Unknown Date, Serial 00205

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people, and that my religious belonging, which is centered in the Catholic Church, cannot be understood except in this sense of belonging to a wider pattern of human religious experience and expression. So I'm speaking of these two texts. One of them, a text that I read during my Ph.D. studies at Fordham University. It's part of a tradition that became one of the sources that I used in my dissertation. But I read it thinking of another word, another writing, the other text which I'm quoting here, that is very important for the tradition of Yogananda. And Yogananda, most of you have heard of him. Paramahansa Yogananda was an Indian, a Swami, that is a Hindu monk, a yogi above all, who came to the United States in


1920, landed in Boston, and began there a cross-country, or several crossings of the country, speaking tour, which enjoyed an amazing success. It was spectacularly successful inasmuch as this Hindu monk, in his late twenties, found himself speaking to full audiences of auditoriums and movie houses. And you must remember that the movie houses in those days were not multiplexed, but there was just one big auditorium and it could hold up to 2,500 people. And he would fill them to speak to people about yoga and make them sing some chants that he translated from Bengali and from Sanskrit. And this aspect of bringing music into connection with meditation was something that I found very fascinating when


I first read his autobiography. Later, towards 1930, Yogananda settled down in California in a place in Los Angeles, in fact, near the college that I initially attended. An old hotel on top of a hill overlooking the center of the city was the place that he found to establish a monastic center, because he realized that, as a monk, he would be able to give more by encouraging men and women to live a monastic life and to live intense practice of yoga and meditation. Yoga, for Yogananda, was above all the art of meditation. Science, he called it, because he felt that Americans would be drawn to a presentation of yoga that would suggest a scientific approach to God, a scientific technique of God-realization. Now, today,


science is in crisis. The word technique can whistle with all sorts of unnatural or anti-natural implications. Technology has a destructive force against nature. This was not in his mind, because Yogananda himself was reading the writings of some of the earlier scholars in what was the beginnings of the new paradigm, the non-mechanistic paradigm, so beautifully elaborated and presented and exposed by Tricho Capra and others, with whom Brother David had a long correspondence and an association, friendship, and I was also shared in their common discussion on these points. But Yogananda, already in the 30s, was reading authors like James Jeans and Eddington and so forth that were suggesting that science is not so much about material objects as about energy and even about spirit. And so, we can say that


yoga presents itself as a science, but just as much as an art. Technique, of course, from which we get our word technology, in Greek means art. And so yoga as art, and above all as an art of meditation. Meditation is primary. The yoga that most people meet with in the United States is yoga for health, or yoga for psychophysical well-being. And you learn about it perhaps even in a health club or a gymnasium or whatever. And so there are yoga vacations and yoga cruises. And the yoga that it's about, of course, is hatha yoga, the yoga of postures. Hatha can be interpreted as referring to the sun and the moon, the polar energies in the human body, but it can also be understood as violence, that is, taking heaven by storm sort of thing. And so this energy, you know, does express itself well


in the body. But Yogananda, perhaps because he was a rather orderly gentleman, you know, and his physical, shall we say, his physical form did not adapt itself to these postures in the yoga books, at least this is my thought, and I say this with all due respect for the great Madame Spirit, I think that it was very important for me to hear this. And he insisted over and over again, yoga is meditation. You meditate, and you go within, and you go into the heart. But also you bring the energies up from the base of the spine up into the spiritual eye, the third eye, in the middle of the forehead, and then back down again. And so this cycle and this moving of energy is a way of drawing the spirit back to its origin, back to its source, and back to the heart of ours, which is God, which is the mystery of the divine. Now, Yogananda comes from a line of teachers, and his guru was


called Swami Sri Yukteswar. He was a married man, and in the early 1890s, he met a mysterious figure who is supposed to be still alive, a man whom Yogananda, yogi whom Yogananda calls Babaji. And Babaji means revered father, but it's also the name which a good Bengali Hindu would give to any pilgrim, even to a beggar who comes to the door, someone who has no means but is walking on his journey. And so it's just a generic name for a mysterious figure, which Yogananda and his teachers believed still lives. But this man told the future Sri Yukteswar, who didn't have this namaste name, his name was Triyanath Karada, told him that he should write a book to bring yoga together with Christianity, with the Bible.


And so, the future Sri, Swami Sri Yukteswar thought about this, and in 1894 wrote his book. This book is called The Holy Science, Kaivalya Darshanam, is the Sanskrit title. There are a series of aphorisms in the Sanskrit language. It doesn't say where they come from, and I suppose that he himself composed the aphorisms, but the body of the book is English. And it does quote the Bible, especially Saint John, the Gospel according to Saint John and the Apocryphs. Now this was very important for me when I discovered this, because it brought me back to the Bible, brought me back to the reading of the Bible, which is of course the heart of the Jewish and Christian traditions. And so at this point I leave the biography of the Yogi Thomas and enter into the essence of these two works. Now one of them I read as a stage on my spiritual search, and it spoke to me deeply, because I felt


with Yogananda that I should listen to this teacher Sri Yukteswar. In fact, I in a way felt myself closer to Yogananda's teacher than to Yogananda himself. I felt about Yogananda as a brother, as a fellow disciple. But this great and beautiful man in photographs taken when he was just before his death in 81, and this wonderful, well, like the face of a lion, you know, is something very energetic and very noble, and at the same time very wise. Just a very icon of wisdom. And so this teaching was also an indication of a way that I could further my understanding of yoga. And eventually, of course, as I say, I did receive the grace of continuing my journey together with the Catholic Church, within the Catholic Church, as a continuation. Obviously it was a leap, and it was something that drew me into a different


space spiritually, but it was a space that I knew that I needed to be in. And thanks to Benedictine monks of the animal, I also was led to understand this did not close off the relationships that I had had with the traditions of Asia and India in a special way. I should continue this. So anyway, we have in this work of Sri Yukteswar, an example of inter-religious dialogue, which takes place through the reading and meditation of the texts. This Hindu yogi meditated on the Bible, and through his own meditation and through his practice of yoga, entered into an understanding of the Christian scriptures, and gave them, in his short book, an interpretation. It was a way of reaching out to people of the Christian


tradition, a way of telling them, look, yoga is something that is universal, and you, within your Christian tradition, can also relate to this teaching, but even practice it, and have the same experience. Yoga is a total religious experience. And perhaps the majority of the followers of Yogananda find their own belonging, their own total belonging, in the association that he called Self-Realization Fellowship. But there is also a great number of people who are Western yogis, and who continue within their traditions that they received within the West. So we have yogis, which I call yogis of the third type, those who, without dissociating themselves either exteriorly or interiorly from the traditional


church or synagogue communities, find in yoga a framework or form into which they consciously and consistently infuse a Christian or Jewish, respectively, content or meaning, both through their inner devotion to God, to the God of the Bible, and through their search for practical methods, delineated by the mystics of their respective tradition, Christian or Jewish as it may be. These traditions, in what we call the West, may have some affinity with India's various forms of yoga. In India itself, we have examples of this model, and the greatest example, of course, would be Griffiths, about whom we will hear from Father Cyprian. Although Father Bede did not favor any particular technique, either in his own meditation or in that of his disciples, he permitted the use of yoga practices at his ashrams, such as the Nanda Ashram in Shatilal, and encouraged his disciples to practice them. In the West,


we also have the example of another Benedictine monk, John Mayne, with whom Father Marx was associated for many years until the early death of John Mayne. In his last years of his life, he promoted a simple and essentially Christian meditation technique, which personal contact with a Hindu yoga teacher had suggested to him, and which he later developed through the study of Christian monastic literature, especially the writings of John Cashin. At a greater distance, culturally speaking, from yoga, but with implicit and sometimes explicit references to it, are various forms of meditation inspired and guided by the anonymous 14th century classic, The Cloud of Unknowing, and here we have also heard of Centering Prayer, and similar approaches to a new contemplative practice. I would also include the Christian believers, many of them members of monastic communities, who occasionally engage in yoga


and Zen practice as a way of dialogue. It is not a permanent part of their spiritual practice, but this is a dialogue. What we have today, I think, is a movement back and forth between the East and the West in relationship with these spiritual practices and traditions. In a way, yoga, by moving into the West, has integrated itself with a part of human experience and a part of human life, which is now becoming helpful in the Asian countries of which it is native, you might say. So there is a kind of a returning of yoga from the West to India, and in some cases you find India's own yogis looking to the Western integration of yoga


as very helpful, precisely because India itself is becoming integrated into a world which is involved with technology and the so-called global economy. But in any case, we find in these two texts a reminder that yoga is a way of the heart. And let me then just briefly convey a couple of points where they can be useful in understanding this point of yoga as a way of the heart. We have in yoga, the yoga of the Yoga Sutras, a system of eight members. The term that is used is eight members, really, and therefore suggests a body, suggests a living being. These are often referred to as eight stages or practices or disciplines


or techniques, but they're really ashtang, eight members, yoga, and therefore this metaphor referring to a living body is helpful. The first two are called yama and niyama, and these can be suggestively translated as precepts and practices. Yama referring to the abstinence from harmful actions and thoughts and feelings and will, and niyama as a more positive exercise and expenditure of energy. At the end of this second term, this second member called niyama, we have the expression, abandonment to the Lord. Ishvara pranidhana, which means really prostrating oneself before the divine as a gesture of total trust and surrender. Yogananda's guru, Sri Yukteswar in his little book, calls it the offering of all actions


and the surrendering of one's whole nature to the supreme teacher. This abandonment leads to the perfection of samadhi, perfection of the ultimate end of yoga. While it is true that the philosophical framework of the tantra, yoga sutras, presupposes the existence of a supreme being more as an abstract reality, as an object of contemplation, there is in an emphasis on this trust, abandonment and surrender, which means of course, devotion. And indeed, bhakti or devotion is a particular path of yoga. It is more than just an optional variant of basic yoga. It is intrinsic to its practice even for those who by nature are more inclined to follow the path of wisdom, jnana, gnosis, or of action, karma. When yoga practice takes the place of ritual worship, it retains the affective spirit of the ancient


rites. I say take the place because this is one of the aspects of yoga, is precisely this search for an interiorization of all that is exterior to religion, to make it something that takes place within the soul, within the person's reality. Let me just touch briefly on this other text, and I will leave the paper to your future reading of it as a way of understanding more deeply this text, but just say a couple of things that are important about this other text by Kshemaraja, a yogi called Kshemaraja, who was a disciple of the great Abhinavagupta, who was the great master of the Kashmir yoga and Shaiva tradition. And Abhinavagupta was a contemporary, exact contemporary of Saint Romuald, the father of the Kumbh Mala beliefs. So this is an interesting connection that


I discovered after, of course, studying this text. Now, for the author of this Pratyabhinya Kirtanayam, Kshemaraja, as for Sri Yukteswar, the one existence, the one reality in whom the universe exists is understood as Chaitanya or Chitti, terms synonymous, which are translatable as consciousness. However, using Sri Yukteswar's interpretation, we could also translate this as omniscient feeling, because the all, the absolute, as consciousness is also a feeling. It is also an all-embracing, not a coldly neutral and attached consciousness, but rather a divine being who contemplates self in a rapture of love, and therein generates the all. In fact, the term, the Sanskrit term chit, is most often used in compound nouns with another root, especially ananda, bliss,


hence the ultimate is chidananda, conscious joy, and hence all-knowing love. A similar term is prakasananda, less of light, although this refers more to the state of one who has realized or recognized the non-separation of the individual self from the self. The experience of yogis in general from ancient times has always included the moment of renunciation, not only of that which impedes the recognition of non-separation from God, but even of the effort and practice of yoga itself. This is the moment of what, in terms of theology, might be called grace. The author of the Kashmiri text that I speak of in my paper alludes to this moment, citing a text of the Kashmiri tradition. It's a prayer to God as Divine Mother. When, O Mother, men renounce completely all the activities of the mind, and thus their


dependence on outward means ends in flames, because they devote themselves to the activity of the organ of those that are saved, the heart. They experience, through your power, O Mother, that highest state which flows from the nectar of never-weakening, imperishable happiness. In other words, when a yogi abandons all outward practice except that of abiding in the heart, God then manifests as Mother, the giver of ever-new joy. Another quotation, this time from one of the tantric texts which are cited in the Kashmiri Shaiva tradition, he who has his eyes fixed closely on the space of the heart penetrates into the center of the lotus cup, that is, the lotus of the heart, and excludes all else from consciousness. Such a yogi will, O beautiful one, referring to the Divine Mother, partake


of supreme joy. Having taken up the study of this Kashmiri yoga tradition in search of clues to the sources of Yogananda's form of yoga, I was a bit disappointed to have found hardly a word in Srimaraja, the author of the Kashmiri text, about meditation on the primordial sound, a practice deemed essential by Yogananda's tradition. However, among the annotations to the text, I did discover a reference to another text by the same author, his commentary on the Shiva aphorisms, where he elaborates a comparison of the various groups of five in his systems of categories, and refers them to the letters of the alphabet, that is, sound. We find this is a very important practice within yoga, the meditation on sound. Now, let me add a final word, and this is simply summing up the conclusion of the paper


which really contains all of the references to the text that I have read in preparation for this. I would like to refer briefly to the first person to have established the ashram much later, being Griffiths, took over, and that was Fr. Jules Montchemin, who was a priest from France, and in 1950, exactly 50 years ago, together with a Benedictine monk, Fr. Henri Lussot, began the experience of the Indian Benedictine ashram in South India. My personal experience assures me that it is possible to use yogic means to the Christian end, union of God through Christ and Spirit, because yoga ultimately implies both incarnation and sacrifice, the two dimensions of the Christ mystery. And I find that this same opinion was expressed 50 years ago by a great wise man of the West, who spent the last decades


of his life in India, Jules Montchemin, who was, after all, a close contemporary of Paramahansa Yogananda, 1895-1957. He felt it was necessary that Christians in India seek a way of incorporating yoga into their spiritual life. He defined yoga somewhat narrowly. He restricted it to, as he calls, as he says, an asceticism of body and soul, control of the senses, imagination and thought, renunciation of all that is not essential, that is not the self. In the end, at the highest point of concentration, the highest renunciation of that of the very self. Montchemin expressed considerable perplexity regarding what he felt was the philosophical basis of yoga, and he saw the necessity of radical purification of this philosophy. On the other hand, I would say that the Christian yogi must be convinced of the essential unity


of body and soul in the human person, and thus the yogi's practice must have the character of a response to God's gracious and merciful love, which comes into the whole person as body and soul. So meditation, for Montchemin, the yoga, as meditation was, and I quote him, fills the gap between the shared word and the solitary silence with God, but a solitude that is immersed in the communion of saints. Through meditation, all being, thought, affections and even the unconscious are slowly impregnated with the mystery of Christ and the church whose epiphany is the liturgy. Now, Montchemin's limited knowledge of yoga sources, he was only vaguely aware of the Kashmir tradition, and knew nothing of Yogananda's tradition, made him see it more as theory than as practice. Nevertheless, he believed that yoga was one of India's greatest treasures and was a potential gift to all humanity. Fifty years after Montchemin


and his remarks on the conditions of yoga, we can see better than he the possibilities of a practical yoga in harmony with the mystery of Christ and the church. In yoga, his practice is a way of the heart. It moves to and from that center where humanity and divinity are one mystical person, which in Christian faith and Christian understanding is the heart of Jesus. If yoga is practiced as a sacrifice in view of realizing universal love, then not only is it Christian, it is also universal. I hope I have not confused you too much, and I hope that the discussion will enable me to fill in whatever gaps I've had to these two presentations. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. The discussant will be Pat Mitchell, who is a member of the theology


faculty at St. John's Seminary in Camarillo, California. This is a seminary for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles. He lives in Camarillo with his wife of 31 years, Mary Benton, and actress and writer. They are both labellates at St. Andrew's Abbey in Vallejo, California. I want to begin by thanking you, Father, for this paper. I had a chance to read it and reread it many times, actually, and to think about it in depth. I found in it so much that it's personally helpful. I wanted to share in particular something in the way of a response that's not meant to be critical at all, but to actually build on what you were saying.


Now, in his paper, Father Thomas uses the terms intra-religious dialogue and contrasts that with inter-religious dialogue. The intra-religious dialogue really refers to the biographical part of his paper that Father Thomas presented at the very beginning. Now, what struck me personally, well, I guess I should say, as I read the paper too, I understood that his central theme is the constancy of devotion and the centrality of devotion in the yoga tradition from Pantajali till Yogananda and beyond. And that this devotion, which is of


the heart, is an anthropology. It's an anthropology that's universal. It connects East and West. It connects the 12th century with the 21st century. But what struck me personally was the connection between devotion and intra-religious dialogue. That intra-religious dialogue is the foundation for authentic inter-religious dialogue, if that makes any sense to you. What I'd like to do is, now I'll read the response that I had written up. It'll make more sense with that background. What especially strikes me, Father Thomas, is the way you have shown the interdependence of authentic


inter-religious dialogue and intra-religious dialogue. And I assume that in any case we're all involved to a greater or lesser degree, all of us who are here, spontaneously in this intra-religious dialogue. Your paper really helped me to appreciate and value this part of the dialogue more than ever before. First you define intra-religious dialogue as a dialogue between a faith one has in common with others and the experience one receives through contact with others whose faith is different from one's own. But I think the key to the way you have shown the interdependence of the two dialogues is precisely in the way you've written your paper, starting with your own subjective autobiographical experience.


Intra-religious dialogue is interior and takes place in the heart. It consists in an exchange between one's own faith and one's experience of the different faith of others. By beginning with this understanding of intra-religious dialogue and then developing your presentation from the starting point of your own experience of this interior dialogue, you show how objectivity, in this case, in intra-religious dialogue, really depends on authentic subjectivity and ultimately on purity of heart and the devotion that is its soul. You do this by the way you begin from your own story and blend this with telling the stories of Yogananda and his mission, Yukteswar, and his development of Sankhya philosophy and anthropology and the dependence of these on the medieval mystics of Kashmir.


And then you show clearly how the thread of devotion of the heart runs consistently from the Sankhya philosophy of Patanjali through the medieval mystics of Kashmir to Sri Yukteswar. This thread of devotion is also an anthropology. It's an understanding of human nature. It's universal. This is another important point because of the way it enunciates something true and universal about human nature. Because it is universal, it can cross time and cultures and be as valid in the 21st century as it was in the 11th, as valid in the West as it is in the East. The central point is that in spite of the non-theistic nature of Sankhya philosophy, and this is quoted from your paper, around which Patanjali constructs his yoga system, devotion as a particular yogic path is intrinsic to its practice,


even for those who by nature are more inclined to follow the path of wisdom or action. When yoga practice takes the place of religious ritual worship, it retains the effective spirit of the ancient rites, the sacrificial spirit. This is significant because of the way it shows us that yoga is not, as many think, reducible to technique, and again this is quoted in your paper, requires a devotional attitude that when present contains the essence and perfection of yoga as a whole. The renewal of Hindu thought and practice in the 19th century reaffirmed this understanding of yoga. I find especially interesting the way you have traced through Yukteswar's influences back to the sources in medieval Kashmir, in the text The Heart of Recognition, with its twofold meaning for heart as, first, the secret essence of the Kashmiri school's mystical doctrine,


and second, as the student's guide, the central path where God is known. In effect, the way to liberation, the path, is the center, the heart. But this heart is not to be understood as an organ of the body. It is, rather, quoting again, a dynamic process, a path of energy that both rises and tends toward a transcendent center, where God is known. In a word, the path is devotion. As I review these points of your paper, I am led to the conclusion that intra-religious dialogue, at least as it appears here, is itself a type of heart yoga. I say this for several reasons. One is that it is conducted entirely within one's own interiority, within the heart. Another is that, like yoga, it takes the form of dedicated spiritual practice, which has the character of a response to God's gracious and merciful love.


A third reason is that its outcome depends on a type of personal authenticity that can best be described as religious, and that, for this reason, is closely associated with purity of heart. A fourth reason is that, because of its association with purity of heart, it is a dynamic process, a path of energy that both rises and tends toward a transcendent center, where God is known. In other words, the authenticity of this intra-religious dialogue depends on the devotion of its practitioner. And I think that we have every reason to hope that when inter-religious dialogue is the outcome of an intra-religious dialogue that includes these four characteristics as a sort of heart yoga, there is every reason to be hopeful that inter-religious dialogue will bear fruit beyond even our wildest expectations. Now, I see all this is related to the religious fundamentalism


that currently plagues relationships between the different religious traditions. Fundamentalists are the sworn enemies of every form of pluralism, at least so as I've encountered. Linked with their erroneous linguistic and epistemological assumptions is a very restricted understanding of the nature of the teaching of their traditions. To suggest that there can be any truth either within or outside of their tradition that is not expressed in their terms is for them heresy. For this would be to call the authority of their own understanding of their tradition into question. On the other hand, inter-religious dialogue accepts the possibility that beliefs of the different traditions can stand on equal footing with each other. For the fundamentalists, this compromises tradition. Or more accurately, it compromises the authority of their understanding of the tradition.


What your paper has made clear for me, Father Thomas, is twofold. First, the importance of inter-religious dialogue being based on preceding intra-religious dialogue. Secondly, for this intra-religious dialogue to be authentic, the importance of yogic-like devotion that is associated with purity of heart. It seems to me that only these can prevent the prejudice and self-deception that sabotage inter-religious dialogue. And finally, I wonder if this kind of authentic intra-religious dialogue might not be just what the doctor has ordered for the healing of fundamentalism. Whether that be outside in the hearts of others, or lurking unrecognized in one's own. The key to this healing is the recognition of God in ourselves as well as in others. I realize that I've ignored some important points you make in your paper


in order to focus on this one thing, which may seem to be entirely tangential vis-à-vis the whole. But perhaps in our general discussion, we can return to some of these other points. In any case, you've opened the door into something profoundly important for me. And for this, I thank you. Thomas, do you want to use your three minutes of response for any questions? Yes, let me express my appreciation for Becker's responding to, you might say, that global orientation of my paper, because that's precisely what interested me more even than the specific analysis of these specific texts. That was an exercise which was necessary, of course,


since we are also engaged in a search for understanding through reading and through analyzing texts. But I think this is the real point that I wanted to make. In relation to yoga, I would suggest that the same thing applies to what you said with regard to the healing of that tendency to fundamentalism or integralism and so forth, which I think is a temptation for any religious person. It's not something that puts others out there, but it is something that can lie in wait around the corner of our own sense of religious belonging. And I think the healing of this is returning to a global sense of the particular as a manifestation of a universal experience of human beings as such. Because I think that the basis of all of the great religious traditions


is the conviction that that tradition is an expression of a universal human longing, human need, and human capacity for the possibility to enter into a life of the spirit, however this may be expressed. But I think that's very important. I think also that in connection with yoga in the West, it's important that this global universal sense be introduced. I have nothing against yoga being taught in health class, and I think this can probably be a springboard for a lot of people to develop the spiritual dimensions of their lives, but it certainly does not answer to the total meaning of yoga that has been the condition to honor that tradition. It's necessary to really see how yoga itself can touch every aspect of one's life. Yoga is also an important stimulus for Christian reflection on the contemplative and mystical tradition within Christianity itself.


And I would say this, I'm speaking of yoga, but I certainly would say the same about the various Zen meditation traditions and disciplines, the similar disciplines that can be found, I believe, in Taoism and so forth. So it is a stimulus because even if a Christian is not interested in practicing yoga, and no one is required to practice yoga or any other particular practice, but simply as a reminder that religion, which is only outward form, and is only verbal expression of doctrine, is a heartless religion. The problem of forms of this sort, extreme forms of dogmatism and ritualism, is precisely that it's heartless. That it loses this sense of warmth and of humanity, which should be there, and which is part, I believe, essential and central to the Christian revelation.


So, thank you very much. And that really was the point that I felt was most important, in addition to the scholarly aspect. So, thank you. Thank you. So we have time for questions and comments. Yes? Hello, Thomas. In your notes, do you indicate the specific biblical texts that Sri Yukteswar gravitated toward? Sure. Yes. And he himself, of course, indicates chapter and verse. Should I need the microphone? Do we need that? No, it's not necessary. You can hear me. I'm holding it up, certainly. No, he certainly does. In other words, although he was not a scholar, he wanted to be precise in his references to the Bible. He quotes the texts, but what he is not able to do, and it's not necessary for his purpose,


is to see the broader context of these passages that he does quote. But it's very interesting, because he is seriously trying to understand these words and these texts, which he reads in English. He didn't know the original Greek text. And so, therefore, sometimes he is interpreting the words according to an etymology, which is not that of the original text. But in any case, he is trying to relate directly to these, because he does regard them as sacred. In other words, he is quoting the Bible as a sacred text. I might suggest that also, when Christians examine the texts of another tradition, it is not appropriate, in my mind, if a person is a believer in his Christianity, it's not appropriate to treat these the way an agnostic would treat the same text. And there is nothing wrong, of course, with an agnostic making a precise philological and philosophical and historical examination of, I don't know what,


of the issue of punishment, for example. One can do this, and this is a very limited form of study, and is possible. But I think if a Christian engages in this, there must be a sense that this text is sacred. It is held to be a divine word by the Hindus themselves. And therefore, there must be, in the attitude of the Christian researcher, the same attitude that I do find in the Greek text with regard to the Bible. So that's very important that he has this attitude. Yes? Does he refer to both Old and New Testament, or just the New Testament? Just the New Testament. I think there's one quotation in the Old Testament. I don't have his text before me right now, so I can't verify that. He is, you know, considering that Christians, of course, take the New Testament as the key to everything, and so he will go to the Gospel of John, he will go to a couple of passages of St. Paul, and then the Apocalypse. Taking it as a symbolic language,


which needs to be referred to something within the human heart. It would be interesting to analyze the texts that he gravitated towards, like a canon within a canon type thing, and then compare those texts that he's highlighting not to the neglect of others, but those texts that are speaking to him, and then compare that with, insofar as the New Testament has a wide variety of spiritualities in it. So he's attracting certain spiritualities within the New Testament, and to compare that with his own branch of yoga. I find that very interesting. He's certainly attracted specifically to the Johannine, what we call the Johannine spirituality in the New Testament. And you might say that this is also found in a great many other connections where Christianity is referred to some other mystical tradition.


I'd like to ask two questions. One is regarding this concept of yoga with these two texts. What makes it so distinctive? Because you know there are many yogas. Of course. This particular yoga, would you find it attractive? Would it enable you to reach your own experience of God in this denomination? Because if you refer to inter-religious dialogue, or inter-religious communication, the yoga probably, would you say, also enable you to experience God as something like a mother? Because you quoted that. Not just a father. My mother, or maybe Brahma, or maybe something else. So I want to ask you this. What is that form of yoga? What techniques have been expressed in these two texts?


And what would be the consequence in terms of inter-religious, not only intra-religious dialogue? The specific techniques, with regard to the Kashmiri tradition, there has never been any study of the techniques as such. Because it would be a lot of guesswork going into the text. The texts involve a great deal of elaboration of symbolism, and especially the symbolism which is found in the tantric ritual practice. There is this connection between the ritual and yoga in the Kashmiri tradition. It's very interesting. It spiritualizes it all, because it is not the actual celebration of the ritual ceremonies,


but it is the understanding of these symbols as they go on into an inner experience. Sri Yukteswar, with his own personal religion, his own personal religious practice, was very austere. He was not, to my knowledge, a temple-goer. What Yogananda writes about him does not read of any particular pilgrimage, for instance, to the source of the Ganges or to some great temples in India. But he insists, of course, on this interior process, interior pilgrimage. But what I do find in common is that, in both cases, the affective dimension, that is, the dimension of feeling, of longing for God, of the experience of joy, is the key, in both cases, to what yoga is about.


Yogananda himself tells a story in his autobiography of a point in his training under Sri Yukteswar in which he goes to his master and says, Master, when will I find God? And Yukteswar tells him, Well, you've already found God. Have you never experienced ever-new joy in your meditation? That is the experience of God. God is there for you when you experience this ever-new joy. Now, the term is joy in English, which is a reflection of atanda in Sanskrit. And this term is also a key term in the Kashmir tradition. So I would suggest that this is more this tone of warmth and this aspect of the affective relation that characterizes both of these traditions. I think this is, for me, very important With regard to the question about the devotion to God as Divine Mother,


that was quite essential for Yogananda himself. In fact, he would say that it is enough to be devoted to Divine Mother. Even if someone does not practice, does not meditate, but if you call on the Divine Mother, you will experience the joy, you will find God. So, that also has always been very attractive to me. And I'm happy to find that Catholicism, at least after John Paul I, that Pope who lived for only 33 days as Pope, has been admitting that, yes, God is Mother. God is Mother. But it is also present, just as a little, an extra footnote, that this is also an ancient tradition in the Syrian churches because they're using the Syrian language, the Semitic language, which is practically the same language that Jesus himself spoke. The word meaning spirit, which is ruach, is feminine, feminine in gender.


And so, when Jesus spoke in the spirit, he was thinking feminine and using feminine pronouns if he was using it in a sentence. So, anyway, just thank you for your question. President, the concept of a universal anthropology is a very strong underlying representation of Dr. Bishop's response of a universal human dimension, a capacity for universal human experience. Now, contemporary academic comparative religion absolutely denies that. And this is the one basis that would be universal to whatever you read on contemporary comparative religion, that there is no such universal human experience. How do we respond to that? This is a question to you,


but it's an answer, in a sense, to part of us because we're really going to defend, first of all, the basis on which we stand. Well, I can only speak from my own limited experience. First of all, experience as such is by its nature incommunicable. We can communicate and share from our experience to the other person and other persons and receive from them their communication because of common language, symbolism, poetry, music itself. Nonverbal communication can also be a way of conveying a sense of experience. But if I look at my own experience, my own contact with more than one tradition, the fact that I felt myself as belonging to


the tradition of Yogananda for a few years, and then entering into the Catholic Christian tradition, my own experience tells me that the deeper I go into the religious experience of that tradition, which I take as my teacher, my mother, my guru, which is now Christianity, the Church, and so forth, tends to make me more of a person, of course, a human being, makes me more human, and at the same time, more universal. It is precisely by going deeper and deeper into that tradition that I feel that my heart is expanding and that I'm able to share in some way in the experience of other people. The limits of the academic approach is precisely that it cannot go beyond what is said.


It's of the nature of an academic research that you take a text and you analyze what is he saying, what does he mean, what is the historic background for this affirmation, and so forth, and in what way does he respect logic or violence, logic, and so forth, and you can criticize it or you can approve it or whatever. But you're stuck there at the verbal level. When we do go beyond the verbal level, both by communicating non-verbally, but also by living our own experience and relating in some mysterious way to the experience of others, then we certainly do see that there is a common basis. I think it's not something that can be proven. There is no argument. I can say, you know, this proves it, but it's something that I think we can feel, something that we can know personally, and when we know that, there is no argument against it because against experience, no argument can stand. That's an old scholastic axiom, contra esperienza nulla, vale l'argumentazione.


So, there you are. Thank you. You very well expressed my own experience and my own feeling towards that. I would like to find some way of also proving it. I think it should be possible. I think it should be possible, you know, coming back to Paramahanda Yogananda's scientific way, because we could probably apply scientific methods. We could say, if somebody observes the same phenomena under the same circumstances and compares this with peers who have experienced the same thing under the same circumstances, and they come to an agreement on it, and this is fairly widespread, there is some sort of a scientific proof to this. And maybe we should not be too timid to apply this also to spiritual experiences


that are made by different people from very different backgrounds under somewhat strictly similar conditions. Like yoga conditions for yoga experience are very clearly stated. And if they come to similar experiences, similar results, and compare them, we have something of a sort of a proof. But the question, do we have something like a universal anthropology hasn't really been sufficiently put into this context. Maybe we can do something about it. The proof, I think, is possible to bring us to the affirmation of the analogy of the experiences. The affirmation of the analogical proportion of the relationship among the different forms of mystical experience, contemplative, spiritual experience, however we wish to say it.


Certainly, if one is not expecting something like a mathematical proof, but is willing to accept this analogical or this sense of convergence of the experience, I certainly agree with you. And that is something that... I think in the climate of the new paradigm thinking in science, we can certainly speak in those terms. Probably in terms of the more traditional mechanistic and purely mathematical language of science, it would be difficult to find agreement there but under similar circumstances, that's also important. I didn't go into this, I touched on it in the paper, and I think it's something that we can use, I think, much more in interreligious dialogue. It's not our talking,


but there are some ways that we can practice together. And if we try this, we seek for ways that we can practice together. We look at what is the indication of the different traditions. There are two specific traditions together. So a Benedictine monk and a Zen monastic, you know, sitting along a certain rhythm of the day, a rhythm of life, and so forth. By practicing, we can then discover, to a great extent, the basis of our respective experience and find commonality. I was curious about what you call the moment of renunciation, where at that point there's even renunciation of effort and practice of yoga itself


in the theological terms one would call this grace. I'm interested in the tension there between grace and self-effort. Where does sadhana fit in? I think there is no truly rational answer to the question, and it's something that I touched on there, and of course would require another essay or another book or something like that. Because certainly in Christianity itself, there is no simple answer to this. You know, faith and works, for instance. A big question raised at the time of the Protestant Reformation and valid criticism perhaps to a certain kind of Catholicism that links itself to outward works. But at the same time, it remains very serious. I would suggest that within yoga traditions, there is a constant insistence on the succession of experiences


and the progressive refinement of the yogic experience, of the stages of samadhi, for instance. This insistence doesn't mean that you work harder at it. In many traditions, I think this is implicit in potentially Yogasutra in some expressions. But even more explicit in Yogananda and others is that it actually requires more letting go. In other words, less sense of one's own self-activity or one's own effort. Yoga is also... It's very interesting to find the word it's played with. Yoga, of course, is related to the English word yogar, who knows this, and union. But there is also a reminder that yoga is at the same time nayoga,


that is, disjunction, separating. And yoga leads one to withdraw the senses. One specific member of the traditional Yogasutras is kiyahara, which is the detachment of the senses from their proper object. In other words, the focusing within, the reversal of the current of energy from the outer to the inner, or what Yogananda used the metaphor of the old-fashioned telephone switchboard. Just unplug the telephone, and it will stop ringing. When you talk about grace, of course, you're using a term in Christian theology. Kripa. Yes, and then you can find analogous expressions in the Sanskrit terminology of the Hindu, of the Yoga tradition, of the Vedanta tradition. So I would not insist that


the Christian doctrine of grace is the only doctrine. I would suggest that there is a similar doctrine within, certainly within the Hindu tradition, certainly within the Bhagavad Gita, because there, in Chapter 18, you're dealing really with a statement. Abandon all forms of dharma. Come to me, says Bhagavan, the Lord. I think that this is a dynamic that you find intrinsic to Yoga practice, which is involved with the progression of experience from one experience to another, from lower to higher illumination, from lower to higher forms of surrender. And it involves surrender and detachment. And therefore, detachment from my own actions, where I do the actions. Again, the Bhagavad Gita, of course, is the classic text about action in this calm, kind of, acting but not being attached to it,


without passion, without attachment. Sure. And then, Lawrence Freeman, Joseph, and Thomas. This comment is apropos of David's question and response. Buddhism, in fact, and Mahayana, has certainly a very empirical standard measuring progress in Dhyanas, for instance, Dhyana Samadhi, as well as the Bodhisattva path, particularly in the Avatamsaka, the Flower-Armed Sutra. And it affirms that the stages are regulated, they're empirical, they're repeatable, they're intra-subjectively testable. Other people can do it and get the same results. The difficulty is that the standard of progress is goodness. It starts with Shila,


and then Samadhi, then Prajna. So, in order to design our experimental model, we'd have to have people taking precepts and then somehow measuring that, in fact, they were as good as they claimed or as good as they aspired to be. And the other difficulty in determining the test results would be that it just takes a lot of time. And maybe science, being so dedicated and having so much research money available and having laboratories provided and all, can put in so many hours of research and you can test it down because it's sense-based. Goodness is heart-based. And nobody takes the time. Thank you. Mark. Thank you. I wanted to ask how you saw Ramana Maharshi in the context of the yoga tradition that you've been talking about. And in two respects. One is in relationship to the idea


of a systematic religious method, which is certainly very attractive to many people today looking for spirituality. Many, I think, would feel that post-Constitutional Catholicism and Christianity as a whole lacked a systematic spirituality, apart from a lot of abstentions and prohibitions. But that raises the notorious difficulty of translating techniques or systematic methods from one faith system or one culture to another. Ramana Maharshi seems to me to be a continually growing influence on many people, not only on Bhagavad Gita, but he doesn't seem to come out


of a systematic yoga tradition at all. In fact, in some ways he rejects it or offers different paths as equally valid. Either the way of renunciation, giving back to devotion or wisdom. So that's one question regarding him. And the other one, which I think grows out of that, is the reference to the idea of trying to prove a universal anthropology. And I wonder whether that is a purely hypothetical exercise, apart from the way it might be proven in an individual like Ramana Maharshi, in whom you would see that an individual has achieved a position of evolution and consciousness where he is able to be equidistant from all the different methods and therefore can deal with them all


in a beautifully tolerant way. So I just wonder whether you see Ramana as having a value in that. Yes, certainly. I might add also that Mokshananda was also equally impressed with Sri Ramana, only that his experience was rather of the great distance, culturally, in their civilization, in their world, or whatever. He saw him as a perfect expression, a perfect concrete experience and expression of a tradition which seemed to Mokshananda himself, subjectively, quite distant. And it was very hard for him to bridge the gap, except in the recognition that Sri Ramana was one who had reached the summit, had reached the peak. And I would suggest that we can take as one of our arguments


on the basis of a common anthropology, spiritual anthropology, precisely the respective recognition of great souls. Another example would be the Dalai Lama and Thomas Merton. So when they recognize each other, why? How is it possible? They recognize each other because they have, in some way, met at a level which transcends simply their meeting face-to-face or knowing each other through correspondence or whatever pre-human context they have. They are aware of this. They are aware that they are connected. They are aware that they are connected. So Sri Ramana is interesting because, first of all, he shows that you can have high spiritual realization within the Hindu tradition without specific yoga exercises


because there is nothing systematic in what he did, except perhaps you might say that when he was a boy of 15, 16, he lay down on the floor and moved his mind and his spirit into a near-death experience in the sense that he knew what it meant to die and in this experience he was able to ask himself the question Who am I? And he offered this, perhaps in a way, as a technique. Just this asking of the question. Extremely simple. And then, of course, he left home and spontaneously went to the temple of the Tiruvannamalai and so forth and meditated for many years in a cave. His own history is the story of one who does not have a teacher but is taught immediately by the spirit. And a Benedictine, obviously,


would compare Sri Ramana, let's say Benedict himself, the runaway, the drop-out. Abhidhuta is the Sanskrit word which is applied to the type of experience that we have in Sri Ramana. And drop-out is a very good translation of Abhidhuta. Well, it simply says that yoga is more than the exercises. We can call Sri Ramana a yogi because he attained that unity. And that unity of the I am they discovered that his, who am I, I am that I which is before every other I am. What's interesting about Ramana is that although at that young age he had this decisive experience and remained in the experience of himself, it was many years before he was able to speak about it


or teach it. And so there is a sense that although the absolute experience came to him, it unfolded through stages. A lot of the stages were shrouded in his own silence. Maybe the system is hidden in that silence. Right. I think that's very helpful because of the because we have, you know, in the West we have the model of two of the greats in this, you know, this moving of of India's tradition into the West. Swami Vivekananda, the great disciple of Ramana. And he was a 30-something. How old was he in 1893 when he spoke of the world? He died in 1902 and he was 39. And Yogananda was 27 when he came to the United States and had this whirlwind tour of of of