Saints and Wonders

Kees Boukema

In conversations with disciples, Sri Ramakrishna emphasized time and again the importance of “the company of holy men.” When asked how people who lead busy, worldly lives can still follow a spiritual path, his answer is:  “Prayer and the company of holy men. It is not enough to be in the company of religious people only for a day. You should constantly seek it. ”

And to the question: “What is the good of holy company?” he says:

“By constantly living in the company of holy men, the soul becomes restless for God.” and “It helps one to culivate discrimination between the Real and the unreal. God alone is the Real, that is to say, the Eternal Substance, and the world is unreal, that is to say, transitory. ” [Gospel, p. 96/97.]

Ramakrishna also urges his physician, Dr. Sarkar, to have faith in the words of ‘holy men and great souls, those who have realized God. They constantly think of God. ” And adds: “God is far, far away from the mind steeped in worldliness. Wordly intelligence creates many doubts and many forms of pride. ” (….) “For the seekers of God the constant company of holy men is necessary. The disease of wordly people has become chronic, as it were. They should carry out the instruction of holy men. ” [Gospel, p. 864/865.]

But how do we recognize ‘holy men’? In the Roman Catholic Church, a ‘canonization’ requires approval from the Pope. This approval is granted only when the nominee is like Christ in life and death. A characterization taken from a letter Saint Paul sent to the Galatian congregation in the spring of 55. Paul writes there:  “I have been crucified with Christ. I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. ”

In the year 933, a certain procedure was established to be able to assess whether the nominee meets this criterion. It must be examined whether that person was a servant of God, whether he lived a revered life, and whether one or more miracles occurred “through that person’s intercession.” Miracles refer to healings and exorcisms as performed by Jesus according to the New Testament; but friendship with wild animals (Saint Francis) and ‘stigmata’ (scars of crucifixion in the hands and feet) can also be regarded as miracles.

If all conditions are met, the person will be ‘beatified’ by the Pope. Beatification involves the approval of local worship of the person. The Pope can also declare that person “holy”; that is, worship of this person is recommended to the entire world church.

Hinduism has sacred texts and many saints who explain texts or perform miracles, but there is no central magisterium. The believer is free to choose and worship a teacher. M., author of The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, saw many similarities between the life and teachings of Christ and those of his teacher Ramakrishna. When asked what similarities there are, the raising of Lazarus from the dead is also discussed.

Ramakrishna: “But I cannot do those things.”

M .: “That is because you don’t want to. Miracles draw people’s attention to their bodies. They don’t think of genuine devotion. ” [Gospel, p. 837/838].

Ramakrishna did not see himself as a ‘holy man’. When he hears Girish Gosh praising him, he asks, “What were you saying about me? I eat, drink and make merry. ”

Girish: ”What should we have been saying about you? Are you a holy man? ”

Master: ”No, nothing of the sort. Truly I do not feel I am a holy man. ” [Gospel, p. 694.]

When Ramakrishna is asked to bless the son of Keshab Sen, he says, “It is not given to me to bless anyone.” and “I cannot say such a thing as ‘May you be healed’. I never ask the Divine Mother to give me the power of healing. I pray to Her only for pure love. ” [Gospel, p324.]

I mean a person who expresses in word and behavior: “I no longer live, but Sri Ramakrishna lives in me.” to be regarded as a ‘realized soul’ and a ‘saint’.


Heiligen en Wonderen

Kees Boukema

     In gesprekken met discipelen benadrukte Sri Ramakrishna keer op keer het belang van “the company of holy men” Als wordt gevraagd hoe mensen die een druk bezet, werelds leven leiden toch een spiritueel pad kunnen volgen, is zijn antwoord:

”Prayer and the company of holy men. It is not enough to be in the company of religious people only for a day. You should constantly seek it.”

En op de vraag: “What is the good of holy company?” zegt hij: 

“By constantly living in the company of holy men, the soul becomes restless for God.” en “It helps one to culivate discrimination between the Real and the unreal. God alone is the Real, that is to say, the Eternal Substance, and the world is unreal, that is to say, transitory.” [The Gospel, p. 96/97.]

     Ook bij zijn arts, doctor Sarkar, dringt Ramakrishna er op aan om vertrouwen te hebben in de woorden van ‘holy men and great souls, those who have realized God. They constantly think of God.”   En voegt daar aan toe:“God is far, far away from the mind steeped in worldliness. Wordly intelligence creates many doubts and many forms of pride.” (….) “For the seekers of God the constant company of holy men is necessary. The disease of wordly people has become chronic, as it were. They should carry out the instruction of holy men.” [The Gospel, p. 864/865.]

     Maar, hoe herkennen wij ‘holy men’? In de Rooms Katholieke kerk is voor een ‘heiligverklaring’ goedkeuring nodig van de Paus. Die goedkeuring wordt slechts verleend als de voorgedragen persoon in leven en sterven op Christus gelijkt. Een karakterisering die is ontleend aan een brief die Sint Paulus in het voorjaar van 55 zond aan de gemeente van Galatië. Paulus schrijft daar: 

“Ik ben met Christus gekruisigd. Ik leef niet meer, maar Christus leeft in mij.” 

     Om te kunnen beoordelen of de voorgedragen persoon aan dit criterium voldoet, is in het jaar 933 een bepaalde procedure vastgesteld. Onderzocht moet worden of die persoon een dienaar Gods was, of hij een eerbiedwaardig leven heeft geleid en of er ‘op voorspraak van die persoon’ een of meer wonderen zijn geschied. Met wonderen wordt gedoeld op genezingen en exorcisme, zoals die volgens het Nieuwe Testament door Jezus zijn verricht; maar ook vriendschap met wilde dieren (Sint Franciscus)  en ‘stigmata’ (littekens van kruisiging in handen en voeten) kunnen als wonderen worden aangemerkt.

St Francis

     Als aan alle voorwaarden is voldaan, wordt de persoon door de Paus ‘zalig’ verklaard. De zaligverklaring (beatificatie) brengt mee, dat plaatselijke verering van de persoon wordt goedgekeurd. De Paus kan die persoon ook ‘heilig’ verklaren; dat houdt in, dat verering van deze persoon voor de hele wereldkerk wordt aanbevolen.

     Het Hindoeïsme kent heilige teksten en vele heilige personen, die teksten uitleggen of wonderen doen, maar er is geen centraal leergezag. De gelovige is vrij om zelf een leraar te kiezen en die te vereren. M., auteur van “The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna”, zag veel overeenkomsten tussen het leven en de leer van Christus en die van zijn leraar Ramakrishna.  Als hem wordt gevraagd, welke overeenkomsten er dan zijn, komt ook de opwekking van Lazarus uit de dood ter sprake.

Ramakrishna: “But I cannot do those things.”

M.: “That is because you don’t want to. Miracles draw people’s attention to their bodies. They do not think of genuine devotion.” [Gospel, p.837/838].

Ramakrishna zag zichzelf niet als een ‘holy man’. Als hij hoort dat Girish Gosh hem prijst, vraagt hij: “What were you saying about me? I eat, drink and make merry.”

Girish:”What should we have been saying about you? Are you a holy man?”

Master:”No, nothing of the sort. Truly I do not feel I am a holy man.” [Gospel, p. 694.]

Als Ramakrishna gevraagd wordt om de zoon van Keshab Sen te zegenen, zegt hij: ”It is not given to me to bless anyone.” en “ I cannot say such a thing as ‘May you be healed’. I never ask the Divine Mother to give me the power of healing. I pray to Her only for pure love.” [Gospel, p324.]

     Ik meen een mens, die in woord en gedrag tot uitdrukking brengt:“Ik leef niet meer, maar Sri Ramakrishna leeft in mij.” te mogen beschouwen als een ‘realized soul’ en een ‘heilige’.

  


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kees Boukema has been a student of Vedanta and other philosophical systems for decades. He has contributed variously to the field of higher thinking. He has written numerous articles on philosophical subjects, reviewed books, and has translated important articles and books. Mr Kees Boukema’s most recent work is the translation into Dutch of the book The Practice of Meditation.

Kees Boukema is sinds decennia student van Vedanta en andere filosofische systemen. Hij heeft divers bijgedragen aan het veld van hoger denken. Hij heeft belangrijke artikelen en boeken geschreven en vertaald. Het nieuwste boek van Dhr Kees Boukema is, De Beoefening van Meditatie.