A Difficult Question
I’ve always been inspired by Swami Kriyananda’s compassionate concern for others’ feelings and their highest good.
I recall in 1985, I was in Israel on a pilgrimage along with Swami and about 50 other Anandans. One day we went to Nazareth and, after visiting the holy sites, we were moving through the lively street scene. As Swami was enjoying the passing show, suddenly a young Arab man, obviously a new convert to Christianity, accosted him with considerable fervor: “Do you believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins?”
How would Swami answer that one? It seemed like a no win situation. He couldn’t say, “Yes,” but to say, “No,” could invite a harangue—or even damage the young man’s newfound religious zeal, which Swami no doubt considered an even worse outcome. I thanked my lucky stars that the question hadn’t been directed toward me!
Swami wasn’t troubled at all, however. In a kindly yet penetrating manner, he simply asked, “How can God die?” The young man wobbled in shocked silence for a few moments, then departed.
It was such a beautiful episode. With that simple reply, Swami turned the situation around completely, offering his questioner a wonderful doorway to an expanded understanding of Christianity.
I wonder if the young man didn’t spend a long time—perhaps even to this day—chewing on that one.
Gyandev lives at Ananda Village and is director of the Teacher Training Course in Ananda Yoga.