This profound commentary gives scriptural authority to the ecumenical hopes of our times.
Parallel passages from the Judeo-Christian Bible and the Bhagavad Gita of India reveal a single unified teaching. East meets West and theological barriers tumble. Two scriptures become one Truth.
Concepts such as karma and reincarnation are explained in the words of Jesus; while salvation through grace, and the “only son of God,” are described in the Bhagavad Gita.
Rays of the One Light is based on the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda—a great spiritual master from India, and author of the beloved classic, Autobiography of a Yogi.
Week 1, At the Heart of Silence—the Eternal Word
Week 2, Did God Create the Universe—or Become It?
Week 3, Is God Present Even There, Where There Is Ignorance?
Week 4, The Infinite Christ
Week 5, The Mystery of Avatara, or Divine Incarnation
Week 6, The Importance of Soul-Receptivity
Week 7, The Law Is Perfected in Love
Week 8, Can Man See God?
Week 9, By Thinking Can We Arrive at Understanding?
Week 10, Dogmatism vs. Common Sense
Week 11, Reason vs. Intuition
Week 12, We Are Children of the Light
Week 13, Deeds vs. Intentions
Week 14, (Palm Sunday) Who Is This Son of Man?
Week 15, (Easter) Resurrection for Every Soul
Week 16, To Each According to His Faith
Week 17, How High Should We Aspire?
Week 18, Perfection Is Self-Transcendence
Week 19, The Secret of Right Action
Week 20, Activity vs. Inner Communion
Week 21, The Best Way to Worship
Week 22, The Inner Kingdom
Week 23, Why Do Devotees Fall?
Week 24, How Devotees Rise
Week 25, The Eternal Now
Week 26, The Redeeming Light
Week 27, Abiding in God
Week 28, Self-Reliance vs. Self-Reliance
Week 29, Self-Effort, Too, Is Needed
Week 30, Do You Need a Guru?
Week 31, How Democratic Is Truth?
Week 32, Does God Hide the Truth?
Week 33, Does Satan Exist?
Week 34, How Should We Meet Our Tests?
Week 35, Who Are True Christians?
Week 36, Ego—Friend or Foe?
Week 37, Truth Invites; It Never Commands
Week 38, Intuition Is Simple: The Intellect Is Complex
Week 39, Many Are The Pathways to Truth
Week 40, In Surrender Lies Victory!
Week 41, Victory Demands the Courage of Conviction
Week 42, First Things First
Week 43, What Is the Best Way to Pray?
Week 44, Why Tell God Anything, When He Knows Everything?
Week 45, Faith Is a Call to Prayer; Prayer Is a Call to Faith
Week 46, The Promise of the Scriptures
Week 47, Reincarnation—the Spiral Staircase
Week 48, The Law of Karma—Bondage, or Soul-Release
Week 49, What Is It, to Fail Spiritually?
Week 50, Living in the Presence of God
Week 51, What Was the Star of Bethlehem?
Week 52, The Divine Ascension
Week 53, The Last Commandment
The chapters in this book, called “Weeks,” were written to be read every week at the Sunday morning services at the Ananda churches of Self-Realization. They can also be read, of course, at any other time, and by individuals as well as by groups. They are universal, not sectarian, in their teaching, and are meant to be both instructive and inspiring for people of every, or of no, faith.
An attempt has been made to show the underlying unity between the Bible and the Bhagavad Gita, particularly, but also by implication the essential thread of unity that runs through all the great Scriptures.
A visitor once asked Paramhansa Yogananda, in my presence, “Since you have called your church a ‘church of all religions,’ why do you concentrate primarily on the Bible and the Bhagavad Gita?”
”That was the wish of Babaji, the guru of my guru’s guru,” Yogananda replied. It is enough to demonstrate the ocean’s depth by sounding it at one or two points. Its depth elsewhere can then be assumed.
Week 1, At the Heart of Silence—the Eternal Word
Truth is one and eternal. Realize oneness with it in your deathless Self, within.
The following commentary is based on the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda.
In the Gospel of St. John, Chapter 1, these immortal lines appear:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
Human vision beholds individuality and separation everywhere. Divine vision beholds the oneness of cosmic vibration, of which all things, no matter how diverse, are manifestations. Cosmic Sound—the "Word" of God—and Cosmic Light: These are eternal. The world, as revealed to us by our senses, is illusory.
In Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramhansa Yogananda relates an early experience he received of the divine aspect of reality:
Sitting on my bed one morning, I fell into a deep reverie.
"What is behind the darkness of closed eyes?" This probing thought came powerfully into my mind. An immense flash of light at once manifested to my inward gaze. Divine shapes of saints, sitting in meditation posture in mountain caves, formed like miniature cinema pictures on the large screen of radiance within my forehead.
"Who are you?" I spoke aloud.
"We are the Himalayan yogis." The celestial response is difficult to describe; my heart was thrilled.
"Ah, I long to go to the Himalayas and become like you!" The vision vanished, but the silvery beams expanded in ever-widening circles to infinity.
"What is this wondrous glow?"
"I am Iswara. I am Light." The voice was as murmuring clouds.
"I want to be one with Thee!"
Out of the slow dwindling of my divine ecstasy, I salvaged a permanent legacy of inspiration to seek God.
Wise are we if we meditate on that experience of Yogananda’s, and salvage from it even a breath of his inspiration. For, quite simply, there is nothing else! As the Bhagavad Gita says in the seventh Chapter:
I make and unmake this universe. Apart from Me nothing exists, O Arjuna. All things, like the beads of a necklace, are strung together on the thread of My consciousness, and are sustained by Me.
Thus, through holy scripture, God has spoken to mankind.
In 1996 (I believe it was), I received a fax from a friend, the minister of the Ananda Church of Self-Realization in Palo Alto, California. They, like most of the Ananda churches, had been using my edition of Paramhansa Yogananda’s book, The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam Explained, in their Sunday worship services in place of my earlier Rays of the Same Light, with its quotations and explanations of parallel passages from the Bible and the Bhagavad Gita.
I had always known that Rays of the Same Light didn’t quite meet the needs of our ministers. That book gave explanations of the scripture passages, but failed in the sense that many of the explanations were simply too long for a Sunday worship service. I had done my best to keep them all brief, but at the same time, because of the need for brevity, in that attempt they were too brief to explain my full meaning. I realized that two books, really, were needed: one succinct enough for reading at services, and another much longer one to be read alone, at one’s leisure.
The fax I received was a heartfelt plea. "We’ve been reading excerpts from Omar Khayyam Explained. Next Sunday we’ll come to the last of those excerpts. Please, please, must we really go back to those long readings from Rays of the Same Light?" It seemed to me I could almost see tear-splotches on the printed fax paper!
Very well, I decided. I knew she was right; I’d only been delaying the inevitable. That very day I sat down to write something we’d always needed: a condensed version of Rays of the Same Light. I called this greatly abbreviated version, Rays of the One Light. It has become our standard Sunday manual. Ministers often study the longer version also, to help them in preparing their sermons.
Yes, I did get the first of these readings off to our Palo Alto minister before the deadline she’d given me. I also managed from then on to keep ahead of subsequent deadlines!
Rays of the One Light is useful primarily for reading during worship services. The need for brevity, however, necessitated in a number of cases that I write new thoughts altogether. Thus, the book is no mere condensation of Rays of the Same Light, but is in many ways a book in its own right.
"Offers parallel connections which Christians and Hindus alike will find fascinating."
—Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review
"Readings from the Bible and the Bhagavad Gita . . . lead the reader to an awareness of the essential unity of religious experience."
—Small Press Magazine
"Thought-provoking interpretations and insights."
—The Bookwatch television program
"Effective selections . . . . [the] comments are simple, very understandable."
—The Book Reader