Showing posts with label Christ consciousness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christ consciousness. Show all posts

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Christmas Spirit Comes from Living in the Presence of God

Bible: (Paraphrased) "As you have tendered to the needs of others, in this way you have honored Me!"

Bhagavad Gita: (Paraphrased) "He who never loses sight of Me in all things and people, I never lose sight of he."

The week after Thanksgiving I had my annual week of seclusion. Seclusion is a personal retreat: a retreat where one is alone with God in prayer and meditation. This time I didn’t even go out for a walk or a run, though I did more chores around the Hermitage house than I have in past years: cleaning, mostly. [See Facebook: Camano Hermitage]

I eat lightly, only had a few hot meals during the week, mostly because I’m a lazy (and a lousy) cook. Accordingly, I consider a cup of coffee a hot meal.

It’s humbling to attempt to sit for 5 to 6 days in meditation. Even if I don't do this unbrokenly, it is the main activity of the entire day, interspersed with chanting and the practice of kriya yoga and other techniques. I had a particular focus for this seclusion: to deepen and prolong periods of complete stillness beyond thoughts and mental images.

The subconscious mind, however, can act like a donkey. Sometimes you can coax it along with a little discipline, a bribe, or a certain amount of force, but there can come a time when you have to ease off and give it a rest. 

At such times I did a little reading (all of it spiritual reading). Other times and to engage the body so as not to get lazy, I'd do some chores (mopping the floor, sweeping, etc.) But all together, it truly amounts to many, many hours of meditation. 

The goal of meditation is, of course, to feel the presence of God: alive, vibrant, intimate and cosmic—in whatever way and form God’s consciousness will appear; in the form of Yogananda, Jesus, or one of the others. As deep inner peace; transforming, ineffable love, or a contagious joy that one imagines will last forever!

There are about four chants that call for a repetition of the names of the masters and these I find especially helpful. I take one of these chants, name by name, one by one into silent visualizations which I then let dissipate into an expectation of their actual vibrational presence. I find this practice deeply rewarding. Thus, I alternate chanting with meditation.

Among my yoga practices, having recently teamed up with Murali Venkatrao in the Advanced Pranayam class at our local Ananda Center (Institute for Living Yoga) for our level II (500 hour) Yoga Alliance students, I gave special emphasis to some of the more aggressive pranayams to take me deeper into psychological equilibrium, inclining toward breathlessness.

To feel kinship with others in this world requires more than mere sentiment or dry philosophy; for it to be real and sustainable -- even when one is under personal attack -- it must descend from the perfect love of God.

When in the New Testament Jesus gives the parable of the "King" who explains to the "elect" that whenever they helped a person in need they were serving Him, we see right away the obvious teaching that we should help those in need. Only slightly less obvious, but I suspect not often pointed out in orthodox Christian circles is the precept that God IS each person. Our charitable act should arise because God resides in that person, not only because his material need. This is the REASON to help others, because they are, "as thyself," a child of God. ("Love thy neighbor AS thy Self.").

This famous parable offers "heavenly rewards" to those of a kind and generous nature but the parable makes it clear that the compassion of the "elect" was not expressed as an act of conscious devotion to God who resides in those whom they helped. Is it enough, spiritually speaking, to be a humanitarian, perhaps an agnostic, even an atheist? Yes--but only up to a point.

We can get good karma and the heavenly rewards of heart warming satisfaction from our good deeds. But to reunite our souls with God, our Creator, requires an act of conscious devotion (and not just one!) All of our good karma for our generosity might be used up by our response when we are attacked by others for it is an axiom that "no good deed goes unpunished" in this world of duality! Good karma can work off bad karma but until we begin to yearn to step out of duality all together and into transcendence (the oneness of God's eternal love and bliss), we just remain on the merry-go-round.

It is not humanly possible to love every person we meet because not everyone we meet is lovable in a merely human way. But when our hearts are full of the unconditional love of (for) God, we are naturally loving. We are also naturally wise in how we express that love! 

Thus a loving parent may have to discipline a child (but to do so does not require being angry); a policeman may have to apprehend a criminal (but need not be cruel); a teacher, correct a student (without dislike); and a supervisor, to lay off or let go an employee (without malice). True love IS wisdom. We mustn't forget that.

Love which results from a bleeding heart simply bleeds the heart into a dearth of feeling!

This, then, is the basis for the true Spirit of Christmas: that divine love and God's presence rests at the heart of each heart, each creature, each person, indeed, each atom of creation.

The outer light of the sun may be absent from our northern hemisphere as we descend into winter, but it can remind us that the true "light of men" resides within us and can be always found, or re-born, in the stillness of the quiet heart, especially deep in meditation.

One reason I think we instinctively honor children as part of Christmas is derived from the tender feelings that arise around devotion to the Christ child. (Did you know, however, that it was a thousand years after that event that the first nativity scene was created for the purpose of devotion? It was St. Francis of Assisi who did this for the first time in Christianity's history!)

But I think there's another reason, as well. For the fellow feeling of kindness and warmth which we call the Christmas spirit is reflected in the innocence, natural love, and openness that children express. (This is also depicted in the "softly lowing" animals who share the humble stable where Jesus is said to be born.) 

Paramhansa Yogananda often quoted these words of Jesus, "Suffer the little children to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven."

"For of such" is the warmth, the welcoming hospitality, graciousness, kindness and generosity we see expressed at Christmas. The social aspect, in spite of its commercialization, remains a valid and wonderful part of Christmas. But it's sustainable source comes from within us from our experience of the living presence of God, the Christ universal.

That aspect of Christmas giving that extends generosity to the poor and homeless is affirmed in the parable given to us of Jesus (above). But giving to those in need goes beyond the gift's material benefit and value. Did not Jesus also say "The poor ye have always with thee"? 

Giving to those in need affirms our kinship even with those whose circumstances differ so greatly from our own, or whose outer appearances do not attract us. We are all children of God and are equally deserving of the divine abundance of joy and self-respect.

We must not be hypocrites like the friends of suffering Job in the Old Testament who taunted him by assuming he must have sinned and thus deserved his troubles. We who might reject a teaching like Original Sin find ourselves, perhaps, all too easily invoking the law of (bad) karma when we or our friends are burdened with illness or misfortune. 

Whatever may be the roots of our present troubles, or those of others less fortunate seeming than us, each of us can turn the "sow's ear" of difficulties into a "silk purse" of spiritual growth if we respond with grace, faith, equanimity, and cheerfulness. Our tests exist to cleanse us and awaken our strength, courage and faith. 

Perhaps you know this story:  

A king had a male servant who, under all circumstances always said to him: “My king, do not be discouraged because everything God does is perfect, and He makes no mistakes.”
One day, they went hunting and a wild animal attacked the king. The servant managed to kill the animal but couldn’t prevent his majesty from losing a finger.
Furious and without showing any gratitude, the king said; “If God was good, I would not have been attacked and lose one finger”.
The servant replied: “Despite all these things, I can only tell you that God is good and everything He does is perfect; He is never wrong.”
Outraged by the response, the king ordered that the servant be imprisoned.
Later, the king left for another hunt and was captured by savages who used human beings as sacrifice. On the altar, the savages discovered that the king did not have one finger in place, so they released him because they considered him to “incomplete” to be offered to their gods.
On returning to his palace, the king authorized the release of his servant and told his servant: “My friend, God was really good to me. I was almost killed but for lack of a single finger, I was let go.”
“However, I have a question,” the king added. “If God is so good, why did He allow me to put you in prison?”
The servant wisely replied: “My king, if I had gone with you, I would have been sacrificed because I have no missing finger.”
While giving to charitable organizations is surely a good thing, anytime of year, consider also more personal acts of sharing. "Charity," my mother used to say, "begins at home." Consider the needs of a friend, family member, neighbor, or co-worker something he or she truly needs. Give, too, anonymously when you can. Or give to express your caring or appreciation to someone to whom you don't otherwise have an obligation or any other personal motive to do so.
One encounters beggars most everywhere in the world. Who can know if it is wise to give to this one or that. If you choose to give, do so for the awakening of the love of God in your own heart, not for any tangible need you imagine the recipient may have.
Yogananda's charity was more often in this way: more personal. So, too, Swami Kriyananda (Ananda's founder and a direct disciple of Yogananda's). 
We recently had an opportunity to give (both personal and from Ananda here in Seattle) a modest donation to a rural health clinic in northern Bangladesh. We were invited to an annual fundraiser organized by local Imam Jamal Rahman and his family for the benefit of a clinic in their ancestral village. We could see directly the practical results of our gifts and it was satisfying and meaningful.
The message that Paramhansa Yogananda was commissioned to bring to the West and to the world is that "Christ lives!" The universal Christ (or Krishna, Buddha, etc.) consciousness, which is the sole reflection within us of the Creator's bliss and consciousness, exists in all creation, and in you and me. Meditation, and especially kriya yoga (an advanced meditation technique) has come into the world and into increasing popular use to help us discover this realization for ourselves.
Thus Christmas has taken on a new meaning: a universal one and also a very practical one. It can and truly should be celebrated by everyone: of all faiths or none. It is not by legislation, reason, or philosophy that we can overcome our differences and inbred prejudices but by the Christ love of our hearts and souls.
A blessed and joyful Christmas season to all!
Nayaswami Hriman 

Friday, December 23, 2016

The True Story of Christmas

A White Christmas

As I write these words it is snowing thick, puffy flakes! While for the sake of many practical holiday matters, I hope it stays light and fluffy, for now it is a pleasure (on all levels) to behold. The shortest day of sunlight is now past and the only way is “up” towards greater Light.

At Ananda, throughout the world—even in India—we celebrate Christmas. We do so in two ways: the social form and the spiritual way of meditation. Included in my meaning of “social” are the celebrations with family and friends; gift exchanges; and, importantly, recognition and celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ as reported in the four gospels. The spiritual “way” is of course through meditation and especially in the tradition, happening even now as I type throughout the world, begun by Paramhansa Yogananda of an eight-hour, day of meditation upon the cosmic Christ universal.

But let’s view, first, the story of Christmas. We, in this new age of Dwapara Yuga (the electrical or atomic age), are very fond of facts but rather short on truth. Science has given up on finding a “theory of everything” and is content to make new discoveries, particularly ones that can be put to practical (meaning monetary) use. Facts have their place in daily life, for sure.

But truth is something lasting and of the spirit. Endless debate and research has surrounded things like, “How can a woman (mother of Jesus) become pregnant asexually?” “What about the star seen by the wise men? How is that possible, astronomically?”

For the sake of brevity and focus, I will leave aside these factual questions so dear to the historian (and, I suppose, to the doubter). The real story of Christmas involves, by contrast, its meaning to you, and me. We’ve lost the interest and habit of “story,” which is to say myth. Even the word “myth” connotes in our usage of it “that which is false.” I take issue with that but I don’t control our use of words in our language!

The story of Christmas is that “God so loved the world that He sent His ‘only-begotten’ Son.” Well, what does THIS mean? Certainly not the orthodox Christian interpretation! According to Paramhansa Yogananda and according to the Bhagavad Gita (India’s beloved ‘bible’), God sends redeemers or saviors time and time again into human history. Jesus is not the only such incarnation of divinity. Nor is he and the others mere puppets. For as the beloved disciple St. John wrote in the first chapter of his gospel, “And as many as received Him, to them gave He the power to become the sons of God.”

Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Rama, Yogananda and many others are no different than you or me. Rather, their level of awakening, of realization of their true soul-Self, has achieved perfection in union with God. Ours is yet struggling to emerge. They come to remind us of who we are AND to transmit the power of redemption. This doesn’t come through mere words or belief systems or rituals but through actual, but spiritual, power. “To RECEIVE HIM” means to take the savior’s life, teachings, and vibration (spirit) into your thoughts, feelings, and actions until He is in You, and You in Him.

What is “only begotten,” Yogananda taught, is that this universal, cosmic Christ-spirit resides at the still center of every atom of creation. It is the pure reflection of the Father-Spirit beyond and untouched by creation. It, and it alone, is Pure.

Second to this is the Word (In the beginning was the Word…..and the Word WAS God………and the Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us). The Word is the vibratory aspect of all creation. It is secondary because its very motion and movement is the underlying foundation and structure for creation. While it, too, is pure, it is halfway, as it were, between pure Spirit and the creation which completely hides Spirit.

Hence Jesus, as a person inhabiting a human body, with a concomitant personality, is not the sole and exclusively begotten son of God, but his consciousness is united with God: “I and my Father are One.” But Christians, Hindus and others confuse the appearance, the form, with the Spirit behind the form.

This is the story—the promise of our own mortality—that allows the Christmas story to endure, and, further, why we, at Ananda, as disciples of Paramhansa Yogananda, and as practitioners of kriya yoga from India, ALSO celebrate Christmas in both its social and its spiritual aspects.

A blessed, happy, and Merry Christmas to you,

Swami Hrimananda

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Why We Celebrate Christmas

Tomorrow, Sunday, December 20, 2015, the Ananda Meditation Temple in Bothell, WA will host our annual Festive Family Service, replete with the pageantry of the Three Wise Men, shepherds, angels and the Holy Family! Why, then, as kriya yogis, do we celebrate Christmas when so many yoga people and New Thought types eschew traditional religious traditions?

At places like Ananda's East West Bookshop in nearby Seattle, it is common, in fact, likely even the default, that their customers don't bother with traditional the trappings of Christmas, like Christmas trees, carols, or anything of that sort. (I'm guessing, however, that EVERYONE hangs on to the gift-giving! Gee, why's that?)

Ananda's guru, Paramhansa Yogananda, enjoyed and celebrated Christmas with joy and gusto! He'd wait until midnight on Christmas Eve just to go through the halls of his headquarters at Mt. Washington in Los Angeles to happily cry "Merry Christmas!" He shopped throughout the year for little bargains that he stored in a large chest to wrap and give to his close friends and ashram residents. There could be no thought of his merely appeasing his American students. He clearly loved it even as he introduced a new custom: a day of meditation as the "spiritual" Christmas (as distinct from the social one).

In Yogananda's commentary on the life of Jesus, the New and Old Testament, he generally laid aside the temptation to criticize or make claims of tampering with the text. He tended to accept the basic testimony of the scripture and, instead, offered a deeper, sometimes symbolic, often yogic, interpretation. 

He did frequently, however, distinguish the deeper teachings of the Bible from what he humorously called "Churchianity." By this he referred to orthodox religiosity, ritual and dogmatism that encrusts and entombs the spirit behind the revelations of God-realized souls which (later) become accepted as scripture.

His approach was BOTH-AND and life affirming. He didn't take issue with Jesus' miracles nor even the resurrection, though as to Mary's virgin birth, he was largely silent. (He spoke of highly evolved souls capable of conception through non-sexual means, however.)

Yogananda was showing us how to accept traditions that affirm a positive message (like the joy and fellowship of the Christmas spirit, the celebrations, family gatherings, gift-giving to friends and strangers, etc.) while at the same time going deeper to re-affirm the universal message behind them. 

In his ministry and therefore in the work of Ananda, this affirmation includes and is enhanced by the practice of meditation. In his (and our) view, Christmas can and should be celebrated by all those who love God and truth, regardless of other outward beliefs or affiliations.

He was also showing how seeing the One in all doesn't mean we forsake any, specific spiritual path in the name of universality! Every true path expresses universal principles but we cannot achieve enlightenment on the basis of principles alone. We must commit our hearts and hands to the task of purification and selflessness. To do so alone without attuning ourselves to a specific ray of divine light that seeks to uplift us from the self-enclosure of the ego is to wander in the fogs of endless spiritual cul-de-sacs. As he put it, "Your beliefs won't save you." 

Just because people of goodwill respect all traditions and no traditions and are basically good people is NOT enough to achieve soul liberation.

Yogananda did not view Jesus as a founder of a specific religion that distinguishes itself from other religions, and considers itself superior to those religions. Instead, Yogananda taught that Jesus Christ, a true savior and avatar, is but one of many such who are sent back to earth in every age to re-affirm the central message that we are children of the one Father-Mother, Friend-God! 

He taught, further, that Jesus was not a God-made puppet (only begotten son of God) but a soul and individual like you and me. In his case and like other avatars, his soul had achieved its hard-won God-realization in some distant past life but was now "commissioned" to return again and again to help other "lost sheep."

Jesus, Yogananda taught, had received the title "Christ" (Anointed One) because his soul was united with God and with the God-presence in every atom of creation. This indwelling, immanent manifestation of God in all of creation, in every atom and every heart, is called "the Christ" (or, the Krishna). It is this universal "Christ consciousness" that is the "only-begotten" of the Father-Spirit who is otherwise "beyond" and "untouched" by His creation. Not Jesus as a man. Nor yet Krishna as a man; or Buddha, or Yogananda, etc.

Yogananda frequently quoted St. John in the gospel saying, "And as many as received Him to them gave He the power to become the sons of God." We are ALL potential sons of God, for the indwelling Christ presence lives in us as well. We need only to nurture this Christ-light with the uplifting guidance of a Christ-like savior who can help us, too, to become Self-realized.

The story of the birth of Christ, then, is a metaphor for the journey of every soul to God-realization. A wise soul is willing to journey far to find that Christ within. A wise soul follows the star in the east for the "east" is the point of enlightenment in the body: the point between the eyebrows. It is here that one focuses behind closed eyes in prayer and meditation. The Old Testament (and other scriptures) is filled with guidance to "life up your eyes......" A wise person is willing to give all that he is and possesses to the service of this Christ-light within.

Those who would help others are like shepherds tending a flock. A spiritual teacher, minister, rabbi, etc. and, indeed anyone who would help others spiritually, should be unassuming, humble and garbed in the robe of inner peace, content to live in the hills of solitude (meaning not being a worldly, egotistical person), in the nighttime of introspection, in the company of angels and guided by the stars of inner, spiritual intuition.

There's no room at the "Hotel California" of fame, wealth, pleasure and position. Instead, This infant Christ consciousness can only be born in the lowly stable of our quiet and humble heart. Even the lowly domesticated animals of our subconscious habits are pacified and transformed in the presence of this inner Christ.

The evil King Ego served by his loyal (if mindless) subconscious soldiers of ego-protective habit, will stop at nothing to kill this infant. We must flee to places and people of spiritual vibrations, if this child is to live and grow strong. 

Thus "The Greatest Story Ever Told" is the story of the birth of the Christ Consciousness in each and every one of us.

May yours be a happy, and blessed, Christmas!

Swami Hrimananda

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Why Do We Celebrate Christmas at Ananda?

Paramhansa Yogananda, author of "Autobiography of a Yogi," is the source of inspiration and yoga teachings for the Ananda communities, centers and groups around the world. Why, then, is Christmas, and indeed the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, such an integral part of Ananda?

Generally (though more so in western countries than in India), you will find that at Ananda during the Christmas season there are nativity scenes, the Three Wise Men, gift giving, celebrations, and the adoration of the Christ child. Why did Yogananda himself make a special point of celebrating Christmas, not just spiritually, but socially? 

There are a number of reasons. They include:
  •     A special relationship exists between Yogananda, Jesus and the three “wise men”
  •        A new dispensation of universal understanding has come to reconcile east and west
  •        A new understanding of the divinity of Christ is needed
  •        The time has come to affirm the Christ-potential of all people
  •        True communion is “inner” communion through meditation
  •        The “second coming of Christ” is personal and individual, not historical

Here are some thoughts and facts to share:

  1. Yogananda stated that the three wise men were none other than his guru-preceptors: Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya, and Sri Yukteswar (in former incarnations). 
  2. He taught that the term "second coming of Christ" refers to the teaching and to the individual, personal realization (however slight or only intellectual, at first) that divinity is within each person, indeed, each atom of creation. (This is an extension of the Vedic teaching that in creating the world, God manifested it through "his" own consciousness, for there was no "thing" or no objects with which to "use" to create anything!")
  3.  "Christ" was not Jesus' name. It is a title. So, too, "Krishna." Indeed, the two words are linked etymologically. Each refers to the fact that these souls, and others, have fully realized their innate and eternal divinity and oneness with the "Father," the Infinite Spirit beyond and untouched by his consciousness manifesting the creation.
  4. Yogananda averred that Jesus himself, as a unique and individual soul, came to Babaji (the peerless master of the east) and asked him to anoint and send a "savior" to the West to re-ignite the teaching and how-to knowledge that divinity is "within you." This would be transmitted through the art and science of meditation: especially the advanced and nonsectarian technique of Kriya Yoga.
  5. Yogananda affirmed the Christian teaching of the Trinity: the three-fold manifestation of God and said it is the same teaching as expressed in India as "Tat...Sat....Aum." God, the Father, beyond and untouched by creation; God, the son, the "only begotten of the Father," reflected in each atom of creation and fully awakened in the greatest saints and avatars**; and the creation itself, in constant motion, or vibration, the primordial level of which is the "Holy Ghost" or Divine Mother in whose womb, hidden from casual view, resides the seed of intention and intelligence implanted by the "Father" to carry out the purpose of creation: Self-realization!

Christmas, then, is, for us at Ananda, an affirmation and celebration of our oneness as children of God. Our devotion to Jesus Christ rests upon our recognition of his realization of his soul’s innate divinity and of our own potential for Self-realization. It is with joy, then, and fellowship that we affirm and celebrate our own Christ-like potential: God’s promise to us of our immortality in Him.

As Swami Kriyananda, Ananda's founder taught us to say: "Happy Christmas"

Swami Hrimananda

** Yogananda uses the term "Christ consciousness" to express the "Tat" of the Vedas. Others might say "Krishna consciousness". It is universal and eternal and in every atom.

Monday, December 23, 2013

That Night When Christ was Born!

What a wonderful story the birth of Jesus is! Did you know, however, that the custom of erecting a nativity scene in honor of Jesus' birth did not begin for a thousand years and was started by St. Francis near Assisi, Italy?

Now, two thousand years later, how relevant is it to assert or deny the virgin birth? Or, the appearance of the heavenly hosts? Or, the presentation of the Three Wise Men from the East?

Joseph Campbell, the famous "mythologist," has helped modern Americans reconnect with the reality that a story can be meaningful and true with or without being a fact. The Bible stories, the Hindu Ramayana and Mahabharata, creation myths and on on show us that "truth is greater and more true than mere facts."

The power of the nativity lies in its hidden message. Like art, including music, it affirms a reality that our intellect is too dull (or distracted) to comprehend (or notice) but which our heart and soul knows, embraces and celebrates.

Orthodox Christians, viewing the nativity story from the point of view of theology and belief, limit their understanding to a literal interpretation of what they believe are the facts of Jesus' birth. I don't have a problem with that but it doesn't address the real issue: the power of this story to uplift generations for centuries in the embrace of its power, love, and light.

Really, after all: millions go to Christmas Eve Services and many don't normally go to church or have an orthodox religious life at all. Is their attendance merely a well worn habit? For some, yes. But for all? No, I don't think so. Millions, some not even Christians, surely feel a special grace or blessing of kinship with all during the Christmas season. There is a famous story from World War I when the close-by but opposing armies in the trenches came out to celebrate with one another one dark and cold Christmas Eve. Stories of spontaneous generosity are so omnipresent during Christmas that it makes no special point to remember any of them!

It is true that babies always attract a fair amount of ooohing and aaahing but Gee Whiz, two thousand years ago? We wax wistful and brotherly (sisterly) at the sight or thought of this child -- his birth, his life, his death, and resurrection. We know this child has for us a message that is true. It is a message of hope, of reassurance, of safety, of security, of love without condition and without end.

The hidden message is, at least in part, said plainly in Sanskrit, from India, from the Chandogya Upanishad: Tat Twam Asi. This "grand pronouncement" of the eternal teaching (Sanaatan Dharma) means, simply, "Thou art That." 

We recognize ourselves in that child for we, too, are eternal and "Before Abraham, I AM." (John 8:15) Further, Psalm 82:6 reminds us that "I have said, ye are gods, and all of you are children of the most high."

None of this denies the divinity of Jesus, the Christ (the annointed). The Star of Bethlehem, "His star," presages and symbolizes that this one is a true "son of God" and "one with the Father." So, too, the meaning of the virgin birth. But the difference between Jesus' spiritual realization and our own is matter of degree not kind. We have yet to awaken fully to our sonship in God. And that awakening was the purpose of his birth, and the incarnation of every such son of God whether it be Buddha, Krishna, or any number of world teachers, avatars, who come fully awakened in God. They come for but one purpose: to bring prodigal souls, souls thirsty and hungry for truth and God-realization, back to their home in God consciousness.

This is the hidden message of the nativity. It follows, though more by deduction, than intuition, that the birth of the hidden Christ within us requires action on our part. We must imitate His birth in the meaning of the symbols of his birth: the manger which was but a stable represents humility. Humility is the first condition of our spiritual awakening. Humility does not mean self-deprecation but realization of the wonder of creation, the smallness of our ego, and our need for and desire to love God, that Being of Love who is Infinite and the essence of all Life. To have this realization is the perspective of Infinity and it must needs be a form of humility for the ego.

The quietness of the animals in the stable means that our animal appetites must lie down and render service to this inner Christ. We have need of food, for example, but only in the context of nourishment not food greed, and to keep the body fit as a temple of our God!

The shepherds who watch over the flocks are our thoughts which herd (direct) our actions. These shepherds must come and worship this Christ and in so doing become protectors of our thoughts and actions directed toward selflessness, toward nobility, and toward devotion.

The Three Wise Men who come to worship the Christ child reveal to us that to our aid will come, if we seek and let them, wise teachers, both living and now gone, whose teachings can assist us to develop wisdom, devotion, and self-control.

King Herod, or King Ego, stands ready to massacre this child, and indeed, this child as it is born in others around us. We must flee to Egypt until he dies. Egypt here means we must seek the company of other truth seekers and avoid the soul-killing company of worldly people and circumstances. Until the ego has died (at least sufficiently to no longer challenge Christ the (inner) King), we must remain in the protection of the like-minded. Indeed, spiritually speaking, only highly advanced souls can afford to live apart from society or, in any case, without the ongoing support of other spiritually mind people.

As any newborn child, this inner Christ will need protection and nurturing until he can be "about my Father's business!" We must have daily prayer and meditation, and develop right attitudes of servicefulness, devotion, and right living: compassionate and kindly.

This is the good news of Jesus' birth. What it does mean to be good news because we are "saved?" The appearance of divinity in human form and in one who has achieved oneness with the Father through many incarnations is good news because it means we can do it too. It's also good news because (the bad news is) we can't do it by ourselves alone. It is the ego that awakens to the possibility of soul freedom but it is already trapped. A true savior, or guru-preceptor, has the spiritual power to "lift up the serpent in the wilderness" and thus to lift the serpent of delusion up in the wilderness of spiritual purification, prayer, meditation and self-offering, and, to transform the base metal of ego consciousness into the gold (brass) of the soul.

The good news of the birth of such a one is therefore two-fold: one, "we can do it, too," and two, " And, He is here to help us." Some are more attracted and in tune with other such avatars, like Buddha, Krishna, and in our times Paramhansa Yogananda, or others like Paramhansa Ramakrishna, and even great saints who, while not entirely free, serve to help others spiritually. The realization of others is not our concern. We must walk the path to freedom according to our heart's direction: to Jesus, or to others. Thousands were disciples of St. Francis but he was, in turn, a disciple of Jesus and one of the greatest (and the first to receive the stigmata, the wounds of Christ on his own body).

Let us both celebrate and get to work on achieving soul freedom. "The time for knowing God has come" Paramhansa Yogananda declared. Meditation, including Kriya Yoga, is for everyone and is the greatest single aid to soul freedom through self-effort.

A blessed and bliss-ed Christmas and New Year to all,

Swami Hrimananda aka Hriman

Friday, December 20, 2013

Will the Real Christ Please Come to Christmas this Year!

A door that leads to the outside also leads to the inside. A cup is said to be either half empty or half full. Both are true, but one may be more useful than the other.If you are trying to get outside the house, the fact that the door goes outside is keenly of interest to you. If you are dying of thirst, the half cup of water is earnestly appreciated.

The famous interchange in the New Testament that begins with Jesus asking his disciples, "Who do men say I am," is like that door or that cup. Most people, whether during Jesus' life or down through the centuries, see only the man Jesus, who lived in a particular time, said specific things, and lived in Palestine under Roman occupation. Others see his form, his words, and his actions as doorways to divinity itself. I would go further and say, as I have often said, that the answer to Jesus' question to his disciples is the same for him as it is for you or me. The one disciple who answered Jesus' question correctly was, as you probably know, Peter who said, "Thou art the Christ, son of the living God."

The Hindu "bible," the Bhagavad Gita, is a conversation between Lord Krishna (the Hindu equivalent of Jesus), and Arjuna (Krishna's Peter). In both scriptural conversations ("Who do men say I am?") and the Bhagavad Gita, the master (the guru: Jesus, or Krishna) reveals his divine nature as "one with the Spirit (Father)."

The incarnate form of divinity is like that door or that cup of water. As it is Christmas, we'll stick now to the subject of Jesus. Jesus, you, and I, and metaphysically speaking, every atom of creation, are what I say, tongue-in-cheek, "bi-polar." We have a dual nature. (In fact, like the Trinity, we have a triune nature, but let's hold that thought for now.)

While Christians may insist that Jesus' claim was an exclusive one, a careful and intuitive reading of the New Testament reveals this cannot be so. For example, St. John's gospel in Chapter 1 asserts that "As many as received Him gave he the power to become the sons of God." (Note "sons" is plural.) Jesus told his disciples "these things I do (miracles etc.), greater things will you do."

For the human soul to aspire to know God directly, as a Spirit -- infinite, omnipresent, omniscient, all-pervading etc. etc. -- is a tall order. How can you love or even approach something so abstract, so beyond human comprehension? By seeing God, God-consciousness, God's goodness, wisdom, love and so on incarnate in a human being we can relate more meaningfully. Nor does such a fact demean either us or God, for the very universe itself is a manifestation of God's intention, consciousness, and goodness. Yet form (whether subtle such as various forms of energy or gross such a physical objects and human bodies), the universe also cloaks that divinity.

The world, including our bodies and acquired personality traits, dutiful activities, and desires, is both a doorway into and toward the hidden divinity, and, a door that keeps us outside and apart from that divinity. Well meaning adherents or disciples of a great teacher all too often miss the point, mistaking the form of their guru (his appearance, his words, his actions) as the essence and that essence as to be distinguished from all other forms, teachers, teachings and so on. Only true and wise disciples see through the form to the divinity which animates the form and in that broad perspective recognize the divinity in other forms, other great teachers, and, indeed, in all people and all creation.

Is Jesus Christ, however, the "only" begotten son of God? Is he somehow qualitatively different than Krishna, Buddha, and others? Is Jesus Christ, or Krishna, or Buddha direct incarnations of God: God taking on human form?

God has already taken human form in you and I! And, in all creation. This has already happened, in other words. The only greater thing that can happen is for those forms to become self-aware of that divine nature, to become as Paramhansa Yogananda and others have described it, Self-realized in our divine nature. This doesn't deny or reject our form (our human form and nature); rather, it elevates and ennobles the human body and persona to true goodness and godlike qualities.

Jesus announced that "I and my Father are One!" For this alleged blasphemy he was killed by the religious authorities for whom such a claim was the ultimate threat to their privileged lives and positions. Yet he had a body and, one presumes and can sense from reading his words and considering his actions, a personality of his very own.

Thus Paramhansa Yogananda (author of Autobiography of a Yogi), whose own followers including me, believe that he was also "one with the Father," taught that when the soul, after countless incarnations, at last achieves Self-realization, the soul retains characteristically unique traits which, in order to be incarnate at all, are both necessary and part and parcel, eternally, of the soul's Being. Oneness, in other words, does not destroy or sublimate the soul into some amorphous mass consciousness. The soul can plunge into God, swimming in Infinity, but is not destroyed and may, if called upon by other souls (not yet free in God) seeking spiritual enlightenment through the vehicle of that soul and the deep bond between them, reemerge with its unique traits as yet intact. This free soul may take physical form (then becoming an "avatar") or appear in vision, or render assistance through thought-inspirations. In this way devotees have prayed to their respective gurus for many centuries after the guru's human incarnation. In so doing, they have been uplifted, taught, and received true communion with God.

Our nature, then, is divinity in form and therefore dual (or as I like put it, "bi-polar"). But it is also triune because the bridge between these two is the vibration of God from which all forms manifest. God beyond and untouched by creation (as "the Father"), vibrates His consciousness with intention, intelligence, and love in order to "boot-up" or initialize creation. All things in form are moving on the atomic, sub-atomic, chemical and electrical levels, if not in outward appearances (think rocks or minerals). The intelligence of a star, a tree, or a human is hidden because intelligence is "no thing." But the evidence of its intelligence is the form and its functions (including self-perpetuation) that clothes (even as it cloaks) that intelligence. Trees look like trees; chickens, chickens, and so on.

This vibratory energy of creation has many names. It is chanted as Aum, Amen, Amin, Hum, or Ahunavar. It is called the Holy Ghost or the Divine Mother because being holy, pure, a virgin it is the "stem cell" vibration underlying and out which all things become differentiated and take separate form.

The divine intelligence or nature that exists in creation is the only begotten and true son of God. Like a true human son, this intelligence reflects the image of its father, having the intention and attributes of divinity, at least in latent potential. Jesus was the Christ, or anointed one, because he had realized his divinity both within his form and beyond his form in the Father. We all are Christs but we, by contrast, have not yet realized that and cannot yet demonstrate mastery over life and death itself, as Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, and Yogananda demonstrated to close disciples.

Yogananda called his mission to the world the Second Coming of Christ not because he claimed to be Jesus but because the second coming takes place in the birth of the Christ child of divine consciousness in our own heart and mind and soul.

So, will the real Christ come to Christmas? That depends on you! "Tat twam asi." "Thou art That," it says in the scriptures of India. This is who we should say we are! Who am I? I am the Christ, the son of the living God! (Then behave accordingly!) Be careful, however, for he who says he is, isn't. He who says he isn't, isn't. He who knows, knows. One should not boast nor say "I am God." Rather, "God has become this form."

With the blessings of the great ones of self-mastery, we can be guided to Self-realization. Attune yourself to them. Study their lives, teachings, and actions, and make them your own. Walk like St. Francis in the footsteps of the master and He will help you to be free as He is Now.

Meditate daily, serve selflessly, endure hardship and difficulties with equanimity and cheerfulness, and watch and wait, for, "like a thief in the night, He will come!

Christmas blessings to all, and to all, a good night!

Swami Hrimananda aka Hriman

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Meditator's Monkey Mind - Or, Stop and enjoy a banana!

As a meditation teacher for some 25 years and a meditator for 40 years, I think I know what the "monkey mind" is like, and, in fact, so does everyone who sincerely tries to meditate and achieve stillness of mind as part of meditation.

Restless thoughts are unquestionably the most frequent single complaint of meditation students. Is there a solution? Well, not one single solution, but, given our own mental complexity, a bowl of bananas' worth of solutions.

I have lived for many years of my life in one of two of the nine Ananda intentional communities (Nevada City and Seattle). I have thus the experience of meditating, day in and day out, with the same people. Add to that leading meditations in classes too numerous to quantify, and participating in large-group meditations, one becomes sensitive to the meditative consciousness of others. I have, thus, from time to time, found myself feeling the need (and having the responsibility) to remind other meditators not to mistake the techniques and practice of meditation for the goal.

Since meditation requires mental effort, it is not surprising that the more years one persists in daily meditation the more likely one has developed a certain degree of will power. Few people on this planet have the desire or the will to meditate, for whatever reason (and there are many!). But putting out energy can sometimes become an end in itself, rather than a means to an end. We can get so used to "pushing" that we may forget where we are pushing toward! If there is too much self-will involved in meditation than the meditative experience is all about "me."

At the same time, daily repetition of any kind can result in what becomes simply an ingrained habit. It is easier than some might imagine to fall into a mechanical meditation routine and into a semi-sub-conscious state of mind during meditation. By definition, subconsciousness means less than conscious and therefore if we slip into even a semi-subconscious state (like daydreaming vs sleeping), we lose the mindfulness necessary to even know where we've gone or that we aren't doing what we came to do! Our thoughts then drift along, pleasantly or aimlessly.

I've noticed that other meditators simply "enjoy the self." By this I mean, I can sometimes feel that a meditator is calm and centered within and focused pleasurably on his or her inner experience of peace or selfhood without making any effort of will and devotion in self-offering or prayerfulness. It's all about "What I am feeling," in other words. No harm, but very little spiritual progress. It is axiomatic, however described, that superconscious states are achieved by attuning ourselves to those states and that those experiences come from the combination of self-effort and grace---which could be defined as the descent of superconsciousness as a loving response to sincere and heartfelt effort (but never as a result of the ego affrirmation and will power).

I won't attempt to define the purpose of meditation but suffice to say, and there is an almost infinity of ways to do so, that one seeks to experience something greater than one's own ego. Such a state (Paramhansa Yogananda call it "superconsciousness") is the "holy grail" and, by definition, is quest not easily or consistently achieved. Long term meditators, therefore, often settle for far less and lapse into either habit or self-comfort. Never mind the philosophical aspects of delusion, maya, satan, or ego.......meaning the internal resistance to seeking Self-expansion. Yes, of course, this is the existential aspect of our deeply embedded unwillingness to give ourselves into a greater reality. But, for this article, I assume a meditator, at least in principle, seeks such a higher state, however described (whether philosophically, devotionally, or energetically).

"If you don't know where you went, you didn't go there (into superconsciousness)." I am quoting only myself, but I admit it looks good on paper (this is paper?).  I tell this to students: meditation is not spacing out or blanking out, or drifting off into some pleasant place or daydream. Superconsciousness is a state of intense inner awareness: not "tense" with "tension," but vibrantly alive and far more so than in ordinary conscious awareness.

"To achieve perfect stillness of mind, you have to want it." (Did I really say that? Rather deep, don't you agree?) Regular meditators can slip into the habit of merely practicing and forget to focus on the goal. Patanjali (author of the "Yoga Sutras") describes one of the obstacles to spiritual growth as "missing the point." I find this amusing given the deep nature of the sutras and it is one of the rare moments in which Patanjali lapses into the vernacular, so to speak, talking with the guys at the clubhouse. But this is so true: in all aspects of life, not just meditation! When you sit to meditate, affirm your desire and intention "To be still and know that I AM ......" To go beyond the labyrinth of the mind, you have to want to: and I mean really, really want to. We have untold numbers of lifetimes fending off threats to our survival and asserting ourselves and our desires.

(Patanjai's famous "Yoga Sutras" are the unquestioned "bible" of meditation and the stages of spiritual evolution. Swami Kriyananda's last major written work, "Demystifying Patanjali: The Yoga Sutras," should be studied by every serious meditator. Padma and I are giving an 8-week course beginning September 11. We will have audio, if not video, available for those at a distance. Email if interested at a distance. To obtain the book visit your local Ananda center or East West Bookshop or the publisher at

Swami Kriyananda (1926-2013), founder of Ananda and the most publicly visible and accessible direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda, taught that the secret to stilling restless thoughts lies not in the mind but in the heart! This is the secret I wish to share. When you begin your meditation, open the doors of your heart, going deeper and deeper into stillness and calmness. Peel away layers of restlessness, anxiety, fear, regrets and find the eternal baseline of inner peace and security. Then, lift your consciousness to the Christ center (the point between the eyebrows) and commence your personal meditation practice.

This can be expressed, of course, also in devotional terms. For some people, in fact, it's far easier to do so. That's where focusing lovingly upon the image, feeling, form or vibration of one's guru provides a mental and heart-based focus for meditation that takes us beyond the petty machinations of the monkey mind. Feed this monkey devotion! Yearn for God; yearn for peace; yearn for the state of bliss! You have to want it. The mind doesn't want it. The ego doesn't want it. Hey, you've got problems, remember? Lots of problems. See what I mean?

The feeling aspect of consciousness can also be directed more impersonally toward superconsciousness using creative imagery to evoke inner peace, unconditional love, deep and expansive calmness and true bliss and joy. Imagery from nature contains archetypal elements of vibratory consciousness: the majesty of a mountain; the aspirational strength of tall trees; the expansiveness of the great and calm ocean; the power of crashing surf; the peace and acceptance of the moonrise; the power and wisdom of the sun; the freedom of blue sky; the eternity of the star-studded universe above, below and all around!

For us mental types (and being a meditation teacher), I find it helpful, and you might also, to do a self-guided meditation. While practicing self-talk yourself through your routine: your prayer, your pranayams, your various techniques and finally into silence. Talk to your guru (mentally). See him practicing through you: it's his breath, not yours. He knows the techniques better than you, so ask him to practice and you'll simply watch! Imagine him sitting next to you; or in front; or on your head, or, in your heart! Self-talk your way into silence!

Learn to love being still. When I experience perfect stillness of the mind, it, well, to quote a phrase, "blows my mind!" Really, it does. It is thrilling! Even if it lasts only seconds or minutes. You just want to burst with joy! Embrace silence like an old friend sitting next to you on the park bench or on the couch at home.

Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita says famously that "even a little of this practice will save you from dire fears." Aspire always in each meditation to touch the hem of infinity in the form of peace, or perfect stillness, or loving acceptance. Even if for a moment, it will guarantee you will return to meditation with joyful expectation and confidence.

If you gaze intently but calmly into the point between the eyebrows and fix your gaze there, unwaveringly, you simply cannot fall into lower states, and you can hold errant thoughts at bay. Focused steadily but in a relaxed and enjoyable way, at this point (known as the Kutastha or Christ center: the center of our eternal and unchanging divinity, will power and knowing), with hardly a flicker of movement, distracting thoughts subside and evaporate like fog in the rising sun of a summer day.

In the process, it is sometimes like standing out in the hallway from a room filled with people chattering. You can hear the sounds of talking but you don't necessarily hear all the words. Thus the monkey mind can sometimes chatter in the background but you don't have to listen. In time it simply evaporates. It's the calm focus at the spiritual eye (between the eyebrows, as though gazing through that point and out a little bit) that silences the monkey mind (because you are not listening) . Looking up, inwardly, also re-directs the mind into "Huh, what'd you say?" mode.  The "listening mudra" is extremely effective in achieving inner silence.

Think about it: you hear something or someone slightly at a distance, and like the old train crossings, you "stop, look, and listen." Cock your head to the side as if listening and the mind shuts off and "listens up." Try it in meditation. It really works.

I will go even deeper before I sign off. Get off now, unless you want to really do this. Whether you practice mantra meditation, breath awareness, concentration on inner light or sound, Kriya Yoga and so on, it is the same. There are two aspects to higher consciousness: one is perfect stillness (the reflected bliss of divine consciousness) and the other is ever-moving, vibrating power of Spirit in manifestation. Causal and astral; unmoving and moving; male and female; thought and feeling; Kutastha and Aum. No matter what form of yoga meditation you practice, we essentially contact the movements of divine consciousness (prana, vibration, Aum, Divine Mother) and rotate this energy around the inner Sun (Son) at the spiritual eye. In time the rotation begins to slow and finally becomes still as the energy merges into pure thought, pure consciousness. "Meditate so deeply," Paramhansa Yogananda counseled, "until breath (prana) becomes mind (conscoiusness). I better stop here.

These are just some of the ways we can feed bananas to the monkey mind and keep him preoccupied. And, don't forget to reassure the monkey that when you are done meditating, you'll get right back to all of his big problems. "They are, like, SO IMPORTANT!" (hee, hee, hee).

Well, time for a banana.


Nayaswami Hriman

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Am I Breathing Yet?

Isn’t it rather insulting to pay to attend a class that teaches you how to breathe? Haven’t you been doing that rather steadily now for a few years?

But that’s the problem: we fall asleep. Breathing is natural and so integral to our life that we no longer notice it. It’s just like our habits in food and relationships: our problems arise when we “fall asleep” and live on auto-pilot. We get overweight or unhealthy because we are not paying attention. We may find ourselves in divorce proceedings because we didn’t pay attention.
The act of breathing signifies we are still alive! It is the beginning (and its cessation, the end) of life in a human body. Yogis put it this way: breath is that which connects our mind to our body. Yogis view “mind” in a much broader way than western culture and language. Mind is, in yoga, synonymous with consciousness and individuality (at least as far as “we” are concerned).

To be more clear, mind is divided into four parts: buddhi, mon, chitta, and ahamkara. Buddhi is described in various ways to include intellect, perception, and intuition. These three are different but share in common the aspect of consciousness that we call “knowing,” or gnosis. We can see a horse and “know” that it is a horse. We can experience the astral light in meditation in the forehead and “know” that it is not our own imagination. We can “know” that a friend is in trouble before we get the phone call.
Mon is that aspect of consciousness that depends upon and works in tandem with the senses: receiving sense stimuli and “re-constructing” those signals in the “mind” in some orderly way. It is pre-cognitive in the sense of one looking out the window and seeing objects in the field of vision prior to labeling those objects. For example: smelling an odor before identifying it. This is a lower function of mind but one necessary to survival in a physical body. It is also dependent upon the healthy functioning of sense organs.

Chitta is our feeling nature. This can range from our emotions and emotional reactions to either sense stimuli or our own thoughts and perceptions, all the way to a deeper level of feeling that is unconditioned by either but at least as powerful (if not more).
Ahamakara is consciousness identified with oneself: one’s body and personality. This is our sense of individuality and separateness from all other objects in our field of vision and perception. This is commonly labeled our ego.

Yogis teach that there is a deep and abiding connection between our breath and our consciousness. Try noticing that moment when you “fall” asleep. It’s while nigh to impossible, but do-able. When we are busy with rapid fire thoughts or actions, we virtually cannot notice our breath (unless we really practice — enhanced by long and deep meditation).
Your awareness therefore of your breath under all conditions (from sleep, to action, to meditation, during emotions and any intense state of being or activity) will bring to you awareness of your own state of mind. (I like to joke that we begin meditation with being mind-full, but seek to go beyond so that we are mind-less: in a state of non-verbal, intense inner awareness)

If while sitting still with eyes closed you observe the flow of breath within you, especially for an extended period of time (no less than ten minutes) with continuous and unbroken awareness, you will find your powers of observation, concentration, and baseline level of deep and enjoyable feeling greatly enhanced.
Why don’t I leave at that, for now?

Breath in joy, exhale peace!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Singularity is Near?

I just learned a new phrase, The Singularity! It's not a new concept, however, because though it is a term borrowed from astrophysics describing a point in time-space where none of the usual rules of physics applies, it now refers to the prediction that computers will someday be smarter than we. With the exponential growth in their computing power Raymond Kurzweil author of a book by the title of this article thinks, as evidently some others, that in the year 2045 computers will overtake us and the end of civilization as we know it will occur. Golly, as if we didn't have enough to worry about!

It's hard not to laugh at such hubris. Oh, I don't mean that computers won't keep getting smarter and do lots of things, both beneficial and potentially destructive, but that such seemingly "smart" people can be so "dumb." I don't mean to be arrogant or unkind, here (after all I hardly know the fellow), but only that our super-rational scientific types still thoroughly believe that consciousness is a by-product of the process of evolution that has produced the human brain. I admit that why should they bother with the concept that this vast, complex, beautiful and awesome universe could be, itself, the manifestation of a supreme, overarching, or infinite consciousness?

But it's not as if they can admit that it's just as possible as their own theory, and, in fact, given our interest in the subject, probably slightly more likely than theirs. All the lightning fast intelligent computations imaginable are not going to randomly produce the Mona Lisa or the Tempest or the Bhagavad Gita, unless by prior (human) programming.

I don't really want to argue with anyone, nor will I pretend to know anything. It feels silly for a chump like me to take exception to smart guys like him, but I posit for your contemplation that the essence of consciousness is a combination of self-awareness and feeling. I, at least, cannot fathom how any machine, no matter how intelligent, can feel or be self-aware except mechanically by being programmed to label certain processes or conclusions as being one or both.

Some might say, "How can a computer have a soul?" Problem is, who knows what a soul is? Well, that's true for happiness, too, or, for that matter, consciousness itself. Only intuition attests to the state of happiness or self-awareness. It cannot be proved. So too the Indian scriptures aver: "Iswar Ashidha" - God cannot be proved. Does that mean neither you nor I can say that the computer ain't got one? Well, ok.....we've painted ourselves perhaps into a corner. Sure, the computer might insist it has feelings, or a soul ..... does that make it so?

Well, perhaps this is all too academic for most of our problems today! I just thought I'd share with you something I read about in my weekly TIME MAGAZINE (how embarrassing to admit I read it at all!). I find it slightly amusing, that's all. I suppose what harm can these nerdy types inflict as a result of their grand predictions? I'm sure their machines will inflict all sorts of harm but I won't blame the machines.

I was alive (or I think I was) when TIME MAGAZINE pronounced GOD IS DEAD. Now it has declared that humanity - our bodies, our minds, our civilization - will be completely and irreversibly transformed. Not only inevitably but imminently. "Beam me up, Scotty!" I'd be age 95 in 2045, so sorry, friends, I'll probably miss the event.

Blessings, Hriman

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.