excerpts from Experiencing God Within: The Universal Truth Behind All Religions—Brother Anandamoy
“Brother Anandamoy identifies the universal needs that lie at the core of all spiritual seeking, and demonstrates how true spirituality, found in the esoteric traditions of the world’s great religions, fulfills these needs through direct personal experience of God.” ~ SRF
“Bringing back the esoteric teaching underlying all the great religions”
“To surmount Maya was the task assigned to the human race by the millennial prophets.” Autobiography of a Yogi
[Yogananda] doesn’t say Hindu prophets, or Jewish prophets, or whatever. It is by the millennial prophets–they all have taught the same thing: “To rise above the duality of creation and perceive the unity of the Creator was conceived of as man’s highest goal.”
Self-Realization Fellowship is… not a new sect, it is not a new religion. So what is it?
Paramahansa Yogananda was the last in a line of God-realized Masters whose mission it was to bring back the esoteric teaching which is underlying all the great religions. And that teaching, that esoteric teaching was lost in the dark ages…
YOGA—The Scientific Key Underlying All Great Religions
Control of the energy, this is the scientific key to—we call it yoga—but it is really the scientific key of the esoteric teaching that underlies all the great religions.
The external aspects of religion, there you find big differences, obviously, because they have been sent in different times, they have been sent to different people… And these various religions are deeply rooted in the history of certain people, the history of the great saints and masters, prophets of the various religions, so therefore you cannot possibly bring them all together in an external way, no way. …
A professor came from a university from India to interview [Yogananda] in Los Angeles…and he asked him, “You claim there is an underlying unity of all religions. How come there is quarreling, even war, certainly conflict between the different religions. And the Master said, you read the same thing even in the ancient scriptures of India. There is worshiping Shiva, that is to them the supreme God. And others who say, no, it is Vishnu and his incarnations of Rama and Krishna, he is supreme. Then he said, I often have heard him say, that if you could bring together, in the same room, all the great saints, the great masters, the great prophets of the various religions, there will be perfect harmony.
And you bring their followers together and they are at each others’ throats. And he says, why? Because the great ones, they have the full vision, I mean experience of God. And the others who do not have that experience, they go by dogma, and there of course are differences. And so we have to understand the key to religion is experience, not just belief…
Sanatana Dharma–overcoming suffering and attaining infinite bliss consciousness
And now we come to the essence, the fundamental point, not only of religion, but life…
There you come to two things that every single human being–they will not have peace until they have these two things. And these are like two sides of a coin….
Number one, you want to be free from suffering …Not just for a little bit, but once and for all. Now let’s go into that, I want to show you that this is in all the various scriptures, the various religions. Krishna said in the Bhagavad Gita “Get away from the ocean of suffering.” Jesus said, “In this world ye have tribulations.” That’s suffering. “But be of good cheer because I have overcome the world.” And that is not understood yet by most people, what he meant by that…
Those great ones they came as examples. And they say, come on, I show you the way, and you can attain the same state of consciousness that I have…
Buddha said suffering exists, there’s a cause for suffering, that cause can be removed. Then he boiled it down to one thing, what is the cause? Desire. As long as you have unfulfilled desires you have no peace. That’s the state of suffering…
Now the other side of the coin.… What is the strongest instinct in man? Self-preservation, right? Nobody wants to die… That’s the deep-seated desire—we want eternal existence … we want that existence to be blissful…supreme bliss that is ever increasing, eternal, infinite … In India they have a name for that, Satchitananda. And that’s the name of God. God-consciousness is infinite bliss consciousness. We will not rest until we have that.
These two, overcoming suffering and attaining infinite bliss consciousness, that is called sanatana dharma in India, and that means the eternal religion…That is the name usually given to Hinduism but it is the essence of all the great religions in the world…
So what is the solution? We have to transcend duality
Now comes the point, how do you get there? So what is the solution? You cannot find it in the things of the world, or outer conditions. That’s the tough one. Because everybody is thinking of fulfillment outside, isn’t it, conditions in the world. You cannot find it there, why? Because creation is built on the principle of duality. (Brother goes on to explain duality and that we can’t cut duality in half and take just the pleasant half, we get the unpleasant, too).
So what is the solution? We have to transcend duality, and go beyond that. (In the Autobiography) Master says to surmount maya (duality), meaning to transcend maya, was the task assigned to the human race by the millennial prophets. He doesn’t say Hindu prophets, or Jewish prophets … by the millennial prophets, they all have taught the same thing. To rise above the perception of duality and to perceive the unity of the creator was conceived of as man’s highest goal…
So where do you find it? They all say the same thing, the various religions. And in the external religion that is usually taught now, they are not teaching it. And they have it in the scriptures. Jesus said, the kingdom of God is within you, right? (he discusses St. Teresa of Avila teaching her nuns to seek God within using the allegory of the turtle like Krishna, withdrawing the senses within). That’s strictly yoga … knowing the soul comes then automatically Oneness with the Infinite. That’s yoga, and yoga means union, and implied is union between your soul and the infinite.
The whole principle of raja yoga—bringing the energy up the spine
What is the greatest commandment in the Bible–Old Testament, New Testament? “Love God with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul, all your strength.” Right? That is in one sentence the whole principle of raja yoga …I’m talking about science, which eventually leads to samadhi. Samadhi means union with God… And so that great commandment in the Bible is exactly that.
”And love God with all your strength.” Today yet, they do not know what it means. It means energy. It means energy. And the principle is very simple you know… Master used to say where the energy is, there is your consciousness. Within us we have six, they call it chakras, spiritual centers of light in the spine, and the seventh one is in the head, in the brain… These are the centers of consciousness and energy. And when the energy comes down it goes through the coccyx out through the nervous system…and we become body identified. …
Now the principle is…as we have descended and gone out, we go in and go up, and there you are. It’s as simple as that in principle…it is within. Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras, one of the main keys, one of the main steps is pratyahara, interiorization. In the Koran, holy book of the Moslems, “Remember thy Lord within thyself”— they all say the same thing.
And you can go anywhere now, any church or temple or whatever, are you taught go inside, God is in there? No, they say God is somewhere in heaven, behind the clouds somewhere. He’s far away.
Spiritual laws–the foundation of all the great religions
Another point… The foundation of every religion is basic rules so that we live in harmony with God’s laws. In yoga it is called yama, niyama, the do’s and don’ts. In the Bible you have the Ten Commandments… And we read in the Old Testament again and again, the prophets say, keep the commandments, keep the commandments that it may go well with thee and with thy children. And when you see the history of the Hebrews, whenever they did that, there was peace, prosperity. When they turned away from God, and away from the commandments, nothing but trouble and suffering, right?
That is the history of every nation in the world. And that is what’s going on in the world now, because to a great extent, modern man threw those laws out the window. Why? Modern man wants to be free, no restrictions, do as you please, do your own thing. That’s not freedom, that’s slavery to the lower self, to our passions, to our quirks, to our moods, our selfishness, all that… And I tell you, mankind has to go back to the commandments. You cannot go against the laws of God and have peace within. It creates a contrary negative vibration within. That is why this, these laws, this is the foundation of yoga, of all the great religions.
Science of Yoga explained metaphorically in the Jewish Scriptures
And then comes the science. As I said before, how the energy and consciousness has descended and gone out. Now I show you. It’s even more clear than Genesis.
[YOGANANDA SITE NOTE: The Old Testament of the Christian Bible is made up of the Jewish Scriptures, as Jesus was a Jew and taught from Jewish scriptures. The scriptures about Jesus are called the New Testament.]
Ezekiel. “Thou hast been in Eden the Garden of God.” That’s not a place, it’s a state of consciousness. “Thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.” Those are the chakras of light. “Thou was perfect in thy ways from the days that thou was created until iniquity was found in thee. And by the multitude of thy merchandise thou hast filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou has sinned.” Now this is exactly that energy went out and man became so engrossed in external pursuits that he lost the divine consciousness. And so he says, “I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God, and I will destroy thee from the midst of the stones of fire.” The mountain of God is the highest chakra from here (spiritual eye), the medulla and the thousand rayed lotus in the brain…the seat of cosmic consciousness. That’s the fall of man. That’s the original sin.
And so now what do we do? As we have descended, and gone outward, become body identified… we go back, isn’t it? Withdraw through yoga techniques, withdraw the energy, go up and there you are. That’s the spinal highway. That’s what the Master called it. He said all the religious bypaths lead eventually to that because everybody has to go back into the spine and up.
Now I’ll show you, it’s in the Bible, believe it or not. Isaiah, “The highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness.” That’s the spine, the inner spine… “the unclean shall not pass over it”… meaning those that are not interested in anything spiritual, that are completely engrossed in outer pursuits, “But the wayfaring man, though fools…” St. Francis was called a ‘fool’ by the whole population there in Assisi… ”Though fools shall not err therein. “No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beasts shall go up thereon, but the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion.” Zion is another name for the holy mountain, the thousand rayed lotus. “With songs, and everlasting joy upon their heads. And they shall obtain joy and gladness and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”
And there you have it. If you understand this symbolic language—Sanatana Dharma. “Sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” Suffering eliminated. And eternal joy, bliss consciousness.
[Brother tells of going to a Jewish community, being invited to talk, and all he took was the Jewish prophets.] And afterward some people came and one lady said, “What you people are teaching is actually our Jewish religion, isn’t it? And I said, “You’re absolutely right.” It’s the essence, it’s the teaching of Judaism, but not only Judaism, it’s the esoteric teaching of Christianity, and Hinduism and whatever. It’s there, it’s there.