by Swami Yogananda
East-West, May 1932
Before I proceed to describe the spiritual experiences of Jesus Christ after his initiation by John, I must tell a few things more about baptism.
“Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness.” The Sanskrit Scriptures have a statement exactly parallel to this, which says of Jesus, “There are many sages with many wisdoms with their scriptural and spiritual interpretations, apparently contradictory, but the real secret of religion is hidden in a cave.”
The path followed by a man of self-realization is the path to be followed by any spiritual aspirant. A scripture, no matter what records of spiritual truths it contains in its bosom, is not as useful as a saint, who is veritably a walking, talking, living scripture. There is a vast difference between the powerful sulphuric acid in a bottle and the mere statement of its formula as H2SO4. Neither the formula itself, nor the description of the power of sulphuric acid in a book can ever describe its burning, vital quality. Truths of Self-realization are like little insignificant seeds, but their power and wisdom-yielding qualities are truly felt when they are seen to grow into huge trees in the gardens of the Self-realization of saints, trees laden with the fruits of Divine Love.
Why a Guru Is Necessary
We meet little teachers in the beginning through our vague desires to know truth. But the GURU (or Preceptor) is the living embodiment of scriptural truths and is the agent of salvation appointed by God in response to a devotee’s demands for release from all the bondage of matter. It is very difficult to choose the right path from the many religious paths and varied religious opinions. Most people who wander from church to church seeking intellectual inspiration never find God, for intellectual inspiration is necessary only until one begins to “drink” God. Otherwise, intellectual inspiration (when it forgets to taste God) is detrimental to self-realization. It is more easy to follow a living, breathing, talking man (who lives truth) than a mute scripture. If a saint has reached his goal, whether by the shorter Yoga route, or by the long-winded spiritual-prayer way, he experiences actual self-realization. Anyone following him certainly would reach the goal by using either method. Unlike ordinary prayers, real prayers, which alone can bring conscious response from God, must be offered in meditation, intensely and for many hours continuously until Divine response comes.
The Signs of a Guru
The signs of a GURU are as follows: his eyes are still and unwinking whenever he wants them to be so; by the practice of Yoga his breath is quiet without his forcibly holding it in his lungs; his mind is calm without effort. If a man has eyelids that blink continually and lungs acting like bellows all the time, and a mind always restless like a butterfly, and he keeps on telling you he is in cosmic consciousness , laugh at him. Just as a man cannot pretend that he is sleeping while he continues to run, so one with restless eyes, breath, and mind cannot convince you, who know better, that he is in cosmic consciousness. Just as sleep manifests in the body by certain physiological changes, so the muscles, eyes, breath, all usually become still during cosmic consciousness. No GURU can be developed alone by years of study in the intellectual factory of a theological seminary, which deems it has attained its ends when it confers B.D. or D.D. degrees. Such titles can be won by men of good memory, but character, self-control, and intuition can be developed only by knowledge of advanced psycho-physical methods of self-realization and deep daily meditation.
Jesus and His Disciples
Jesus and His disciples were products of unceasing meditation and intuitive devotion, and not merely results of intellectual theological seminaries.
Most Christian Churches today have wandered away from the path of self-realization and are satisfied with sermons, ceremonies, organizations, and festivities. The complete revival and restoration of Christian Churches can be effected only by discarding the oft-repeated theoretical sermons and too-frequently changing psycho-physical ceremonies, and replacing them with added concentration during church services on the part of the members;they should concentrate more and more on perfect stillness in both the physical and mental realms. For stillness and peace are the real temples wherein God must often visit His devotees.
Secret of Religion
The secret of true religion lies in the cave of stillness, in the cave of wisdom, in the cave of the spiritual eye. By concentrating on the point between the eyebrows and delving into the depths of quiet, one can find answers to all the religious queries of the heart. A disciple should tune in with the will of his GURU. Such tuning in of your habit-led and whim-guided will with the wisdom-guided will of your GURU is far different from mechanical obedience to an unspiritual guide, no matter whether he is traditionally, religiously, or socially elected. To follow the blind unthinkingly is to fall with them into the ditch of ignorance completely. To follow the awakened, if you are blind, is to reach the goal without danger. How can you take away the blot from your brother’s eyes if there is still a blot in your own?
Freedom of Will
Very few people truly know what freedom of will means. To be compelled to do things by the dictates of your own instincts and habits is not freedom. To be good because you have been so for a long time and to refrain from evil because you are accustomed to do so is not freedom. When your will is perfectly free to choose good instead of evil anytime, anywhere, because you really feel good, you will know real happiness: then indeed are you free. Evil gives only sorrow. When the influences of heredity, prenatal and postnatal habits, family, social, and world environment, all cease to influence your judgmentwhen you can act, guided only by your highest inner intuitive discriminationthen only are you free. Until then, the way to all righteousness lies in tuning in your whim-guided will with the wisdom-guided will of your GURU. Harnessing your will to wisdom, you will cease to be swayed by prejudice and error, for you will then always be guided by righteousness.
Find and Cling to Your GURU
Hence, the first requisite in your spiritual path lies not entirely in going to church services and being a passive member, satisfied merely with listening to sermons, but also in finding your spiritual GURU who will discipline you and take a personal interest in your spiritual welfare and lead you as far along the spiritual path as you wish to go. Having found him, follow him closely, obey him with intelligent devotion, and practice what he teaches you; thus ultimately you will attain your highest goal.
The Baptism of Jesus by Water and by the Holy Ghost
The gospel tells us that John the Baptist had said to the people, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He that cometh after me is mightier than I whose shoes I am not worthy to bear. He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” Jesus, being high in spiritual advancement, obeyed the law of temporary purity signified by baptism by water. But immediately following His baptism by water, He was also baptized by the Spirit. The real, advanced GURU asks his disciple first to bathe his body with water, and then after the body feels the influence of temporary cleanliness and purity, he baptizes him with Spirit. But sometimes it has happened that when the disciple is further advance, as Jesus was, and the GURU, like John the Baptist, not so far advanced, then the Spirit of God uses the Holy Ghost to baptize the advanced disciple through the medium of the divine agent, the GURU, even though he is less advanced in spirituality than his disciple. The GURU must be wise, but sometimes a GURU of past incarnations is in this life less advanced in wisdom than the disciple. Sometimes it is given him to redeem a disciple more spiritually advanced than himself. A GURU, being the agent of salvation appointed by God, must take the disciple through successive incarnations, if necessary, until complete salvation of the disciple is reached. A great secret of understanding lies in the reason for the less advanced GURU, John, initiating as his disciple the so greatly advanced Savior of mankind—Jesus. In his past incarnations John the Baptist had been appointed as the divine agent to be the original GURU of Jesus. In the dim past, when John was first sent by God as the GURU of Jesus in response to His prayers, the GURU-consciousness of John was more advanced than the disciple-consciousness of Jesus. At that time the souls of John the Baptist and of Jesus were eternally bound together by the law of unconditional divine friendship, and both at this long-ago first meeting as GURU and disciple had made the resolution, “We will be friends forever, striving for one another’s perfection until both of us redeem our omnipresence, now locked behind the bars of flesh.” So as time went one and many incarnations passed, by a superior effort, the soul of Jesus advanced further than did the soul of John. Jesus knew that the soul of the prophet Elias (or Elijah) was His GURU of former incarnations, and that it had reincarnated in the body of John the Baptist. The prophet Elias, who was much more highly advanced than Jesus when He first became his disciple, later on, through the irony of his own Karmic law (actions of past lives), had lessened in spirituality, and thus had the power to baptize with water only. By intuition John the Baptist knew of the coming of Jesus Christ, yet having less spirituality for a time he forgot he was once Elias. After the baptism of Jesus, John was informed of this fact, “For Elias is come already.” But John the Baptist knew that Jesus, though now so far advanced as to become the Redeemer of the World, was his disciple of former incarnations, and thus he predicted, “I indeed baptize you with water, but One mightier than I cometh, the latchet of Whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose. He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” Jesus was now more advanced than John the Baptist, yet He accepted him as His GURU of former incarnationsthe agent first sent by God to enter with Him into this spiritual, divine covenant and this divinely ordained friendship. “We will be divine friends forever until our souls by mutual help and the lasting goodwill of many incarnations break the bubble-walls of caging desires and set free our imprisoned omnipresence to become one with the sea of Infinitude.” This is why Jesus said, “Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness,” and why He chose to be baptized by John with water according to the ancient custom. It is very interesting then to note how the Spirit of God used the Holy Ghost for the spiritual baptism of Jesus.
True and False GURUS
In India real Gurus know not only how to baptize with water but also with Spirit, or the Holy Ghost. But alas! Many Hindus in their temples, and many Christians in their churches, are baptized only with water, temporarily experiencing good physical baptism, but knowing and perceiving nothing of those marvelous soul-renewing experiences of spiritual baptism. Ministers in churches and priests in temples are oftentimes chosen only by virtue of their intellectual study of the scriptures, and sacerdotal authority conferred on them by ceremonies, performed by formally higher spiritual authority. But real ministers and priests who are fit to be GURUS train first their inner selves in the theological school of intuition and meditation. They must spiritually baptize themselves first before they can aspire to baptize others at all. They teach their disciples not for mundane gains, but, being impelled by God, they baptize them spiritually. It is admirable to lecture and teach good principles, but without becoming a real GURU one cannot redeem souls, nor should he accept others as disciples until he has progressed far himself. Once the true relationship of GURU and disciple is established there will be no more blind spiritual gropings, roamings, or partings because of admonition on the part of the GURU, or for any other reason. Usually there is instantaneous recognition between GURU and disciple, but sometimes it takes long to remember consciously that past close friendship, or to recognize the forgotten memory of past incarnations, so long buried beneath ash heaps of ignorance.
It is said that one time a preacher of the “Ballyhoo” type somehow managed to force himself into heaven. Surprised at not being profusely welcomed, he said, “Don’t you know me, God? I introduced you and your son, Jesus, in the biggest auditoriums on earth.” God and Jesus replied in unison, “You may have introduced us, but we did not know anything about it.” The preacher, growing very angry, exclaimed, “Why, this is outrageous. I have sent souls to Heaven by the car-loads. It must by this time be getting packed tight with souls sent by me.” Then God replied, You managed to start them alright on their way, but none of them arrived.” You may be told by ignorant priests and ministers that they will send you to Heaven, and you may blindly believe this to be so, but you cannot ever reach there without true meditation.
Know also that one cannot be a GURU by self-choice; he must be ordained to serve and save others by a real GURU, or else he must hear in reality the voice of God asking him to redeem others. Many become self-appointed GURUS after reading a few occult books and listening to the voice of their own misguided imagination or their falsely imaginative subconscious mind.
The Many Kinds of Baptism Described
If you bathe every day and meditate immediately thereafter (if you are near a river or a lake surrounded by God’s scenic grandeur and you bathe in them with the consciousness of purity), then you will feel the power of baptism by water. Water opens the pores of the skin, letting out the disturbing body-poisons, calming and soothing the circulatory system.
Baptism by Water
Water cools the nerve-endings and sends reports of cool sensations throughout the vital centers, balancing evenly all the vital energies. All life came primarily from energythen from nebulae, then from water. All seeds of life are irrevocably connected with water. Physical life cannot exist without it.
Baptism by Feeling
If you love poetry and are much in the company of a great poet, he will baptize you with those clean, wholesome feelings and the appreciation of good in everything which are aroused always by good poesy. Such baptism by feeling makes one imaginative and sympathetic.
Baptism by Moral Consciousness or Self-control
If you associate long with men of high morality and self-control, you will feel automatically an influence of moral consciousness and self-control in your life.
If purposely and attentively you associate with great creative business minds, you will be baptized or saturated with the consciousness of creative business.
Baptism by the Holy Ghost
The human body is a collective vibration of grossly stirring atoms and electrons and intelligent life force (finer than electrons). The soul, a reflection of spirit, while dwelling within it, cannot remember its omnipresent state. But by meditation one can hear the vibration of the body by closing the earsas taught in the Yogoda fifth lessonand then tune it in with the cosmic mind which emanates from the vibration of all atoms and life force. The Christian Bible says, “God is the Word,”Cosmic, intelligent, sounding vibration). Sage Patanjali, greatest of Hindu Yogis, says, “The Spirit, God the Father or Iswara, manifests Himself as the cosmic vibration, of matter.” “The Spirit was made flesh,”for the intelligent spirit materializes itself into gross flesh by changing its rate of vibration. Cosmic intelligence becomes cosmic intelligent motion, or vibration, which changes into cosmic energy. This intelligent cosmic energy changes into electrons and atoms. Electrons and atoms change into gas, sometimes known as cosmic nebulae. Cosmic nebulae, or masses of diffused gaseous matter change into water. Water changes into solid matter. Man’s body is a part of this variously divided matter. In cosmic vibration all things are one; but when cosmic vibration becomes frozen into matter, then it becomes many. So man’s body, being separated from cosmic vibration, again must retrace the various states of higher vibrations in order to lift his consciousness from the vibrations of breath, heart, and circulation to the vibrating sound emanating from cosmic life force and all atoms. With closed eyes, one can feel his consciousness limited by feelings of the flesh and by the sounds of breath, heart, and circulation. But by deep meditation, as taught in the Yogoda fifth lesson, the Yogoda student can hear the voice of cosmic sound, emanating from all atoms and sparks of cosmic energy.
By listening to this omnipresent sound, the consciousness of the body-caged soul begins gradually to spread itself from the limitations of the body into omnipresence. One listening to this cosmic sound will find his consciousness spreading with it to limitlessness. This cosmic sound, emanating from cosmic vibration, is called the “Holy Ghost.” Ghost signifies an intelligent, invisible, conscious force, or intelligent cosmic vibration. It is holy because the emanent (outflowing) consciousness of God the Father, or Christ intelligence, guides it to create all finite matter. The ancients, not versed in the polished language of modern times, used “Holy Ghost” and “Word” for Intelligent Cosmic Vibration, which is the first materialization of God the Father in matter. The Hindus speak of this “Holy Ghost” as the “Aum.” “A” stands for “Akar” or creative vibration; “U” for Ukar” or preservative vibration; and “M” for “Makar” or destructive vibration. The storm-roar of the sea creates the waves, preserves them for some time as larger or smaller waves, and then dissolves them. So the cosmic sound of Aum or Holy Ghost creates all things as Nebulae, preserves them in the forms of the present cosmos and worlds, and ultimately it will dissolve all things in the bosom-sea of God. But this cosmic dissolution is sometimes only partial and temporary, and again sometimes it is complete and for a long time. In the partial temporary dissolution, portions only of matter and worlds are dissolved; but in complete dissolution the entire system of universes, all stars and planets, all things are dissolved. But the dissolving of all creation is impossible until all souls cease to desire anything at all and thus become fully emancipated in God. Unredeemed souls desire life, and with it they desire the earth, the sky, and its starry beauties. So, in order to fulfill our desire for children, souls come on earth as fleshly human beings. Aum has to create the entire universe at the behest of God the Father. Because of the endless rise and dissolution of the desires of creatures, their universe is endlessly being dissolved and recreated again.
Hence, baptism by the Holy Ghost means first the dissolution of all wrong desires by good desires, and then the conquering of all good desires by an only desire for the blessed contact of God. To know God is not the negation of all desires, but instead their complete fulfillment Men of the world strive wrongly to fulfill desires by forgetting to distinguish between those of the world and those of the soul. Just as by feeding somebody else your hunger cannot be satisfied, so by wrongly trying to satisfy the senses your soul can never be happy. Senses crave indulgence, greed, and temptations to excite and amuse them, whereas soul can be satisfied only by the calmness, peace, and bliss born of meditation and the moderate use of the sense servants. Ambition for good things, noble achievements, and spiritual organization work, serving the many, must be instituted to displace desires for selfishness and greed and for helping only one’s own self or one’s immediate family. Enjoy all good work and achievements with God. By contacting God in the world and in meditation, you will find all your heart’s desires fulfilled. Then you will be a true man of renunciation, for you will find that nothing is more worthwhile, more pleasant or attractive than the all-beautiful, all-satisfying, all-thirst-quenching, ever-new, joyous God.
Expand Your Consciousness
Desire for one object alone keeps your consciousness tied to that object. Love for all things, as the expression of God, keeps man’s consciousness expanded in omnipresence. So one baptized by the Holy Ghost must be unattached, enjoying good things only with the joyousness of God within. He must learn first to hear through touch the Aum, or cosmic sound. First, by the Yogoda meditation, as taught in the Yogoda fifth lesson, he hears the sound of Holy Ghost when all bodily and astral sounds cease. Then, by deeper meditation on this sound, by higher processes learned from the GURU, he can be one with the sound and “Touch” it. Then, after touching or feeling it, by still higher methods, the spiritual aspirant will find his consciousness vibrating simultaneously in his body and in several continents. As he progresses further by deeper and longer meditation, he will find his consciousness vibrating simultaneously in his body, in the earth, the planets, the universes, and in every particle of matter.
The Aum Sound
The intelligent holy vibration, or the first manifestation of God the Father, therefore manifests as the cosmic sound of Aum, or Amen, which can be heard in meditation. It also manifests itself as cosmic energy in all matter. All earthly sounds and the sounds of the bodythe heart, lungs, etc. come from the cosmic sound of Aum. Aum contains all the sounds of the nine octaves perceptible to the human ear, as well as all cosmic sounds, low or high, which can not be registered in the human ear. So also, all forms of earthly lightscoal light, gas light, electric light, astral lightcome from cosmic energy. Cosmic sound manifests as cosmic energy, and vice versa. This cosmic sound manifests as the astral sounds of harps, bells, etc. (microcosmic cosmic sounds) in the astral body of man. So also this cosmic energy exists as the reflected, luminous, or astral, body of man. Higher lessons of Yogoda teachings can teach one to hear and locate the astral sounds emanating from the spinal cord. The physical body is condensed cosmic energy. The astral body is also condensed cosmic energy. The physical body has two eyes, positive and negative, due to the law of relativity. The astral body has only one eye, which is variously namedthe spiritual eye, the single eye (the Christian Bible), the third eye (the Hindu Bible), the star of the East, the star of wisdom, the dove descending from Heaven, the inner eye, the intuitive eye, the Shiva’s eyes, the star through which the wise men saw, etc., etc. During the baptism by the Holy Ghost, as perceived by Jesus Christ, He perceived it as a cosmic sound or Heaven, and the spiritual eye as the dove. This spiritual eye is a spiritual telescope with three rays as its lenses. The outer circle is golden. The inner lens of light is blue and is studded with a five-pointed silver star (as the third ray). The microcosmic cosmic energy microcosmically manifests in the human body as the specific reflected life energy or the astral body. The spiritual or astral eye is the eye of the astral body. The astral eye is the individualized cosmic energy in the human body. In meditation, first the life force must be withdrawn from the body, and must cross the portals of cosmic energy represented by the silver ring. Then it must plunge in the blue light representing Christ Consciousness. Then it must penetrate through the silver star representing Spirit, in the region of the Infinite. These threegolden, blue, and silver lightcontain all walls of rays of ultra-violet, electronic, and atomic rays, rays of cosmic energy through which one has to penetrate before one can reach Heaven. The golden halo and the blue central light are the two wings of the dove, and the little white star represents the mouth of the dove. The outer golden light is the Holy Ghost or Cosmic Energy or Nature; the blue represents God the Son or Christ, and the silver star represents God the Father.
So Jesus, during His baptism, saw the cosmic energy manifested in bodily shape, or materialized out of the ether, as the telescopic spiritual astral eye; and out of that spiritual eye representing the cosmic energy came a voice, or intelligent, all-creative cosmic sound, saying or vibrating, in intelligible voice (for all language comes from the Holy Ghost), “Thou art my Son, (or my manifestation); I am glad thou hast risen (lifted thy consciousness) from matter and tuned in with my Omnipresence.”
All material human beings are prodigal sons who have left the home of Omnipresent Holy Ghost and have identified themselves with the infinitely smaller territory of the human body. This Holy Ghost is the Great Comforter. Being guided by the universal, reflected God-consciousness, it contains the all-coveted bliss of God. One filled with this Holy Ghost, or Holy Vibration, can talk with the diverse tongues of inspiration of men, animals, and atoms. Since all languages are productions of the Holy Ghost, when man can hear, touch, and spread in Aum (or cosmic sound emanating from Holy Ghost), then he can understand or utter all languages, not only of men, but also of all animals and all atoms too. Holy Ghost, Aum of the Hindus, the Mohammedan Amin, the Christian Amen, Voice of Many Water, Word are the same thing. Aum is called the Word because the Word signifies cosmic intelligent vibratory sound which is the origin of all sounds and languages. This intelligent cosmic vibration or Word is the first manifestation of God in creation.
On the day of Pentecost the disciples were filled with the new wine of joy coming from the touch of Aum, or the Comforting Holy Vibration, and they could talk “in divers tongues.” Such were some of the experiences of Jesus after His baptism by the Holy Ghost; and such can be the experiences of Yogoda students now if they study the Yogoda lessons and do not forget them but continue to practice them constantly and continually in real life as the years roll by. The relation of God the Father, the Son of the Holy Ghost will be illustrated and elaborately explained in the June issue.