Service and devotion (Karma Yoga and Bhakti)


He is always stepping aside to pray the Father. Every time he preaches or he goes doing ministry he always takes time apart to pray. He was constantly renewing his Bhakti, his devotion to the Father.
And yes, he even prays on the cross when he says  the words of the Psalm 22 “My God my God, why have you forsaken me?” but if we take the time to read the whole psalm we will see that it was not simply a cry of despair as it ends so beautifully in praise.

And what was the Karma Yoga, the selfless service that Jesus did? His love and devotion did not make him blind to the sufferings around him. He was a great healer. This was his Karma Yoga (the Yoga of service)

You remember that I related how Jesus was in the temple in Nazareth and he read from the scrolls, in the Gospel of Luke, we are told,
“After leaving the synagogue,  Jesus entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother in law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked him about her. Then he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. Immediately she got up and began to serve them.”

(Jesus healed her and she served. As the woman of the house it was also her duty to open the Sabath prayer in the home)

“As the sun was setting, all those who had any who were suffering from various kinds of diseases, brought them to him, and he laid his hands on each of them and cured them.” (Luke 4. v38-40)

I like Luke for this because he was a doctor and so these details of illnesses interested him. All through the writings of Luke we see how Jesus was healing people, individuals who came and begged for their health.
There are instances around that time that Luke records Jesus healing lepers and paralytics etc but he also mentions on occasions that after these healings, Jesus would go somewhere to pray. After he chooses his disciples he teaches and again  …

“and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, Tyre and Sidon. They had all come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases…..and all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and he healed all of them.” (Luke 6 v17)

For him, the whole substance of the law and the prophets is resumed in love, “In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.” (Matt 7. v 12) He takes it even further and gives us a teaching which is maybe the hardest to follow…to love those who hate and persecute us.

“You have heard it said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’. But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your coat as well; and if someone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile”
The great Mahatma Ghandi was inspired by this phrase and he used it in his practice of Ahimsa (non-violence) which is also a virtue of the Yoga teachings.

The Master, Swami Shivananda said that he found in the teachings of Jesus a pattern which if followed ‘will without fail, lift us from the gross life to a transcendental Divine Life in the Spirit.
He said, “Jesus gives us the highest Vedanta presented in the simplest of words, “Love thy neighbour as thyself” (Christmas message 1951, life and teachings of Lord Jesus)

And so this evening my lecture is not something to do with a particular religion nor either am I trying to convince you of his Divinity or anything but simply to draw observations on what he taught and how he lived in the light of the teachings of yoga and the life of a yogi.

When in the other lectures to come I will speak of St Francis or any Christian mystic who followed the teachings of Jesus, I want to also compare them and their way of life and how they taught, and see also the comparisons with Yoga.

One of the greatest pioneers in the search of finding a common ground between and above our differences, a man who I had the grace and privilege of meeting on several occasions and who I consider a friend and mentor, passed away some two years ago, Fr. Murray Rogers.

He said, “The Christ is too great to be reduced to the expression of him which was conveyed to us through the New Testament and the Church and Fr.Murray continues,

“We Christians are always tempted to fashion Christ according to our own measurements. When, thanks to all that his Hindu and Buddhist brothers and sisters have experienced on their pilgrimage path, as well as to his own self-disclosure in “Christian” channels of grace, we discover him as he truly is, always beyond, beyond all name and form, always beyond all his innumerable manifestations;
and when we hear his voice sending us beyond ourselves, beyond every experience we may have had of him hitherto, then we know ourselves to be interwoven threads of a tapestry which is beyond our imagining in wonder and glory- and that tapestry is the life of the Father, the Silence in which alone this extraordinary voyage of creation will reach its goal.”

I will end with a thought from Teilhard de Chardin, a word which expresses our gratitude for being part of this whole mystery of Life. He said:

“ Like a vast tide the Being will have dominated the tremblings of all beings. The extraordinary adventure of the World will have ended in the bosom of a tranquil ocean, of which however, each drop will be conscious of being itself.”


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