by Brother Martin

In this article I wish to propose that the message of Christ is an invitation to transform our life. This transformation can take place only when we transcend or renounce our identity that comes from time and space and discover our identity that belongs to the timeless, eternal.

Every religion proposes its proper goal of spiritual life and that is what makes that religion unique.  

The goal of spiritual life in Hinduism is called Moksha or liberation. Liberation negatively means freedom from birth, death and rebirth (reincarnation). This life of birth and death and rebirth is called samsara. Moksha is freedom from samsara. A Hindu desires Moksha, freedom from samsara. Liberation or Moksha positively can mean realizing oneness with God, Brahman or union with God or to be in the presence of God.

The goal of all spiritual practices in Buddhism is Nirvana, extinction of desire. This makes one free from samsara, which is birth, death and rebirth or reincarnation. The life of desire is called samsara and the life of freedom from desire is called Nirvana. The life of desire causes suffering and freedom from desire makes one free from suffering. A Buddhist strives to liberate himself or herself from desire and enter into the state of Nirvana. Positively Nirvana is the state of emptiness (absence of desire or freedom from desire), wisdom and compassion.

The goal of life in Jainism is also called Nirvana, but it is not just the extinction of desire but extinction of karma, which is the cause of bondage or samsara: birth, death and rebirth. By freeing from karma, a person enters into the state of Nirvana Positively Nirvana is to be in own’s own state of pristine purity and freedom. Hence the purpose of all spiritual practices in Jainism are oriented to free oneself from karma (the source of activity, samsara).

The goal of life in Sikhism is also described as Moksha or liberation. It is freedom from samsara, birth, death and rebirth. Positively it is to merge with God. By merging into God one becomes free from samsara.

The common to all these religions that  have originated in India is that they divide life into two categories : samsara and Moksha or Nirvana. The followers of these religions are invited to be free from samsara and experience Moksha, Nirvana or liberation. It is to transcend samsara and enter into Moksha or Nirvana. Somehow being born in this world is seen as something negative and a product of karma or desire one. One desires not to be born so as not to die.

The goal of life according Taoism is to live in harmony with the Tao (The Infinite) at all times. It is the harmony between the finite and the infinite. It is to flow harmoniously with the cosmos, perfectly relaxed, perfectly loving, perfectly in balance with one’s surroundings and to be perfectly aware.

In Shintosim gods are called kami. They are sacred spirits which take the form of things and concepts important to life, such as wind, rain, mountains, trees, rivers and fertility. Consequently, the purpose of most Shinto rituals is to keep away evil spirits by purification, prayers and offerings to the kami. The purpose of life in Shinto is to enjoy and value nature's beauty, observe rituals, and show allegiance to one’s family, group, community, and to the kami of the area in which one was born, or the kami worshiped by ones ancestors.

Zoroastrianism is one of the very old religions. The purpose of life according to Zoroastrianism is “to be among those who renew the world to progress towards perfection”, through good thoughts, good Words and good deeds. There is only one path that is the path of Truth. ‘Do the right thing because it is the right thing to do and then all the beneficial rewards come to you also’.

The ultimate goal of life in Judaism is to follow the Ten Commandments given by God in the Torah, in this life. By doing this Jews will be protected by God and will be given prosperity. 

* Rabbi Lewis Eron  writes:-

"...The goal of Jewish life is to embody Torah, the living word of the living God addressed to all creation...”

“…Our bodies are like Torah scrolls. They both contain the living word of our living God…”

“…like Joseph, we have reached our human goal. We have come to embody Torah, we have become part of Torah, and, through Torah, our wisdom and insights endure as part of Israel's legacy to the coming generations…”

The ultimate goal of Christianity is salvation or justification. It is to be in the presence of God and feel to be innocent, not to feel guilty. It is freedom from sin. This entry into the presence of God, paradise or heaven, precedes the Day of Judgment. For some this salvation is a grace, a free gift from God received through faith in Jesus Christ and for some it is through both faith and good works.

The ultimate goal of life in Islam is to enter into Paradise, following the Day of Judgment. A Muslim has to obey Allah by following his commands given in Koran.

According to the faith of Baha’i, ‘The purpose of God in creating man hath been, and will ever be, to enable him to know his Creator and to attain His Presence. To this most excellent aim, this supreme objective, all the heavenly Books and the divinely-revealed and weighty Scriptures unequivocally bear witness. The purpose of the teaching of the prophet is to impress upon the seeker that he should regard all else beside God as transient, and count all things save Him, Who is the Object of all adoration, as utter nothingness. Baha’i’s consider that the life in this world is a preparation or development for the next life. Just like a baby prepares or develops in the womb to come out so also our life in this world is a preparation for the next.  What we see common to all these prophetic religions is that to live a good and moral life in this world. To be born in this world is not bad but to know, to love, to serve God and others in this world and receive reward after death.

I wish to distinguish Christianity from Christ. Christ is not identical with Christianity. With all respect and humility I say that Christianities are different interpretations of Jesus’ message but no Christian Church contains the fullness of Jesus’ Truth. Jesus’ message and his vision goes beyond Christian churches and even religions.


The ultimate goal of life according to Jesus Christ is transformation. It is the transformation of one’s life (samsara) into God’s life and one’s actions (karma) into God’s actions. It is the transformation of human desires into God’s desires. It is the transformation of our ordinary life into the divine life. It is transforming our birth as the birth of God’s manifestation in the world and our death as the death of God’s manifestation in the world. It is the transformation of our relationships from the natural to the supernatural, to the divine. It is realizing the fullness of the love of God and manifesting that love in the love of neighbor, in human relationships. The finite is vehicle to manifest the attributes of the infinite.

Jesus said: `the kingdom of heaven is like the yeast which a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour till it was leavened all through` (Mt.13.33). It is a very simple parable but it reveals a profound truth. We have to read this parable in this way: it is just what happens to a person who finds the kingdom of heaven just what happens to the flour when it is mixed with the yeast.  Yeast represents divine life, divine spirit and flour represents our human nature. When yeast is mixed with the flour, the flour is leavened.  So also when the spirit of God enters into our human nature, our human nature is divinized. The experience of the kingdom of God is divinization of our human nature. It means to transform our life into the life of God and transform our actions into actions of God. When this happens it is the experience of salvation. Salvation is transformation. This has to happen here on earth and not to be waited to happen after death. Jesus said: the works which I do are not my own but the Father who dwells in me does his works`. At the moment of Jesus’ baptism the spirit of God entered into him and his life was completely transformed. His life became the life of God and his actions became actions of God. He discovered his divine source. He realized to be one with the divine at the source. He invited everyone to do the same. Hence the goal of life is not to stop our desires or renounce our desires but transform our desires into God’s desires. It is not to stop karma or action but to transform karma or action into God’s karma or God’s action. It is work for the welfare of the whole of creation. It is not to stop birth and death but to transform our birth into the birth of the manifestation of God and our death into the death of the manifestation of God. It is not rejecting samsara but transformation of samsara. It is manifesting eternity in the present. It is transforming our ordinary life into God’s life. This is the meaning of the Eucharistic Celebration, transforming ordinary bread and wine into the body and blood of God, into the manifestation of God. In order to experience this transformation we need to transcend, to renounce or to expand our ego which is our divisive consciousness. 

Transcending our finite identity:

Jesus describes the joy of finding the kingdom of God through parables. The kingdom of God is like a man who found treasure in the field. He went home sold everything and bought that field. The kingdom of God is like a merchant in search of pearls. When he found a pearl of great value he went home sold everything and bought that pearl. We, human beings, are combination of finite and infinite. We have two identities that come from time and space and two identities that belong to the infinite. The identity of our body and our collective identities like nationality, caste, ethnic group, language and religion, belong to time and space. Our universal identity (image and likeness of God) and our divine unity belong to the infinite. To find the kingdom of God is to discover our infinite identity. This makes us so joyful that we easily transcend our identities that come from time and space. This discovery helps us to transform our finite identities as vehicles of our infinite identity. Without transcending our finite identity it is not possible to transform it.

Expanding our finite Identity:

Expanding our finite identity is another way of transcending our finite identity. Jesus described this process through a parable: the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds but when it has grown it is the biggest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air can come and shelter in its branches’ (Mt.13.31-32). We need to expand our identity from the individual identity to the collective identity, from the collective identity to the universal identity and from there to the unity with God. Our mind and heart become universal. The seed can be understood as an individual consciousness which has the potential to grow into a tree. The tree is a symbol of divine consciousness which can hold all the nests, collective identities. The kingdom of heaven is growing from the individual consciousness into the divine consciousness in which our life becomes a life of God and our actions become actions of God. To grow into the divine consciousness is to be united with the whole of humanity and of creation. It is to live for the welfare of the whole of humanity and of creation.

Renouncing our finite Identity:

When we speak of renunciation we need to distinguish between what is created by God and what is not created by God. Everything that God created is good. So God does not expect us to renounce what God has created.  To renounce something which God has created, thinking that it is bad is in way insulting God.  Our ego is not created by God. It belongs to the evolutionary process of our human consciousness. Ego, in the first place, is an identity. It can be an individual identity or collective identity. It creates divisive consciousness; it creates a boundary and has its own projects and ambitions. It utilizes others as objects to fulfill its desires. It even utilizes God for its projects and plans.  Its movement becomes a source of conflict and violence in the world. It manifests fragmented life. It does not manifest the life of God. We need to renounce these individual and collective egos or identities so that our life becomes a life of God and our actions become actions of God.

Jesus also said, unless you hate your father, your mother, your husband, wife and children you   cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven’. Here the word ‘hate’ means ‘renounce’.  Renunciation does not mean rejecting them.  Jesus is not advocating that a husband renounce his wife and a wife renounce her husband. He is inviting them that they should rise above their physical level and found their relationship in God. It means that the parents have to renounce their ambitions for their children and help their children to realize the will of God for them.  A wife is not there to fulfill the ambitions and desires of her husband but she is there to do the will of God. A husband is not there to fulfill the desires and ambitions of his wife but he is there to fulfill the will of God. The parents are not there to fulfill the ambitions of their children but they are there to do the will of God.  So each one has to renounce his or her personal-selfish desires and seek the will of God for oneself and for others. It means that one should not look at others as objects. Everyone is the manifestation of God. So it is one manifestation of God relating with the other manifestations of God. This does not require external renunciation but internal renunciation.  If it is external renunciation then the teaching of Jesus is valid only for a small minority. But Jesus’ teaching is for everyone.

 We need to renounce all our limited natural relationships and all our relationships have to be grounded in divine consciousness. It is for this reason, when his listeners told Jesus that his mother, brothers and sisters are looking for him, he said, looking at those sitting in a circle around him. ‘Here are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother, and sister and mother’,(Cf. Mk.3.31-35). The foundation from which Jesus related with people was God, not from his physical relationship. It did not mean that he did not love his mother, brothers and sisters. They are also included in his love but his love is all embracing love.

 Sexuality: Renunciation or Transformation?          Our body is the creation of God or manifestation of God.  It is good; it is sacred. Sexuality is given by God and hence it is also good; it is also sacred. It has to be used according to the will of God or plan of God. It needs to be expressed as the manifestation of God. To look at sexuality as something negative or inferior is to insult God.  To renounce it as something negative is to do violence to sexuality. First thing is to recognize sexuality as something sacred, as the manifestation of the divine. Then one will have the freedom to express it physically or not. It is a personal choice one has to make whether to express or not to express. It is not necessary to renounce it for the sake of God.  God does not demand renunciation but transformation.

            The purpose of our human existence is to be fruitful and multiply. It is to manifest divine attributes of love and compassion in our human relationships. It is to transform our life into life of God, our actions into actions of God. Only when our life is divine life then our life becomes fruitful. For this we need to transcend or expand or renounce our individual identity or collective identity and enter into the universal and divine identity. From this higher identity we transform our lower identities as the vehicles of the divine identity.  

Then we are able to say: It is no longer I that live but God lives in me’ and ‘I am in God and God is in me’ and  the works which I do are not my own but the Father who dwells in me does his works’.

* Quotes from Rabbi Lewis Eron


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