Monday, December 31, 2012

Cosmic Drama: the Final Chapter: My Redeemer Liveth!

The Cosmic Drama - Part Five (of Five)
"My Redeemer Liveth"

This is part one of a series of articles. It has its origins in a prior blog article entitled, "Who is Jesus Christ?" You may wish to read that first, though not absolutely necessary. This series attempts to describe the Trinity, or, how God can be omniscient, omnipresent, infinite, and immanent in creation at the same time. And, what significance this has for the reality we face as individuals. As the prior article on Jesus Christ noted, "Who Jesus is says a great deal about who we are." So, too, who God is addresses who we are.

Returning full circle now to the life of Jesus Christ, we see how “TAT” (the second of the Trinity: the “Son”) appears on earth in human form to awaken the “TAT” within those who are ready! Such awakened ones also sow seeds of awakening in many souls, perhaps for a future lifetime. Those many such “descents” (avatars) have a public mission of uplifting consciousness in a race, nation or civilization and a personal mission to individual disciples more spiritually advanced.

Because the “Son” (the memory of our divinity) has fallen asleep through many lives, it takes another Son to awaken that memory. A further “proof” of divinity in human form is the simple fact that without the possibility of becoming “One with the Father” in human form, there would be no evidence of our divinity (in human form). Giving a coin to a street person may be a nice thing to do but it doesn’t make you a saint and it doesn’t show the power of God over all creation, which, as his “sons,” is our potential! It is natural, therefore, that there have been demonstrations down through the ages of the power to even raise the dead. While this is not flaunted to the masses, it has been witnessed by individual disciples who were willing to give their lives for and to dedicate their lives to their testimony.

The fully-awakened “son of God” is not a God-made puppet, but a soul, like you and I, who has achieved that final Self-realization and returns in human form to enlighten his (her) fellows. While this is said to have taken place in a past life, the point remains that the incarnation of divinity in human form is the natural fulfillment (indeed the divine purpose) of the Christ Intelligence (TAT) in nature and in all creation taken to its penultimate manifestation. Indeed it is said that the drama of creation is that souls make the free choice to reunite with our Creator and become fully-realized “sons of God” as Jesus, and other world saviors in history, have done.

As Krishna teaches in the Bhagavad Gita (India’s revered scripture), this descent of divinity into human form (the “avatara”) takes place in every age and nation as divinely ordained by the call of human hearts. “God so loved the world that He sent his only-begotten Son.” The redemptive power of Jesus’ life and spirit lies in both the message and uplifting spiritual power of Self-realization which has its source and its manifestation in attunement with the will of the Father. The New Testament reveals that Jesus knew of his impending crucifixion and even briefly prayed that it pass, but that he accepted the will of his father. Thus must we all do in placing the ego (and body) on the cross that our soul might be resurrected in the Christ Consciousness of our soul’s eternal and immortal reality.

This is the means by which we, too, can ascend. “No man hath ascended to heaven, but he that hath descended.” The meaning of this odd sentence is simply that we are all children of God and have come from God. To God we must return, like the prodigal son, that we might be free. Jesus was not boasting.
But the deeper understanding of this precept is that the indwelling and universal Christ consciousness (son of God) is that which leads us upward or home to God. But first the child must be born in the manger of our humble heart, in the darkness of material delusion. Jesus, and all other great saviors of humankind, come into each culture and age to wake us up and remind us of our immortality and identity as souls (not mere bodies and personalities). “We are of old!”

But what is awakened is within us. Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is with you.” Thus Jesus was the personification (human incarnation) of the Christ which resides, latently at least, in every atom of creation. Christ-in-human-form comes to awaken the Christ within. Whether incarnate in human form or at the still heart of every atom, this, and this alone, is the “only begotten son of God” in creation.

We, too, are potential Christs. When we have “ears to hear” and “eyes to see” this reality, then it is the Holy Spirit (“I will send to you the Holy Spirit, who will bring to your remembrance all these things.”) that leads us back to perfection, back to our home in God-consciousness. God is not in some faraway place but is a state of consciousness, bereft of name and form, and “behind” every atom of creation. This is why meditation is so important and effective as a means of perceiving the God presence within and in all creation.

When the infant child of divine memory is awakened, it is the Mother that nurtures the child to adulthood. The living Christ, or guru, comes only for a short time and fulfills his role by re-lighting the spark of that divine memory in in our consciousness. The Holy Spirit, or Virgin Mother, is that pure vibration (or feeling) of God to which we then attune ourselves that we might grow in Self-realization.

This vibration is the conscious and divine motor or engine of creation. The Bible refers many times to the “sound of many waters,” “thundering’s,” and “lightning.” We chant “Amen” (or “Aum”) with our prayers as a deeper-than-conscious recognition that the “word” of God is neither in English, nor Sanskrit, nor Latin, nor Hebrew, but is an actual sound heard deep in the inner silence. It “knoweth all things” because all things have been created by it (see the first sentences of the gospel of John). We mimic this holy sound with prayers, hymns and chants and various incantations and rituals. The sacredness one might feel at Mass, at prayer, upon a holy mountain, in nature and gazing upon a field is the living, vibratory presence of God AS creation: the Holy “ghost” unseen but felt.
It could be said that the “first coming” of Christ (the TAT, or “son” of God) is when God gives birth to the cosmos. The “second coming” would be the appearance of TAT (the Christ consciousness) in human form (as the guru). The “third coming” would be its awakening in the individual soul. The “fourth” would be the individual soul’s final redemption, or Self-realization: Oneness with the Father.

When Paramhansa Yogananda titled his life’s work, “The Second Coming of Christ,” he was using the phrase from the New Testament. It is a play on words in the sense that he, too, is an avatar, but that what he brought, through meditation (especially kriya yoga), was the “keys to the kingdom” that allows awakened souls to commune with the Holy Spirit (as Aum). Patanjali, author of the famous Yoga Sutras, and other great rishis, have declared that communing with God as Vibration, as Aum, is man’s highest duty for the entire purpose of creation is, as the Baltimore Catholic catechism declares, to “know, love, and serve God.” And, by deeper understanding of this phrase, to “become One with Father.”

Let us celebrate the coming of Christ as the awakening of this realization (of God’s presence) in our own hearts. And let us then share that presence by sharing the gifts of creation, and the greatest gift of all – God’s love – with all whom we meet.

Blessings to you this Christ-mas, and may the New Year bring us ever closer to Self-realization!

Nayaswami Hriman

The above is based upon and inspired by the teachings of the modern Yogi-Christ, Paramhansa Yogananda and the writings of Swami Kriyananda, a direct disciple and founder of the worldwide work of the Ananda communities. For additional reading, see “Revelations of Christ,” by Swami Kriyananda, available from Crystal Clarity Publishers, Nevada City, or the East West Bookshop nearest you.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Cosmic Drama Continues: part 4 of 5: In Walks the Devil!

The Cosmic Drama
Part Four (of Five) - In Walks the Devil!

This is part one of a series of articles. It has its origins in a prior blog article entitled, "Who is Jesus Christ?" You may wish to read that first, though not absolutely necessary. This series attempts to describe the Trinity, or, how God can be omniscient, omnipresent, infinite, and immanent in creation at the same time. And, what significance this has for the reality we face as individuals. As the prior article on Jesus Christ noted, "Who Jesus is says a great deal about who we are." So, too, who God is addresses who we are.

When God “sent out” His power through vibration (“Aum”) and seeded it with His reflected Intelligence, the creation (especially the powers and intelligences behind matter) are endowed with procreative power, desire, intelligence, and individuality. Just as the son, who may resemble his father in many ways, is given free will to make his own choices in life, so too, the creation and the souls in creation have been given, and have, made choices. As vibration acquires form, individuality and intelligence it acquires a relative degree of independence. Not absolute, but relative. This power, force and intelligence assumes unto itself a self-perpetuating momentum, not unlike the famous computer HAL in the movie: 2001: A Space Odyssey. The outflowing power of God becomes, by degrees, not only independent but, as it begins to assert its self-identity, either rebelliously or ignorantly, it become satanic. The term “satanic” implies a conscious intention to remain apart and independent. It implies a purposeful rebellion against harmony and attunement with the Creator. It is not sharp line in the sand, but a gradual continuum from divine attunement to forgetfulness to restlessness to ignorance to harm and to conscious evil.

Endowed with intelligence and empowered to go out and multiply and then acquiring the form and feeling of separateness (from God), this outgoing power takes onto itself the responsibility and desire to create, multiply, dominant and remain its own “god.” (Think of the myth of Lucifer or Adam and Eve wanting to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.) Thus does the outflowing force begin gradually to make its own way. The further from God its consciousness inclines, the more the good intention becomes gradually an evil one, usurping God’s power and worshipping itself as godlike. (Thus was Jesus tempted by Satan to have dominion over all the earth if he would but worship Satan as the creation itself.) Thus humans set up false gods, worshipping money, the pleasures of the senses, power over others, addictive substances, and so on. Satan, in the form of the creation, invites us to worship him as the summum bonum of existence. In the end he takes our souls, metaphorically speaking (only), in the sense that we lose (temporarily) our soul joy and innocence in God’s bliss. Death, old-age, disease, disappointment—at last, he reneges on his promise leaving us with neither God’s peace nor our moth-eaten treasures on earth.

There is another aspect to this loss of innocence. As Spirit is cloaked in form, individuality, and separateness, it finds itself competing for survival in a world of the senses. Forced to feed, clothe and shelter itself, it finds that the compelling necessities of its outer form cause it to look outward through the senses. The outer world gradually becomes its reality and lost is the divine memory of its own omniscience and immortality. It will take untold incarnations for this lost soul to (ascend first to the human level, and then untold more incarnations to) rebel against the “anguishing monotony” of continued rounds of rebirth, struggle, pleasure, pain, illness and death after having exhausted every avenue of sensory and ego-affirming, but ultimately disappointing, fulfillment.

Thus, the macro-characters in the cosmic drama are God (as the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost) and the satanic force which opposes harmony with and union with God. Paramhansa Yogananda put it this way: the satanic force has sowed the creation with patterns of imperfection (pain, disease, & physical death) so that our memory of divine perfection will impel beings to want to return to the creation to make it perfect. But alas, the cosmic drama requires the villain that we might love the hero. The villain must be punished and the hero is applauded. As we act more like the hero we come closer to God. In this way, even the satanic force of maya (delusion and ignorance) act to sow the seeds of our longing for perfection. This perfection, this bliss, this union is found only within our souls—in God alone. We have an eternity of free choices to discover and seek this re-union, just as the prodigal son in Jesus’ story, hungry and famished, decides to begin the journey home to his Father. There he is welcomed and embraced (not punished).

Whether we view the betrayal of God’s divine purpose as the result of the “first man and woman” (Adam and Eve) or as a choice we all make, especially beginning with puberty, is perhaps a matter of taste. The reality is that, from the human point of view, evil exists, ignorance exists, wrong choices and bad things happen and we need to make things better. Blaming God has its place, but only to a point. Doing so doesn’t change the bad things. We have to take action and we have to take at least some responsibility for ourselves and our neighbor. Without this, life would be not worth living. Besides, in truth and at the present moment, most people wouldn’t have it any other way and are not the slightest bit interested in knowing, loving, serving and uniting in love with God.

The "devil made me do it",

Nayaswami Hriman

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


The Cosmic Drama
Part Three (of Five)
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost - AUM, TAT, SAT

This is part one of a series of articles. It has its origins in a prior blog article entitled, "Who is Jesus Christ?" You may wish to read that first, though not absolutely necessary. This series attempts to describe the Trinity, or, how God can be omniscient, omnipresent, infinite, and immanent in creation at the same time. And, what significance this has for the reality we face as individuals. As the prior article on Jesus Christ noted, "Who Jesus is says a great deal about who we are." So, too, who God is addresses who we are.

In India, that aspect of God that is the Creator, separate and untouched by “His” creation is called “SAT,” and can be called “the Father.” The creation itself as a creative act of SAT and a manifestation of the Creator in the act of “becoming,” is “AUM.” The creation comes into being through an illusion caused by movement (“duality”) in opposite directions from a point of rest at the center. A whirling fan or the hubcaps of a wheel can create the appearance of solidity owing to their motion. Basic subatomic particles, atoms and molecules combine in an infinite variety of ways to give the appearance of separate objects. This “God AS the underlying reality of creation” is called “AUM” in India and, in Christianity, is given the term the “Holy Spirit.” It is “ghost-like” (Holy Ghost) because invisible; its presence is “felt” as a breeze, a whispered sound, or an ethereal rumble of thunder or a crashing sea.  Its visible appearance is as the inner light of meditation.

In Christianity, it is personified as the Virgin Mother of Christ: virgin because God AS creation is unpolluted or untouched by creation’s subsequent and infinite variations. In India, Divine Mother (personified in a variety of goddesses) is the personification of the AUM vibration.

This primordial and essential level of creation is characterized by sound and light, especially sound. Hence we find in the great faith traditions the universal intonation of a core and divinely conscious prayer-word such as “Aum,” “Amen,” “Amin,” and “Ahunavar.” This utterance attempts to articulate the metaphysical reality called “the Word.” “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1).” A word is a sound uttered based on thought and consciousness. The Aum vibration is the voice of God at the heart of all creation. It creates, sustains, and withdraws from sight all things. As the living presence of God in creation, it is the “Comforter” and brings to our “remembrance” all things because all things are made by it. In hearing it, we also enter into the presence of God’s presence and “remember” that presence. In that presence wisdom comes to us. Listening to the inner sound (of AUM) brings to devotees not just comfort but protection and inner guidance.

Just as the artist or scientist or inventor has a seed idea that triggers further details and enthusiasm and finally manifests in the intended object, so creation is said to contain three distinct levels: thought (ideation), energy (astral), and the physical cosmos. The investigations by science into the underlying chemical, atomic, electrical and electro-magnetic properties of matter are suggestive of the energy or astral world that underlies the superficial appearance of matter on the gross level of the senses.

But if the universe were only God’s manifestation it would be a sham. For God to set in motion His creation and yet remain apart from it, He had to impregnate the creation (Divine Mother, his consort, the Virgin and the Aum vibration) with His seed, which is to say, with his intention, His “looks,” and, you might say, His DNA. Genesis declares that we are made in His image and thus we “resemble” our Creator, not in physical appearance but in our true essence. (The five points of the body—two feet, two arms and head—resemble the five points of a star commonly seen in meditation.)

God thus had to bestow upon His creation, His only begotten Son, His own intelligence and intention, the seed of His own perfection in Bliss. In order to sustain and perpetuate His creation, he had to endow the perpetual motion of the illusion of creation with intention and intelligence. His seed of intention and intelligence resides at the center of each atom and each object and endows all things with the power and the desire to procreate. As God is Bliss itself (meaning the summum bonum of existence), and as it is the nature of Bliss to express itself and share, so too God’s creation and creatures find joy in the act of procreating (on all levels of intelligence and intention) and, at the same time, as the inner essence of Being. God is thus Being and Becoming.

This spark of divinity and intelligence is always appropriate to the need and context. Thus it is that trees make more trees and only trees, not frogs. Thus it is objects seek to survive and to perpetuate their existence. This divine spark of intelligence and joy is itself the aspect of God that is immanent in creation. This is the true and “only begotten son of God.” The intelligence inherent in creation is God’s “son,” for it resembles him in these respects. “God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son” that the son might reveal the Father. This intelligence seeks to reveal the Father. All creation is endowed, to some measure, with the bliss of God and the desire, born of the nature of bliss itself, to expand and multiply.
In India the term of this is TAT, or the Christ Intelligence in creation: the reflection in creation of the Infinite Spirit beyond creation. In matter and in lower life forms it can only express itself instinctually. But when it reaches the human form, the soul has the potential to become “one with the Father.” In Christianity it is given the term “Holy Ghost:” the silent, invisible ghost or spirit which gives “life” to all things.

Joy and blessings,

Nayaswami Hriman

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Cosmic Drama Continues: Part 2 (of 5): The Master Playwright!

The Cosmic Drama
Part Two (of Five)
God: the Master Playwright

This is part one of a series of articles. It has its origins in a prior blog article entitled, "Who is Jesus Christ?" You may wish to read that first, though not absolutely necessary. This series attempts to describe the Trinity, or, how God can be omniscient, omnipresent, infinite, and immanent in creation at the same time. And, what significance this has for the reality we face as individuals. As the prior article on Jesus Christ noted, "Who Jesus is says a great deal about who we are." So, too, who God is addresses who we are.

As Shakespeare the playwright who writes the script for the villain isn’t therefore himself an evil person, so too the cosmic playwright knows that the play, in order to be performed and enjoyed, must have both protagonist and antagonist. If the villain plays his role well on the stage he will be convincing and all the audience will hiss and boo at him. The hero, too, played correctly and well, will invite the sympathy and support of the audience. Thus we are drawn to the virtues of the hero and away from the evil of the villain.

As the players aren’t really killed in the battles that take place on stage,  so too are we, the players in this divine drama of life, not really killed when we shed our bodies in “death.” Like waves rising from the surface of the sea, the elements and individuals in the drama of creation appear on the lake of the cosmic mind, appearing to be separate, but then, after their time is finished, falling back into the bosom of the sea. (Reincarnation is suggested in the scientific principle that matter cannot be destroyed; it only changes form. Its corollary, the law of karma, also spawns a scientific principle: for every action, there is an equal or opposite reaction.)

Thus the playwright writes a script but it takes the creativity and talent of the actors to bring it to life, to make it credible, and to engage the audience emotionally and convincingly. Thus the playwright, the actors (and even the supportive stage crew from behind the curtain, as it were) and even the audience all have roles to play. No one stands completely apart from the others but the playwright gives birth to the drama and invites others to “play,” which they must do voluntarily: some with excellence, and others poorly following the script.

The essential reality of the drama and of the persona of the actors springs from the mind of the playwright. This “dream” magnetically draws to itself the necessary participants, both actors and audience. Shakespeare, already in his time well known, a famous and successful playwright, no doubt attracted both actors and audience, springing, as it were, from the unseen realm of his mind.

But this metaphor stops short of giving satisfaction because all participants are recognizably separate entities. To deny this is to give up the game for naught, saying that “nothing is real” and we might as well go home and go to bed or make merry. How can we be separate and at the same time One? How can we be held accountable for our actions when we are but creations of the dream-nature of God? This is the essential “mystery” of creation and the source of the teaching of the triune nature of God.

Let us return to the metaphor of the artist, craftsman or inventor. The “signature” of great artists is often recognizable in the style of their work even if the subject matter may vary widely. This is as true for Monet as for a cabinet maker, at least potentially. Thus every invention or work of art might be said to reflect some aspect of its maker, even while, at the same time, hiding much, indeed most, of the maker’s persona. As God “becomes” the creation, the creation hints at the existence of its creator even while it hides Him.

While the wood a carpenter buys to make a table is inert, all God has to work with is His own consciousness! Thus, no matter what He makes, He makes it with His own essence and cannot wholly be other nor yet wholly be hidden. Whereas a saint reveals more of the divine Presence than a criminal, it is only a matter of degree, not essentially a different species or kind.

Like hiring actors to play the roles in the script, God cannot help but endow his creation with His own intelligence and intention. As He has created, therefore, so we, his children, and all of creation, is endowed with both the intelligence to play the drama and the desire to do so. As the son of a father may look like the father and may have many of his parent’s attributes in appearance and personality, and yet, at the same time, walk his own path of life, so too might the creation reflect the Creator without either limiting the Creator or limiting the creation!

Parents do their best to raise their children with good habits but at some point the child becomes an adult and must choose to put into practice, or to reject, what he has been taught. But he can never alter his DNA, his essential bloodline. If he errs, he can still repent and come back to the truths taught to him by his parents.

The difference between the literal application of this metaphor and God and each soul is that our souls are forever and from eternity individuated expressions of the Cosmic Light of God. We might postpone this awakening or recognition for untold lifetimes but we can never kill it or separate ourselves from it. For it is gives us life, for it is life itself. God is like the hidden germ or life spring of intelligence and life force that animates us. His very intelligence, clothed with a specific outer form, takes on its own life and identity, losing touch (though never entirely) with its divine essence as it identifies with its outer form and as it interacts with other forms similarly clothed and cloaked, some benign, others threatening.

A B-grade actor becomes typecast because he and his audience begin to identify the actor himself with the role he plays. He ends up having to play the same basic roles again and again until, like the lesson of reincarnation itself, he “gets it” (by severing his true self from his repeated roles). A great actress, by contrast, plays parts tragic and comic, heroine and villainess, with equal gusto and talent, delighting and entertaining her audiences like a great artist but never becoming identified with any of the specific roles.

Let us now, turn, in the next article, to analyzing the triune nature of God!

May the Light of the Universal Christ Consciousness be born in you this and every day, a Christmas!

Nayaswami Hriman

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Cosmic Drama: Part One (of Five) Jesus Christ – an oriental who changed the West

This is part one of a series of articles. It has its origins in a prior blog article entitled, "Who is Jesus Christ?" You may wish to read that first, though not absolutely necessary. This series attempts to describe the Trinity, or, how God can be omniscient, omnipresent, infinite, and immanent in creation at the same time. And, what significance this has for the reality we face as individuals. As the prior article on Jesus Christ noted, "Who Jesus is says a great deal about who we are." So, too, who God is addresses who we are.

The teachings of Jesus were to force a reevaluation of the fundamental teachings of Judaism. St. Paul is generally credited with the intellectual horsepower that set the stage for these changes. What was to become the teaching of the Trinity – the triune nature of God – arose in Christianity primarily to help bring a broader understanding of the Jewish teaching of the oneness of God. In the Judaism there is only one God but the separation of God from man is absolute. His messengers might be angels or prophets but God’s appearance on earth was rare and never in human form. God “appeared” to Moses as a burning bush that did not consume the bush and out of which came a voice. In some form that is unknown, God gave to Moses upon Mt. Sinai the stone tablets upon which were written the Ten Commandments. But always God was “other” and all but inaccessible.

Jesus’ appearance on earth and his declaration that he was the “son of God” was naturally a shocking and blasphemous statement to the orthodox point of view. Moreover, as history and scholarship has repeatedly attested (and as the New Testament implies), the messiah was expected to be bring the Jews political freedom (from which would come the religious renaissance) in this world, a repetition of the role not unlike that of Moses who led the Israelites from bondage in Egypt to freedom in their new land and into a new covenant with God.

The assumption that God is wholly “other” and separate from creation is an easy and understandable one, for God’s presence in creation is well hidden, to say the least. The separateness of people, one from the other, plants and animals, night and day, male and female seems so obvious that why, too, wouldn’t God Himself be “other?” In Genesis, for example, we read that God simply says, effectively, “make it so” and it was. No one seems to have had much curiosity about exactly how He did it. A carpenter who makes a chair remains separate and apart from the chair. Isn’t that obvious? Why question it?

Obvious? Or, maybe not so obvious? Unlike the carpenter, God had place to go, no trees or hardware stores, from which to gather the materials of creation. Only now, in our age, with quantum physicists exploring the very nature of the creation of matter on its most element levels has the question (and the potential answer) been raised anew and piqued the interest of intelligent and thoughtful men and women everywhere. It is perhaps our newly acquired scientific consciousness that has provoked deeper inquiries into God’s methodology. Thus far, however, scientists seem to be stumped. They are standing before an abyss of emptiness devoid of discernible matter but latent with tremendous energy, out of which pops minute particles at seemingly random intervals only to vanish as quickly as they came. Like a scene out of the Trilogy, they stand as if before a door in a mountain unable to decipher the code that unlocks that door and leads to the inner sanctum of creation’s deepest mysteries.

A table and chairs may not reveal much about its maker but their very existence reveals the fact of a maker. A work of art, a new invention, a child conceived, and a new computer chip all appear from seemingly nowhere (the human mind and heart) but with great potential consequences, just as quarks and vibrating strings exist at the very edge of pure energy and no-thing-ness, out of which all things have come. While scientists tell us that energy is the underlying substrata of all matter, they have not nor probably ever will, discover the source and motive that underlies energy itself.

By contrast, rishis and masters, down through the ages, have suffered from no such limitation, for they have not merely tried to find the source of the atom but have become the atom using a kind of reverse engineering from the process by which God created the atom to begin with. The masters achieved Self-realization and oneness with the overarching Consciousness out of which all things in creation are born, live, and to which they are withdrawn. The teachings of metaphysicians aver that the creation is a manifestation of God’s consciousness “becoming” His creation. When the Jews intone daily their great mantra (“Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is ONE!”) little do they know that the concept “God is One” means God is one with the entire cosmos as well and at the same time Being other, separate and apart from it. Oneness surely includes infinity and infinity is presumably inclusive of everything and therefore big enough to be “both-and” so that God can be both separate from creation and at the same time the very essence and sustainer of creation itself. But how? This question we will pursue in the series of four more articles to come. But it provokes more questions that need addressing, also, such as:

If God became the creation, does this mean we are but puppets and our so-called “free-will” is an illusion? What, if any, is our responsibility for our actions? From whence comes suffering and evil? Is God good, evil, indifferent or something else? Stay tuned…….for the next four articles.

Aum, shanti, amen,
Nayaswami Hriman

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Price of Greatness!

When you examine the lives of many whom the world upholds as noble and history-making, you soon find that they endured, indeed sought and accepted, their own need to remain apart from "the maddening crowd" of popular opinion. Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed -- we think of the mountain top, the cave, the lone Bodhi tree! Gandhi, Martin Luther King -- all great men and women kept their distance, as it were.

Paramhansa Yogananda, famous for his life story, Autobiography of a Yogi, put it directly in saying that "Seclusion is the price of greatness." For those who are sincere in spiritual seeking, the tradition well established is to go on retreat at least once a year or a pilgrimage perhaps once in a lifetime (Jerusalem, Varanasi, Lourdes, etc.) Couples, too, should find time apart, in reflection and silence.

Writers do it; scientists do it; politicians do it. Why don't you?

When I managed the Expanding Light Retreat in northern California I recall meeting a retreatant who said that she'd never been apart from family all her life: from childhood right into marriage and children. She'd never been alone! Imagine! Well, don't.....because that's true for most everyone on this planet.

If you want to be good at what you do; if you want to be the best you can be; if you want to make contact with your, own higher Self; if you want to "find God;" if you are seeking soul freedom; all of these......Krishna  says in the Bhagavad Gita: "Get away from my ocean of suffering!" To have perspective of any sort, you need distance.

I just returned from my annual week of personal retreat which we call seclusion. It is a time alone: in prayer, meditation and mindfulness. There are periods of spiritual reading and journaling. During times of necessary tasks, such as meal preparation, one strives to remain in silence and in mindfulness of the eternal Present. Talk nor see anyone, if at all possible. Write notes, if you must.

I have been doing this for perhaps twenty five years: once a year for a week! It's not enough, really, but it's good enough. It's "hard work" but "good work!" I can't say it's life changing but it is a tune-up and a wake-up time to what's important.

I am 62 years old and came of age in the heady days of Haight Asbury, Monterey Pop Festival, and the Summer of Love. I was there, just like Forrest, Forrest Gump. I thought a lot of things were going to change. But you know, they didn't, really. I thought Vietnam was the "war to end all wars (of imperialism)." It didn't. I thought sexism was out the window and men and women were equals and friends. Not true. I thought peace and love was in; it isn't.

I can pass as pretty cynical but that's not really my point. My point is "the only way out, is in!" I do, in fact, think the world's consciousness is expanding toward a better place, but very, very slowly and with two steps forward; one step back.

We don't live very long nor do we know the "time or the place" of our departure. So, what's important? Is the love and family everyone talks about at holidays? Well, sure, why not? But most families are a bit nutty and usually more than a little broken. So, sure, if you're into that, fine. But it certainly isn't the reality for much of the planet. And if your family is really together, what about the one next door? See my point? You just never know, do you?

Our only "greatness" and success in life comes from the degree to which our selfishness expands into selflessness. That's it, really. Sure, I could say that this goes all the way into the Infinity of God's love, but if that doesn't mean much to you, maybe I said enough to begin with? But that expansion of consciousness cannot occur if the "trivial preoccupations of daily life" become the great mountains that you climb. "For wisdom, too, man has a hunger." (quotes from Yogananda's autobiography)

Yes, travel and education help give perspective, but these are more intellectual or in the moment. There's another aspect to perspective and it is the ages old dictum: "Know Thyself" or, as I prefer to put it: "Know Thy Self." "Whom am I?" "What is my importance, if any, in this life?" "My duty?"

Great sages of east and west say that to know thy Self is our only real duty because from this comes an understanding of right action. Are you your body? Personality? Social class? Race? Gender? Well, of course, not, but then "Who am I?"

Why, nothing, of course! That's the point. Nothing means everything and everyone. That's the point. Abstraction is the greatest gift to mankind for in it we see ourselves as our neighbor, not just our families, our nation.

A daily practice of meditation will help you make contact with the consciousness within you that precedes all the junk that you currently think is "you." Meditation can soften the heart, open the mind, and release your fixation on the body as your reality. Many powers of "mind over matter" have been demonstrated. Indeed, too numerous to bother to mention. There are people who have been documented to live without food or water for decades; to raise the dead; to be entombed for long periods and be revived; walk on water; fly; bi-locate and so on. You get my drift.

Science, too, tells us that reality is far from what it appears.

So, what's taking you so long? Get with it. Get out of it. Wish your loved one(s) "adieu" and take a retreat. Make sure you don't spend your whole time "chopping wood and carrying water" however. Make sure you are can be still for periods of time; and, alone. You'll find it's no picnic, at least if you are honest.

If you are not ready, and why should you be, then go to a real retreat facility where others are doing more or less the same. This is not only good in itself, taking some classes, doing some yoga or equivalent, but it is also a bridge to the real deal when you are alone and I mean really, really alone. That's why most people can't meditate: they are afraid of the dark though they'll never tell you that.

I dare you: once in your life face the abyss of unknowing, stripped of the comforts and preoccupations of daily life that assure you that you are alive and well. Buddha did it for real and for eternity. Can you do it for a short time? You don't need a mid-life crises you just need awakening to the Real.

Nayaswami Hriman

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Who is Jesus Christ?

It is once again the Christmas season and while “Who is Jesus Christ” is a question one can ask at any time, it seems especially appropriate this time of year. Millions celebrate Christmas, whether religiously or only just socially. The life of the man who became known in history as Jesus Christ has influenced, nay, changed the course of the history of the western nations. His life has certainly affected every continent on this earth to some degree, better or worse, according to one’s point of view.

So, like, “Who is this guy?” Jesus himself asked his own disciples that question, according to the New Testament. Reading behind the lines of that report one can easily feel the disciples looking down and shuffling their feet nervously, fearing to get the wrong answer. Since Jesus actually asked “Who do men say I am?” some of the disciples felt to venture responses on the basis of what they had heard others say, rather than offering their own opinion. And their answers are revealing. One response is rather ignorant saying “John the Baptist!” I say “ignorant” because John was Jesus’ older cousin and had only recently been murdered by King Herod. So, even assuming one believes in reincarnation, that would have been well-nigh to impossible.

Others responded with the names of some of the Old Testament prophets (e.g., Jeremiah). Why this aspect of the dialogue (which reveals that reincarnation was widely accepted and that Jesus made no attempt to deny or correct it when given a perfect opportunity to do so) hasn’t been noticed by Christians is an example of precisely what Jesus himself was frequently quoted as warning his listeners that his deeper teachings were “for those who have ears to hear.” (I have read that scholars have discovered that the doctrine of reincarnation had been taught for the first several centuries of Christianity but was intentionally removed in the fourth century A.D. Prior to that, one of the early teachers of Christianity, Origen, confirmed that the doctrine had been taught since apostolic times. Jewish scholars, too, can attest to the long-standing debate regarding its validity.)

Returning to our topic, it was, famously, Peter (bar Jonah, the “Rock”) who declared the true nature of Jesus: “Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God.” On other occasions, Jesus publicly declared “I and my father are one.” He alternated between referring to himself as “the son of man” (presumably a reference to his physical form and personality) and “the son of God” (presumably a reference to his divine nature). He further declared that “Before Abraham was, I AM.” By this shocking and seemingly blasphemous statement, he is saying that his spirit, being one with God, has, existed since all eternity, with God. But, now, just his soul? Or?

Now, let’s pause, after all, I am mostly just quoting Jesus himself. For that, you can read the New Testament yourself. Why, however, is this question, “Who is Jesus Christ?” a useful one to ask? Because the answer implies as much about whom you are as it does about Jesus.

Was Jesus Christ a special creation of God? Is he therefore unique and uniquely separate from the rest of humanity, despite his human form? Was he, then, like some spiritual alien? Did God Himself incarnate into the body of Jesus? (If so, who was minding the store for thirty-three years?)

When challenged by his self-styled tormentors, the scribes and the Pharisees (keepers of the Hebrew law), Jesus quoted back to them a phrase from their own scriptures (Jesus, mind you, was a Jew and he knew his Bible, too): “Do not your scriptures say, ‘Ye are gods’?” In reference to the many miracles Jesus is reported to have done, he told his disciples that they would do these and more, for he was soon to return to his father.

The beloved disciple, John, whose gospel stands apart from the other three evangelists for its impersonal presentation of the nature of Jesus, describes Jesus as the “Word made flesh and dwelt amongst us.” He states that the Word is God and is the co-creator of all things. Jesus is thus more than the human being whose life and teachings are described in the New Testament. But is he uniquely so? John the Evangelist goes on to write that “As many as received him to them give he the “power to become the sons of God.” 

Here then we see clearly and profoundly that Jesus was not uniquely different than you or I. It must be added, that to “receive him” must go beyond belonging to a church, being baptized with water or through mere intellectual or emotional assent. Whatever it is must be very powerful and life changing.
John is saying nothing less than we, too, are potentially sons of God as Jesus was “one with the Father.”

This teaching of our oneness with Jesus’ divine nature permeates the original teachings of Jesus in the early formative years of Christianity. The term “body of Christ” was used to describe both those who followed his teachings (and, in other contexts, all people) and to describe the sacrament of sharing bread and wine as symbols of the Christ presence in all creation and in all souls. That Churchianity later arose to make that an exclusive teaching is hardly a surprise given the exigencies and limits imposed upon it by history, culture, consciousness and circumstances.

The mystical saints of Christianity, however, attest in various ways to this universality, to this truly “catholic” teaching. St. Thomas Aquinas and later St. Theresa of Avila experienced the “formless Christ” as the eternal light that “lighteth all men” and which creates and sustains all things since the beginning of time. Their very experience of this formless Christ is testimony to its being our very essence (indeed, the essence of all creation!)

Now if you want to stop reading here, I’d forgive you. From where we, as westeners and Christians stand, we are not so shaken thus far in anything I’ve written (unless you are a dyed-in-the-wool believer). But from where Jesus stood, he was crucified for his unforgivable audacity in revealing himself as “the son of God.” 

We can’t fully appreciate how revolutionary this was, unless we are perhaps Jewish or Muslim.
Judaism (and later, Islam) represents a monotheistic tradition for which the appearance of a human being claiming to be God is the height of blasphemy. Insofar as the apostles were good “Jewish boys” they had an uphill climb to make. In the pagan cities of the Mediterranean, it was tough enough to sell a new religion based on the story of a poor Jew who died on a cross at the hands of the Romans and who was resurrected from the dead (not your usual, every day experience). But in some ways that line was easier with the pagans who believed in all sorts of things (after all Augustus was proclaimed a god, too!). But, for the boys back home in Judea, this was a tough sell. It’s hardly a surprise that Christianity ended up going its own way.

he idea that the Deity could incarnate as a human on earth required an entirely new understanding of creation and God’s role in it. This, in part, is what made Jesus’ teachings and message so revolutionary in its times. In fact, however, it is far more oriental in its message than we can possibly appreciate. I’m not about to write a book, so I won’t elaborate on that statement. Suffice to say that a broader understanding of divinity was needed. No longer would God be “wholly other” and outside human history except as He interjected himself through his messengers, the prophets. It was bad enough that Jesus took on the religious establishment of his time to expose their pusillanimity and hypocrisy in holding to the letter of the Mosaic law and not its spirit. 

But to declare the presence of God in human form would require the birth of a new religion that would change the world and, ironically, would, in fact, overthrow the Roman rule (which the Jews themselves yearned for). It would give birth to a new understanding of creation itself, though this was to take some time to formulate and articulate.

I will reserve a separate blog article on the teaching of the Trinity, for the triune nature of God has been taught in India since time immemorial and the fact that this teaching appears in early Christianity is no coincidence for its reflects this new and deeper understanding that Jesus came to initialize. But for now, during the Christmas season, let me say that we, too, are potential “Christs” and may only need to awaken, and then to perfect, this realization. It is on the basis of the recognition that we are all children of the One God that we can truly celebrate the Christmas spirit of giving and sharing.

Blessings to you this Christmas,
Nayaswami Hriman

The above is based upon and inspired by the teachings of the modern Yogi-Christ, Paramhansa Yogananda and the writings of Swami Kriyananda, a direct disciple and founder of the worldwide work of the Ananda communities. For additional reading, see “Revelations of Christ,” by Swami Kriyananda, available from Crystal Clarity Publishers, Nevada City, or the East West Bookshop nearest you.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Why Celebrate Christmas?

Why Celebrate Christmas?
Who, Scrooge or worshipper alike, doesn’t bristle at the commercialization of Christmas? It is so easy and so common to want to chuck it all out the window and into the trash. On reflection, however, doesn’t that simply put the nail in the Christmas spirit’s coffin? Why invest in materialism by essentially agreeing that there’s nothing sacred about Christmas?

Instead, why not search for how to express that spirit in ways that are authentic to you? And, given the familial and communal nature of that spirit, why not share your celebration with others of like-mind?

It feels slightly silly to attempt to define the Christmas spirit, but our world is closing in on us and in America and in so many countries our lives at home, at work and in the shops and marts are shared with people of other faiths or of no faith. Not only therefore might Christians stop to consider what Christmas is all about but how can everyone find inspiration from its universal message.?

I suppose I ought to ask whether it has a universal message? Is the birth of Jesus Christ an event only of interest to Christians? Generally speaking, Christian teachings hold that Jesus Christ is the world’s only savior and belief in the redemptive power of his death on the cross and the glory of his resurrection thereafter are the hallmarks of Christian faith. But this blog article will end up being a book if I head off in earnest in that direction. So, instead, let me say that …

As a yogi and a follower of the teachings of India (especially as brought to the West in modern times by Paramhansa Yogananda), I am not alone in espousing the view that saints and saviors have come to this earth down through the ages in all faith traditions and that the greatest of these are all “sons of God” as was Jesus Christ. They come to remind us that we, too, are that, and that our lives in human bodies are given us that we too might become Self-realized in God as are the masters in every religion.

There is, however, another aspect of universality that millions recognize, even setting aside the specifics of the meaning of Jesus Christ’s incarnation on earth. The Christmas spirit is one of giving and sharing. Christmas is a celebration of the Golden Rule of life and of the kinship of life that all nations, races, people, and faiths share. That surely is worth affirming in this world of troubles, is it not?

Though I can’t give specifics, perhaps you, too, have seen movies or read stories of how during World War I and/or II, soldiers stopped fighting on Christmas Day and shared in some way across their battle lines. How many children stories exist with tales of how the humblest child or animal had a gift to offer the baby Jesus? In that little form we pay homage to the life we all share, for in that light we are One and we are children of our one, Father-Mother God.

Even atheists and agnostics can celebrate the humanity and harmony exemplified in the Golden Rule.
Candlelight symbolizes, inter alia, that at the darkest hour of life (winter solstice of the northern hemisphere) there remains this light of eternal life, like the seed buried and unseen in the winter ground but which bursts forth in the Spring. In celebrating light in its many forms (colored Christmas lights, candles and so on) we share a universal symbol of hope that the sunlight of vitality and healing will once again rise.

The spiritual interpretations of this light, of which Jesus was a human representative, include the teaching that this light is the light of the soul, as a reflection of the Infinite Light of God. This Light exists eternally behind the darkness of ignorance and materialism, and at the still center of all matter. This eternal Light is the promise of our immortality which has its Being in our souls, not in our physical bodies.

Let us therefore celebrate this Light which “shines in the darkness, though the darkness comprehended it not.” Let us celebrate our kinship with each other, with all creatures, and with all life. Let us affirm that we are children of the Infinite Light and that all distinctions of race, nation or faith are but constructs of the limits of the human intellect and but constrictions upon the natural love of the heart. “Hear O Israel, the Lord, the Lord our God, is ONE!

One week from today at the Ananda Meditation Temple in Bothell, Nayaswami Jamuna Snitkin presents a 3-hour workshop on this subject, “Why Celebrate Christmas.” Saturday, December 8, 9:30 a.m.
Look forward, too, to a series of blog articles inspired by the faiths of Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Self-realization on the universal theme and celebration of Light.