Paramahansa Yogananda on Resurrection and Realization
These excerpts are from The Second Coming of Christ: The Resurrection of the Christ Within You, by Paramahansa Yogananda (Copyright © 2004, Self-Realization Fellowship, Los Angeles, CA, www.yogananda-srf.org; reprinted with permission), which explore the deeper meaning behind Jesus Christ’s teachings on resurrection.
“Resurrection has been well understood by accomplished yogis of India since the dawn of the highest ages. Jesus himself was a realized yogi: one who knew and had mastered the spiritual science of life and death, God-communion and God-union, one who knew the method of liberation from delusion into the kingdom of God. Jesus showed throughout his life and death his power of complete mastery over his body and mind and the oft-recalcitrant forces of nature. We understand resurrection in its true sense when we comprehend the yoga science that clearly defines the underlying principles by which Jesus resurrected his crucified body into the freedom and light of God.”
“Resurrection means ‘to rise again.’ What rises again—and how? Though restoring life to a deceased body, as Jesus did for Lazarus, is indeed one form of resurrection, what Jesus evidenced after his crucifixion was much higher. It was the resurrection of the soul into oneness with Spirit—the soul’s ascension from delusory confinement of body consciousness into its native immortality and everlasting freedom. Lazarus and others whose bodies were raised from the dead by Jesus gained new life, new opportunity for spiritual advancement; but Jesus’ resurrection lifted his consciousness beyond all relativities of vibratory creation and merged his Self with the transcendental Father, Absolute Spirit.”
Persistence on the Path to Liberation
“Ascension to liberation is not a simple matter of a few affirmations, prayers, or desultory attempts at meditation. It can only be achieved by persistent practice of scientific methods of penetrating the spiritual eye. No soul, no saint, no Christ or Buddha has resurrected himself—at the time of death or in the highest samadhi states of meditation—without entering this inner door to transcendent consciousness. As soon as one frees the soul from the physical, astral, and idea bodies, he can merge with the Formless Absolute or experience oneness with the Great Light of the universe. That is the light of the Infinite Christ, the God-essence and sustenance of all creation.
“So resurrection does not mean only resurrection of the body, but the ascension of the soul from all three bodily encasements to live immortally in oneness with the Spirit that is manifesting as the whole universe. When after death Jesus had neutralized the mechanism of the three gunas, and had burnt all karmic seeds resulting from his incarnate cause-effect actions, he ascended from the three bodies straightway into the bosom of God. Then he had power even as God has. From that supreme state, Jesus could put on his body again or cast it off at will.”
“Just as in the exalted state of nirvikalpa samadhi the soul realizes perfect unity with Spirit yet does not lose its individuality, so the resurrected Jesus—having ascended from the confinement of his physical, astral, and causal bodies into the Infinite-bodied Cosmic Consciousness—manifested his Jesus form not apart from Spirit but as the Infinite who has become Jesus, all individualized souls, and all manifestation. In his oneness with Spirit, he perceived through Infinite Consciousness his Jesus body, and the bodies of all others, acting their parts in the cosmic dream-drama, with the power of cosmic delusion designating form and egoity but no longer hiding the connection between God’s dream and the personalized dream of individual existence. With his consciousness translated into God’s consciousness, he could change the dream of his crucified body into a remodeled resurrected dream form in God’s cosmic dream.”
“Jesus’ resurrection was little understood, and much disbelieved even though he made himself visible to hundreds of people—not only to his close disciples. In those days they comprehended only that Jesus was dead and then he was alive, but they did not understand the science and art of ascension and resurrection, as is defined in the timeless scriptures of Yoga. No other science has detailed the descent of the individualized consciousness of God as the soul into man and its evolutionary and spiritual ascent back into Spirit. In this modern age, Kriya Yoga has been brought forward after being lost in the dark ages, as a definite method to hasten the spiritual evolution of human consciousness and open the inner cerebrospinal pathway of ascension, releasing the soul through the spiritual eye into the kingdom of the Holy Ghost, the Christ Consciousness, and the Cosmic Consciousness of God the Father.
Kriya Yoga and the Key to the Kingdom
“The life and consciousness of an ordinary person is so tied to the sensibilities and attachments of the flesh that he cannot begin to ascend from the delusion of the body until he falls asleep or until death removes that body cage. Entering the subconscious state that underlies the outer waking consciousness, every night man partially ascends from bodily identification, but not enough. He reaches the borderland touching superconsciousness in deep dreamless sleep, but upon awakening goes back into the body tomb again. In death one ascends a little farther; but as in sleep, this release from the sepulchre of the body is involuntary and temporary. One must incarnate again and again until he has finished his fascination with the desires and attachments of physical existence. Why not learn to transcend body identification consciously and permanently? In the science of yoga, God-union—specifically, the technique of Kriya Yoga, the precise application of that science—India’s masters have given the key to resurrection, the key to the kingdom of God.”
“….That devotee who thus practices transcending the consciousness of the body by daily meditation will say with Saint Paul, “I die daily”—“I am resurrected daily.” He will certainly retain his consciousness when death comes upon him and he ascends from the body into the heavenly joy of the after-death state.
“Everyone eventually has to ascend, to free the soul into the divine kingdom of higher consciousness after death, and thence into its origin in the Infinity of Spirit. There is only one escape and that is to commune with God. This requires not only conscientious continuity in practicing the esoteric meditation methods of transcendence, but also application of the equally essential Christlike principles of moral and spiritual behavior, which provide the substructure enhancing, supporting, and making firm the devotee’s gains in meditation. The foundational steps of the yoga science enumerated as yama and niyama by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras, and the soul qualities of the devotee advancing in God-realization set forth by Sri Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, merge in harmonious illumination of the way of Christ perfection taught by Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount and other discourses. These emissaries of God speak with a united voice that the way to ascension is to love all, forgetting oneself in selfless service and upliftment of others; to disengage oneself from attachments to the senses, to possessions, and to the emotions that keep one body- and ego-bound (anger, fear, lust, greed); and to love God supremely and meditate so deeply that one can at will enter the ecstasy of superconsciousness—the portal to the final states of ascension in Christ (Kutastha Chaitanya) and Cosmic Consciousness (Sat-Chit-Ananda).
“Practice the edicts of the great ones; do not insult their offering of the gift of liberation by merely mouthing what they have said. It is by Christlike behavior, and by constancy in deep meditation, that the aspiring devotee can go beyond the physical self, the astral self, and the shell of consciousness with which the soul is burdened, and find blissful resurrection in Spirit.”
“If man would feast his mind fully on the soul qualities, the goodness in his fellow beings, there would be no appetite left for indigestible differences. This appreciation is the foundation of tolerance, which underlies the recognition of the brotherhood of man under the one Father-Mother-Friend Beloved God. This is Christ’s teaching. This is the universal spiritual undertone of Jesus’ command to his apostles, “Go and preach my message to the whole world.” Whether his message is rudimentally understood as a way to salvation based on a spiritual morality and love for God and one another, or comprehended in its highest intent as extolling the science of soul ascension, it is inclusive of the expression of soul qualities fostered in all good customs, traditions, and faiths.”
Jesus, Christ Consciousness, and Resurrection
“Jesus was born in a human body; he was crucified; and he resurrected himself. He rebuilt his body, and his soul entered that resurrected form. But he did not re-create a body to remain confined in it. Though he appeared in physical form to his disciples many times after crucifixion, he dissolved that body again. To understand him only as incarnate in a body that was crucified and then resurrected is not appreciably to understand Christ as he is. Incarnate or after resurrection, Jesus was not only a physical personality, but a vessel of the infinite Christ Consciousness. While he resurrected himself in the body, he resurrected his spirit from the confinement of form into omnipresent Spirit. In oneness with the Infinite Christ, he is resurrected in every newborn body, and in you and me, and in all people of the earth, and in everything that has life. He is resurrected in the winking stars, in the planets, and in the cosmic blue. He is resurrected in all things that grow from the earth—in the grass and in the tenderest rose. He feels his resurrection in every form that exists. He is risen in every atom and cell of the capacious cosmos.”
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