Vision: (1) Something seen in a dream, trance, or ecstasy, especially a supernatural appearance that conveys a revelation. (2) An object of imagination. (3) A manifestation to the senses of something immaterial. (4) Something brought on by imagination; (5) Etc. [Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary]
Be careful what you wish for, lest it come true (Adage).
In his book Man's Eternal Quest, Paramahansa Yogananda writes of some of his visions of Krishna and Jesus. On one occasion in Boston he wanted to see Krishna and Jesus hand in hand on a sea of gold, and then saw them that way, he says.
Gold becomes liquid at 1064 degrees Celsius. Yogananda does not add that he heard gruesome cries like "Hot! Hot!" and smelt burning feet also. However, he writes that his memorable vision came on his request at a time when he wanted to quit the work in the United States. But he was not allowed to do it, for a voice told him he could not leave, and asked to placate him somehow, "What do you want to see?" He said, "I want to see Christ and Krishna hand in hand on a sea of gold."
Then Yogananda saw them like that; he had that vision. However, doubts came and he thought he might be hallucinating. Then the friend he was meditating with suddenly cried out that he saw "Krishna and Christ, on a sea of gold!" Yogananda does not say his friend heard "Hot! Hot!" or "Cold gold!" or could smell burning flesh, so his vision may have been of "cold sea gold" throughout. Granted that, the sea of gold in his vision was not real, hot, melted gold.
Yogananda was told in his vision that the room he lived in would smell well for some time afterwards, he writes. Visitors would notice it too. The voice said: "When I leave, the room will become filled with the fragrance of the lotus, and whoever comes shall notice it."
Each person who later visited Yogananda in that room would ask, "What is this strange fragrance of flowers that I smell?" It so happened, he asserts. He considered the lovely smell as a fine back-up to his vision. It could be. (1982, 233)
Not unlike the famous guru who saw what he had wanted to see, we are naturally interested in sorting out several possibilities when inner images and scenes appear. If someone else tells he had a vision, how valuable a vision was it? And to whom? And is there a chance it was not a vision, but something else? Here is help to ponder:
Someone tells he had a vision. You strum a "chord of alternatives" to feel well and assured, or to try to rule out chances of error just to be a bit more on the safe side. You consider such as:
In yoga literature there is more about visions and how to live with them. In the Bible too.
Yogananda tells somewhere else:
A powerful mind, versed in the art of visualization, (conscious dreams), can in a vision or a dream see Henry Jones, shake hands with him, weigh him on a scale, and behold him as tall and slight. Then what is the difference between the real physical body of Henry Jones and the dream-conceived, visualized body of him? One can say the former is . . . visible to all and the latter . . . visible to only one person. - Yogananda, "The Missing Link Between Consciousness and Matter", East West, June, 1932 Vol. 4-8]
Yogananda about Jesus one night:
One night while I was engaged in silent prayer, my sitting room in the Encinitas hermitage became filled with an opalblue light. I beheld the radiant form of the blessed Lord Jesus. A young man, he seemed, of about twenty-five, with a sparse beard and moustache; his long black hair, parted in the middle, was haloed by a shimmering gold.
It would appear that it was an SRF editor who made up and inserted "he uttered beautiful words, so personal in their nature that I keep them in my heart. (Yogananda 1998, 413)." Yogananda did not say that, Kriyananda tells in his Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography with Personal Reflections and Reminiscences. (2011, 287). The "personal part" part was made up by the long-time SRF editor Tara Mata, Kriyananda tells. Is bad English sacred? Anyway, Kriyananda cites the editor through, ". . . so sacred that I keep them in my heart." Mind that 'personal' in one book is "sacred" in another, but it does not stop there. Yogananda:
I beheld a wonderful light, and Jesus Christ appeared above me. The Holy Grail passed from his lips to mine, and I heard his voice say, "The cup from which I drink, thou dost drink." (according to Kriyananda (2011, 286-87)
Look at the poor language: 'Heard his voice say' means 'heard him say'. 'Holy Grail' means cup with mysterious overtones to it. "Thou dost drink" means 'drink'. We end up with something like, "Drink from the [floating] cup I drank from." Did Jesus take a cup with him when he ascended to heaven? If so all the grail-finders around have been mistaken. Most of the Grail-claimers have been mistaken anyway.
"Manyone" - for example a schizophrenic - may say he saw Jesus in a nightly vision - or was it a dream? - and that he spoke in outmoded English also. That may remind of something Thomas Szasz wrote: "If you talk to God, you are praying; If God talks to you, you have schizophrenia. If the dead talk to you, you are a spiritualist; If you talk to the dead, you are a schizophrenic." (WP, "Thomas Szasz")
To furnish more pork on the bones that Szasz just gave:
1. Yogananda told something else too in his day, if it matters, "I don't pray. That may seem a strange thing to say." (1982:121).
2. Yogananda also wrote a book of what he called answered prayers, Whispers from Eternity. It is marked by just the same biblical-smacking language as his vision . . . .
3. Further, Yogananda tried to communicate with spirits, calling one to enter his little sister, for example. [Much more]
That brings us to:
Just abstaining well from any words of smooth-talking deceivers may be well in step with the quick solution in Romans 16:17-27: "Turn away from them."
Here is a Yogananda-given way out - but only after decades of sermons, talks, and books of his - books that in so many cases are far from top helpful:
Don't take my word for anything. . . . please remember. - Yogananda (in Dietz 1998, "Master's Teachings")
The healthy man does not torture others. - Carl Gustav Jung
Jesus of the Gospels upheld slavery (Matthew 5:17-19) and worse, including a low "righteousness" called cruel, unfair sacrifice of victims. See the evidence: [Link].
But here is hope: Jesus says his teachings and ministry and salvation are for Jews only, but not sound Jews . . . (Vermes 2010:37, 41; Matthew 15:24; 10:4-10). That leaves out Yogananda. The renowned bible scholar Geza Vermes sums up:
During his days of preaching, Jesus of Nazareth addressed only Jews, "the lost sheep of Israel" (Matthew 10:5-8; 15:24). His disciples were expressly instructed not to approach gentiles or Samaritans (Matthew 10:5-8). On the few occasions that Jesus ventured beyond the boundaries of his homeland, he never proclaimed his gospel to pagans, nor did his disciples do so during his lifetime. The mission of the 11 apostles to "all the nations" (Matthew 28:19) is a "post-Resurrection" idea. It appears to be of Pauline inspiration and is nowhere else found in the Gospels (apart from the spurious longer ending of Mark [Mark 16:15], which is missing from all the older manuscripts). Jesus' own perspective was exclusively Jewish; he was concerned only with Jews. (Vermes 2012)
To clarify such vital matters still further against life lies and so on:
Jesus reserve his teachings and salvation for Jews (Matthew 15:24; 10:5-8; Vermes 2012), but only ill (read: depraved) Jews: those of sound moral and spirit are not called by him, and the healthy do not need him (Mark 2:17; Matthew 9:12-13; 12.11). Jesus further puts his sheep on a path to perdition in that he teaches his sheep what is opposed to sound self-preservation. Thereby eyes, limbs, property, fit living-conditions and life itself soon enough are at risk (Matthew 5: 29-30; 39-42). Finally, marring losses come to those who call him 'Lord, Lord' without doing as he tells. (Luke 6:46)
Dietz, Margaret Bowen. 1998. Thank You, Master. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity.
Kriyananda, Swami. 2011. Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography with Personal Reflections and Reminiscences. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity.
Yogananda, Paramahansa. 1959, Whispers from Eternity. 8th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1959.
Yogananda, Paramahansa. 1982. Man's Eternal Quest. 2nd ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship.
Yogananda, Paramahansa. 1998. Autobiography of a Yogi. 13th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF).
Vermes, Geza. 2010. The Real Jesus: Then and Now. Minneapolis, MI: Fortress Press.
Vermes, Geza. 2012. From Jewish to Gentile: How the Jesus Movement Became Christianity. Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) 38:06, Nov/Dec.
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