Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) is a popular religion of yogic Unity with God. It was founded by Swami Paramahansa Yogananda in the 1920s.
I lived in L.A. from 1970 to 2004 and I sometimes visited the SRF Lake Shrine in Pacific Palisades, Ca. It’s an oasis, a park built around a man-made lake. I occasionally attended Sunday services with a friend at the SRF temple. SRF monks preach the yoga of Unity in world religions. And they preach Christianity. I have enjoyed P. Yogananda’s writings, mostly his booklets and card sets with spiritual sayings. I find most impressive his statement that healings can be instantaneous.
At the Lake Shrine entrance is a Court of Religions, honoring five principal religions of the world. It displays the symbols of these religions: a cross for Christianity, a Star of David for Judaism, a Wheel of Law for Buddhism, a crescent moon & star for Islam, and the Aum symbol for Hinduism. Yogananda believed in an underlying harmony of all faiths that unites us all. But as I research Christian Science, I find publications from the SRF camp sometimes misrepresent Christian Science. It’s been suggested by SRF that Mrs. Eddy got her theology from Hinduism.
In her book “Miscellaneous Writings” the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy, states that “All Science is Christian Science”. The SRF seem to claim that all Christian Science is founded on Hinduism. That’s untrue.
Eddy teaches that Truth reveals itself through all ages, past, present and future. So that makes way for earlier Scientists such as Krishna and Buddha. Eddy wrote about Hinduism in the 24th-33rd editions of her textbook “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures”. But Hinduism wasn’t the foundation of Eddy’s scientific discovery. Her writings are clearly strictly a biblical science.
Christian Science and its healing method was the fastest growing religion in America at the turn of the 20th century. In the 1880s through the 1920s and beyond Mrs. Eddy was utterly attacked by people who felt threatened by the popularity of Christian Science. She was represented as being non-Christian, teaching eastern religion, called a witch and spiritual medium and so on. Mrs. Eddy early on deleted her references to the Hindu religion. Hindu concepts, and their historic signficance were non-essential for the textbook “Science and Health”.
What is essential in Christian Truth is love of our fellows and kindness to fellow truthseekers. However, I’m noticing that SRF writers, whose religion is called science and spiritual, sometimes sarcastically misrepresent Christian Science.
Eddy formulated her discovery based on Christian scripture. She clearly explains the healing method used by Christ, Jesus. It involves a scientific method and Eddy completely sets forth this scientific method in her writings. Science does require proof. Its principle does require demonstration. The proofs of Christian Science are demonstrated in healings, as did Christ prove. Hence the designation of the science that is Christian Science.
A Bible psalm reads: “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God” (Psalms 90:1, 2). So in Science we accept that Buddha, Krishna and many others were also demonstrators of Christian Science or Divine Science.
In America our Constitutional tradition includes the free expression of religion and religious tolerance. Mrs. Eddy and her discovery were attacked in her day by other religious organizations. It really stands out in America when one religion attacks another, overtly and covertly.
Why is Christian Science such a target to SRF? Isn’t it one’s free choice what sorts of religion and medicine one wants in America? Lots of people don’t go to doctors unless it’s an emergency. Alternative medicine was hugely popular in Eddy’s era and it remains so today.
So yesterday was Super Tuesday. I watched the Republicans, the ones on the losing side, really slam Donald Trump in the 11th hour. Even the “Christian Science Monitor”, which is charged to “harm no man” sent a link Tuesday morning that was focused on Trump and it wasn’t flattering. The full article was more balanced. I don’t think you’ll ever find any disparagement of another religion or religious leader in the “Christian Science Monitor”. But, oddly and strangely, SRF’s spiritual magazine is not so charitable.
An SRF online magazine 9/1/2006 has a Christian Science and Hindu Philosophy article excerpted from “East-West magazine”, 1926. It’s not clear if the author is Yogananda.
The article states “Hindu teachers agree with the basic principles of Christian Science but express them differently…While believing fully in the power of the mind to heal physical sickness, they do not reject the healings brought about by certain doctors.” — My answer: Christian Science does not reject the healings brought about by anybody. Eddy’s textbook clearly represents that there are good hearted doctors doing good works and that certain infrequent situations REQUIRE the aid of conventional medical help. This idea of Christian Scientists REJECTING healing is inaccurate, untrue, and misleading.
The article goes on to state: “Hindu teachers do not deny the miraculous healings wrought by Christian Science practitioners, but humbly ask them, “Do you know why mind power effects physical healing in certain cases but not in others?” ––My answer: Yes we do. To suggest we don’t is generally inaccurate, untrue, patronizing and misleading. Jesus plainly states regarding a case of his disciples’ inability to cast out madness that in addition to faith, “Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.” (Matthew 17, 20-21) Not all kinds, but a particular case.
The article goes on to state: “It takes great preparation to change the mental habits of a person living wholly on the material plane.” —My answer: Does not Paramahansa Yoganada speak of instantaneous healings? Look to the instantaneous healings in Christian Science for your answer. And, as in the biblical case above, once healed with Science, the person is forever changed. All the “great preparation” and rituals including fasting have been proven unnecessary by God.
The article states regarding Christian Scientists: “A man contradicts himself when he talks of the non-existence of matter and the uselessness of medicine but thinks he cannot exist a day without eating.” —My answer: Why are you smearing Christian Scientists? It’s not what goes into a man that makes him unfit for healing others, but rather immorality, envy of the word “science”, and misleading the public about the proven facts of Science.
The article states: “If one believes in food, one necessarily believes in medicine, for both are only combinations of chemicals.” —-My answer: “Acupuncture is not a chemical. Qi Gong isn’t a chemical. Yoga is not a chemical. These are all medicine and so is prayer. Christian Science requires no nutrition or special eating. Food is irrelevant. Yet, even Christ, Jesus claimed a need to feed the multitudes after three days. All density of false belief ultimately dissolves in Science.
The article states: “Many have died of disease though they believed in mental healing.” —My answer: All, not many, mortals die to false reality. There is no disease in God. There is no death in God who is Life. If you, the author, want to live outside of Light with sarcasm and shadows then have your disease. Millions of people die as a direct effect of chemical medicine every year. Even hospitals know that the chances of imminent death increase the longer a person is hospitalized.
The article states: “To be absolutely sure of mental healing, one must learn how to lift one’s consciousness from the physical to the superconscious plane. The man who, through a long series of self-disciplinary steps, has awakened in God by expanding his consciousness into the world of unchangeable reality—he alone can say that matter has no existence.” — My answer: In Eddy’s youth she rose each day at 6AM to pray with the family. Must one arise at 3AM to find God, whom the scriptures inform is everywhere at all times? A long series of self-disciplinary steps, such as yogic meditation training, has not been proven necessary in Scientific healing which proves the Life, Love and Truth of God.
The article notes that a yogi is eventually qualified to say matter has no existence. It was just this idea of ongoing uneventful practice and long arduous prepping that caused Clara Clemens, Mark Twain’s daughter, to give up her yoga study with Yogananda, and choose instead a direct line to Perfect Mind in Christian Science healing.