part 2, Mentors…teachers

One of the most remarkable man I have ever met, was an Anglican priest by the name of Rev Murray Rogers. I read about him and heard about him several times by both Fr. Bede Griffiths and also Mrs. Odette Baumer.  This man was a great friend and companion of Fr. Henri Le Saux of whom I mentioned in my blog yesterday.
I had the grace of meeting him some 14 years ago when I lived in a Franciscan Fraternity and he came to visit. He came, he said “because Mrs. Baumer sent him.  I was rather humbled to think that this great man, this saint, travelled all over the city to come and visit me. This morning I was looking him up on the search engine on the net and I discovered an interview where he talks about Swami Abshaiktananda, (the Catholic priest I spoke about yesterday). It is an interview that lasts for about 1 hour and is of great wealth to have listened to.

Rev. Murray lived some years of his life in Ontario, Canada, where he was in a little community close to the Native peoples. I remember when his wife wrote to me explaining that they were going back to England because “Murray has been diagnosed with prostate cancer” and they were very poor and in as much as England was their home, they counted on having some Government Health Assistance there.
After arrival in England, I got maybe two letters from them before Murray passed away. I read it also in the Telegraph Newspaper..
The Reverend Murray Rogers, who has died aged 89, was an Anglican priest of infectious holiness who devoted almost 60 years to the encouragement of dialogue and co-operation between the adherents of the world’s main religious faiths.
I was seeking more about Murray and also found this:

“My Guru,Neem Karoli Baba, was once asked by a devotee how to find God. Baba said, “Feed people; serve the poor.” The devotee then asked, “But who is poor, Maharaj-ji?” and my Guru responded, “Everyone is poor before Christ.”
I have been focusing around that one statement, “Everyone is poor before Christ,” in all my solo retreats for many years now. Experiencing our essential spiritual poverty is a crucial element of the proper humility needed for spiritually based social action.
and he adds:
One Christian elder of mine, Father Murray Rogers, once agreed that true Christians “teach and witness through their brokenness, not their wholeness.”
The modern Western culture, even the most spiritual edge of it, is so thoroughly consumed with wholeness and healing and feeling positive and well-balanced, that I think sometimes it is very hard for God’s power to come through such a full-to-the-brim vessel.
My Guru also once said, “If you don’t empty it, how can I fill it?” It’s useful to empty. And being empty is hard. Feeling broken, useless, poor does not go over well in our culture. Father Murray, who has spent most of his life in the East, said on one of his first trips to America, “Bo, I wonder whether Americans are psychologically healthy enough for the spiritual journey. They seem to need so much reassurance that they are okay. How can they go through the dry periods, how can they experience their wretchedness that way?”
So partly I go into retreat in order to experience my brokenness and wretchedness at regular intervals. And it inevitably deepens and expands my compassion for all beings.”

So I see how this man has been a teacher for so many. They pass through this life and rub shoulders with us, without our even suspecting what a privilege to have known them…so simple, so unpretentious but so holy! I felt some sadness while watching the video on his interview this morning, as I wished that I could have spent more time with him but I consoled myself in the hope that we shall meet again, in the Land of the living.

Now let us read some words which he delivered in a gathering of the World Council of Churches as an invited speaker in 1987:
“Out of the years nearly now forty-two, that I have been fortunate to live in Asia, nine were spent in the old city of Jerusalem. That was long enough to teach me that my earlier accepted belief about “chosen people” were false, untenable in the Light of Christ. If, as I firmly believe, God so loved the world….” (St John 3  16),then the idea that some of His children, the Jews and the Christians, were ‘first class’, while others were second or third class, was strictly speaking, non-sense, understandable only as a mental and psychological trick to lend support to Jewish and Christian self-identity, but incompatible with the mind of Christ, as St, Peter discovered to his surprise, “God has no favorites” (Acts 10:34)

That experience in the Holy City of Jews, Christians and Muslims came after many years in the largely Hindu environment in India and has been followed by seven years further East once again on the borders of China, where the Taoist, Confucian and Buddhist winds blow, however imperceptible at times their outward show may be.

Extraordinarily blessed with friends from these “other” spiritual paths, I have grown to know that there are no “other faiths” except in the most external and sociological terms. Being allowed myself, by God’s grace to rejoice in and live “by faith”, by trust in God as He is made real to me day by day through Christ in the Gospel and in the Eucharist, I discover as brother, as sister, any person living “by faith”, whether a follower of the Sanatana Dharma, of Islam, or of Buddhist, Jewish, or Taoist way.

Far from this “thing”, faith, being the reality that divides and separates- as it tends to do for the so-called monotheistic families. It is precisely this existential trust in a Reality beyond/ within oneself, by whatever name that Reality may be known that gives us to one another as human beings belonging, as we do, to each other in the most basic way.

Thanks to what the Spirit has managed, slowly, to teach me over the decades, chiefly through shared faith experiences with friends of other spiritual paths, the eyes with which I look at them have now a different look: the astigmatic vision that I inherited as a Christian as a result of which I affirm he “finality of Christ” and its concomitant, i,e, that we Christians are the norm, the chosen, the complete, over against the partial, the “on-the-way”, yet to be fulfilled “others” is now at last rectified.

We are all “on the way”, we are all “people of God” I am now convinced, (as i have written elsewhere), that the fundamental message of any of our religions, including my own, lies deeper and beyond the framework in which that message may have been given to the world. The Lord Jesus was not a Christian!. True his message, his work of salvation, was lived out and revealed in a Jewish setting, but it was too strong a message to be confined within that spiritual and cultural packaging.”

The Rev. Murray ends his talk with these words, “May the word of Teihard de Chardin, a word pointing to adoration, express our gratitude for being allowed a small part in this mystery of Life:

“Like a vast tide the Being will have dominated the trembling of all beings. the extraordinary adventure of the World will have ended in the bosom of a tranquil ocean, of which, however, each drop will still be conscious of being itself.”
Om-May peace and peace be everywhere!
(Rev Murray Rogers residing in One Bamboo Hermitage, Shantin, Hong Kong)


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