Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Thoughts and Aphorisms 38

Thoughts and Aphorisms 38

38. Strange! the Germans have disproved the existence of Christ; yet his crucifixion remains still a greater historic fact than the death of Caesar.

 [Sri Aurobindo: Thoughts and Aphorisms]

There is a Christ myth theory which is based on the idea that Jesus Christ of Nazarath was not a physical historical person, but was a fictional or mythological non-physical character created by the early Christian community.

Scholars such as Paula Fredrikson, Robert Funk, E P Sanders, Hector Avalos, Albert Schweitzer, Earl Doherty (who popularized the myth theory), German historian George Albert Wells, historian Richard Carrier, French thinkers Constantin-François Volney and Charles François Dupuis, Bruno Baner, Willaiam Benjamin Smith, John Mackinnon Robertson, Arthur Drews, Paul-Louis Couchond, Richard Dawkins, French atheist philosopher Michwl Onfray and many others from the eighteenth century to the twentieth century have stated that the character of Jesus Christ was not a physical historical fact. But he was, according to them, was a myth. They said that the much of the material in the New Testament should not be taken ast face-value.

Some Christian sects, within 300 AD, claimed that Jesus Christ did not exist as a physical human being. He was considered to be an incorporeal being. Docetists held that Jesus Christ only seemed to exist; he was a n incorporeal being, a phantasm, a pure spirit and therefore immortal. He could not die.

Marcion of Sinope (c.85 – c.160) was a bishop in early Christianity. Marcion held Jesus to be the son of the Heavenly Father but understood the incarnation in a docetic manner, i.e. that Jesus' body was not physical, but only an imitation of a material body, and denied Jesus' physical and bodily birth, death, and resurrection.

George Albert Wells (born May 22, 1926), is an Emeritus Professor of German at Birkbeck, University of London. He studied about the historicity of Jesus and wrote a book The Jesus of the Early Christians in 1971. He is supported the thesis that Jesus is essentially a mythical rather than a historical figure. This theory was presented by German biblical scholars such as Bruno Bauer and Arthur Drews.

However, the purpose of this presentation is not to elaborate that the character of Jesus Christ was a myth, but to state that according to Sri Aurobindo, Jesus Christ was an Avatar, like Krishna and Buddha.

According to Sri Aurobindo, an Avatar  is 'a dual phenomenon of divinity and humanity' born on earth to act as the instrument of the divine consciousness and power and the divine works.

Sri Aurobindo has said:

'The Avatar is always a dual phenomenon of divinity and humanity; the Divine takes upon himself the human nature with all its outward limitations and makes them the circumstances, means, instruments of the divine consciousness and the divine power, a vessel of the divine birth and the divine works. But so surely it must be, since otherwise the object of the Avatar's descent is not fulfilled; for that object is precisely to show that the human birth with all its limitations can be made such a means and instrument of the divine birth and divine works, precisely to show that the human type of consciousness can be compatible with the divine essence of consciousness made manifest, can be converted into its vessel, drawn into nearer conformity with it by a change of its mould and a heightening of its powers of light and love and strength and

purity; and to show also how it can be done. If the Avatar were to act in an entirely supernormal fashion, this object would not be fulfilled.'  [Essays on The Gita, Ch.XVI]

Thus, according to Sri Aurobindo, an Avatar is a real, physical person born on earth and is not a myth. Sri Aurobindo, whom The Mother has declared to be an Avatar of the Supreme Divine, says that Jesus Christ was a real physical person, and an Avatar of the Divine.

Sri Aurobindo has further said, explaining the purpose of Avatarhood on earth:

'It is, we might say, to exemplify the possibility of the Divine manifest in the human being, so that man may see what that is and take courage to grow into it. It is also to leave the influence of that manifestation vibrating in the earth-nature and the soul of that manifestation presiding over its upward endeavour. It is to give a spiritual mould of divine manhood into which the seeking soul of the human being can cast itself. It is to give a dharma, a religion, – not a mere creed, but a method of inner and outer living, – a way, a rule and law of self-moulding by which he can grow towards divinity. It is too, since this growth, this ascent is no mere isolated and individual phenomenon, but like all in the divine world-activities a collective business, a work and the work for the race, to assist the human march, to hold it together in its great crises, to break the forces of the downward gravitation when they grow too insistent, to uphold or restore the great dharma of the Godward law in man's nature, to prepare even, however far off, the kingdom of God, the victory of the seekers of light and perfection, sādhūunām, and the  overthrow of those who fight for the continuance of the evil and the darkness. All these are recognised objects of the descent of the Avatar, and it is usually by his work that the mass of men seek to distinguish him and for that that they are ready to worship him. It is only the spiritual who see that this external Avatarhood is a sign, in the symbol of a human life, of the eternal inner Godhead making himself manifest in the field of their own human mentality and corporeality so that they can grow into unity with that and be possessed by it. The divine manifestation of a Christ, Krishna, Buddha in external humanity has for its inner truth the same manifestation of the eternal Avatar within in our own inner humanity. That which has been done in the outer human life of earth, may berepeated in the inner life of all human beings'. [Essays on The Gita Page 150 ]

Sri Aurobindo has further said in "Letters on Yoga" on Avatarhood:

'There are two sides of the phenomenon of Avatarhood, the Divine Consciousness and the instrumental personality. The Divine Consciousness is omnipotent but it has put forth the instrumental personality in Nature under the conditions of Nature and it uses it according to the rules of the game – though also sometimes to change the rules of the game. If Avatarhood is only a flashing miracle, then I have no use for it. If it is a coherent part of the arrangement of the omnipotent Divine in Nature, then I can understand and accept it.

I have said that the Avatar is one who comes to open the Way for humanity to a higher consciousness – if nobody can follow the Way, then either our conception of the thing, which is also that of Christ and Krishna and Buddha also, is all wrong or the whole life and action of the Avatar is quite futile. X seems to say that there is no way and no possibility of following, that the struggles and sufferings of the Avatar are unreal and all humbug, – there is no possibility of struggle for one who represents the Divine. Such a conception makes nonsense of the whole idea of Avatarhood; there is then no reason in it, no necessity in it, no meaning in it. The Divine being all-powerful can lift people up without bothering to come down on earth. It is only if it is a part of the world-arrangement that he should take upon himself the burden of humanity and open the Way that Avatarhood has any meaning.

The Avatar is not supposed to act in a non-human way – he takes up human action and uses human methods with the human consciousness in front and the Divine behind. If he did not his taking a human body would have no meaning and would be of no use to anybody. He could just as well have stayed above and done things from there.' [Letters on Yoga, pp 408-409]

When the Divine becomes an Avatar, He or She accepts all the shortcomings and limitations of the human nature, with the aim of showing the mankind how to conquer and surpass all the human limitations in order to evolve and proceed towards the Goal: the growth and development and evolution towards Divinity. But that is not to be done through exhibition of supernatural powers. Christ accepted crucifixion but did not show any supernatural power to be liberated from the Crusade. The Divine exhibited His Sacrifice for the humanity.

The Mother has said:

'The story of Christ. as it has been told, is the concrete and dramatic enactment of the Divine sacrifice: the Supreme Lord, who is All-Light, All-Knowledge, All-Power, All-Beauty, All-Love, All-Bliss, accepting to assume human  ignorance and in matter, in order to help men to emerge from the falsehood in which they live and because of which they die.'  [The Mother : On Thoughts and Aphorisms]

Barindranath Chaki

4th June 2013