Christianity and Yoga


The New Testament is not a systematic exposition. The earliest documents we have are letters of St. Paul that happened to survive. So in this talk some of the parallels and yogic readings will be brought out … but not as systematic exposition of the whole of New Testament thought and the whole of Yogic thought as compared and parallel with it. The first one is the narrow gate. This is a passage which has never been explained. In Matthew … ‘Enter by the narrow gate. The gate is wide but leads to perdition, there is plenty of room on the road and many go that way , but the gate that leads to life is small and the road is narrow , and those who find it are few’. Why does he say this? Why does he say the gate is narrow? He says ‘I will draw all men unto me’ , that would not be a narrow gate. He says the gate is narrow and small.

If you look in the Pelican commentary on this gospel you’ll find no comment at all about this . The great Jerome commentary, the Catholic commentary gives no remark about it. The Companion to the New English Bible, onto the main road. ‘Enter by the narrow gate. The gate is wide that leads to perdition. There is plenty of room on the road and many go that way, but the gate that leads to life is small and the road is narrow and those who find it are few’. Now there’s a close parallel to this in Luke. Someone asked him ‘Sir, are only a few to be saved?’ He answered ‘Struggle to get in through the narrow door, so it’s not a side gate of a city leading to a mountain pass. A narrow door through which one enters. And here also, there’s another difference. In the first one he says ‘Those who find it are few’ … but in Luke ‘Those who can enter are few’ ,they have found it, ‘Many will try to enter and not be able’. The scholars tell us that the word for struggle, to get in through the narrow door, is a very strong one in the Greek. It’s something like an athlete, sweating and pouring out all his power.

The yogic interpretation of this, which has never been explained, is in the practice which was explained in the first talk today. The Minister of the Exterior … The Minister of the Interior … neither of these, neither extroversion nor introversion, but a central line, deoversion, turning to God. There is a fine central line of consciousness. In the practice which we did, the attention is focused by breathing onto the centre, the narrow line, a very fine gate. Not connected with the outside of objects and events. Not connected with the inside, the thoughts, feeling, ambitions and the memories, but a line of pure awareness , the divine awareness. And this is the narrow door through which we should try to enter. We have to struggle to enter it. There is a parallel to this phrase in the New Testament in another phrase which Jesus used and which has never been explained. ‘Children, how hard it is to enter the Kingdom of God. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.’ The disciples were thunderstruck and said to him ‘Then who can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said ‘With men it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God’.

This passage has never been explained. He says ‘It is harder for a camel to go through the eye of a needle , through the little door, than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God’. Now the disciples amazingly say to him ‘Then who can be saved?’ Well, one would think it would be obvious. It would be the poor who were saved , like they were. They’d given up everything to follow him. But they said ‘Who can be saved?’ The word is very strong, the scholars tell us, in Greek. They were thunderstruck and frightened. The two Greek words and they imply being absolutely astounded and being frightened. Why were they frightened? He says the rich cannot enter … But as Peter said to him ‘We have given up everything to be with you’. They ought to have been pleased. Now the yogic answer to this is that they were rich and that they knew it. They were like men who felt that in the future they were going to be seated in the thrones of power at the right hand of God. St. Paul, who often uses commercial slang in his letters, he draws this analogy.. That people have just a tiny little payment, a feeling of exaltation and holiness here,. and it’s like the first little dividend . And he uses a commercial slang word, not Greek but Phoenician .

The Phoenicians invented money and were very good at handling it. He uses this slang word. And then in the future,. in Heaven , the great wealth and power will be enjoyed. And we know the disciples felt this because they were constantly arguing about which one would be greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. Even at the Last Supper it says a quarrel broke out between them over who should be greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. They felt themselves rich. Until those things, the consciousness that they had given up everything for Christ and followed him loyally and bravely, that too was wealth. And in yogic terminology, that pride too has to be given up. This is part of the realm of the interior and has to be given up to enter the narrow door, otherwise the camel cannot enter the eye of the needle. Peter’s great spiritual qualification, as we know from the Bible, was his strength. And Christ said to him ‘I will name you the rock. Peter means a rock. On this rock I will build’. Peter was aware of this, he knew of his great qualities … and they were great qualities.

He said to Christ ‘I will never betray you’. And Christ said to him ‘Before the cock crows you will have betrayed me thrice’. That had to be taken away from him to enter the eye of the needle, the narrow door, a sort of crucifixion. His great, even his great points, had to be given up and he had to be completely turned to God … not to himself. His strengths were entirely taken away from him … for that moment. And this story could only have come from Peter because no one else was there. No other Christian was there. There is a Zen saying on this … ‘I am a giant in power but at a ‘puff of wind I fall’. This happened to Peter and afterwards he became truly a spiritual giant.

© Trevor Leggett

Posts in this series are:

Part 1: Christianity and Yoga

Part 2: The Gospel to the Hebrews

Part 3: You see me in yourselves as in a clear mirror

Part 4: The parable contains a riddle

Part 5: The Woman caught committing adultery


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