By Bhaktan Eberle
Starting his spiritual journey on the path of Yoga, Bhaktan Eberle grew frustrated with the state of his on-and-off again practice. He came to realize that trying harder was never going to work and took refuge in Jesus, who became Bhaktan’s door to an ever-deepening experience of Isvara, God with form, as well as a firm foundation for asana and pranayama practice.
“The restraint of the modifications of the mindstuff is Yoga.” ~Yoga Sutra 1.2.
When I first came to Yoga in 1972 I thought this meant, “Learn to stop thinking.” I figured that if I stopped thinking, the world would vanish and I would experience Yoga. Since then I’ve learned how to get by without thinking for some time, and can testify that the world definitely does not vanish just because I stop talking to myself. What happens is, life is always fresh; but we have to go quite a bit farther than just not talking to ourselves in our heads for the manifest creation to resolve itself into the higher Self. How far?
In Yoga terminology, “chitta,” the mindstuff, is everything seen, heard or otherwise experienced on every level, past, present and future. True Yoga is experienced when a person loses interest in all of it; Yoga is experienced when we get absorbed in something beyond creation. The beauty of nature, a great work of art, a sunset, the atmosphere of a church or temple, great music or the presence of a loved one or someone great can capture the attention of the mind for a time. We usually attribute the sense of peace or joy we feel at those times to the artwork or the sunset or the person. What actually happens is that we get quiet inside so that we can absorb as much as possible of the event that has captured our interest. If I am to take a photo, the camera has to be still before it can be focused. The same applies to the mind.
A quick trip through the supermarket checkout should prove that among all the things that get our attention, “me” and other people are first on the list. Meditating on a divine being puts our fascination with other people to good use. The Divine Being, Isvara (sutra 1.23-30), is God with form. Many will try to convince you that the personal God, Isvara, has only one name and one form. They are wrong. As the Sufi poet Hafiz says:
“Beware the tiny gods that small men make
to bring an anesthetic relief to their sad days.”
On the other hand, some will try to convince you that God is only nameless and formless. They are also wrong; they don’t know Isvara.
Isvara has many faces—Shiva, Quan Yin, the Guru, Krishna, Jesus . . . When you get to know Krishna well enough you know Isvara, which means that you also know Shiva and Quan Yin—from the inside. To me, God’s name is Jesus. My focus is Jesus; for me there is really no one but Jesus, but it’s not the narrow religion of the fanatic. Rasakhan, the Krishna devotee, wrote:
“The moment I first beheld the son of Nanda [Krishna]
I have abandoned every rule and severed all ties with my clan.”
As I listen to his words, I become a Krishna devotee. But, as soon as I put Rasakhan’s poetry down, Jesus is the only one again. Does this bother either Jesus nor Krishna? No. They are perfectly one, and each of them knows it.
I came to Jesus when I was at the low point of my life, ten years into an endless self-improvement project. I was completely stressed out and exhausted by trying to make myself healthy and control my mind by trying to do what I thought was Yoga. It was just beginning to dawn on me that I was the problem, not the solution. One day I heard this message from Kenneth Copeland on TV:
“The work is finished in Christ Jesus.
Receive him and you receive the kingdom of heaven.”
At this point I was so desperate that I was willing to try anything. So I opened my life to Jesus in the year 1983, making him the Lord of my life. I’ve been meditating on Jesus ever since. I’m so glad that by this time I was far beyond the point of no return in my Yoga practice, not only because it saved me from descending into fanaticism, but also because regularity and success in my Yoga practice began that day in 1983…
Read the rest of this article in the Summer 2011 issue of Integral Yoga Magazine.