These sections are dedicated to the spiritual Light Workers of all ages who have paved the way for my work and the work of so many other dedicated channelers of the light in the world today, by helping us better understand the physical and spiritual processes of our world, and teaching love, compassion, acceptance and inclusion for all.
Bede Griffiths was a Benedictine monk who lived in ashrams in South India and became a noted yogi. He was a leading advocate of dialogue between Christianity and Hinduism. Through daily practices of meditation and prayer he opened himself to the myths, symbols and teachings of many of the world’s major religions. He was intrigued with the concept of the archetypal or universal man. He taught we should all honor the sacredness of every person and believed each person is a unique image of the divine. He would often quote the ancient Vedic Sanskrit text Chandogya Upanishad about how though our body takes up only a small space on this planet, our mind encompasses the whole universe.
He was born Alan Richard Griffiths on December 17, 1906 in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey England. At age 12, Griffiths was sent to Christ's Hospital, a school for poor boys. He excelled in his studies and earned a scholarship to the University of Oxford, from where he graduated in 1929 with a degree in journalism. Shortly after graduation Griffiths and two friends settled in a cottage in the rural Cotswold region of southern England and began what they called an "experiment in common living”. They followed a lifestyle attuned to nature and sold milk from their own cows to support themselves. They would read the Bible together and Griffiths noted a strong connection between the teachings of Scripture and the rhythm of the nature around them.
In a crisis of faith, Griffiths was comforted by the writings of Cardinal John Henry Newman, the controversial Anglican priest who abdicated the Church of England in favor of the Catholic Church. Newman believed in a middle ground between freethinking and ecclesiastical indoctrination, one that respected both the rights of the individual seeker of knowledge and the moral authority of the Church, one that would refrain from theological censorship. In November 1931, Griffiths went to stay at the Benedictine monastery of Prinknash Abbey where he was impressed by the life and was received into the Roman Catholic Church, being ordained to the Catholic priesthood in 1940.
Years later, Griffiths met Father Benedict Alapatt, a European-born monk of Indian descent who was greatly interested in establishing a monastery in his homeland. Griffiths had already been introduced to Eastern teachings of yoga and the Vedas and took interest in the project. In 1955, he embarked for India with Alapatt. He wrote to a friend, "I am going to discover the other half of my soul.” They settled in Kengeri in Bangalore with the goal of building a monastery there. That project was eventually unsuccessful as Griffiths left the location in 1958, saying that he found it "too Western". Griffiths then joined with a Belgian monk, Father Francis Acharya, to establish the Kurisumala Ashram ("Mountain of the Cross") a Roman Catholic monastery in Kerala. They sought to develop a form of monastic life based in the Indian tradition, adopting the saffron garments of an Indian monk. At that point, Griffiths took the Sanskrit name "Dayananda" ("bliss of compassion"). He continued his studies in the religions and cultures of India, writing Christ in India and giving a numerous talks about East–West dialogue.
In 1968, Griffiths moved to the Shantivanam Ashram in Tamil Nadu, South India, which had been founded in 1950 by the French Benedictine monk Dom Henri Le Saux, and stressed a religious lifestyle which was completely expressed in authentic Indian fashion, using English, Sanskrit and Tamil in their religious services. They had built the ashram buildings by hand in the style of the poor of the country. Under Griffiths’ guidance the Ashram became a renowned center of contemplative life and of inter religious dialogue and contributed greatly to the development of Indian Christian Theology. Griffiths became known as "Swami Dayananda”. He wrote 12 books on Hindu–Christian dialogue, including Vedanta and the Christian Faith.
Eventually he desired to reconnect himself with the Benedictine order and sought a monastic congregation that would accept him in the way of life he had developed over the decades. He was welcomed by the Roman Catholic order of Camaldolese monks and he and the ashram became a part of their congregation. At the ashram he gave daily teachings on the Vedas and presented homilies deciphering Christian mysticism at Eucharist and Vespers. In 1987 he published a commentary on the Bhagaavad Gita, titled Rivers of Compassion.
In January of 1990 Griffiths suffered a stroke in his room at the ashram but quickly made a full recovery. He celebrated the extension of his mortal life by lecturing extensively in the United States, Australia and in Europe. “I was overwhelmed and deluged with love,” he said about this time. “The feminine in me opened up and a whole new vision opened. I saw love as the basic principle of the whole universe. I saw God in the earth, in trees, in mountains. It led me to the conviction that there is no absolute good or evil in this world. We have to let go of all concepts which divide the world into good and evil, right and wrong, and begin to see the ‘complementarity’ of opposites.”
On his 86th birthday, Griffiths had a major stroke and died at his ashram on 13 May 1993.
Rumi, the 13th century Persian mystical poet, is as popular now as he has been in the intervening more than 700 years since his mortal journey ended. His poetry focused on philosophical and mystical topics, with verses filled with yearning and desire. In all, his collection is a call from an independent soul yearning for true freedom from dogma and hypocrisy. He also wrote about the abolishment of the established fear-based religious orders of the world. For Rumi fear-based religion is poison and he calls for a life journey of love and free of guilt, fear and shame.
Rumi was born on September 30, 1207, in the city of Balkh in what is now Afghanistan, then part of the Persian Empire. He eventually settled in the town of Konya, in what is now Turkey. Balkh in Rumi’s time was a major center in the development of the Islamic esoteric movement of Sufism. There is doubt whether Rumi actually identified as Sufi, or not, but there is no doubt he was committed to the mystical essence of Islam.
Rumi was a charming, wealthy theologian and a brilliant scholar, who in his late thirties met a poor and wild nomadic holy man by the name of Shams. After meeting Shams he was transformed from a bookish academic to an impassioned seeker of truth and love. He also believed passionately in the use of music, poetry and dance as a path for reaching God. For Rumi, music helped devotees to focus their whole being on the divine. That belief is the genesis of the ritual practice of Whirling Dervishes, although the actual ritual has roots much more ancient than Rumi.
Rumi died on December 17, 1273 in Konya, Turkey. Today the countries of Iran, Turkey and Afghanistan claim him as their national poet. Many scholars see a direct link between Rumi’s impassioned verse and modern blues music, and even the basic format of today’s love songs.
Thomas Merton was born in Prades, France on January 31st, 1915, to a New Zealand-born father and American mother, both artists. He was baptized in The Church of England but his family was not religious, in fact he was sometimes described as a wild and rambunctious youth. On a solo trip to Rome in 1933, he became obsessed with visiting Byzantine-era Christian churches. He purchased a Vulgate (Latin Bible), and read the entire New Testament. One night he had the sense that is father (who had died two years earlier) was in the room with him. This mystical experience led him to see the emptiness he felt in his life, and for the first time in his life he prayed, asking God to deliver him from his darkness. Merton converted to Catholicism while attending Columbia University. Subsequently, he entered the Roman Catholic Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (also know as the Trappists) at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky.
Merton was a talented writer and poet and his autobiographical “The Seven Storey Mountain” was a best seller in 1948. During the peace movement of the 1960’s, he wrote that race and peace were the two most urgent issues of our time, and was a strong supporter of the nonviolent civil rights movement, which he called "certainly the greatest example of Christian faith in action in the social history of the United States." His social activism drew severe criticism from Catholics and non-Catholics alike. His political writings were often assailed as unbecoming of a monk.
He later became deeply interested in Asian religions and met with the Dalai Lama in India on several occasions. He became a tireless promoter of interfaith dialogue between Eastern and Western religions. He believed that for the most part Christianity had forsaken its mystical tradition in favor of dogmatism and that Eastern traditions were mostly untainted by this type of thinking, and thus had much to offer in terms of how to think of and understand oneself. He found many parallels between the language of early Christian mystics and the language of Zen philosophy.
The Dalai Lama wrote, “A main point in my discussion with Merton was how central compassion was to the message of both Christianity and Buddhism…I find myself inspired by Jesus’ acts of compassion…his healing and his teaching are all motivated by the desire to relieve suffering.
Merton died in Bangkok, Thailand on December 10, 1968, while attending a conference on East-West monastic dialogue.
One of the great aspects of Kabbalah is helping man gain a greater understanding of the nature of God and the process of creation. Rabbi Moshe ben Cordovero (Ramak), the founder of contemporary Kabbalah, brought forth one leap of our understanding by teaching the principle of continuous recreation. In each moment God sustains the process of creation in a continuous chain of cause and effect, or evolution. His follower Isaac Luria Ashkenazi (the Arizal) expanded on that idea by teaching that one level of existence doesn’t just give birth to the next level, as in a chain, but all levels exist inside us simultaneously. Baal Shem Tov turned all those ideas on their ears by teaching the absolute omnipresence of God. God is all, all is God. God is here all the time, He only appears to be hidden. This advance in understanding was a contradiction of previous ideas that God needed to shrink or withdraw in order to allow creation of His world.
Israel ben Eliezer was born in 1698 in the city of Okopy, Polish Russia near the Carpathian Mountains, what is now the Ukraine. He was a Jewish mystical rabbi and is considered to be the founder of Hasidic Judaism. He was commonly known as Besht, but is better known now to religious Jews as "the holy Baal Shem" or "Baal Shem Tov", meaning "Master of the Good Name.”
His early life remains mostly a mystery. His father was very old when he was born and he was apparently orphaned at a very young age. He was described as a dreamer and spent long periods alone in the wilderness. He was not known for his scholarship in school but, according to legend, he secretly mastered the entire Torah. He was not only a master of the revealed Torah, but a master of the hidden Torah, or Kabbalah. Like many mystics, he hid his wisdom for many years. When he turned 36 the Baal Shem Tov went public. He quickly gained the reputation as a genuine miracle worker and drew a following.
He taught a vision of human consciousness in constant contact with the divine in forms hidden and revealed, breaking through the illusion of separation and darkness and integrating everything in the material world with the divine. It brought God down to Earth, so to speak, in a way that had not been done for centuries. It also made his followers feel that God had a relationship with each one, that everything one did was important to God and that God was approachable on every level. Baal Shem Tov died in the year 1760 in the city of Medzhbizh in what is now the Ukraine.
After the death of the Prophet Mohammed, and as the mystical side of Islam began to develop, it was a woman, Rabi’a al-Adawiyya, who first articulated our relationship with the divine in terms the masses could understand, by referring to God as the “Beloved”. Rabi’a’s starting point was neither a fear of hell nor a desire for paradise, but only love. “God is God,” she said, “for this I love God… not because of any gifts, but for Itself.” She insisted one finds God by turning within oneself. She reminded followers of Islam that Muhammad had said, “He who knows himself, knows his Lord.” Ultimately it is through love that we are brought into the Unity of Being, she taught.
Rabi’a al-Adawiyya is said to have been born between 714 and 718 CE, in Basra, Iraq. She was the fourth daughter of her family and therefore named Rābiʻa, meaning "fourth". Her family was poor yet respected in the community. After the death of her father, Rabia departed from her family and went into the desert to pray and became an ascetic, as is so often the case with mystic saints. She did not learn from any teacher or master but, instead, turned directly to God. She is often cited as being the queen of saintly women, and provided a model of mutual love between God and His creation; her example is one in which the loving devotee on earth becomes one with the Beloved.
She was perhaps the single most famous and influential Sufi woman of Islamic history. She was the one who first set forth the doctrine of Divine Love and is widely considered to be the most important of the early Sufi poets. The mystical movement of Sufism is in many ways a counter to the male-dominant culture of many lands and the perceptions of the relationships between men and women. The life and writings of Rabi'a al-Adawiyya show a countercultural understanding of the role of gender in society.
She was unwavering in her self-denial and lived her life in poverty. Still, her fame grew and she had many disciples. She also had discussions with many of the renowned religious people of her time. Though she had many offers of marriage, she refused them all, as she had no time in her life for anything other than God. She was the first to introduce the idea that God should be loved for God's own sake and not out of fear, as earlier Sufis and followers of Islam had done. Rabia died around the year 801 C.E. in the city of her birth, Basra.
Adi Shankara, with his remarkable reinterpretations of Hindu scriptures, had a profound influence on the growth of Hinduism at a time when chaos, superstition, and bigotry raged throughout the four corners of India. Apart from restoring the scriptures to more pristine interpretations, he cleansed the Vedic religious practices of ritualistic excesses. He was the most renowned exponent of the Advaita Vedanta philosophy, emphasizing non-dualism, which is the main influence on modern Indian thought and doctrine.
Shankara was most likely born in about 788 C.E. (although some modern scholars argue for an earlier date, around 700) in the southern Indian state of Kerala in the village of Kaladi. His father died while he was very young. All biographers describe him as a prodigious child scholar and someone who was attracted to the life of a hermit. Shankara developed his philosophy through commentaries on the various scriptures, and may have completed these works before the age of sixteen.
According to Adi Shankara, Brahman, the one unchanging entity, alone is real, while changing entities of Self do not have absolute existence. He taught the reality of one’s essential divine identity, rejecting one’s thought of being a finite human being with a name and form, subject to earthly changes. Our bodies are manifold but the separate bodies have the one Divine in them. The phenomenal world of beings and non-beings is not apart from the Brahman, but ultimately become one with Brahman.
Shankara traveled all over India, holding discussions and debates with philosophers of different creeds, He is attributed with founding four monasteries in the four corners of India, probably influenced by the Buddhist monastery system. The influence of the monasteries was one of the most significant factors in the development of his teachings into the leading philosophy of India. He died at the young age of 32, in Kedarnath, India.
Sri Ma was an Indian holy woman with no formal religious training, who did not follow any single guru and was best known for her ecstatic spiritual states, but was also credited by her followers with prophecy, faith healing and other miracles. She emphasized the importance of detachment from religious devotion and the outer world, and encouraged her followers to serve others. Although she became a famous saint, she always maintained a stance on the edge of several religious traditions, but without endorsing any of them.
Sri Ma Anandamayi was born on April 30, 1896, into a pious and prestigious Brahmin household in the small village of Kheora, in what is now Bangladesh. Her birth name was Nirmala Sundari Devi, but she was given the name Anandamayi by her followers. The name was translated by Paramahansa Yoganada as "joy-permeated". She entered into an arranged marriage at the age of 13 but, as was the tradition at the time, the marriage was not consummated and she spent years living in her brother-in-law's house, much of it apparently in a trance. When her brother-in-law died she went to live with her husband at age 18, where she met a young man who was considered crazy, but was impressed by her quiet way of being. He called her "mother" (Ma in Bengali) and predicted that one day the entire world would address her in that way.
It was a celibate marriage, though not by her husband's choice. When thoughts of sexuality occurred to her husband, Anandamayi's body would take on the qualities of death and she would grow faint. He had to repeat mantras to bring her back to normal consciousness. Her husband thought she might be possessed and took her to exorcists and doctors. One physician diagnosed “god intoxication” from which there is no medical cure. Her husband thought the situation was temporary but it proved to be permanent. His relatives said he should remarry but he did not follow their advice. Later, he accepted Anandamayi as his guru.
Others also came to recognize her spiritual qualities. She would hold difficult yogic positions for long periods and it was said the sound of religious chanting would bring about ecstatic feelings in her. She would become stiff and even fall to the ground in a faint. Her body would occasionally become deformed during these events and her limbs would seemingly go into impossible positions. In Indian devotional traditions, changes in bodily structure and state are considered to be spontaneous expressions of religious emotion.
Anandamayi went on various pilgrimages traveling throughout India, stopping in ashrams and attending religious festivals. Although large crowds of people often followed her around, she considered individual identity to be a kind of spiritual disease. "My consciousness has never associated itself with this temporary body,” she would say. Her style of teaching included jokes, songs, discourses on everyday life, meditation and reading of scriptures. But she claimed such actions were not a function of her will and occurred without planning or intent.
She taught how to live a God-centered life in the world and also advocated spiritual equality for women. But she did not advocate the same method for all. "How can one impose limitations on the infinite by declaring this is the only path? Why should there be so many different religions and sects? Because through every one of them He gives Himself to Himself, so that each person may advance according to his inborn nature." She influenced the spirituality of thousands of people who came to see her throughout her long life, and died in 1982.
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