"Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don't have tohave a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subjectand verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soulgenerated by love." ~ Martin Luther King Jr.
Source: LA Times - "Many people attend services outside of their own religion, and blend Christianity with Eastern and New Age beliefs, according to a nationwide survey.
America is a melting pot not only of culture but also religion, according to a survey released Wednesday. Many Americans attend services outside of their own religion, and blend Christianity with Eastern and New Age beliefs, the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life said.
The nationwide poll of 4,013 adults found that a third regularly or occasionally attended religious services at more than one location -- and 24% of the public overall worshiped outside their faith.
Three in 10 Protestants surveyed said they sometimes attended services representing other faiths, as did about 20% of Roman Catholics.
S. Scott Bartchy, a professor of the history of religion at UCLA, said the results were not surprising given the increasing cultural diversity of the United States.
"Once people become acquainted with various religions, it's easy to mix and match," he said.
Bartchy also said technology, such as the Internet, played a role in observing multiple religions.
"The great thing is, as an individual you can go online and get all kinds of ideas. You can go online and put it together yourself."
About a quarter of those surveyed expressed beliefs in New Age or Eastern religious principles such as reincarnation and the presence of spiritual energy in physical objects.
"People have talked about many Americans in the mainstream seeing themselves as being on a spiritual journey," said Paul Lichterman, a professor of sociology and religion at USC.
He said that over a lifetime, more Americans will try out different religions than will stay true to one faith. The number of Americans who said they had interacted with a ghost had doubled over the last 13 years, from 9% to 18%, the survey found. About 65% of those surveyed also expressed belief in or report having an experience with a variety of supernatural phenomena, such as believing in astrology, being in touch with the dead or consulting a psychic.
Regardless, Lichterman said, Americans have the idea that religion and spirituality are a matter of choice.
"That kind of religious individualism," he said, "is the American religion."
A while back I bought the book entitled The Yoga of Jesus by Paramahansa Yogananda and left it behind accidently in San Francisco. Well, on my recent visit up north last weekend, I picked it back up, and man I'm glad I did! Since I was a child, I always loved and resonated with the teachings of the Great Master, Jesus the Christ. At the time, I was limited to the interpretations taught to me through the Christian-Catholic religious and educational circles, which I will always appreciate because it introduced me to the revolutionary ways and principles of living that Jesus taught over two thousand years ago. However, it wasn't until my own "open-hearted" asking, knocking and seeking of the fruits of life, (many of which that Jesus taught) that I learned of the many other interpretations of his ways documented in the spiritual verses, stories and letters that was later called the Bible. I soon found that I truly enjoyed reading and learning about the interpretations of Jesus' words that Yogananda studied and taught so beautifully. If you are interested, a second more comprehensive book of his on the subject is entitled The Second Coming of Christ.
So many of my friends today tell me that they are practicing "yoga" and no matter which form, class or teacher they are studying, it had always occured to me that they were practicing something that would cultivate the fruits of life in their everyday lives. I have to admit, however, that a) I never really knew the literal definition of the term Yoga and b) I always just assumed that the foundation of yoga was based around the system of postures, or asanas as I later found out they were called. As it turned out, my understanding of Yoga was extremely limited. I was amazed at how involved the Way of Yoga truly is for the devoted practitioner.
The following is from the preface of Yogananda's book shown above:
"The word yoga itself means "union": of the individual consciousness or soul with the Universal Consciousness or Spirit. Though many people think of yoga only as physical excercises - the ansanas or postures that have gained widespread popularity in recent decades - these are actually only the most superficial aspect of this profound science of unfolding the infinite potentials of the human mind and soul.
There are various paths of yoga that lead toward this goal, each one a specialized branch of one comprehensive system:
Hatha Yoga - a system of physical postures, or ansanas, whose higher purpose is to purify the body, giving one awareness and control over its internal states and rendering it fit for meditation.
Karma Yoga - selfless service to others as part of one's larger Self, without attachment to the results; and the performance of all actions with the consciousness of God as the Doer.
Mantra Yoga - centering the consciousness within through japa, or the repetition of certain universal root-word sounds representing a particular aspect of Spirit.
Bhakti Yoga - all-surrendering devotion through hich one strives to see and love the divinity in every creature and in everything, thus maintaining an unceasing worship.
Jnana Yoga - the path of wisdom, which emphasizes the application of dscriminative intelligence to achieve spiritual liberation.
Raja Yoga - the royal or highest path of yoga, formally systematized in the second century B.C. by the Indian sage Patanjali, which combines the essence of all the other paths.
At the heart of Raja Yoga system, balancing and unifying these varioous approaches, is the practice of definite, scientific methods of meditation that enable one to perceive, from the very beginning of one's efforts, glimpses of the ultimate goal - conscius union with the inexhaustibly blissful Spirit..."