature and to have a personal relationship with God, and when Jesus took this message back to Jerusalem and started preaching, this gave a lot of hope to many people, especially the poor. They were used to dealing with a very structured theology with intermediaries between them and God, and they were so happy to hear this message. Fishermen, tax collectors, and even a soldier became Jesus’ followers and some of them His disciples.
Now Jesus was seen as a revolutionary I would guess, because His message was so wonderful for so many people, but it actually turned your attention away from the structured high power religion that people were following. So then the priests went to the Roman authorities and were able to convince them that Jesus should be crucified.
Jesus’ Teachings were Preserved by the Essenes
After the crucifixion of Christ, we know that His disciples went out and they preached and told people what His message was, going to different cities and towns. And we also know that James, one of the brothers of Jesus, was the head of the community of the Essenes and he was the main person in charge of Jesus’ teachings. The Essenes were a small group of people who lived in the desert. They were disciplined, vegetarians and they respected women. So, these people were given the job of writing down many of Jesus’ teachings, the manuscripts of which were at some point hidden in caves in the desert.
As time passed many of Jesus’ disciples and followers were killed or died, and when James was killed, about 30 years after Christ was crucified, His teachings were no longer available and they stayed hidden for almost 2000 years. In 1948, the caves were discovered by a shepherd boy and the manuscripts which came to light came to be known as the Dead Sea Scrolls.
After studying these texts we can understand that one of the things that Christ believed in was the importance of considering the body as a Temple and that it was necessary to keep the body clean, to have good dietary habits. Vegetarian food was extremely important in order to be able to have communication with the divine.
Faith, Hope And Love
I would like to read a passage on the teachings of Jesus on Love, from His greatest missionary, St Paul, who writes:
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Thus, we can see how close Swami’s teachings are to the teachings of Jesus.
- Heart2Heart Team
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Vol 4 Issue 12 - DECEMBER 2006
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