The Aims and Ideals of Yogananda Are Perfectly Suited for Me

My Guru, Paramahansa Yogananda

I’ve been called to become a student of Paramahansa Yogananda’s Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF). The story behind that call is quite interesting and I’ll share it with you at some point, but for now I thought I’d point out a couple of the organization’s “Aims and Ideals” as published by SRF based on Yogananda’s teachings.

There are 11 separate items on the SRF list and I am in wholehearted agreement with every one of them. That in itself is a rarity in my seven decades plus on the planet. Those are the two on which I’d like to focus here.

First, Yogananda taught and SRF promulgates this ideal:

To reveal the complete harmony and basic oneness of original Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ and original Yoga as taught by Bhagavan Krishna; and to show that these principles of truth are the common scientific foundation of all true religions.

For most of my life, I have been a follower of Jesus the Christ. For much of that time I’ve been following his teachings from the perspective of a modern progressive Christian, i.e., one who believes that Jesus the Christ was an actual human who was also Divine in nature. I like to say I follow the teachings of Jesus but not necessarily all of the teachings about him.

In that consciousness, I have studied Jesus as he is described and explained not only in the traditional canonical gospels bearing the names of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, but also in the non-canonical gospels discovered in modern times, including, among others: Thomas, Secret Book of James, Dialogue of the Savior, Gospel of Mary and the Gospel of Peter. These little-known but increasingly studied “lost gospels” contain treasure troves of information about Jesus’ life, ministry and teachings that cannot be found in the canonical gospels with their limited scope and purpose.

I have also become deeply interested in how other faith traditions — notably Islam, Hinduism/Vedism, Buddhism, and the Baha’i Faith — view his essence and his teachings, and I have benefited greatly from this expanded view.

Finally, I have also spent many years studying modern understandings of Jesus including A Course in Miracles, which I studied for 10 years and taught for seven. Along the way my comprehension has been greatly aided by modern Christian theologians and leaders willing to step outside the comfort zone of seminary and ancient books and speculate or project based on other writings.

SRF is, historically, a Hindu-based religion in the sense that it originated in India with Vedic thinkers and teachers. Yogananda was instructed by his guru, Sri Yukteswar, to come to the United States and spread what Hinduism teaches as the “Science of Religion” (i.e., Yoga in the broadest sense of that word). He spent most of the rest of his life in the United States where he developed a large following.

The SRF position on Jesus the Christ above completely meshes with the understanding I have come to about the nature, essence and teachings of the Divine Rabbi. I particularly find myself in enthusiastic agreement with the final sentence in which Jesus and Krishna teachings form the scientific foundation of all true religions.

The second SRF aim/ideal which screamed out to me as being almost unique among the world’s religions is this one:

To unite science and religion through realization of the unity of their underlying principles.

While this statement stops short of the Baha’i belief on the subject, it is the most explicit doctrinal statement on the subject of science vs. religion that I’ve seen in any of the many paths I have investigated over the decades. To be sure, many religions and spiritual paths would agree with the SRF sentiment; but their doctrinal statements don’t achieve the level of detail this one does. (For the sake of completeness, I should say that the Baha’i teaching is that in the event of any apparent conflict between science and religion, the position taken by science is to prevail, even if it means revising long-held religious beliefs.)

I find it refreshing to be following a guru so farsighted as Yogananda on both the subject of science and on the notion of the existence of a science of religion, which is in some ways the flip side of the same coin.

Stay tuned for more to come as I discover greater and greater truth under the watchful guidance of my guru.

 

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