It is often heard that “God has a unique song to sing through each one of us.” Like snowflakes, we each have a unique thing to bestow upon the creation.
An interesting place to look at this is in the lives of avatars—liberated souls who, by their own choice, come (reincarnate) back into the physical world with a sole mission to uplift mankind. Avatars descend to remind human beings of universal truths, of the deepest kind, to remind man of the greater invisible realities which often get lost from his understanding altogether.
While these masters all reaffirm the message of their predecessors, they too are unique. Though these messengers bring many teachings, it is interesting to observe that they each seem to always bring one unique primary aspect of truth—a unique “ray” of truth, of God.
Jesus Christ is an avatar. Many consider “love” to be his ultimate offering. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” is what he said towards his prosecutors even while being crucified on the cross. That’s, no doubt, unconditional love.
But I don’t think Jesus’s most outstanding message was love. I think he came to tell people that “I and my Father are one.” [John 10:30] (Though oneness is at the core of love.)
Christ is a special avatar, because he is a human symbol of the Christ Center, or Seat of the Infinite, as Yogananda called it. That is the spiritual (or third) eye, located behind the point between the eyebrows, which is the gate through which man can connect to the Infinite. Through the spiritual eye, it is the destiny of every soul to ultimately unite with God. Christ avatar is the symbol of man who has attained “Christ-consciousness,” one who has already reunited with God: “I and my Father are one.”
Jesus came to bring back the lost truth that God isn’t someone in the clouds who sends us rules to follow and is to be worshiped, and orders us into heaven or hell. He reminded us that everyone, ultimately, will be one with God. “To those who received Him, to them He gave the power to become the sons of God.” [John 1:12]
Ramakrishna [1836-1886], toward whom I feel great affinity and devotion, is a great Indian saint and avatar. He was a great devotee of Kali (Divine Mother) and taught at the Kali temple in Dakshineswar, near Kolkata. As a young boy, he would see a flock of birds in the skies, fall into ecstasy, and pass out. It isn’t that he thought “what beautiful birds” and then pass out from the sight! Rather, he saw Divine Mother so transparently through the birds and everything else, and feeling the joy of love for Her made him go out of body-consciousness.
He saw nothing but Divine Mother! I believe that was Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s unique ray of truth: to epitomize how transparently we will ultimately see and realize Divine Mother in all creation, all beings, all circumstances, and all feelings.
My own line of gurus—Paramhansa Yogananda, Sri Yukteswar, Lahiri Mahasaya, Babaji, and ultimately Jesus Christ—are all avatars. Yogananda was born near the turn of 20th century, around the time Dwapara Yuga (Age of Energy) started. (That is according to Sri Yukteswar’s calculations; most Hindu traditions believe that we are still deep in the Kali Yuga (Dark Age), which is contrary to our experience of these recent centuries.)
And what do you think Yogananda’s unique ray of truth is? Surprise! It is “energy!” All he taught revolved around energy. He reminded us that matter is none but energy. Then Albert Einstein came along and made this truth official science with his famous E = m C^2 formula. Steam engine, jet airplanes, electricity, Internet, and so on, are all aspects of the rise of the Age of Energy. Yogananda brought to the west the technique of Kriya Yoga, which is a scientific method of drawing energy into and up the spine, bringing about rapid spiritual advancement. He created the Energization Exercises to “recharge the body with cosmic energy,” as he put it, at will.
He kept reminding us that physical reality is only a surface, behind which exists a deeper reality of energy. And behind energy reality, there’s yet a deeper reality of mind and thought. Thus he stressed the importance of meditation, affirmations, right attitudes of mind, law of attraction, scientific energy healing, and so on, which enable us to tune into to those deeper realities. Thus they helps us bring about change inside and outside of us directly, rather than indirectly through merely trying to manipulate the physical realm.
Yogananda is the avatar for the new age of energy. He will see that human race advances into higher realms of consciousness and awareness, beyond yogis and monks in the mountain caves and monasteries, and into the larger society of ordinary people.
Lahiri Mahasaya, the guru of the guru of Yogananda, is known as Yogavatar–incarnation of yoga. While he is a pure divine being of light and one with the Infinite, he was a householder, and an accountant, during the day! He was responsible for asking Babaji for the science of Kriya yoga meditation to be available to all people, householders and those with worldly responsibilities, not just yogis and monks. And that is his unique ray: to usher the Dwapara age and the era of path of enlightenment for all walks of people.
There are many avatars and saints, many of whom I don’t know about or can’t yet see their primary ray of truth. I’d be happy to know your thoughts about them.