Fully Human-Fully Divine: Integral Dynamic Monotheism: A Meeting Point between the Vedic Vision & the vision of Christ

by John Martin Sahajananda


This synthetic book of Brother John Martin Sahajananda gives a thought-provoking contents. Some of the book is based on his previous book, ‘What is Truth?

Br Martin makes a comprehensive and valuable integration of the prophetic teaching of Christianity and the wisdom elements of Vedic tradition. These two types of tradition are found in the original Christian and Vedic teachings, but have become distorted over time (pp.7-8). Br Martin focuses on the Vedic Vision and on the Vision of Christ, rather than ‘Hinduism’ and ‘Christianity’ which have both become complex and heterogeneous (p.9). By doing so, he finds a meeting point in their shared Integral Dynamic Monotheism, although some systems emphasize the human nature and others the divine nature of human beings; some emphasize internal purification and others the importance of love of God and neighbour and social transformation (p.10).

He includes the word ‘dynamic’ in the title because, he writes, ‘Human beings can experience God in different ways but God cannot be reduced into any one way. It is growing from the dualistic relationship with God to the non-dualistic relationship and then returning back to the dualistic relationship’ (p.9). This reflects the teaching of Ramakrishna that bhakti marga and karma marga are the ways which take one to advaitic experience. After reaching advaitic experience, Ramakrishna ‘kept on praying to a personal God because he had a mission to follow’ (p.40).

On page 21 there is a useful table comparing great sayings, or mahavakyas, from each tradition. For me, the statement, ‘Love is non-dual consciousness’, as a way of expressing ‘God is love’ (I John 4:8), opened up a new realization.

Br Martin summarizes the teaching of prophetic monotheism in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and outlines the many different systems of Hindu monotheism (pp.25-44). He then gives a personal consideration of these teachings, making his own observations on each one (pp.45-62). Returning to consideration of the Vedic vision, Br Martin emphasizes the importance of the realization of the identity of Atman with Brahman, Atman being the ground of human consciousness, and Brahman the ground of the universe (p.63). Next, there is a very helpful explanation of the four levels of consciousness which are presented in the Chandogya and Mandukya Upanishads (pp.64-65). The Svetasvathara Upanishad introduces the theme of bhakti, devotion to God; the Isa Upanishad adds the necessity of action done with wisdom. The Bhagavat Gita introduces the concept of the marriage of wisdom and action in love (pp.66-67).

A surprising statement to me was: ‘One experience of Jesus Christ also comes under this category [advaita] when he said that the Father and he were one.’ (p.60) It surprised me because I had come to consider Christ as always advaitin. The meaning became clear when Br Martin discussed this further in the chapter on the spiritual vision of Jesus Christ, where he traces Jesus’ developing consciousness throughout his life, with the non-dual awakened consciousness as ‘the last stage of his ascending journey to God’ (p.74). However, Jesus appeared to fluctuate between all the stages of consciousness throughout his life, a feeling with which we can easily identify. Later (pp. 95-6), Br Martin presents his theory that Jesus grew in experience and realization: he expressed dvaitin (dualistic) thought when he said ‘My Father is greater than I’; visistadvaita (qualified non-dualistic) when he said ‘I am in the Father and the Father is in me’; and advaitin (non- dualistic) when he said ‘The Father and I are one.

Christians traditionally believe that Jesus Christ is fully human and fully divine. Br Martin extends this possibility to each one of us. Also, the vision of Jesus Christ is not limited to any one particular system, such as ‘Christianity’ (p. 82).

Atman is the ground of human consciousness andBrahman is the ground of the universe.To discover Atman is to discover Brahman, because they are one’ (p. 91 cf p. 63) This experience is expressed in two Mahavakyas aham brahma asmi, I am Brahman; and tatvamasi, Thou art that. The Vedic seers cannot be put in any particular ‘system’; they simply communicated their experiences and others have tried to label them(p.92).The author of the Bhagavat Gita included every spiritual path and gave a vision of love in which the path of wisdom and the path of action are united. Br Martin makes the important point that we need to go beyond the theories of karma and reincarnation, as did the Upanishad sages by realizing their oneness with Brahman. The Isa Upanishad says, ‘The actions done in God bind not the soul of a human being’, and Jesus said: ‘The works which I do are not my own, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.’ (pp. 100-101).

Br Martin suggests that human beings’ growth in their relationship with God passes through six stages, and we finally enter the experience of ‘the eternal covenant’, realizing who we are from all eternity: we remember our true self and enter the universal mind. Our mission is to help everyone discover that truth (pp.111- 114). Jesus invited his followers to realize the unity of human consciousness and divine consciousness. Jewish leaders did not recognize this, which cost Jesus his life. ‘He accepted his death for the spiritual liberation of humanity’ (p. 122). We are still in the process of understanding Jesus’ message that conversion is from the conditioned truth of religion to unconditioned universal truth.

In this book Br Martin gives an extremely valuable synthesis of all his insights. It merits careful study and, more than that, can enable us to share his experience that we, like Christ, are fully human and fully divine.


Hilary Knight







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