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

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Why Celebrate Christmas? What is the Avatara?

In the beloved Song of God, the Bhagavad Gita, God promises that "whenever virtue declines and vice predominates, I incarnate on earth. Taking visible form, I combat evil and uphold dharma (virtue)."

The story of the three Wise Men (or Magi) appears only in the gospel of Matthew. Matthew was a tax collector and when Jesus saw him and said to Matthew, "Come, follow me," Matthew immediately left his collection booth to follow Jesus. As a much-hated tax collector, Matthew was obviously unorthodox but he could read, write, and do accounts. Of the four evangelists, Matthew seems to have had a particular interest in showing his Jewish compatriots that Jesus' life was foretold in the scriptures of the Old Testament.

But where would Matthew have learned of this story? If from Jesus, then Jesus would have presumably been told the story by his father or mother. But how would his parents have known the details of the Magi's visit to King Herod in Jerusalem before coming to Bethlehem? How would they have known that the Magi were warned in a dream not to tell King Herod that they had found the Christ-child? Whatever the source, you can be sure that the visit by the Magic must have had a special significance, one presumably to those with Jewish ears to hear. Or, perhaps it is for our ears that Matthew recounted this story?

Matthew, being unorthodox, was not only attracted to the equally unorthodox Jesus but may have also been knowledgeable regarding and curious about other cultures and traditions. The significance of this story is hinted at by Paramhansa Yogananda in the twentieth century when Yogananda declared that the Magi were none other than his own lineage (in past lives): Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya, and Sri Yukteswar. Regardless of the facts, the story points to a significant connection between the Orient and the birth, life and mission of Jesus Christ. The Magi, who themselves are viewed as kings, came a great distance to present precious gifts to yet another king, albeit newborn and lying in a manger. How can this event not be fraught with meaning? The obvious significance is the recognition of Jesus' birth as the birth of a spiritual being. But why from "the East?"

"Whenever virtue declines....I incarnate on earth." Though Christians quite understandably admit of no other divine incarnation than Jesus, that dogma is questionable in the light of our exposure and knowledge of other religions. There's no reason that God should have but one son, is there? Does not the Old Testament make repeated mention of the "sons of God?" Does not the first chapter of John the Evangelist state that "as many as received Him (Christ) to them gave He the power to become the sons of God"? Taking our cue from the quote above from the Bhagavad Gita, is not obvious that down through history there have been times where the need for a savior was great? Consider the brutality of Jesus' times; the flagging power of the classical, so-called "pagan," religions; the inflexibility of caste and the oppression of so many people under Roman occupation.

Is this time in human history not such a moment? Orthodox religions are losing their appeal and at odds with one another; economic, racial, cultural and gender inequalities are rampant; threats of both war and the use of nuclear weapons are on the rise; climate change threatens all species of life on the planet; cooperation among nations is on the wane; and legislatures are polarized. Perhaps the avatara has already happened in the form of Paramhansa Yogananda and the lineage that sent him to the West.

Christmas, however is the celebration of the divine descent, or avatara, of Jesus Christ. Paramhansa Yogananda described the avatara, whether Jesus or others such as Krishna, Buddha, as being souls who, in a past life, achieved their son-ship with the Father and were sent back by God to uplift and redeem souls from the snares of delusion.

We not only celebrate the avatara of Jesus Christ in the Christmas season but we also celebrate the redeemer role of Jesus and other avatars. What is this redeemer role? Did Jesus (and others) come to redeem our sins? Well, yes, in a sense. But not in the passively sentimental sense that is implied by orthodox Christians. Un-redeemed souls do indeed require the spiritual help of a divine being, a savior. In India, this is expressed in the teaching that to achieve enlightenment the soul needs a guru. Though freely offered by the avatar, it is not cheaply won. The pearl of great price takes great spiritual effort. But why can we not redeem ourselves through self-effort alone: through penance, virtue, and devotion?

Christian dogma speaks of original sin, the fall of Adam and Eve, as the reason we need a Christ to reconcile us back to God--to make the perfect sacrifice necessary to atone for our sins. But a yogi would say we are equally burdened by our karma. Either way, we need something more than our own effort because we are imprisoned in a cocoon and blinded by a hypnosis of our separation from God.

An outside spiritual force or magnetism is needed for the soul to break through. The savior, or guru, appears when the disciple is ready (as the saying goes). That readiness is echoed in the parable of the prodigal son, when, in the midst of his self-inflicted deprivation, the son remembers and longs to return to his father's home. It is the first step. The role of the guru is to awaken our soul's memory of its home in God-consciousness--the home from which we were created. But the guru does more than just jog our memory. The guru has the spiritual power to give to those who "receive Him" the ability to be come  sons of God. Nor is such power based upon a ritual, an incantation or priestly position.

Life on earth would be a paradise if everyone followed the Golden Rule to "do unto others we would want others to do to us." But it is not enough. More than mere reason is needed. The very fact of our inability to bootstrap our way to inner communion with God puts us on notice that we need a spiritual power outside of ourselves.

At the Last Supper, Jesus rendered aloud an accounting to God the Father for the souls that were sent to him to be taught and uplifted. Except for Judas Iscariot, they were all accounted for. This reflects the yogic teaching that at the dawn of creation, that Being who will be our soul's redeemer is already known. But it is we who must consciously call upon God to send to us our savior. Isn't that a beautiful teaching?

In celebrating Christmas we celebrate the birth of an avatar, a redeemer of souls, in the human form of the Son of Man whom we call Jesus (the) Christ. 

A blessed and joyful Christmas to all,

Swami Hrimananda


Monday, January 31, 2022

The Wizard of Oz: a modern spiritual allegory


(Note: the inspiration for this interpretation came as I contemplated the ebbing life of Nayaswami Anandi who left this earth just a few days after. Why this inspiration? I cannot say, perhaps the theme song "Over the Rainbow" was a subliminal connection, but I used it as the focus of a talk at Sunday Service on the day of her passing, January 30, 2022. See Ananda Washington YouTube channel and the Service entitled "Mystery of the Avatara." Link at bottom of this article)

A modern spiritual allegory can be found in the wonderful, popular, and delightful original movie "The Wizard of Oz."

Based on the story published in 1900 by author L. Frank Baum, The Wizard of Oz was made into a movie in 1939. I first saw it as a child in the 1950's when it was aired on television.**

Here then is the allegory that unfolded into my mind as I recollected the story:

We, like Dorothy, are orphans for our souls are made in the image of God and, as St. Augustine put it, "Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee." No one seems to understand us. They want to take away our daydreams which are in fact a memory of the pure happiness of the soul. Little Toto, her dog, represents her tiny but energetic and wise soul memory. 

At first, when life wants to steal our happiness we want to run away but our own sincerity (represented by the kindly Professor Marvel who reminds us that our loved ones will be saddened by our absence) beckons us to face reality courageously. But it cannot be found by seeking the innocence of childhood and the safety of the past.

So we can't go back home to childhood; we must move forward through our karma. But we are too often swept up in the tornado of adolescent and young adult years by the whirlwind of life's passions and confusions, and we find for a time that everything we hoped for and thought was true is "gone with the wind."

But our sincerity grounds us and out of the maelstrom, we land (sometimes hard) into a new world of spirituality and find that we have "killed" the "wicked witch of the West," she who would entice us to seek worldly goals. We are not in Kansas anymore! We may have crushed the wicked witch of material delusions but the wicked witch of ego aggrandizement is still very much alive. She is far more powerful and is bent upon preventing us from finding soul happiness. 

Though confused we pray for guidance and suddenly, Divine Mother, the kind witch of the East, appears to point us in the right direction and to give us the ruby red slippers of sadhana (meditation and spiritual practices). She says we must travel to the Emerald City (of superconsciousness) to find our guru, the wizard who can tell us how to find our true home (traveling via Aum). Clicking our red ruby slippers three times, chanting "Aum, Tat, Sat," we ready ourselves to embark upon our journey. 

With our goal clarified, the little Munchkins of our thoughts, intentions, and actions cheer us on to the "yellow brick road" of the spine. The astral world is golden-yellow and so, then, is the path to our home in Aum. But it is a lonely, interior path and it winds its way facing the obstacles of our own karma, energized by the leering, haughty witch ego hiding behind the trees of life. The yellow brick road represents the winding astral channels of ida and pingala, clogged at times with our karma and hiding the straight and narrow path of the sushumna. 

While yet alone we need help; we need companions. Our companions in life are the three paths of yoga, the "organs" of perception, feeling, and action. When we come to the inevitable crossroads of life, we need wisdom. But the scarecrow of our confused and restless mind must learn to concentrate and develop the intuition to know which path to take. Our resolve can rust our determination like a Tin Man in the rains of karma if we do not use the oil of devotion so we can continue our journey. (Like the foolish virgins of Jesus' parable who failed to keep the oil of their lamps topped off.) Our resolve and our wisdom are yet not enough. It takes lion-like courage to not only go onward but to resist the temptations and distractions along the way. 

As we journey along we encounter temptations to rest and to sleep in daydreams of happiness in the Elysium fields of the subconscious. But wisdom and devotion support our resolve even when our energy and enthusiasm flags. At last, we reach the Emerald City of superconsciousness. There we are welcomed by saintly vibrations and purified by the inner light but even now we cannot rest for the wicked witch of Ego remains at large. To achieve the blessing of the guru we must do our part and return to the world of our karma to do battle with the usurper of our soul kingdom.

We sally forth into the battle but the monkeys of body-consciousness, desire for comforts, material desires, approval, and recognition strive to imprison us. Little Toto--our soul memory--comes to our rescue by calling up our soul-wisdom, devotion, and courage to liquidate the ego and triumph with the capture of the "broomstick" of our spine now upraised by the power of Kundalini--the symbol and power of the transformation of the ego into the light of the soul. 

Now it is revealed to us with Toto's intervention that the guru is a human incarnation of God! In the human form, the guru might seem quite ordinary to those without "eyes to see," but the Wizard of Oz has power over life and death and access to the "controls." The guru awakens us to the "inner Toto" of soul-victory and now departs in the astral balloon of light, promising to us to send the Comforter, the Divine Mother to bring to our "remembrance all things." This is when Divine Mother reappears to remind Dorothy that she has always had the power to ascend, for she is none other than the immortal soul clothed temporarily in human form, just as was the guru. Tapping her ruby red shoes of sadhana three times and chanting AUM, TAT, SAT Dorothy re-awakens to her home in AUM, and in Divine Bliss.

Swami Hrimananda!

** A summary of the plot of the Wizard of Oz can be found at:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wizard_of_Oz_(1939_film)

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Return of the Magi

Note to readers: The Christian Feast of Epiphany celebrates, in part, the visit of the Magi (Wise Men) to the Christ child. It takes place on January 6, twelve days after Christmas, and is sometimes called the Little Christmas. January 5 is known as Epiphany Eve and is the birthdate of Paramhansa Yogananda in 1893. Traditionally this marks, for many, the end of Christmas and the taking away of Christmas decorations! This becomes also for Ananda worldwide a natural endpoint to the sacred holiday season of Christmas.



Paramhansa Yogananda, author of the now famous and popular life story, “Autobiography of a Yogi,” lived and taught in America for most of his life beginning in 1920 at the age of twenty-seven. One of the many curious and interesting things he said was that the wise men of the gospel of Matthew were none other than the three Indian yogis (in a past life) who, in succession, were part of his personal lineage, training, and tradition.[1] While there’s no objective way to substantiate that, this idea certainly has implications for who he, Yogananda, was and why he came to live in America.

Those people in the world identifying themselves as Christians are said to be 2.5 billion, almost one out of every three people.[2] But the percentage of Americans identifying themselves as Christian is reported to be declining.[3]

It would seem that if Christianity is to grow and thrive in America (and the West generally) as a viable religious tradition some kind of rescue is needed. Could it be that the wise men of East have come again to acknowledge, honor, and worship the Christ? Can Jesus too be “born again?”

Paramhansa Yogananda described his work in America as “The Second Coming of Christ.” Like Jesus, one might have thought that he, Yogananda, too would be condemned for blasphemy. What did he mean by this description?

How can we bring these ideas together? When Yogananda was asked point-blank by a young monk, Swami Kriyananda, “Were you Jesus Christ (in a prior life)?” Yogananda replied, “What difference would it make?” What a curious statement to make.[4]

Where I am leading is to suggest that Paramhansa Yogananda came to resurrect the deeper meanings and teachings of Jesus Christ from their imprisonment in the confines of what he called “Churchianity.” It doesn’t matter who he was in a past life. I think that’s mostly the reason for his response. Part of what is making orthodox Christianity increasingly irrelevant and uninspired today is the narrowness of its claims and the rigidity of its rituals.

The very concept of reincarnation symbolizes the soul’s phoenix-like capacity to be “born again!” Again, it is not important whether one subscribes to reincarnation as a dogma.[5] We see rebirth all around us: civilization being reborn into a new era, a new age symbolized outwardly by science and technology and in consciousness by a new acceptance and interest of diversity of cultures, religions, and history beyond one’s own. There’s hardly a point in listing the number of cultural beliefs, taboos, lifestyles, and attitudes that have changed (for “better or worse” according to one’s point of view) in just a few years or decades. In the lives of individuals, stories of recovery and new life abound. So why can’t Christianity be born again?

In juxtaposition to scientific beliefs of the age of planet Earth, the age of the universe, and the existence of billions of galaxies, core Christian dogmas seem weak and difficult to believe: could one human being on this mudball of a planet in a distant galaxy on the edge of space be the ‘ONLY” son of God? And he lived a mere thirty-three years on the edge of an empire that has long ago faded into dust? What about those billions of other religionists? Are they condemned to eternity for being born on the “wrong side of the tracks” of centuries and continents? Can the crucifixion of this one individual that took perhaps three hours be sufficient to “save the sins” of all humankind? And what about heaven and hell, places where, after death, our souls (later perhaps to be somehow reunited with our long-disintegrated bodies) live happily ever after or are burned alive not-so-happily-ever-after for an eternity?

The fact is that Jesus and his disciples initiated their own world-changing version of a religious rebirth in the context of Judaism during their lives. And yet, Jesus said that he came not to “destroy but to fulfill the law and prophets.” In Chapter 5 of the gospel of Matthew alone, Jesus made significant changes to the interpretation of the Ten Commandments and other laws at that time. Later, his disciples set aside the circumcision (the primary symbol of God’s covenant with the Jews), the Sabbath and countless lesser dietary laws. Then they declared that Gentiles could become followers of Jesus without being Jews! A new religion was born. And the intention behind its birth was to “fulfill” the Old Covenant not destroy it. Do you see the pattern here?

Jesus gave at least one example of why changes in letter of the law can be made when he modified the rules surrounding divorce. Jesus stated that the rules given to them by Moses were “for the hardness of your hearts.”[6] By this, he meant that Moses knew that the Jews of his time were not ready for a more fair and refined view of the grounds for divorce.

Other examples in history include the birth of Buddhism. Buddha and his disciples were originally Hindus. They, like Jesus’ disciples, sowed the seeds for a new religion with a fresh understanding of basic, universal truths. Their core concepts are based on the teachings of India derived from the Vedas and other scriptures of ancient India. Like the Protestant revolt, however, Buddha urged seekers to abandon the abusive lock hold of the priestly class and take responsibility for their spiritual awakening.[7]

And yet, the impact of the life of Jesus Christ cannot be denied. His short life changed world history. His teachings have inspired saints and sinners alike; have produced great works of art, music, literature, architecture, civilization, and worship. And these are the positive aspects. There are negative ones as well where some humans corrupted those same teachings for their own, misguided, ignorant or sinful reasons.

The stage is surely set for the return of the Wise Men.[8] Is it no coincidence that the very first and most serious crisis in the history of the early Christian church was the Arian heresy which centered on the definition of the person or nature of Jesus Christ? This was then and remains today the crux of the question Jesus asked: “Whom do men say I AM?” The rebirth of Christianity will, I believe, center on a deeper understanding of what is meant by “Jesus being the only begotten son of God.”

Paramhansa Yogananda universalized the understanding and interpretation of the divinity of Jesus Christ.[9] He often quoted the first chapter of St. John’s gospel, “As many as received him to them gave He the power to become the sons of God.” Yogananda taught that the difference between Jesus and the rest of us is not a matter of kind, but of degree. We have not yet realized our birthright as souls made in the image of God. The soul of Jesus inhabiting the body called Jesus had long ago (in a prior life) realized its eternal nature as ever-pure, immortal, and “one with the Father.” We, too, are called to the realization of this birthright. It has been said that we are “as old as God” because God has manifested us (and all creation) from “His” own nature. How else can God—who is pure Consciousness—create anything except as part of Himself?

While this is not the place to continue with creation theology and the existence of evil it is the place to note that this very understanding—endorsed by great saints within Christianity and in many other traditions—has the potential to reinvigorate devotion and appreciation of the Christian Way. Orthodox religionists may initially fear that this dilutes the importance and uniqueness of Jesus. Yet Jesus’ life, teachings, and omnipresent spirit have been proven and attested to down through the centuries and in modern times through the Christian and even non-Christian saints.[10]

And why would such recognition of other Christs in history result in a dilution of the reverence one feels towards Jesus Christ? Does the sheer number of saints through the ages detract from their respective sanctity? Just as modern men and women accept and appreciate the diversity in races and cultures without denying or condemning their own, why should a Hindu devotee or Christian devotee feel slighted that another religion also claims that its founder has achieved Self-realization? Are we not all potential sons of God?

Humanity does not need, nor could possibly abide by, a “One World Religion.” History, culture and tradition, what to mention human nature, recoils from even the thought. Why can’t mature devotees recognize and validity of other faith traditions? Are we so insecure in our own faith that we are not able to abandon the slogan “My way or the highway?”

It is not that Christian teachings are wrong: Jesus did die for sins; we can experience heaven or hell; Jesus is a savior. But a new understanding—what Yogananda called a New Dispensation—is needed to revitalize and universalize the eternal teachings and spiritual power of Jesus Christ.

Once one considers that our planet alone has had a number of “saviors” or “Christs,” if you will, then other possibilities emerge. The man known as Jesus embodied the realization of God in his soul and in his human manifestation. So have others. “I am the Way, the Life, and Truth and no one comes to the Father except by Me” can now take on a powerful and universal new meaning.

The savior or living Christ is both an outer and human reality as a person and an inner reality as in the conscious presence of their divine nature. We too partake in this dual nature even at our level of awareness. We have a body and personality but we can also experience ourselves as the observer of our own thoughts and actions unaffected in our observation by the nature of the present tenor of our emotions and actions.

Jesus is the outer guru for innumerable souls just as Buddha (and other saviors) is for countless other souls. The statement, then, that “I am the Way…” applies to the guru, whether still in a human body or accessible because omnipresent in spirit. But the outer guru in human form comes to awaken the inner guru which is our invisible but omnipresent and eternal soul. Jesus as guru was the “first coming” of the son of God for his disciples while his “second coming” takes place in the awakening of the inner, soul-Christ in each disciple.[11] This is what Jesus’ promise concerning the coming of the Holy Spirit after his departure symbolizes. The Holy Spirit is grace manifested in the consciousness and acts of the disciples and descends upon the soul through the work of the guru.

Each savior has a family of souls given by God. In the poignant “accounting” that Jesus gave at the Last Supper, he makes it clear that his disciples were given to him by God.[12] The teaching in India is that from the beginning our soul’s creation, that savior who will forever stand ready to reach out to us (when we have made the choice to be helped) is already known.

Ditto for Buddha and others like Yogananda. Whether in the outer form of the embodied Christ as a guru or in the inner form as the Christ consciousness potential of the soul, the statement “I AM” applies progressively, that is, step-by-step in our spiritual evolution. Christian teachings thus, however unknowingly and limited to the person of Jesus, essentially reflect the teaching that to achieve God-realization the soul needs a God-realized guru.

Forgiving of sins means to dissolve or erase the karmic consequences of our sins. And what is sin? Ignorance: ignorance of our true Self. Our fall from grace takes place daily when we mistake the unreal for the real. Like the beautiful story of the Prodigal Son, we have the choice at any time and in every moment to turn away from the “foreign lands” of matter attachment and journey inward to our soul’s home in God.

It is the Christ—or the Christ or soul Consciousness—that baptizes and forgives us. First through the outer guru which awakens our souls (as described above), and then progressively as our soul ascends through effort and grace toward perfection. The Holy Spirit, the Comforter, awaits us in the silence within. But we need outer instruction in the precepts of right living and in the techniques of God-communion (prayer and meditation) to purify our body and mind.

It is a teaching in India that a guru—not merely an ordinary spiritual teacher but a true savior—can take on the karma of a disciple. A savior (known in India as an avatar) can free untold numbers of souls who “receive him.” But just as a wise father would not pay off the debts of an errant child unless that child was repentant, so too the guru’s grace to release karma is not given randomly or without just cause. Since our true nature is that of a Christ, it is always the Christ consciousness first awakened by the outer guru and then nurtured by the Holy Spirit in the inner, soul guru, that dissolves the knots of past deeds. Jesus’ crucifixion showed how we must surrender the ego to the will of God while the resurrection of his body shows us the immortal and victorious nature of our soul. His pain and suffering are examples and to a modest degree, related largely to his taking onto himself the karma of his direct disciples. When it is said that Jesus redeemed the sins of the world its deepest meaning is that the Christ Consciousness, truly the “only” begotten of the Father, is what redeems the soul.

Admittedly, without the concept of reincarnation, this New Dispensation is not “fulfilled.” But just as Christian teachings adapted themselves to a one-life incarnation so these concepts could stand on their own, just as lamely as the Christian teachings, without the benefit of reincarnation. Christian theologians and saints perceived what became known as Purgatory, Limbo, and mortal and venial sins to account for the wide variety of human experience and consciousness in just one human life. It’s not that such stages on the astral plane do not exist so much as their interpretation is incomplete.

But that leads us to heaven and hell. I’ve often said you don’t need to die to experience heaven and hell. It is right here on earth and within us. We can be rich and famous, yet at the same time, miserably depressed. We can be a wanderer, penniless but ever-cheerful. When we are in “heaven” we think we have arrived; when we are in pain, it seems forever.

It is also true, however, that other traditions, including that of India, teach that there is an after-death realm that contains “many mansions” of “my Father’s house.”[13] Here souls rest or reside awaiting their next incarnation. These more subtle realms range as far and wide as our minds are able and beyond. We go to “our own,” according to our soul’s misidentification and consciousness. But as the saying goes, “nothing is forever” (except God alone).

This is a short summary of the promise of the scriptures that is found in all true faith traditions. Increasingly in this new age, beliefs will wane in importance as personal experience grows. We have learned from science to test our hypotheses to see if they are real. Who we are in ourselves and how we behave is far more important than our “credo,” what we believe. Meditation is growing in popularity because it offers a tangible experience of consciousness without the burden of belief. What else is God than Pure Consciousness? What else is the soul but a reflection of God? “Be still and know that I AM God.”[14]

The only begotten son of God is that soul that is fully awake to its own nature. This nature is hidden by the sheath of all material creation and forms but has the potential to awaken to its-Self in humankind. This is the promise of the scriptures and is found in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ as in the lives of all awakened sons of God.[15]

Epilogue

As Moses could only give to the Israelites what they could accept, it is also true that Jesus could not directly teach the dogma of reincarnation (known otherwise as the “transmigration of souls”). In addition, given the controversy that Jesus aroused during his life, he could hardly have taught the existence of other Christs in other lands and times. To have taught each of these dogmas would have sidelined his mission to the point of irrelevancy. Why is this?

Reincarnation. That reincarnation was discussed in Jesus’ time is illustrated at several points of the New Testament. Modern scholars concur. One example from Jesus’ own words that the concept was known can be seen when the three disciples with Jesus descended Mt. Tabor after the Transfiguration at which both Moses and Elias appeared. Their reported conversation goes something like this: “Elias has come already and they knew him not….Then the disciples understood that he spake of them of John the Baptist.”[16] There are several other points in the Bible, New and Old, that can be cited.[17]

More important reasons for Jesus to sidestep the dogma of reincarnation include that reincarnation and, indeed, belief in an after-life itself, was hotly debated among the Jews and probably of no interest in the Roman and Greek cultures of that time. This lack of awareness extended throughout the two thousand years of Christian history until recent contact with Eastern teachings. Teaching it would have only invited an incentive to postpone one’s redemption! Now with our vastly broadened view of the material universe (macro and micro), the prospect of endless future lives is already showing itself to be an incentive to seek God now and not later!

As to Jesus being the only savior of humankind, it was enough of a shock for Jesus to announce “I and my Father are One” and that “Before Abraham was, I AM.”[18] In retrospect, Jesus was bringing to the Jews (and by extension, the West) the teaching that God incarnates in human form. This was already blasphemy and unheard of in the religions of his time. It was the immediate cause of his crucifixion! What good would it have done for Jesus to announce that there could be others like him? It would only have generated a frenzied search over the succeeding two thousand years! Confusion, heresy, and anti-Christs left and right would have been the result. It is only now, with the world becoming “one,” that this truth can be revealed. For, indeed, it is sorely needed “for the healing of the nations.”[19]

Devotion to Jesus as the son of God has been the right teaching for the disciples of Christ during these last two thousand years. Until recent times, the definition of Jesus as the only son of God mattered very little. Only in the beginning (as previously cited) during the Arian heresy, did the question arise. Now, however, faced with the reality day-to-day of coexisting with other religions, each of which claims its founder or rishis, as co-redemptors must we confront the deeper meaning of “Who do men say I am?”

Blessings to all for a (happier?) New Year!

Swami Hrimananda aka Hriman



[1] Those yogis were Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya, and his own guru, Swami Sri Yutkeswar (See “Autobiography of a Yogi” for chapters on their respective lives.)

[4] Swami Kriyananda in his own life story, “The New Path,” reported several instances of individuals who in the general public assumed Yogananda was Jesus Christ reincarnated. I, too, had this same unexamined perception when I first became acquainted with Yogananda’s autobiography.

[5] https://reincarnate.life/how-many-people-in-the-world-believe-in-reincarnation/ 25% of Americans believe in reincarnation and nearly that same percentage of Christians do so also! Origen, one of the early Church “fathers,” wrote that reincarnation had been “taught since apostolic times.” It was removed from church dogma in 532 AD at a conference of Bishops without the presence of the Pope who boycotted the event.

[6] Matthew 19:8

[7] Buddha was not an atheist and nor is Buddhism atheistical as some claim. Buddha declined to speak of God to emphasize the here and now, the present moment and what we can and must do to grow spiritually.

[8] The gospels do not say there were three Wise Men: only three gifts were offered. Tradition suggest there were three men.

[9] Yogananda was not the only one to do so. The greatest Christian mystics all pointed to a universal Christ consciousness standing behind, so to speak, the person of Jesus the man. Meister Eckert, Thomas Acquinas, Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, St. Francis and others all experienced the eternal Christhood of Jesus.

[10] Consider the 20th century lives of Padre Pio and Theresa Neumann, as just two examples. Both had on their bodies the wounds (the stigmata) of Jesus.

[11] If you read the Acts of the Apostles carefully you find that during the lives of the apostles they were left with the thought that Jesus would return to earth soon. That had to be toned down when it didn’t happen so quickly.

[12] John 17

[13] John 14:2

[14] Psalm 46:10

[15] Reading references include AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A YOGI by Paramhansa Yogananda; “Revelations of Christ” by Swami Kriyananda; SECOND COMING OF CHRIST by Paramahansa Yogananda; YOGA OF JESUS by Yogananda.

[16] Matthew 17:12-13

[17] “Autobiography of a Yogi,” Chapter 35: The Christlike Life of Lahiri Mahasaya (opening paragraphs)

[18] John 10:30 and John 8:48-59

[19] Revelations 22:2

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Do You Need a Guru? Celebrating Guru Purnima

Today as I write it is the full moon and with it India's annual mid-summer day of honoring and celebrating one's teacher, especially one's guru! If I understand the festival, Guru Purnima, correctly, Hindus, Jains, and Buddhists celebrate this holy day. It just so happens that the weekly readings at the Ananda temples around the world land on this very same subject: Do You Need A Guru? Tomorrow, Sunday, July 25 is the day Ananda holds dear as "Babaji Day." To add yet more to this, tomorrow at our temple near Seattle we will conduct, coincidentally, a discipleship initiation for a few aspiring souls. So these are at least four good reasons to write this article!

I use these excuses and this occasion to talk not generally about the role of a guru but more specifically about the life and role of one such great yoga master of the twentieth century: Paramhansa Yogananda (author of the now-famous "Autobiography of a Yogi").


Most of you who will read this already know that Yogananda's guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar of Serampore, Bengal (India), made an important and shocking correction to the Hindu calendar in 1894 in his book, "The Holy Science." In the introduction to this book, he announced that according to Hindu astrology and Oriental astronomy planet Earth entered the ascending cycle of the second of four ages called Dwapara on about the year A.D. 1900.

Any student of the history of science and technology would not be the least bit surprised. The defining discovery of the twentieth century took place only a few years later by Albert Einstein who in effect declared the death of matter and the birth of the age of atomic energy.  

Religionists, on the other hand, eyeing the decline of adherence to traditional values and religions and the rise of atheism and materialism have declared the death of God-fearing civilization and the birth of an age that surely will culminate in the end times.

From the standpoint of spiritual awakening, this new age would certainly seem ripe for the appearance of a new Buddha or Christ. Swami Kriyananda, the founder of Ananda's worldwide work, lived with and was trained and commissioned by Paramhansa Yogananda in the last years of Yogananda's life (1893-1952). Swami Kriyananda concluded that Yogananda must surely be a world teacher for this new age of Dwapara. 

But unlike the personality cult surrounding the religion that revolved around Jesus Christ, it is far more likely that Yogananda's role will be seen somewhat more like that of the Buddha: a wayshower. Of course, true disciples will tune into Yogananda as true disciples always do to their guru but by virtue of Yogananda's teachings their understanding will already be grounded in a more universal understanding that Yogananda is one of many avatars sent by God to fulfill specific missions of spiritual upliftment in times of need.  

There are many reasons to see in Yogananda the role of a world teacher for this age. And there were during his life and are now many spiritual teachers on the planet. Comparisons are odious and unnecessary. Instead, some of the characteristics that identify Yogananda as having an important role in human spiritual evolution include that he struck a careful balance between East and West; indeed, he consciously lauded the best aspects of each. He didn't seek to convert his followers into Hindus nor yet did he pretend to be a converted Christian. He taught yoga and meditation and yet built churches and held services remarkably familiar to Westerners. He drew inspiration from the Christian Bible as well as from the Hindu Bhagavad Gita. He showed their underlying similarity rather than declaring one greater than the other. 

He expressed great devotion to his guru-lineage as well as to the One God, the Infinite Spirit. He affirmed Advaita Vedanta (non-dualism) while at the same time taught that the way to the One was through the Other (I-Thou). He loved saints while he had experiences of cosmic consciousness. He spoke of heaven and hell but as temporary waiting stations on the soul's long journey to God. He spoke of the evolution of the species but averred the special creation and status of the human form.  He affirmed the truth of all religions yet discerned that not all affirmed the highest teaching of union with God. He recognized the equality and yet the differences of the sexes and yet insisted the soul has no gender before God. He taught union with God as the goal of the soul's creation while explaining that consciousness is forever and nothing of our past lives is ever destroyed or obliterated. 

He praised Western technological and commercial efficiency but bemoaned our sectarianism and materialism. He loved India's deep spirituality but hoped that India would raise its standard of living through education, hygiene, and renouncing stifling caste taboos.

Yogananda urged students to get back to the land and form small self-sustaining communities which would grow their own food and have a lifestyle that was both efficient and God-centered. He didn't reject modern labor-saving technology but decried "installment method" consumerism as a modern form of servitude. 

Yogananda created devotional chants and poetry; started gardens and farms; schools for children; a yoga university; encouraged art and theatre with an uplifting message.

Interestingly, apart from the popularity of his life story and notwithstanding the universal respect for him and his contributions, very few outside his own followers, students, and modern-day disciples seem to acknowledge his role in this new and very uncertain age. Phillip Goldberg did the first real biography of Yogananda and included a chapter about Yogananda in his book, "American Veda," but overall it seems that Yogananda has not yet taken his place in history. But history is written "post facto" and many of us believe that in the future Yogananda's life will be seen as a pivotal contributor to the awakening consciousness of Dwapara Yuga.

For members of Ananda worldwide, we also believe that his strong emphasis on the importance of small, intentional communities (which he said would one day "spread like wildfire") will bear the fruit of recognition at some future date. Many alive today agree that humanity's lifestyle is in an unsustainable downward spiral of the consumption of earthly resources. This can only end in great calamity and presumably great suffering. Yogananda himself predicted as much. One easily imagines that this is what it will take for humanity to change our entrenched attitudes and habits. But this particular story also has yet to play out. 

As with all the great world saviors, Yogananda is alive and well on planet earth but perhaps more so for he came especially for us and in our times. He no longer requires a human form to guide anyone who seeks his help. You need not be or consider yourself to be his disciple because his love and wisdom are available to all just as it was when he walked the earth and thousands flocked to hear his words and be in his aura.

Jai guru! 

Swami Hrimananda


Friday, April 2, 2021

A Very "Good Friday" - Easter Reflections Retreat

The Friday before Easter Sunday is traditionally considered the day of Jesus' crucifixion so long ago. Growing up in a devote Catholic family Good Friday included going to church between the hours of noon and 3 p.m. to recite the Stations of the Cross.

Roman Catholic churches typically had along its side walls seven plaques on each side: each illustrating and commemorating an incident told in the Bible of an event that took place on the day of Jesus' crucifixion beginning with the judgment that he was to be crucified and ending with his burial. The total "stations" are fourteen and a priest, accompanied by an altar boy, would go from station to station recounting the incident and offering prayers as the congregation followed along.

The crucifixion is THE symbol of Christianity and its message. Christianity considers, by contrast, Jesus' resurrection as simply miraculous. The former being relevant to our salvation and the latter being proof of Jesus' stature as the "son of God!" 

Contemplation of the suffering of Jesus for our sins has inspired numerous great saints such as St. Francis who was the first saint to receive the stigmata: the wounds of Christ on his body. I believe the Catholic Church has recognized perhaps several hundred cases of the stigmata. The two most famous cases in the 20th century are Padre Pio (southern Italy) and Therese Neumann (Bavaria, Germany). 

So before we blithely dismiss the Christian emphasis of the crucifixion at the expense of its concomitant victory in the resurrection, we should at least consider its meaning to us here and now. That meaning is deeply relevant but not wholly complete. The teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda on the life of Jesus Christ reveal deeper and more universal meanings than can be owned by any religion or sect.

Jesus came into his human life free from the compulsion of past karma (aka "sin"). He was what in India is called an "avatar." His mission changed the course of history but it also brought salvation (soul-freedom in God) to "as many as received Him." An avatar has the power to uplift countless souls who "receive"  his teachings and vibration into their souls. By this measure, therefore, it is not wrong to say Jesus died for our sins. But the extent to which our sins are actually forgiven depends on us and the depth of our "receiving."

In the case of Padre Pio, for example, his attunement to his guru was so deep that Jesus' wounds appeared on his body. This doesn't mean that the stigmata is the sole indicator of salvation (fortunately!). But neither should it be dismissed as fanatical. 

Swami Kriyananda was inspired to write the Festival of Light while taking seclusion in Italy back in the 1980's. It was there that the profound, poetic, and uplifting message of the new dispensation of Self-realization flowed through him via his attunement and dharma. In one sentence the Festival states that "whereas in the past pain and suffering were the coin of man's redemption for us now the payment has been exchanged for calm acceptance and joy."

This one sentence brings into focus the relationship between the crucifixion and the resurrection. The crucifixion represents a reminder for us to be willing to calmly accept what life brings to us while the resurrection reminds us that "joy is the fruit of love for God." This latter quote is taken from the sentence in the Festival of Light that follows the one above. The complete sentence is important. It says: "Thus may we understand that pain is the fruit of self-love, whereas joy is the fruit of love for God.

Humanly speaking who can avoid flinching upon contemplating the pain and agony of Jesus' crucifixion? One of the first great debates in Christianity was whether Jesus, as the son of God, experienced ANY pain! Yogananda stated that Jesus had the power and consciousness to rise above the bodily pain but choose to experience pain as part of his sacrifice in taking on the karma of many. Jesus' greatness, Yogananda insisted, was more in the forgiveness he asked of God the Father on behalf of his self-styled enemies than even for the resurrection of his body (a feat that Swami Sri Yukteswar and Lahiri Mahasaya both showed after the death of their bodies). At one point Jesus is said to have cried out to his guru, Elias as he experienced a kind of "dark night of the soul" wherein his otherwise unbroken connection with the Father was temporarily taken from him. Jesus was willing to go even past the point of his "knowing" of cosmic consciousness for the sake of the salvation of other souls.

But, that was his choice. But for us now the payment in pain has been exchanged for joy. For we can better now understand that joy is what comes of divine attunement and that pain is of the ego, attached to the body. Ours is a deeper understanding for which large swathes of humanity are prepared to receive. St. Francis, though racked with pain, even raised the dead and died with the joy of a song of praise on his lips! As true and great saint even in the darkest period of the Middle Ages St. Francis experienced Christ as joy not sorrow. Padre Pio, too, though his body and mind suffered greatly by his attunement with his master, his spirit was one of great love for people and joy in the contemplation of God, Christ and the Holy Ghost!

The resurrection is the necessary corollary to demonstrate outwardly that joy is the fruit of accepting our trials with equanimity and faith. "Thy will be done!"

Tomorrow, Holy Saturday, online from 10 a.m. to 12 noon we will review the Stations of the Cross and see their application to the soul's long journey through time and space to the Redemption. It's not too late to register on our website www.AnandaWA.org


Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Who am I? What is the Universal Religion, the Perennial Philosophy?

Today I fielded this question from a Hindu in the United States:

"I have read from many sources, that Hinduism or originally known as Sanatana Dharma, the eternal way is non-sectarian, and can be applicable to anyone regardless of religion or race. I am Hindu, but don’t understand how the Bhagavad Gita for instance is non-sectarian, as Lord Krishna Himself says he is the Supreme God. I don’t see how a Christian/Muslim would be able to agree? Some of the teachings are universal, but many other religions do not believe in reincarnation either. Please clarify."

Dear Friend,


Paramhansa Yogananda made a distinction between "churchianity" and true religion (or "Sanatan Dharma"). Specific to the example of Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita that you mention, the same use of the personal pronoun "I" is found in the Bible as spoken by Jesus Christ. Thus, one has to step back from such statements to understand the broader context of what and who is this "I." 

The famous "Tat twam asi" ("Thou art that" or "Aham Brahamasi" I am Brahma) and similar statements from the very ancient texts of the Vedas and Upanishads hold the key to the underlying revelation of Advaita Vedanta. This refers to the teaching that underlies the form-centric expression of truth as manifested in formal sects or religions. It states that the only truth or reality out of which all diversity and creation comes and which sustains and unites all visible and invisible things is the One: the Infinite Spirit.

The One has divided Itself into three: the "Father" (Sat) beyond creation and untouched by the creation; the "Son" (Tat) invisibly immanent in every atom and every thought as the Intelligence and Feeling which animates all; and, the Holy Spirit (Aum), the Divine Mother in the primordial form of the Aum vibration which is the "stuff" of multiplicity, name and form.

This teaching of Oneness can be perceived as the basis for Hinduism (Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism) by fairly easy investigation; for Christianity and the Abrahamic faiths with a bit more investigation. When Jesus was criticized for saying "I and my Father are One" his response was to quote the Old Testament of the Bible, saying "Do not your scriptures say 'Ye are gods?'"

In Judaism is the famous mantra, "Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is ONE!" Jesus' beloved disciple, John, wrote "To as many as received Him, to them gave He the power to become the sons of God."

Indeed, this was the core mission of Paramhansa Yogananda which he described as the Second Coming of Christ: uniting the original teachings of both Krishna and Jesus Christ. Yogananda focused specifically on the Bhagavad Gita and the New Testament to illustrate this teaching but this focus is easily expanded into other scriptural texts and religions.

At the heart of divine revelation is the question (and the answer to) "Who am I?" Jesus asked his disciples this very same question as Krishna answers it in the Gita when he gives to his disciple, Arjuna, an experience of his cosmic Self. This experience shows that the man Krishna is not the true self but is an incarnation of the Infinite Spirit of all creation and who appears in the consciousness and form of Krishna. This appearance, or avatara, does not purport to limit the Infinite (a contradiction in terms) but is intended to show Tat twam asi. ("Thou art THAT")

Your question is not unlike the question "Is my cup half full, or, half-empty?" One inclined toward dogma and a sectarian attitude sees the half-empty cup that limits God or truth to their own faith. One inclined toward inclusion sees the cup as half-full, inclined toward universality.

The time for knowing the "truth that can make us free" (that is, bring healing and acceptance to the world's religions) has come, Yogananda pronounced (as have countless other hearts and minds).

Part of the conundrum in the history of religion as we perceive it is that the teaching that we, too, are "THAT" finds practical expression in the appearance of the "avatar:" one who HAS ACHIEVED the state of Self-realization. This teaching would not be real if there were never any person who embodied this realization! Moreover, to make matters a bit more complex, to achieve such a state cannot be done (by definition) by the imprisoned self. A savior, or true (sat) guru, is needed to unlock the soul from the prison of ego-identity. So naturally, a Krishna or Christ, taking human form, becomes the object of worship and is treated as separate when the core teaching is WE ARE ONE! (Sigh)

Such is the paradox of duality, you see. We are not ONE until we are ONE. I hope this explanation is not too mental or esoteric. 

We need to walk our path with integrity. Jesus repeatedly used the expression (connected to certain statements of deep truth) "for those with ears (or eyes) to hear (or see)." We recognize truth; we don't create it. So you and I, also, must walk step by step towards our spiritual unfoldment: both watching our step (meaning not go beyond our own experience of what seems true to us) and at the same time keeping our gaze focused on the horizon of Eternity beyond name and form. So take from this what feeds your soul and let go of the rest for perhaps another time.

Blessings to you on your journey on the greatest adventure this is!

Nayaswami Hriman
Seattle WA USA

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Easter at Home! Reason to Celebrate?

Celebrating Easter at Home!


Well, this IS a first, isn’t it? Millions of people celebrate Easter worldwide but this year our celebrations will take place at home. For Jesus’ disciples that first Easter Sunday was a little bit like ours this Sunday. They were sequestered indoors, hiding out just like us. Though the gospel accounts of that Sunday are divided as to whether Jesus appeared to the disciples on that day let’s just say that he did. If so, we could say that the day for them “ended well!”

And so it can for us, too. The inability to celebrate in customary ways offers us an opportunity to look more deeply at what Easter represents to us—in our lives right now—under the virus cloud. This year we won’t be distracted by Easter bunnies, socializing, festive Spring outfits and sumptuous banqueting.

Easter is a celebration of victory. It is a celebration of life, of soul-immortality. Isn’t that worth being reminded of right now as our bodies are in hiding from this world-wide pandemic-virus? Even Spring, which while cyclical, returns each year reminds us that “this (winter) too will pass.”

Yet, I admit that the first Easter took place a long, long time ago. It has worn its celebratory robes well but they are worn nonetheless. There’s a mountain of tradition that keeps it going but the momentum behind a religious holiday celebrated worldwide by millions all too easily descends to the valley of the mundane: I mean, after all, chocolate bunnies? Money stuffed in plastic eggs? Hot cross buns? How droll!

There must be more to it than that. Of course, there IS! Most readers of this article are students or disciples of Paramhansa Yogananda (author of "Autobiography of a Yogi"). In Yogananda’s famous life story there are several accounts of persons being raised from the dead and saints appearing in physical form after death.  

While past generations took this to be a celebration of the deathlessness of the ego and physical body, it is easier for us, now, to see it for its more subtle meaning: consciousness survives the death of form. Death imposes no finality to the soul. To quote Yogananda, “Man is a soul and has a body (temporarily).”

I’d say that THIS truth is both worth celebrating AND is TIMELY given the threat to our bodies in this worldwide pandemic. You see that’s the interesting aspect of the great spiritual teachers: their message is not so much different as it is a reminder of basic truths. The emphasis each one has may appear to be different, seen from different angles of time and culture, but their “view” of the mountain top is the same: we are children of God; we are immortal; we are made in the divine image of the Creator. Put another way, in winter the mountain top has a mantle of pure white snow; in summer, green, lush trees; in spring, flowers; in fall, a riot of colorful leaves. But it is always, in every season, still the top of the mountain.

Just as our past slips into the darkness of the subconscious mind and just as the future is veiled from us, why should we get confused if our immortal Self is at least equally hidden from our rather distracted gaze.

To quote from Chapter 12 of "Autobiography of a Yogi": A noted chemist once crossed swords with Sri Yukteswar. The visitor would not admit the existence of God since science has devised no means of detecting Him.
              “So you have inexplicably failed to isolate the Supreme Power in your test tubes!” Master’s gaze was stern. “I recommend an unheard-of experiment. Examine your thoughts unremittingly for twenty-four hours. Then wonder no longer at God’s absence.”

Jesus’ crucifixion symbolizes the cost of this “pearl of great price.” It is the dissolution of the ego: our soul’s misidentification with the body and its fawning, obsequious attendant, the personality. To examine one’s thoughts uncritically is the advice of “Self-inquiry” given to all of us by the great saints and sages of East and West. “Know thy Self.”

We do not know the Self, the immortal Atman (soul), for the simple reason we haven’t bothered to look. We are busy with day to day life and, right now, we are laying low to avoid the pandemic.  

Another experiment to try is to count how many times in one period of time (minutes to hours) we say or think “I.” We constantly refer to “I” but we don’t know who “I” is. If you “stare” at this “I” (meaning if you silently observe “I”) you find “I” has no name, no form, no nuttin’! There are no attributes to this guy “I.” God replied to Moses when Moses asked who the voice in the burning bush was: “I AM who I AM.”

Jesus’ last days of his life were extremely dramatic but not all great saints, saviours, or avatars model for us such a dramatic pathway to I AM. Each has a song to sing and so do we. But to peel away the layers of our attachment and the burden of our past actions and identifications is every bit as arduous a task as Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. In our lives, we are generally not ready for anything quite so challenging as that. For us, Jesus said comfortingly: “Sufficient unto the day is the evil (the challenges) thereof.” We have, witness our virus challenge, our own, tests, trials, and crucifixions. Even as this pandemic is worldwide, our response to it and its impact upon our health is individual. Customized karma: just for me!

So, let’s turn to what we can learn from the Easter story? For starters, Jesus was willing to go through what he had to do. It’s not that he a danced a jig at the prospect (of his crucifixion) but after saying “I don’t mind if I don’t have to go through this” he quickly surrendered to the will of the Father. So it’s ok if we have doubts, fears, reservations about doing what we have to do or what will happen. But, in the end, if we say YES TO (OUR) LIFE then we will have access to the power of grace to do what we must do.

Next, he forgave his torturers in the midst of his body’s agonies. While Yogananda taught that Jesus’ suffering was primarily for the ignorance and future karma of his antagonists, the Bible does say that Jesus cried out from the cross to his guru (Elias) “Why hast Thou forsaken me?” If nothing else can be understood from this, Jesus must have at least endured an experience of psychic separation from God before expiring on the cross. It would seem to me that such separation was at least, and likely far more, painful than his wounds.

Why is that? Because a true saviour, an avatar, is not identified with the physical body and can transcend its sensory messages at will. I suspect Jesus accepted the body’s agonies as part of his willing sacrifice and acceptance of the karma of his disciples. It makes no point to say that he had a choice because “I and my Father are One” suggests that what was experienced was what was given to him, so to speak. [This is not rational; it is intuitive. It simply IS.]

Our founder, Swami Kriyananda, had a lifetime of inspired service in musical composition, writing, and counsel. Yet he encountered tremendous opposition from those whom he loved and respected. Despite the hurt, he never descended to hate and always affirmed love and forgiveness.

Jesus’ resurrection that followed the crucifixion was not some extra-credit bonus that he got for his efforts. It was the necessary, even logical, consequence of his acceptance of the crucifixion. Because his physical body was tortured and killed it was at least logical that his victory would express itself by a resurrected body. For us, then, our victories will be carved from our own karma. (Jesus did not have personal karma. As a true son of God, he took on the karma of others.)

It is an error on the part of some believers to take from his resurrection the belief that our bodies will someday be resurrected from graves at the “second coming of Christ.” It is an error, too, to imagine that for all eternity we sit in heaven in our bodies praising God but otherwise retaining our egos, our separation from God. Christian mystics experienced mystical union or marriage of their soul with the great Light of God. Their testimony, not that of theologians, shows us that this is the true and perfect union that is our destiny.

Easter then is a dramatic reminder of the “truth that shall make us free.” We are NOT these bodies and egos. Let us, in contemplating the story of Easter, affirm the truth that is represented by that story. If our celebration takes the form of silent, inner communion—seeking the formless, eternal Christ-like Self within—Jesus’ life and sacrifice will be honored in the best way possible. No amount of Easter eggs or chocolate bunnies can ever replace this eternal yet ever timely message.

If for the sake of young children the eggs and bunnies must be present, perhaps you could also have story time and share with them the “greatest story ever told.” It is also your story, theirs, and mine. It is the story of how the soul returns to the heaven of God-consciousness by attunement to the Divine Will. While the body may succumb to a virus our Spirit can remain, hands-outstretched in gratitude, devotion, and joy.

May this Easter be the most glorious of all,

Nayaswami Hriman