Growing up in the West, I was familiar with the traditional story of Jesus: Humanity has been sinful ever since Eve took that apple from the serpent, so God sent his only son Jesus to die, thereby cleansing us of our sins so we don’t have to go to hell, as long as we believe in him.
As I thought more deeply about this story, several questions came up, and none of the pastors I knew could answer them. Since coming to Ananda, I have not only found answers to the questions I asked, but I also have gotten a much clearer picture of who Jesus was. Paramhansa Yogananda, who’s teachings are the basis of Ananda, said that Jesus’ came to Earth to guide the Western world in their path toward God, and Babaji, a fully realized yoga master from India, was sent to guide the East.
Here are some of the questions I had that I found answers to through the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda and his disciple Swami Kriyananda. I hope they will help you also develop a deeper understanding of Jesus.
How can Jesus be God’s son?
Of course, he couldn’t really be God’s literal son in the same way people have sons. In fact, we all have to potential to be children of God. Jesus was the son of God because, like all of us, his soul was created by God, but also because he raised his consciousness to the level of God’s and completely merged with Him. So he was literally a small piece of God on Earth.
Is Jesus really the only way to God?
Throughout history, other people have also raised their consciousness to the level of Jesus’. A few examples are Krishna, the Buddha, Paramhansa Yogananda, and Ramakrishna. So when he said “no one can come to the Father except through me,” he didn’t mean that he was the only one holy enough to bring them to God. He meant that they could only find God by attaining Christ Consciousness, the same state he and other realized beings had risen to.
However, for that group of people, Jesus probably was the only way to God since there wasn’t anyone else around at his level of consciousness. Without a teacher who has fully realized God, a.k.a. Guru, it is nearly impossible to do it ourselves, just as becoming a master at anything else requires a teacher.
What about those missing years in the Bible?
I wondered what happened to Jesus during those years that the Bible does not mention. Paramhansa Yogananda said that Jesus went to India to study with the great yogis. This would explain why his teachings so closely resemble those of the great yoga masters and the Bhagavad Gita, often referred to as “the Hindu Bible.” There are actually some good documentaries on this subject if you would like to learn more.
Why is there so much immorality in the Bible?
I had trouble with all the apparently cruel things that happen in the Bible, particularly the old Testament. Remember, the Bible takes place over a long period of time and is written by many people with varying levels of consciousness. In order to truly understand the Bible and which parts to focus on, we need to do our own spiritual practices like meditation until we are at a level of understanding where we can tell what parts were actually inspired by God.
How does Jesus’ death absolve us of our sins? Isn’t murdering a pure being even worse than the other sins people have committed?
Most people, because of past actions they have done, will at some point have to face the consequences of those actions, sometimes called “karma”.
However, for someone like Jesus who is completely merged in God, he can take on the karma of other people and suffer the consequences himself. Jesus took on the karma of his disciples so that they could spread his message. Do you notice how much more noble they get after Jesus dies? It is because they no longer have that burden of karma on them.
So Jesus didn’t really cleanse us all of sin. If you look at how sinful the world is today, you will see that clearly. However, he did cleanse his disciples of sin, which was all that was needed for them to spread his message. So it’s his message, not his death, which we should focus on.
What was Jesus’ message if it wasn’t that he died for our sins?
Jesus came to this world, not to show how great he is, but how great we can become. He came to show us how we can be like him, by raising our consciousness to the level of God through prayer and meditation. This is what we should emphasize, not how fallen we are.