Letters of Encouragement
In this letter Swami Kriyananda responds to a devotee who writes that Eastern spirituality is world-rejecting, whereas Christian spirituality embraces life.
You speak of the “‘tension’ between elements in Christian spirituality and elements in Eastern spirituality.” I read something the other day that struck me as particularly useful for people experiencing stress in their lives. In paraphrase, what the writer said was, “Stress is a perception of reality.”
I would say the same thing of your use of the word “tension.” There is no tension between the teachings of Jesus and of Krishna, or of any of the great masters. The tension arises in our efforts to understand their teachings.
The Hindu teachings have a reputation for being world-rejecting. And, in fact, there are teachers in India who have emphasized this attitude. The Bhagavad Gita, however, which is the Scripture we follow, states at a certain point, “By works alone, Janaka and others of the ancients attained Me.”
The Eastern teaching that all is a dream must be paired with the understanding that it is God’s dream, and therefore inherently right and just. It is we who, by our ignorance, make it an ugly dream. Yogananda emphasized matter being a dream, but we don’t see him refusing to take responsibility for his role in the dream. He did more work than ten, or a hundred, other men.
You say that creation is “good, good, good,” but you can’t mean “good” as we human beings understand the word. Is it “good” that there is suffering everywhere?
Creation is good in that it carries out God’s design, which affords man the opportunity to evolve to the point where he discovers the long-hidden secret of existence. It is man’s end that is wonderful, not his ignorant fumbling as he voyages.
I do not accept that any truth can be a uniquely “Biblical view.” Truth is truth. Great masters in all religions have realized it, regardless of any inherited religious tradition.
There are many ways of presenting the truth. We’d only get confused if we tried to follow, or even to justify, them all. Yogananda’s is the way God wanted the truth presented for this age, and for us, his disciples. I never challenge him with the objection that other masters seem to have presented it differently.
In divine friendship
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