Surveys of present-day Christians show that a high percentage of them feel shaken in their faith by scholarly claims that challenge the very authenticity of the Gospels.
Not a few such claims have been aired, without proper authentication, in works of pure fiction. Others have been made by scholars who, though serious, demonstrate a lamentable absence of spiritual insight.
In both cases, the claims to authenticity are based on the supposed antiquity of their sources, supported by a skillful misuse of reasoning.
God has intervened many times in human history. If there ever was a time when His intervention was needed, the time is now. My purpose in writing this book is, therefore, to offer Christians spiritual support based on revelation.
Countering the bee swarms
Paramhansa Yogananda was sent by God to the West with the commission of restoring the teachings of Jesus Christ to their full and original glory.
Only a declaration of certain deep truths in Christ’s original divine teachings, proclaimed once again by a truly enlightened spiritual master, can bring the authority that is needed in the world today to counter these bee swarms attacking from all sides.
Paramhansa Yogananda’s commentaries on the words of Jesus Christ are profound, convincing, and of inestimable inspiration to Christians everywhere who want answers to the doubts that are being forced upon them nowadays—indeed, forced upon every thinking person, especially the apparent conflict between old religious concepts and the ever-expanding horizons of modern knowledge.
What is Sanaatan Dharma?
The Bible is full of esoteric teachings that might be described as "pure yoga." How could it be otherwise?
Truth is universal. There is no such thing as a "true, Christian vision," from which anyone belonging to some other religion is, by his "wrong structure of beliefs," automatically debarred.
Sanaatan Dharma is a Sanskrit term meaning, "The Eternal Religion." Sanaatan Dharma has for long ages been the accepted name in India for the universal Truth: God, Creator and Sustainer of the universe, every atom of which, being a conscious projection, is designed eventually to merge back into the Supreme Spirit.
"Hinduism," the popular name for India’s ancient religion, was imposed on that country, by foreigners, in relatively recent times. "Hinduism," however, is a misnomer. Sanaatan Dharma belongs not only to India. The religion it proclaims is universal.
Not a man-made religion
It should therefore be understood that Divine Truth has nothing to do with separative or sectarian beliefs. Sanaatan Dharma is not a man-made religion, but explains, rather, how God brought all things into manifestation and how every soul, each one a "Prodigal Son," can return and merge back into Him.
Sanaatan Dharma shows people how to achieve for themselves the inner revelation of the highest truth. The fundamental truths of Sanaatan Dharma can be perceived by everyone who has the willingness to offer himself up completely to God, in deep humility and devotion.
Satan: a conscious, universal force
Christ, who taught that Eternal Religion, gave it particular emphases that were suited to the understanding of the Judaic people of his day. He referred, for example, to the cosmic power of maya (delusion) as Satan, and emphasized (as great masters in India have not, to my knowledge, done) that Satan is a conscious force dedicated to man’s spiritual downfall.
The emphasis of Jesus Christ on this subject differs from the teachings of India on maya, but the truth of it isn’t different. Both maya and Satan refer to a conscious force—not to a specific being, but to a universal reality, for nothing in creation is unconscious.
In Hinduism—which is only one expression of Sanaatan Dharma—the emphasis, in discussions of maya, has been on subjective delusion rather than on maya’s cosmic, all-pervasive power consciously to influence all men to submerge themselves in ever-deeper delusion. In fact, however—as Hinduism teaches also, even though less explicitly—the satanic influence is not only individual, but universal.
Was Jesus "the only Son of God?"
It is a dogma in Christianity that Jesus is "the only Son of God." Paramhansa Yogananda declared this to be a truth. He also said, however, that it is a deeply esoteric truth, and applies as much to the foundation of the universe as to that divine human being who was born in Bethlehem.
God could never in essence, of course, be anthropomorphic; that is to say, He could never, in essence, possess a human form. It is inconceivable that the Creator of a hundred billion galaxies, each with its own innumerable stars and planets, could have any intrinsic form at all.
It is even more inconceivable that such a God, needing help in getting His "job" done on earth, could have created one human being as His "only son." Paramhansa Yogananda stated that the dogma that Christ is God’s "only Son" is true only if we understand it in the deeper sense expressed in the Eternal Truth, Sanaatan Dharma.
The deeper meaning of "Son of God"
The "Son of God," as Yogananda declared, is not Jesus the man, but the infinite Christ consciousness, which dwelt consciously within him—the reflection in every atom of creation of the omnipresent, eternally motionless Spirit beyond all vibration.
This omnipresent reflection of the Supreme Spirit in all creation is the one and only true Christ, for which "the only begotten Son" is but a metaphor. Jesus had attained that state. Therefore he was called the Christ. All souls who merge consciously into the Infinite attain that all-pervading state of consciousness.
I once asked my Guru, "To what state must one have attained to be called a master?" He replied, "One must have reached Christ consciousness."
Heaven compared to a "mustard seed"
Jesus once compared the kingdom of heaven to a tiny mustard seed (Matthew 13:31). Has anyone ever made the leap from that thought of a sprouting, and then upward-growing mustard seed to the shining astral heavens? If so, it is a leap my own little brain is incapable of making.
What Jesus referred to in that parable was, again, man’s own latent potential to raise and expand his consciousness, spiritually, into oneness with Omnipresent God. That expansion is accomplished by removing, one by one, all the self-enclosing veils which constitute our egoic limitations.
Forever doomed to hell?
The orthodox dogma—clearly specified by many churches—is that mankind is naturally sinful, and doomed to hell. There is a "but" here, however.
We can be redeemed by special grace if we "receive" Christ, who sacrificed his life for us on the cross. Christians are encouraged to think of Jesus Christ, through that penitential offering, as their "personal Savior."
Receiving him has always been understood as the essence of true Christianity because of those words in St. John’s Gospel: "As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God." (John 1:12)
What does it mean to "receive" Christ?
That word "received," however, demands extra-cautious attention. Does "receiving him" mean simply formal baptism—followed years later by equally formal confirmation? Does it mean instead, perhaps, a single ardent act of self-offering before the altar in a church? Considering any one of these explanations as a hypothesis, we should submit it to the test of experience.
Do people really emerge from the first ceremony, or at least from the second one, purged and permanently changed? Is it enough even to make a single, emotion-charged self-submission?
Again, thinking of Christ’s sacrifice as having been made for all men, did human nature everywhere undergo a radical transformation after his crucifixion? What about humanity as a whole? Judging at least from the gloating sadism of the mobs at the Roman Coliseum—one must conclude that the Crucifixion was not followed by any notable mass upliftment.
Paramhansa Yogananda stated that to "receive" Christ means to receive Christ’s presence consciously and inwardly, on a soul level, which is to say, in a deep state of ecstasy. Anything less than that is superficial and should not be taken seriously, since it produces no real or lasting change in a person’s consciousness and no increase of spiritual power (such as one would expect of a "Son of God").
Did Christ die "to save the whole world?"
Jesus said that his physical presence among his disciples was a great help to them, spiritually. What happened, then, after the Crucifixion?
His death did help them enormously, in relieving them of some of the burden of their own past karma. What Jesus accomplished through his divine self-sacrifice on the cross was
The impact on the whole world, however, was definitely to a lesser degree. Water always flows downhill, and if it issues out of the mountains onto a desert, it soon expends itself on those sands. Similarly, the karmic penance of Christ’s crucifixion, being a single act and not renewed again and again in compensation for man’s further and uninterrupted sinning, cannot have fully relieved the sins of all mankind.
A finite cause, cannot have an infinite effect, for even though Jesus Christ’s consciousness was infinite, the crucifixion of his body was a finite event. Wishful thinking, we should remind ourselves, is not "binding on the universe."