I consider myself a spiritual disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952). His writings are truly inspired. When I read his works, I feel myself uplifted by his wisdom, his way of blending reason with intuition. His commentaries on the original teachings of Jesus are brilliant. Something deep inside me knows he speaks the truth.
Yet, whenever I read works written by Yogananda’s closest disciples (i.e., those who knew him well in this life), I occasionally find myself confused and questioning what I’m reading. It becomes clear to me that the disciples are nowhere near as enlightened as the master. While many things they say resonate with truth, other things seem “off” somehow.
This experience has caused me to question what is written in the Bible by the disciples of Jesus. The New Testament is written by disciples – some of whom knew Jesus personally and others, like St. Paul, who did not. All of Christianity is based on words that were not actually written by Jesus. How much was changed in oral transmission and in the process of setting the words on paper in the early centuries? How much has been lost in translation and especially in interpretation over the years? We’ll never know for sure.
I feel justified in trusting my instincts when there are parts of scripture that do not ring true for me. Since we don’t have the actual teachings of Jesus written by him, we can never know if we are learning – and striving to practice – the most important aspects of faith that he wished to impart.
We are truly blessed whenever we find the words of masters written by themselves. May we recognize such writings when we find them, however we find them, and use them to inspire ourselves and the world to live better, holier lives.
Recommended reading: The Second Coming of Christ: The Resurrection of the Christ Within You – a revelatory commentary on the original teachings of Jesus (two-volume set) by Paramahansa Yogananda (2004).