It's easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled. - Mark Twain
Religions are at work in the minds and ways of many people. Yukteswar was a Hindu yogi, and later a swami too. He did not abandon his general adaptations for the sake of Christianity. All the same, he speaks for "the essential unity in religion" [p. 4, 5-6]. If he leaves no good proof in the matter, he voices a belief. There may be a risk that beliefs without good evidence might trick people and make their minds set.
Now, what humans experience depends on themselves, that is, how they are built from bottom and up. In part it also depends on what thoughts their minds have been filled with apart from what they have concluded on their own. This suggests that what you can experience as a Hindu and Christian, is first and foremost restricted to what humans can possibly contain - the design and its potential. As for possible ranges of experiences, possible overloads, and so on, what is outside the range of what is cultivable in someone, looks very unprofitable. Good yoga tries essentially to cultivate the "ground" (body-mind-soul) for extended, delicate and finer experiences, and in part by self-help efforts.
The science bit
Sciences are typically on quests through the uses of "extended senses" and mental processes "hand in hand": Telescopes are there for extending the range of what may be detected, using infra-red light, ultra-sound, roentgen and more to detect and register what usually lies beyond the human range, and so on.
Thus, astronomy uses telescopes, biology labs use microscopes, and physics use computer-aided "things" while seeking to make out of matter. A science without its own terms, attempts at generalised theories, suitable pieces of equipment and trained people, may be construed, but it belongs to speculative endeavours, and that is where we find much that passes for philosophy.
Most academic subjects have such philosophy branches near their bottoms, so to speak, and they are termed paradigms [Nai]. Paradigms consist of assumptions. Great-looking assumptions that are accepted by the proponents of a rigid-looking discipline, are the backbones of the philosophy of science, the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of logic, the philosophy of law, and the philosophy of history, of physics, anthropology, and psychology, for example [cf. Thd]
Yukteswar stands: Philosophical investigations into religion
[Intelligent and] intellectual men in foreign lands . . . famous for their investigations in the realms of science and philosophy, do not recognize the essential unity in religion . . . I was chosen . . . to help in establishing the basic truth in all religions [Yukteswar, Hos 5, 6]."
Yuktewar seems bent on approaching religion through philosophy. Philosophy of religion deals with issues he writes about, namely, quite general phenomena of religion.
But what the philosophy of religion is, is difficult to say, for people disagree about what philosophy and religion are. Anyway, specialists in this flourishing branch of philosophy publish a lot, says Brian Davies. (1993, ix) Maybe you should get a second opinion:
People who speak of God do so by attributing to him certain properties . . . God is also often said to be very different from anything that comes within the range of our experience. . . . Here, then, is the problem. If one says that God is very different from anything else, can one really talk significantly about him at all? . . . Is there not a real dilemma here for those who believe in God? Are they not caught between the stools of meaninglessness and misrepresentation? (Davies 1993, 20)
Yukteswar and Self-help Efforts
Yukteswar represents a Hindu outlook on salvation by own efforts at meditation, usually with some help. Buddha advocates something similar, by pointing out the way, and saying something like, "You yourself have to tread it."
Many Christians, on the other hand, tell that the way is one of belief. Belief may serve just as a door-opener to some, if at all. Christian salvation does not ask for methods, but is fellowship with God as a result of the Holy Spirit jumping on persons, so to speak.
That, in essence, is what Acts tell, and also parts of the Gospel of John, which also says the kingdom has come while the other three gospels speak of the coming kingdom only. Yet, in some Catholic orders monks and nuns learn to meditate (contemplate) in various ways. Christian meditation looks much like lojong, and Christian monasticism stems from 4th century Egypt.
The common ground of "the unity" is man and woman and what they are potentially able to experience, and not many forms of dogmatism.
What Yukteswar is up to, is the goal of mysticism as well
The goal of the way that Yukteswar, is a mystical experience, and his path inwards is a mystical path as well. Can nonmystics judge mystical experiences of others? Can mystical knowledge-claims be compared, and can they conflict? Is it rational to accept mystical knowledge-claims? The thirst for Transcendence, how may it be slaked?
Reading may seldom lead to mystical experiences, but you never know . . .
There are a variety of ways of responding to the question of transcendence, but among those who believe that there are ways of doing so philosophically, one group can be said, roughly, to take the position that philosophy is primarily an epistemological enterprise and religion is not.
But that does not mean that we cannot make a philosophical analysis of religious phenomena. Phenomenological analysis of religion is possible. The presuppositions of religion may be relevant to philosophical thought and the analysis of religious phenomena may shed light on other phenomena. (Faulconer 2003, 2-3, abr.)
Yukteswar's book is furnished with an introduction, four chapters and a conclusion. The four chapters are said to reflect four stages in the development of knowledge. The chapters are called (1) the Gospel, (2) the Goal, (3) the Procedure and (4) the Revelation. You may consider the following chapter summaries an hors d'oeuvre:
1. Gist of the Gospel Chapter. A fit point of his Gospel chapter is that God "is "not comprehensible by man of this material world unless he becomes divine [p. 21-22]" and "the root of all power and joy [p. 22]." Then he goes on to say how the world as humans perceive it, has been "transformed down" from Spirit levels and delineates how; his Samkhya view [p. 23-32].
Yukteswar further tells the universe consists of fourteen spheres: seven heavens and seven patalas. In Hindu mythology the patalas make up the infernal subregions, supposed to be inhabited by various classes of supernatural serpents and other beings. Yukteswar tells that when man is turning toward his Self and advances well, he perceives light in these regions of hell, and compares them to the seven candlesticks and churches in Revelation - all in hellish places, he says. That is his understanding of it. [p. 32-35]
Going on, Yukteswar says the soul or monad is covered by five sheaths, five koshas, and delineates them. What he calls the Heart, also Atom, is the innermost of these coverings. He says there are different kingdoms of nature: the one called the inanimate kingdom, the vegetable kingdom, animal kingdom. Further upwards: mankind, angel, free (Sannyasi, the Son of God) [p. 35-38]
He also comes to the conclusion that the Voice in Revelation and John is Aum, and that Radha, otherwise well known as Krishna's mistress for a while, is symbolised in the Bible as John the Baptist [p. 40]. Though Radha was the wife of another cowherd, she was the most beloved of Krishna's consorts and his constant companion. In the bhakti movement of Vaishnavism, Radha symbolises the human soul and Krishna the divine. Radha is often worshiped along with Krishna. The question is what Yukteswar means by the word Radha. He does not explain it; he just draws a parallel to "mistress John".
Yukteswar says that true comprehension understands "the nothingness of the external world [p. 39]." Is he for real? Saying so, he does not exactly underpin his other message, that to attain Self-knowledge, "knowledge of the external world is necessary [p. 6]," does he? You may come to wonder, "If the outer world is nothing, why write so much about it? Why write at all? Is not everything Yukteswar has written, nothingness (of the external world)? And he too in his outward aspect?" - and so on.
Yukteswar-understanding for common persons: "God and the universe; the incomprehensible and nothing at all."
The second birth is to be absorbed in "the holy stream of the sound" [from the Ganges, Jamuna, and/or Jordan Rivers], and from there on true comprehension advances, Yukteswar says further. Jamuna is the main distributary channel of the Brahmaputra River. [p. 40-41]
The clear heart manifests great Light from within, and so man becomes Christ the Saviour, and saved for ever and ever, Yukteswar goes on to tell. [p. 41-42]
Kaivalya, "isolation, aloneness" is next [p. 43]
2. Gist of the Goal Chapter. According to Yukteswar, the highest aim of religion is Atma-jnanam, Self-knowledge, and salvation means residing in the real Self [p. 46]. But to attain Self-knowledge, knowledge of the external world is necessary, he says too [p. 6]. Well, in kriya yoga you "just" have to breathe in and out in the regulated ways, and are not asked to know anything at all about the lifestyles and customs of Eskimos, for example. Let Ramakrishna concur:
"I have come to the garden to eat mangoes. What is the use of my calculating the number of trees, branches, and leaves? I only eat the mangoes; I don't need to know the number of trees and leaves." [Goa 217-18]
What Ramakrishna speaks for, is enjoying divine bliss, by a figurative expression. Compare Yukteswar's:
"All creatures, from the highest to the lowest in the link of creation, are found eager to realize three things: Existence, Consciousness, and Bliss," says Yukteswar [Hos 6].
That is the ancient Hindu God-concept of Sat-Chit-Ananda. However:
In short, they rarely bore deep into Existence itself; they rarely seek to cultivate their inner minds full well for so-called Awakening or Illumination; and they seek joys in outer things and relations, and not so much by going into Joy Itself.
One may say the majority is not taught how to do it, how to approach the inner sides of humans and explore them safely. Yukteswar says man is bound by tenacious ignorance, egoism, attachment, and aversion, and in consequence suffers. [p. 46-49] However, if he gets a good guru and follows his precepts, he is on the way of working on his salvation toward contentment, ananda (usually: bliss, joy). Man follows up and focuses inwards in yogic manner and reaches "the door of the interior world". [p. 51, 39] I think Yukteswar refers to the space between the eyebrows by that. Further, the mantra-spirit of Hamsa is said to reside there. However, Yukteswar does not specify what he means by what he writes here either, so I let it rest.
Man manages to comprehend his own Self as Real Substance, and the clean heart becomes one with Eternal Spirit, God the Father, is Yukteswar's teaching [p. 51-53]. Hindu scriptures do not agree whether the realised jiva (soul, individualised spirit), actually unites with Brahman or was Brahman all along, waking up. That should be noted.
3. Gist of the Procedure Chapter. Yukteswar says the way to go, the procedure, is of penance toward purity, and includes hearing definite truths, and meditate on the Aum sound. Penance. [p. 55]
While penance is far from "natural living," Yukteswar speaks of three sides to living:(a) select food, (b) dwelling and (c) company.
(a) Natural food suits the organs of man, says he, and points at the form of the teeth, the length of the digestive canal, natural tendencies or tastes, and settles on man as a frugivorous (fruit-eating) being, but he allows for vegetables, nuts, grains and milk too. As many Hindus otherwise, he is not for eating steak, regarddless of expertise in handling it, making it tender, spiced, tasty, and so on. [p. 62]
(b) Yukteswar speaks for breathing fresh air on the mountaintop, the field, the garden, or a dry place under trees covering a lange plot of land and freely ventilated with fresh air to be the proper dwelling place for man. Egyptians found out that houses surrounded by gardens and walls made pleasant life possible. Disgusting weather and other hazard can threaten a lot people unless there are houses carefully planned and organised for at least good enough living. [p. 69]
(c) Much depends on the company you keep. Conscience and liking help in not letting usuitable, asat company shorten our lives, he goes on. [p. 69-70]
Yukteswar says that monastic confinement for the purpose of suppressing the passions seldom produce the desired effect, contrary to what he says his favoured diet can [p. 62-68]. Be that as it may, a study that was published in the British Medical Journal in 2006, - of thousands of men and women - revealed that those who stick to a vegetarian diet have IQs that are around five points higher than those who regularly eat meat. The researchers, from the University of Southampton, had tracked the fortunes of more than 8,000 volunteers for 20 years for the findings. 
The kriya guru Yukteswar further talks against a too narrow sense of respectability, and for the value of a good heart, for a steady and pleasant mediation posture, for pranayama (gentle breathing methods), and for pratyahara. His delineations here follows suit with steps of Patanjali yoga. The gur speaks for being "dead" for a while, so that man can wake up naturally again after enjoying a full rest, and live as long as he likes in his present body. At this point he - like his disciple Yogananda - draws in Paul's "I die daily." Adjusting to the American public, though, Yogananda soon toned down the marketing value of "dying at will," which featured in his The Science of Religion [More] [p. 71-75]
Yukteswar's aim is fixed attention toward the purified heart, and in such a state the scene is set for doing samyama and be turned into a divine being. Samyama or sanyama means "mixing dharana, dhyana and samadhi", that is, focusing in deeper meditation states goes a long way. And, as man progresses in meditating deeply, his heart goes from dark to clean through three stages in between them, says Yukteswar. [p. 75-80]
Yukteswar mentions seven realms, seven swargas (heavens) or lokas, in the purification way toward Divinity, toward becoming "Christ, the Savior", a "Jivanmukta Sannyasi, like Lord Jesus", and gets another view of the universe than the ordinary one. [p. 80-86]
4. Gist of the Revelation Chapter. Yukteswar speaks for the value of purifications in this chapter too - bodily cleansing, by yoga breathing methods, mantras for the mind. He talks for yogic dos and don't', niyamas and yamas as they are spelled out in Patanjali. Grace and meditation lets man see the seven golden candlesticks, chakras, in his own body. Yukteswar names them as they often are named, and says, "Through these seven centers of churches, the Ego or son of man passes toward the Divinity". [p. 87-92]
Passing through the heavens man becomes possessed of all majesties, another term for yogic powers. He can make you as small as he likes down to the size of an atom, or as big as he likes, or as light or heavy as he likes. Further, he can get anything he likes, can bring anything under his control, and satisfying all desires by his will. And he can become the Lord over everything. These are the eight majesties Yukteswar speaks of. And finally: Eternal Spirit. [p. 92-96]
Yukteswar's conclusion. Yukteswar concluded with a well-meaning "Never . . . forget the great goal of life."
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