(below are a number of questions presented to Br. Martin and his answers) 

Prayer and Meditation

The question was: what is the difference between prayer and meditation?

The ultimate purpose of prayer and meditation, as a means, is the same: it is the purification of the ego and transforming it as the vehicle of the Infinite or God.

In prayer there is a relationship with God. One relates with God through feelings and emotions. Prayer has many layers but the ultimate prayer is when a person says to God,  'not my will, let your will be done'. In this prayer there is an experience of the surrender of the human will to the divine will and the experience of the descending of the divine spirit into the human being. A person will say 'I am in God and God is in me'. God is experienced as personal, loving and caring.  Creation is the work of God and God cares for his or her creation. We see this in the God experience of Jesus. This experience also gives a mission to that person to transform the world and human relationships according to the plan of God.  Creation is the place where human beings share divine attributes in loving relationships.

We need to understand that prayer has different aspects:

Firstly, prayer is a means: it is the purification of the ego and surrendering it to God

Secondly, prayer is a state: realising one's unity with God. God and I are one or Only God is.

Thirdly, prayer is a manifestation: it is allowing the divine life to flow in and through us in relationships. God is working in and through us.  Each expression of our life is prayer.

The purpose of meditation, as a means, is to help us to go beyond the mind, the thinking process, the ego, and realise the infinite, which is described as Witness Consciousness, Emptiness, Fullness, God or Brahman, Atman etc.

In meditation there may not be an experience of surrender or descending of the spirit. There may not be a mission of social transformation. There may not be much focus on the emotions and feelings. The goal is to go beyond emotions and feelings and thinking. Here God or Infinite is experienced as impersonal and there may be a tendency to see creation as an illusion and work of illusion or desire.

Again we need to see meditation in different aspects:

Meditation as a means: it is the purification of our mind or ego and becoming aware of the inner transcendent Being.

Meditation as a state: to be aware of oneself as the witness consciousness or emptiness or Brahman or Atman.

Meditation as manifestation: when one lives from the witness consciousness, each expression of life is meditation.

So there are some important differences in the way we experience God through meditation and through prayer.

The Prophetic religions like Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Baha'i focus on prayer as an important means of purification of ego. Now a days they also teach different techniques of meditation.

The wisdom religions, like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Taoism focus on meditation as an important means for the purification of the ego, even though prayers, japa, are very important in Hinduism.

The ideal is to integrate both prayer and meditation in one's spiritual practice so that one's experience of God or ultimate reality becomes whole.


The question was: is there rebirth or reincarnation?

When people ask about rebirth or reincarnation it usually refers to the rebirth or reincarnation of individual souls. For me this is a very limited area. We need to look at it from a larger level. The essence of reincarnation is continuity. The past entering into the present and going into the future. For this we need to ask the question: is the past using the present to go to the future? The answer is yes. This continuity of the past or reincarnation is not limited to the individual souls only. People may believe in individual reincarnation or may not believe in it. This cannot be proved with certainty. Believing or not believing are not very useful. If we believe in it we are conditioned by it. If we don't believe in it then we can be blind to it. What is important is to see the fact of continuity or reincarnation. Only this can help us to make a choice. In this context what I am concerned is the continuity or reincarnation of belief systems.

If I say 'I am a Christian' it is the reincarnation of Christianity. If I say ' I am a Hindu' it is the reincarnation of Hinduism. This means I do not live but Christianity lives in me. I do not live but Hinduism lives in me. This means Christianity which began 2018 years ago is reincarnating. Hinduism, which began few thousands of years ago is reincarnating. This is not something to believe but it is a fact. The moment we create a belief system it takes an independent entity. It is like a parasite. It needs individuals to continue or to reincarnate. (this also will apply to persons one follows or believes). For example there are around six billion individuals in the world. But when we look at them belonging to religions: there are around 2 billion Christians, 1.6 billion Muslims and 1 billion Hindus, 400 million Buddhists. It means four religions are guiding around 5 billion individuals. That means only 5 belief systems are living and not 5 billion individuals. Individuals come and go but religions continue. This is what I call reincarnation of belief systems or religions. This is not something we have to believe but it is a fact. This means the present is not free. It is not original. It is not creative. It is only a vehicle for the past to go to the future. The present says: the past is the way, the truth and the life.

A master has said: I am the way, the truth and the life.

This statement has two aspects: freedom from the past: I do not follow any belief or anybody from the past. I am completely free from the past. I am original and creative. I decide each moment of my life what to do and what not to do.

Freedom to the future: if I do not follow any belief or anybody from the past then I have no right to use the future for my continuity. The future is free, original and creative and has the potential to say: I am the way, the truth and the life. I am the way, the truth and the life is the statement made by the present freed from the past and the future, freed from reincarnation.

The present freed from the past manifests eternity. It is the life of fullness overflowing into the present. This is called incarnation. Eternity does not seek continuity. It does not reincarnate. A person who manifests eternity has no belief, has no religion, has no authority from the past but says ' I am the way, the truth and the life'. A person who believes in something or somebody cannot say this. When the past manifests in the present it is called reincarnation. We may believe in someone or in something from the past and identify with something or someone from the past. Our identity comes from the past. When we believe something from the past or follow someone from the past we become second hand human beings. We lose our dignity. We cannot say: I am the way, the truth and the life.

It is natural and may be necessary to begin with the past, to believe in something or someone from the past but it only like a womb to prepare and then we need to make the transition from the past to eternity, from reincarnation to incarnation. Only in incarnation we can say that we are born or we are living. We are free. If we live in incarnation then we are free from reincarnation. We make others also free from reincarnation.

Is there reincarnation, the continuity of the past in the present? The answer is yes. But we can be free from it. We have the choice to live in reincarnation or in incarnation. If we (the present) live the life of reincarnation (past) we are slaves in our own house. If we (present) live the life of incarnation (eternity) then we are masters in our house. We have to make the choice: to be slaves or to be masters, to reincarnate or to incarnate.

The question was: how do we know that a truth is pure or corrupted? 

Christ said: Truth will make you free. It is the nature of Truth to make people free. The first manifestation of Truth is that it reveals who people already are and invites them to realise that truth. This truth says that nobody or nothing in the world outside can give you anything which you do not have or which you already are. You have or you are everything within yourself and you have to discover or realise it. This truth does not desire any followers or disciples but only friends. Christ said: I am the light of the world and you are the light of world. I no longer call you my servants or disciples but I call you my friends. These are the statements of pure truth. 

The second manifestation of truth comes when people are not ready to see this truth and are very much conditioned and need help to see this truth. This truth manifests as methods of purification or spiritual practices. Once people see their true nature then they are free from these methods. It is like a person who has a headache. He goes to the doctor and the doctor prescribes a medicine. Once the headache is cured that person does not need any medication. He or she is free from it. The relationship of doctor and patient is temporary. The relationship between a guru and disciple,  master and student is temporary. This truth is like a nest in which people are given security,  protection and nourishment until they are ready to fly into the freedom of infinite life. 

If a truth demands absolute obedience of will and intellect and makes people completely dependent on it and has power and control over them until they are dead, If a truth creates spiritual hierarchy and oppressive spiritual structures so that people cannot become free from them then we can say such truth is corrupted. The corrupted truth may have the power of attraction and even seduction and may give some shelter and protection to people but it may take some time for people to realise that they have lost their freedom, that they are in a cage. A cage gives protection, shelter and nourishment but it imprisons people. No growth is possible. 

In simple words Truth that makes people free is pure truth. Truth that desires power and control over it's followers is a corrupted truth. 

The question was: you work on the Hindu-Christian dialogue. How do you describe a Hindu? Some say that everyone who is born in India is a Hindu, since the word Hindu comes from the word Sindhu, connected to the river Sindhu. What do you think?

To describe that everyone born in India (in Sindhu region) is a Hindu does not do justice to the vision of the sages that belong to the Sindhu region.

In order to describe a Hindu we need to understand the aspirations of sages that belong to the Sindhu region.  The aspiration of the Sindhu Sages is very clearly and beautifully described in the Vedic Chant

Asatoma sadgamaya

Tamasoma jyothirgamaya

Mrthyorma amritangamaya

Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.

We can translate this:

Lead us

From the finite(asat) to the Infinite(sat)

From ignorance(darkness) to wisdom(light)

From Time(birth and death) to Eternity(deathlessness).

We can also say:

From divisions to unity

From Samsara(bondage) to Moksha(liberation)

From violence to peace.

Thinking that the finite is the infinite, relative truth is the fullness of truth, makes one to live in ignorance and division that contributes for bondage(samsara) divisions and violence in the world. Samsara is the life of birth, death and rebirth. Moksha is liberation from birth, death and rebirth.

The aspiration of the Sindhu sages is to transcend Samsara and find Moksha, liberation. A person who lives in Moksha lives for the welfare of the whole of creation, lives in vasudaivakutumbakam, the whole of creation as one family and prays, lokha samastha sukino bhavantu,  may all beings in the creation be happy.

For this we need to make a distinction between a HINDU and a Hindu.

HINDU is one who lives the life of Moksha, liberation, the Infinite(Sat), the life of wisdom, love, unity, eternity and peace.

A Hindu is one who is striving for Moksha, liberation, for the Infinite, for wisdom, for unity and love, for freedom, for eternity and peace.

A Hindu is one who is striving to grow into a HINDU.



The question was: how do you describe a Christian?


Jesus Christ said to Pilate: I came to bear witness to the Truth. Pilate asked him: what is Truth? For the reasons we do not know, Christ was silent. But we know that Christ proclaimed the kingdom of God. He lived the life of the kingdom of God. He bore witness to it. His Truth was the kingdom of God. He invited everyone to search for it and grow into it.

The kingdom of God is the fullness of the love of God manifesting in the fullness of the love of the neighbour. When Christ said, The Father and I are one, it is the fullness of the love of God. When he said, whatever you do to others (specially those who are in need) you do to me, is the fullness of the love of neighbour.  So Christ's consciousness was one with God and one with the whole of creation and of humanity. He described this through a parable: 'the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. It is the smallest of all seeds but when it grows it becomes so big that the birds of the air will come and make their nests in it'.

It is expanding our limited individual identity into the unity with God, with the whole of creation and that of humanity. It is breaking down all the barriers and realising one God, one creation and one humankind. Our individual heart grows into the heart of God that embraces the whole of creation.

So we need to make a distinction between a CHRISTIAN and a Christian.

A CHRISTIAN is one who lives in the fullness of the love of God manifesting in the fullness of the love of neighbour. In this sense Jesus Christ was a CHRISTIAN.

A Christian is one who is striving to grow into the fullness of the love of God and the fullness of the love of neighbour. A Christian is one who is striving to become a CHRISTIAN.



The Buddha and Christ

The question was: the Buddha summarised his truth into Four Noble Truths:

1. There is suffering in the world

2. The cause of suffering is desire

3. Desire has to be stoped

4. Eight fold path is the way to stop the desire

Can you summarise the Truth of Jesus Christ into similar way,  into Four Noble Truths?

Yes, we can also summarise Jesus' Truth into four affirmations:

1. There is dissatisfaction and unfulfilment in the world(suffering or sin).

2. The cause of dissatisfaction is desire that comes from emptiness.

3. This desire has to be transformed into the desire of fullness(God).

4. Repentance is the way to make this transformation.

Repentance is transcending our identities that come from time and space and discovering our identities that belongs to eternity. The identities that belong to time and space create inner emptiness that starts the movement of desire and becoming that tries to fill the emptiness. This movement causes dissatisfaction, unfulfillment and ultimately suffering. This movement is called the movement of sin.

The identities that belong to eternity manifest life from fullness and free of dissatisfaction, unfulfillment, suffering and sin.  This way of living is called unfolding. It is eternity manifesting in the present.

The identities that belong to time and space are like a pond that has no spring inside and fills it's emptiness from the water outside.

The identities that belong to eternity are like a pond that has a spring inside and overflows it's fullness wherever it is necessary.

Repentance is moving from the state of emptiness to the state of fullness.



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