Monday, January 30, 2012
What is “Yoga” and why is it so popular?
Yoga is about your Self. It understandably, if regrettably, suffers from the accusation or the possibility that it can be or be seen to be vanity or self-preoccupation. Understood more deeply, however, it is the need to be more in touch with one’s true Self, or inner Being.
Let’s start at the fitness center and work our way inwards. At the fitness center yoga differs from exercise in that it is slower, more deliberate, and calming. It unites therefore one’s physical self (through movement) with self-awareness. Now, most people are so restless and so reactive that they don’t even want to be calm and self-aware. So the popularity of yoga even in such an environment signals that there are many people who are willing to be more in touch with themselves, even if they need the excuse of exercise to do it.
Moving to yoga studios we see the same impulse accelerated towards the goal of self-awareness, even if but slightly. At yoga studios the teacher might chant “Aum” or do other things that are suggestive of a spiritual context and a metaphysical reality.
At Ananda, and of course many other places and teachers, this spiritual component is not at all hidden, even if the value of the hatha yoga movements (“postures”) is upper most and given priority.
So, where is this going and what is “yoga?” Why is it so popular? Think of the image of a yoga posture. Any posture: standing, sitting, forward bend, twist, upper bend….it doesn’t matter. It signifies an individual striking a pose that suggests a state of mind with something greater than him(her) self. It’s a pose, literally; like being in a tableau and being a statue, a mime, and an actor (actress). It symbolizes the willingness to enter into or to identify oneself with something greater than oneself. It represents the individual who offers herself into a greater reality.
Let’s put aside for the moment the celebrity yoga teachers, the beautiful people in the tights and spandex, and look at the millions who practice yoga. Think now, too, of the most used image of one in sitting pose, essentially, therefore, meditation. For there is a deeper-than-conscious understanding that true yoga is meditation, not just movement.
Yoga is the affirmation that “we are One.” It doesn’t require a theology; it doesn’t necessarily demand an explanation, though plenty are available, and history is replete with scriptural treatises on the subject. The sense of connection with all life, the feeling of contentment and love, and the surrender of ego into the Self-existent state of Being speaks for itself.
For more information on yoga, please visit www.AnandaSeattle.org or worldwide, ananda.org.
Thursday, January 19, 2012
More Government or Less Government? Democrats or Republicans? How About Both-And? Obama, you listening?
Americans are engaged in a great debate. Should the government take an active and larger role in solving our problems, or, should it step aside, pay off its debts, and give people and the marketplace greater scope?
This debate has polarized and paralyzed both the national dialogue and the collective will to deal creatively and boldly with challenges facing our country, and the world.
Distrust and dislike of a central government was layered into the very fabric of our country’s beginnings. But in the over two hundred years since that time we have granted to the federal government powers one would be hard pressed to suppose the founding fathers had in mind.
So in essence we have come to a crossroads: not only in the sheer size and complexity of the challenges we face but in whether we continue on the trajectory of big government leading and protecting us all or whether we go on alone.
My spiritual teacher, Swami Kriyananda, has inculcated in me and thousands the idea of “both-and,” rather than “either-or.” So I’ve come to approach issues with an eye to see how two things which, on the surface seem incompatible, might, in fact, be two sides of the same coin.
On the one hand, the issues we face collectively — such as energy sources (their cost, their impact, their availability), ecological degradation and sustainability, terrorism, trade imbalance, excessive public and private debt, decline in the quality, affordability, and accessibility of education, cost and access to affordable health care, just to name some of more obvious ones — require national (and even international) consensus and will to address on the level and with the magnitude sufficient to enable change, while, on the other hand, our central government is more or less bankrupt, inefficient, and by definition, heavy handed because so big and so tangled with special interests.
In addition, many people, left and right, recognize that creative solutions come from individuals or small groups of people working cooperatively together. Government-imposed one-size-fits-all ends up pleasing no one and annoying everyone.
We are hard upon the horns of a dilemma whose origins lay in the shift of consciousness taking place on our planet today. (I say “today” but this has been an evolving and shifting process: two steps forward, one step back, another step sideways.)
We see the debate spilling into the very symbol of the level playing field towards which this shift is moving: the internet. Control and censorship of the internet by governments of east and west (north and south) is attacking the heart of the freedom of information and self-expression symbolized by the internet.
We see in the U.S. Congress the paralysis resulting from a minority holding a majority hostage. In other circumstances based on democracy the fear is that the prejudice of the majority tramples upon the legitimate interests and rights of minorities!
A new paradigm is needed if the deadlock between the power of institutions and the freedom individuals is to be broken. I’m not saying there’s some silver bullet here but the shift in consciousness will continue and if wholesale chaos and destruction and suffering is to be minimized (it will not likely be avoided), something must “give.”
In the “Occupy” movement taking place around the world we see this struggle quite visibly: we see how a small number of people have the power to bring down an entire government; we see how entrenched institutions respond brutally to protect their interests with no regard for the rights and safety of individuals.
The bigness that is rich and powerful is, for its very bigness, vulnerable. Great changes in world history have always been initiated by small groups of people whether in science, the arts, religion, business, or politics.
How then do we accommodate the bigness that is needed to solve big problems and the individual initiative which is the real source of creative solutions? One way of expressing the both-and principle as a solution is see and support what is in fact a reality: the steady move away from competition and towards cooperation. Cooperation requires the willingness and ability to see reality from another point of view other than your own. It is the ability to see that self-interest can be expansive and that “narrow self-interest” is, indeed, just that: constrictive and self-defeating. It is the ability to think long-term and not just short-term.
America is at the cross roads of long-term vs. short-term. And solution is both-and, because what is good for us long-term is in fact good for us short-term. We here complaints that responsible ecological behavior is bad for jobs and that unsustainable ecological policies and practices is bad long-term policy. We need to learn to think more expansively than that. We can look for the job potential, for example, in industries and jobs related to sustainable practices. That idea is not new but it has been slow to be accepted, thus far.
Much of the impulse for big-government solutions would be transmuted if smaller groups (governments, business, organizations, and individuals) would participate in cooperative solutions, with some latitude to creatively apply the general solution to their own environments or regions. In this way government doesn’t necessarily have to get “bigger” but work “smarter” by working together with others.
National policy on, say, health care can achieve broad consensus and direction at the national level, setting overall goals and parameters but leaving the next level of particulars to the next level, presumably states. In many ways this has been going on for years, but not necessarily consciously, consistently or with harmony.
But while all of this thus far seems sensible (I hope it does to you!), what defeats progress in the realm of the body politic is the heat of self-interest generated by the desire for re-election and the popularity and money-driven process we call democracy.
Now I’m not about to suggest a benign dictatorship, so just relax. But our body politic needs leaders who will re-affirm the importance of dialogue, compromise and respect for differing views.
I don’t care for the fact that a vocal minority in Congress, strident with their own and evidently unrealistic and impractical ideology can hold the nation hostage in the face of such challenges and crises. But I don’t know enough about the details of the elective process or congressional decision making to suggest anything meaningful.
But I do sense that there is a large body of citizens who find the paralysis frustrating and the negativity distasteful. To citizens of intelligence and goodwill who want to see our country express its fundamental ideals and creative energy there is the “strong arm” of voting and participatory action that can flex its economic and idealistic muscle in steering the political debate towards compromise and positive action.
While I’ll never be a presidential advisor, and while I have the luxury of an opinion without the responsibility of bearing the consequences of it, I would, if asked, suggest our current president (President Obama) be the magnanimous one to make whatever concessions are necessary to pass legislation appropriate to the national issues we face.
If the public finds the result weak-willed he can obviously blame those who diluted his own stated goals and objectives in order to accomplish the compromise. The naysayer minority can crow if their modifications achieve success as they claim. But if not, they will have to take the blame. And if it works, we should all rejoice, for that is process we call democracy.
Someone “up there” has to act like a grown-up. Someone has to act in a mature way. Let re-election be based on those who serve national not merely local or narrow self-interests. If I am defeated because I didn’t bring back enough pork, then, g-darn-it, I don’t want your vote or the job!
This leads us to what motivates those seeking public office: again, we have to return to our ideals: public service, not self-interest. Why have we for so long tolerated or winked at the unethical and often immoral behavior of people in power? Is it because they “buy us off” with pork?
Ironically, here is both-and again because serving the public interest is, and I believe provably can be, the means by which our representatives can find themselves elected time and again. It’s the down and dirty pork politics that causes the voters to waffle and throw the bums out and replace them with new bums.
None of this can happen without inspired and moral authority and leadership. As distant as that may seem, there are many such individuals in our country. They are simply not recognized or supported. And where does this come? From the grass roots. This is where faith groups and similar groups of people with high ideals should speak and act.
You can see that it is a “vicious” (or “victorious”) cycle: leadership effects individuals and individuals draw out quality leadership. Yes, you guessed it: both-and.
It’s like thinking big with your feet firmly on the ground. Stand tall and you can for miles. It’s not that difficult but we need to have “eyes to see, and ears to hear.”
For much of our country's relatively brief existence, we've made the cultural error of holding fast to the mantra of self-interest (think Adam Smith) but seeing it too literally and too narrowly. The idea that each person acting out of self-interest is some kind of self-adjusting “mechanism” bringing the greatest good to the greatest number is flawed unless we understand that “self-interest” means “expansive” (or “enlightened” and intelligent) self-interest. Both-And.
Monday, January 16, 2012
Today, January 16, America commemorates the life of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. 2012 marks the tenth annual tribute to Rev. King and to Mahatma Gandhi by Ananda Sangha in Seattle & Bothell, WA. This evening's program was cancelled due to snow, and postponed until this coming Sunday, January 22, 10 a.m. at the Ananda Meditation Temple in Bothell. Ananda Bothell website
Over ten years ago I had the inspiration to create a tribute to Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. ("MLK") and Mahatma Gandhi ("MG") using quotes from their writings and speeches. It was deeply inspiring to me and has proven to be so to many hundreds who have attended the tribute both here and in Mountain View, CA and other places where it has been presented.
The text has changed over the years, partly to keep it fresh and partly to follow new insights. At first it was strictly limited to inspirational quotes drawn equally from MLK and MG. In the last two years we've quoted mostly from MLK in keeping with the national holiday and American interests and have emphasized more of the drama of actual events in MLK's life.
There are, however, some salient aspects of their lives that are not commonly emphasized in most public tributes or documentaries. The most important of these is the inner, spiritual life of each of these men. Another is the dynamic relevance their lives, message, motives, and methods hold for the world today. In anticipation of Sunday's presentation and owing to today's official commemoration, I would like to share some of these salient aspects with you in this blog.
As revered as both men are throughout the world, we find that it is not necessary to have them be perfect or all together saintly. Their relevance to our own, personal lives comes from the simple but life transforming fact that each aspired to "know, love, and serve God." For each of them, their divine attunement came through serving and giving their lives in the cause of racial, political, and economic freedom and justice.
While the public generally is aware of their political victories, most are only dimly aware that each had a deep inner life of prayer from which they sought, received and followed (to their death) divine guidance. It was not that they did not know fear, or were unaware that their actions placed them constantly in danger of assassination and violence. It's that the inner divine sanction they sought and received gave them the comfort and the strength to carry on in spite of their very human shortcomings. What a lesson for each and every one of us. We do not need to be public servants or heroes or martyrs. Unseen by any, we can carry on what is right if we, too, will live for God alone.
The night before his assassination and in the face of multiple threats to his life, MLK declared that he "had been to the mountaintop" and was not afraid of any man. That it did not matter now, for God had shown him the "promised land." And, while he would yearn for a long life like anyone, that was secondary for he wanted only "to do God's will." In fact, that afternoon, alone and on the verge of despair and despondency for the challenges that faced his work, his life, his family, and his reputation and influence, he prayed and, I believe, had a spiritual experience from the heights of which he spoke those ringing words. Most hearing him then and now believe he was referring to the promised land of desegregation. And who would argue, and why not? But prophets of old and new and scriptures of all lands speak on many levels of meaning. And I, and others, believe that what he was "shown" was far more than that. What he experienced gave him the courage and faith to do what he had to do and to give his life in doing it.
Few people know that MLK travelled to India in 1959, after his first victory in Montgomery, Alabama with the now famous bus boycott prompted by Rosa Parks' refusal to give up her seat on the bus to a white passenger who had just boarded. King spoke on All-India Radio urging India to lead the way to universal disarmament (India subsequently did not). Dr. King and Coretta and travelling companions were veritable celebrities in India where the bus boycott had been followed in newspapers throughout India.
MLK was more than a southern Baptist preacher. His religious views were liberal, in the most elevated sense of the term. He was more than an eloquent black speaker from the south. He was an intellectual who grappled with the issues of twentieth century western culture and was well read in philosophy, scripture, and history. Had his calling not been towards civil rights his own inclinations would have led him to stay in the north and become a professor, writer and lecturer. In college he felt the presence of God in nature and spent many hours alone, out-of-doors, day and night.
MLK was a "disciple" of Mahatma Gandhi who saw that Gandhi resolved what King thought was the gulf between the "love thy neighbor as thy self" teaching of Jesus with the compelling need to fight injustice. MLK said that Jesus gave the teaching of love but Gandhi gave the method to make it applicable to social causes. King followed Gandhi's understanding that resistance was anything but passive. Nonviolent resistance required as much courage, self-sacrifice, and strength as that required in battle for a soldier.
MLK like MG was not only assassinated but both felt that their efforts had been unsuccessful: Gandhi, due to the communal rioting that followed the great victory of nonviolent freedom from the British, and King, in the rising militarism of younger, up and coming civil rights leaders. MLK took considerable heat from his anti-war stance on Vietnam. He was harassed by the FBI and Johnson administration and hounded by rivalries among his own civil rights associates.
Yet both men, to the end, maintained their faith in God and in the victory of good over evil. Both were practical idealists, eloquent speakers, gifted writers and astute organizers and negotiators. Possessing great will power, yet they were loyal to their own and forgiving to those who betrayed them. Both saw their religion and their politics as applicable to all humanity and for all time. Never did either succumb to sectarianism or nationalism.
Mahatma Gandhi was initiated into kriya yoga by Paramhansa Yogananda during Yogananda's one and only return visit to India in 1935-36. Yogananda, prior to leaving India for America in 1920, was asked by revolutionaries to lead the fight against British rule. Yogananda declined saying it was not his to do in that lifetime but that he predicted that India would win its independence by non-violent means: and this was before Gandhi had come onto the political scene in India and had come into his role as leader for Indian independence.
An earlier generation black leader for justice in America, W.E.B. Du Bois, invited Gandhi to come to America but Gandhi declined, saying it wasn't his role to do that and India was where he was needed. Du Bois predicated, however, that it would take another Gandhi to end segregation and uplift the American "negroes." How right he was.
The world today, and America especially, is in dire need of a voice of moral authority. Our nation seems polarized between extremes and has lost the dignity, compassion, and ideal-inspired reason to see our way clearly to the greatest good for the greatest number. We must find a way to affirm universal values, including spirituality, without sectarianism; to teach, model and encourage balanced, positive, and wholesome values and behaviors without censorship, discrimination, or coercion; to encourage self-initiative and personal responsibility rather than entitlement and victimization. To foster a hunger for knowledge, not mere profit, for sustainability, not indulgence, for cooperation not ruthless competition.
The law of survival and happiness is based on one and the same principle: self-sacrifice. Self-sacrifice means the recognition that we are more than we seem and reality is bigger than our individual self. Self-sacrifice is the investment into a longer rhythm of sustainability that brings a wholesome prosperity, harmony with nature and with humanity, and lasting happiness rather than passing pleasure. "Greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for his friends," as the Bible says. Few are called to give their lives for the lives of others, but all of us are called upon to become the "sons of God," meaning to live up to our own highest potential which is far greater than to live for the moment and for the senses and ego gratification.
As parents sacrifice for the good of their children (health, education, safety, comfort, and security), as soldiers sacrifice for defense of their country, as great artists and scientists toil to share inspiration and create a better world, so too each of us are called upon to harmonize ourselves in daily life with right diet, exercise, cooperation, compassion, knowledge, community service and wisdom. Such requires moral vigor and personal sacrifice of the desires of the moment for a greater reward.
Both Gandhi and King labored to instill these basic and universal values in their followers and to their people. Each understood that no victory over injustice could take place without the moral victory of an honorable, self-respecting, self-sacrificing, balanced, and compassionate life.
When and by whom do we see these values held up for honor in America -- not by words, alone -- but by example, by leaders in every field such as arts, entertainment, religion, business, science, and politics? Look at those whose lives we are fascinated by: celebrities whose lives of debauchery echo the lowest common denominator of humanity. Yet there are heroes here and there, and all around us. They don't necessarily shout and conduct public polls. But we need them now just as Dr. King was no less a prophet than those of the Old Testament, no less flawed than any one of us, but willing to give his life to something greater than himself.
Ananda's worldwide work is focused upon discipleship to the living presence and precepts of Paramhansa Yogananda. In this respect the example of Ananda may seem irrelevant to the world today. But it is not, for from a tiny seed a mighty oak can grow. We do not practice "Yogananda-ism." Discipleship for Ananda members means to attune ourselves to the truths that he represented, rather than to worship a mere personality. Ananda is anything but a cult, focused inward upon itself.
It is no coincidence that Yogananda initiated Gandhi into kriya yoga or that MLK was a "disciple" of Gandhi. The movement towards universally shared values such as "life, liberty, and happiness" and the equality of all souls as children of the Infinite is no cult but a powerful tsunami closing in towards the shoreline of modern society. The destructive aspects of this all consuming tsunami are felt only by those who stand fast in their sectarianism, racial prejudice, bigotry or other narrow-eyed identity. Kriya yoga symbolizes more than a meditation technique. It represents the understanding that each of us must find within our own center these universal values, our conscience, and our happiness. Much more could be said, but I have planted enough dots along the path for others to connect.
We celebrate the life of Dr. King because we celebrate the precepts he represented and the example of self-sacrifice that has been all but forgotten in the haze of modern materialism. If America, and other countries, are to survive the challenges we face, we must face them together with a sense of our shared values and essential unity.
Blessings to all,
Friday, January 6, 2012
Who is Paramhansa Yogananda?
Mukunda Lal Ghosh was born January 5, 1893 in India. Destined to become one of the first swamis to come to America (he came in 1920), he became a sensation in America, touring in the 1920’s and 1930’s to crowds of thousands of people in cities throughout the USA.
This time of year the Ananda Communities and centers around the world are among the thousands who commemorate Paramhansa Yogananda’s life and teachings. At his initiation as a swami when a young man by his guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri in Serampore (near Calcutta), India, he took the monastic name Yogananda: “union with God in bliss through yoga practice.”
Years later his guru conferred upon him the honorific “Paramhansa,” an acknowledgement of his disciple’s high spiritual realization. Yogananda came to America in 1920, returned to India for a last visit to his guru, family, and homeland in 1935-36, but otherwise stayed in America and became a U.S. citizen. He established his headquarters in Los Angeles in the mid-1920’s. He left this earth plane in 1952.
Those are the barest facts of an extraordinary life. We who are his disciples honor his contribution to the world and to our lives especially at this time of year. At Ananda this celebration concludes the holiday season at about the same time as Christians historically commemorate the three wise men coming from the east to honor the Christ child.
Paramhansa Yogananda is most famous for his life story, “Autobiography of a Yogi.” This book, first published in 1946, has been read by millions in many languages around the world. For modern ears, hearts, and minds, Yogananda opened up for westerners insights into the mysteries of Indian culture and especially its timeless precepts, practices, and its modern saints and sages with their extraordinary powers and states of consciousness. As a work of literature his autobiography stands tall in the pantheon of twentieth century writings.
But it is not the details of his life or even his consciousness that I wish to reflect upon here. Swami Kriyananda’s own autobiography, “The New Path,” details life with the “master” with such wisdom, humor, and love that I must refer the reader to this parallel work of art and inspiration.
One hears a common saying that “When the disciple is ready the guru appears.” For the relevant question is not “Who is the greatest guru (or teacher)?” The more important inquiry is “Who am I” and “What kind of a disciple of life and truth am I?” The law of karma (action and reaction) and the law of attraction and magnetism remind us that the world we inhabit is filtered by our own magnetism such that we attract to ourselves those circumstances (and people) best designed to reflect back to us aspects, high or low, of our own self.
So rather than ask ourselves “Who was Yogananda” we can also ask ourselves “Who am I?”
Some see in him a world teacher and avatar whose life has started a revolution in spreading the practice of kriya yoga into all nations that millions may have a direct personal perception of divinity and hence empower humanity to make the changes needed to sustain life, health, prosperity and God remembrance in all nations.
Some see in him a world teacher and avatar whose life has started a revolution in spreading the practice of kriya yoga into all nations that millions may have a direct personal perception of divinity and hence empower humanity to make the changes needed to sustain life, health, prosperity and God remembrance in all nations.
Others will see him only as another in an endless procession of teachers from India seeking to profit by the prosperity of the west. Perhaps some will see more flamboyant or more recently popular teachers as the real “deal.” No matter.
It depends what we are capable of seeing and seeking. It is enough for me that he has changed my life and the lives of uncountable others worldwide. Who am I to speak of him as an avatar? I wouldn’t know an avatar if he was a card-carrying member of the Avatar Club. Even if I were to be so unrefined or unaware as to simply find inspiration and practicality in his words and yoga techniques and ignored him altogether (because no longer incarnate), my life would not be the same.
The question is by what influence and magnetism has he, whom I have never met, inspired me to leave everything of a material nature (career and life in the “world”) as a young man, move to a poor and rural intentional community in the Sierra Nevada mountains, and dedicate my life to the daily practice of meditation and service to spreading Yogananda’s ideals and practices? Were I alone, then you’d have to conclude that I am just basically weird. But hundreds and by now thousands have done the same.
And we are not talking the disenfranchised or the “sick, lame, and lazy” (as my old father, God rest him) would have said. The people I associate with are highly educated, high energy, creative, noble-minded, kind, compassionate and dedicated people who are very aware of the world we live in and eager to serve God through humanity and through kriya yoga.
Yogananda’s influence has spawned a network of intentional communities, schools for children, yoga centers, publishing, nature awareness programs, creative architecture, new forms of music and worship, a cooperative style of leadership and decision making, creative parenting and harmonious relationships.
The chief architect of this expansion has been the foremost of Yogananda’s direct disciples in the service of humanity at large: Ananda’s founder, Swami Kriyananda. Kriyananda’s influence reflects not only his dynamic will but his attunement with his guru, Yogananda. The worldwide work of Ananda is largely a transparent expression of Yogananda’s guidance. Though stamped indelibly with Kriyananda’s signature, members and students of Ananda function independently, creatively taking seed inspiration (rather than any detailed blueprint) from Kriyananda’s guru-guided creativity. Kriyananda, as such, functions more as a focal point and funnel for energy rather than a personality. The result is that scant attention is paid him in the way we see so many spiritual teachers being fawned upon or held high upon a pedestal of undying admiration.
Ananda is not a top-down hierarchical organization, though the value and importance of inspired and supportive leadership is emphasized. Cooperation rather than coercion is the guiding principle. The spiritual welfare of people is the measure of success, not the otherwise worthwhile and measurable accomplishments of Ananda as a spiritual work. Thus the Ananda centers and communities function independently but in cooperation with its first and original community in California. Europe has its own central vortex just as India has two parallel centers: one rural, the other urban.
Yogananda created a new system of tension exercises at a time when millions were just beginning to seek forms of exercise. Less than a century ago exercise for its own sake was only for aristocrats and a few privileged athletes. Already we see the incidence of injury from running, weight training, extreme sports and even intensive one-size-fits-all yoga. He created numerous formulae and recipes for the future millions of vegetarians even as our culture flounders fanatically with every extreme dietary fad that comes along each year.
He spoke of a future when international criminals would cause havoc in every country and how an international “police force” of freedom-loving nations would be required. He predicted that English would become the “lingua franca” of the world. He also warned of future wars, cataclysms, diseases, and economic devastation as a result of unparalleled greed, exploitation and ruthless competition.
Yogananda with words of great spiritual power “sowed into the ether” a call to high-minded souls to go out into rural areas and create small communities, pooling resources, skills, and living close to the land in what we now realize and describe as a sustainable lifestyle. He predicted that a time would come when small communities would “spread like wildfire,” presumably as an antidote the crushing and impersonal forces of globalization.
Each of these concepts, precepts, and trends are taking shape in the lives of people like you and me, around the world. Yes, it’s true these things would be happening with, or without Yogananda. But to come as a divine messenger to bless these efforts is as reassuring as it is an ancient tradition (to seek divine blessings upon one’s journey and new undertakings). Those who are in tune with these trends are, in their own way, drawing upon those blessings whether they have heard of Yogananda or not.
In theological matters, how many like you and me are weary of sectarianism and desirous of harmony between faiths? It is not religion we should fight but selfishness, greed, and delusion. To this end those who love God should help, support, and respect one another. But how can we find our way out of the box of our dogmas and customs?
All theological bypaths meet in the sensorium of inner silence. God as One, God as many, God of many names or no name are all found united in silent, inner communion. The only real idol worship is found in the worship of matter, the senses, and the ego. These are the false idols, not the saints or deities who serve as symbols and aspects of the One beyond all symbols.
Thus it is that our own and personal vision of reality draws to us the life and teachings of such a one as Paramhansa Yogananda. To achieve Self-realization, he said, we must simply improve our “knowing.”
A Happy Birthday to Yogananda and to all of us!