In Christianity, we can see the inspiration of service in its full glory

In Christianity, we can see the inspiration of service in its full glory. There is service in Buddhism, there is service in Islam, but there is nothing like the great orders of service that Christianity produced. I had never noticed it but a foreigner from the Far East said to me, “Your hospitals have the names of saints don’t they? St. Bartholowmews, St. Mary’s. Great orders of service, great orders of education. It’s wonderful.” When you read the biography of some brilliant left wing leader such as Mugabe, it often says he was educated at a Jesuit college. One can say that Jesuits have educated half the world. For instance, there are two great hospitals in Tokyo, Sei Roka (St. Luke’s) and Sei Bo (St. Paul’s). They are both run by Christian nuns. The Japanese law in days past was that there must be Japanese doctors at the head of …

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Christianity and Yoga

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/ChristianityandYoga.mp3   The New Testament is not a systematic exposition. The earliest documents we have are letters of St. Paul that happened to survive. So in this talk some of the parallels and yogic readings will be brought out … but not as systematic exposition of the whole of New Testament thought and the whole of Yogic thought as compared and parallel with it. The first one is the narrow gate. This is a passage which has never been explained. In Matthew … ‘Enter by the narrow gate. The gate is wide but leads to perdition, there is plenty of room on the road and many go that way , but the gate that leads to life is small and the road is narrow , and those who find it are few’. Why does he say this? Why does he say the gate is narrow? He says ‘I will draw …

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The Gospel to the Hebrews

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/TheGospeltotheHebrews.mp3   The Gospel to the Hebrews was written in Hebrew not in Greek. The gospel has been lost but a few fragments are quoted by the early church fathers such as Jerome. We know also that gospel went to India. The church historian, the early church historian Eusebius reports that when a Christian missionary went to India he found this gospel was already there. The phrase is from Christ … ‘He who is near me is near the fire’. Now this has occasioned some puzzlement among Christian commentators. Perhaps it means those who come to Christ are in special danger of being tempted by the Devil and falling into Hell. But this is a rather desperate interpretation. Shankara quoting on the Gita almost seems to be quoting this phrase from the gospel … ‘I, The Lord, am like fire, Just as fire does not protect from cold those who …

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You see me in yourselves as in a clear mirror

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Youseemeinyourselvesasinaclearmirror.mp3   There is a saying of Jesus in a newly found gospel, the Gospel of St. Thomas, which is just a short collection of saying, there’s no narrative. ‘You see me in yourselves as in a clear mirror’. St. Paul in his Letter to the Corinthians expands on this saying. It’s found in the Mahabharata … about 300 BC … about 300 years Before Christ. ‘Knowledge springs up in man on the destruction of their sins. When the divine self is seen in the self as in a clear mirror.’ Christ says ‘You see me in yourselves as in a clear mirror’ … a mirror without a veil . And the man’s face is without a veil … as in a clear … clearly … as in a mirror. Paul … there are number of passages in Paul on this. ‘To this very day, every time the Law of …

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The parable contains a riddle

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Theparablecontainsariddle.mp3   The parable was a well-known method of teaching in the Jewish tradition, which Christ continued. The rabbis … there were thousands of parables known. And the essence of the parable was that it contained a sort of riddle. And the riddle was solved by thinking deeply about the meaning and then applying it to ones own self. For instance, a classical riddle in the Old Testament refers to King David, in the days when kings had to be literally the fathers of their people … most children died and the king had several queens. And in spite of his several queens, King David fell in love with a young wife and sent her husband … who was a brave … known to be a brave soldier, to a very dangerous battle where as he expected the husband was killed and David then married the widow. The prophet Nathan …

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The Woman caught committing adultery

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/TheWomancaughtcommittingadultery.mp3   The Bhagavad Gita comments: ‘The firmness by which a dull man does not give up sleep, fear, grief, depression and lust … that firmness is of darkness’. They are referring to something which is consciously held to and protected … not simply an ability to understand … but there’s a firmness … with which he won’t give up … even fear and grief and depression and ignorance … people hold to them. This is the doctrine of neurosis in these days … but it was well known to the Gita. There’s a firmness and that firmness is of darkness. Now, finally, one of the exercises in the parables. This is one which again has never been explained … and we could try it now . The yogic method of meditating on such a thing.. It’s to listen to the story carefully, then to think about the meaning, and …

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A yogi might be directed to make bhavana on the Good Samaritan story

Men of the world try to help suffering as their feelings dictate, supplemented with a little bit of reason, and perhaps tradition. But until there is a considerable power of meditation, it is often found that the acts do not have the expected results. Bhavana practice is meditation and practice of action together, not just meditation alone or action alone. It is not creating a vague idea of compassion to all that suffers. This kind of practice can be depressing, because yogi can be overwhelmed at the hopelessness of individual efforts to relieve what he sees as an ocean of suffering. Nor is bhavana taking some pattern of action, like the parable of the Good Samaritan, and forcing oneself to follow it as a duty. This also leads to inner disturbance from the parts of the mind which are unconvinced. The English saying ‘Cold as charity’ is a cruel illustration. …

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Christ’s appearances were not hallucinations, but forms assumed by the Lord for his devotees

The evening of the third day after Friday, the day of the crucifixion, and it is the day when Christ made the first of a number of appearances to his disciples. They were not expecting anything of the sort-in fact when Mary Magdalene and others first reported what they had seen, the closest disciples did not believe them. Mary herself had not been expecting it; she talked to a man whom she thought must be the gardener. He must have been wearing the clothes of a gardener, and he would not have been wounded in hands and feet and side. The two disciples whom Christ accompanied from Jerusalem seven miles to Emmaus, explaining how the sufferings of the Messiah had been predicted in the scriptures, felt their hearts on fire with what he said, but they did not recognize him. The Gospel says distinctly that he was in a different …

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Yoga makes its own experiments. It investigates consciousness directly

The steps in yoga, says Patajali’s Yoga Sütra, are: Faith, Energy, Memory, Samādhi meditation, Prajñā-knowledge, That rules me out’, replies the sceptic; ‘one cannot believe to order. I don’t accept these things in the first place.’ ‘You are not asked to believe’, replies yoga, ‘it is suggested only that you experiment.’ Yoga makes its own experiments. It investigates consciousness directly, and does not depend on inferences from experiments on material events. It gives methods which can, and must, be tried. Without actual trial, yoga would be no more than a rather unlikely theory. A few things are assumed for a time, as working ideas, but they have to be experienced directly before they are finally taken as true. One such assumption is that there is an all-powerful, unlimited, creator and controller, who projects himself in limited forms to help seekers to realize him. The forms may be human, such as …

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Early converts were disadvantaged

In Christianity and Islam, many early converts were the relatively disadvantaged women and slaves who gained much. In Buddhism on the other hand, the early converts were mostly Brahmins, who had everything to lose. The uneducated simply could not understand doctrines like no-self. When it went to other countries, Buddhism first converted the king or a minister. Thus in China some early monasteries were often well endowed, magnificent palaces where new priests had to he ceremonially ordained before the relics of the Indian founder. Gradually the temples became all-important. Only Zen, though it had temples, refused to give them sacred significance: they were just convenient places for teaching and training. When the anti-Buddhist persecutions came, the Emperors struck at the ordination centres. In no long time, the sects ceased to exist, because no new priests could be ordained after the burning of the temples. Only Zen survived: master and pupils …

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A heavenly realm resembling a vast eagle

In Dante’s Paradiso the Poet is transported to a heavenly realm resembling a vast eagle, in whose eye he sees standing Moses and other prophets. A doubt occurs to him, as it has occurred before in different forms. A man is born on Indus banks, And none is there that speaks of Christ Nor reads of Him nor writes. And all his inclinations and his acts As far as human reason sees are good. And he offendeth not in word or deed. Where is the justice that condemns him? Where is his blame, if he believeth not? Moses meets this with what may be called hand-waving arguments, brushing aside the objection as proceeding from narrowness of vision and of faith. However, the assumptions behind both question and answer, in fact the whole imagined situation, show narrowness of vision. There is a humorous but telling example of the same thing. A …

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Degeneration into a personality cult

St Paul’s letter to the Corinthians warns against degeneration into a human personality cult. Paul hardly ever quotes the words of the human incarnation: he taught the cosmic Christ: The whole universe has been created through him and for him. He exists before everything and all things are held together in him. Through him God chose to reconcile the whole universe to himself… (Colossians 1.16) Some eastern teachers, and especially Zen teachers, believe that this Great Christ is the true message of Christianity. One Zen master, who knew these passages, used to say: ‘Why do they have a dead body hanging up outside their churches? Why do they not teach realization of the Great Christ?’ He himself, as a Buddhist priest, made reverent prostrations daily before the image of the Buddha; but like other Zen teachers (and like Paul), he warned against becoming stuck in symbols. One of them said …

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All bodily mortifications and other exercises are useless

All bodily mortifications and other exercises are useless but as they serve to arrive at the union with God by love. He had well considered this, and found it the shortest way to go straight to Him by a continual exercise of love, and doing all things for His sake. The most excellent method he had found of going to God was that of doing our common business (as far as we are capable) purely for the love of God. . . . That our sanctification did not depend on our changing our works, but in doing for God’s sake what we commonly do for our own. Knowing by the light of faith that God was present, he contented himself with directing all his actions to Him, doing them with a desire to please Him, let what would come of it. -from the account of Brother Lawrence given in “ …

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Man ignores the spiritual Reality within him

Man ignores this spiritual Reality within him and seeks satisfaction in the outer world. As St. Augustine wrote so many years ago : “ Men go abroad to wonder at the height of the mountains, the lofty billows of the sea, the long courses of rivers, the vast compass of the ocean and the circular motion of the stars, and yet pass themselves by.” No matter how far man goes in demonstrating his mastery over the outer world, his soul will remain unsatisfied so long as he ignores the spiritual side of his nature. Permanent peace and satisfaction are only to be found by discovering the nature of his own real Self. This is what the saints and mystics of all ages have taught, and their message is as true to-day in an age dominated by science and technology as it was in the age of the Upanishads.

The main doctrines of the Upanishads, by a careful Christian student of them

The Hindu Scriptures are called the Veda or, as they are divided into four sections, the Vedas, the word Veda meaning knowledge. Each of these four sections, namely the Rig-Veda, the Tajur-Veda, the Sama- Veda and the Arthava-Veda, consists of Mantras (hymns), Brahmanas (liturgical treatises), Aranyakas (meditations for forest dwellers) and Upanishads (philosophical works). According to Jacobi, the earliest hymns may be eight thousand years old and, according to Ruben, the Upanishads were produced between 700 and 550 b.c. The word Upanishad means to sit (sad) close by (upa) devotedly (nt) and later came to mean secret. Therefore these works comprise, it seems, secret instruction given by a teacher to competent pupils sitting near him. It must be explained that in the ancient world it was considered inexpedient to broadcast wisdom too openly, lest the ignorant should misunderstand it, misinterpret it, quarrel about it and make fun of it. Presumably …

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Our own consciousness is not other than the Christ consciousness

The  words of Christ: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” St. John’s words: “He that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen cannot love God whom he hath not seen”. Our goal is Infinite Love. True love itself evokes love. So the great love of God finds its echo in our own hearts and awakens our awareness of the Infinite that is in all. Before this great love we can do nothing but prostrate ourselves. The Prophet Mohammed said:- “God saith, the person I hold as beloved, I am his hearing by which he heareth, I am his sight by which he seeth. I am his hands by which he holdeth and I am his feet by which he walketh”. In St John’s Gospel, of Christ meeting the woman from Samaria at Jacob’s well and saying to her: “Give me to drink.” You will …

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Counsels on the manners of men and the good life

The future St Anthony the Great, the first of the Desert Fathers, was born about 250 a.d. in a rich Egyptian family of noble descent. His parents died when he was 18 or 20, and he was left with one sister the heir of great estates. He had been a serious child, and since youth had listened attentively to the teachings of the Christian Church. Jesus’s answer to the rich young man to go and sell all that he had and give to the poor and follow Him had imprinted itself on his mind. So on his parents’ death St Anthony distributed his lands to the people of his village and sold most of his other possessions for the benefit of the poor, but he kept back a little for his sister. Eventually he gave this away too and handed over his sister to be brought up by some nuns. …

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Adhyatma Yoga and Psychiatry

IT is a well-known fact that modern psycho-analysis is expensive, lengthy and not always successful. It is therefore surprising to read of a certain case-history, described by Professor Jung as being completed in two visits. The patient was young, pretty and highly intelligent. She was the daughter of a rich Jewish banker, and yet in spite of these favourable circumstances, the young woman said that she had suffered from an anxiety neurosis for several years. Questioning her about her ancestry, Jung discovered that her grandfather had been a Rabbi, who belonged to a deeply religious sect, called the Chassidim. These were Jews who strove to become living channels of God’s Grace. Jung felt that here was a clue to his patient’s neurosis, for she had probably inherited this strong religious tendency, but was unaware of its implications. That night Jung dreamed of his patient. In the dream he was handing …

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Overlooking or disregarding sin

Shankara explains ‘overlooking or disregarding sin’ as having as little to do with sinful people as possible during the training period. This is a negative practice, and it may be asked why it is mentioned as a ‘refinement’ of the mind. He says: If it were not mentioned, the mind would go to association even with people who are habitually unrighteous. From the taint which arises from having dealings with them, the mind would become unfit for the practice of Friendliness and the others. Let not sin arise in oneself from engaging in undertakings which depend on habitual wrong-doing. This is why indifference is mentioned in this context. Disregard of sin does not mean standing aside from the suffering of a victim. But it does mean to be free from the mixture of self-righteousness and animal fear and rage which calls itself ‘indignation’. And yet, how can anyone think of, …

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Goodwill towards virtue is a great spiritual quality

Goodwill towards virtue is a great spiritual quality, and it is placed very high because the human mind feels such relief at pulling down something felt to be greater than itself. In the list of doshas in the Chapter of the Self, spite, false speech, and backbiting all have reference to the vice of jealousy listed after them. Perhaps this vice is pointed out so frequently in the yogic classics because it is difficult to recognize in oneself. At the time of the French Revolution, parents were recommended to give their new-born children personal names representing the ideals of the Revolution, like Fraternity, instead of the names of Christian saints as hitherto. But the directive had to be changed, because some parents began giving names like ‘Death to the Aristocrats’ to their children, showing clearly what the so-called ideals of liberty and equality stood for in the minds of some …

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Compassion towards suffering

Compassion towards suffering is the second of the four bhavana exercises. Bhavana in Sanskrit has the sense of saturating, steeping, completely infusing, psychologically it means something which permeates the whole mental life. The yogi exercises compassion in his thinking, in his meditation, and in his action which springs from them. He is expected to find skilful means for relieving suffering at its root, not superficially. To keep giving alcohol to a drunkard or money to a gambler whose vice is ruining his life and that of his family, is not compassion. This is not to say that an enlightened man might not manage to use just that method. A Zen monk was asked to come and preach to a drunkard. ‘I cannot do that/ he replied, ‘but I will come and stay at the house for a week.’ He told the family to go to bed early each evening, and …

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Studying Christian Texts

 I wanted to say something about studying texts from the Yoga point of view and rather than use an oriental text which is not familiar to us I will use a short passage from the New Testament. This makes most of us Christians, lay Christians, slightly uncomfortable. It says, “sell all you have and give it to the poor.” It’s a bit like, “turn the other cheek.” I may lead a good life but I have no intention of selling all I have and giving it to the poor or turning the other cheek. If you meet Jewish people or Muslims, some of them have got a certain stance. You can be a good Jew or you can be a good Muslim. They will give one 40th of their income to charity, as well as following the other directions. They are not expected to impoverish themselves. A good Jew has …

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Christian Meditation

Here is the setting for one definite experiment meditation. First, the principle. The supreme Spirit is all-pervading, and therefore also present in the depths of the heart and mind of man. While the heart is full of conflicting desires, hopes and fears and so on, the light of the Spirit within is obscured, as the bright sky is obscured by masses of storm clouds. Devotion and meditation directed to one of the divine forms will thin the veils, outer and inner. They become in places like the thin white clouds, and the supreme Spirit begins to be seen in the outer world, and finally within also. The yogin becomes more and more aware of the divine purpose, and the role he can play as part of it. ‘Now, the actual practice. It depends on the fact of resonance between the external forms of the Lord, and the Lord seated within …

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