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Original Christianity and Original Yoga
Many of us who were brought up in the West have Christian roots of one variety or another. Whether we were devout or superficial, we had a devotion or affinity with Jesus. This includes an education into what we have thought were Christian beliefs.
It was a revelation and a relief to many of us when we encountered Eastern thought, such as the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, or the teachings of the Buddha. The ideas of karma, reincarnation, and the evolution of the soul seemed both logical and wise. However, this brought about a conflict for serious thinkers: could we still consider ourselves Christians, when we believed things which were out of the mainstream of what is considered Christianity? This was no small matter, especially when we thought it was an "either/or" proposition.
Autobiography of a Yogi
Those fortunate enough to come upon Paramhansa Yogananda's spiritual classic Autobiography of a Yogi found to their great relief that it was not "either/or" regarding Christianity and Eastern thought, but rather it could be "and". Among other ideas, Yogananda showed in this remarkable book three important points for those who called themselves Christians:
- Christianity and Yoga and Eastern thought were not opposed to each other, but rather part and parcel with each other. Yogananda's insights into the Bible showed that many ideas ignored or opposed by many modern Christians were part of Jesus original teachings.
- He showed that the miracles of Jesus and his apostles, and the transformed humanity shown in the New Testament, were not mere relics of a bygone era, but from his direct experience with the saints of India and elsewhere, documented in his Autobiography, showed that there is another spiritual world here and now that can be touched and lived in.
- And related to that, that we ourselves can transmute our consciousness, transcending this mundane existence and attain experiential knowledge of our inner selves and God-consciousness itself.
Original Christianity and Original Yoga
The monks of Light of the Spirit Monastery, have dedicated their Original Christianity and Original Yoga website (OCOY.org) to Yogananda's ideal of uniting Original Christianity and Original Yoga. It is the assertion of this site, and its head, Abbot George Burke (Swami Nirmalananda Giri) that Christianity can best be understood from the eastern point of view, and that it is in reality an expression in the West of what was originally Eastern thought and practice.
Jesus and India
There is growing evidence that Jesus spent much of his "Lost Years" in India and Tibet, studying and teaching. The article The Christ of India at ocoy.org documents much of the knowledge that has come to light in the last few centuries in this regard. In reality Jesus was a missionary in the West of the knowledge which he studied and realized during his oriental sojourn. The teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads, Yoga Sutras, and the teachings of the Buddha were his bread and butter, and his teachings in the Gospels reflect this. And prior to his journey to India, these ideas were already put forth in the teachings of his Essene masters .
That reincarnation was clearly a tenet of early Christianity and Judaism, and not a mere eastern transplant is clearly put forth in the article May a Christian Believe in Reincarnation? at ocoy.org. So for a Christian to believe in Reincarnation is to believe the original teachings of Jesus rather than to depart from them.
Dharma for Awakening
Commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads, Tao Teh King, Dhammapada, and much more are included in the Dharma for Awakening section on the OCOY.org site. By a broader understanding of these texts we can come to a fuller understanding of our Christian roots. We invite you to explore the site and visit and subscribe to our blog and have spiritually uplifting content sent to you on a weekly basis.