The "Baptism of the Holy Spirit" is a very, very important spiritual reality. But before we address it, it might be helpful to take a look at the other meaning of the word "baptism".
First we'll look at the kind of "baptism" employed by "John the Baptist". In this case it is a simple ritual of washing that is symbolic of the "cleansing of the soul". Why would this be necessary and what good does it do? John the Baptist's divine role was to prepare a certain group of people to be able to more readily understand and accept Jesus and his teachings, so that once Jesus came and began his ministry, it could kind of really "take off" quickly. It was part of an activity of preparation. And it had two aspects: the symbolic aspect and the practical aspect. The first aspect was the simple act of being immersed in water, or having water poured or sprinkled over the person being "baptized". This is mainly a symbolic act, and is meant to get the person to focus on the second, more important aspect of baptism, which is the real, inner, spiritual meaning of this symbolic rite. And this is the fact that for our spiritual growth, it is crucial for us to embrace a certain attitude towards GOD, spirituality, and our way of living. In short, we need to start living a GOD-centered life, instead of a selfish-centered life. So when we get "baptized", we're essentially promising to live, from this moment on, in a much more spiritually committed way. We're expected to change our attitude and behavior towards GOD and life, so that from now on, we're living in accordance with the universal principles of devotion to GOD, kindness to each other, selflessness, goodness and with sincere, pure intentions. This is what is meant in the scriptural phrase: "repent and be baptized". We're repenting of our previous selfish-centered way of living, and promising to live a selfless GOD centered life from now on.
So, in summary, the physical act of being immersed in water, or being sprinkled with water, is principally symbolic. It mainly has spiritual value if it is accompanied by a sincere shift in one's attitude to living as closely as possible to a more spiritually centered life. In other words, it means spending some time each day sincerely pouring our heartfelt love and gratitude to GOD in prayer, meditation, or simply by having an "attitude of gratitude"; as well as living according to the Golden Rule - of treating other people fairly and kindly - treating them as we would want them to treat us in similar circumstances. Without this "conversion of our hearts" to this higher way of living - the act of baptism is more or less empty and meaningless. Fortunately it may still contain a certain amount of spiritual power because of the sincere congregation's attention on GOD and their prays for the person being baptized, but it's easy for the one getting baptized to still sort of miss the point. So really water baptism is a way of getting us to make a decision in our lives to be more committed from now on to living a kinder, more selfless, more spiritually devoted, GOD-centered life. It's meant to be a practical aid to our spiritual growth.
But there is another kind of “inner, spiritual baptism" that is even deeper and more profound than "water baptism", and that is the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit". If you're familiar with the New Testament, you may remember that John the Baptist said:
"I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."
– Matthew 3:11 NIV
Now baptizing with "the Holy Spirit and with fire", sounds very different from the simple rite of water baptism - which after all is simply a way of making the decision to leave behind a selfish life of self-centered living, and committing ourselves from now on to living a selfless, GOD-centered life.
In this case the word "fire" is referring to the soothing, comforting, purifying divine flame, which often accompanies the blessing of the Holy Spirit and which moves up through us. This is usually invisible, but great saints and yogis are sometimes able to see it. And yet it can sometimes be felt by the rest of us, as a soothing comforting feeling or sensation within us, especially around the heart area, or as an exalted, uplifting spiritual feeling of great happiness and hope accompanied by an "inner knowing" or conviction. This inner activity of Divine Fire literally raises the vibration of our consciousness, our physical body, and the various light bodies which inter-penetrate our physical body, while expanding the light within our heart chakra. It may be helpful to know that this kind of Divine Flame is similar to what Moses observed while gazing at the "Burning Bush" in the desert.
Well, once we begin to sincerely live according to Jesus' (or the Buddha's, or Krishna's) teachings on pouring love to GOD (the Great Spirit, the Infinite Buddha Nature, the Divine Mother, or whatever our favorite term for GOD is), while being a selfless outpouring of loving kindness to all life everywhere, a subtle change starts to happen within us. Our spiritual body, (which interpenetrates our physical body), begins to shine brighter! And when we have lived kindly and selflessly for a long enough period of time and have thus proven that we're sincere and that we're really going to stick with it, then the "Great Law" permits our Higher Self, or Jesus and our other Ascended Sisters and Brothers, or Sathya Sai Baba, to bless us in a special way. And this involves a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit that dramatically increases the power of our own inner spiritual flame that resides within our heart chakras. It's as if we're becoming "spiritually supercharged". The way we might notice this spiritual change within us, is that now we're more likely to experience uplifting, sacred feelings, and to be more sensitive and aware of them. Also, it's now easier to genuinely feel forgiveness and mercy towards others - it's not such a struggle as it was in the past, but is more natural. We also have a greater feeling of inner peace and contentment. And it's easier to understand spiritual concepts in a deeper, more sensitive, more universal way. There are other ways it might also manifest, but these are the most common.
Once we understand the spiritual significance of "baptism", we might ask ourselves, "Well, is it necessary for everyone on earth to be baptized then? After all, it seems like a good thing." And the answer is that it depends on whether you mean "water baptism" or the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit". Obviously, it isn't necessary for everyone on earth to get "physically baptized" with water - that is getting immersed in water or sprinkled with water, (although if it is an important part of one's faith it can be a deeply inspiring and meaningful ritual). But, it is crucial for everyone on earth, (whether one gets physically baptized or not), to make a decision to turn away from selfish living, and instead commit ourselves to sincerely living a heartfelt, selfless GOD-centered life of loving kindness and helpfulness to others. Then, later when it is appropriate, Jesus, or one of our Ascended Sisters and Brothers, or Sathya Sai Baba can gently and gradually baptize us from within with the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. We may not notice the Baptism of the Holy Spirit when it takes place, because it can be gradual, but we will gradually notice that we're becoming more spiritual, more sincere and committed to a spiritual lifestyle. For some people though it might seemingly happen "instantaneously" within a few minutes or so, and still be quite noticeable for several hours or days later.
This Baptism of the Holy Spirit can also happen in another way. It is very common for it to happen when someone accepts Jesus into their hearts as their Personal Savior. This is sometimes referred to as being "Born Again" or "Born of the Holy Spirit". Believe it or not, someone can accept Jesus as their Personal Savior and still remain a Buddhist or Hindu or whatever. When Jesus was traveling through India during the 18 years missing from the Bible, part of the time he was studying the teachings of the Buddha, whom he deeply loved and respected. And of course, Jesus and the Buddha and the other Ascended Masters are all working together for humanity’s blessing and they wish that we would all work together down here, too. In other words, we can accept Jesus as our Personal Savior, the Buddha as the Enlightened one who has come to to teach us the Noble Eightfold Path (which emphasizes letting go of selfish desires and attachments); and Krishna as the Avatar who brought us the amazing spiritual wisdom of the Bhagavad-Gita. Thus, we can be greatly blessed by all of them, while they are all lovingly working together to save humanity from the trap of selfish living.
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