Which Jesus Do You Believe In?

Posted on December 25, 2018

by Philip Goldman: Growing up in Brooklyn, long before it was “Hipsterville,” I was familiar with three kinds of Jesus…

There was the one and only begotten son of God, Savior of all Mankind, who was worshiped by many of the Irish and Italian Catholics in the neighborhood. And, among the Jews, two alternative versions: the laudable, ethical teacher—a nice Jewish boy, essentially, who met with a terrible fate—and the Jesus they considered a creature of mythology, like Apollo or Zeus.

In my atheistic home, where religion was the opium of the people, Jesus was largely irrelevant, except as a proponent of the “golden rule” and for the horrors that had been perpetrated in his name by misguided followers.

Then came the 60s, and I was introduced to a different Jesus, by way of India. Like millions of my contemporaries, my hot pursuit of truth and personal fulfillment led me to the spiritual legacy of the East. I read the sacred texts of Hinduism and Buddhism, and modern interpreters such as Aldous Huxley, Alan Watts, and Huston Smith. I was drawn to what was called mysticism because I found it, ironically, far less mysterious and far more rational than conventional religion—and even some schools of psychology.

I found a yoga class—not easy to do back then, believe it or not—and learned to meditate. Throughout my explorations, I was surprised to find that Jesus was always referred to with great respect, and sometimes with reverence. That experience peaked when I read Paramahansa Yogananda’s seminal memoir, Autobiography of a Yogi. In it—and even more so in other works, as I discovered later when I researched my biography of him—Yogananda treats the rabbi of Nazareth with such veneration that I couldn’t help thinking: What have I been missing?

So, I read the New Testament. It blew my mind. Because my spiritual reference point was more Hindu than Judeo-Christian, the Gospels came off the page like the Upanishads or the Bhagavad Gita, not like churchy dogma. The main character was a master teacher—a guru—who guided his disciples not just to better behavior but to union with the divine. His term for the infinite Ground of Being was “Father,” but it was easy to evoke the language of the Vedic seers and substitute Brahman or Ishvara or the Self.

When he tells the crowd at the Sermon on the Mount not to pray conspicuously like the hypocrites, but to “go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret,” I saw a guru directing his disciples to meditate in silence. This was a Jesus I could live with: exalted in a way that befits someone whose impact on history is unparalleled, but without the singular cosmos-shaking agenda or the religious triumphalism that relegates nonbelievers to either irrelevance or damnation.

I soon learned that Hindus in general, and the gurus and yoga masters who came to the West in particular, tended to see Jesus as a satguru (true teacher) and an enlightened yogi of the highest order. Some even afforded him the status of avatar, placing him on the same level as Krishna and Rama in the pantheon of divine incarnations.

To them, the teachings of Christ, followed properly and deeply, is a legitimate pathway to the unified awareness that is yoga’s true aim. That is why, in many spiritual institutions with Indian roots, you will find images of Jesus placed alongside the Buddha and other saints and avatars. In Yogananda centers, in fact, a portrait of Jesus is on every altar, alongside one of Krishna, Yogananda himself, and the three venerated gurus in his lineage.

This way of seeing Jesus has been filtering into America’s bloodstream ever since the 19th Century when Henry David Thoreau equated Jesus and Buddha and called himself a yogi. It gathered steam as a stately parade of gurus arrived on our shores, and it exploded after the Beatles’ 1968 sojourn in India. By now, that perspective has affected millions.

For a great many angry or alienated Christians, it has been the key to reconnecting with their religious heritage on terms they can live with. Even people whose religious orientation is, for all practical purposes, Hindu have been encouraged by their gurus to honor their Christian roots, often by thinking of Jesus as their ishta devata (preferred form of God). In that context, many prodigal sons and daughters have found their way back to the Jesus they love by way of India. Similarly, thousands of Jews who studied Hinduism or Buddhism have come to see Jesus as a great mystical rabbi and a passionate reformer, not as the founder of a hostile cult.

The image of Jesus as a sage and sadhguru may not sit well with clerics for whom Christ can only be the one true messiah and the great hinge of history. They ought to be glad that millions who might otherwise view this season as merely a respite from work, or as nothing but humbug, will instead celebrate the birthday of a great, holy man. That’s what I’ll be doing.

Each December it makes the season merrier, jollier, and brighter. That and The Drifters’ version of “White Christmas.”

Source: Elephant Journal

The Collective Spiritual Failure By: Philip Goldberg

That humanity faces monumental challenges needs no more proof than a scan of the daily news outlets. A deeper look reveals that the cause of our problems is not just political dysfunction, which gets most of the attention. Nor is it economic injustice, or racial and ethnic bigotry, or ecological ignorance, or greed, or educational failure, or any one thing. It is all of those together, and more. It is also a spiritual failure.

For the generation that came of age in the 1960s, this is as disconcerting as it is tragic. I was a student radical back then. I worked for civil rights and marched against the war in Vietnam; I raged against injustice and the ills of capitalism. I wanted a better world, and I believed that changing “the system” was the way to achieve it. As for religion, I was with Karl Marx: it was the opium of the people.

At one point, however, I started to become disillusioned with leftist ideology, revolutionary rhetoric and the behavior of my more radical comrades. On the personal level, I was a confused, desperate young man in the grip of an existential crisis that neither Marx, nor Freud, nor Darwin, nor any of my elders could resolve. I could not find satisfactory answers to the Big Questions of life.

My search for truth, meaning and happiness led to the spiritual traditions of the East. The philosophies and cosmologies resonated with me, and the methods of inner transformation were just what the doctor ordered. I dove into the study of Buddhism and Hinduism, took up meditation and set my sights on enlightenment. Before long, I came to believe that meaningful social change could come only from the inside out. Now I saw politics as the opium of the people.

I became a spiritual activist. I trained as a teacher of Transcendental Meditation and set out to save the world one mantra at a time, convinced that if more and more individuals found inner peace and grew toward higher consciousness society would naturally evolve in the right direction. I was far from alone in that conviction; in the 70s and 80s, the ranks of yogis, new agers, meditators and mystics were filled with former social activists.

In time, practices like yoga, meditation and mindfulness became mainstream, and the way Americans understand religion and practice spirituality changed radically. Now doctors routinely recommend meditation and Christians and Jews routinely engage in contemplative practices. This is a development worth celebrating. But the world did not evolve the way many of us thought it would. Violence, injustice, environmental degradation and other manifestations of ignorance and selfishness continued relatively unabated. Spiritual practitioners started to realize that inner work, no matter how transformative, does not impact the broader social landscape as strongly as we hoped it would.

And yet, that inner work is indispensable. As Einstein purportedly said, “We can’t solve problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” One can add that we can’t solve problems with the same hearts, the same perceptions, the same maturity, the same egos or the same collective consciousness that prevailed when the problems were created. The evidence suggests that genuine spiritual transformation raises the level of all those attributes. People on authentic spiritual paths tend to become less greedy, less materialistic, less obsessed with acquisition and consumption, less attached to opinions and ideologies. They tend to grow in mental clarity and out-of-the-box thinking, and also in the capacity for compassion and empathy.

We all know exceptions, of course; there is no shortage of self-inflated narcissists in spiritual circles. But it’s safe to say that the arc of inner transformation bends toward wisdom and goodness, and that can only be a plus for society. Personal enlightenment without proper action may be like singing a great song in the shower instead of a concert hall, but action without big minds and open hearts is bound to produce bad notes and dissonant chords. The activists and the contemplatives need one another. Appeals to conscience and morality are not enough. Nor is legislation based on wonkish policy analysis. Nor are citations from scripture or passionate entreaties to be loving and compassionate. If those were enough, history would be vastly different. In short, we don’t just need political reform and educational reform and economic reform; we need consciousness reform. Without it, other reforms will be limited at best.

When I make this argument, people often try to pin me down on policy and get me to take a position on some left-right debate, as if I were running for office. My entire point is that we need to transcend that level of thinking and open ourselves to insights and ideas we can’t anticipate at our present level of awareness. It is reasonable to think that transformative spiritual development might provide an elevated platform from which to see the world differently—a place where creative, innovative ideas can merge with compassion and skillful action, unimpeded by ideologies, labels and past conditioning.

Maybe that platform is located in the transcendental field where Rumi wanted us to meet him, “out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing.” It is there, after all, where our essential Oneness is not just imagined or proclaimed but directly experienced. Maybe that is where we can spiritualize social action and activate spirituality.

Philip Goldberg is the author of American Veda and numerous other books; a public speaker and workshop leader; a spiritual counselor, meditation teacher and ordained Interfaith Minister. He is the co-host of the podcast Spirit Matters: Conversations on Contemporary Spirituality. He lives in Los Angeles.

The Intuitive Edge: Understanding Intuition and Applying it in Everyday Life by Philip Goldberg (Author)

Often called the definitive book on intuition, this groundbreaking work explains what intuition is and how to make the most of this natural gift. Making decisions and solving problems with purely rational tools is inadequate in our complex world. Goldberg shows how to complement reason with the extraordinary power of hunches and gut feelings. By de-mystifying this vital subject, he brings it into the realm of practical, everyday use.

“An excellent job of showing the central role intuition plays for great scientists and imaginative thinkers.”-Peter Senge, Ph.D., Sloan School of Management.

Philip Goldberg is a counselor, interfaith minister and public speaker in Los Angeles. The director of the Forge Guild of Spiritual Leaders, he is the author or coauthor of 17 books, most recently Roadsigns: On the Spiritual Path?Living at the Heart of Paradox. His Web site is http://www.PhilipGoldberg.com.

View Here

In Conversation with the Mystic – Sadhguru and Philip Goldberg

Published on Nov 12, 2015

In this clip from the series, In Conversation with the Mystic, Sadhguru discusses how an asana is a path to a higher possibility.

American Veda by Philip Goldberg [updated Jan 05, 2016]

By Philip Goldberg

Foreword by Huston Smith

“An illuminating, gracefully written, and remarkably thorough account of India’s spectacular impact on Western religion and spirituality.”

—Deepak Chopra

“American Veda shows us how we got to where we are. It chronicles a revolution in consciousness and describes India’s lasting influence on our culture, from gurus, meditation, and yoga to sitar music and aromatic curries. Savor it.”

—Michael Bernard Beckwith, author of Spiritual Liberation: Fulfilling Your Soul’s Potential

In February 1968 the Beatles went to India for an extended stay with their new guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It may have been the most momentous spiritual retreat since Jesus spent those forty days in the wilderness. The media frenzy over the Fab Four made known to the sleek, sophisticated West that meek, mysterious India had something of value. Our understanding and practice of spirituality would never be the same.

With these words Philip Goldberg begins his monumental work, American Veda: From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation, How Indian Spirituality Changed the West (Harmony Books; Hardcover; November 2, 2010), a fascinating look at India’s remarkable impact on Western culture, with a foreword by Huston Smith. Goldberg’s eye-opening chronicle shows how the ancient philosophy of Vedanta and the mind-body methods of Yoga have profoundly influenced the nation, producing a radical shift in the worldview of millions.

What exploded in the 1960s actually began more than two hundred years earlier, when the United States started importing knowledge as well as tangy spices and colorful fabrics from Asia. The first translations of Hindu texts found their way into the libraries of John Adams and Ralph Waldo Emerson. From there the ideas spread to Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, and succeeding generations of receptive Americans, who absorbed India’s “science of consciousness” and wove it into the fabric of their lives.

Charismatic teachers like Swami Vivekananda and Paramahansa Yogananda came west in waves, prompting leading intellectuals, artists, and scientists such as Aldous Huxley, Joseph Campbell, Allen Ginsberg, J. D. Salinger, John Coltrane, Dean Ornish, and Richard Alpert to adapt and disseminate what they learned from them. The impact has been enormous, enlarging our current understanding of the mind and body and dramatically changing how we view ourselves and our place in the cosmos.

With fascinating stories of key players and the times they lived in, Goldberg paints a compelling picture of this remarkable East-to-West transmission, showing how it accelerated through the decades and eventually moved from the counterculture into our laboratories, libraries, and living rooms. Now physicians and therapists routinely recommend meditation, words like karma and mantra are part of our everyday vocabulary, and Yoga studios are as ubiquitous as Starbucks cafés. The insights of India’s sages permeate so much of what we think, believe, and do that they have redefined the meaning of life for millions of Americans—and continue to do so every day.

In 2009, Newsweek ran a provocative essay titled “We Are All Hindus Now.” American Veda tells exactly why and how that came to be. It is not only the very first popular history of Indian religion and philosophy in America, it is a stirring tribute to India, whose ancient traditions continue to influence our everyday lives.

About the Author

PHILIP GOLDBERG is the author or coauthor of nineteen books, including Roadsigns: On the Spiritual Path and The Intuitive Edge. Based in Los Angeles, he is an ordained interfaith minister, a public speaker and seminar leader, and the founder of Spiritual Wellness and Healing Associates. He is director of outreach for SpiritualCitizens.net and blogs regularly on religion for the Huffington Post. Visit http://www.philipgoldberg.com or http://www.americanveda.com for more information.

Philip Goldberg on American Veda: How Indian Spirituality Changed the West

In 1968, the Beatles went to India for an extended stay with their new guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a spiritual retreat that exploded the ancient philosophy of Vedanta and the mind-body methods of Yoga into popular Western culture, an introduction that actually began when translations of Hindu texts penetrated the thinking of John Adams and Ralph Waldo Emerson, and the ideas spread to Thoreau, Whitman, and succeeding generations of receptive Americans, who absorbed India’s “science of consciousness.”

Philip Goldberg, author, director for SpiritualCitizens.net, and Huffington Post blogger on religion, traces this movement from Emerson to the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation. http://www.philipgoldberg.com

How Indian Spirituality Changed the West (Philip Goldberg)

Philip Goldberg, author of American Veda, discusses how American culture has been influenced by Indian Spirituality.

Philip Goldberg Lecture 002 – Amercican Vedas (VAK)

Published on Dec 25, 2013

Philip Goldberg Lecture on the Books of “American Vedas” organised by Vishwa Adhyayan Kendra Mumbai

Philip Goldberg – Buddha at the Gas Pump Interview

Philip Goldberg has been studying India’s spiritual traditions for more than forty years, as both a practitioner and an author. After teaching Transcendental Meditation in early 1970s, he became a professional writer and has written or co-written 19 books, including The Intuitive Edge, Making Peace With God, Roadsigns on the Spiritual Path and his most recent work, American Veda: From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation, How Indian Spirituality Changed the West. The book was greeted by enthusiastic reviews from journalists and experts in the field.

He is also published novelist and a member of both the Writers Guild of America and the Authors Guild. His blogs appear regularly on the Huffington Post, Elephant Journal and other sites.

An ordained interfaith minister and spiritual counselor as well, Phil was the founding director of the Forge Guild of Spiritual Leaders and recently created Spiritual Wellness and Healing Associates (SWAHA) in Los Angeles, with his wife,acupuncturist Lori Deutsch.

To view Philip Goldberg’s book on American Veda View Here

ROADSIGNS: On the Spiritual Path — Living at the Heart of Paradox ~ Philip Goldberg

An indispensable book for anyone on a spiritual path, whether within a mainstream tradition or a journey of one’s own. The book recognizes that everyone’s path is unique, and that while the road is filled with glory and bliss, it also contains ambiguous turns and contradictory directions as well as roadblocks, dead-ends and potholes. Based upon 3 decades of personal experience and years of research, this book provides the road signs every soul searcher needs. It leads to the best kind of guidance you can have: your own answers based on your own reflection and your own unique needs.

Philip Goldberg – Buddha at the Gas Pump Interview

Philip Goldberg has been studying India’s spiritual traditions for more than forty years, as both a practitioner and an author. After teaching Transcendental Meditation in early 1970s, he became a professional writer and has written or co-written 19 books, including The Intuitive Edge, Making Peace With God, Roadsigns on the Spiritual Path and his most recent work, American Veda: From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation, How Indian Spirituality Changed the West. The book was greeted by enthusiastic reviews from journalists and experts in the field.

He is also published novelist and a member of both the Writers Guild of America and the Authors Guild. His blogs appear regularly on the Huffington Post, Elephant Journal and other sites.

An ordained interfaith minister and spiritual counselor as well, Phil was the founding director of the Forge Guild of Spiritual Leaders and recently created Spiritual Wellness and Healing Associates (SWAHA) in Los Angeles, with his wife, acupuncturist Lori Deutsch.

Three Gurus Who Changed the Face of Spirituality in the West ~ Philip Goldberg

In researching the 200-year transmission of India’s spiritual teachings to the West, I found that three gurus stood out for their immense impact on public awareness, and as it happens they all have birthdays around now: Paramahansa Yogananda on Jan. 5, and both Swami Vivekananda and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on Jan. 12. People who are into astrology say it’s significant that all three were Capricorns. For me, an astrological agnostic, it’s enough that their proximate birthdays are an opportunity to pay homage.

They came to America at intervals of about 30 years, in eras that were vastly different, culturally and technologically. They were, of course, Hindu monks. At the same time, they were well-educated, fluent in English and knowledgeable about science. They were ambitious (though not in the conventional sense), earnest, determined, well-organized, single-minded and pragmatically businesslike — all Capricorn traits, I’m told, but let’s not go there — and they combined a steadfast reverence for tradition with skillful adaptation to the modern world.

Vivekananda, born in 1863, arrived in Chicago at age 30 as a delegate to the World’s Parliament of Religions. It was the first parliament, and it might have been the last if the “handsome monk in the orange robe,” as one writer described him, had not made it memorable. He stole the show with an eloquent refutation of misconceptions about Hinduism and a dignified demonstration of that tradition’s vaunted respect for all pathways to the divine. At a time when most Americans hadn’t even met a Catholic or a Jew, the enthusiastic reception was remarkable, although it was stained by predictable attacks from conservative Christians, to whom a heathen was a heathen no matter how erudite and inspiring he may seem.

Vivekananda spent about three years here before returning to India, where he passed away before his 40th birthday. His tenure was long enough to write four seminal books that introduced Westerners to the classic yogic pathways — bhakti (devotion), karma (action), jnana (intellect) and raja (meditative practice) — and to establish Vedanta Societies in major cities. The swamis who ran those centers in mid-20th century would become mentors to cultural icons like Aldous Huxley, Huston Smith, Joseph Campbell and J.D. Salinger, whose enduring works changed the way tens of millions saw themselves and the world.

Yogananda was born the year of his predecessor’s triumph in Chicago and landed in Boston in 1920 to speak on “The Science of Religion.” The first major guru to make the U.S. his home, he fell in love with Los Angeles, which he called “the Benares of America,” establishing the world headquarters of his Self-Realization Fellowship on a rustic hilltop with a view of downtown.

Early on he showed himself a thoroughly modern swami, using new inventions like radio and mail order to disseminate his brand of Kriya Yoga. His crowning creation, in addition to the durable organization that keeps his teachings alive, was the memoir, Autobiography of a Yogi. In the 300-plus interviews I conducted for my book, American Veda, that was the text most frequently mentioned when people spoke of their spiritual influences. It has sold 4 million copies and counting.

The third member of the trio is destined to be known forever as “the Beatles’ guru.” Born in 1918, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi had been circling the globe for nearly 10 years, teaching his Transcendental Meditation, by the time the Fab Four found him in 1967. He touched down in the U.S. annually for much of that time, attracting small numbers of grown-up middle-class seekers. Then TM caught on among students, and spread to the burgeoning counterculture, and when the Beatles followed him to India, Maharishi’s face became the global symbol of guruhood. It was on the cover of national magazines, the front pages of newspapers and on national TV.

Meditation was suddenly hip, and soon it would be something more substantial, as Maharishi prodded scientists to investigate what goes on in the body and brain when people meditated. As a result of those early studies, meditation — and with it Indian philosophy — moved quickly from the youth culture to the mainstream. That trend line peaked in 1975, when Maharishi occupied the full hour of Merv Griffin’s talk show (the Oprah of its day) twice, with scientists and meditating celebs like Clint Eastwood and Mary Tyler Moore. Now, a thousand experiments later, yoga and meditation are routinely recommended by healthcare professionals.

Those three renowned teachers, and the many other swamis, gurus and yoga masters that came here from India, along with their Buddhist counterparts, changed the face of spirituality in the West. Among other things, they gave people who were alienated from, indifferent to or contemptuous of mainstream religion a way to exercise the spiritual impulse without compromising their sense of reason or the facts of history and science. They were Hindus to be sure, but they were not religious missionaries out to convert.

They taught the essence of their tradition — what Indians call sanatana dharma, or the eternal way, a science of consciousness if you will, that they said can enhance the life of anyone, whether religious or secular. In the process they lifted the ceiling on human development and opened the gates to a new understanding of who and what we are. For that, their birthday week deserves commemoration.

Philip Goldberg: Interfaith Minister, author of ‘American Veda: How Indian Spirituality Changed the West’

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