|Mother Gavrilia, the orthodox nun, in India|
On Oriental religions:
We do not all have the same God!
... I listened to your problems. I also listened to how you think and feel. I just wanted to tell you one thing, my dear M… Don’t linger too long over this so-called self-exploration; it will make you forget God and your fellow man as well. It is my belief that true love towards God is to be able to visualize Him in all of His Creation and especially in our Neighbor. And when we look upon our Neighbor and tend to him, to forget even our self, eventually. Knowing that you were brought up in the Christian faith, I ask you: did you have to go to Sai Baba to hear about the “Pure Heart”? If you had only read the Gospel, you would have known that the Lord Himself had said: “blessed are the pure in heart….”. And somewhere in the Old Testament it says: “I will take you, My child, into the desert, and there, I shall speak to your heart…”. We don’t speak to God with our mind. It is the heart that speaks.
You also ask me if you should ask to be baptized, given that you have already received the Chrism. But, this Chrism took place a long time before your prolonged stay in this Philosophy. Did you think that it hadn’t affected your inner self? Well, it has. And very much so. Because right now, whenever you focus on our Prayer, our Worship, your mind wanders away, to the various poses that Yogis take; the upright position of the spine and a whole lot of other exercises that have nothing to do with the Spirit of God.
Somebody once said: “When the soul is kneeling down, at the feet of Christ, what does it matter if the body is lying down, standing up, kneeling or fallen over?” This is totally irrelevant! It is only when you stop thinking about your body and your self, that you can truly become united with the Power of God.
You frequently repeat words like: What did you just say?….Why did you say that other thing?….Was that an inspiration by God?…. Was it out of enlightenment…Did it come from your mind?….. Well, if I sat down to think like that every minute of the day, I wouldn’t be able to utter anything…because we are all aware of our unworthiness to counsel the other. Instead, I just feel for others, and I suffer so much with those that I see around me, that I feel as though I am one of them. And from that moment on, I start saying: “If I were you, I would do this….” You, however, seem to want someone to take you by the hand, make you their underling, tell you to do this, do that, now sit down, now get up, now go and get the money that you worked for, now don’t take the money, now put on the red dress, now the white one… Whew! Now THAT is called Slavery! But you should bear in mind that God created us as Free beings! Many have said to me: “If only God hadn’t created us free, because we really don’t know what His Will is.” But that is so hypocritical! The Will of God becomes so apparent, in our fellow man, however, we persistently keep saying: “I don’t know…. I don’t know….”, simply because it doesn’t suit us to understand!
Do you have any idea how many years I have studied –and still study– the Gospel? Well, I am in a position to tell you that, just as a good housewife reads a recipe to prepare a dessert, then begins to assemble all the ingredients according to the recipe’s instructions, but finally discovers that her dessert was a failure, in which case, she gives it to the dog…well, that’s what our life is like. We read the instructions for our life –which is the Gospel– but…we make a mess of it! Then we give it another try, and another… and another…but, just like the dessert, where, in the one attempt it was too much egg, in the other attempt there was not enough sugar…well, that’s what it’s like in life too. There will be a time that our selfishness is to blame, and another time it will be because we spoke of our neighbor as though he weren’t our brother…and all this will eventually accumulate and become like a boulder that will drag us down into the ocean and drown us, and nothing more…
You say that our beloved G. told you to: “Go back (she meant go back to me), and whatever she says to you, obey her, and you will then find your way, because she knows how to read one’s mind”… And you ask me: “Can you really read one’s mind?” My dear M., imagine if I could really read minds! I really can’t understand anything that you are saying here, because it is so intellectual! I only know how to love you. With all my heart. I also love the Universe with all my heart. Because for me, no-one is a “stranger”, no-one is “mine”; there is no such thing as red-skinned, white or black… No such thing… Don’t forget my dear M., that the first sin was committed with the mind and some of the Angels, from being Angels of Light they became Angels of Darkness. Do you know how frightening it is, when a Power –that is not a power that comes from the Light– presents certain things to you with such beauty, such power, such kindness, and with all these things, which basically comprise a good person, can actually make you embrace them in practice?…We should watch out for this kind of thing. You know, for years I have been wondering, what is the meaning behind the words “if the light inside you is darkness, then how much is the darkness?” Well, do you know that by believing we have the Light inside us, we sometimes actually have Darkness, which we put to use against our brother with the impression that we are helping him and love him, when in fact these things are works of Darkness, which we have perceived as Light… On this matter, I can tell you about someone who dearly loved his sister who was suffering from melancholy; he came to believe that his presence was so imperative, that he stopped going to work. He would say to himself: “If I am not here for her, what will become of her?” …Can you imagine this degree of Faithlessness? In other words, are we substituting even God’s help?… Well, in this kind of example we can clearly distinguish the meaning of the words “if the light inside…”
Elsewhere, you tell me that when you do a good deed, you say: See? I did this…. Well, let me tell you about an incident…Once, we were reading Patristic texts with a lady acquaintance of mine. We had become acquainted with the Reverend Damianos, so, one day I said to her: “Why don’t we go to him for confession, and get his blessing?” We went, and –amongst other things- he told her that she possessed an ego that she hadn’t discovered yet, and that if she didn’t reach repentance, she would not attain Joy in Christ. This revelation somehow jolted her, and she went home and started the tears and the weeping. For one whole week, she didn’t stop crying… A few days after, we again went to His Eminence. And so I said to him: “Reverend Father…what are we going to do? She has been crying incessantly, night and day! What can be done?” And he replied, with a solemn smile: “What are you saying? In my entire life, I haven’t achieved that much weeping and that much repentance!” Well…..we left, and, on the way back, what did she turn around and say? “You see? Did you see what he said? That not even he has ever achieved that much repentance!” Well, my child M.., I will let you draw your own conclusion...
That’s all I had to say to you today. And now, I pray that the Grace of God will be close to you; and the Light of Christ shed light on your path…Set yourself free, in the hands of God, my dear M., and in time, He will guide various people to tell you what His Will is. Eventually, in a deep silence and prayer, you will learn what His Will is, directly. And then, you will be living permanently in the Light and the Joy of Christ…