Saturday, December 4, 2010

Jesus: the Yogi-Christ

As we enter now the Christmas holiday season, it is an opportunity to reflect upon its true spiritual meaning. Many a visitor to an Ananda temple has remarked upon the picture of Jesus Christ at the center of our altar. Some in horror, others with relief, and still others, indifferently, but many simply are puzzled by it. What is its significance? Why in the center of the other pictures (Lahiri Mahasaya, Babaji, Swami Sri Yukteswar, and Paramhansa Yogananda)?

I, for one, do not consider myself a "recovering" Catholic. I was raised in a devout Catholic home. I even studied for a time for the priesthood, and completed, all told, sixteen years of Catholic education. I treasure my experience but somehow was blessed not to have either experienced or taken seriously any of its renown shortcomings: either in its priests or nuns, or in its theology. Yet, as for many like myself, it simply wasn't enough to satisfy my heart, mind, and soul.

Did Yogananda place Jesus on his altars to gain some measure of acceptance in this heathen (Christian) land to which he had come? Or is there more to it? For starters, there isn't necessarily any deep significance that Jesus' picture is at the center of the other pictures. In fact, that placement isn't universal at the various Ananda centers around the world.

Yogananda explained that Jesus appeared to the Yogavatar Babaji (an incarnation of Krishna of ancient times) and asked Babaji to send to the West someone who could resurrect the practice of silent, inner communion (meditation). This practice had once been prevalent among renunciates and monastics down through centuries but had been abandoned in favor of rationalism and in response of the Protestant rebellion against anything mystical or sacred (and beyond therefore reason). The church had wanted to seem modern and less secretive to the fastly shrinking world and clash of cultures and religions amidst the growth of science and widespread education.

But as Christianity in general turned toward conversion of the heathens in the many countries its culture had imperialistically conquered, and turned toward belief, the efficiacy of ritual, and the need for social activism, introspection and meditation all but disappeared.

Yogananda went further to state that silently Jesus and Babaji help guide the course of history through hearts and minds that are attuned to their vibrations of wisdom and peace. He said that he had telephathically conveyed to Adolf Hitler the idea to betray Russia by invasion and thus open up the needed second front that would ultimately prove his undoing. He made a similar statement in regard to the discovery of antibiotics which have saved millions from death and great suffering.

Two Catholic mystics appeared in the 20th century to give tangible testimony that Jesus lived, died, and was resurrected some two thousand years ago: Therese Neumann (Germany) and Padre Pio (Italy). Each bore the wounds of Christ and each exhibited other miraculous signs to affirm their guru's past and present reality in stark contrast to the materialism and scepticism of modern man. There are numerous books and even movies that detail their extraordinary lives and testimony.

But the science of meditation is for all peoples, all faiths, and no faith. It was, in ways unseen to our eyes, the divine plan that through the dark and destructive centuries of the last three or four thousand years, the East would retain, if even in relative secrecy, the knowledge of consciousness and the science of exploring it through meditation, while the West would specialize in the exploration of the natural world in which we live.

The time has come and the necessity to do so is clear that we unite the best of East and the best of the West for the general upliftment and benefit of our new and globally connected humanity. Religion, as we have developed through the last many centuries, has lost its elasticity and inspiration in its general decline into sectarianism and mere belief. A new "religion" or new expression of eternal and universal spiritual truths is needed and has come to the world from the east, like the three wise men.

In the life of Jesus much has been written and speculated about those missing years of his brief life of thirty-three years. The question of the identity of those three wise men and the possibility of the connection between those missing eighteen years and the wise men has arisen as well. Jesus' inexplicable relationship with John the Baptist wherein Jesus seeks his blessing upon his own ministry, lauds John's spiritual stature, while yet John himself deprecates himself as unworthy.

These and many more curious connections we will explore in an upcoming class at the Ananda Meditation Temple, Tuesday, December 14, at 7:30 p.m. To register online, go to You may register and, optionally, you may prepay. If you prepay there is a 10% discount.

Questions have also arisen regarding Yogananda's own relationship to Jesus. Swami Kriyananda describes his private conversations with Yogananda regarding that relationship. Our class will explore these unpublished revelations as well.

Blessings and a holy holiday season to you!