Journal of The Eastern School of Broad Buddhism
IN THIS ISSUE
Maria Crombie on MEETING THE BUNNYSATTVA
Recently translated material from THE BUNNYSATTVA SUTRA
Two chapters from THE GOSPEL OF THE HOLY TWELVE
The highest reality is not a mere abstraction.
It is very much alive with sense and awareness
and intelligence -- and above all, with love,
purged of human impurities and defilements.
D. T. Suzuki
A Talk by Maria Crombie
Thursday 1 October 1998
The Center for Broad Buddhism
Hi everyone. I'm not used to talking before such a large group. I hope I won't disappoint you. Well, here goes. Last Halloween my two sons were with their father, and I had a rare night alone. It was very cold out. I went walking, feeling a bit depressed. I walked three or four miles, finally coming upon the Halloween parade in the West Village -- this was in Manhattan, in New York City.
If you've never seen this parade, you ought to. Thousands of people in some of the wildest and most wonderful costumes. It is not just a parade, cause it spreads out all over the Village. They are everywhere. Seeing all the creativity in the clothes and masks and makeup made me feel better. But I still felt lonely. I often feel lonely. I know I shouldn't, but I do. I have a hard time making friends. I am probably too private a person. It takes a long while for me to relax with anyone.
A lot of people in New York have never lived anywhere else. I have. I've lived all over the world. I was born in Berlin. I'm every bit as at home here in Paris. I can't say the constant traveling has always been good, but I've seen many places and met all sorts of people. All this traveling was due to my stepfather. He worked for an international consortium that had connections with the intelligence community and with many foreign governments. I didn't know exactly what he did, and he said very little about it.
So, that night I went into a small restaurant on Sixth Avenue. It was the kind of place where you stand in line and serve yourself. A small place, filled with people, many in costume. All the tables were taken, so I asked a rather large person in a rabbit suit if I might join him -- or her.
That was the beginning of an adventure for me and for my two sons, that continues to this day. Our life has been changed -- transformed. I now have a reason to live, a reason to work on myself, a direction in which to grow. Before that meeting I was just marking time, trying to make the best of a bad life.
It turned out that this person in a rabbit costume was not a human, and the costume was not a costume. Her name was Tarabatha, and she had come from within the Earth. I had no idea anyone lived inside the Earth. We humans know so little.
After meeting her and talking for awhile, she offered me a ride home. Not in a car, but in a saucer. I had always associated saucers with little grey people and horror movies, so it was unbelievable. I saw New York from above for the first time. It was so beautiful.
But when we reached my building, we were assaulted by a group of soldiers in black clothing, led by -- I am embarrassed and ashamed even now -- my father. It turned out he had had Tarabatha under surveillance and was awaiting an opportunity to kidnap her. By chance -- or was it fate? -- she and I had met for the first time that same night.
Why did my father want to kidnap Tarabatha? Because -- I found this out later -- he hoped, through her, to get to a great spiritual being known as the Bunnysattva. I had never heard of the Bunnysattva, but it wasn't long before I had the good fortune to meet this exalted, ethereal being.
My father's men had Tarabatha tied in chains, and I could not get free to help her. God knows what I could have done, but I was enraged. I would have bitten their heads off.
Suddenly and miraculously we were rescued by wondrous beings with the bodies of men and the heads of horses. They came from the sky in other saucers. I forget now what the horse-beings are called, but I will never forget their help at a time when I could see no hope.
I went and got my two sons, and together with Tarabatha and the horse-men we ascended -- I know this must be hard to believe for some of you -- into the sky in a flying saucer. It took us about twenty minutes to get to our destination: the Moon.
I wouldn't dream to tell you these things, not in a million years, if you were not all Oscar's students, and Broad Buddhists of the Eastern School. Some of you must know from experience that what I am saying is true. And the rest of you will surely find out for yourselves sooner or later. I am not making any of this up.
From above, the Copper Palace looks like a sort of flattened dome. But from inside it is very much like a cathedral, except the walls are transparent. I should say translucent. You can see through them, but they also are lit up from within. There is a soft, steady light that comes from them, not pure white but a kind of light cream-color. Since the Palace is on the far side of the Moon, there is never direct sunlight, only reflected sunlight, and you never see the Sun or the Earth. But the stars are very bright, and the walls are illumined, and in addition there are old-fashioned floor lamps everywhere, the kind you find only in very old libraries and mansions.
I don't know what materials it is made from. I know it is not glass or plastic. Most likely it is a kind of very hard but flexible crystal, as the walls must withstand continual showers of tiny pebble meteors. I think it is called the Copper Palace because it shines with a copper color as you approach it from the sky. But I am guessing, I did not think to ask about it at the time.
We had some time to collect ourselves, bathe, change our clothes, eat a little, and so on. I took a short nap. I don't think the boys managed to sleep at all, they were so excited. Then we were brought into a very large room. A very unusual room, a hall really. It appeared to be half indoors and half outdoors. This room is called the Library, and the walls are lined with books, thousands and thousands of them. Not just Western books, but Eastern ones as well: scrolls, old manuscripts, Tibetan books -- Tibetan books are loose pages put between two flat pieces of wood, and then wrapped in fabric and tied with ribbons.
Above us was an enormous skylight, and beneath us some very large and rather pretty Persian carpets. But what was most striking to me were the two enormous trees inside the library -- real trees, and alive. They are about fifty feet apart at the trunks, but above us their branches met and intermingled. One tree, I found out later, is named Esmeralda, and the other is named Desdemona. These trees, I was told later, are very ancient, but to me they looked like they were maybe a hundred to a hundred and fifty years old. I don't know what kind they were, I did not recognise the leaves.
We rested there for awhile, enjoying the beauty of the Library and the fragrance of the trees, not knowing what we were waiting for.
Then into the room came the most lovely little rabbit I have ever seen. A gray and brown rabbit, with beautiful dark eyes, the softest fur, and the sweetest personality you could ever imagine. Wim and Yeheshua -- my sons -- petted the rabbit and tickled it, and I held it in my lap and hugged it. The rabbit took little leaps in the air and jumped into my sons' arms, and... I loved this rabbit so much, really at first sight. I thought, if only we can take this rabbit with us -- we would have the best pet in the world.
Please don't think I mean any disrespect. I am just telling you what I thought at first. I was very naive, very ignorant. I still am, actually.
After maybe ten minutes playing together -- it was so much fun -- a number of other people joined us in the library, and on seeing us with the rabbit, they bowed their heads on the floor, prostrating themselves before us, like people do in India or Nepal or Tibet. Of course, I realised later that it wasn't us they were bowing to, it was the rabbit.
I would like to tell you more, but I feel too emotional right now. Please forgive me. Maybe another time I'll speak some more. I'd especially like to tell you about the civilisations inside the Earth, and what it is like to visit there. But it will have to wait.
That rabbit -- you all know who it is -- has totally transformed my life, and the lives of my sons -- and of my father. It is as if we are different people. Now when I wake up in the morning I have something real to live for. I know my purpose here on Earth is to realise my true self, and to live to help and serve others. And I have a new and dear friend, Tarabatha, to whom I am eternally grateful. So many new friends really. I feel like I am the luckiest person in the world. And you are too, each of you. If you don't know it now, you will realise it soon. Thank you for being so patient with me.
THE BUNNYSATTVA SUTRA
Ananda took off his jacket and dropped it on the back of the chair. He sat down heavily. He pulled a piece of paper from his pocket, unfolded it, and handed it across the table to Patra.
It was a page ripped from a magazine. Patra ignored it, concentrating on his sweet and sour soup.
'Well, how did it go?' asked Patra.
'I like time travel.'
'Me too. I have a book to show you.' He pointed to a small black book next to the salt shaker. 'What is this you brought me?'
'Take a look.'
'After last time, I'm not sure I want to.' (Patra was referring to the articles about him as the 'Liberator of Tibet.')
'I think you'd better,' said Ananda. 'Should I read the whole book?'
'Much as you like. But for now, the chapter I've marked.'
Ananda looked at the book. Patra picked up the magazine page. He frowned and read:
December 16, 1999
THE BUNNYSATTVA SUTRA
Rabbit Tattoos and Higher Planes
Julie Kaufmann, 19, steps out of her dusty black Firebird, a backpack on her shoulder and a silver ring in her nose. She smiles, and pulling up her t-shirt, reveals a tiny, intricate tattoo of a rabbit on her left breast. "That," she says, smiling, "is the Bunnysattva."
Julie, a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin, refers, not to a garage band or a cartoon character, but to the heroine of this year's least likely bestseller. The Bunnysattva Sutra of Patra Chosnyid Skybamedpa is a long, rambling Buddhist fantasy reminiscent of J. R. R. Tolkein's 'Lord of the Rings.' Ananda, a disciple of the Buddha, finds a seemingly ordinary baby rabbit in a field. Then, mysteriously, he and the rabbit are propelled into the distant future -- to suburban Texas, June, 1997. The rabbit speaks perfect English, performs miracles, gathers a score of teenage disciples and takes them in a flying saucer to a palace on the moon. There are horse-headed deities, enormous talking dragons, evil Chinese imperialists, Buddhist federal agents, and the Devil himself.
What began as an obscure first novel has turned into a worldwide craze, with youhg people in a hundred metropolitan areas gathering at sunset Bunnysattva Be-ins and meditating in Bunnysattva Circles. A companion volume, Visions of the Bunnysattva, is in its fifth printing. Two CDs, Music of the Bunnysattva and More Music of the Bunnysattva are runaway favorites on college campuses.
Emma Sirany, the eighty-something expatriate English author (she calls herself "editor") of The Bunnysattva Sutra, is as surprised as anyone. "I had no idea. Who could have dreamed it would capture the imagination of so many people." Sirany, who lives an hour outside of Paris, has been "editing" all her life. "But nothing of great consequence," she told TIME last week. "It wasn't until two years ago that the Bunnysattva appeared. I had thought I'd retire quietly. You know, gardening, grandchildren..."
No such luck. Sirany has embarked on a whirlwind tour, appearing on talk shows and at book-signings in 36 cities, from Amsterdam to Zagreb. "For me, the biggest surprise was Russia," she told Matt Lauer on Good Morning America. "Imagine selling three million copies of a Buddhist scripture in Russia. I'm overwhelmed."
As is the Sutra's publisher. Harper SanFrancisco has ordered a fourth English language printing of two million copies. And what leaps off bookshelves tends to rocket onto the big screen. Last week Sangha, Leonardo DiCaprio's production company, paid several million dollars for screen rights to The Bunnysattva Sutra. DiCaprio will play Toof Otatop, a Norwegian teenager who embraces bunny-Buddhism.
"It's a dream come true," said DiCaprio, who has himself been studying Buddhism for three years. "All my life I've been searching. Now -- by good luck, or maybe fate -- my spiritual and professional lives have come together." Brad Pitt, Bruce Willis, Kate Winslett, Winona Ryder and Cameron Diaz are all said to have "expressed an interest." Meanwhile Leo, whose star rose when his ship went down, prepares himself for higher planes of consciousness and... Nirvana?
YANCY BOLDRAGH in Paris
'What do we do?'
'Don't publish,' suggested Ananda.
'Yes,' said Patra. 'Yes.' He looked out the window at the tops of the trees in Sheridan Square Park.
'Unless we print it ourselves. Just a thousand or two. Like Oscar's book.'
'I don't know.' Patra rubbed his nose.
'I think,' said Ananda, 'that would be better than not publishing at all.'
'Want to read that chapter now?'
Ananda nodded, and read:
A few days passed, and it so happened that Buddha and Ananda were traveling through a hot, dry part of India. After walking several miles, the Buddha sat on a rock under the shade of a tree and said, "Ananda, I am thirsty. Can you fetch some water for me?" Ananda went at once to find water.
He walked quite a ways and came upon a small farm. He thought the farmer might have a well, and went up to the house to ask permission to draw some water. He knocked at the door and it was opened by the most beautiful woman Ananda had ever seen in his life. Instantly he was spellbound. He just stood there and stared at her, speechless. He had completely forgotten why he had knocked at the door, all thought of water was gone. The woman, for her part, was equally struck with Ananda, for he was a handsome man, and his love and devotion to the Buddha had changed him, so that all who came into contact with him were struck by his presence.
So the two of them just stood there staring at each other, without saying a word. After awhile the farmer returned home and asked Ananda what he wanted. "I was wondering if you had any work that I could do for you?" Ananda answered spontaneously, for his only thought was that he had to spend more time near this beautiful woman he had just met. Of course, farmers always have work that needs doing, so the farmer agreed to hire Ananda to help him in the fields.
And so the days passed, and Ananda's love for the woman did not lessen in the least. If anything, it increased, and the only thing Ananda knew was that he wanted to stay near her. He also wanted to please her father so he would not be sent away, and he worked hard every day, and came home exhausted, but content that for an hour or two, before bed, he could sit near the daughter.
After a while, Ananda got his courage up and asked the farmer if
he could marry the daughter. The farmer was happy because Ananda
was a good worker, and he knew Ananda would look after his
daughter well. And of course the daughter and Ananda were happy,
so the marriage took place.
'I mean, whoever wrote this got the whole story wrong. It's embarrassing.'
'Cause it's about me, and it's all wrong.'
'Are you the only Ananda who follows Siddhartha Gautama?'
'How many others are there?'
'I... I guess there must be ten. Maybe more.'
'So how do you know it's about you? Read the rest. It's not long.'
Ananda scowled and continued:
Then, after twelve years of contented married life, there came a
flood. Overnight the river rose and overflowed its banks, and
came rushing toward the farm. There was no time to save anything.
Ananda put one child on his back and held his wife with one hand,
and the other two children in his other hand, and was swept away
by the current. Ananda started swimming hard so as not to go
under, and as they were pushed along by the flood, they saw
animals drowning in the torrent. Ananda felt his only hope was to
try and swim across the current to the other side, because there
was a hill there which was not submerged, and if he could make it
to there they could be safe. But a flood means what? The current
is not like that of an ordinary river, and Ananda had not gone
very far at all when the child on his back was swept away by the
current. His head was seen briefly above the raging waters, but
then disappeared from sight, and was never seen again.
Behind him came a gentle voice. "My child, have you brought the water?" Ananda looked up, and there was the Buddha, sitting on a stone, looking at him with great compassion.
"The water," Ananda repeated, unable to take it all in.
"Yes," Buddha replied. "You left at least half an hour ago to fetch water, and now that you have returned, I was wondering whether you had brought any?"
"Half an hour!" Ananda exclaimed. "But that can't be. I..." And now he lowered his head in shame, for he remembered how he had forgotten his Lord. "But what about my wife? I was married. I had children. Twelve years have gone by!"
The Buddha smiled and shook his head. All of Ananda's twelve years of married life had taken place in less than half an hour.
"That is Maya," said the Lord.
IS THAT SO?
by Eruch Jessawala
compiled by Bill LePage
edited by Steve Klein
Gradually the color returned to his face.
Ananda and Patra walked slowly up Broome Street, looking in the windows of the stores. Ananda wore a black cowboy hat and blue round sunglasses (gifts from Shur), a tuxedo jacket, baggy blue jeans, and hiking sandals. Patra had wrapped his head in a black shawl and had on his faded brown jacket, tan pants and rough cloth shoes. Anyone who didn't know them might have thought them grandfather and grandson.
'It's such a beautiful afternoon,' said Ananda with a grimace.
'Still upset about that story?'
'Wouldn't you be? Someone tells your experience all wrong? Totally false? Lies about your life ...'
'Maybe it's allegorical.'
'Yes. A teaching story.'
'I don't understand.'
'In different spiritual traditions, there is a tendency to cloak the higher truths behind a surface story, so that an ordinary listener -- or reader -- gets one message, and a more developed one gets another, deeper one.'
'Well, one reason was persecution. The false priests -- and priests are generally false -- would persecute genuine seekers. Real aspirants threatened their dictatorship over the people.'
'Yes. But to some extent it has always been that way. Today, in this country, it is not so much so with religion as in other areas. In the field of healing, for instance, if you don't tow the party line they'll put you away.'
'I know about that.'
'Just as today you have to have a certificate from a group of rich old men to be a doctor, and only use the medicines sponsored by the big drug companies -- that's how it was with spiritual teaching -- most of the time, all over the world.'
'How does that relate to that miserable story?'
'Well, suppose you are a teacher, and you don't want to interrupt your teaching by being skinned alive, or burned at the stake. You may tell stories to convey the deeper spiritual truths that cannot be spoken safely. Some of your listeners will take the story at face value, but a few -- the ones who are ready -- will understand the deeper meaning.'
'That story... has a deeper meaning?'
'Well, let's just suppose. We know if it's about you, it's not true in the literal sense.'
'One part is true,' said Ananda. 'I did get separated from my Master. But there is no rabbit in the story. In the story, we don't go into the future. There's the farmer and his daughter, who I never met. So the whole thing about the farmer and the farm and the children and the flood is fiction. Shur is beautiful and wise, and I love her, but never have I forgotten my Master for a moment. And I would give anything to be back with him -- if only it were his wish.' Ananda wiped his eye.
They crossed Prince Street, barely avoiding a speeding truck belching black exhaust. Every so often someone would nod to Patra, who had become well known in the neighborhood. Patra would usually smile and nod back, though occasionally he would look serious and touch the person lightly on the shoulder.
'There was another reason for allegory,' Patra went on. 'Comprehension. Men and women can digest only what they are prepared for by their experience and their efforts. Those who are just beginning have to be given baby food. The more advanced ones can handle more sophisticated dishes. Their digestions have been trained.'
'So this was a story with several levels?' asked Ananda.
'I don't know. But let's just assume, for the moment, that it was. It could be several thousand years old, and maybe it's actually based on your experiences. It does have your name in it, and the name of the Buddha -- that is what they call your Master now, you know. God knows why. They always seem to change the names of the Masters, and never for the better.'
'Yes, Zarathustra is called Zoroaster, Yeheshua is called Jesus... and Siddhartha Gautama is the Boo-dah.' Ananda made a face.
'So if we assume the story is an allegory, a parable, what might it mean?'
Ananda took off his sunglasses. 'Well, he goes away for twelve years. Twelve. A full cycle?'
'Exactly. Twelve means completion. Like the twelve months of the year. The twelve signs of the zodiac. He leaves his Master for a full circle of experience. He falls in love, marries, has children, and then they all die. What does it mean?'
'Transience. Everything you work for ends in nothing. Material things disappear. Bodies die.'
'So,' said Patra, 'one meaning of the story may be that everything goes. It is all maya. So the message would be, work for the Truth that never disappears, instead of the fleeting things that can only disappear, leaving you impoverished and hopeless. What else?'
'The flood' said Ananda. 'Everything and everyone is washed away by the flood. What can that mean?''And note that the Ananda, in the story, is safe and sound, while everything around him is destroyed.'
'Isn't it like Realisation? When one finally attains the Truth, when one enters Nirvana, one finds that everyone and everything he experienced was nothing but a dream, and one finally experiences real existence.'
Ananda smiled. 'It's an allegory of the spiritual path. You forget your spiritual source -- symbolised in the story by the Master -- and go off into illusory life, totally identifying with the surface things: wife, children, farm, work... And then they are all washed away, leaving only you -- your real self. And when you find yourself all alone, without everything you've collected -- there is the Master, waiting for you.'
'That's one level,' said Patra. 'There might be another. The great disasters of this century: the world wars, the famines, the earthquakes, as well as those still to come -- the axis shift, volcanoes, floods and so on -- after all have come and gone, mankind will finally return to its spiritual purpose and recognise its source. That is Ananda finding the Buddha after the flood, and realising that only a half hour has passed. All the things he lost existed only in his own imagination.'
'Who wrote this story?'
'I don' know. But it wouldn't surprise me,' Patra turned and looked Ananda in the eye, 'if it wasn't you. Later on in your life. When you yourself had become a Master.'
The Bunnysattva Sutra
Editor's Note: Maya is a Sanskrit word for
the Principle of Ignorance that governs the imaginary creation. A
literal translation might be 'illusion,' but not just any
illusion -- the illusion we experience individually and
collectively as life.
Yeheshua ben Miryam
(Jesu-Maria or Jesus Christ)
Two Chapters from
THE GOSPEL OF THE HOLY TWELVE
also known as 'The Gospel of the Perfect Life'
This Gospel, discovered and translated by an Irish Catholic priest named Gideon Jasper Richard Ouseley, was first published in 1892. Ouseley wrote that it had been "preserved in one of the Buddhist monasteries in Tibet, where it was hidden by some of the Essene Community for safety from the hands of the corrupters, and is now for the first time translated from the Aramaic."
It did not exactly take off with Christians, maybe because there is so much Buddhism in it. Ouseley said he believed the Gospel to be authentic, and written earlier than the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Ouseley's translation was into 1890's English, which sounds a bit stilted today. The version printed here has been put into slightly more contemporary language by Retlaw Tsoy, who compiled Meherwan Rinpoche's Book of the Dead.
If you'd like to see the original version, it's online, in its entirety, at http://www.tdi.net/jbrooks/
I found the original hard to read online, so I downloaded it as
text files and read it using my word-processor. I hope you like
THE GOSPEL OF THE HOLY TWELVE
In the name of the all-holy Amun
Here begins the Gospel of the Perfect Life of Jesu-Maria, the Christ
in body the descendent of David through Joseph and Mary
in spirit the son of God through divine love and wisdom
From the age of ages is the Eternal Thought.
The Thought is the Word. The Word is the Act. And these three are one in the Eternal Law.
The Law is with God, and the Law comes out of God. All things are created by Law, and without it, nothing that exists is created.'
In the Word is life and substance, the fire and the light. The love and wisdom are one for the salvation of all.
The light shines in darkness, and the darkness does not conceal it. The Word is the one life-giving fire, which, shining into the world, becomes the fire and light of every soul that comes into the world.
I am in the world, and the world is in me, and the world does not know it.
I come to my own house, and my friends do not accept me. But to those who accept and obey is given the power to become the sons and daughters of God. Even to those who believe in the holy name, who are born, not of the will of the blood and flesh, but of God.
The Word is incarnate and dwells among us, whose glory we beheld, full of grace.
Behold the goodness and the truth and beauty of God.
The Parents and Conceiving of John the Baptist
They were both righteous before God, keeping all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord without fault. They had no children, because Elisabeth was unable to conceive. By now they were both quite old.
While he did his work as a priest before God, according to the custom of the priests, he would burn incense when he went into the temple Iova. Many people were praying outside at the time when incense was offered.
There appeared to him an Angel of the Lord standing over the altar of the incense. When Zacharias saw the Angel, he was troubled and frightened. But the Angel said to him, 'Fear not, Zacharias, for your prayer has been heard; and your wife, Elizabeth, shall bear you a son, and you will name him John.
And you will hve joy and gladness, and many people will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He will eat no flesh and drink no strong drink. And he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, right from his mother's womb.
He will turn many of the children of Israel toward the Lord, their God. And he will go in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers toward their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to prepare the people for the Lord.
Zacharias told the Angel, 'How will I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is old too.'
The Angel answered, 'I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God. I have been sent to speak to you, and to tell you these good things. Your voice has been silenced, and you will not be able to speak until these things have taken place. Then your tongue will be freed, so that you believe my words, which will be fulfilled when the time is right.'
And the people waited for Zacharias, and were surprised he stayed so long in the temple. When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple; for he did not speak, but communicated to them with gestures.
When his term of service was finished, he went home. Later his wife Elisabeth conceived a child. She kept it a secret for five months, saying, 'This is how the Lord takes away my reproach among men.'
The Immaculate Conception of Jesus the Christ
Joseph was a just man, and had a rational mind. He was skilled in working in wood and in stone. Mary was a tender and discerning soul. She made veils for the temple. They were both pure before God, and from them both was born Jesu-Maria, who is called the Christ.
The Angel came to her and said, 'Hail, Mary. You are highly favored, for the Mother of God is with you; You, of all women, are blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.'
When she saw him, she was troubled by what he said. She thought, what kind of greeting is this?
The Angel said to her, 'Don't be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. You will conceive in your womb, and bring forth a child. He will be great, and will be called a son of the Highest. God will give him the throne of his ancestor David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever. And his kingdom will never end.
Then Mary said to the Angel, 'How will this be? I have not been with a man.'
The Angel told her, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon your husband Joseph, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you, Mary. So the holy one whom you will bear will be called the Christ, the child of God. His name on Earth will be Jesu-Maria, for he will save the people from their sins-- whoever repents and obeys his Law.
'Therefore, eat no flesh and drink no strong drink, for the child will be consecrated to God from his mother's womb. Neither flesh nor strong drink will he take, nor will a razor touch his head. Your cousin Elisabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month of her pregnancy -- she who was called barren. For with God nothing is impossible.'
And Mary said, 'I am the servant of God. May it be as you have said.'
And the Angel departed.
The same day, the Angel Gabriel appeared to Joseph in a dream. He told him, 'Hail Joseph, you are highly favored, for the Fatherhood of God is with you. You are blessed of all men, and blessed is the fruit of your loins.'
Joseph thought about these words and was troubled.
The Angel of God told him, 'Don't be afraid, Joseph, son of David, for you have found favor with God. And you will have a child, and you will call him Jesu-Maria, for he shall save his people from their sins.
All this took place in fulfillment of the writings of the Prophets: 'Behold, a maiden shall conceive and be with child, and will have a son, and will call him Emmanuel, which means God Within Us.'
Then Joseph woke up, and did what the Angel had told him to do, and went to Mary, his fiance. And she conceived in her womb the Holy One.
Mary went quickly to the hill country, to a city in Judea, to the house of Zacharias, and greeted Elisabeth.
When Elisabeth heard Mary's greeting, her child jumped in her womb. Elisabeth was filled with the power of the Spirit, and said, in a clear voice:
'You of all women are blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. How can it be that the mother of my Lord comes to me? As soon as I heard your voice, the baby jumped for joy. Blessed is she who believes; for what was told her from the Holy One will come to pass.'
And Mary said:
'My soul magnifies you, the Eternal One, and my spirit rejoices in God, my saviour.
For you saw the low state of your servant. From now on, all generations will call me blessed.
For you, who are mighty, have done great things to me. Your name is holy. And your mercy is on those who fear you from generation to generation.
You have showed the strength of your arm. You have scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
You have taken the mighty ones down from their high seats, and exalted the humble and the meek.
You have fed the hungry ones with good food, and sent the rich away empty.
You help your servant Israel, remembering your mercy. As you spoke to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his children, forever.'
And Mary stayed with her about three months, and then returned to her own house.
'Blessed is the God of our fathers and our mothers in Israel. For you have heard me at the right time, and you have helped me in the day of salvation.
For you said, I will preserve and make a covenant of the people to renew the face of the Earth: and to save the desolate places from the hands of the spoiler.
So you can say to the prisoners, go forth and be free; and to those in the darkness, go into the light. They will eat happily, and they will no longer hunt or bother the creatures I have made to rejoice before me.
They will hunger and thirst no more; the heat will not harm them, and the cold will not destroy them. I will make on all my mountains a way for travellers; and my high places will be exalted.
Sing, heavens, and rejoice, Earth. O deserts, break forth with song. For you, O God, comfort your people, and console those who have been wronged.
The Birth of John the Baptist
On the eighth day, they came to circumcise the child. They called him Zacharias, after his father. His mother said, 'No; he will be called John.' And they told her, 'None of your relatives is called by that name.'
They made signs to his father, asking what he wished to call him. He asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, 'His name is John.' And they were surprised, for his tongue was freed, and he spoke and praised God.
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