THE PURPOSE OF THE SCRIPTURES
The purpose of all Scripture is to follow the spiritual path. Because the spiritual path can never be divorced or separated from the teachings of ancient seers, they have cognised certain truths, which have been put forward for us to practice.
If a person is theologically minded, he must understand all Scripture aspects thoroughly. When it comes to the Scriptures, one must use discrimination according to one’s understanding. Certain things in certain Scriptures might not go with your knowledge, and if it does not go with your understanding, you do not need to follow them blindly.
That does not mean that the Scriptures are wrong. Perhaps your understanding is limited. When the understanding expands, a greater appreciation of the Scriptures takes hold of us. Many Scriptures have been misinterpreted, which applies to every religion worldwide. We can take a Sanskrit example of a word called “Jov.” “Yo” means barley, and it also means a goat. In the ritual portions of the scriptural injunctions of those Scriptures, it is said that “Yov must be sacrificed at the sacred altar.” This has been so misinterpreted that they started killing goats instead of giving barley as oblations. So, Scriptures from time immemorial have been subjected to misinterpretation.
THE SPIRITUAL PATH IS THE BASIS OF SCRIPTURES
To apply Scriptures to the spiritual path is a thing which is quite different. For the Scriptures to be correctly understood and applied to the spiritual path, one has to learn the Scriptures, and when one does not understand the Scriptures by oneself, we go to someone who understands the essence. Yet that which the person you go to explains to you or the interpretation of the Scriptures must not be taken on blind faith. Therefore, you will find many seekers searching as I have done. I went from guru to guru to guru until I found a guru who could give me the explanation, which was at par, at level with my stage of evolution.
As we said, the spiritual path is so connected with scriptural injunctions. Let us take the Ten Commandments, which form part and parcel of the Scriptures and show you how to live a good life with its various injunctions. We have spoken on Raj Yoga which showed us the principles of Yama and Niyama and how to live a good and proper religious life. You could call it a scriptural life because the Scriptures and religion are not two things apart. So, we take the scriptural injunctions as a basis to progress on the spiritual path because we have to take this as a basis for the spiritual path. After all, the spiritual path is the basis of the Scriptures.
ALL SPIRITUAL PATHS LEAD TO THE SPIRIT WITHIN
Over time, many things have been added to these various Scriptures in various religions. If you take a piece of iron and leave it out in the rain, sun and snow for a long while, that piece of iron can get rusty, and people tend to take the rust for the iron. With our intellect and the powers of discrimination or with the advice and the teachings of those who know, we go beyond the level of the rust that has accumulated and come face to face with the genuine article, the iron.
When we come face to face and appreciate the essence behind the rust, then Scriptures and the spiritual path become one. The whole idea is to understand our religion correctly, what our religion has meant and what the religion has taught. That is to be understood. It is not wrong for a person to follow Hinduism or Buddhism, or Christianity. Those are all paths. They all lead to the same goal and are all spiritual paths leading to the Spirit that dwells within.
WE HAVE TO RISE ABOVE THE SCRIPTURES
We do not make any distinctions between the spiritual path and scriptural injunctions. The validity of the Scriptures is in the fact that it has endured thousands and thousands of years. If it were essentially false, then it would not take. Like a great piece of literature – Shakespeare lived three hundred years ago, and yet we read his works today, and for the next three hundred years, his works will still be studied. At the same time, some small author not of much worth might have published a book at that very time when Shakespeare lived. He is gone, forgotten, and the book is not even there anymore. So, the purpose of Scripture is to point to our truth and show us reality in its varied forms. It shows us the truth from various aspects.
The height of the spiritual path is reached only when we can view all the aspects of the Scriptures as a whole, and to do this, we have to rise above the Scriptures. If we stand at the bottom of the mountain, our view would be minimal, but if we stand on top of the hill, we have a vast panoramic view. This applies to the Scriptures.
WE HAVE TO RISE BEYOND THE BOUNDARIES OF DOGMAS
You have Scriptures, which could be very dogmatic. To understand what the Spirit is all about, we must rise beyond dogmatism’s boundaries. To be in any form of dogmatic faith or belief is nothing wrong, and it might be what is required by us for that moment in our spiritual path. But the spiritual path and the study of all dogmas and dogmatic creeds only find fulfilment when we transcend the boundaries of dogma.
All the problems in the world that have taken place are because of dogmatism, where religions war against each other and say, “My way is right.” The other says, “My way is right”, and the third says, “My way is right.” This causes conflicts because dogmas always produce boundaries. And when we live within a limit, it would be like the story of the frog of the well. The frog lives in the well and thinks it is all there is until the ocean frog comes visiting and says, “Friend, come along, let me show you my well.” So, the frog of the well sees the ocean and realises that there is so much beyond the boundaries I have lived in so far. That means going beyond dogmatism.
SCRIPTURES PROPERLY UNDERSTOOD WILL TAKE YOU BEYOND DOGMAS
It could be a starting point, but it is never the ending. That is the whole meaning of the Scriptures. When Scriptures are also understood properly, those Scriptures will take you beyond dogmatism. Scriptures have never been there to create boundaries. But man has made boundaries around the Scriptures that he believes in, and it became so organised that he had to create a border. It is like a business. You have a particular product, and to prevent another company from using your formula, you register it and copyright it. That same copyright is the boundary you have created for some valuable product you might have put forward to the world.
So, we conclude that although the Scriptures could be boundary-less, man for his ego or to promote his personal belief has created boundaries. Therefore, Scriptures have been most misinterpreted, and it is because of Scriptures and religions that rivers of blood have flowed.
There is not a single religion in the world that does not teach love. Yet it has been so misinterpreted that rivers of blood have flown in every religion in the name of religion and the word of God. What significant misuse, what great misinterpretation? There are places in the world where in the house of God, which we could call a church, or a temple – the exterior home, the true church and temple is inside. Nevertheless, in churches and temples, there are some countries where, because of colour differences and skin pigmentation, people are not even allowed to worship together. What a miscarriage of justice and what a misinterpretation of Scripture!
THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SCRIPTURES AND SPIRITUAL PATH
So, when Scriptures are misused and misunderstood, man is to blame. Therefore, he has to transcend the boundaries created by man and find the real Spirit in the Scripture and finding the real Spirit of the Scripture becomes the spiritual path. That is how it works. Essentially speaking, there is no difference between Scriptures and spiritual paths because the aim and the constituents of all Scriptures are nothing but a spiritual path.
… Gururaj Ananda Yogi: Satsang UK 1978 – 13