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    Spiritual Techniques

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    What 19 faiths contribute to the spiritual technique


    The following excerpts are from a book entitled World Fellowship Addresses and Messages by leading spokesmen of all Faiths, Races and Countries; edited by Charles Frederick Weller, General Executive World Fellowship of Faiths; Liveright Publishing Corporation, New York 1935.

    By Paramhansa Yogananda
    Author of the spiritual classic Autobiography of a Yogi

    Science is progressive. Most religions are stationary. Science is constantly winning new inventions because they are based on untested beliefs. The usual method of most churches has been to hold their people by virtue of inbred church-going religious habits, or by holy threats, or by lectures, and musical or festive entertainments. If the scientists do not get new knowledge by blind prayer, how can the religionists expect to know new laws of life just through blind prayer? Instead of peddling untested dogmas and urging people to believe, churches should convert their premises into universities of experimental psychology. Ancient India built the biggest and most gorgeous temples in the world, but now they have mostly become marts for priests to ply their religious trades and to shear the pilgrims of money for their own diabolical uses. India is now going through a new evolution and is getting rid of this false growth. In little secluded hermitages, unmarked by any religious trade-mark, real spiritual teachers, who live the Life, are experimenting with the worthwhile effect of spiritual laws on the lives of true seekers , and not on floating curiosity seekers.

    Protestants, Catholics, Christian Scientists, Jews, Quakers, followers of Unity, Rosicrucians, Theosophists, Buddhists, Shintoists, Mohammedans, Jains, Mormons, Zoroastrians and Hindus must cease fighting with one another about the infallibility of their individual dogmas, and spending money in decorating their temples. They should get together and find the real meaning of life. Let the best universal moral and religious codes of discipline as found in all true religions, be combined into a universal spiritual treatise on the art of moral and spiritual living. It might be named the "Code Book of All Religions."

    From the Hindus let us take their methods of Self-Realization through scientific psycho-physical meditation, which throws the searchlight of attention from without to within. Let us omit the superficial religious ceremonies, caste system, untested beliefs, etc. Let us take the pantheistic, positive conception of God as ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new Joy -- which, directly or indirectly, all people are seeking. Let us take from them the doctrine of Reincarnation which assures imperfect souls, cut off by untimely death, a chance to make continuous effort until perfection is reached. Let us take [the] law of Karm or cause and effect which makes man responsible for his advancement or downfall, and explains why there are born failures, morons and other defectives, produced not by God but by the wrong actions of individuals in past lives. Let us take the Hindus' step-by-step methods of meditation which scientifically and gradually lead to God-contact.

    From Buddhism let us select the unique self-discipline and the doctrine of compassion-including even the animals within the family circle of love. Let us avoid the popularly-interpreted negative or annihilating state of Nirvana. As Souls, made in the image of God, we cannot be absorbed, losing our individuality. We can remain confined in the flesh through desires for some time, but not for all time. According to Hinduism, as Soul images of God, we expand by right effort until we become Gods. Let us accept from Buddhism the doctrine of Reincarnation and the universal moral code of living.

    From the Christian Catholics let us learn their profound devotion to God. Let us learn self-discipline from the exemplary lives of the Catholic saints. Let us omit their fear of hell. This earth can be made hotter then hades or better then beatific paradise. Let us omit their sect exclusiveness. I should like to see the Pope of Rome and the Bishop of Canterbury exchange pulpits-for they are both disciples of One Christ. The Catholics should hold their people by Self-Realisation, not by dogma.

    From the Protestant Christians let us adopt their liberal views about God and Truth-and avoid their lack of perfect devotion. Let us combine the intellectual sermons of the liberal Christian Church with the Self-Realization of the Hindus. Christian churches should employ intellectuality, not merely to believe something reasonable, but also to find the technique of using and developing the powers of intuition and concentration so the God may be scientifically contacted. Self-Realisation should be the binding force of the Christian churches.

    From Christian Science let us take the idea of making Christianity practical by using spiritual healing. Let us adopt their good principles of teaching people to depend more upon the all-powerful mind and not to enslave it to the habits of the body. Let us omit their exclusiveness and their method of holding people by intellectual dogma and isolation. Truth can never be the monopoly of one sect. It is only comparative study of religions that we can find the path best suited to us. Let no Christian Scientist deny the existence of matter or body until he develops himself like Christ to know that Spirit alone exists. Christian Science , according to Mary Baker Eddy, received some of its knowledge from India-and Christian Scientists should increase their knowledge by constructively exchanging their religious experiences with real Hindu Savants.

    New Thought has done great work in uniting the eastern and western religions and in emphasizing the necessity of entering the Silence. It lacks a system of scientific training in spirituality, but it has done much to free people from wrong Orthodox beliefs.

    Unity (Kansas City) has done great work in liberalising Orthodox Christianity in America and by incorporating some of the doctrines of Reincarnation , and so forth, of the Eastern religion. It should avoid the growing clannish spirit and the excluding from its centres of speakers representing other religions whom it used to welcome. Unity is very liberal and has done a great good in emphasizing the necessity of Silence and Mediation in modern churches. Unity asks its students to meditate, but does not give them the exact technique. It needs the scientific method. Unity would be more practical it if adopted the Eastern technique of systematic meditation and mental development which leads to conscious contact with God.

    From Judaism let us learn to worship only the One God of Gods, and no other. Let us follow some of the hygienic teachings of Judaism -- and avoid its clannishness. Let all followers of Judaism hold themselves to their religion because of the Self-Realisation of Truth and not because of racial prejudice.

    From Mohammedans let us adopt the practice of regular chanting and regular praying. Let us learn their spirit of resignation to the will of God. Mohammedans ought to adopt the esoteric method of Sufis.

    Bahaism is an eclectic religion with splendid liberal principles. It is not original, but collects the results of other religions under the liberal doctrine of Bahaism. It should give esoteric training in Self-Realisation and Self-DisciplineQand not depend only upon theoretical lofty principles.

    Theosophy has done wonderful work in uniting eastern and western religions and in emphasizing esoteric Christianity, but it has contradicted its esoteric teaching by frightening people about some forms of meditation. Real meditation never caused any one to go crazy, but instead can heal insanity. Meditation should not be blamed if people happen to go crazy anyway in the course of time, due to bad heredity or wrong living. People who are liable to go crazy should take a rest; they have no business taking any kind of lessons. Many crazy people seek the church and if they happen to explode with an emotional bomb during a stirring sermon and go crazy in the church, the temple walls or the sermon of the minister should not be blamed. Churches, or representatives of any kind of teaching, cannot help it if crazy people seek them.

    Rosicrucianism is more or less an eclectic religion. It emphasizes the necessity of Silence. It has done much good. It should avoid the emphasis of mysticism. Truth when understood should be free from mysticism. The tendency to love supernatural powers must be free avoided lest it divert its devotees from the seeking the highest-God. Rosicrucianism should learn systematic methods of Self-Realisation from the Eastern world.

    Self-Realisation Fellowship (Yogoda Sat-Sangh) emphasizes the technique of Self-Realisation:as scientifically evolved by the Saints of India-and still to be discovered by future Savants. It is not a sect. It tries to avoid the lack of (Self-Realisation)of the theological school and the dogmatism of the churches. It emphasizes the fellowship of religions, not for empty theological discussions, but to get together and find the highway of Self-Realisation wherein the bypaths of all beliefs meet.

    Yogoda Sat-Sangh was founded by Lahiri Mahashay , one of the great incarnations of God. He was a prophet who lived according to the ideals of the Bhagavad Gita in the world but was not of the world. His life was exemplary and unparalleled in showing to business men and women of the wold now, by Self-Realisation, God can be contacted without fleeing away from the world. We have heard of unmarried prophets without distractions attaining Realisation, but Lahiri Mahasaya was married and had a family with its business to look after; still he was one of the greatest prophets the world has known. He has been compared to Kind and Saint Janaka of India. The Supreme Master of these teachings is Babaji, who is living an unusually long life-while retaining his youthful appearance. He is known to have all the powers which Christ had. My Master, Swami Sri Yukteswarji, founded the Sat-Sanga (Fellowship of Religion) Movement in India. Yogoda, or Self-Realisation doctrine, teaches the combined technique of Self-Realisation as taught in Sankhya, Yog and Vedant-and is based on the universal, usable principles underlying all religions.

    Rama Krishna Mission exalts the name of modern India. Ramakrishna emphasized Self-Realisation from the beginning to the end, and united all religions by his exemplary life. However, most of his disciples in India have concentrated more upon missionary work, and emphasize only the devotional path, to the exclusion of some other scientific Yog paths. Rama Krishna Mission has done wonderful relief work in India. It should avoid the clannish spirit of intolerance for other paths-which its Master never had. It has more substantial Self-Realisation of the great Savants than most so-called liberal eclectic religions. Rama Krishna Mission would do well to teach its students more of the technique of meditation (Yog) and not so much emotional devotion. Ramakrishna himself practiced Yog.

    I believe that Mahatma Gandhi, from the quantitative standpoint of doing good, has outdone all the saints and prophets who preceded him. Gandhi is second to none, for, unlike all other prophets, he came out of the confinement of his teachings and of his followers and has virtually dictated to the powerful English nation to abandon empty politics and to administer justice in India. I believe that he is living the Scriptures and is the embodiment of Spiritual discipline. Through his life many Souls will also be qualitatively, completely uplifted and liberated;quantitatively he has partially uplifted more Souls of all nationalities than any one that I know. Of course, it is hard to tell which saint or prophet has been the greatest instrument of qualitatively liberating the most Souls.

    Gandhi, by his example, has done a great deal to rid India of the liquor and drug trade and liquor and drug habits. he has greatly helped to make India's people fearless and self-supporting. His has given to the nations of the world his religion of reforming life and politics by Truth (Satyagrah). His has given to the nations of the world the all-conquering ammunition of non-co-operation with which to conquer wars, to destroy the castles of patriotic and industrial selfishness and to bring peace on earth.

    Gandhi stands for plain living and high thinking, and each for all, and all for each. By his example, he has actually gained more followers in his life time than any saint or prophet who lived before him. Gandhi is a political prophet sent on earth to be the Savior of nations by forming a league of hearts.. His principles of living Truth, combined with the esoteric teaching of Soul development as scientifically taught by Hindu Savants and true saints of all religions, offers to the world a great standard of super-living.

    The Bharat Dharm Mahamandal is an Orthodox religion teaching a belief in the caste system. It emphasizes the teachings of the Rishis. It was founded by Swami Gyananand with his great lecturer disciple Swami Dyananda whom I personally know. This movement, would do a greater service if it liberated its principles to include all nationalities, all the children of God.

    The Brahm Samaj of India is what the Unitarians now are in America. It was founded by the great Raja Ram Mohan Roi and developed by the famous Keshab Chandra Sen. It has done much to liberalise the ideas of Orthodox religions of India. It was the pioneer religion which helped gain freedom for the women of India. It leans towards western methods of culture and adopts them in daily life. It would do well to incorporate the practical Yog system in its teachings.

    The Arya Samaj movement, founded by the illuminated late Swami Dayanand, is a very liberal Movement, which has done wonderful work in India in breaking down the caste system and other social evils. This Movement has revived the ancient Aryan culture of the Rishis along liberal lines by establishing Gurugulas (institutions for both boys and girls) in India, and is also doing various other philanthropic work, such as establishing orphanages, widow-homes, free dispensaries , and Yog ashrams.

    The philosophy of pantheism, which teaches that God is everything, should be used to take away the one-sidedness of monoism and dualism. Evil should be explained as the result of delusion. All that exists is God. Study of theoretical western philosophies is good, for it helps us to understand the pragmatic philosophies of the East. Sankhya, Yog and Vedant, three eastern philosophies, are pragmatic and meant directly to discipline human activity so that it will yield the highest wisdom and final emancipation. The Sankhya philosophy teaches that the highest necessity of men consists in uprooting the three-fold suffering of body, mind and Soul. Sankhya teaches one to seek in religious technique the panacea for all sorrow. Yog tells people of the step-by-step methods of Self-Realisation which directly lead to God by the scientific way, which alone can destroy the possibility of all suffering. According to the highest Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita, Yog is the surest and the supreme best way, for it constitutes the scientific technique of salvation. Vedant teaches the doctrine of the Ultimate; it describes the state of God Realisation and God. Yog is the most important of the three, for it is the technique which leads to the Ultimate Goal. Vedant describes the contents of the mine of Divine wisdom, but Yog tells about the way of mining that knowledge for human use. All humanity, and all religious sects, should follow the combined religious experiences of these three philosophies, and find in them the greatest standard of right living. This alone can produce ideal citizens of the world.

    Last of all, remember, we are all a little bit crazy and don't know it -- because crazy people of the same kind mix together. But when people with different crazy ideas about religion and other matters come together, they find out their own craziness. Let us all get together and find out our craziness, and then, with united hearts and Souls, we shall march to the altar of World Unity.

    From my heard I feel that a great Spiritual flood is coming from America and a great Spiritual flood is coming from India -- started by Mahatma Gandhi and the saints of India. When these two floods meet, we shall have perfect harmony and understanding and peace in all nations.

    SOME OF THE MAJOR RELIGIONS REPRESENTED IN THE SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA ARE:

    CHRISTIANITY      CHRISTIANITY BEGAN ABOUT 2000 YEARS AGO IN WHAT IS NOW ISRAEL. JESUS OF NAZARETH IS THE FOUNDER. ESTIMATED 1.5 BILLION ADHERE TO THE RELIGION. THERE ARE THREE MAIN SECTS: ROMAN CATHOLIC, EASTERN ORTHODOX AND PROTESTANT. AMONG PROTESTANTS THERE ARE OVER 20,000 DENOMINATIONS. TODAY OVER HALF OF THE CHRISTIANS ARE BLACK.

     

    JUDAISM                        JUDAISM BEGAN ABOUT 3700 YEARS AGO IN EGYPT-CANAAN, NOW ISRAEL. ABRAHAM, WHO STARTED THE LINEAGE, AND MOSES, WHO EMANCIPATED THE ENSLAVED JEWISH TRIBES FROM EGYPT. ABOUT 12 MILLION WORLDWIDE ADHERE TO THE RELIGION, OVER HALF IN U.S. THERE ARE THREE MAIN SECTS: ORTHODOX, CONSERVATIVE AND REFORM, WITH OTHER REGIONAL AND ETHNIC DIVISIONS.

     

    ZOROASTRIANISM      IT BEGAN 2600 YEARS AGO IN ANCIENT IRAN. SPENTA ZARATHUSTRA IS THE FOUNDER. 125,000 MOSTLY NEAR MUMBAI (BOMBAY-INDIA), WHERE THEY ARE CALLED PARSIS. THEY ARE SPLIT INTO TWO SECTS SPLIT OVER A QUESTION OF CALENDAR.

     

    ISLAM                              ISLAM BEGAN ABOUT 1400 YEARS AGO IN PRESENT DAY SAUDI ARABIA. PROPHET MOHAMMED IS THE FOUNDER.  OVER I BILLION, MOSTLY IN THE MIDDLE EAST, INDONESIA, MALAYSIA, PAKISTAN, BANGLADESH, AFRICA, CHINA, EASTERN EUROPE AND U.S. (GROWING POPULARITY). THERE ARE TWO MAIN DIVISIONS WITHIN ISLAM. THE SUNNIS, FOLLOWERS OF THE POLITICAL SUCCESSORS OF MOHAMMED AND SHIITES ARE FOLLOWERS OF MOHAMMED’S FAMILY SUCCESSORS, ALL MARTYRED AT AN EARLY AGE.

     

    SHINTOISM                    SHINTOISM BEGAN AROUND 2500-3000 YEARS AGO. EACH OF THE THIRTEEN ANCIENT SECTS HAS ITS OWN FOUNDER. ESTIMATED 30 MILLION AHERE TO THIS RELIGION, MOSTLY IN JAPAN. MOST ARE ALSO BUDHISTS.

     

    CONFUCIANISM      CONFUCIANISM BEGAN ABOUT 2500 YEARS AGO IN CHINA. FOUNDED BY SUPREME SAGE K’UNG-FU-TSU (CONFUCIUS) AND SECOND SAGE MENG-TSU (MENCIUS). ESTIMATED 350 MILLION MOSTLY IN CHINA, JAPAN, BURMA AND THIALAND ADHERE TO THIS RELIGION. FOLLOWERS ARE FREE TO PROFESS OTHER RELIGIONS YET STILL BE CONFUCIANISTS.

     

    TAOISM                           TAOISM BEGAN ABOUT 2500 YEARS AGO IN CHINA. FOUNDED BY LAO-TZU, WHOM CONFUCIUS DESCRIBED AS A DRAGON RIDING THE WIND AND CLOUDS. ESTIMATED 50 MILLION MOSTLY IN CHINA AND OTHER PARTS OF ASIA ADHERE TO THIS FAITH. TAOISM IS POTENTLY MYSTICAL TRADITION, SO INTERPRETATIONS HAVE BEEN DIVERSE AND ITS SECTS ARE MANY.

    SIKHISM                         SIKHISM BEGAN ABOUT 500 YEARS AGO IN NORTHERN INDIA, NOW THE COUNTRY OF PAKISTAN. GURU NANAK WAS THE FOUNDER. ESTIMATED 9 MILLION, MOSTLY IN INDIA ARE THE FOLLOWERS. MOST OF MALE WEAR TURBAN.

     

    JAINISM                          JAINISM BEGAN ABOUT 2500 YEARS AGO IN INDIA. NATAPUTTA VARDHAMANA KNOWN AS MAHAVIRA WAS THE FOUNDER. ABOUT SIX MILLION ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY IN INDIA ADHERE TO THIS FAITH. THERE ARE TWO SECTS: THE DIGAMBARA AND SVETAMBARA.

     

    BUDDHISM                    BUDDHISM BEGAN ABOUT 2500 YEARS AGO IN INDIA. GAUTAMA SIDDHARTHA OR THE BUDDHA (ENLIGHTENED ONE) IS THE FOUNDER. OVER 300 MILLION THROUGHOUT    CHINA, JAPAN, SRI LANKA , THAILAND, BURMA, INDO-CHINA, KOREA AND TIBET ADHERE TO THIS RELIGION. BUSSHISM TODAY IS DIVIDED INTO THREE SECTS: THERAVADA, TIBETAN AND MAHAYANA. ZEN BUDDHISM, WELL KNOWN IN THE WEST, IS A JAPANESE MAHAYANA SCHOOL.

     

    HINDUISM                      HINDUISM, THE WORLD’S OLDEST RELIGION, HAS NO KNOWN BEGINNING-IT PREDATES RECORDED HISTORY. HAS NO HUMAN FOUNDER. NEARLY 1 BILLION, MOSTLY IN INDIA, SRI LANKA, BHUTAN, NEPAL, MALAYSIA, INDONESIA (BALI), AFRICA, EUROPE AND NORTH AND SOUTH AMERICA ADHERES TO THIS RELIGION. THERE ARE MAIN FOUR SECTS: SAIVISM, SAKTISM, VAISHNAVISM AND SMARTISM. IT WORSHIPS ONE SUPREME REALITY, CALLED BY MANY NAMES.

     

    FAITHS                            IN SEARCH OF THE DIVINE, HUMAN HAS CREATED INUMERABLE SMALLER “FAITHS.” A FEW EXAMPLES ARE EXPLORED BELOW:

     

    SHAMANISM            THIS BROAD TERM INCLUDES THE THOUSANDS OF TRIBAL INDIGENOUS FAITHS WHICH HAVE EXISTED ON EVERY CONTINENT SINCE LONG BEFORE RECORDED HISTORY. BELIEVES INCLUDE A DEEP SENSE OF THE SACREDNESS OF LIFE AND OF THE EARTH, COMMUNION WITH SPIRIT GUIDES AND IN THE ABILITY OF MAN TO LIVE IN HARMONY WITH AND INFLUENCE NATURE.

     

    SPIRITUALISM            SPIRITUALISM HOLDS THAT THERE IS ANOTHER PERHAPS DEEPER, REALITY ON THE OTHER SIDE WHICH CAN BE CONTAACTED BY MEDIUMS OF PSYCHICS WHO HAVE SUFFICIENT SENSITIVITY. IT IS ONE OF THE OLDEST FORMS OF COMMUNION.

     

    THEOSOPHY            FOUNDED IN THE LATE 1800’S BY MADAME BLAVATSKY, THEOSOPHY EMPHASIZES MYSTICAL EXPERIENCE, ESOTERIC DOCTRINE, MONISM, UNIVERSAL BROTHERHOOD, AND EXPLORING THE POWERS OF LATENT IN THE MAN AND NATURE.

     

    UNIVERSALISM            MANY FAITHS ARE BASED ON UNIVERSALIST PRINCIPLES, OFTEN TO AVOID CERTAIN DOCTRINES WHICH ARE SEEN AS NARROW OR SACTERIAN. UNIVERSALISM ARISES IN ALL RELIGIONS, WHETHER CHRISTIAN (UNITARIANISM), ISLAM (BAHA’I), JAIN (RAJNEESHISM) OR HINDU (DOZENS OF ALL RELIGIONS MOVEMENTS, SUCH AS THOSE OF SAI BABA AND MAHARISHI MAHESH YOGI).

     

    OTHER FAITHS      AMONG THOUSANDS OF OTHER FAITHS ARE: INDIGENOUS PEOPLE’S TRIBAL RELIGIONS, HUMANITARIANISM, ANTHROPOSOPHY, SWEDENBORGIANISM, GNOSTICISM, NEOPLATONISM, SCIENTOLOGY, WITCHCRAFT, PAGANISM, OCCULTISM, SUBUD, FREEMASONRY, SATAN WORSHIP, MYSTICISM, HUNA, SUFISM, ROSECRUCIANISM, CHRISTIAN SCIENCE AND RELIGIOUS SCIENCE.