Throughout human history, there have been many great teachers and exemplars of moral and spiritual elevation, each with their own distinctive philosophy or theology. From the Buddha, Confucius, Laozi, Zhuangzi, Shiva, Krishna and others, down to my very own teachers like Godwin Samararatne, Khensur Rinpoche Geshe Tashi Tsering, and Sri Sri Anandamurti, all of whom I respect dearly—there is no doubt in my mind that humanity would do well to pay attention to inner cultivation through authentic moral and spiritual teachings that are part of our collective human inheritance.
Yet, despite all our efforts, we are ultimately incapable of returning to our true home in the Absolute through self-performative practice. Whatever laws or precepts or rituals or exercises or methods of meditation we employ, the root of self-autonomy remains deeply entrenched. For true salvation, it is imperative we come to the total end of ourselves. Self-cultivation can in the final analysis lead us to that end, at which point the gospel can gratuitously shine through.
Even when 'grace' seems present in spiritual practice, whether as blessing and inspiration for practice or as primary means at the final leg of a sequential progressive ladder of practice, the source and efficacy of that 'grace' remains suspect in the absence of the cross of Christ. Spiritual energy, yes. Magnetizing force, yes. Super-powerful vibrations of bliss, yes. But true reconciliation with God and healing of primordial rupture, no. This 'grace' may come from consciousness itself or God's common grace or perhaps sovereign touch of the Holy Spirit. At worse, it could even be a stratagem of the evil one, Satan, himself. Who knows? In any case, salvation by grace through faith-filled regeneration of spirit is absent, for convicting knowledge of Christ's finished work is not there.
We remain trapped in sin and separation, even if this is subtle and difficult to see. The assumption of works by self for ultimate salvation remains inchoate but alive. This hidden assumption taints all our activity and is the root cause of our fall from grace-soaked communion into alienated individual agency. From rebellious selfhood comes all the sins and transgressions of humanity and their terrible consequences. The father and model of rebellion prior to human alienation is of course Satan himself: evil personified, presently active, and very real indeed.
Great teachers, as types and shadows of the One who is Christ, demonstrate to one degree or another the beauty and perfection of our Lord. The plurality of so-called 'avatars' and 'embodiments of God' find their subversive fulfilment in the One True King: Jesus. Set apart from all others, with Christ's gospel of grace standing uniquely apart from all spiritual paths rooted in self-evolved works-based spirituality, the Lord is exclusive and singular. There is no one like Him. And there will never be anyone like Him.
To God be all the glory. To Christ be all my praise.