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Home > Cover Story > Part 7  
the 'be-atTitudes' of jesus
…Through the lives of Enlightened Souls and Divine Incarnations

Part 8:
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

This final beatitude of Jesus evoked much debate and controversy for its time and continues even today to be a topic of much discussion for many sceptics. Yet, it ushers hope in every caring heart that bleeds when good people suffer terribly in this life.

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  The Love of Sri Sathya Sai    
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Jesus was persecuted and killed for His beliefs
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To live and breathe the Beatitudes, or Swami’s teachings, demands a life directed against the common flow of the world. We may come across opposition to our dharmic principles from a variety of quarters: family, friends, neighbours or work colleagues.

But Jesus assures us that the goal is beyond all earthly gains, beyond even our mind’s wildest expectations and petty designs. By adhering to dharma we can attain the greatest reward known to man – the kingdom of heaven itself - the perpetual awareness of our true Self, the permanent bliss that everyone knowingly or unknowingly longs for.

Nelson Mandela, the little Prahalad, Prophet Mohammed, Mahatma Gandhi, and many other great and noble souls who have graced Mother Earth, have all experienced unspeakable oppression and opposition. But they never gave up their struggle for the greater good of humanity, knowing that their persecutors were just blips in history and only served to make their light shine even more!

Martin Luther King (1929-1968) was one such beacon, and today he is one of the most loved figures of the last century. But in his time, he was also one of the most hated people in America. That his struggle against racism in the US bore fruit against seemingly insurmountable odds, is testament to him walking the path of Truth with God. Even a brief glance at his noble life fills us with great inspiration:

 
 

Reverend Martin Luther King Jr and the Great Dream

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    The Love of Sri Sathya Sai  
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Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.
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He didn't intend to change history. In fact, his first career plan was to finish a graduate degree in divinity, and then return to his hometown to take over his father's church. It was a path that had been preordained by two generations of ministers, his father and grandfather.

It was a legacy that was both empowering and welcoming, embracing principles that he loved, and keeping him close to his family's roots.

When he was just twenty-six years old a request to lead a protest march became a journey to the heart of social justice; the call to lead a small gathering became a national civil rights movement of non-violent resistance.

In 1959 King traveled to India to study the philosophy of Mohandas Gandhi. He spent time at Gandhi's ashram, and returned to the U.S. with a fuller understanding of Gandhi's philosophy of radical change through non-violent resistance, which was to guide him in his monumental work in the US.

When we idealize him, it is easy to forget that, at the height of his power, he was one of the most hated figures in America. It is easy to forget that the conflicts within the civil rights movement, between advocates of non-violent resistance and advocates of violent confrontation, were so powerful that he was nearly derailed several times in his short career.

But it was in moments such as the march on Washington, in 1963, when he made the historic ‘I have a dream’ speech that King rose above it all. That August, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, he expressed a vision of the future that had no second. Here a few excerpts of that landmark speech:

“Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends. And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’

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  The Love of Sri Sathya Sai    
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'I have a dream today!'
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I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" - one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; ‘and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.’

"And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.”

These truly powerful words can only be born from the life of someone who was pledged to carry out his mission against injustice. And these words still ring true for our world as it continues to be wracked by racism and hate in many guises.

In fact, such was the momentum that his power and charisma created that he won international acclaim and in 1964 King was honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize. His work had lead to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, both milestones in the acceptance of equal rights of African-Americans.

In 1968, King addressed a joyous crowd of supporters: "We've got some difficult days ahead. It really doesn't matter what happens now, because I've been to the mountaintop.... And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land." He was assassinated on a motel balcony the next morning.

He had been to the mountain top and was not afraid to die. Reflecting on the momentum of his life, he said that events had transformed him. Maybe so. But what is more important is that he transformed events, and through the power of his spirit, created a vision that has inspired and pressed people forward towards a better day and a vision ever since.

Ref: A Leader Becomes a Leader, by J. Kevin Sheehan

 
 

Be it Mahatma Gandhi, or Martin Luther King, or the Joan of Arc, the righteous pay the price for the glory of martyrdom that immortalises them for centuries.  Their example serves as the highest inspiration for generations to come.

Civil Rights movements the world over still quote from King's inspired speech, drawing strength from his example.  In life, as in death, the likes of King and the Mahatma literally lived the last Beatitude, proving that one needs nerves of steel and inner strength to live out the divine directives Jesus delivered thousands of years ago and it is the courage to make this tough choice that sets them apart from rest of humanity.

Conclusion:
Living in the Kingdom of Heaven

Let us now take a look at all these magnificent declarations all in one go.

They are beautiful and profoundly meaningful. And whether we still believe it or not, they are practical and very much doable. In fact, Bhagavan Baba has summed up all these powerful pronouncements so succinctly in just five timeless words – Truth, Righteousness, Peace, Love and Non-violence. Of this, Baba says, Love is primordial. In fact, it is the sole virtue which is the undercurrent of all the other sacred values. And that is why Baba makes it even simpler for us, when He says, simply “Love All, Serve All”.

It is this message that echoed two centuries ago in the form of these beatific Beatitudes, and even before that through the immortal messages of many incarnations of the Divine. The Masters may be different, but the essence of their Messages has always remained the same, and that is Love. Period. As the poet says: "all ye need to know, or all you will ever know". And having known this, let us learn to live by it. It is not as inconvenient or uncomfortable as many of us imagine it to be; in fact, the Lord is waiting with His outstretched arms to carry us along, for our own good and happiness.

Let us allow ourselves to be led by Him, and give up our tiny egos. We can then feel His love in every little thing that happens in our lives. Soon, unknowingly, we will be, in fact, living in the Kingdom of Heaven as we walk and talk on this earth, just like the Lord did centuries ago and does so even now!

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  The Love of Sri Sathya Sai  
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God is LOVE!
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End of Part 8

Dear reader, how did you like this story? Did it inspire you in any way? Would you like more such stories focussed on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and other such divine incarnations? Please write to us at [email protected] with your name and country. We look forward to your feedback, comments and suggestions to help us serve you better. Thank you very much for your time.

- Heart2Heart Team


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Vol 6 Issue 12 - DECEMBER 2008
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