- Madagh linem yes
This is a well known exclamation in Armenian spoken when someone wants to express their love and dedication to another person or cause. Madagh is a sacrificial offering to benefit a person(s). It evokes passion and fervor for self-sacrifice when spoken sincerely. It implies that one person is willing to sacrifice their life or well-being in order to help another.
The following story illustrates the value of dedicated service and sacrifice that one can do to help a loved one.
There was a humble farmer named Jiraiyr, who was the dedicated son of his aging father and mother. He sacrificed his time and money to care for their every need. Jiraiyr’s wife, Lousig, resented her husband’s constant preoccupation with his parents. She felt it was an unfair burden on their personal life. They lived in the village called Aparan on the slopes of Mt. Aragats
Once a traveling minstrel named Kusahn Hovan visited Aparan. The Kousan (Minstrel) was a friend of Jiraiyr’s father. He was invited to stay with Jiraiyr’s mother and father as a guest. Every night, Kousan Hovan sang beautiful original compositions of poetry and music that entertained the villagers. Everyone came to Jiraiyr’s father’s back yard, which was over one acre in size, to hear the minstrel. Jiraiyr sacrificed even more than usual to provide food and refreshment for his father’s friend and the villagers who attended his nightly performance.
Lousig was livid that her husband was spending so much of his time and money to entertain his parents’ visitor and the entire village. She expressed her frustration every night to her husband. Jiraiyr tried his best to calm her but she became more and more upset with what she perceived as his wrong priorities in life. The last night that Kousan Hovan performed, there was a huge crowd of people that came to enjoy his melodious songs accompanied by his tar, the traditional instrument of choice of the traveling minstrels. Late that night, when all the guests had left, Jiraiyr sat with the minstrel. Hovan told Jiaiyr how much he was pleased with his kind behavior toward his parents and the villagers. Hovan was not an ordinary minstrel. He was a genuine mystic and holy man who used the medium of music and poetry to communicate his love for God.
As the two conversed, Hovan revealed that he had special powers of perception that he wanted to share with Jiraiyr. The minstrel had searched far and wide for a person who had a clean and gentle heart so that he could become the recipient of his special powers of perception. He wanted to impart his knowledge to a worthy person who would continue to use it for good purposes.
Hovan asked Jiraiyr if he had ever imagined that animals could speak to each other. Jiraiyr was surprised by such a question. He said, “I have always believed that animals communicate with each other. I have seen proof of it sometimes when deer make certain sounds during the mating season. Birds seem to chirp different messages. Why do you ask?”
Hovan: “What would you say if I could teach you to understand the languages of the animals and birds?
Jirayr: “Is it possible?”
Hovan: “Not only it is possible, but it is very useful.”
Jiraiyr: “What will I do with such knowledge. How will it be useful?”
Hovan: You will understand the mysteries of God and his creation. Every living creature is endowed by God with some knowledge. As we say in the Armenian language, “The more languages a man understands, the more he is educated.” The animals and birds spend most of their time seeking the necessities of life. But they are also endowed with natural perception of impending danger like the coming of earthquakes, tidal waves, and other natural disasters that man cannot perceive. They also can hear sounds at higher or lower frequencies than men. If you understand their languages, you will be able to help people who are in situations of imminent danger.
Hovan began to chant some mysterious sounds or incantations in an ancient language. He anointed Jiraiyr with clay marks on his forehead. After one hour of intense chanting and meditative trance, Jiraiyr experienced a strange feeling of something descending on his head. He could hear animal sounds that turned into comprehensible simple phrases. He was astonished that he could actually understand the chirping of birds, the barking of dogs, the meowing of cats, the braying of donkeys, the squeaking sounds of mice, the buzzing of grasshoppers and other animal sounds. Most of the animal talk was mundane: where is food, do you hear any predators, etc.
Jirayr became accustomed to understanding animal language. He began to discern certain animals that communicated more significant messages than others. There was a wise dog who conversed daily with a wizened donkey. They discussed events in their surroundings with amazing insight. They even made predictions based on their experience of life. Their discussions lasted only a few minutes in the early morning. Jiraiyr made it a daily habit to be near them to listen. One day the dog said,
“Friend monkey, have you noticed that Jiraiyr’s horse is slightly lopsided to the left?”
“Now that you mention it, brother dog, I see it. Why is that?”
“The poor horse is certain to die because it has some diseased growth in its stomach!”
Jiraiyr listened attentively. He was shocked to hear such bad news. What could he do? After two days, Jiraiyr saddled his horse and went to a secluded place where a recluse named Jiknahvohr Arevshat (jiknavohr means recluse and arevshat means the long lasting or eternal sun, the sun is a symbol of enlightenment by knowledge). Arevshat lived in a cave on one side of a mountain that had a hot spring that spewed forth bubbling hot water in a natural pool. The cave was warm even though the weather was very cold in the winter. During the summers, Arevshat lived outside the cave in a mud hut with a thatch roof.
When Jiraiyr arrived with the lopsided horse, Arevshat welcomed them. He immediately noted that the horse was lopsided. Jriaiyr was taken by surprise by the quick observation of the hermit. He begged him if he could cure his sick horse. Arevshat looked deeply into the eyes of the horse as if he was communicating with him. He indicated that the cure would require obtaining a special herb that was grown not with the light of the sun but with the light of the Illuminator, St. Gregory.
Jiraiyr was perplexed by Arevshat’s explanation. He had heard the legend that Saint Gregory the Illuminator prayed one day on Mount Aragats. A miraculous, eternal lantern hanging from the heavens came down to shed light on him. Jiraiyr had heard the elders of the village explain about the legend. Saint Gregory the Illuminator prayed one day on Mount Aragats, a miraculous ever-burning lantern hanging from the heavens came down to shed light on him. Armenians believe that the Illuminator’s lantern or lamp is still there, and only those pure in heart and spirit can see the eternal lantern — the symbol of the hopes and dreams of the nation.
There is another legend about St. Gregory and the Lamp of the Illuminator, which the faithful may see hanging above Mt. Aragats. According to alternate tradition, when King Trdat put down his sword, St. Gregory picked it up and threw it in the direction of the Sebouh mountains. While the sword was flying through the air, it turned into a glowing cross. The light of this cross is the Lamp of the Illuminator which hangs without a cord above the four peaks of Mt. Aragats, the second highest mountain in the Armenian Highlands. In Armenian “anparan” is understood as follows: “an” is a suffix that means without and “paran” means rope. The region around Mount Aragats is called Aparan which is derived from the word anparan. It refers to the Lamp of the Illuminator which hangs without a rope above Mount Aragats.
Jiraiyr was dismayed by the advice of Hovan. He had never known anyone in his village who had seen the Lamp of the Illuminator. How was he, a mere villager, going to merit seeing the Lamp and then finding an herb that grew only in the holy light of the sacred lamp? He humbly submitted his doubts to Arevshat. The saint replied, “My dear boy, you have faithfully served your elderly parents and respected the saintly Hovan the Minstrel. You have already been blessed with the knowledge of animal talk. Now, I shall bless you to have the patience and humility to save the life of your horse.
Arevshat explained that all life is sacred whether it be man, animal, plant, or even mountain, hill, river and valley. By respecting the sanctity of life, one is blessed by the saints and God. Similarly, by not respecting life, one is cursed to suffer due to causing suffering to others, be they humans, animals, plants or nature. This is the ancient wisdom of Armenia that has been lost due to misrepresentation by misguided so-called teachers and priests. To satisfy their own lust for wine, meat and women, they have tampered with the ancient wisdom of our forefathers. This has caused untold suffering to our people and all people who have been misled by such false teachers.
To see the Lamp of the Illuminator and find the healing herb, you must rely on the revelation of the pathway and knowledge. The knowledge is the profound teaching of Christ and our holy forefathers who have lived and died on this land. They have derived deep realizations from their collective experiences of many generation of faithfully following the path of spirituality and depending on the mercy of God. Christ has confirmed their realizations by His living example of compassion and love for the Heavenly Father. Revelation will come by faithfully hearing this spiritual knowledge and dedicating yourself to the higher purpose of serving God and sharing your love and knowledge with others.
Our Lord Jesus Christ has taught: “Blessed are the humble in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the meek: for they shall please God. Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they that suffer persecution for God’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
To delve deep into the understanding of the Lord’s words, one requires the blessings of a true saint. Since you have always been respectful to your parents, friends, neighbors, animals and especially to holy men, you merit hearing the profound meaning of the Lord’s benedictions to humanity. There are explanations of the mind and explanations of the heart. The first is intellectual, but the second is inspired by God for the welfare of all humanity. All people are God’s children. In every race, every nation, every ethnicity, there are good and bad people. For the most part, the majority of people are born good, but due to bad influences of false propaganda they can become individually or collectively bad. False propaganda comes in the form of political discourse which creates friends and enemies, materialistic philosophies that destroy belief in God and mislead people to seek fulfillment through temporary pleasures of the senses by sex, intoxication, meat eating, legally or illegally amassing wealth that far exceeds one’s basic needs, and gambling. These sinful activities degrade the goodness of the spirit of man. He or she becomes selfish, greedy, lusty, irreligious and defiant of the authority of God. Gradually one becomes arrogant and proud which makes one incapable of taking good advice.
Blinded by an irreverent mentality, such people are tossed in the ocean of suffering life after life with very little hope of salvation. They lose all respect for life and act like criminals inflicting pain and suffering on innocent living beings whether human, animal or plant. They lie, cheat, bear false witness and are always envious like snakes that bite even the person that tries to feed them. The association of bad people is worse than drinking poison.
My son, our forefathers have said, teh anoush lehzou ounehess otzuh dzahgehn guh hahness, teh gouddzou lehzou ounehess sourpuh douhnet guh vahness, “if you speak sweetly and respectfully the snake will stick its head out of the hole to hear you, but if you have a disrespectful speech you’ll chase the saint from your house.” Our speech should always be respectful and pleasing to the ear. Above all, we should only speak about uplifting subjects based on the original words of the prophets and their scriptural references.
Please hear the meaning of Jesus’ first blessing, “Blessed are the humble in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The beginning of all good things and genuine knowledge is humility, which means one should not be anxious to have the satisfaction of being honored by others. In illusion, people seek to be honored by others. A humble person may be very wealthy, powerful, famous, or knowledgeable, but he does not brag about or seek praise for these personal achievements. Regardless of how rich and powerful he may be, at any moment, death can come and take everything away. He is aware that he can never be equal to or greater than God.
The association of saintly persons is an invaluable source of spiritual inspiration and knowledge for him. Because he has learned from saints to see the presence of God in heart of every living being and himself, he is respectful of God’s presence as the witness of everything that happens. With the universal understanding of God’s presence, he is very careful in his behavior. His motto is “to be more humble than the straw in the street, more tolerant than a tree, always ready to respect others especially those that don’t respect him, and not seek to be honored for any service rendered.”
The person who has spiritual knowledge knows that there is a difference between his eternal soul and his temporary material body that always is changing. Honor and dishonor in this world pertain to the mortal body and not to the eternal soul. Our forefathers have said, “Do a good deed and throw it into the ocean. If the fish don’t see it, God will.” We should not be chasing after the material deception of desiring to receive honor and recognition from others. With faith that God is the witness of our motives and actions, we can perform our spiritual and material duties in life without seeking to be honored. One should never advertise himself as a prophet or messiah of religion. The purpose of following the religious path is to learn how to please God and not how to profit personally in any way. The Son of God has said, “The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Mt 23:5-12)
The second blessing of Christ is, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall please God.” A meek person has the self-control to subordinate his desires and hankerings in order to serve the desires and will of God. He selflessly pursues the goal of benefitting others without self-interest and self-assertiveness.
Meekness is the opposite of self-will, self-interest, and self-assertiveness. One remains meek by being cognizant of the omnipresence of God. A meek person, even though he may be highly qualified in strength, knowledge, business sense, etc., doesn’t use his talents to take advantage of others. He has the mindset of considering himself less qualified than others and thus does not fall into the trap of trying to promote himself by braggadocio. Being meek is not an aspect of cowardice because it requires spiritual strength and self-control to remain dedicated to a higher purpose than smug self-assertiveness. One who is genuinely meek understands that he can only curb the forces of sense gratification by means of serving God. He engages all the senses with dedication to God by his unselfish service. Jesus agreeing to be crucified for the sins of others is a good example. He submitted Himself to the will of His Father and agreed to be crucified for the redemption of humanity.
One’s mind and intelligence become steady when they are fixed on the supreme goal of executing the will of God under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual mentor. Another example is Noah, who remained meek by faithfully following the order of God in spite of being ridiculed by his fellow men. “…in the last days there will come ridiculers with their ridicule, proceeding according to their own desires…” (2 Peter 3:2-7) Peter explained that similar to the time of Noah there will be ridiculers who will doubt the word of God and the end time of the judgment day. Noah remained dedicated to the order of God. He built an arc in the midst of the desert waiting patiently for the deluge that God predicted.
Jiraiyr, my son, always remain meek and humble in the service of God and you will be blessed all the days of your life. You may think that saving the life of a sick horse is not important enough to expend the energy and time and intense spiritual commitment to achieve such a goal. But, my son, I tell in truth, God cherishes the life of every creature in His creation. In the material conception of life, we see someone is a human being, a dog, a cat, a snake, an ant, etc. This is material vision, but not actual vision. The material conception of life precludes knowledge of the soul and its eternal relationship with God. After the death of the human body, the individual soul remains with two possible destinies. If one dies with unfinished material desires, he must take birth again to pursue the unfinished desires. If he dies with only the desire to serve God eternally, he is liberated from the cycle of birth and death and goes back to the eternal kingdom of God. The animals and lower forms of life must wait until they come to the human form to have the possibility of these two destinies. In the lower forms, the soul is forced to go through a gradual elevation to the human form by experiencing life in many bodies such as plant, reptile, insect, bird, fish, mammal and eventually human. You can see Jiraiyr how precious is the human form of life. It is the only chance one has to understand his real position in this world of suffering and attempt to prepare himself for ultimate liberation from birth and death. What I have spoken now is the ancient wisdom of our forefathers. Lord Jesus spoke the same knowledge, but it was somewhat altered over time and today we actually believe that only humans have a soul. This is a grave mistake that gives license to uneducated persons to exhibit beastly cruelty to poor animals, plants and nature. Everything that grows and diminishes is alive with an eternal soul. And every soul has the right to live and rise to the level of pure love of God over time.
Learn from our Lord, “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain the mercy of God.” One must be merciful to other living entities if he wishes to make progress in self-realization. This means he must explain this knowledge after perfecting himself and understanding himself as the eternal servant of God. Teaching others this sacred knowledge is showing real mercy to living entities. Humanitarian work can only give temporary benefit for the body. The living entity as we have said has an eternal soul that is temporarily covered by the material body. One can show real mercy by teaching the knowledge of one’s spiritual existence that provides the educational foundation for a life of dedication to God.
We can learn from the turtle that is able to withdraw its limbs into its shell when danger is present. Similarly, a wise man is able to restrain his senses from the objects of the senses. His higher intelligence is fixed on the goal of using his senses and mind uniquely for the service of God. He never allows his senses to be engaged in activities that cause forgetfulness of God.
There is a chariot drawn by five horses. The reins are compared to the mind and the five horses are the five senses: eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin. The intelligence is the driver and the soul is the passenger in the back seat. If the intelligence becomes weak and loosens its grip on the reins, the horses begin to run wild. The soul looks on in a state of distress as the horses lead the chariot rather than the driver who should control them with the reins. Eventually the chariot crashes and everyone is injured.
The senses and mind of a man striving to please God are used only for a particular purpose in the service of God. The difference between a person working for a spiritual purpose and one who is only interested in material gain is the first uses his senses in the service of God instead of for his own satisfaction like the second. Human life is meant for sense and mind control by the higher intelligence that fixes itself on the noble goal of attaining love of God through devotion. Unless all the senses are engaged in the service of the Lord, even one of them engaged in sense gratification can deviate the aspirant from the path of spiritual life. Jiraiyr, if you can restrain your senses and mind, keeping them under full control, and fix your consciousness on serving God, you will be able to tolerate all the difficulties of life and remain steady in goodness. Then you will have the blessing of the saints and the Lord (ohrnoutioun – blessing) to see the Lamp of the Illuminator and find the healing herb.
Published onMarch 29, 2014
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