Yoga and Jesus

Jnana Yoga……the Yoga of Knowledge;

JNANA MEANS WISDOM or knowledge in Sanskrit. Jnana Yoga is a technique for seeking liberation in which identification with the real Self (rather than with the body or ego) is developed by a steady effort to discern or discriminate between pure awareness and the objects of awareness.

“Only the knowledge of God, the vision of God, in the Biblical sense of deep experience counts. I can see now that one can be a brilliant theologian, lecturing for example, on the Nicene Creed, and yet know nothing of the Divine Mystery, the Holy Trinity, upon whom one is expanding a multitude of words.
Or, on the other hand, one can be illiterate, unable to write or utter one word about the Reality that fills one, and yet be a deep practiser or doer of the Word.

To know about God, to talk about God, to preach about prayer, is very different from knowing God, from tasting and practicing contemplative prayer.

The difference that our Hindu friends make between brahmavadi, one who talks about Brahman, and Brahma vid, one who knows Brahman has been very largely ignored by us Christians, especially of the Western Churches.” (Father Murray Rogers essay “On the Pilgrim Path” given at a meeting of the World Council of Churches)

From his very early age of twelve when Jesus’ parents took him up to the Temple of Jerusalem for the  Festival of Passover and they lose him in the crowds and they search for three days and finally they found him. “After three days, they found him in the temple sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.” (Luke 2 v.46) and Luke says, “Jesus increased in wisdom and in Divine and human favour”

In later years when Jesus becomes a man and he goes for the first time to teach in the synagogue in Nazareth and we are told in the Gospel of St Luke that “he stood up to read and the scroll of Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”
And Jesus rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began by saying to them, “today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing’. All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words which came from his mouth. They said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” (Luke 4, v 16)

Jesus had the knowledge of God, the vision of God who he called “Father”

Photo: Sea of Galillee .

In his teachings, Jesus said “Those who want to save their life will loose it and those who loose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world and suffer the loss of their own soul. Or what will they give in return for their life?” Matt 16 v 25)

What he was saying is that we may possess so much knowledge of the universe but what does that serve if we don’t possess the knowledge of our own soul, of our own inner spiritual dimension.

Later on St Paul, wrote, “I pray that the Father of glory may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know Him, so that with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power for us who believe…I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with  all the saints, what is the breath and the length and the height and the depth, and to know the love of God which surpasses knowledge so that you may be filled with the fullness of God” (Ephesians 1 v 17)

Paul does not have enough words to express this knowledge, this experience of the Divine.

Jesus said “Come to me all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am humble and gentle in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”(Matthew 11, v 28-30)

This was originally written in Greek and the word for yoke is zugos. If it was in India maybe he would have said “My Yoga is easy” The way the word Yoke is used by Jesus it was meant to mean a particular school of thought, in other words his way of uniting us to God.

Take My Yoke Upon You Looking into the Greek of the New Testament and the ancient Mediterranean world to better understand this phrase.  The word “yoke” comes from the word zugos and it can be used in a variety of contexts. It can refer to balances or scales, such as those used by merchants or those which symbolize justice.[1]  In the context that we have here in Matthew 11:29, it can refer to a heavy crossbeam, which is a metaphor for being bound in slavery to a heavy load.  Zugos is also quite common throughout the Greek Old Testament. (there were 70 books of the Bible translated in Greek. Its called the Septuagint)
Well, we find the word zugos in many passages of the Septuagint, which can offer us interesting insights.  For example, zugos is often used in the Septuagint to refer to the tyrannical and oppressive rule of foreign powers over Israel.  Similarly, God speaks of breaking oppressive yokes and delivering his people (see Leviticus 26:13; Isaiah 9:3; 10:27; 11:13; 14:5, 25).[3]
On the other hand, zugos is also used in the Septuagint to refer to the “yoke of God” or in other words to covenant fidelity to God’s commandments and his everlasting grace.  But as we have witnessed all too often, the natural man desires to be “free” of all constraints and all yokes. In the book of the prophet Jeremiah Chap.2 v 20, we read, “For long ago you broke your yoke and burst your bonds, and you said “I will not serve” and in Chap 5 v.5 “Let me go to the rich and speak to them: surely they know the way of the Lord, but they all alike had broken the yoke, they had burst the bonds.”
The people were tired and weary because of all the laws and doctrines imposed and so he says….”take my yoke upon you, and learn from me,(take my knowledge)  for I am humble and gentle in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Jesus’ main work on earth was to reveal to us God as a father and he gave many parables to show this. One of the famous ones is the story of the son who left his father’s house and ran away and squandered all his earnings.  And Jesus relates when the lad is coming back home the father spots him and runs to greet him. He tells this because he wants to give us a different vision of God. He is speaking from his own knowledge.

Jesus gives the knowledge of God in many ways but then too he expresses his own union with the Father. In this story he is speaking about the Father and he said “If you know me, you will also know the Father. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him” and Philip said to him, “Lord show us the Father and we will be satisfied” and Jesus said to him, “have I been with you all this time, Philip and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me, has seen the Father. How can you say, show us the Father? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you, I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does His works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” (John 14, 8-11)

Jesus experiences the Father, he knows Him and also He expresses his union with Him. This is his most important teaching, this unity with the Divine and this is so important that the night before he is taken away and he recites his last prayer with his disciples this is what he prays for…..”now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words you have given to me, I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf”….and he prays for their protection and so forths and then he prays…

”As you Father are in me and I in you, may they also be in us…..the glory that You have given me, I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one…”

And so when we read in our Yoga manuals that the aim of all Yoga is union with the Divine, and we look at what Jesus taught, is not this the same thing that he desired most for his friends.

And he tells them also that he is sending his Spirit to them and so it is his gifts that will bring them completeness, the higher reality waiting to be discovered within and to become open to the Holy Spirit’s guidance

The teaching, “Love thy neighbour as thyself”, made me wonder what was there in one’s self to love. It was only through an experience of meditation and discovering the joy and peace within
that made me realise there in the secret of one’s heart lies the Spirit of God which is worth all our love and devotion. That same presence lies within the heart of every human being. Knowing this intellectually is not sufficient. It is only the experience that can satisfy.

Late have I loved you,
O Beauty so ancient and so new,
late have I loved you!
You were within me, but I was outside,
and it was there that I searched for you.
In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created.
You were with me, but I was not with you.
Created things kept me from you;
yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all.
You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness.
You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness.
You breathed your fragrance on me;
I drew in breath and now I pant for you.
I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more.
You touched me, and I burned for your peace.  (Confessions of St Augustine)

In Chapter 6 of the Gita v 20 states, “When the mind comes to rest, restrained by the presence of Yoga, and when beholding the Self, by the self, he is content in the Self.
V 21. He knows that infinite happiness which is grasped by the intellect and transcends the senses, and established there, does not deviate from the truth.”
“L“Late have I loved you, O beauty ever anciente called out, and have shattered my deafness.  You have blazed forth with light and have put my blindness to flight!  You have sent forth fragrance, and I have drawn in Yetmy YetJesus gave a method. “Whenever you go to pray, go to your room and close the door and pray to your Father in secret” (Matt 6:6) This was his teaching on meditation, the highest form of prayer. Closing the door, referring to closing the doors of perception, going in to the presence, to the dwelling within where the Father dwells.


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