How Swami Kriyananda Responded to Religious Dogmatism
March 6, 2022
Nayaswami Gyandev shares this inspiring experience from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land during his Sunday Service talk at Ananda Village, March 6th 2022. You can find the complete talk here.
You know, I... the first time that I ever really experienced some real religious dogmatism that wasn't directed at me personally, but it was very—it was a very touching moment, nevertheless.
It was in 1985, on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. And there were about 50 of us from Ananda, including Swami Kriyananda. And we were in the city of Nazareth, which was an Arab city, but very...a lot of Christian sentiment there even among among the Arabs as well.
And we had just finished experiencing the Church of the Annunciation—church built, supposedly, on the site where the angel told Mary that she would have the baby Jesus. And we'd finished; we'd come out onto the streets, and the streets of Nazareth are very narrow, very crowded, very high traffic, and the bus could not just wait for us out there. So we were all waiting on the side of the street—waiting for the bus to come by and pick us up.
And as we were waiting there, I was standing very close to where Swami Kriyananda was standing. And this young Arab man came up to Swami and, right in his face, "Do you believe Jesus Christ died for your sins?"
And I thank God it was Swami and not me who was being put in this situation. But I was also: "What is he going to say?" And what he said was so beautiful: He just looked at the man, and he said, "How could God die?"
And the man sort of wavered on his feet a little bit from—it was nothing that he was expecting. He was expecting either affirmation or a little conflict about that point. Instead, it just opened up his mind to a degree that he really couldn't process, and he just sort of walked away with this expression in his eyes.
And I thought afterwards, it was so beautiful how Swami dealt with that, because he didn't want to hurt the young man's obviously newfound faith by saying no, and he didn't want to get in an argument. He didn't want to agree with it either, because that wasn't what he himself felt. And he said he gave him the gift of greater understanding.
What a beautiful way to be able to confront dogmatism, because we see it so much.