When you think about the wave of yoga that has swept the nation, you may not immediately make any connections to Christianity. In fact, many people may indeed be drawn to the yoga movement simply because it has no outward ties to any formal religious dogmas.
Yet for me, my spiritual journey has always been Christ centered, and remains so to this day, where I find myself living in the midst of those who I can readily call “true Christians.”
I have had the great blessing to be born into a God-loving family – in fact, my father is a Presbyterian Pastor. Some of my earliest, fondest memories are evenings filled with singing and fellowship at our house with the church youth group, led by my father. This was in the 70’s, so songs like “Pass It On”, and others from “Godspell” filled our house with vibrations of love and happiness, and being so young, I could embrace it whole heartedly and tangibly feel the music’s effect on my soul. I had a few great blessings of Christ’s presence as a child, made known to me by an overwhelming vibration of love in my heart.
As I grew up, I became very comfortable with being part of the church, but never really identified myself as an overt Christian. My peers didn’t really talk about God much, and I wasn’t going to push my beliefs, perhaps from a fear of persecution from a unidentifiable past. I was once asked if I was going to be a minister like my dad and his own father, but I honestly couldn’t see myself following in those particular footsteps.
It wasn’t until I was out of graduate school and living a married life that I found myself needing to feed a spiritual hunger that had been growing within me for all of my life, and became deeply involved in our local Presbyterian Church in Evansville, Indiana. I appreciated our pastor’s words from the pulpit, but I was growing more and more disillusioned with how few people, if any, were actually living the life that Christ had offered.
Deep questions began to haunt me: How many Christians, if Christ were to come again into our midst, would “drop their nets” and follow him? Where could I find souls filled with a greater power of love, of humility, of the unalloyed joy of Christ’s presence? And most pressing, what must I do to become a true Christian?
With my father as my nearest and dearest role model, I whole heartedly offered my energy in service, for that was what I had seen as the ultimate role of being a Christian. I engaged myself in many committees, served as a youth director and sang in the choir, but after 6 months of strenuous service with no means to balance it, I ended up exhausted and sick.
It was at that critical point where my wife prodded me to take a long, deep look at my life.
We were reading metaphysical books that mentioned meditation, but I had no idea what it was or how to do it. At the bookstore, the saleswomen pointed out book after book, but then perked up and said – “Oh, but you must read this – it’s a classic!” On the cover of this book was a face that seemed so familiar, that called out to me with Divine Love and Friendship. The book, as you may have guessed, was Autobiography of a Yogi. I took it home and immediately engrossed myself, on the way to finally finding the answers to all my questions and the clear path to the fulfillment of my spiritual longings.
I was thrilled to find in the book not a rejection of Christianity in favor of something new and different, but rather a very scientific explanation of how true Christianity and yoga are linked together. Countless stories of the Yogi-Christs fill the pages, bringing alive Christ’s message in a very vibrant relevance. I found myself strengthening my devotion to Christ, rather than turning away from my Christian upbringing. For those of you who haven’t yet read it, you can read it online or as a free Kindle edition download.
A few months later I entered the Ananda Church in Beaverton, Oregon for a Sunday Service, and immediately knew that I had found my true home. Everyone I met felt like an old friend, and as the service commenced, I once again felt the tangible presence of Christ making itself known to me as an overwhelming vibration of love in my heart. Tears of joy streamed down my face as I knew my life would never be the same again.
In the 14 years since then, I’ve fully embraced this path based on Christ’s greatest commandments:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart (devotion),
with all your soul, with all your mind (concentration),
and with all your strength (the inner Path of Kriya Yoga);
and Love Thy neighbor as Thyself.
Our spiritual teacher, Swami Kriyananda, has written a deeply meaningful book, Revelations of Christ, which offers the teachings of Christ from the experience and perspective of Paramhansa Yogananda. Swami Kriyananda continues to serve as an incredible example of a life lived for God alone.
I would also be deeply remiss if I didn’t mention the Oratorio Christ Lives that Swami Kriyananda has written, based on Christ’s life and the inspiration that he received while on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Here are some recordings from our recent December performance at Mills College.
It is with great joy and gratitude that I continue to offer my life in service to God, following Christ’s teachings with the help of my Guru, until I find myself face to face with the Christ consciousness that has promised to meet me at the end of my quest.