The title to this article is the words that God spoke into my mind on the day that I was saved, born-again, and first heard God’s voice.
My personal search to find God involved many years in the practice of various spiritual doctrines and disciplines. I deliberately say “practice”, rather than “study”. Why? Well, I certainly spent some time reading and acquainting myself before jumping into each new fire. However, for me, I was searching for a REAL experience that would demonstrate that I had indeed met the true God.
In my early teenage years, I already sensed that I was imperfect and not in communion with God. A sinner, I would have called it had I been brought up in a Christian environment, instead of having a mother and father who were both atheists. How then to reach that God, and experience the undoubted joy, light, purpose, blessing, etc., that I knew I would feel when the true God became a real entity to me?
I started with left wing politics – not a religious pursuit you might say? Not so, since the underpinning of socialism is that man is fundamentally good, and that it is the competitive nature of the capitalist system that causes all our flaws. In a socialist system there is no God, so it is within man’s ability to build a non-competitive paradise here on earth. And so, I marched, and organized, and attempted to convince my fellow oppressed friends and co-workers. But after a few years of this activity, it occurred to me that;
- The leaders of the left wing groups that I admired appeared to be no closer to happiness or satisfaction, and definitely not the truth, than anyone else. They often made policy statements that were proved to be wrong, or lies, or both.
- The existing socialist countries that had the longest time to implement their policies (e.g. the USSR, China, etc.) and thereby remove the evil effects of capitalism, appeared to be in no better shape than the USA or the UK, for example.
So this was when I met Hatha (physical exercise) Yoga, and subsequently Raja (meditational) Yoga, two Hindu practices that promise to provide a path to meet the true God. Both gave me a short but pleasant feeling of peace, and for me this was a lot closer to my goal. After all, if I found God, wouldn’t He be in utter peace? If this was a game of hide and seek, I was surely at least a little hotter. The only problems with these two disciplines were as follows;
- The feelings of peace were fleeting, at best. And I would feel just the same as before whenever I stopped the required physical or mental exercise.
- I was left still feeling the same old “sinful” desires that I started out with, i.e. I wanted to repeat every remotely pleasurable habit on a continual basis. Those desires and habitual actions definitely weren’t a path to peace.
So it occurred to me that perhaps if I tried much harder at the more serious Raja Yoga, perhaps I would see more success in controlling my desires for earthly pleasures. Consequently, through being introduced by a close friend to a book written about a Hindu guru named Ramana Maharshi, I unknowingly found my way into Zen Buddhism, perhaps the most intense and determined form of meditational practice in the world. Although Ramana Maharshi would have told you that he was a Hindu, at its core, there’s very little difference between the Hindu religion and Zen Buddhism. Some of their practices, such as their belief that meditation will lead you to God, are identical.
And something even more important that I should mention before continuing is that Yoga, Hinduism, and Buddhism, all agree with socialism on one critically fundamental factor – that man is basically good at his core. Except that the former believe that man’s mind (a.k.a. his ego) stands in the way of his realizing this goodness, and that what one needs to do to meet the true God (reach Nirvana) is eradicate the mind/ego, or realize that it doesn’t really exist, and then one reaches Enlightenment – their version of meeting and living with the true God.
So, off I went into a 12 year practice of Zen Buddhism. However, at the end of the 12 years, I found myself no nearer to enlightenment (or Nirvana) than I was at the start of my efforts. It seemed that the harder I worked to obtain my own salvation through meditation, the more my frustration with the lack of hard results increased. That is, until I reached a permanently, life changing experience on a Zen retreat. During this 3-day intensive session, I started to realize that even the best of my efforts might not result in my breaking the cycle of birth and rebirth, at least during this current lifetime. And after all, even though we may say it doesn’t matter when enlightenment is achieved, we all want to get there now, or at least before we die.
I began to seriously consider that when the Bible says, “it is appointed to man once to die, and after that the judgement”, perhaps it might be correct. And where would that leave me in God’s eyes? Still a sinner, separate from Him. And as I began to give this idea serious consideration, God reached down in His unlimited grace and favoured me by revealing that His Son, Jesus, had already paid the price for my salvation (enlightenment) with His sacrificial death, and through His resurrection had shown me the way to the salvation I was so desperately, and unsuccessfully, seeking through my own efforts and works. This was supernaturally revealed to me through the Roshi who led the Zen Buddhist temple that I was attending in Manhattan, NY. God caused him to stand up, during an encouragement talk or sermon, that he was delivering on the Sunday morning of a retreat. During the talk, the Roshi stood and lifted his arms up, as if he were Jesus on the cross, and said these words, “If you have faith in Jesus Christ, you can be saved”.
At that moment, God, Himself, spoke to me for the first time in my 30 year old life! I’d never heard a voice speak to me in my mind before. This absolutely wasn’t part of the daily stream of conscious thoughts that runs through all of our minds. He clearly said the following to me;
“My Son, Jesus, has already done it all (for you). “
And that was all that He said. It resonated in my mind, quite obviously, since I can still repeat the words to you today, 32 years later. I can only describe the experience I had as follows; the Holy Spirit entered into me, and told me that Jesus had already done what I was forlornly seeking to achieve myself. The Buddha is only a guide, he doesn’t offer to do the work for you – and I only had to follow Jesus since the work had been done for me. What a relief! Peace, finally! And although I left the retreat thinking to myself that I was still a Zen Buddhist, I soon discovered, within days, that God had changed me from within – I was “born-again”, as it says in the Bible.
If you are seeking like I was, look to accept and follow Jesus. He has done everything necessary for you, and all you need to do is give your life to Him, and He will do the remainder.
As Jesus said, “All you who are heavy laden, come to me, and I will give you rest”.
If you have any questions about my story, please consider contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be pleased to try to answer your question(s).