Monday 10 December 2012

N5C - Sadhu Sundar Singh 3

When at Birmingham, Sadhu Sundar Singh was taken to
see over Cadbury's Chocolate Works.(Now Cadbury World) Asked afterwards how he had enjoyed what he had seen, "I enjoyed myself,"he said, 'but I think the girls and men working in the

 factory enjoyed themselves more looking at me."
'You ought to have charged them something for it,"
put in a friend. 'Yes, yes," said the Sadhu, smiling,
''but then they gave me so much chocolate I could not
eat my dinner that day."

The second Chapter
from the Message of Sundar Singh
A Christocentric Mysticism
It has been remarked of St. Paul that he was one of the
world's great mystics, but that, in contrast to those who
aspire to union with the Absolute or with Infinite Reality,
his is a mysticism centered in Christ. So it is with the
Sadhu. In Ecstasy in every vision Christ is the center
of the scene. In ordinary life whenever, among friends,
he speaks of Christ, the love-light beams from his eyes
and his face is transfigured—as sometimes in supreme
moments a woman's is, gazing on her beloved. Seeing
him one knows why a Christian has been defined as one
"who has fallen in love with Christ."
Once grasp the Christocentric character of his mysticism,
and you have the key to the understanding of his
teaching, his character and his whole way of life. The
Divine, apprehended in and as the Eternal Christ, elicits
in him a passion and a devotion not possible to the mystic
to whose imagination absolute Reality takes on a less
vividly concrete and personal form. That is why he is
a missionary, although his own natural bent would be
towards the hermit's life of contemplation in solitary
mountain caves. The love of Christ constrains him. Of course all specifically Christian mysticism is directed
towards Christ, but the influence of Neo-Platonism has often
given it a metaphysical direction foreign to the direct, concrete
simplicity of conception in mystics like St. Francis, Mother
Juliana, or the Sadhu.
''Lovest thou me more than these?" . . . ''Feed my
lambs." That, too, is the reason why he so often urges
that religion is not of the head but of the heart—not
metaphysical comprehension but personal devotion, not
the Vision of Reality but the love of One who saves.
And it is mainly because of this that we have ventured
to assert that some who have knoAvn the Sadhu feel that
they understand the better the inner life of two greater
men, St. Francis and St. Paul.
We quote an article dictated by him, when, having
seen with his own eyes London, Oxford, and Paris—famous
cities symbolizing to his mind Western thought
and civilization in its diverse aspects—he summed up
for a Western magazine^ what he felt to be his special
message. If only we had it in his native tongue it
would read like a h^^mn in prose form.
"Christ is my Savior. He is my life. He is everj^-
thing to me in heaven and earth. Once while traveling in
a sandy region I was tired and thirsty. Standing on the
top of a mound I looked for water. The sight of a lake at
a distance brought joy to me, for now I hoped to quench
my thirst. I walked toward it for a long time, but I
could never reach it. Afterwards I found out that it
was a mirage, only a mere appearance of water caused
by the refracted rays of the sun. In reality there was
none. In a like manner I was moving about the world
in search of the water of life. The things of this world
—wealth, position, honor and luxury—looked like a lake
by drinking of whose waters I hoped to quench my
spiritual thirst. But I could never find a drop of water
to quench the thirst of my heart. I was dying of thirst.
When my spiritual eyes were opened I saw the rivers


Persons sitting as it were on three thrones but it was all
made plain to me in a Vision. I entered in an Ecstasy
into the third heaven. I was told that it was the same
to which St. Paul was caught up. And there I saw
Christ in a glorious spiritual body sitting on a throne.
Whenever I go there it is the same. Christ is always
in the center, a figure ineffable and indescribable. His
face shining like the snn, but in no way dazzling, and so
sweet that without any difficulty I can gaze at it—always
smiling a loving glorious smile. I felt when first I saw
Him as if there were some old and forgotten connection
between us, as though He had said, but not in words,
'I am He, through whom you were created.' I felt
something the same, only far more intensely, as I felt
when I met my father again after an interval of many
years. My old love came back to me ; I knew I had been
his before.
' The first time I entered Heaven I looked round about
and I asked, 'But where is God?' And they told me,
' God is not to be seen here any more than on earth, for
God is Infinite. But there is Christ, He is God, He is
the Image of the Invisible God, and it is only in Him
that we can see God, in Heaven as on earth.' And
streaming out from Christ I saw, as it were, waves shining
and peace-giving, and going through and among
the Saints and Angels, and everywhere bringing refreshment,
just as in hot weather water refreshes trees. And
this I understood to be the Holy Spirit."^
The Incarnation
''The Word of Life was made flesh; the Word came
into flesh. I used to think : Where is the need that God
should become incarnate and take the form of man?
When I was not a Christian I used to criticize this doctrine.
There are many thousands who do not find any
intellectual difficulty in believing in the Incarnation but
who yet cannot understand its need. Often, however,
they find in their hearts a great desire to see God ; man
has a natural desire to see God. We want to see Him
whom we are trying to worship; but He is infinite. I
say to idol worshipers: 'Why do you worship these
idols?' They say, 'God is infinite and these idols are
only meant to help us concentrate our minds; by means
of these symbols we can worship, we can understand
something.' Him we love we want to talk to, we want
to see Him. The difficulty is, we cannot see God because
He is infinite. If ever some time we should become
infinite, we may then see the infinite God. Here
and now we are unable to see Him, our Creator, our
Father, the Giver of Life. That is why He became incarnate.
He took human form, limited form, that in
this way men might see Him."
In the address in Balliol College Hall, from the opening
words of which the preceding paragraph is taken,
there followed two homely illustrations from Indian life.
''When I was in the Himalayas once I wanted to
cross the River Sutlej, but there was no bridge. I could
not swim over. I was thinking of what I should do
when I saw a man and I said to him: 'I would like to
go to the other side of the river but there is no bridge
or boat.' He said, 'That is all right, air will take you
over.' I was surprised. I could breathe air, but air
could not bear me up and take me to the other side.
But he took a skin and filled it with air, and then asked
me to support myself on it. I did so and got safely
across. As the air could only carry me by being confined
in the skin, so God to help man had to become incarnate.
The Word of Life was made flesh. He will
carry those who want to cross the river of this world to
heaven. 'He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.'
We can see the living Father in that Incarnation of
Jesus Christ.
"0n another occasion, I remember, in Kashmir, there
was a man who owned several hundred sheep. His
servants used to take these sheep out for feeding, and
each evening as they brought them back they found two
or three missing. He asked his servants to go and look
for them, but for fear of wild beasts they did not trouble
themselves about them. The owner had a love for them
and wanted to save them. 'If I go myself searching
for these sheep they will not recognize me, as they have
not seen me before. They would recognize my servants
but the servants will not go. So I must become like a
sheep.' He took a sheep's skin and put it on himself
and looked like a sheep. He went out and found some
that had gone astray and some that had been wounded.
They readily followed him thinking that he was a sheep
like one of themselves.* He brought them in and sat
with them and fed them. When he had saved all the

sheep and brought them home, then he took off the sheep
skin. He was not sheep but man. He became a sheep
in order to save those lost sheep. So God is not man,
He became man in order to save men."
In the Tamil addresses we find this parable.
" There was a King. His Grand Vizier was a learned
and saintly man. When traveling in Palestine, the
Vizier was deeply moved as he heard about Christ and
became a Christian. When he returned home he told
the people that he was a Christian and that he believed
in the Savior who came to this world to save sinners.
The King said to him :
' If I want anything to be done,
I tell my servant and it is done. Then why should the
King of Kings who is able to save men by a word come
to this world Himself and become incarnate?' The
Vizier asked for a day of grace before giving his answer
to the question. He sent for a skilled carpenter and
asked him to make a doll and dress it up exactly like
the one-year-old son of the King and to bring it to him
the next day. The next day the King and his Minister
were in a boat together and the King asked him for an
answer to his question. At the same time the carpenter
came and stood on the shore with his doll. The King
stretched out his arm to receive the child who, he thought,
was his own child. According to instructions previously
given by the Vizier, the carpenter let the doll fall into
the water. The King at once jumped into the water to
rescue the drowning child. After a while the Vizier
said: "0 King, you needed not to leap into the water.
Was it not enough to bid me do it? Why should you
yourself jump in?' The King reflected: 'It was a
father's love.' The Vizier said: 'Love was also the

 reason why in order to save the world the all-powerful
God became incarnate instead of doing it by His mere
The Atonement
One day we asked the Sadhu how he understood the
language of the New Testament about our being saved
by the blood of Christ. He replied with a story.
^'Once, in Burma, preaching the Gospel of Christ, I
said, 'He died to save sinners.' ' How T they said. But
there was a young man present who said, ' It is true. ' I
thought this man must be a Christian, but when I spoke
to him he said he had never heard of Christ. He said,
'It is quite true. By the death of this Man others could
be saved.' I said, 'How?' He said, 'By the death of
my father I have been saved. One day on these mountains
I slipped and fell down and lost my blood through
the wound. When my father heard about it he took
me to the hospital.
' "He is at the point of death," said the doctor.
' "He is my only son," said my father.
' "It is impossible to save him, his life is going. He
has lost too much blood—nothing can be done," continued
the doctor.
' " If there is anything that can be done I am willing to
do it,
' said my father.
' "If anybody is willing to give his blood I can save
him, '
' said the doctor.
' "I am willing to give my life and blood," said my
'It was done, I lived and my father died, and by the
death of my father I have been saved.'
"Just so," continued the Sadhu, "I had fallen on
the mountain; I had lost my spiritual blood. Life had
gone and I was on the point of death. The Savior injected
His own blood into me—He poured out His life
and I was saved. Those who are willing to give their
hearts will understand how true it is that by the death
of Jesus Christ they can be saved. I have found it to
be true in my experience. If you want to save life you
have to give life."
A most quaint illustration followed which, we understood
him to say, was communicated to him in a vision.
*' There was a case in South India where, under similar
circumstances, the blood of a cat was introduced into a
man's veins, with the result that he subsequently showed
many of the qualities of the cat, such as spitefulness.
This illustrates the way in which the infusion of life
from another being can change the character of the
person into whom it is infused."
''They told me also in the same vision that it is only
by being grafted into Christ that we produce good fruit.
Other religions say, 'Do good and you will become good.'
Christianity says, 'Be in Christ, and you will do good.'
The meaning of the Atonement and the Blood that
washes away our sins is that we are grafted into Christ,
I in Him, and He in me. It is a bitter sprig which is
grafted into the tree, but, once it is grafted in, the sweet
juice of the tree flows through the bitter sprig and makes
it sweet. '
The preceding illustrations are along the line of the
conception so prominent in St. John's Gospel that salvation
is by participation in the divine life. The parable
which follows illustrates the somewhat different conception
of ransom applied in the Gospels to the death of

"Two young men were gambling. It was a law of
their land that those who gambled were liable to a fine
of five hundred rupees. The Government officers found
them gambling and made them prisoners. Of these two,
one was the son of a wealthy man; the other was the
son of a poor peasant. Five hundred rupees were immediately
paid for the wealthy boy—he was released from
prison. What could the poor boy do? As he could
not pay the fine, he remained in prison. To get enough
money to pay the fine, his mother toiled all day long,
carrying stones. Stones would fall upon her hands and
cut her and make the blood flow. Through the window
of his prison the young man saw his mother's hands
and asked :
* Mother, what is this wound in your hand ?
"What is this blood on your finger V * I am working like
this to save you,' said the mother, and explained in
detail the work she did. At last she saved five hundred
rupees and freed her son from the prison. Then one day
the rich young man saw him and invited him to a game
of dice. 'I can never do that hereafter. Your release
came easily, but I was saved by my mother 's hard work,
by her toil, by the wounds on her body, by her blood.
In the future I shall not even look at this game which
has brought such suffering to my mother.' Those who,
like the rich young man, think that salvation from sin
will come easily have no strength to abandon sin. But
those who realize that God became incarnate and shed
His precious blood to save us from our sins, will not like
to commit the sin which gives such suffering to their
Here is a parable suggesting rather the Abelardian
conception of the appeal of self-sacrificing love. *
' There
was a young man who led a bad life, he rebelled against
his father and ran away from home, and finally joined a
gang of dacoits. At home he had a brother who loved
him very much. His father expressed the wish, if it
were possible, to convey to the erring brother his willingness
to forgive him. Nobody ventured on account
of the danger of the jungle. At last the brother offered
to do so, and the father gave him as message the fact of
his continued love for his erring child, and also sent him
some presents to convince him of his fatherly love and
goodwill. On the way he fell into the hands of dacoits,
who robbed him of the money and valuables, and mortally
wounded him. He said to them, 'I don't mind your
seizing all I have; only take me to your leader,' which
they did. His brother recognized him by his voice, and
when he saw his wounds he was 'smitten to the heart.'
"I have,' said the wounded brother, 'brought you a message
from your father ; he loves you still ; he has never
ceased to love you; if you return now, he will forgive
you. This is the object of my coming, and now I am
prepared to die. ' And so he gave his life for his brother.
The dacoit repented and went back to his father, and
ever remembered and mourned over the brother who
had given his life for him. So has Jesus done for us.
Many do not understand all that this means for us. Has
it really got as far as your hearts yet?"
St. Paul's metaphor of "the wall of partition" has
evidently suggested tl^je following:
"Some time ago I saw on the Himalayas two villages
that had been separated by a very high and inaccessible
mountain. The direct distance from one village to the
other was not great, but as travelers had to go round
the mountain, walking over it being impossible, the
journey took a week. A man lived in one of those vil

 lages who resolved that, if a road could not be made
over the mountain, then it ought to be made through it.
He resolved to lay down even his life in an attempt to
cut a way through. He set to work; but, alas, before
it was finished he was killed. He laid down his life in
an attempt to unite the two villages. I thought of this
as an illustration of the wall of sin, and of how Jesus
Christ has made a way through it by giving His life

as St. Paul says, 'Ye who were sometimes afar off are
made nigh by the blood of Christ'."
The idea of the death of Christ as being merely or
mainly a propitiatory sacrifice seems not to occur in the
Sadhu's preaching; or, if it does, to have little organic
connection with his deepest thought on the subject. To
him Hell and Judgment await the unrepentant as the
result of an automatic internal process, they are not an
expression of the Divine wrath. For he thinks of God
only in terms of Christ and "Jesus Christ is never annoyed
with any one. '
Mystical Union with Christ
"India," reiterates the Sadhu with passionate conviction,
"has no need of missionaries to teach a Christ
who is merely a great moral teacher and not also the
Lord of life.
' To most of us the name Christ suggests
primarily the historic Jesus—in and through whom we
see, as it were, the face of God invisible. But in all ages
the Christocentric Mystic is one who thinks first of an
Eternal Divine Being whom now he knows and loves,
and only in the second place of the Man who ate and
drank and taught in Galilee.
"There are those who speak of Christ as the Supreme
Mystic; what," he was asked, *' would you say to tliat?"
''That is the tendency of those who are not inclined to
accept the divinity of Christ. Christ is not the supreme
mj^stic; He is the Master of mystics, the Savior of
''Christ is not only an historical figure but one who
lives and works to-day. He lives not merely in the Bible
but in our hearts." "An Indian Christian, who had
traveled widely, said once: 'I saw Muhammad's tomb.
It was very splendid, decorated with diamonds and all
manner of precious things. And they told me: 'Here
are Muhammad's bones.' I saw Napoleon's tomb and
they said: 'Here are Napoleon's ^ bones.' But when I
saw Christ's tomb, it was open. No bones lay there.'
Christ is the Living Christ. The tomb has been open
thus for nearly two thousand years. My heart is also
open to the Lord. He lives in me. He is the living
Christ because He lives in the lives of Christians. Real
Christians are not those who profess, but those who
possess, Christ.
"Some say that salvation consists in being absorbed
in God. We Christians say that to live in Christ is already
heaven. "We are to live in Him and He in us.
How can this be? When a ball of iron is thrown into

the fire it becomes red-hot. The iron is in the fire and
the fire is in the iron, and yet the iron is not the fire
and the fire is not the iron. In the same way we live in
Christ and He lives in us and yet we do not become gods.
 Consider the air we breathe. The air is our life,
yet man is not the air, nor the air man. In like manner
we breathe God's spirit, but we are not God. Just as
we draw in the air by breathing, we can inhale the
Blessed Spirit by prayer. Not only do we draw near to
God, but we are united with Him. This is not only
union but life, and when we have this life we see the
marvelous love of God.

' The planets have no light in themselves. They shine
with light which they have borrowed from the sun.
Christians are like them. In themselves they have no
light, but they shine with light borrowed from the Sun
of Righteousness.
''The Church is called *the body of Christ' because
the relation between Christ and Christians is not that
between a master and his servants. It is more than that.
Christians are Christ's own parts. They are not only
friends of Christ, they are Christ Himself. He breathes
through them.
''Christ is always present in the Church, but unseen.
Wherever men feel in their hearts a feeling of reverence,
this is a dim recognition of His presence. But
Christ never interferes with our freedom so as to compel
us to feel His presence. He allows us to do so according
to our capacity. Indeed He never interferes with us
here in any way by compulsion, only by attraction.
"We see medicine for the eye. We see it so long as
it is before us. But when it is dropped in the eye, it
cools the eye and cleanses it, but we cannot see it with
the eye. In the same way we cannot see the Savior
who cleanses our heart and makes it rejoice with His
"'The Christian has eternal life because the God to
whom he is united is Eternal."

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