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Reincarnation — The Lost Years of Jesus

Ask Me About Truth, Episode 46
Swami Kriyananda
May 13, 2014

"The teachings of Christ are really the same as any great master that ever lived," says Swami Kriyananda. Those who have realized God realize the same truths.

Jesus accepted the doctrine of reincarnation, as Swami Kriyananda explains. He also discusses the "lost years" of Jesus's life, when he is said to have visited India.

Questions include:

  • You grew up in the Anglican religion — how did you reconcile Yogananda's teachings of reincarnation with Christianity?
  • Why did Christians stop teaching the doctrine of reincarnation?
  • What was the purpose of Jesus's visit to India?
  • What would Jesus think of Christianity today?

Swamiji, you grew up in the Anglican religion? How did you reconcile Yogananda's teachings of reincarnation with Christianity?

Well, I have to say that my upbringing in the Anglican religion was rather superficial. I remember at the age of 17 saying to my mother that I would not come to church with her anymore. And I remember also that she wept, because she thought I'd go to hell. And she came to me with a smile the next day and said she just read that sometimes rejecting the church was the first step of having true faith. And I said: “You've understood.” I couldn't go insincerely. But I remember a Christmas Eve one time, the church was absolutely full; it was the church of St. James that is in Scarsdale. And there was a long line for the communion at midnight, and I was getting very thirsty. And the only hope I saw was in that wine at the altar. And so when I knelt there and the priest came and put the cup to my lips (which they do in the Anglican Church, not in the Catholic) and he put the cup to my lips - he found that he couldn't take it away. I had been pushing up on it. So then he pulled a little harder and there was this loud sucking sound. My brother was kneeling next to me and giggled. I'm afraid my devotion in those days was not what it might have been.

However, the reincarnation thing. I really came to Christianity through Yogananda. It was in his teachings that I came to realize what a great religion this is. There's a difference between churchianity and Christianity. The teachings of Christ are really the same teachings as those of Krishna and those of any great master that has ever lived. There is one religion in the whole universe, and its name in India is Sanaatan Dharma, which means the eternal religion. And on the most distant planet in the most distant galaxy, that would have to be their religion, if it's true. Everything has come from God, everything must go back to God. This universe is just His dream. And when I lived with Yogananda, I studied the Bible deeply. And I came to be very impressed, and really filled with love for Jesus and for what he accomplished. So it was the churchianity that had put me off. It was churchianity, too, I have to say, that put me off with his followers, too - trying to make me rigid this… Ah, I said that's not for me. I believe in freedom of conscience and so on.

Anyway, but reincarnation, that was a bit steep in the beginning, because I had thought that reincarnation meant that there's no reason to it. I leave this human body and the next life I may be a spider. I know that has to be nonsense. Well, he explained to me that that isn't what it means. Once you've reached the human level you go on as a human being, with rare exceptions (if you act in an animalistic way, you may go back for one life and so on). I'm not giving that whole teaching, but whatever you are, you will remain in your next body. So I was very happy to see that, in fact, Jesus did not teach against reincarnation. You know he said: “Whom do men say that I am?” (It's wrong grammar - but anyway, that's the Bible and King James). And one of his disciples said: "Well, some say Jeremiah, some say ...." If that had been wrong, he owed it to them as his guru to correct them. But it was the general teaching then. It was a part of Judaism for a long time. Even in the 17th century Jews said that there is no Jew who doesn't believe in it. And when Jesus was transfigured on the mountain they saw Elias there, and the disciples said: "Well, why do the scriptures say that Elias should come first." And the Bible goes on to say that Jesus said, "Elias has come, and they knew him not." And the disciples understood that he spoke of John the Baptist.

So we see this right in the Bible. The teaching of reincarnation was cut out from the Bible in one of the early councils, I think it's 300 and something AD - three centuries after Jesus's birth. Origen who was the greatest theologian before Augustine, said that he believed in reincarnation, and he had received it from apostolic times. That means disciples of the disciples.

Why did the church take out that part?

Because it's inconvenient, they have all these rules. In the next lifetime you may be born somewhere else. This was the dark age, and they wanted to control everything. And they couldn't control what happens to you after death. So they wanted to make sure that you knew that you were either saved or damned. It's just narrow sectarianism.

And in fact, the pope was in Constantinople, but he boycotted the council. But they anathematized (Origen) – (anathema, means death, literally in Greek). But he (Origen) became anathematized by the church at that council. But he was a great theologian before then. The pope at that time - the pope, he was there, but he was not at the council.

How could they do with that without the pope?

I'm not sure - I'm not enough of a historian to be able to tell you.

But that was what took out the doctrine.

Yes. It also took out the fact that Jesus went to India. You know, from the time that Jesus appeared in the temple at the age of 12 till the time he appeared as a messiah at the age of 30, there are 18 years where they've said nothing. And it's unreasonable that you're talking about your great master, and you leave out 18 years out of 33. It's not reasonable. From then on they could have at least if they wanted to add something. They could have said something like: "And he grew up and worked in his father's shop," which is what people assume. But in fact, he went to India, he went to Egypt, and he went elsewhere. There are records in India of his having been there, and there are several very interesting books on that subject.

Swami, what would the purpose of that trip have been?

Well, that is an arcane one. You've asked me so I'll answer. This happened when I had been less than one month with Yogananda. He invited me to a session where he was dictating his lessons. And he said in that session that the three Wise Men who came to Jesus were Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya, and Sri Yukteswar. So anyway, they were great masters, they weren't just magicians or Magi or whatever. And they had seen the star in the east. You know, the star, this is the east of the body. They saw the star which means five pointed star. The spiritual eye has a golden exterior ring, blue interior, and then a five pointed star in the center. This is not a belief, it's something people who have never heard of it say "Oh, that's what it is" when you tell them. I know that when we had a spiritual eye made in glass in Murano in Italy, the artisan who was making it was excited, he said: "What is that? I've been seeing it all my life!" But this is really just an astral reflection of the medulla oblongata. Anyway, that star -  in mystical terminology this is the east of the body (Kriyananda shows the front). This is the West (Kriyananda shows the medulla). This is the North (Kriyananda shows the top of the head). This is the south down below (Kriyananda shows below). And they saw the star in the east and followed it eastward. But they were in the east and they were coming westward. That should show in itself that it was the star of the east that they were following, not some outward star in the heavens. And when they came to him to say that they had seen his star, it meant that he came down from the highest level. He was, in other words, an avatar, or an incarnation of God. And then he went back to return their visit when he was old enough to do so.

So he visited those three gurus in India during those 18 years and learned the teachings of yoga, we can assume?

Yes, he did. In fact, Yogananda said that he practiced kriya yoga. He put it: "Or a technique very much like it." In fact, there's an interesting tradition in Spain that when he died, his head finally went like that (Kriyananda demonstrates headmovement). That's exactly the movement of the higher initiations of kriyas, that you make with a certain mantra.

Very interesting. And do you remember where in India he's supposed to have gone?

Well, there's a book in Kashmir which speaks of his coming there. There's a book that was discovered among the Tibetans by Notovitch. And Abhedananda, a disciple of Ramakrishna, went back there and discovered it also. It talked of his having been in Orissa and getting into an argument with the narrow-minded Brahmin pundits in the temple at Orissa, the Jagannath temple. And he was for breaking down the restrictions of the caste system. Castes should really lift people, it should not suppress people. But he was trying always to bring freedom to people's consciousness.

What do you think he would think of modern Christianity today?

I think he would be deplored. In fact, my Guru explained that Jesus appeared to Babaji. He said: "What are they doing with my religion?" He said, “They're doing good works, but they have forgotten (inner) communion.” And so he sent Yogananda to the west, to bring the true Christianity back to Westerners. And I found that through Yogananda I could come to love Jesus and everything that he stood for. He was a great master, and truly a founder of a true religion. You can't say that all religions are true, but his religion is true.