SRF Lake Shrine in Pacific Palisades
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.
Sherlock Holmes Truth
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”.
Paramahansa Yogananda Ad for Lecture in Denver
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.
Vintage Hatha Yoga Book
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.
SRF temple Pacific Palisades, Ca.
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.
Matter Science is Molecules
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.
Clara Clemens, Mark Twain’s Daughter and Christian Scientist
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.
Reading “From Christian Science to Jewish Science” was a fun part of my winter holiday in San Fransisco. Quite a page turner! It’s a remarkable story. I highly recommend “From Christian Science to Jewish Science” by Ellen Umensky for just about everyone.
“From Christian Science to Jewish Science” by Ellen Umansky
Ellen Umensky wrote this book because she found herself astounded that as a professor of Jewish studies she had never heard about Jewish Science. Further, that it was left out of scholarly works and that she had no idea that Christian Science was such a force in the first decades of the 20th century, to the degree that the Reform Rabbinical Community concocted a new brand of Jewish practice, Jewish Science, modeled on Christian science in a campaign to win Jews back from Christian Science.
What sad flattery to Mary Baker Eddy. In imitation of Christian Science, Jewish Science was created to lure Jews, hundreds to possibly thousands back from Christian Science, and to prevent other Jews who were potential converts to the new metaphysical religion that healed the sick.
Beyond the reasons put forth by the author, I think Jewish people would be attracted to Christian Science for the same reason I am: it’s scientific, intellectual, and a self-evident truth of God as both Mother and Father and an ever ready source of healing. The first book on Jewish Science was written by Alfred G. Moses in 1916. You can read it in google books. With passion to win Jews back from Science Moses states, “The Psalms were written by Jews for Jews.”
“The Psalms are by Jews for Jews” Alfred G. Moses
Excerpt “Jewish Science” c. 1916, Alfred G. Moses
We find out in Umensky’s book that in mocking up a Jewish Science to compete with Christian Science much was left out. In Jewish Science there is no mother in God. In the early years of Jewish Science healers were instructed through a course of study. But they were never titled practitioners, just helpers. Jewish science is largely material, matter oriented, where Christian Science is fully spiritual and metaphysical. Yet, in its early stages Jewish Science promised the Jew that it could do just as much for him as Christian Science. But ultimately Jewish Science was steered to the doctor’s office.
Excerpt from “Jewish Science” c. 1916
Imagine a science of healing that is race or nation specific. Jewish Science was designed for Jews only.
Excerpt from “Jewish Science” c. 1916 claims Jewish Science contains every principle of Divine Healing. And the feminine face of God? No.
Jewish Science went on through the years and reduced itself to talks about positive thinking, health through good cheer and good deeds. Still later it became something bigger under the stewardship of Rabbi Clifton Harby Levy. Levy must have had many M.D. sponsors. At the end of his life he had an extraordinary art collection of biblical art. Thanks to Rabbi Levy Jewish Science is very big today, but it’s generally practiced by credentialed licensed health professionals in medical centers. The God of Jewish Science is an advocate of psychology. It’s now dispensed mostly by rabbis and chaplains. Jewish Science are services dispensed by trained therapists and psychologists to patients at medical centers. Cancer centers well stocked.
The word “science” in Christian science was so revolutionary in its day it inspired many imitators Scott of Skeptic Meditations brings up one of my favorite cases of such flattery, Paramahansa Yogananda. Many are they who use the term “science” casually as a marketing tool to sell all sorts of New Age spirituality. In contrast below Lawrence Doyle presents that quantum physics is playing catch up to Christian Science. He calls quantum physicists the “reluctant metaphysicians”.
Scientific Healing Affirmations, a Booklet
My favorite example of a casual use of the term science is Yogananda’s guidebook book “Scientific Healing Affirmations”. There are hundreds of other metaphysics science titles particularly post 1875. What I liked best in Yogananda’s book was the concept of instantaneous healing, an idea put forth by Eddy decades earlier.
Science is a common word. When Mary Baker Eddy declared it’s “time for thinkers”, well, is there any other answer for the spiritual seeker? Personally, I’ve had many direct divine experiences that are outside of all reason. Yet such experiences leave me to ever ponder the nature of reality through all my life. There must be a reason, some purpose to life and a truth. I never expected to be a scientist. I’m no intellectual. Common sense plus the burden of a New England Conscience.
Science claims can be based on any study or two of even twisted and manipulated statistics. For Yogananda, I don’t think anyone bothered. I’ll ask Scott. Correct me if I’m wrong! But Eddy’s method was science, did demand proofs, and proofs came in the form of extraordinary recorded healings. So much so that the science was used in the great wars, WWI, WWII and more. In her day, the Mayo brothers of the Mayo Clinic sent cases to Eddy’s practitioners.
My interest as an RN and healer is to look at the cause of the trend of using the word “science” to sell metaphysics and junk medicine. If you check the dates you’ll find a surge in the trend started after 1875. The was in response to compete with the overwhelming popularity wave of a new healing science called Christian Science.
Christian Science, from its inception in 1875 to about 1925 was the fastest growing religion in America. And it was as a healing profession grounded in science. This threatened other sects of doctors and such business interests as patent drugs. Christian Science was such a revolutionary concept, declaring that ultimate reality IS ALL GOOD, free of discord and disease, that the movement attracted hundreds of thousands of men and women from all quarters of society including other Christian denominations, businessmen, women, doctors, and even Jews were particularly attracted to this method which applied intellectual methods of reason to debate and extend this spiritual understanding that clearly defines reality according the the scriptures.
Dr. Laurance Doyle is a quantum physics scientist at SETI. SETI was featured in the movie “Contact” (one of my favorite movies). SETI is the official government institute searching for extraterrestrial life. Mr. Doyle discusses physics that support the core concepts set forth by Mrs. Eddy in Christian Science decades ahead of her time. See here that Mrs. Eddy is planted firmly on his list of founding scientists in physics.
This science of God comes at a time where so many people fear for our planet and survival. If science is truth, and if all truly is mental, what more need we do then attune our perspective, abide in harmony and love. Here’s a great Doyle talk about Divine Science.
Long before there was AA and its spiritual predecessor The Oxford Group, there was a forerunner, Christian Science. The early pioneers of AA and Al-Anon found God. The early AA’s gathered in homes and studied the Bible. They got sober using biblical principles. “I got religion,” said Ebby to Bill Wilson.
AA and Al-anon are now a mix of applied psychology and a generic higher power thinking. The task for recovery is to engage your higher power, to hand it over daily and pray only for His will. In Al-anon we pray daily for conscious contact with God. In meetings pray the short Serenity Prayer and sometimes the Lord’s Prayer. Beyond this there’s no technology for prayer in Al-anon groups.
Prayer is a lost art. Prayer is a pro-active tool for recovery. Prayer in Christian Science is simple. Christian Science ideas on prayer can be applied in Al-anon. Taking action through prayer counters feeling powerless. It counters the notion that there’s nothing you can can do for “the alcoholic”.
Christian Science is about the healing presence of Truth. It’s about a reality that the scriptures teach that’s all God and all Good. Human life doesn’t seem that way because we rely on our finite and fallible mortal senses for data. Einstein said “Logic gets you from A to B and imagination gets you to infinity.”
Science recognizes that our thoughts impact people and events even from a distance. If you feel hopeless or powerless, like nothing you can do will change anything, an action you can take is elevate the mental atmosphere through prayer. You do it done by thinking highly positive thoughts about the other person.
Here’s how I pray for an alcoholic in my life. On page 475 of “Science and Health” by Mary Baker Eddy is a definition of Man. I pray this idea as a healing formula. I use it like a mental acupuncture needle. I send my thought into the Universe. Here’s how to do it. Write out the definition. Substitute your loved one’s name for the word man. I used a made up name in the example below.
Substitute the personal name in only in as many places that sound right so the meaning stays fluent. Add the word God, or Higher Power, in the beginning and it becomes prayerful. That’s how God is worked into the Serenity Prayer. The proclamation. Dear God, makes it a prayer.
Any person we pray for is beyond identity of a personal name. But since we think of our loved ones by their name it’s right to address then in prayer by name.
The definition of Man formula counters any negative model or notion that God is limited or that His creation, your loved one, is terminally bound by a forever mortal illness. Prayer activates positive energy that destructs malicious labels and set up in the mental field.
(God grant me the wisdom to know:) “MAN: Angela is not matter; she is not made up of brain, blood, bones, and other material elements. The scriptures inform us that Angela is made in the image and likeness of God. Matter is not that likeness. The likeness of Spirit cannot be so unlike Spirit. Angela is spiritual and perfect; and because she is spiritual and perfect, she must be so understood in Christian Science. Angela is idea, the image of Love; she is not physique. She is the compound idea of God, including all right ideas; the generic term for all that reflects God’s image and likeness, the conscious identity of being as found in Science, in which Angela is the reflection of God, or Mind, and therefore is eternal; that which has no separate mind from God; that which has not a single quality underived from Deity; that which possesses no life, intelligence, nor creative power of her own, but reflects spiritually all things that belong to her Maker.
And God said: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”
Angela is incapable of sin, sickness, and death. The real Angela cannot depart from holiness, nor can God, by whom Angela is evolved, engender the capacity or freedom to sin. A mortal sinner is not God’s man. Mortals are the counterfeits of immortals. They are the children of the wicked one, or the one evil, which declares that Angela begins in dust or as material embryo. In divine Science, God and the real Angela are inseparable as divine Principle and idea.
Error, urged to its final limits, is self-destroyed. Error will cease to claim that soul is in body, that life and intelligence are in matter, and that matter is in Man. God is the Principle of Angela and Angela is the idea of God. Hence Angela is not mortal nor material. Mortals will disappear, and immortals, or the children of God, will appear as the only eternal verities of man. Mortals are not fallen children of God. They never had a perfect state of being, which may be subsequently regained, They were from the beginning of mortal history “conceived in sin and brought forth in inequity.” Mortality is finally swallowed up in immortality. Sin, sickness, and death must disappear to give place to the facts which belong to immortal man.
Learn this, O mortal, and earnestly seek the spiritual status of man, which is outside all material selfhood. Remember that the scriptures say of mortal man: “As for man, his days are as grass; as a flower in the field so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.”
When speaking of God’s children, not the children of men, Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is within you;” that is, Truth and Love reign in the real Angela, showing that Angela in God’s image is unfallen and eternal. Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Savior saw God’s own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick. This Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is not a material habitation for Soul; he is himself spiritual. Soul, being Spirit, is seen in nothing imperfect nor material.
Whatever is material is mortal. To the five corporal senses, Angela appears to be matter and mind united; but Christian Science reveals Angela as the idea of God, and declares the corporeal senses to be mortal and erring illusions. Divine Science shows it to be impossible that a material body, though interwoven with matter’s highest stratum, misnamed mind, should be Angela, — the genuine and perfect Angela, the immortal idea of being, indestructible and eternal. Were it otherwise, man would be annihilated.