Friday, June 4, 2010

Will Jesus Come Again?

Paramhansa Yogananda, author of the world renown classic, "Autobiography of a Yogi," spoke and wrote frequently in respect to the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Many of his students and followers have wondered why he did so, especially in light of his emphasis upon respect for and the need to seek a deeper understanding of the underyling truth of all true religions.

He explained that there exists a special link between the lives of Paramhansa Yogananda and Jesus Christ. Though Yogananda himself gave little by way explanation about the nature of this link, his extensive commentaries on the Bible (especially the New Testament) strongly suggest it. At least once that we know of, he was asked directly why he gave special emphasis to Jesus' teachings. His only comment was "It is Babaji's wish that I do so." (Babaji is the Himalayan Christ-like sage who, indirectly, sent Yogananda to the West.)

In respect to his writings on the New Testament, he claimed to have received endorsement from Jesus Christ in vision for his interpretations. Yogananda would usually get a chuckle from audiences when he commented, tongue-in-cheek, that "Jesus was crucified once but his teachings have been crucified daily ever since" by dogmatic and ignorant followers. (He also added, however, that ignorance, East and West, is "50:50", meaning similar distortions of true teachings exist everywhere!)

But what has become of Jesus Christ since his incarnation in Palestine some two thousand years ago? Where is he now? Will he come again? When will be his second coming?

Curiously, Yogananda termed his work in the West the "second coming of Christ." Did he mean that HE is Jesus Christ? Many disciples of Yogananda report they have experienced a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ through Yogananda's teachings. During his lifetime, he was frequently "mistaken" for Jesus Christ by his American students and even passers-by.

When Swami Kriyananda (founder of Ananda) asked Yogananda this question directly to him, Yogananda replied brusquely, "What difference would it make?" When I commented to Swami Kriyananda that Yogananda could not have been Jesus in a past life since Yogananda had a vision (more than one, in fact) of Jesus, Kriyananda replied in a similar manner saying, in effect, "What difference would THAT make?" (Apparently, the ability to bring into manifestation the living presence of a saint of past times is independent of subsequent incarnations, including his own!)

Let us put aside, however, this question of whether Yogananda is a reincarnation of Jesus. For we cannot answer that and, as Swami Kriyananda put it, what difference would it make to us!

Yogananda explained that the term "Christ" is a title, not a name. It means the "annointed one." It is a reference, he said, to the God-realized consciousness that the soul named Jesus had attained through self-effort and grace over many lifetimes of spiritual effort. This indwelling, latent, and innate divinity which is our own soul's true nature can be called "the Christ consciousness." The divinity of which Jesus' consciousness partook is therefore infinite and omnipresent. When he spoke using the personal pronoun "I" ("I am the way, the life, and truth and no one achieves the Father but by Me.") he was speaking in the impersonal voice of that universal Christ consciouness, fully conscious and fully realized. It is the indwelling Christ that is our spiritual guide to the heavenly realm of Bliss in God.

This divinity is most realizable in human beings, with our highly advanced nervous system and energy centers known as the chakras. It is latent and can be reawakened by the touch or living presence of one who is an awakened Christ, or savior (or guru). So it might be said that the "first" coming of the Christ is in the form of the guru. The "second" coming therefore would be its consequent awakening in true disciples.

Thus any soul who has achieved this liberated, enlightended state is a Christ. The coming of Christ is as much true in one God-realized soul as another. It is not limited to the person known as Jesus, who lived only thirty-three years long ago in a remote outpost of the Roman empire. In India it has long been taught that God descends into human form via a divine incarnation known as the avatar in response to the call and need of souls in every age. But even accepting that such a one as Yogananda came to earth as an avatar, it remains true that his special mission was to give the "keys to the kingdom." The keys he offers are the techniques of meditation (as well as the spiritual power of grace transmitted through those keys).

These keys include access to the special role in the divine plan for the Holy Ghost. Jesus taught that after his earthly passing he would send the Holy Ghost, or Comforter, to guide his disciples. For it is the role of the Holy Ghost to play a part in the process of the devotee's path to the Father. Once the preceptor has re-awakened the disciple's memory of his divinity, the disciple must seek to enlarge his identification with it within himself. For, as Jesus said, "The kingdom of heaven is neither 'lo here, or lo there.' It is within you."

In the yoga teachings, the Holy Ghost is referred to as the "Aum vibration." In the gospel of St. John it is referred to as the "Word." "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made by Him (the Word)." The Holy Ghost is that first appearance in the creation of God at the inception and as the essence of creating, sustaining and dissolving all things. In Genesis this is explained poetically when it says the "Spirit of God moved across the face of the waters." So the first, or virginal, or primordial vibration of God's creative intention is the Word, or Holy Ghost. It is this vibration that initiates the world of duality through which the seeming appearance and separateness of all things created from their Creator is maintained. This vibration has a sound and is called in various traditions "Amen," "Amin," "Aum," or "Ahunavar." From this vibratory stem cell of creation comes the multitude of differentiated objects both gross and subtle. Each is endowed with the innate intention of the Word to create and the intelligence of God to do so independtly, with free will.

This vibration has both an audible and visual manifestation which the meditator can perceive in the inner silence. The sound usually is generally easier to perceive than the light. God is referred to in forms of sound (lightning, rumblings, many waters etc.) and light perhaps one hundred times throughout the Old and New Testament. It is by inner communion upon the holy Word of God that the devotee begins, in earnest, his ascent toward God. The Aum Vibration is referred to as feminine in many traditions, as it is the mother vibration of the universe.

The meditation technique of communing with the Aum vibration was brought from India by Yogananda. It is taught in the context of discipleship, as the gift of the guru that the devotee might achieve actual divine contact and, by degrees, Self-realization. This technique involves using a mudra (position of the hands) and an arm rest. It enables the devotee to more quickly hear, with "ears to hear," as Jesus put it, this blissfully comforting sound which is the actual presence of God in creation. Communion with Aum reveals to us the remembrance of the truth (that we are children of God) that shall make us free. It also brings great comfort and joy.

Meditating upon Aum is a step towards the next level of Self-realization. By prolonged inner communion with Aum, the devotee comes to the next stage which is to commune with the vibrationless state of the Christ consciousness itself. This sphere of pure consciousness is the only "begotten son of God." It is the only pure reflection of the infinite consciousness of God which is otherwise beyond and untouched by the creation. It is first experienced at the quiet, still center of all vibration IN creation. It can only be accessed through communion with Aum, which witnesses its presence like the sound of motor which reveals that the motor is running. Yogananda explains it this way: the "Mother" of creation is the Aum vibration. In her womb, unseen by others, is the Son of God (whose Father is the Spirit beyond creation). This Son reflects the character of the Father. It is His only begotten because it is the only appearance of the Infinite Spirit which can be found emmanent (in the midst of) the creation itself. It is not Jesus the man who is the only begotten son of God, but Jesus as a Christ who manifests Divine consciousness in human form. As St. John writes in the first chapter of his gospel, "as many as received Him gave He the power to become the sons of God." We are all, potentially, capable of reacquiring our sonship through this process of ascension.

The final stage of liberation (after communion with Christ consciousness in all creation) is to enter the Bliss-state of God the Father that lies beyond all creation. In this way is the "son" (the Christ intelligence IN creation) reunited with the "father" (in the vibrationless sphere BEYOND creation).

So where is Jesus now? Within you, and in all creation. But he can be summoned at any time from the ether of eternity by the devotion and concentration of a true devotee. This has been proven time and again down through ages, just as St. Francis (among many others) walked with Jesus at La Verne, the mountaintop where Francis received the blessed stigmata, over a thousand years after the human life of Jesus.

Jesus can walk with us, too. And Yogananda and many other saints and sages.A true savior comes to earth and directly, or through the lineage of his disciples, to awaken us to the promise of our immortality in God.

Blessings to you,


P.S. I will conduct a two part class on the yoga teachings of Jesus, from 7 to 9 p.m., Thursdays, June 17 and 24 at the Ananda Meditation Temple in Bothell. Go online to to register. Prepay and receive a 10% discount.