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The Great Awakenings

The Essence of Contemporary American Religion

Part Forty


By Shlomo Phillips © 1989
(most recent update March 18, 2015)

The James Ossuary

The times were changing in all areas. The discovery of the bodily remains of Jesus and his family provided scientific evidence of Yeshua's physical existence, and of his complete humanity. It also disproved long held Christian dogma about his and Mary's perpetual celebacy. Yeshua was married to Mary (presumably Mary Magdelena, but difinately named "Mary,"). James was his physical brother, and Yeshua had at least one son, named Judas.

As Ariel Cohen writes:

The finding [of the James Ossuary] has been over 35 years in the making, amid court cases, legal restrictions and scientific and biblical pushback. Through methodical scientific testing, Shimron and Jacobovici say that were able to connect the James ossuary – whose existence was announced in 2002 and containing inscriptions referencing the burial of Jesus – to the long disputed “Jesus Family tomb” in the capital’s East Talpiot neighborhood – thus archeologically and statistically proving the existence of Jesus Christ. The discovery, according to the researchers, proves that Jesus was buried in Jerusalem along with nine other people, one being “Judah, son of Jesus,” another his supposed wife, “Mary” – an obvious affront to the common-knowledge New Testament theology. “He [Shimron] has made what I think is a huge discovery,” Jacobovici told The Jerusalem Post. “I have been following him and his work for the past seven years, this is not an overnight thing.”
Rather than rocking the Christian Church to its foundations, the news of the Jesus Family Tomb was generally met with a yawn or simple denial in the face of the evidence. For more information on this go here.

The Ascendancy of New Age Religion

A significant percentage of Americans were now seeking spiritual awareness even as destain and mistrust for traditional religion increased. As in the Third Great Awakening many of these people began looking to the East. The difference was that now American culture at large was beginning to absorb many of these ideas.

A few Indian masters, such as Paramahamsa Yogananda (1893 - 1952) and Meher Baba (1894 - 1969), made significant inroads into the West prior to the 1960's and 70's. Their influence gradually grew and continues to do so. Their teachings altered many of the basic Judea-Christian assumptions of the nation (note 36). As in the earlier Awakenings a plethora of influential groups were founded during this period.

In 1969 Yogi Bhajan (aka Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogiji, 1929 - 2004), came to the U.S. He was accomplished in many different forms of yoga, but was primarily a master of the Sikh Khalsa (or Guru Panth) (note 37). His teachings were originally customized (some would say downgraded) for Westerners and excluded many of the cultural aspects and austerities that are often considered hindrances for materialistic non-Punjabis. His organization is known as 3HO. This unusual nomenclature refers to the essential teachings and aspirations of Yogi Bhajan and his followers: 3 H's and an O: the Healthy-Happy-Holy Organization (note 38).

In its written form the name 3HO looks like an omkara (shown to the right), the written form of the Eastern concept of triune reality: AUM.

The Mandukyopanishad explains that there are four 'quarters' or aspects of an individual that can be transcended. The first three tend to the fourth enlightened state of turiya. These manifest through the consciousness and are said to be unlocked by the Omkara. These are listed as follows:

The Omkara


Individual/Microcosmic Universal/Macrocosmic
Waking State Vaishvanara or Vishva
=Physical condition
='A' of AUM
Virat
=Cosmic manifestation
Dream State Taijasa
I=Mental condition
='U' of AUM
Hiranyagarbha
=Universal Mind
Sleep State Prajna
=Intellectual condition
='M' of AUM
Ishvara
=First Cause or God
Turiya The transcendental state which permeates
all others. Basis of self-consciousness.
Sum total of the lower three states
and therefore both the fourth quarter
and the whole
=OM as a soundless, single syllable.

The goal is the awakening to the Unified Consciousness. This is conceived as achintya bhedabheda (Inconceivable and simultaneous oneness and difference with the planes of material reality), while the Supreme Consciousness (or enlightened Self) is achintya bhedabheda tattva, the very embodiment of inconceivable oneness with and difference from the dualistic qualities. The nature of this inconceivableness is the single, soundless vibration of Om (in turiya). Each group explains the details differently. This presentation is fairly standard of the Eastern conception.

In the 1970's I had the opportunity to work as a volunteer (perform seva) at one of Yogi Bhajan's restaurants (The Golden Lotus in Atlanta, Georgia). It was explained to me that the original reason for the creation of 3HO was that Americans were expressing an interest in Sikhism and other forms of Indian spirituality, but were not deemed qualified to join the Khalsa or Sikh community due to our perceived cultural lack of spirituality and self discipline (note 39).

The assumption was that Americans would be unwilling or unable to undertake the difficult spiritual disciplines required by the Sikh yoga. As a result, Yogi Bhajan was approved as a sort middle-ground teacher. He would deal with the counter-culture and train its people in a modified Sikh tradition without requiring the traditional observances. His was a mission of kindness and love. Through 3HO sincere people could learn and develop spiritually without direct contact with the holy Sant Mat. The concept was in some ways similar to the Noahide Path offered to non-Jews who are not required to observe the 613 Jewish mitzvot. What resulted from his labors was the creation of a large movement, established in America rather than the Punjab.

Much to the surprise of the Sant Mat, those who embraced 3HO here were enthusiastic and, in many cases, observed disciplines even more formidable than those required of traditional Singhs (note 40)!

As time passed many members of 3HO underwent formal initiation/conversion into Sikhism as well. Perhaps more surprisingly, even after doing so most chose to remain within the 3HO maintaining that Yogi Bajan was equal to, if not greater than Guru Nanak himself (note 41). Today 3HO is generally regarded as a standard form of Western Sikhism. Of course, it is appropriate for students to feel such loyalty and appreciation towards a master of his caliber. 3HO has become a growing movement in its own right and continues to inspire countless people across the New Age spectrum and beyond.

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NOTES


Be the Blessing you were created to be
And
Don't let the perfect defeat the good


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