Showing posts with label resurrection. Show all posts
Showing posts with label resurrection. Show all posts

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Easter : Who was Jesus? Who am I?

The grand story of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is ripe with spiritual lessons for all times and for everyone. I would like to share some thoughts that, while lacking in interesting history, or great moral lessons, or deep philosophical or Vedantic insights, are more personal to daily life and applicable to most, if not all of us.

Let me start by saying that in my many years of studying and sharing the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda on the subject of the Bible, including the life and teachings of Jesus, I have found the story of Jesus' conversation with his close disciples asking them the question, "Who do men say I am" to be among the most fascinating and fruitful of contemplation.

I have long and often stated that the question of "Who is Jesus Christ?" is nothing less than the question "Who am I?" One of the first modern Indian gurus whose teachings captivated me (before I even had heard of Yogananda) was Ramana Maharshi who was famous for teaching the technique of self-inquiry: "Who am I?" We all know the counsel inscribed on the temple in Delphi, Greece, "Know Thyself!"

In my sixty-five years of life I have come gradually to see that the greatest challenge to happiness faced by most sincere and intelligent people, including devotees, is self-doubt. Comparing oneself to other like-minded, sincere, energetic, creative, talented and intelligent people is far more often a cause of discouragement than it is for inspiration or gratitude.

Yogananda said that inferiority complex is simply the opposite of superiority complex. Each is a side of the coin of ego. He defined "ego" as the "Soul (mis)identified with the body." So while I will focus more on self-doubt than braggadocio, understand that the latter is simply a smokescreen for the former (and vice versa).

Dwelling on what others (may) think of you, or what perhaps someone has said to you (in criticism), or how you were snubbed or ignored occupies far too great amount of time and angst to prove productive or useful introspectively. Such musings rarely prompt positive changes in one's life. Instead it is like nursing a wound or favoring an injured limb. It becomes a habit. We all know someone who takes this tact to the point of becoming paranoid but far from reaching that stage of delusion, most of us surely find nothing redeeming from the exercise.

On the other hand, just as physical pain is there to warn us to stop doing something injurious, so guilt exists to prod us to make changes in our life. How often, however, I have observed that those who dwell habitually on guilt fail to make any changes because they imagine that by dwelling morosely upon their guilt they have exorcised their need for further recompense.

Jesus' resurrection showed his power over death itself. Spiritual or psychological paralysis, if not spiritual death, can occur by our habitual indulgence in self-doubt, unworthiness, and temptation to give up.

Yet is "self=love" the answer? Should we actively bolster our self-esteem by self-praise or boasting? Obviously not. Yet it is true that we can't really and truly love another person (what to mention love God), until we love ourselves. By "love ourselves" I mean until we have some degree of self-acceptance and contentment (including inner strength and calm confidence or faith), our self-doubt will eat like a cancer on any balanced attempt to love another. I say 'balanced' in contrast to co-dependent love.

I have seen self-doubt gnaw at a devotee's faith until the devotee leaves the spiritual path all together.

The solution to what I call our "existential" unhappiness is, as always, "God alone." Let me explain.

First: by "existential" I mean, by way of example, a person who seemingly has everything that most people would desire but is not happy. You don't know why, but there it is. This person might even be clinically depressed. In any case, definitely unsatisfied: but for no obvious reason(s). This can be a general state of affairs or related to a specific aspect, talent, or gift that he has. Take a successful artist or businessman. Such has the makings of what most others in his field would want for themselves. Yet, even in his success, he remains discontent; unsure of himself; unhappy.

The saints and masters are the only ones who show us how to find true happiness. Success in no other human endeavor consistently yields the Holy Grail of human happiness.

"Naughty or good, Divine Mother, I am yours!" Paramhansa Yogananda once wrote. When we see ourselves, our combination of successes and failures, talents and shortcomings, as a tiny piece of the great cosmic wheel of life and all things that we do as our efforts to seek the Holy Grail, we can better forgive and accept ourselves as "doing the best we can."

We should try, indeed, to do the best we can. We have to be sincere in that. But having done so, we "offer it up" as my dear, now departed, mother would counsel her children long ago. Living in the presence of divinity in human form (our form; the guru's form; the form of all others), we find it easier to resurrect our soul's memory from the intensity of the marketplace of buyers and sellers, flatterers, sycophants, and self=styled enemies.

Swami Kriyananda, founder of the worldwide work of Ananda, and direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda, was my teacher, too. In his counsels and in his writings, e.g., the book "Sadhu Beware," he speaks about dealing with the inevitable (or merely perceived) criticism that everyone receives. ("No good deed goes unpunished" is a modern saying.) Among other things, he counseled to ask oneself if the criticism is deserved. If so, try to change yourself for the better. If it is not, then let it go; forget it. Most people are wrong most of the time, anyway.

Swami Sri Yukteswar counseled his disciple Paramhansa Yogananda to say, "Maybe you're right." And, then leave at that so far as one's response to criticism goes.

Meditation is the most efficient and fastest way to resurrect our identification with our eternal, changeless and ever perfect soul and to gradually dissolve our identification with the body and personality. For in this world of praise one day and blame another there is no end to the cycle. After all, they crucified Jesus Christ, didn't they; and he was blameless! So you and I, far from blameless or perfect, are naturally ripe candidates for censure.

"I am a child of eternity. I am ageless; I am deathless. I am the changeless Spirit at the heart of all change."

Be thou then, too, the resurrected Christ consciousness of your soul. Even-minded and happy should be our guide and our banner of victory over the death-infected ego.

Happy Easter!

Swami Hrimananda

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Spring: a Grand Child is Born!

Last Sunday, March 22, practically on the Spring Equinox, my son's wife gave birth to their first child, aptly named, Calla Lily! As a grandparent one participates in the rite of Spring whereby new life appears as one's own life is gradually ebbing away from the halcyon days of summer. I suppose I could wax sentimental about living on through one's offspring, but that's not really my thought today.

I would rather see in Spring the resurrection of our hopes and dreams beyond their usual material forms of health, happiness, success, love, and family. All of those are fine, of course, but they cannot last, assuming they appear at all in one human life. In the unpublished writings of Paramhansa Yogananda he describes hope as the precursor to faith. Hope is rooted in the divine memory of our soul's undying happiness.

While it is true that most humans find "hope springs eternal" (or, at regular intervals, at least) in the direction of the more common material desires, this universal human "hope impulse" is rooted in something deeper and more true. Whatever may be its aspiration--material or spiritual--hope can lead to the intuitive faith that things can get better or that one will be fine, no matter.

To hold a newborn is to hold a being of Light, unfettered, for the time, by earthly bonds of not-yet-established ties and attachments. The newborn is not only light in weight but light in consciousness. Clearly one see that "wheels are turning" but these wheels are not the usual and anxious verbal thoughts of self. It is the experience of light descending and groping to make contact with earth and the five senses. A window view onto infinity and through heaven itself is vouchsafed to any and all who partake of the "darshan" (blessing of beholding) of a newborn.

Yet, as I have said often, how can any parent NOT believe in reincarnation. As I held Calla Lily I could sense a bundle of traits and attitudes at the ready. I won't say I can articulate or identify those traits, nor would I want to if I could (for her sake). Yet, across her face would float doubt, questions, curiosity, and even concern---all nonverbal, of course.

As she would sometimes become active, kicking her little legs and flaying her arms, one could sense the need to get this "thing" (the little immobile, uncoordinated body) moving and functioning. In her case, she seems very well put together, everything in working order, so to speak. I would guess her persona is strong in whatever direction it will express itself.

Calla Lily has been reborn on earth for a fresh start. Whatever her past, it is past. Her parents have every means and desire to give her the best they can and naturally a grandparent hopes this will be true and that the little one will seize the opportunity "growing," as the Bible said of Jesus, "and waxing strong."

When hope dies, our spirit dies, and the body follows our spirit's lead toward the coffin of hopelessness. It is right, therefore, that "hope Springs eternal." It is natural for one of years to perhaps weary of the human parade of false hopes and constant change: birth, youth, adulthood, old age and death. Yet one can just as well rejoice in the colorful parade as turn aside with a yawn. A life led in peace finds acceptance and rightness knowing that, as poetically offered to us in the Old Testament (Ecclesiastes), "to everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven!"

Tomorrow, one week from little Calla Lily's birth, we come to Palm Sunday. Who is this Son of Man who walks the streets with us and whom we hail "King of the Jews?" The hope that springs eternal is far too often misplaced. As the people of Jesus' time generally failed to understand who Jesus was, so we generally fail to recognize our true, soul nature. We see in little Calla Lily but a babe. (One time Paramhansa Yogananda was handed an infant to hold and bless. Later, he confessed he almost dropped the child for he saw in its eyes the consciousness of a murderer!).

Just as we cannot see in the seed the future tree, nor in the infant. the latent adult, so we do not see in ourselves our latent soul-nobility. We are princes thinking we are paupers. Who is this son, this daughter, this child? The miracle of birth and life is the "avatara:" the descent of divinity into human form. Imagine if we had eyes to see in one another that divinity, even if yet latent. Our world, our planet, our lives would be transformed.

Life goes on and emerges ever-new and does so in spite of tragedy, wars, death, and catastrophe. As family traits, both physical and psychological, continue with variations and also re-appear, sometimes skipping generations, we see hints of immortality and hints of continuity and reincarnation.

Imagine if we had the Self-assurance born on the knowledge we are immortal and that death cannot touch us. Whew!

Only Peter, the "rock," answered Jesus' inquiry to his disciples regarding "Who do men say I am." Peter, looking Jesus square in the eye, pronounced for all time "Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God." You and I may seem a long way from that state, but it's not as far as we might imagine for we are looking for ourselves in all the wrong places. In our latent memory-mirror of perfection, we judge our present self as wanting and thus we tend to identify with our shortcomings. These, being all too close, are seen disproportionate to our true Self.

Jesus' resurrection is the victory over death, not merely resurrection of a frail human body, but the resurrection of soul-memory over its confinement in the coffin of ego. By loving when others hated him, Jesus' soul was victorious. By doing what was asked of him in spite of its "unpleasantness," his soul "waxed strong." Is not his example obvious? The literal story of Jesus' resurrection is so beyond our own life experience that we dismiss it as a myth, irrelevant, or a one-time "miraculous" (otherwise inexplicable) event. But its lesson is present with us now.

While Paramhansa Yogananda related to this story as literally true and while he testified that his own guru was similarly resurrected, it matters not to us. In time our ability to see the truth of these things will come. But we can take from the life of Jesus and all the greatest saints, the "good news" that we are far more than these frail short-lived bodies. But we must work to transcend their influence which throws a veil (called "maya") over the eyes of our soul. We must not be so attached to the Easter eggs of pleasure or the pretty flowers of health, beauty, success and recognition. The path of the soul is universal. It doesn't really differ from faith to faith all that much. Meditation is the quickest way to contact our soul's indwelling spirit.

Rejoice then in the rebirth signified by Spring, by new life, by Calla Lily, and by the victory of Jesus' resurrection from death. As in the Indian scriptures, rejoice for "Tat twam asi" (Thou art that! Thou art Spirit).

Happy Easter,

Nayaswami Hriman

Friday, April 18, 2014

Death & Resurrection, & Reincarnation; Did Jesus have a guru? Reflections on Discipleship

The new life of Spring teaches us that life persists even in the midst of apparent death. In the winter, many animals drop from sight, and plants and trees appear as if dead. Yet, come Spring, they return. While a strict materialist would likely refuse to draw any conclusion beyond the biologically observable obvious, the rest of us, not so confined to our own mental processes or limited by a self-imposed incarceration, find in this annual cycle, profit for speculation and "hope that springs eternal."

Biologically, there is no death, only recycling of materials. Psychologically, in human lives, we say "the fruit falls close to the tree." This is a reference to the easily observable and frequent phenomenon that our human offspring bear a notable resemblance in form, attitude and action to ourselves. Whether cycles of success or cycles of abuse, the patterns of living tend to repeat, if not strictly or literally, at least cyclically.

However life evolves, it persists, even when destruction and death are cataclysmic, though the latter is infrequent, fortunately. Looking more deeply, it is fair to ask whether the two are related: is the death of one the necessary prerequisite for the birth of the other?

Imagine if humans simply never died. This earth would be a big, big mess, wouldn't it? If Michelangelo still lived today, how would that impact the creativity and optimism of new and struggling artists? Extended families would be like unto small countries. I don't think it would be "pretty." Extend this to all biological forms and well, gee, need I say more? Have I then, not answered the question in the affirmative and satisfactorily?

To achieve success in business, in marriage, in health, in spiritual growth, someone has "to die." Some sacrifice has to be made. Someone gets "crucified." It is the "way." To make one choice means to turn away from a plethora of other possibilities. It cannot be helped and it is necessary.

The crucifixion of Jesus was necessary for his resurrection just as it is for you and I in ordinary life choices. It was not necessary for his spiritual benefit, but for ours: for the example he gave to us. The spiritual path is too narrow for the ego and the soul to walk it together, hand in hand. Yet this is what most religionists and spiritual seekers invariably do. We want it all. Millions practice meditation and read eastern teachings and find great inspiration but few want to have a guru or even understand what that really means.

A case can made (and my guru, Paramhansa Yogananda taught that it is so) that Jesus had a guru: Elijah (Elias in the Greek). It was to Elias that he called out from the cross. It was Elias that he saw on Mt. Tabor in the transfiguration (along with Moses). It's deeper than that. John the Baptist is the reincarnation of Elias (Elijah). It's the in Bible itself. [Read Micah, 5:2; Kings 1 19:9-15; Malachi 4:5-6 and the New Testament story of the the conception and birth of John the Baptist in Luke 1:15-17.] Jesus tacitly acknowledged Elias' reincarnation as John in Matt 11:13-15 and again in 17:10-11. Read and decide for yourself!

The one downside is that when John was asked whether he was Elias, he denied it [Luke 1:21]. Remember, however, that a few verses later [26-27] he said he was unworthy even to tie Jesus sandals! Whether as John, his former life and role as Elijah and guru to Jesus' [Elisha] was veiled from his consciousness or whether he was being purposely humble to support Jesus' dramatic role in history, and thereby evasive, cannot be known from the text itself but his denial stands in sharp contrast to Jesus' own words.

On the one hand millions, perhaps billions, profess to follow the teachings of one of the world teacher teachers (Jesus, Moses, Mohammet, Krishna, Buddha, etc.) , but do so half-heartedly, while many millions of others refuse to do so. One way or the other the teachings and life example of such great and history-changing prophets are crucified whether by indifference, ignorance, or misuse. In part, this is why world teachers must come again and again and into different cultures, according to the needs of the people and their ability to "hear."

Yogananda put it this way: "Jesus was crucified once, but his teachings have been crucified daily ever since."

One of the few books Yogananda recommended was "The Imitation of Christ" by Thomas a Kempis. Yogananda said this book is not just the imitation of Christ, "it is Christ."

Instead, the masses prefer sports heroes, politicians, actors, musicians, singers, and fashion celebrities. Such is the general consciousness of our times. Reason alone, and only a little would suffice, suggests that one who seeks spiritual truths and consciousness should seek it from those who have demonstrated they have it!

Jesus' disciples called him "Master" as Yogananda's disciples did. Not because the guru is the master of his disciples but because the guru has achieved self-mastery, even power over objective nature, demonstrated from time to time in the operation of so-called miraculous powers.

Jesus' life was not to show how great he was but how great we could be if we, too, would "follow Me." It saddens me to see so many sincere students of meditation and yoga philosophy dismiss the disciple-guru relationship as irrelevant to and unwanted in their lives. Their meditation practices, however sincere, would bear fruit more quickly were their hearts open to God in human form. How can we profess to be innately, even potentially, divine if we cannot receive divinity more completely in any human form? In describing the role of Jesus, the first Chapter of John declares "As many as received him gave he the power to become the sons of God." We are not different in kind from Jesus, only in the degree of our Self-realization.

As John the Baptist put it for himself and for each of us, "He (Jesus) must increase but I (John) must decrease." The surrender and death of ego are the price for the resurrection of our soul. God takes human form through the souls of those who are "one with the Father." As Krishna put it in the Bhagavad Gita, O Bharata, whenever virtue declines and vice predominates, I incarnate on earth. Taking visible form, I come to destroy evil and re-establish virtue.

Thus the eternal law of death and rebirth find expression in the soul's discarding the cocoon of ignorance and ego to emerge as the butterfly of the soul. The midwife of this rebirth is God in the form of guru who comes to instruct and to transmit the spiritual power to uplift us from the confinement (darkness) of ego consciousness. "Guru" means "dispeller of darkness."

It is through hardship, effort, trial and tribulation that the soul emerges and takes the helm of the ship of its own destiny. No less than any of the best professional or artistic mentors, the guru wants nothing for himself and has everything to give. As in John 10:10: "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."

As we celebrate Easter, the promise of redemption and resurrection, and the life of Jesus Christ (and all the masters who sacrifice in returning to human form), let us also willingly carry the cross of ego transcendence and of our own karmic burdens. Let us do so with joy because we know the path leads to freedom. In taking on our soul's task we don't have to wait for a future reward, because in right action we receive the joy of the soul. The so-called crown of thorns is what the ego wears but the same crown, to the soul, is the symbol of its self-mastery and its royalty as a child of God.

Study the lives of the masters and following one whose footsteps resonate with your own, attune your heart, mind and actions to the "imitation of (the universal, omnipresent and immanent) Christ (in human form)." Imitation means service to the guru's work; study of the guru's teachings; fellowship with one's "gurubhais,", and meditation & prayer according to the guru's way. To marry one person is not to hate all others. Loyalty is the path to success in all endeavors and freedom for the soul. No longer must we shout, "My way, or the highway." To each his own, for all true paths lead to the One and we need (and can) only walk one.

Lastly, in contemplating the first anniversary of my teacher's passing (Swami Kriyananda, April 21, 2013), I would add that few souls will have the privilege to meet and follow a living Christ-like guru. It might take many lifetimes of sincere spiritual seeking to gain that blessing. Thus for most of us, the more readily available spiritual teachers must suffice. In this, I and thousands hold as an honor and a great blessing to have known and "followed" (i.e. served with) Swami Kriyananda, founder of Ananda and direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda. In India, members of Ananda put together a tribute of gratitude to "Swamiji" and you might find inspiration in viewing it:

A blessed and happy Easter!

Nayaswami Hriman

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A New Tomorrow Dawns Today! Easter 2012

Today, Easter Sunday, 2012, we honor and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ and his relevance to our lives. As Easter and springtime signal a renewal of life and hope, so too we stand in the midst of the dawn of a new age, a new tomorrow.

Paramhansa Yogananda unhesitatingly affirmed the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He boldly claimed to have had many visions of Jesus Christ. In his autobiography he spoke of the resurrection of his own guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar who appeared to him in the flesh in a hotel room in Bombay some three months after his guru’s body was buried in the sands of Puri, on the eastern coast of India.

He came from the east as, in fact, did Jesus Christ, not “to destroy, but to fulfill the law and the prophets.” But he faced the dawn and spoke to the future of humanity of hope for a better world. That hope, which was vibrant in the first years of twentieth century was soon shattered by the "war to end all wars," which heralded only more and greater and unceasing  conflict ever since. That century saw two world wars and the deaths of untold millions of people, combatants and civilians alike amidst the appearance of a new and terrible weapon of death: the nuclear bomb. And yet in the hearts of millions, hope remains, progress is being made.

Jesus Christ, by contrast, was born amidst the dark age of ignorance, known as the Age of Kali. He spoke therefore only in parables. His disciples expressed their frustration but in time were instructed privately in matters direct and esoteric. The deeper teachings of Jesus were hidden from public view. His journey to the east as a young man was erased from the accounts of his life. His references to reincarnation were purposefully oblique because the consciousness of humanity could not see beyond the reality of physical form. In the centuries that followed his life humanity was to see the destruction of civilization and knowledge as it was known in his time. His teachings alone, though hopelessly crucified daily by ignorant self-styled representatives of it, to the extent embodied in the lives of his true disciples, were nonetheless the only light of civilization for centuries to come. Hope for a better world would await the future coming of another “son of God” for an age with “ears to hear.”

But the new age would not dawn peacefully because the institutions and consciousness of Kali Yuga are far from surrendering their claims willingly. During Yogananda’s life, the British empire which once ruled the waves (and Yogananda’s homeland of India) and upon which the sun never set was destroyed. Yogananda taught that the divine purpose behind that empire was to unite the world in preparation for the new age and to introduce the principle of rule of law, individual liberties, and even the English language as the future “lingua franca” of the world. This new era of consciousness, which we call the Age of Dwapara (meaning “second age”) was born, however inauspiciously, at the beginning of the twentieth century.

The pace of change ever since has been both exhilarating and frightening: both hopeful and fearful. Almost immediately at the dawn of the twentieth century came a lightning bolt of scientific (and philosophic) discovery: Einstein’s declaration that all matter is a form of energy. Thus Dwapara Yuga is an age of energy awareness and energy consciousness.

Thus we have seen in our lifetimes:
  1. 1.      an explosion in the search for and consumption of energy resources to power a whole new way of life and civilization; this is matched with a crises and concern for sustaining cheap energy resources and mitigating or eliminating the negative impact of our energy consumption;
  2. 2.      we see a rising and urgent interest in alternative medicine and energy healing as holistic illnesses surface in tandem with our awareness of our body as energy; we have become aware that health is the product of the quantity and quality of our energy;
  3. 3.      the vitality and cleanliness of food, water and air is of urgent concern; the need for locally based and sustainable food sources is spawning an entire new industry and inspiring a new generation of Dwapara pioneers;
  4. 4.      energy consciousness in society, business, and politics translates into the pressing need for cooperation rather than competition and exploitation on a global as well as local scale;
  5. 5.      in religion, strident sectarianism threatens the very foundation, source and value to humanity that religion should offer; the need to see the underlying harmony and unity among all faith traditions is as vital a concern as any environmental or political issue; the nonsectarian practice of meditation is steadily replacing dogmatic attachment to outward forms and beliefs into the expansive and joyful direct perception of one's higher Self, the Self of All.
  6. 6.      in behavior, morals and ethics, all is fair and all is game in the frenetic whirlpools of dissolving traditions and cultures; the expansion of consciousness of Dwapara Yuga is destroying the rigid boundaries of Kali Yuga; at first there seems unleashed not only freedom but license and licentiousness; the self-centeredness that seems to be emerging in Dwapara will be balanced by an expansion of self-awareness  and sympathies for the greater good of  all. 
  7. 7.   personal freedom of Dwapara will unleash the energy of self-initiative, creativity, and individual conscience. These will gradually overtake the power and dependence upon the centralized authority of tribe, culture, government or religion.

Fear of the rapid pace and consequences of change and the direction of civilization has halted the otherwise necessary and natural expansion of sympathies that Dwapara Yuga invites. In every country in the world, during the last ten or twenty years, two steps backward toward authoritarianism and violence is evident.

But the march of Dwapara continues. The internet, whose freedom and openness is under assault, nonetheless is spreading awareness like the light of dawn to all nations and all people. Nothing can stop the halt of progress through education and greater awareness of ourselves, our neighbors, our planet and our universe that is streaming toward us like a flood.

Hope for a Better World comes to us to with the rays of light from the new dawn of Dwapara. But Dwapara is an age of rapid change and unceasing instability. Its vitality can threaten destruction but those souls of goodwill can harness Dwapara's rising power for good by going within, to the calm and wise center of intuition. 

Individual liberties and freedoms are the outer form and leading edge of Dwapara. But its invisible inner counsel reminds us that true freedom is not doing merely what we want, but having the wisdom and courage to do what is right. No outward ruler or authority can contain the energy of Dwapara. Only individual conscience can do that now. Only conscience can stem the tide of misuse of personal, economic, military, or political power.

Thus it is that the overarching Intelligence of the One from whom the many have come has sent its sons, its children to be wayshowers: Jesus Christ said it even in the midst of Kali Yuga: the kingdom of heaven is within you! Jesus, in cooperation and communion with the rishis of India, and in attunement with the divine will, has sent to the West and to the world the sacred keys of awakening through yoga-union: the science of meditation and the technique of kriya yoga.

Kriya yoga is the energy medicine of the soul. As we learn to awaken and unite with the subtle but powerfully intelligent currents of energy and consciousness that create and sustain the human body, we are baptized in the river of life that brings to us the intuition, wisdom, vitality, and creativity with which to flow and adapt to the outward currents of Dwapara Yuga. 

Finding the unalloyed happiness of the soul within, we can shine and share the light of wisdom upon the earth as it is reborn into Dwapara Yuga. Ours is not only the privilege, not only the opportunity, but the obligation, for while the victory of Dwapara is assured, the extent of suffering which is resulting from the clash of consciousness between old forms and new energy can only be mitigated by soldiers of peace and messengers of mercy.

May this Easter resurrect in your heart the commitment to simple living and high ideals, of living in harmony and cooperation and in dedicated service to the flow of divine grace that can guide the boundless energies of a new age. Seek divine contact through the scientific techniques of meditation and express the divine will, wisdom, and love through selfless service to all. Be the hope for a better world that you seek for yourself, your family and for all.

A blessed Easter to you,

Nayaswami Hriman

[If you enjoyed this article, you will find more insights and wisdom for a new age in Swami Kriyananda's collection of essays, "Religion in the Age." See Available at Ananda in Bothell, WA or at your local East West Bookshop.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Resurrecting Easter from the Dungeon of Dogmatism!

I read in TIME MAGAZINE recently of a famous and popular fundamentalist pastor who has said that he feels Christianity is on the brink of great changes. Well, I, for one, hope so and I am happy to hear someone like him say as much, too! As Paramhansa Yogananda put it back in the Thirties and Forties, tongue-in-cheek, "Jesus was crucified once, but his teachings have been crucified daily ever since."

I do not intend to put down other sincere truthseekers and their credos. My purpose in these thoughts is to walk a fine line between "I come not to destroy the law and the prophets but to fulfill them" and "I bring not peace, but a sword." [Both are the words of Jesus Christ.] Truth is often at the center line between opposites. No one formulation of truth can be anything but an effort to explain a reality that is intuitive and unitive, and therefore, by its actual revelation, it "is, and it is NOT" (to quote the Indian woman saint, Ananda Moyi Ma).

We live in a world that contemplates vast vistas of time and space: the years of humankind's existence on earth keeps enlarging backward in time to millions of years. Space has become so vast in our calculations that it defies anything but the conclusion that the odds of advanced life forms such as exist on earth are nothing less than 100%.

So how can one have one foot in the modern "religion" of science and another foot in the religion of our grandfathers without falling flat on one's metaphysical face? How can one man who lived 33 years over 2,000 years ago on one lonely outpost of a planet on the fringe of one galaxy (of billions) be the savior of the world when most of the world before, during, and after this man's life never heard of him?

How can one misguided act committed in error, ignorance, passion, or delusion and in the minuscule boundaries of earth time and space condemn one's invisible spirit to an eternity of torture and suffering? Worse yet, for the simple fact of not having ever heard about this one man called Jesus Christ?

Is it possible we can embrace Jesus, his life and teachings, without condemning the rest of the beings of this planet and universe to hell? Each of us has for our neighbors and co-workers, people from other nations, races, and religions. Can we not see the obvious unifying needs and nature of all peoples as essentially no different than our own?

How, then, can true and original Christianity be resurrected from the tomb of ignorance? If Jesus truly lived, died, and was resurrected as the New Testament and its saints, martyrs, and sages down through ages proclaim and have given their lives to attest, surely, he must have been bigger in scope than so many of his self-proclaimed followers insist? There must be somewhere to be found a bridge, a life raft, to bring Jesus into the modern world and ever-expanding universe?

Fortunately, there is such a bridge, and surely not only one. But one such wayshower is the world renown yogi from India, Paramhansa Yogananda. His life story, "Autobiography of a Yogi," inspires, delights, and educates millions on every continent from the day it was published in 1946 to this day, today. Yogananda represents a teaching and revelation that goes back beyond the dim veil of recorded history in the world's oldest continuous spiritual tradition: that of the rishis of India.

When the first English translations of India's hoary Vedas and other scriptures reached the shores of America in the early 19th Century, the so-called Transcendentalists (Thoreau, Emerson, Whitman) recognized the overarching wisdom and termed it a philosophy, not a religion. More correctly it should be called revelation, for philosophy is only intellectual speculation about reality, truth, and ethics. In India this body of wisdom has long been termed "Sanaatan Dharma," the "eternal truth (or "religion"). It implies that what is handed down is as universally applicable as the law of gravity which does not depend on man's belief or awareness to hold sway.

In accordance with aspects of all faith traditions and the teaching of metaphysics everywhere, this world and universe is said to be a dream, a visible manifestation of the consciousness of the Creator who remains as yet untouched by the dream, just as a playwright is no more good nor evil owing to the characters of his creation. The playwright's intention is to entertain and to educate. Both the audience and the actors know that it is but a play but the actors strive, nonetheless, to play their role as best as they can and according to the script and intention of the playwright.

All is God, there is none else. This doesn't deny the relative evil we encounter or enact, but that evil is evil because it takes our consciousness further from the experience and realization of God as the only reality behind all seeming and appearances. Evil is an affirmation of separateness. So, too, are ego-affirming attitudes, emotions, and self-gratifying or seeking actions. Good is good because it expands our awareness to realities larger than ego.

The only begotten son of God, therefore, is that spark of divine realization that is crucified by selfishness and resurrected by goodness. It appears in every age, as the rishis of India have proclaimed since time immemorial, in the living person of those beings who, in past lives (many lives), achieved the final victory of permanent realization of their Oneness "with the Father." Their appearance, as saviors, or avatars, is a personal and dynamic promise of immortality and the proclamation, once again, of the "good news" of our souls as children of God.

Jesus used the personal pronoun "I" in proclaiming his Oneness with the Father and for that affront to the ego-entrenched priesthood of his time, paid the ultimate (human) price: persecution and death. His bodily resurrection, like that of many similarly God-realized souls, gave tangible testimony to those with "eyes to see" that we are not the body but we are the Infinite soul, existing since eternity ("Before Abraham was, I AM").

The time has come to realize this divinity through the science of meditation and to put aside divisive dogmas and creeds. To recognize other Christ-like masters is not to diminish the God-realization of Jesus, but merely to make it truly "catholic" ("universal") and personal to each and every one of us though it take many lifetimes. This is the promise of sages down through ages and the promise of our soul's immortality that can be resurrected by our recognition of the Guru-preceptors who come to awaken our memory.

Let us not hesitate, therefore, to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, knowing that it stands forever, today and yesterday, as a beacon of light, faith, and hope for all truthseekers everywhere.


Nayaswami Hriman