Christ Consciousness Here and Now
Michael Toms with Brother Chidananda, Radio Interview
MT Yogananda was very much a teacher of science and spirit. I think that was an attractive point of view for a lot of people, particularly Americans, who tend to be very rational and want to have the scientific view.
BC Very much so, yes. He attracted doctors, physicists; all sorts of different people would visit him and spend the evening talking. He was able to relate to them on that scientific level, by telling them that there isn’t anything occult or mysterious about yoga if you have the vocabulary, which, wonderfully, modern science is continuously providing. Nowadays, even more than in Yogananda’s lifetime, we see this interface, you might say, of science with spirituality.
MT The Second Coming of Christ. There are lots of books and lots of interpretations of Jesus out there, probably thousands. What makes this one different or unique or original?
BC Paramahansa Yogananda says in his introduction to The Second Coming that if anyone is trying to interpret the sayings and the teachings of Jesus, unless they have experienced the state of consciousness from which he was talking, then it is inevitable that they are going to put those sayings into their own cognitive framework, their intellectual “box”: and knowingly or unknowingly their interpretation is going to be confined by that. What makes this book unique is that Paramahansa Yogananda was one who contacted that infinite Divine Consciousness which he said Jesus embodied. And from that state, from that point of view, he was able to unfold these very condensed and sometimes cryptic sayings that are recorded in the Gospels, to bring out their full spiritual significance.
MT He talked about Christ Consciousness; how did he define Christ Consciousness?
BC He spoke of it as the infinite consciousness of God or Spirit that pervades all creation. The Christ Consciousness is what he was referring to in the very title of the book, The Second Coming of Christ. He didn’t call it The Second Coming of Jesus. He said that the real significance of the “Second Coming” is that the infinite love of God —the infinite Joy and Divine Consciousness that were embodied in Jesus — can come back a second time in you and me and in anyone who makes the effort to expand his consciousness to receive it. This he said, is the real second coming of the Christ Consciousness.
MT What about the Holy Ghost?
BC One of the things I find very exciting about this book is that having grown up in a Christian tradition, there are all of these terminologies and concepts that we were taught since childhood. And Holy Ghost is one of them. It is a term that many of us grew up with not really understanding it. But the way Paramahansa Yogananda unfolds it, it becomes such an incredible, beautiful concept. He defines it as the experience of the life-force of the universe. It is the holy, sacred Cosmic Vibration, which in the yogic tradition is called the Om or Pranava; it is the source of life in the body, the source of all manifested creation. And we can become one with that — actually experience it — through yoga meditation.
MT Continuing along with some of the things that were brought out in the book: Baptism? Being baptized?
BC In everything Yogananda brings out from the teaching of Jesus and the stories of his life, he is showing Jesus as a great yogi. This is part of what makes the book not only unique, but makes it so valuable on an experiential level. And baptism is one of those experiences. Baptism corresponds to the concept in yoga, called initiation, or in Sanskrit, diksha. At the time a spiritual master accepts a disciple, he gives him initiation, which is literally a transference of spiritual energy — a projection of the masters life force and consciousness and awareness; his divine blessing, divine grace, into the consciousness and body and mind of the disciple. Truly speaking, that is what baptism was always meant to be.
In the description of the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. there you see the true baptism, which isn’t about just dunking somebody in the water. I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way; but only to point out that many of these rituals and ceremonies over the years have become divorced from the real spiritual power that was there in the beginning. When John the Baptist conferred that spiritual baptism on Jesus it is recounted, he “saw the heavens open and the Spirit of God descending on him in the form of a dove.” This is a description of baptism by the Holy Ghost, baptism in the spiritual consciousness, the opening of the tricoloured spiritual eye at the point between the eyebrows, which is a very well-documented and well-explained aspect of initiation and deep meditation in yoga. It is opening the doorway, the portal, through which the disciple can go from body consciousness into the higher states of divine consciousness.
MT Brother Chidananda, in these times we hear a lot about being ‘born again.’ What about “born again” from Yogananda’s point of view. What did that really mean from his perspective?
BC The first birth is when we incarnate in these fleshly forms, these physical bodies with all of their cognitive and sensory apparatus — the brain and intelligence and different faculties that come with the body. But then the second birth is the awakening of the higher faculties, the faculties of soul Intuition.
Intuition means to perceive that dimension of creation which the five senses cannot perceive, beyond matter, beyond physical energy. When by practising meditation you begin to awaken that quality of soul intuition, then you begin to see yourself in a totally different Way: “I’m not this body! And when it dies, who cares? It doesn’t mean anything to me. It’s a cloak; it’s a set of clothes.” When I know myself in my real essence as a being of light, a being of consciousness, a being of joy, a being of perfection — that is the second birth.
MT And the point that Yogananda made so often was that Christ Consciousness is available to you and me and all of us
BC That’s right. If it weren’t, then of what relevance is it? This is the entire message of the book, from page one to page seventeen hundred; that if you look at Jesus or any of the other great masters as just an ideal — or you put their beautiful scriptures up on your bookshelf and pay respects to them — of what value is that, if their message doesn’t become something that transforms us and we can find a way of accessing and uncovering that divine consciousness within ourselves?
MT So, just what is “enlightenment?”
BC English is a very impoverished language when it come:: to describing these high states of consciousness. So I’m going to jump to a Sanskrit word and then tell you how that translates into English. But the first thing to admit is that it is completely beyond words.The yogis, the masters, say: “He who knows, he knows; no-one else knows”. You cannot describe it; you have to experience it. But the word that they give to it which comes closest is sat-chit-ananda. Translated loosely, that means “ever-existing, ever conscious, ever new joy or bliss.” Ananda means bliss, and enlightenment means oneness with that sat-chit-ananda; infinite bliss, immortal bliss, all knowing, omniscient, omnipresent Bliss. ‘That is what we really are.