Swami Kriyananda’s article entitled “Kingdom of God”, originally published in “The Times of India”, Spirituality Column, Jan 15, 2012. For more info about Swami Kriyananda, go here.
A disciple of Paramahamsa Yogananda writes about my Guru, Jesus Christ, and the Kingdom of God. Read the article below carefully and understand the way Jesus is looked at from diverse thought-worlds.
The deepest truths of religion are all of them quite simple. They have been obscured by the outer structures of religion, which have become so complex as to create confusion and divisiveness, not clarity. Of all institutions we’ve created, religion ought to be the most unitive. Yet people fight, persecute one another, and go to war over their religious differences and that, too, in the name of a God who, all religions claim, is a God of Love.
Let’s explore our inner relationship with the Creator. Jesus Christ said, “Behold, the Kingdom of God is within you.” He said also, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it up again in three days.” The Bible tells us he was referring to the temple of his own body. The inference is obvious. For worship is conducted inside a temple, not outside it. What matters in religion is not the outer place of worship, nor the outer rituals, nor even the particular system of beliefs – which are, after all, only definitions formulated by people like us – but a person’s own direct, actual, inner experience of God and Truth.
According to every saint who has experienced sublime awakening, God is simple but human beings are complex. The demands of Truth are that religion become simple once again. Religion must return to the fundamental reality, divine love. It must return to man’s need for direct, personal experience of that love. Divine work is not converting others. It is living and expressing divine love.
As the laboratory is the workshop of science, so the human mind is the workshop of religion. Religious ceremonies are only projections of our longing for inner transformation. It is on our own thoughts, primarily, that we must work. It is our own feelings that we must purify.
Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” He didn’t say, “Blessed are my disciples,” or even, “Blessed are those who believe in what I say.” He made it clear that salvation depends not on a person’s outer affiliation, but on their purity before the Lord, whose kingdom is within.
A great deal of what religion teaches can be tested and verified. Ultimately, it may turn out that all of its claims can be verified. To observe a microbe, what one needs is a microscope. To perceive Truth, what one needs is to calm the mind until it becomes crystal clear.
There are two distinct needs in religion today. One is to test the Scriptures, as the Bible tells us to do. The other is the need to develop practical methods for conducting our tests.
Laboratory of the mind
Obviously, test tubes can’t be used in the laboratory of the mind. What is needed are methods for calming and concentrating the mind. Meditation is comparable in this sense to the science laboratory. It helps one to achieve that degree of mental clarity which is necessary for this type of research. Truth cannot be perceived so long as the mind is restless, and so long as its attention is directed outward to the senses.
My guru, Paramhansa Yogananda, predicted that in future, the search for spiritual understanding will take a new direction. Religion will cease to be dogmatic. Its emphasis will become increasingly experiential, as it concentrates on the spiritual development of the individual. Religion will come in time to include among its practices psycho-physical methods designed to help the individual achieve inner peace and clarity. Thus, yoga in all its branches will come into its own. Inasmuch as yoga deals not only with mental and physical techniques of self-development, but with direct control of the inner energy (pranayama, or energy control), it will come to be recognised as an actual science of religion. It will, I am confident, become the human science par excellence for the new age. Yoga meditation practices will be used as a means of testing the claims of religion by putting people in touch with their super-consciousness, and by enabling them to guide their lives by soul-intuition.
Religion of the future
Jesus said, “Love thy neighbour as thyself.” He meant that our neighbour is, in a deeper, spiritual sense, our true Self. The religion of the future will be a religion of Self-realisation. It will consist in the realisation that the infinite love and joy of God form our own deepest reality, and that God is our true Self. For just as matter is energy, so energy is but a manifestation of thought, thought but a manifestation of consciousness, and consciousness, in its ultimate refinement, but the Divine out of which all things, all beings, and our own selves were created.