OCCIDENTAL CHRISTIANITY AND YOGODA
—By S. Y
The Spirit is the infinite reservoir of Wisdom. Each human life is a channel thru which His wisdom flows steadily. There are wide and narrow channels. The larger the channel, the greater the flow of God-power.
We are peculiar channels. It lies in our power to make ourselves narrower or wider. We have been gifted with the freedom of Will and the power of choice. Some choke the channel of their lives with the mud of accumulated Ignorance, never allowing themselves to be cleansed by the dredge of Knowledge. The Ocean of Truth fruitlessly attempts to flood thru such narrow openings in greater volume.
There are others who keep on digging, widening, deepening the channels of their lives by self-discipline and culture, thus inviting bigger and bigger volumes of God-wisdom to pass thru them. Jesus the Christ was one of the greatest channels thru which the Cosmic Wisdom flowed. We must remember each channel is finite and has its limitations. I daresay there shall never be born a Prophet who can contain or exhaust the whole Ocean of Truth in His short span of life. Newer Prophets shall always come to express the Infinite Truth anew. Thus, though the Infinite Truth must suffer measurement even at the hands of Prophets, yet these Great Souls serve to widen the channels of smaller lives and inundate their shores with their Wisdom.
True Christianity must not be confounded with some of the forms that cloak it. True Christianity is neither Oriental nor Occidental, nor does it belong to Jesus and His Saints alone. It is the property of every truth-seeking soul. Jesus the son of man lifted himself to the state of being a Son of God. From human consciousness, he grew into Cosmic or Christ Consciousness. When Jesus said that all those who received Him, should become the Sons of God, he meant that all those who could receive (i.e., increase their capacity to hold) the infinite ocean of truth, such could be Sons of God. For there is no use in following the life of Jesus if he were the only Son of God and we could not be like Him. He was not given to us to symbolize an unattainable goal, but came as a living inspiration of what we all may successfully seek and achieve. If God created all men in His image, then He could not have made Jesus any different from the rest of us. We are all His children, created by the power of His being. He could not give to one —more than he gives to all. He cannot be accused of partiality and still be Divine.
Nor did God ...alone make Jesus the spiritual giant that He was, for if He creates Prophets in a spiritual factory, then we might rightly think it is needless to struggle and would wait for Him to remould us and do our spiritual thinking for us. The gift of reason and choice, the power to exercise free will, is peculiar to man and is sufficient to demonstrate to him that he must acquire his own spiritual growth by struggle and individual achievement. Jesus struggled, fasted, disciplined Himself in every way. If He were born a Son of God, then He would not have required such training. We admire Jesus more, that, being human, he became Divine.
Spiritual Truth is One; interpreted by Christians it is called Christianity; by Hindus, Hinduism, and so forth. Narrow-minded Christians and Hindus think true Christianity and Hinduism is church or temple worship, thus mistaking the form for the spirit. Truth has suffered measurement at the hands of all narrow and even all liberal interpretations. We must choose the ever-widening interpretations until we reach the goal where man-made interpretations no longer limit us. In order to do that, we must study Truth as it has expressed itself as Oriental Christianity, Occidental Christianity, and Yogoda.
What Yogoda (SRF) Does
Yogoda is a combination of both, plus everything contained in Transcendental Truth. Yogoda is not a new religion, nor a new cult, nor a new interpretation; it aims to teach the practical methods, the exact technique of widening the channel of human consciousness, so that Truth might flow in ceaselessly, endlessly, without obstructions of dogma or unproved beliefs. Yogoda points out the path of concentrating on the practical system and not only on the words and personality of Saints and Prophets. Yogoda teaches the step-by-step progress to individual personal realization and attainment of divinity.
"Sell all ye have and give to the poor." "Take no heed for the morrow, what ye shall eat, what ye shall put on," and other beautiful sayings of Jesus, would not admit of strict practical application in the Occident today.
What Jesus preached can be understood only by developing the inner consciousness. Oriental Christianity originally placed less emphasis on the forms of religion. Jesus taught in a Oriental setting and atmosphere, to an Oriental people. The truths He spoke were interpreted by the Oriental mentalities which surrounded Him. If the Bible had been written by Jesus and not by His disciples, it would have been much different. The spiritual experiences of the Biblical characters, however transcendental, or intuitional, when expressed thru Oriental mentality and terminology, took on an Oriental hue. Soul experiences cannot be expressed thru words, and when language tries to half-lisp them, they take on a distinguishing individual stamp.
Oriental Conditions of Life were Different
The above teachings of Jesus were especially applicable and possible to Oriental conditions at that time. If Jesus were preaching today to Americans, His message would be differently expressed from the message He gave 2000 years ago to an Oriental people in a land where living conditions and climatic and social factors made it possible to live much more simply than it is generally possible to do today. Then, a little labor would suffice to gain the necessities of life. Warm climate made the clothing and housing problem very simple. Less attention was needed for the physical side of life. Oriental Christianity taught plain living, outdoors living, meditating on the lap of Mother Nature. Jesus did not preach a mode of living far removed from the customary life of that day. Nor would He today advocate a radical change in our customary routine of life. This is a different age; the purposes of the Creator demand that the World's evolution proceed thru ever-new and varied conditions. So Jesus would not concentrate today on a radical change in the forms and conditions of our life; now, as then, He would point out that forms of life are secondary, that the only worth-while change, the only permanent advance, is the inner evolution of the man toward spiritual perfection. The outer conditions of life will never be perfect till the inner is perfect. The effect cannot precede the cause. Christ's teaching, interpreted by and adapted to Occidentals, is different, and is Occidental Christianity.
Thru a misunderstanding of Christ's teachings, His followers conceived a contempt for, and disregard of, the progress of the material life. They did not attempt to translate inner growth to outer achievement. This has been the case thru-out the Orient generally. But God's laws do not respect any man-made interpretation. Whenever and wherever Christians or Hindus or any race breaks God's physical or mental or spiritual laws which govern the spiritual, mental, social, industrial and materially progressive conditions of life ...he is punished with —war, plague, famine, material poverty and spiritual ignorance. History teaches us that man must develop his life in an all-round manner, neglecting neither the physical, mental nor spiritual sides —if he would achieve perfection.
Why Christianity Changed in the West
However, we must admit that the Orient generally and India in particular, has always been the breeding-ground of the world's greatest prophets and saints —Jesus, Buddha, Shankara, Krishna, Chaitanya, Lahiri Mahasaya, my Master and many others. Strangely, we do not find in the West any prophet of such eminence. If we could take statistics of the world's mentalities, we would find that the Orientals are more spiritually inclined, and the Westerners more materially and industrially-minded. One of the most important reasons for this difference between Occident and Orient lies in the difference of environment and climatic conditions. The Orient has more natural advantages, warmer climate, less difficulty in providing for its material wants. The colder climate of the West stimulated the industrial consciousness of man and led to keener struggle for a living. That is why Oriental Christianity, as taught by Jesus and His disciples, underwent a distinct change in form when arriving in the Occident. Jesus' exhortation to the Oriental multitude, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God" was changed to all practical purposes in the West to "Seek ye bread first and the kingdom of God later." "Sell all ye have and give to the poor" became, "Buy all ye can at cost price, then sell at top price and invest wisely the surplus."
But even if Occidentals desired to carry out literally the instructions given by Jesus to His Oriental listeners, the Occidentals would not be able to do so with a good conscience. Family responsibilities in most cases would prevent a man from selling all his goods and giving the money to the poor. If he took "no heed for the morrow, what ye shall eat, what ye shall put on", he would not be acting rightly by those dependent on him —who have a right to expect his support and protection. But because Occidentals cannot always follow literally the precepts given by Jesus to an Oriental people, that does not prevent Occidentals from being in every respect true Christians, following faithfully the inner teachings and true essence of Christianity. They can avoid luxury, and satisfy only their real needs.
Jesus was able to preach to the multitudes on mountain-tops and other outdoor places. News of his meeting spread by word of mouth, for the people of his day did not depend on newspapers for their news, nor do the people of the Orient generally to this day. But such delightful freedom form hall-rents and advertising expenditure is not possible today in the Occident. The preacher may be willing to preach on the mountain-top covered with snow, or inaccessible by subway or streetcar, but the audience is not willing to come to him there. They want large steam-heated and centrally located meeting-places. So the teacher who is sincerely wiling to sow the seeds of spirituality in the hearts of the multitude, ought to be willing also to accept the conditions of life in the country and age in which he finds himself. As Bruce Barton has pointed out, in his wonderful book on Jesus, "The Man Nobody Knows", Jesus would employ all the methods of the successful business man and be a large user of the newspaper columns as a means of communication if He were preaching today in America. The means do not greatly matter; putting the message "over" is the main thing.
Big costly churches have to be erected today to house the religious multitudes, with consequent concentration on the financial problems. Once a man came to me after my first lecture in that city, and said, "Swami, many times I have come to different lectures here and sat on one of those hard, uncomfortable chairs of the auditorium and was forced to leave after a half-hour of discomfort. But tonight, I am glad to tell you, your lecture completely erased the hard chair-consciousness from my mind during the whole two hours. But just the same, you should arrange always to provide your audience with comfortable seats, as otherwise an American audience will not stay!"
Churches in the Occident have done untold good by their efforts to remind people of their spiritual relationships and of God's laws. But the churches have become form-bound, lacking in the spirit of meditation and real God-communion which Jesus and his disciples so plainly manifested in their own lives. Today, the congregation at church are there in body, but in mind —most of them are somewhere else. At the time of prayer, often they are thinking of the chicken dinner awaiting them, or of a business deal. Such mental waywardness is not the fault of the church-goer, for he has never been taught the art of directing his mind, focusing it on God and of withdrawing the mind from the realm of sense-distraction. Indeed, the average man does not even know that it is possible for him to communicate personally with God, to contact Him thru cosmic vibration and a definite technique of concentration and meditation, until He is as real and near as one's own thoughts and body. So Yogoda (SRF) has arrived to teach this art of communion, of personal God-contact, of coming into conscious touch with the Source of all light, all power, all bliss.
The Occidentals and Orientals have limited truth by claiming to monopolize it, each calling the other "heathen". The Christian thinks the Hindu and Buddhist to be a "heathen"—the Hindu and Buddhist return the compliment as a matter of bigoted religious courtesy. But true religion is neither Occidental nor Oriental. The essence of religion is two-fold. First and most important, it consists of certain inner principles which make life progressive, permanently happy, and beautiful in every way. Secondly, it has material and mental forms of routine and discipline which are required to bring those inner principles into manifestation in man's material life. Religious customs and forms are like husks, necessary to cover the kernel of truth. But if the husk is without its seed of life, it is useless, barren. So the sacraments, conch shells, temple bells, the cross and crescent, have been necessary to symbolize certain spiritual truths. But as time went on, people's minds became concentrated on the form of service, method of delivery, personality of the preacher, shape and size of the church or temple, and the number of followers and their possessions. The symbols of religion thus began to act as red rags to excite the bull of religious fanaticism.
But on the other hand, those with iconoclastic ideas want to destroy all forms. Their error is that in their zeal to destroy forms, they have concentrated too much on form. Yogoda offers a remedy, a solution. It asks the different religionists to concentrate not on forms but on the one Reality behind form, the Truth that is the kernel of every religion. Yogoda has come, not to unite all churches and religions into one church and one form, or to destroy individual expressions of religion, but to show the scientific methods by which the utility and truth of the church and creed may be proven and demonstrated. Change of religious customs, or fusion of all forms into one common form, would not change the essential religious attitude. Nothing but proven truth, religious truth that can be tested and experienced individually, will ever satisfy the mind of man and do away with religious bigotry and ignorance.
Real God-Communion is Needed
In the West, because of this lack of scientific methods for directly perceiving truth, there is not any overwhelming interest in religion or spiritual problems. Whereas, in the East, where thousands of Saints and Men of Realization testify to the truth that all men may know God thru a definite series of steps and methods of concentration and meditation, we find that religion plays the most prominent part in the daily life of the multitude. But East and West alike suffer from over-development of one phase of life and under-development of other phases. India in her religious one-sidedness broke God's laws governing the material part of life, and as a consequence has had to suffer from famine and plague. In the West, worship of the god of wealth, and ignorance of God's spiritual laws —have produced nations without inward peace, manifesting outwardly in the horrors of the World War(s). Thus East and West have failed in one respect, and succeeded in another respect. Orientals have a wealth of spiritual insight and peace that no outward circumstances of suffering can destroy. And the West has conquered the plague and famine. So each needs the other's help to achieve perfection. Westerners need not blow up their factories, give up their banks and business, and go to the jungle, in order to be spiritual. But they can accept the scientific methods of inner realization from the East, and can pursue their worldly activities for the good of others, instead of for a selfish purpose. Nor need the East accept wholesale the industrial methods of the West. Modern industrial life is a jungle, too, in some respects. All that is necessary is an acceptance of the Western spirit of progress and development in reference to the material life. Thus each may benefit by the example and teachings of the other. The East must see the Supreme in the material things of life, and the Occidentals must not forget the spiritual Goal in their enthusiasm for worldly activity. A balance must be struck.
No matter whether you are a follower of Oriental religion or of Westernized Christianity, ask yourself, "Am I happy?", "Am I making others happy?", "Have I found the answer to the supreme question of life?", "What is my highest duty?", "How can I find peace and bliss?". Yogoda will solve these problems for you. It will teach you the technique of Practical God-Realization, of spiritualizing the body-cells thru a definite system of physical development, of keeping in touch with the Supreme Source of Cosmic supply that governs all our material and spiritual life. This is the practical message for which Occidentals have been hungering and waiting for nineteen centuries. This is the message that will again fill the empty churches. People today fill the movie-houses —but the churches are comparatively empty. Why? Because there is something to interest and delight the mind in the former. Evidently not, in the latter. But Yogoda will supply this interest. It will show each man that the most interesting thing in all the world —is the Bliss-God within, and will give him the key to enter into this realm of unparalleled joys. All the pursuits of life offer only partial joy, though crowned with utmost fulfillment. But in finding God we have found the reservoir of perennial, unending and unsatiating bliss. For He can give what the whole Universe cannot give. He is the Whole—the Universe is but a part of Him.
East and West Need Balance
....Knowing God Scientifically
Once let the Occidentals know of this great Bliss-God and their whole attitude toward religion and the church will change. No sermon will be dull then, no church empty. For they will hold the key to prove the truth of His existence. They will be listening to words about One whom they have experienced and know to be true, to be near, to be living. In other words, they will be devotees of God because they have met Him, and not because theoretically it seems that such a Person must or should exist. Nothing can ever satisfy the heart of man except living proof. Yogoda brings that proof to his door. Just as it is necessary for the astronomer to look thru the telescope in order to see the distant stars, just so —it is necessary for the questioner of God's existence to look for Him thru the instrument of Yogoda. If one denied the existence of a distant star, and yet would not look thru the telescope to see if he were wrong or not, his opinion would be worthless. He cannot confirm his stand unless he has confirmed it thru the instruments of knowledge that are available. So no one may rightfully deny, or affirm, the existence of God unless he has practiced the methods of approaching Him. Yogoda is the telescope to see God; without it, you must rest your belief in God on unproved faith alone. With it, you can challenge anyone to disprove that God can be known.
To control the mind by psycho-physiological methods, to direct it Godwards, to be its leader, not its slave—that is Yogoda, whether you give it that name or not. Unless you know how to shift your attention from failure to success, from worry to calmness, from mental wanderings to concentration, from restlessness to peace, from peace to Conscious Divine Bliss within—then all life's labors are spent in vain. If you have attained this control, then the purpose of life has been gloriously fulfilled.
Whether in the prison house of loneliness,
Or heaven of blissful solitude;
Whether fettered by the chains of labor
Or resting idly
In the peace of long-deserved rest,
I care not if Thou art with me.
Whether in mosque, church or temple
It matters little
If I love ....not Thy house and its creed
More than Thee.
In the revolving wheels of factories
I want to feel Thy pulsing, marching life.
If thou art in the factory
I prefer that
To Heaven without Thee.
Whether in Himalayan caves
Or crowded subway,
Whether in jungles of modern life
Or of Hindustan,
Wherever we go
Teach us to discover Thee
In all Thy secret nooks,
East, West, North, South—Everywhere.
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