Yoga of the Christ Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 12

Yoga of the Christ

40 min - Talk


Ravi, with his signature humility, candidness, and sense of humor, touches on some themes we examine throughout this course, including the requirements for Christ to be born in us, the urge for a spiritual birth, the origin of the course title, and yogis around us.
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Dec 01, 2020
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Is there an important question for Christ to be born in me? First of all, there is actually a very interesting saying in the Hasidic tradition. There is no room in Him for God who is full of Himself. It sounds simple, but this is actually part of our problem. If we look at ourselves, look at our mind, it's constantly occupied with something or the other.

Even making things up or something it has heard or read, thought about, keeps repeating it or free association. Sooner or later one ends up having almost as if what is the price of cotton in Egypt, which has nothing to do with one's interest even. Something one heard on the radio or television. So what is basically required for Christ to be born in me is really a complete emptiness of myself. Making room for Christ.

And this is the fundamental requirement. And to make room for Christ, first of all requires that I see myself impartially, clearly what is occupying me. And also another thing which is important to emphasize, often it gets forgotten, that the mind in any spiritual tradition, mind is not the real knower. In fact, mind of an ordinary mind seems to belong almost to the opposing team. The real knower is something subtler than the mind, which is why practically in all spiritual teachings, for example in the Yoga, in the Yoga Sutras, very early suggestion to quieten the mind, that the mind needs to be silent so that the real knower, usually they would even call it real seer, because the sages are not so much quoting something, they say what they see.

So Christ or the Buddha, or in contemporary times we can look at people like Krishnamurti or Raman Maharishi, they are not against the scriptures, but they are not merely quoting the scriptures. They say what they see. Similarly about Christ, for example, in one of the Gospels they remarked that He spoke as one with authority, not as the scribes do. So they are therefore directly experiencing something subtle, subtle reality, higher reality. And for us to imbibe that kind of wisdom, to relate with that, requires first of all some silencing of our mind, and then that the mind is not the real knower.

This is something very important to understand, especially in our contemporary world, so much emphasis on mental knowledge, in fact become more and more on information. And therefore a reminder that the kind of experience that we need is only when mind is a little quieter. In fact, even the, we have a great sage in India, Shri Yandiravan, who said that even the highest spiritual experience is the sensation in the body. Actual experience is by sensation or feeling, and therefore internalized sensation. Because even in the scientific world all the measurements are made by externalized sensation, not by the mind.

So for us to be, actually to be able to receive the, if you like, not only the teaching of Christ, but in fact to be able to have Christ be born in us, to become a part of our being, requires the kind of vibration or the energy that he is equated with, which is in his case ultimately the highest reality, because he said the father and I are one, which is also the call of all the teachings. For example, the Buddha also said, look within, you are the Buddha, or in the Upanishads the remark, you are that. That is referring to the absolute or to the highest reality. So very strong suggestion that the real aim of any spiritual teaching is for us to become one with the highest or the subtlest reality. But that, as I said, requires to make room for this, to empty myself of this.

The suggestion is that since the manifested universe, all created by God or the highest level of reality, other words are used, for example Brahma or sometimes just the absolute, because it is difficult to describe any one word or use any one word that captures it. So the whole manifested universe obviously is at different levels of consciousness. And then the suggestion is that each level of consciousness is in fact trying to evolve as it were to return back to the source, back to God. Therefore, whatever level of consciousness, or we might say a particle of divinity or a particle of the spirit, has taken on my body, that is not already at the highest level. It is coming from the highest level, but it is now at a certain much lower level.

One hopes, of course, that it is higher than, let us say, the level of consciousness in a cat or a dog, but that every creature has some level of consciousness. But from the spiritual point of view, that means every creature has some part or particle of divinity, because consciousness, as one of the Upanishads says, is Brahma. So therefore, that particle of divinity at whatever level it now is, has taken on my body, including my mind. For example, when we say in the Gospel, the word became flesh, it didn't just become a hank of meat, it became a whole living person. So sometimes for convenience we just use the word flesh or body.

So this particle of divinity is at a certain level, not at the very highest level, but it wishes to evolve to the highest level. Therefore, it needs to undertake some action. Therefore, it has taken on my body and my mind. So one might therefore say, that is what we end up calling the soul. The soul has taken my body. It's not that my body has somehow got the soul. And my body and mind are meant to be the instruments for undertaking the kind of action that will help the evolution of this soul. So then from the religious perspective, the suggestion is that I am actually the soul or this particle of divinity which has taken on my body.

I am not the body mind because the body mind will die. So therefore this suggestion that the death of the body is not the death of the person. Implication being that the person is actually the soul or the particle of divinity or particle of the spirit wishing to evolve. Now this is easier said than done because in general we all behave as if I am the body and the mind. Even our medical system is all based on this. There is not a suggestion that anything actually survives. This is partly very fundamental assumption in modern science that everything comes from matter, ultimately completely consciousness, which has no consciousness at all, completely dead matter.

Therefore the suggestion that whatever I mean by consciousness in me is actually coming from my body. So therefore the death of the body means that's the end. So one needs to also understand this is a very fundamental difference in the spiritual teachings and what has partly become our paradigm of our knowing or knowledge, modern science. Modern science has certain assumptions. Just as the spiritual teachings have certain assumptions. Yes. No, I think what you're saying is generally true because we are, all our education, all our social upbringing, makes us be wholly occupied with the body mind or the needs of the body mind, even including its fears and desires, power, wealth, pleasure.

And how do I get ahead? All that. Therefore naturally that becomes mostly our occupation. But on the other hand, I think I hardly have ever met a human being and we can ask ourselves, we don't have to just think about general population here, who doesn't occasionally wonder what happens when I die or was there anything before I was born. So these are the kinds of questions which have also occupied all the spiritually oriented sages. Because then the suggestion is that sometimes I am actually a little free of my worldly needs and desires and fears. In fact, sometimes you see this, this is of course possible only when one is a little bit freed of worldly needs and desires. Occasionally there are many such cases in human history that somebody who has done very well in business has made a lot of money, etc. Usually, by the way, it is in the lifetime of age 40 to 50.

Here we end up calling that midlife crisis. But actually if one looks at it slightly carefully, just as we have, if you like, biological or fleshly puberty, usually between the ages of about 15 to 17, depending on male, female, which country. Similarly, in my judgment, there is a kind of a spiritual puberty, need for a spiritual birth. All the teachings speak about that we have a physical birth but we need to have a spiritual birth. Christ also speaks about it. You have to be born of the spirit, as he said to Nicodemus who came to ask him how to enter the kingdom of heaven. And one can enter the kingdom of heaven only if there is a fear born again, born of the spirit.

So it's not to be taken so literally, that is almost also the meaning of the virgin birth, spiritual birth. So therefore there is actually a natural tendency in every human being to then wonder, okay, I have done well in my life, so what's the purpose of my life? So some of these questions sometimes come to us in terms of why am I here? If I'm just going to die after a few decades, so what's the purpose of my life? What's the meaning of my life? Or as we often say in French, raison d'être. So these kinds of questions occasionally do actually arise in human beings but it is true that if I am so driven by my bodily needs and I don't have sufficient meals to have or sufficient money to even live somewhere, so I don't have the energy and the time to even consider these things.

So on the other hand, throughout human history there have been people who have actually asked these kinds of very questions and then they have very subtle intimations. Usually it's our feelings which are much more touched initially than the mind. Of course, later on the mind itself can relate with the higher level of the mind. The monkey mind can sometimes be touched by the Buddha mind, but that is not so common. Nevertheless, the suggestion is that these kinds of urgings to have a spiritual birth or to wonder why I am here, what is it that why did God bother to create me? See, some of these things arise from the clear understanding that I did not really create myself. So very subtle forces and energies are there. And of course, increasing tendency as I see throughout the world, perhaps much more so in the western world, even the eastern world is all being influenced by this, that we just forget about any kind of subtle spiritual energies. Or the religions just might say, oh, you must believe in something, but they are not inviting you to search spiritually.

In fact, I am sure you have heard me say that religions have done more harm to spiritual search than almost any other institution. But the search means to be actually searching for precisely this energy that has bothered to not only create me, but create the whole universe. And very strong suggestion that all of this comes from the highest level of consciousness and that it is possible for us to receive some information or knowledge from that. But really, interestingly, even some of the greatest scientists themselves very much have that kind of spiritual urge. And often they may use the word intuition. Even some of their greatest discoveries are, first of all, initially coming from the feeling rather than from reason.

The remark of Pascal, a great scientist, Hart has reasons that reason does not know. So when I say that people who we have these days just called it the midlife crisis, and then therefore we wish them to keep continuing doing their work as CEOs or wealthy people in the world. But we don't seem to realize that what is actually at issue is a requirement of a spiritual birth. There is no reason for us to imagine that it is wise of us to dismiss all the sages in the history of humanity. I mean, that is completely absurd perspective, but this is increasingly what is actually happening, unfortunately.

We don't give a damn what the Christ said or what the Buddha said or Laozi said or Krishna said. Strange, it seems to me, as if just ordinary information is overriding all this great wisdom. Well, first of all, I call it the yoga of the Christ. Yoga, as you know, can mean actually many things. It can also mean the way what is the teaching or what is the path according to Christ. But yoga literally means it is connected with union. How can my, if you like, ordinary self be connected with the greatest self?

Or how can my spiritual, whatever level it is, can become connected with the divine spirit? Many different ways of saying it. How can, just like Christ said, the Father and I are one is another way of saying it. In Indian tradition, one would almost hardly ever use the word Father referring to the ultimate reality. But Brahma was not. So the remark of great sage, Yajag Balakya, I am Brahma. So we don't need to get stuck with a particular phrase or a particular way of saying it.

It depends on the teaching, the tradition, the language they were using. Christ was hardly speaking Sanskrit. Yajag Balakya was not speaking Hebrew or Armenian. So given that, but the suggestion that, why call it yoga? Yoga really simply that his teaching is a way to the center. Center, in the Indian tradition, one would say that the highest resides in our deepest.

So the word center, there is another way of saying it. But one could also say his teaching is to bring us to the highest level of reality, to bring us to God. So yoga in that sense, a union of my self with the highest self. But then your question, are there other yogis? Yes, the Buddha, for example, is a great example of this. Now, of course, Krishna, often people think of this, him as a mythological person.

But whatever is the historical reality behind it. In fact, even in our contemporary times, I have very much that feeling with, for example, Krishna Modi seemed to be very much at his best. Of course, one should also remember, even Christ himself is not always at the highest level of consciousness, which is really like being at the top of Mount Sinai of consciousness, because he himself even says, the father is greater than I in the same gospel in which he says the father and I are one. So one should not. And similarly, it is said that the Buddha needed to, as it were, renew himself or refresh himself every morning. Because to stay in that highest level of consciousness, then one moves away from any care of the body, usual body in the world.

So even survival in the world requires not to be always in that state of what in India one would call samadhi. Because if I am always in samadhi, I can't survive in the world here. And then the question, certainly all the great teachers, they are not living in their body just for themselves. They are in their body partly to assist the others. In the case of Christ, for example, he is very much trying to teach to his disciples.

And so if he just dies quickly, how is he going to teach? And so therefore the suggestion, at least in my judgment, this is, of course, one can't be sure of any of this. Because it's also true that every religion ends up having its own, as if a monopoly on truth. Nobody can be as great as Christ, according to standard Christian perspective. Similarly, the Buddhists would probably say the same about the Buddha, and the Hindus might say the same about Krishna and others.

But personally, I am not persuaded that any religion or any culture has a monopoly of truth. Intelligent, wise people throughout human history, everywhere, have wished to know what is true, what is real. Clearly, not many people come to very highest level of understanding. But whosoever comes to it, all the people around them can hardly believe it, that this is a human being. So they would inevitably say, oh, he is half God, half man, or he is son of God, or he is incarnation of God.

You can see these labels are applied to many people. Because we can't believe that a human being can actually be that wise, that enlightened, as if love, compassion is oozing out of them. And there is a radiation coming out. I personally have myself met, I've been very fortunate in my life. I would say two or three people, I'm now more than 81 years old.

It is highly unlikely that I'm going to meet still higher or more evolved people than the two or three that I have met. So from my point of view, they are as close to the Christ or the Buddha that I am likely to meet, anybody. And there, I can honestly say, their presence creates a change in the atmosphere around me and inside me. So I think there are people who, when they encounter such people, are obviously deeply touched by this and can hardly believe that these are ordinary human beings. So we should not imagine that any particular religion or culture has a monopoly of truth.

But everywhere, there are extremely few people, extremely few, who in fact come to that kind of level. And within the Christian tradition, here is the great teaching of Christ in the name of love repeatedly, but then we get inquisition. More Christians have been killed by other Christians in history than by anybody else. So one can also see that it is not easy to maintain that kind of level of either understanding and especially in practice. Because our worldly requirements of fear and desire take over, we want to even monopolize something.

This is my teaching, this is my teacher or my guru, and he alone has the truth. Christ is the only son of God to say that for a kid who is hardly 10 or 12 years old, hardly out of diapers. What sense does it make? But this kind of thing is there in every religion. So these remarks that I make about Christianity are not exclusive to Christianity. Every religion has this kind of dogmatic impression or understanding, and they convey this to the kids.

Then later on, whenever the kid actually learns anything, grows up, either they become fundamentalist Christians or they react against it. In fact, one of my sad realizations, even in the academic world these days, in the Western academic world, there is more and more interest in studying consciousness or levels of consciousness. But I have hardly ever seen any Western person coming from the Judeo-Christian tradition ever quoting anything from the Gospels or from St. Paul or anything, or from the whole Judeo-Christian tradition. They would quote something from the Buddha. I seem to be the only academic in these circles who actually quotes happily from the teaching of Christ. Many wonderful remarks from St. Paul, for example.

This is the reason I say that sometimes these kind of dogmatically oriented religions create more damage to spiritual search, because then people who grow up in those religions, either they become fundamentalist or they become against it, they react against it. So there is a tendency, I see many, almost more educated Christian background people are generally against the Christian Church. And there is always this strange tendency as if either we have the truth and they don't, or they have the truth and we don't. It's completely silly, because the teaching of Christ is absolutely remarkable. Similarly the teaching of the Buddha, similarly the teaching of Krishna.

But all of these require submitting oneself as intelligently and as compassionately with a great feeling of learning something to these teachings. Otherwise one can just say, I or we or our religion alone has the truth and none other. So in that sense, your question about are there other yogis, yes, certainly throughout human history there have been some. But always to keep in mind, very few. We can see, but this is not surprising, there have been, right now there are hundreds of thousands of physicists, but only a few of them at the level of Newton or Einstein.

Similarly hundreds or thousands of musicians, how many at the level of Bach or Mozart. So we should not be surprised that similarly there are probably thousands of actual spiritual searchers also, but they don't necessarily all come to the level of the Christ or the Buddha. That would be surprising. This remark of Christ that you did not choose me, I chose you, actually partly arises in the context of, that often even his close disciples don't quite understand what he's saying. They are bewildered by this or confused by this.

So it's not easy to really understand any subtle teaching. Certainly usual crowd, they are just struck by some miracle or the other, but they can soon turn around also to try to kill him. So that you see many examples of this right in the Gospels. So the suggestion that when some of these disciples want to then go away or leave him because they don't understand what he's saying, it is in that context he makes this remark, you did not choose me, I chose you. And this is rather important to actually realize.

I sometimes say, in fact there is, of course, naturally something is required from the side of the disciples as well, obviously. As I was giving a very simple example the other day, I may apply that I wish to do a PhD in physics at Princeton University. That doesn't mean that they don't decide. So are they choosing me or am I choosing them? So both are required. After all, they have many, many people applying to do PhD in physics at Princeton University, especially at one time. It was obviously the most exalted university for physics work, especially in the late 1960s.

It had great physicists there. And so in a way they choose who would be an appropriate candidate to do something. So Christ's teaching is really very much to prepare these disciples, as he repeatedly said, to become like his brothers, sons of the same father as he is. And that is not possible for everybody. It's quite obvious. So in a way he has to make, he has to look at the people and see for whom it may be possible.

And then often they were traveling together, all of these disciples. So much of the teaching that I, this is my impression, but I can't be sure of any, nobody can be sure of any of this. In fact, hardcore historians don't even accept that Christ, actually Jesus Christ even lived. But this is very hardcore historians. The kind of data they want is difficult to find. But nevertheless, from whatever one can gather, these various disciples of Christ travel together with him for some time, although usually the female disciples get left out.

From whatever one can also gather that Mary, Mary Magdalene seems to have been a very close disciple of Christ. In fact, Peter in one of the non-canonical gospels even is asking Christ, why do you kiss her on the lips? So he's slightly upset by some of this. But that aside, more the point is that he may be giving the same teaching, but as I said earlier, ten people could listen to the same, listen to Ramana Maharshi or to Krishnamurthy. What they understand or what they would report is likely to be different because different things have struck them. So I feel that the different disciples are obviously struck by maybe different things.

And for example, the two of the greatest miracles attributed to Christ, namely bringing Lazarus from the death to life and turning water into wine. The second one is not so great, but the first one is absolutely remarkable. But it is reported only in John's gospel. It's not reported in any other gospel. So this already indicates that maybe John or whosoever is actually the author, understood this maybe more symbolically or others were not aware of this or did not realize this. It's also very important to realize that whosoever is listening to Christ, his disciples even, it depends on their quality of being, quality of recognition. Actually, what is the word believing in faith, for example, is pistis in Latin, from which we get the word epistemology, theory of knowledge. So whenever Christ said something remarkable or did something striking, some of them see that he is extraordinary.

Then they would say, Lord, I believe. But hardly five sentences later, they don't believe because they are no longer able to see something. So one needs to realize that all of this is being reported by them. Something extraordinary is taking place. Then they see something. Some of them don't see it. Some see it. So the various different reports are being given by different disciples. And so the reason I had mentioned that we have to keep this in mind, that he also chose Judas. It's not that Judas decided to choose him. And then Judas had actually the place of honor at the Last Supper, whatever these scholars can discover. And also Christ washed his feet also.

And Christ himself makes this remark, whosoever's feet I wash will never go into perdition. So Judas, how can Judas go into perdition if Christ has washed his feet also, unless we deny the teaching of Christ. And then also Judas was the keeper of the treasury of these disciples traveling together, including Christ himself. So he's taking care of it. So to imagine that just for 30 pieces of currency, he would betray them makes almost no sense to me. My own impression is, as actually has occasionally been said by great theater directors or film directors, that to play the role of the villain is harder than anything else.

So I think Judas was perhaps the most advanced pupil of Christ. That's why he was asked to play that role. Because the crucifixion of Christ is not something imposed on him. This is another thing which people don't seem to realize. Christ chooses to be crucified. He could have skipped town. All the Pharisees would have been happier about this. His disciples would have been. Nobody was stopping him from that.

But he understood his life's mission. In fact, he calls his crucifixion to be his baptism. And that his baptism was to undertake this crucifixion. This is the last remark of Christ before his crucifixion in the Garden of Gethsemane. If it is possible, let this cup pass me by. Yet not my will, but thine be done. He understood this crucifixion to be the will of the Father. And he's submitting himself to this.

And then to prepare his disciples to undertake their own sacrifices in one way or the other. Any of the disciples about whom we know anything, they were not having bowl of cherries afterwards any more than Christ was having bowl of cherries. They were all undertaking suffering intentionally, which is what makes it sacrifice. Because of this fundamental idea, you can find in all spiritual teachings. Religions don't like to emphasize this simply because they just want it to be nice and happy and not to follow any serious teaching. But that sacrifice periodically is required for the maintenance of cosmic order, which is why, for example, you find in the book of Revelation that the Lamb of God, namely Jesus Christ, was slain from the foundations of the world. So some of these major events take place in the spirit world. Then an appropriate drama is required for them to be manifested at a given time.

So my own impression is that the crucifixion of Christ is not something now taking place for the first time. Slain from the foundation of the world. But now for it to be manifested 2,000 years ago, a whole story is required, a whole drama is required. So they need somebody to hand him over. But maybe Judas was almost only prepared to hand over his teaching, actually.

He was the most advanced pupil. But he's called to play that role by Christ. It's Christ who is asking him to go and do what you need to do. You can read this in the Gospel. This is not my words. And so he goes and plays his role, even though knowing that he will then be completely vilified.

But he undertakes this as a sacrifice. In fact, then he later on commits suicide because of this vilification. These are not things I'm saying. These are all in the Bible. Well, the call really is, and Christ said this in many different ways, every Gospel has it, to leave my ordinary self behind, to be free of that, not to be driven by that. So that then I could actually hear what Christ's teaching is, because otherwise I'm unable to hear it.

As I said earlier, this Hasidic saying, there is no room in him for God who is full of himself. So then I can hear what he's trying to teach and try to practice it. So that is the overall call. Now, on the other hand, let me assure you, very, very few people actually give a damn for what the Buddha taught or what Christ taught or what any sage taught. Even if they may say, I am a Christian or I am a Buddhist or I am a Hindu, how many people are actually practicing anything that he brought?

But that aside, then your question, what happens to them? Between now and a year from now, nearly 140 million human beings will die, and as many and more will be born. So it's a large conveyor belt. This is on which we all are, you and I included. So it doesn't matter whether we follow Christ's teaching or don't follow Christ's teaching. This conveyor belt will still continue.

The question really simply is, if I were to follow Christ's teaching, and to practice it, not merely to keep repeating it for others, but if I practice a little bit of it, then that element of spirit or divinity that has taken on my body and mind will go to a slightly higher level. Otherwise, it will return to its original level because that element doesn't die. As Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita that what is real never dies. What dies is the form or the body that it has taken. And then it will take another body.

One may or may not accept precisely what Krishna is saying because that has to do with reincarnation, etc. Which also, by the way, very much the idea existed in Christianity until the 6th century. But that is aside, I don't want to get into all those details. Unless you are interested, I will be happy to speak about this. But much more importantly, to imagine that I am special is, of course, our tendency.

Everybody thinks I am special and they want to. By special, they mean I am wealthier than the other person, I am more powerful than the other person, I am more admired than the other person. Sure, that is what is occupying all of us. So we keep doing it. But, guaranteedly, within a few decades, maximum 100, 10, 120, if you are really bad to your grandchildren, you may live that long.

Otherwise, most people would die before they are 100. So it's the large conveyor belt. This is also part of the cosmic order. After all, why don't we raise similar kind of questions about mosquitoes? Millions of them are born, millions of them die.

Just the same thing about human beings. What's the big deal about them? But the suggestion from all spiritual teachers is that the big deal about them is not for themselves as their body, mind, but that they could actually become the instrument of this spiritual element or the particle of divinity. But if they are not willing to undertake that, that's fine. So they just come and they go.

What's the big deal about that?


Jenny S
2 people like this.
This series was so insightful, and this episode was a nice reminder of some of the highlights of your talks...I actually got goosebumps from time to time ✨✨✨✨✨

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