Do I Need to Believe in Jesus as God?
April 16, 2012
Hello, I am a 21 year old female who has been raised Christian. During my formative years and through High School I had very spiritual experiences included prophetic dreams, speaking in tongues, hearing someone speak in tongues and it then being immediately translated verbatim. I backslid. I am now at a point where I found the same God-presence in Kundalini Yoga/meditation. I am looking for some answers on if I need to believe in Jesus as God, or is there more to this? Please help.
Jesus was a great master, one of a number who have lived on this earth. Others include, but are not limited to, masters such as Moses, Buddha, Shankara, Ramakrishna, and Yogananda. It's not that these masters are God, but that they act as clear channels for God into this world. In this way, you can see Jesus as a son of God, rather than the son of God. From time to time, as the need becomes very great, and as a deep soul call goes out from people, that Divine sends one of these great souls into the world to help uplift all those who are receptive.
The goal of all religions and their practices is to experience the Divine Presence. We find as we progress along the spiritual path, our understanding expands as we deepen our practices, and our attunement.
In India there is a term used, "sanaatan dharma," which translates to "the eternal religion." It may be helpful to think of your search as an "eternal" one that continues on as you evolve your understanding. It isn't necessary to leave Jesus behind, but more to expand and deepen your understanding of who he was and what his teachings represent.
Jesus spoke of himself both as the "son of man" and as "the son of God." These are terms that help us in understanding that, as a son of man, he did have a body and a personality and used them to act in this world. When he spoke of himself as "the son of God," he was not referring to his body and personality, but to cosmic and universal states of consciousness that all masters such as he was have attained. It was from this consciousness that he made such statements as "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one cometh unto the Father but by me."
The Divine Presence will come to us in whatever way we find inspiring. All the great masters who come to this earth are channels for this Presence. As much as we attune to the consciousness of a master, using the techniques he brings, then we are able to, as the Bible says, "Be still, and know that I am God."
The Beatitudes, and Spiritual Laws
February 6, 2012
Hello. I have two questions:
1. Where might I find information on the "beattitudes"?
2. Where can I find a definitive list of the spiritual laws?
Paramhansa Yogananda did comment upon the Beatitudes, and Swami Kriyananda, Ananda's founder and Yogananda's direct disciple, shared his commentary and interpretation in a booklet. This was once in print, and although I don't see it on the Crystal Clarity publisher's website, I did find it here.
As to a "definitive list of the spiritual laws" that's a tall order, indeed!
We think of the Ten Commandments of the Bible, or the Yamas and Niyamas (do's and don'ts) of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, and any number of such listings from scriptures or scriptural interpetations down through the ages.
We think also of the Golden Rule, to "do unto others as we would have done unto us," and the two great Biblical commandments: to love God and to love our neighbor as our own Self.
The precepts of Self-realization are beautifully summarized in the book, The Essence of Self-Realization.
All such precepts derive from the essential teaching that we are children of God. That which affirms our identification with the body, ego, and senses should be avoided in favor of seeking God as love, compassion, peace, and wisdom.
The underlying message of Self-realization is that we were created to achieve the permanent realization that we are but sparks of the Infinite Spirit. Non-violence, truth telling, desirelessness, contentment, cleanliness, self-control, service to others, compassion, self-giving, self-study, and seeking the company of saints and like-minded souls, together with prayer and meditation, constitute the path to God.
Mary Mother of Jesus as Explained by Yogananda
October 26, 2011
What was the reason that God picked Mary to be the mother of Jesus ?
This is going to be a long answer to a short question. There is so much theological confusion behind what you ask that even in a long answer I can only begin to unravel it. For the "rest of the story," I urge you to read Swamiji's book, Revelations of Christ as Proclaimed by Paramhansa Yogananda.
There is much controversy now about the life and teachings of Jesus. Historians, theologians, intellectuals, sociologists, politicians, even novelists are all offering competing theories.
How is the devotee to know what is true and what is mere speculation?
Revelations of Christ gives us the answer: Look to the saints. Only those who share the consciousness of the Masters are qualified to speak with authority.
When Swami Kriyananda was a young disciple, sitting at the feet of his Guru, Paramhansa Yogananda, he was present when Master dictated a revised set of lessons to be sent to the devotees. (Alas, never put into wide circulation.) In the first lesson, Master made this astonishing claim: The three Wisemen who came to visit Jesus in the manger were none other than three of the Masters in our line of Gurus: Babaji, Lahiri Mahashaya, and Sri Yukteswar.
Whether this was an astral visitation, a previous incarnation, or Babaji as he is now descending from the Himalayas, Master didn't explain.
There was, however, some enduring quality to their presence, because Master further explained that during the so-called "lost years of Jesus," he "returned the visit," traveling to India and Tibet to sit at the feet of these same Gurus. There are many traditions in the East that have Jesus visiting there.
Jesus lived only 33 years. Yet all four of the Gospels say nothing at all about 18 of those 33. It is preposterous to imagine that in the time Jesus spent with his disciples the subject never came up or that his biographers would fail to include this critical period of his life.
Self-realized Masters incarnate for no karma of their own, but to show those of us struggling to be realized the path to freedom. Spiritual practice - sadhana - and the relationship with the Guru are critical elements on this path.
Almost every Master demonstrates in his own life how to be both a disciple and a sadhaka. Sometimes there is no apparent Guru, but still there is a deeply devoted, disciplined, focused way of life.
Otherwise, it would be too convenient for disciples to say, "On your path you have to meditate and do austerities, but on our path, we just sit around and know God."
Think how much of Autobiography of a Yogi is about Master's search for his Guru, his years of training with Sri Yukteswar, and his intense effort to meditate and realize God. Yet he was born Self-realized. This wasn't his own karma he was expressing; it was a freely chosen role to show generations to come how to achieve Self-realization.
The life of Jesus was just the same.
Master tells us that when he was 12, Jesus left home and wandered for 18 years in India, learning from the Masters there and doing intense sadhana to set the example, and prepare himself for the mission ahead.
For some centuries after Jesus passed away, this part of his life was included in the Gospels and known by all his disciples. It helped define how they, too, should live if they would fulfill the destiny their Master offered them. "That which I do, ye shall do and greater things," Jesus said.
He promised Self-realization, not merely after death, but while living, as Jesus himself showed.
However, at some point, in Kali Yuga descending (the darkest of the ages on this planet, which reached its nadir at 500 A.D.), the Church began the process of making Jesus more and more "special." Being steeped in the materialistic thinking of Kali Yuga, Church officials - by now more bureaucrats than saints - could no longer understand the true nature of their own Master and set about remaking his image to more closely resemble what they felt it ought to be.
It was at this time that those 18 years were "lost" from the Bible.
Church officials reasoned that it would hurt people's faith to think that Jesus had to undergo a period of training under the guidance of other Masters.
Some argued that it didn't hurt the faith of the disciples who were with Jesus and heard about it directly from him, but that plea fell on deaf ears. And in the end those 18 years were removed.
As Swamiji points out, one proof that they were taken out, rather than omitted by the original writers, is that there is a complete blank where those years are concerned. The officials had the nerve to remove information, but they could not bring themselves to create new facts.
Any biographer would have at least said, "And he grew up and worked in his father's shop."
Instead, there is nothing.
Also removed around this time - 553 A.D., at the Second Council of Constantinople - were all references to reincarnation.
The logic was similarly non-logical: "We need people to buckle down right now. We don't want them to think they have all the time in the world to work things out."
Again, counter arguments fell on deaf ears. Even the Pope at the time, it is believed, opposed the ban. Still it was carried out. Removing reincarnation from the Bible proved a little trickier than the lost years, and some direct references remain. (See p. 311 of The New Path, by Swami Kriyananda.)
Now how does all of this relate to Mary the Mother of Jesus?
You see, what has happened is that by taking out of the "Christian" teachings the concepts of Guru, sadhana, and reincarnation, you have removed the whole idea of Self-realization.
The Church accomplished exactly what it wanted. No longer can the devotee work on his own salvation, now it comes only through Jesus Christ, and - here is the worst part - through the intercession of "His" Church. Rituals, sacraments, blessings, absolutions, etc. were all gradually substituted for the direct connection between God and the devotee which is the heart of Self-realization.
Thus "Christianity" becomes "Churchianity."
It is not when religion becomes "organized" that the damage is done. It is when the institution makes itself essential to the devotee's salvation that true teaching dies.
The other purpose the Church had in doing this, besides strengthening its own position, was to make Jesus ever more unique and special. The teachings of Self-realization say that every soul has the same infinite destiny. That Jesus himself - and all Self-realized Masters before and after him - are souls like us who have completed the journey we are now on.
"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect," was not a compliment, it was a commandment.
But if Jesus is unique, as the Catholic Church now tells us he is, then the whole process of Self-realization is moot, in fact, impossible. If Jesus never went through it, obviously none of the rest of us could either. We would have to simply depend on Jesus (and the Church) for our salvation.
And if there is no such thing as reincarnation, and one lifetime would obviously not be long enough to become "perfect, even as our Father in Heaven is perfect," then the meaning of that statement must be other than it seems.
Many translations of the Bible have been amended accordingly; "Be ye therefore good, as your Father in Heaven is good," is but one example.
The Catholic saints who do make it to Self-realization (whatever the Church calls it) are an anomaly.
There is no tradition within present-day Christianity to explain how it happens.
They just appear, are usually fiercely persecuted by the Church, and then canonized by that same Church after they die. They are persecuted, because without an understanding of Self-realization, saints cast doubt on the whole system.
For example, according to the Church, all priests are ordained equally. How do you explain it then, when one priest is obviously more "ordained" than any of the others, i.e. a saint?
Because the Church has no answer to this question they usually try to bury the evidence, sometimes literally, by confining the priest to his cell, or transferring him to some far-off parish where they hope he'll never be heard from again.
Read the life of Padre Pio for a modern day example.
Paramhansa Yogananda called his work "The Second Coming of Christ." He came, he said, because of the request of Jesus to Babaji to restore the original teachings of Jesus, and the original teachings of Krishna (which have also been diluted) and show that in essence they are the same.
The Bhagavad-Gita explains divine incarnations in a more expansive and explicit way. "Whenever virtue declines," the Gita says, "and vice predominates, I, the Infinite Lord take visible form to destroy ignorance and restore dharma."
Now, again, back to the question of Mary.
In his lifetime, Master spoke not only of that incarnation as Paramhansa Yogananda, but of several of his incarnations in the past, including as Arjuna and William the Conqueror.
He also mentioned previous incarnations of other in the line of Gurus: Lahiri Mahasaya had been Kabir and also King Janaka; Babaji had been Krishna; Sri Yukteswar incarnated when Master was William as his closest advisor, Lanfranc.
James J. Lynn, Master's most advanced male disciple, whom he named Rajarshi Janakananda, had been with Master as one of Arjuna's younger brothers. When Master was William, Daya Mata was his daughter; Swami Kriyananda feels he was Henry, one of William's sons. (A fascinating book about William the Conqueror and his son Henry is Two Souls, Four Lives by Catherine Kaivari.)
The list goes on and on. In The New Path, in the chapter "His Last Days," Swamiji describes in thrillingly poetic terms how families of souls form around a great Master, incarnating together again and again "to work out their salvation - not only inwardly on themselves, but by interaction with one another.
"To achieve divine emancipation, it is necessary to spiritualize one's relations with the objective world and with other human beings, as well as with God."
"The stronger the family, spiritually speaking," Swamiji goes on to say, "the greater its attractive pull on new souls that may still be wandering in search of an identity of their own. A family evolves with its individual members; at last it, too, becomes a 'star' in the firmament of humanity, and begins to produce great souls of Self-realization.
"As spiritual 'stars,' such great families become powerful for the general upliftment of mankind... Yogananda's is one such spiritual family. His forms part of a greater spiritual 'nation,' of which Jesus Christ and Sri Krishna (in this age Babaji) are also leaders."
I believe what the Bible tells us, that an angel came to Mary and told her of what was to come.
She would have had the state of consciousness where she could easily commune with angels.
She was not, however, some random, albeit pure-hearted girl who happened to catch the angel's attention. Mary's relationship with Jesus must have been formed many, many incarnations before. She was part of his spiritual family, one of those "great souls of Self-realization" that Swamiji speaks of.
God chose Mary because Mary chose Him.
As we say every week in the Festival of Light, "Your chosen people have always been those of every race and nation who, with deep love, chose Thee." The Festival goes on to lead the congregation in this prayer: "O Lord, with all my heart, with all my mind, with all my soul, and with all my strength, I choose Thy love, I choose only Thee."
There are also ancient traditions gaining new credibility that say Jesus was part of the Essene community, an enlightened group within Judaism that was still in touch with more uplifted teachings than most Jews practiced at that time.
According to this tradition, the Essenes knew that an avatar was coming and the community had been working together for a long time to prepare for him and the mission that would follow. Part of that tradition is that Mary was trained from a young age for her role as his mother.
Who can say if this is true? Certainly it is apocryphal.
For Mary to play the part she did, she would have to be highly dedicated and evolved before Jesus was born.
Understood this way, Mary is not merely an inspiration and a blessing: she is also an example we can all follow of dedicated service to God, Guru, and mankind.
Discovering the Essence of All Religions
September 21, 2011
Master talked about great saints from all religion. But I never found anywhere Master taking about Mahavira or any other Jain Saints. Was there any special reason for this? In Jainism the main emphasis is on liberation thru meditation and right living. As per Jain principles as far as I heard and read, liberation is not possible without leaving all inner as well as outer belongings and it claims that even Ram and 3 Pandavas became Jain muni and became Siddha. They had to leave even their clothes...
You are right, Yogananda taught to revere the saints of all religions, he strongly advocated unity amongst religions, and even called his various temples "Church of All Religions."
Each day, in every group prayer we say at Ananda, we humbly pray to the "saints of all religions."
However, Yogananda concentrated mostly on Christianity and Hinduism, less on Jainism, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, Taosim, etc.
In the book Conversations With Yogananda, Swami Kriyananda reports the Master's answer to that question:
A visitor, who had read Autobiography of a Yogi, though he wasn't an SRF member, came to converse with the Master. I took notes at their meeting.
"May I ask, out of curiosity," the visitor said, "why, although you call this a 'Church of All Religions,' you place so much emphasis on the Christian religion?"
"Actually," the Master replied, "we place emphasis on two of the world's great religions: Christianity, and Hinduism. We concentrate especially on the teachings, rather than on the religions, of Jesus Christ and of Krishna.
"I do so because that was the wish of Babaji. He and Jesus Christ together sent this mission. They are the first in our line of gurus.
"The wish of them all was expressed to me by Babaji, particularly: to interpret the Christian New Testament, and the Hindu Bhagavad Gita, and thereby to demonstrate the essential oneness of the truths of both religions."
His visitor had, of course, implied something more also: Why didn't the Master teach all religions?
On other occasions the Master answered this question also, though perhaps on the occasion I've described he didn't feel inspired to go more deeply into the matter with this particular person.
To complete his meaning, therefore, I should explain that he said also that his mission was to show the essence of all religions.
It was never his purpose to compare various scriptural passages intellectually, in order to show their similarity.
In other words, he did not teach syncretism. That would have meant merely skimming the surface of truth.
His mission, and that of our line of gurus, was to show the essential oneness of truth itself. It is at their deepest level that all religions are one. For this purpose, it sufficed to show the oneness of only two of the great world religions.
Outwardly, Hinduism and Christianity are very different.
Yet both have produced saints of high spiritual attainment.
To know God is the eternal need of mankind. All people need to understand their need for personal, direct communion with the Lord.
"Self-realization," the Master predicted, "will someday be recognized as the essential truth of every religion in the world."
His prediction referred not to his organization, Self-Realization Fellowship, except insofar as that organization promoted this ideal.
What he was referring to was the eternal principle itself: Self-realization.
This principle is destined, in the present Dwapara Yuga, to become accepted everywhere. The true purpose of religion, regardless of its diverse dogmas and "credos," is union with God, the eternal Self pervading the whole universe.
But, KJ, you might be glad to hear that Yogananda did mention Mahavir in his most famous book, the Autobiography of a Yogi.
In his chapter about Mahatma Gandhi he wrote: "As I was bidding the Mahatma good night, he considerately handed me a bottle of citronella oil. "The Wardha mosquitoes don't know a thing about ahimsa, Swamiji!" he said, laughing.
Yogananda then explains ahimsa in a footnote: Harmlessness; nonviolence; the foundation rock of Gandhi's creed.
The footnote tells how Gandhi was born into a family of strict Jains, who revere ahimsa as the root-virtue.
Jainism, a sect of Hinduism, was founded in the 6th century B.C. by Mahavira, a contemporary of Buddha. Mahavira means "great hero"; may he look down the centuries on his heroic son Gandhi!
Still in his Autobiography, Yogananda recounts his colorful visit to South India, stating: "Near-by stands the world's largest statue, carved out of an immense boulder by the Jains in A.D. 983 to honor the saint Comateswara."
So here you have a second Jain saint to which Yogananda publically paid honor!
About the Jain principles you mention, "meditation and right living" and renunciation: these are universal principles of Self-realization, as Swami Kriyananda explained above: they are part of the essence of all religions.
God bless you to become a Siddha yourself,
Devotion Leads to Reason
July 18, 2011
For Self Realization we hav to reach a stage where our brain is perfect.Does it mean that we have to achieve a level where our intellect becomes strong&does all kinds of reasoning.I sort of hav a lazy attitude toward reasoning.I'm more devotionally inclined.But I realize that some of my friends have better reasoning ability&do math questions quickly.I'm not stupid but I'm not that intelligent either.So in order to perfect my brain should I start using those brain cells which I had been avoiding?
Reason is only one of many abilities our brains are capable of providing us. Though important, reason is perhaps the least important of the mental abilities we can develop. The most important abilities our minds can provide us are higher awareness and discrimination.
Reason can never be perfect. Reasoning is, in its essence, the process of analyzing bits and pieces of information and weighing and comparing them to each other. Therefore reason, though useful on our journey back to our higher selves, works primarily in the very realm of maya we wish to overcome.Reason requires that we see the world in discreet, separate, non-continuous parts - the illusion of separateness we want to eventually overcome.
Higher awareness and discrimination, on the other hand, see Unity where reason sees disunity, sees the One where reason sees the many. Clarity of mind, expanded awareness, and the wisdom that is discrimination, are the intuitive faculties of the soul flowing through the brain. Reason is more purely of the brain and not so much of the soul.
Moreover, clear reasoning is an inevitable by-product of higher awareness and discrimination. Your devotion will, in the end, prove more effective at acheiving clarity of mind and honing your reasoning abilities than study or school. When the heart is stilled in divine love, the mind becomes still also. When your devotional awareness expands your heart, the mind becomes expanded also. As Sri Yukteswar said, "Divine perception is not incapacitating, it leads to the keenest intelligence."
It is good to be able to reason well. Reasoning abilities are useful as long as we must live in the world. But higher awareness and discrimination are far more useful on our path to God.
Joseph (Puru) Selbie
Christ Consciousness is a Universal Concept
June 17, 2011
Can you describe in more detailed manner the CHRIST CONSCIOUSNESS that PY talks about.
Is there an analogy in Hinduism to Christ Consciousness?
It is interesting that you would ask the question in just this way. Perhaps the reason the question arises is because "Christianity," by its very name, and "Christ" as the focus of that religion, seems to have claimed "Christ Consciousness" as its unique property. Jesus didn't do that, but the church that followed has.
In fact, the concept of Christ Consciousness - perhaps more accurately, the fact of Christ Consciousness - transcends Hinduism, Christianity, and every other religion known to man. Christ Consciousness comes first, expressed through a fully Self-realized incarnated person. Religions come later, as an attempt by those of lesser consciousness to bring to a focus divine revelations impossible for them to grasp directly.
Christianity, like most religions, had a specific founder, "Jesus the Christ" - "Christ" being a title, not a name.
Hinduism has no founder, but is periodically renewed by incarnating Masters - each one a "Christ," i.e., a fully Self-realized person. The Master who is known as "Krishna" was, Paramhansa Yogananda explains, "Jayadev the Krishna," the word "Krishna" being the equivalent in that language of the word "Christ." The names and titles together, as you can see, are similar.
To make this point more clearly, Paramhansa Yogananda sometimes wrote the name "Krishna" as "Christna."
The Sanskrit equivalent of "Christ Consciousness" is "Kutastha Chaitanya."
These concepts, then, are as much a part of Hinduism as they are of Christianity. But they are not widely understood in either religion as it is practiced now.
In India, however, there is a deeper understanding of these truths than in the West. All true religions, Indian culture teaches, are expressions of "Sanaatan Dharma," which means "Eternal Truth," or, even more simply, "That Which Is."
In other words, creation itself is a divine expression. All true religions in the world - which is to say God-inspired rather than man-made - include the same understandings. Christ Consciousness is one of them, not merely as an abstraction, but as the goal of all spiritual seeking and, in fact, as the inevitable destiny for all of us.
To understand more about Christ Consciousness as Paramhansa Yogananda explained it, I would suggest looking up that phrase in the index of any and all of his books and books by Swami Kriyananda. The Essence of Self-Realization, as an example, has some wonderful explanations; so does The Essence of the Bhagavad-Gita.
May 3, 2011
When one attains nirbikalpa samadhi, it is said they then realize their oneness with God and drop their individual egos. My question is: When thousands all over the world tune into Yogananda and the other masters, can they be with every one of them simultaneously? Are their personalities still intact or are they more of a "force of God" at that point? It seems contradictory to be an individual and yet be omnipresent.
Yes, dear Friend. When a soul achieves cosmic consciousness this is to achieve oneness with Infinity. Just as every atom of creation is a manifestation of God's dream and vibration, so a liberated master can be in contact with as many devotees who seek him simultaneously.
Of course, bear in mind that assuming all those devotees have not yet achieved Oneness, their capacity to tune into the Master is probably very limited. But the vibration of the master is not limited by time and space.
Yes, that's hard for us to understand, but because I do not yet fully understand Einstein's Theory of Relativity doesn't make it less real.
God is omnipresent in all creation, we are told. A soul, a true son of God, who is One with the Father is therefore also capable of being omnipresent according to the will of the Father.
Such a soul does not possess a personality in the way that we do and thus isn't limited in that same way. When incarnate in a physical form, the world of maya imposes certain things so, for example, Yogananda, born in India, grows up and enjoys curries and mangoes, and speaks Bengali. Those are circumstantial but not essential aspects of his "personality."
At the same time even in a body he could enter samadhi at will (which means as the divine within him invites him to do so). Just as we are both human and divine, although generally alternatingly, so too, a master can appear in vision or even physical form when summoned by the pure devotion of a disciple.
I hope this can bring to you some comfort and clarity.
What Is True Knowing?
May 2, 2011
Obejctivity?! Dear friends. I love Yoganandaji. His teachings give me strength. But I doubt we all are objectiv. First off, I've never experienced samadhi or god. Thoughts are creative and powerful, aren't they? One gives his whole life to god. Focusing on HIS IMAGE of god. Then sometime he finds god. But is that real god or his imaginary god? Same with meditation! Where is the objective god behind the notion? Can we really get there by "becoming" something?
You are right that we all see life through our own lenses, colored by our expectations, karma, and level of consciousness.
Does that mean that experiences such as samadhi and God-contact might be products of our own imagination, not real at all? I can easily believe that such is the case for many people who say they have had high spiritual experiences. But is it the case for all people, as you suggest?
Yogananda's first American disciple, Dr. Lewis, once asked that same question. Paraphrasing: "I've been visualizing samadhi all these years. How will I know, when I attain it, whether or not it is just a product of my own imagination?"
Yogananda's answer was simple: "You will know, and you will know that you know."
That level of knowing does not come from the conscious or subconscious mind. It does not come from the level of consciousness that asks the question. It is direct, superconscious, intuitive perception. We cannot "prove" such things in the sense that physical science demands proof: showing irrefutable evidence to another person. It is personal, subjective. But that does not mean it is unreal. No, it is, rather, a higher level of reality.
That is why it is so important to follow the guidance of those who we believe have achieved that state. True, we cannot know for certain whether they have achieved it. Our belief is the best we can do. But belief will motivate us to try the experiment for ourselves, and eventually (so the great masters tell us) we will know for certain. But only for ourselves; it won't prove anything to others, except to the extent that they are able to resonate with us. Such is the subtlety of spiritual reality.
And by the way, I am not aware of Yogananda ever speaking of "becoming something." Quite the contrary, he emphasized that we need to stop being something: the little bundle of self-definitions that limit us, that keep us separate from our own God-nature, that keep us from perceiving who and what we really are.
I hope this helps.
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