THE YOGA OF THE CHRIST, by Ravi Ravindra; Element Books, England, 1990; paperback.

SCIENCE AND SPIRIT, edited by Ravi Ravindra; Paragon House, New York, 1991; paperback.

Ravi Ravindra, raised in the Hindu tradition in his native India, and now a professor of physics and chair of Comparative Religion at Dalhousie University in Canada, has produced a quite remarkable book in The Yoga of the Christ. As a self-described “outsider” to the Christian faith, he has nevertheless long loved the Gospel According to St. John.

In the book he draws forth the Christian story as related by John and shows how it fits with other traditions, especially the Hindu Bhagavad Gita.

Ravindra has long been a student of the core of divine wisdom which is found at the center of all great religious traditions – “the perennial wisdom,” as Aldous Huxley put it, “Theosophy,” as Blavatsky expressed it.

“I am persuaded that the major division in the human psyche is not horizontal or regional, dividing the Eastern from the Western soul,” Ravindra says at the outset of his exploration. Instead , the division is “vertical and global, separating the few from the many, and the spiritual, inner and symbolical way of understanding from the material, outer and literal one. . . .”

John's gospel has long been considered the most mystical , the most interior and esoteric of the Christian gospels. It is the inner message of the gospel Ravindra seeks in his reading of and commentary on John. “The basic question is of the right inner preparation for understanding spiritual truth,” he writes, “which is the same as believing in Christ.”

And : “As far as Jesus Christ is concerned, the right preparation consists in dying to one's self-will, and in denying oneself, so that one could obey the will of God . His yoga consists of this; and of this the cross is the supreme symbol.”

The literal events - for example, whether Jesus was actually physically crucified - are of less import than the psychological and spiritual significance of the symbols, Ravindra contends. “Every moment, whenever a man is present to it, he is at a crossing; at this point of crossing he chooses whether to remain in the horizontal plane of the world or to be yoked to the way of the Christ and follow the vertical axis of being.”

The point Jesus makes again and again, Ravindra says, is this: “no man can make himself God, but a man can empty himself so that he will be filled with God …” And: “ In the way of the cross, there is no place for man's own egoistic ambitions and projects; as a Hasidic saying has it, 'There is no room for God in him who is full of himself.”

In his other recent book Ravindra has collected a number of essays bearing on the relation ship between religion and science. Ravindra's unusual dual appointment at Dalhousie makes him a leading spokesman for efforts to overcome the barriers to communication between religion and spirituality.

These essays address a number of questions at the borders of science, technology, and religion - for example, recent assertions that science (especially physics) and mysticism are more closely related than one might think. The various authors also consider the place of values in the relationship between science and technology, the contributions East and West have to make to each other, and in what sense science can be a spiritual path.

More than half the 25 chapters are by Ravindra himself. Most of the papers gathered in Science and Spirit grew out of conferences supported by the International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences (ICUS) and held in Los Angeles and Atlanta.


Autumn 1991