Religion imparts spirituality but religious fanaticism destroys spirituality. Religion and spirituality are distinctive. Spirituality is common to all religions. Research on Soul and spiritual happiness are the aims of spirituality.
The persons responsible for the formation of world religions such as Buddha, Mahaveer, Jesus Christ, Prophet Mohammed were all expounders of Spirituality and were against religions. Therefore they were persecuted by religionists and religious fanatics. Jesus christ was the most persecuted among them. He was murdered. Not an ordinary murder but He was tortured and killed. The instrument used for that purpose was the cross.
The words which proceeded from His mouth when He was tortured on the cross declare Him as an epitome of spirituality and as a Spiritual leader and the revealer of spirituality to the world. Therefore his spiritual teachings are widely followed in all countries of the world.
The goodnews about Him happens to be an exemplification of what true spirituality is.
What is true spirituality?
What are the true spiritual perceptions he revealed on the cross? The common human temperament is to think of persecuting in return for persecution. Beyond thinking it the animal state is to repay evil for evil.
The state of doing evil to those who did good is different. It can be enumerated as a demonic state. Good human state is not not to repay evil in return for those who did evil. It is related to a divine state.
Jesus Christ revealed that divine state on the cross. He did not curse those who tortured him nor was he scolded or silent bearing the injustice they did. He is compassionate for them. He makes efforts to comprehend them even though they schemed, conspired and hung him in that torturous killing instrument. He reveals his opinions as one who had fully comprehended them. He grieves for those who persecute him as they are unable to perceive that which must be perceived. He is most concerned that no evil must befall on those who do evil out of ignorance.
This concern is the concern of spirituality. It is here that revelation of spirituality originates. No spiritual leader desires the destruction of any soul. There arises a state where spiritual leaders are bound to save the souls from destruction. The very words of Jesus Christ on the cross reveal to us that fulfillment of responsibility and complete revelation.
" Father forgive them, for they know not what they do"
These words which reveal Jesus Christ as the spiritual leader have penetrated the hearts of many in the world and that have cleansed their hearts and are medicine that healed and made them pure.
The Bible talks about a spiritual state of a spiritual warrior who came in the line of Jesus Christ. (Acts 7: 57-60 )
Even though Stephen was murdered he is exhibited to us as a triumphant warrior who had practised the spirituality of Jesus Christ. The words he uttered when dying reflect in him the existence of spiritual boldness left behind by Jesus Christ.
Was Stephen victorious or defeated? Many may perceive that the death of Stephen by murder was a defeat. But those who are cognizant of Spirituality will not think likewise. It is erroneous if thought in that way.
Because it is not death which reveals one's victory or defeat. Death is just an instrument used for one's functioning which denotes only his egression from the body he had so far. He has life even after leaving the body and he survives. He has a Spiritual life in the flesh while he is in the body. When he departs from the body he lives a spiritual life without a body. Therefore no one can destroy his life. Only the body of Stephen was annihilated.
We see that the presider of the group which was responsible for the destruction of Stephen's body was a young man named Saul. The Bible indicates that those who stoned Stephen to death removed and laid their dresses at the feet of Saul.
Why did Saul preside? Was there any personal enmity between Saul and Stephen? What evil did Stephen commit that prompted Saul to come with a group to murder Stephen ?
Stephen did not commit any evil to Saul. But he uttered only good tenets much needed for the welfare of Saul's soul. But Saul was not able to comprehend the good perceptions pertinent to his soul. His soul was encompassed with ignorance. His religious perceptions which he was perceiving as noble truths were not able to emancipate him from ignorance.
The tenets of Jewish religion that ought to give spiritual liberation on the contrary led to the evolution of religious fanaticism in him. Due to religious fanaticism he turned out to be a murderer. He was unable to discern the distinction between Spirituality, Religion and Religious Fanaticism. Due to fanaticism he was unable to understand spiritual truths but taking his stand to destroy the greatness of his spiritual life. He was unable to comprehend the spiritual fact that one cannot be annihilated by dissipating the body. He was unable to apprehend the fundamental truth that by destroying Stephen's body he was destroying his own spiritual life. This is because he got entangled in the vanity of fanaticism.
For the questions who won stephen or saul ? Who was defeated? The common human instinct is to say that Saul won and Stephen was defeated. But let us see what history says. When we analyse what spiritual truth reveals we find Stephen as a spiritual truimphant warrior and Saul as spiritually defeated one. How?
Stephen's death and his last words he said began to penetrate into the heart of Saul. Even though he was persistent to involve in his fanatic action Stephen's spiritual courage began to melt the heart of Saul. . There rose a question in his heart. God's grace began to operate in him. His religious fanaticism and his religious tenets began to quit from him. New spiritual truths became visible to him. Due toGod's grace he experienced a spiritual rejuvenation and became a new creation. The spiritual courage of stephen destroyed Saul. Saul became Paul and Stephen won. And Christian Theology is the revelation that was divulged through that Paul - consummate and divine spiritual truths.
The Saul who turned as Paul, who started extirpating spiritual truths, having been conquered by spiritual truths gave them profusely to the world. These are revealed through the letters written by him. Out of the 27 books which expound Christian truths more than half ie., 14 books are in his name.
The spiritual truths which was divulged by Jesus Christ, that got revealed as letters of Paul who had been conquered through Stephen, are adored as parts of the Holy Bible. Spiritual truths are different from the religion that supports those truths and religion is different from religious fanaticism which is perceived to safeguard religions.
Religion comprises spiritual truths. Religious Fanaticism is contrary to spiritual truth; Spiritual truths exist in all the world religions. Religious fanatics will not be able to comprehend this truth. Because, Fanaticism is hostile to spiritual truths. Therefore Spiritual truth, Religion, Fanaticsm are distinct to each other. Spiritual truths arre related to soul and God. God is common to all men and universal to all religions.
Saying that he belongs only to a particular religion is a statement of those who are ignorant of spiritual truths. Because, we have already seen that spiritual truths and fanaticism are distinctive.
Therefore there rises a difference between those who reveal spiritual truths and those who follow religion.
Religious extremists begin to deplore those who reveal spiritual truths. Hatred turns to hostility and hostility to Fanaticism. Fanaticism murders spiritualists. In accordance Jesus Christ who revealed divine spiritual truths was murdered.
In the name of Jesus christ who divulged spiritual truths a group evolved and later on that group transfigured as religion.
The divine spiritual truths which was exposed by Jesus Christ are slammered in Christian religion. Like all religions Christianity also became a religion and turned as one among the existing religions.
A question arises that, will Christian fanaticism try to detest, hostile and murder other religions like the Jewish religious fanaticism which killed Jesus, Stephen and the disciples of Jesus? Christian religion is claimed of not only possesing the divine spiritual truths of Jesus christ but also as one which directs all men to attain spiritual liberation or salvation. If the question is put forth whether the spiritual truths of Jesus Christ and the examples he exposed or the christian religion deserve this claim, the answer is that only Christ deserves this claim. It requires a spiritual illumination to discern that Christ and christian religion are distinctive.
There are no divisions in Christ. There are divisions in Christian religion. When we take a deep look at the religious denominations and view it in spiritual luminance history expounds obviously that all these divisions were formed as a result of departing from spirituality.
Those religious denominations detest each other and hostile to each other and murder; there by resulting a lack of distinction between Christianity and other religions.
Therefore a person following Christ is distinctive from that following christian religion. Following a religious denomination is still different. God is common to all people in this world. Jesus Christ, son of God is also common to all mankind. The spiritual emanicipation of Jesus christ is universal and essential to all men of the world. But, Christianity is suffering being entangled in racial, lingual , cultural, national, religious and denominational fanaticism.
Spiritual warriors like Stephen who was instrument in the transformation of Saul to Paul are now desired. In order to fulfill that, need of the spiritual warriors who are free from religious bindings are needed. Let God awaken spiritual warriors.
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Dr. M. Deivanayagam
Dr. D. Devakala
The Revival Movement of Dravidian Religion