Worldview in Question: Identifying the Folly of Kriya Yoga

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Introduction

What do Mother Teresa, Richard Dawkins, and Jim Jones have in common? Each hold/held a worldview, which dictates their perception of reality, and thus assists in determining their actions. Philosopher Kenneth Richard Samples explains, “A person’s worldview supplies a general context for life, providing a vision of what one considers authentically real…Because people behave as they believe, their worldviews guide their thoughts, attitudes, values, interpretations, perspectives, decisions, and actions.”1 While everyone maintains a worldview, not all worldviews are equal or logically valid. Although subjective criteria may endear an individual to their worldview, the truth-claims made by that worldview may not be objectively true. If a worldview’s truth-claims do not accurately correspond with reality, the claim is objectively false.

Since many people opt not to analyze their worldview using objective criteria, multitudes of people hold blatantly incorrect worldviews. This paper will analyze core beliefs propagated in Kriya Yoga, a non-sectarian worldview, derived from Hindu traditions and Indian philosophy. While brevity precludes inclusive examination of Kriya Yoga, this paper will scrutinize core theological and axiological propositions, and will examine the human predicament (as defined by the worldview). By using objective criteria to analyze the proliferated truth-claims, one will discover the worldview’s inability to remain consistent, and its failure to correspond with reality. Moreover, the same criteria will be utilized to compare Kriya Yoga truth-claims with the Christian worldview, showing Christianity’s superiority in adequately explaining reality.

 

Theology: A Worldview’s Concept of God

Despite popular mantras to the contrary, no worldview is neutral in respect to the existence of God. Every worldview, at some point, will either affirm or deny the existence of a divine being. Even agnostics—those choosing to withhold formal proclamation on the subject—live under the pretense that God does not exist, since they have not been persuaded that a particular deity does exist. Kriya Yoga maintains a pantheistic view, asserting, “…there exists only ONE Consciousness, which is called Omnipresent, Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Immortal. Nothing exists other than this. You, me, and everything we perceive is [a] manifestation of the Immortal Consciousness.”2 Reverend Jensen, is the senior Kriya Yoga teacher and executive minister for the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment in San Jose, California, and is the editor-in-chief for the Enlightenment Journal. She further clarifies the attributes of this deity (referred to as “Ultimate Reality” or “Absolute Reality”), explaining that Ultimate Reality is an eternal, impersonal force, existing in two aspects simultaneously: nature (unconscious and manifest) and spirit (conscious and unmanifest).3 In its theological definition of Ultimate Reality, this worldview makes distinct truth-claims regarding both the nature of God and the physical cosmos. This provides a basis for subsequent analysis, allowing one to evaluate the validity of these claims by comparing them to current scientific and philosophical understanding.

The most significant truth-claim presented in the Kriya Yoga worldview, is that the universe is eternal. The argument can be represented as follows: 1) God is eternal, 2) the cosmos is a manifestation of God, 3) therefore, the cosmos is eternal. However, premise two cannot be correct, as the conclusion runs contrary to contemporary understanding within the fields of physics, cosmology, and philosophy.

In the field of physics, the second law of thermodynamics explains that all systems (e.g. the universe) experience an increase in entropy over time. As degradation occurs, usable energy within the universe is irretrievably lost (as usable energy converts to unusable energy). Since the universe is never gaining energy, and it is constantly losing usable energy, it makes sense that at some point the universe will run out of usable energy. This precludes the universe from being eternal, as an eternal universe would have reached a state of equilibrium at some point in the eternal past.

Similarly, significant advancements within the field of cosmology have yielded a multitude of insights into the origin of the universe, indicating the universe is finite, not eternal. Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity, and Edwin Hubble’s discovery of an expanding universe, both preclude an eternal model for the universe. The Big Bang model exhibits this notion, marking the beginning of the universe at the “singularity.” Cosmologists John D. Barrow and Frank J. Tipler explain, “At this singularity, space and time came into existence; literally nothing existed before the singularity...4 Stephen Hawking, the famous theoretical physicist and cosmologist, further affirms the beginning of the cosmos, declaring, “All the evidence seems to indicate, that the universe has not existed forever, but that it had a beginning, about 15 billion years ago.”5 While scientists remain divided on exactly when the universe began, and how or why the universe came into existence, all evidence points to a definite beginning.6

Finally, an eternal universe is not philosophically feasible, as an actual infinite number of things cannot exist. The argument is formulated as follows: 1) an actually infinite number of things cannot exist, 2) a beginningless series of events in time entails an actually infinite number of things, 3) therefore, a beginningless series of events in time cannot exist.7

Transposing the concept of an actual infinite to the real world, ultimately leads to contradictory and counter-intuitive absurdities, which provides the basis for the first premise of this argument. For example, since we occupy a particular place in space-time, there cannot be an infinite number of regressive events. There has to be a finite number of days prior to today or today would never come. Another example lies in simple mathematical equations: ∞ – 2 = ∞ and ∞ + 2 = ∞. These nonsensical products demonstrate the impossibility of an actual infinite. Mathematician David Hilbert concludes, “Our principal result is that the infinite is nowhere to be found in reality. It neither exists in nature nor provides a legitimate basis for rational thought…The role that remains for the infinite to play is solely that of an idea…”8 As such, the concept of a universe with an infinite past remains a logical impossibility.

Therefore, the notion of an eternal universe runs contrary to the contemporary understanding within the fields of physics, cosmology, and philosophy.9 While this is not an exhaustive exploration within these scientific fields of inquiry, the evidence presented demonstrates the finite nature of the universe. Consequently, the universe cannot be a manifestation of the eternal God, and must be a distinct entity. Alternatively, Kriya Yoga could affirm a finite god, who simultaneously comes into existence with the cosmos. However, this runs contradictory to Kriya Yoga doctrine, and produces a multitude of additional theological problems. In either event, the theological doctrine and metaphysical assertions endorsed by the Kriya Yoga worldview do not correspond with reality. Therefore, a reasonable person must reject the Kriya Yoga worldview, based upon the falsification of its fundamental truth-claims.

 

Comparing the Christian Worldview

Both the Christian and Kriya Yoga worldviews agree on the omnipresent (1 Kings 8:27; Psalm 139:7-10; Jeremiah 23:23-24), omnipotent (Hebrews 1:3; Matthew 19:26; Romans 11:36), omniscient (Psalm 147:5; Job 11:7-9; Hebrews 4:13), and eternal (Genesis 1:1; Hebrews 13:8; Revelation 1:8) nature of God.10 However, Christianity asserts that God is a personal agent (Genesis 9:12), who created the universe (Genesis 1:1), and is therefore distinct from His creation. This is an unambiguous contrast from the Kriya Yoga perspective, which maintains that God is an impersonal force, amalgamated with the universe (and everything in it). The Christian creation account corresponds with the modern scientific understanding of the universe, parallels cosmos origin models, and remains logically consistent throughout.

Moreover, a feasible explanation for the creation of the universe is only possible with the existence of an eternal, omnipotent, personal agent. This notion begins with the cosmological argument, which states:11 1) whatever begins to exist has a cause, 2) the universe began to exist, 3) therefore, the universe has a cause.12 The first premise is a fundamental concept, observed through scientific exploration and everyday life. We never observe things arbitrarily popping into existence in the real world. When someone sees a computer, he/she does not automatically assume the computer is eternal, or that the computer just arbitrarily popped into existence moments before. We instinctively understand the computer began to exist, and that it had a cause (i.e. someone created it).

Modern cosmological origin models, the laws of physics, and contemporary philosophical understanding (as described in the previous section), establish the second premise. Since the universe is not eternal, it began to exist, and therefore requires a cause. An eternal impersonal force cannot cause the universe to exist, since it cannot choose to create, nor can it alter conditions to initiate the universe’s origin. If the necessary conditions for the creation of the universe eternally existed, then the universe would be eternal as well. Conversely, if the necessary conditions for the creation of the universe never existed, then the universe would never come into existence. Therefore, a personal agent is required to alter conditions, and initiate the creation of the universe.

To recapitulate, the Christian worldview is capable of explaining the creation of the universe, accurately corresponding with the cosmological origin models, the laws of physics, and contemporary philosophical understanding. Moreover, the Christian worldview remains logically consistent throughout, while the God of Christianity fulfills the requirement of a personal Creator—distinct from His creation—necessary for the origin of the universe. Based upon these factors, the Christian worldview proves superior to the Kriya Yoga worldview in the areas of theology and metaphysics, providing a viable explanation for the origin of the universe and a logically consistent glimpse into the nature of God.

 

Axiology: A Worldview’s Concept of Values

Just as every worldview presents truth-claims about the reality and nature of God, every worldview provides a framework of values. This includes moral values (the identification of what is “right” and “wrong”), value theory (the worth or importance of things in general), and aesthetics (defining subjective and objective beauty).13 Within the Kriya Yoga worldview, the concept of values is confusing, as values appear arbitrary, and often contradict other aspects of the worldview. Speaking on the issue of value theory, Reverend Jensen explains, “When we understand that we are all interconnected then we equally value all of life, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, etc. We equally value all.”14 However, since everything in the universe is simply a manifestation of Ultimate Reality, this interconnectedness expands far beyond the human species.

This is to say that humans have equal worth with rats, trees, and earthworms, as all are manifestations of Ultimate Reality. Remaining consistent with this ideology, inanimate objects equally share in this divine nature, and therefore must be afforded equal value or importance to humans. Inherently we know this to be incorrect. Instinctively, we understand that humans have inherent value, and that human life is more valuable than other forms of organic life, and non-living objects. This is why medical and pharmaceutical testing uses rats or mice, not humans. This is why legislation does not prohibit killing cancer cells. Finally, this is why firefighters do not rush into a burning building to save a television set, while neglecting to save an infant child.

While Kriya Yoga prescribes moral guidelines, the worldview is incapable of establishing a basis for objective morality. Speaking on the issue of morality, Reverend Jensen explains, “In chapter two of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, Kriya Yoga provides a set of guidelines to live by in the form of the Yamas and Niyamas that are consistent with the ethical codes found in all of the world’s religions…These ten ethical guidelines are not considered to be ‘rules’ or ‘commandments.’”15 In this, the worldview asserts an arbitrary framework of ethical guidelines, in which adherence is not required. This leaves the question, if these guidelines are not objective moral values requiring adherence, why should anyone follow them?

This attitude of relativism presents significant problems for the Kriya Yoga worldview. This becomes apparent in the affirmation of laws of karma and reincarnation.16 Without objective moral standards, how can one be subjected to karmic retribution and receive the rewards or punishment associated with reincarnation? The concept of karma and reincarnation requires: 1) a distinct, personal deity, capable of judging the actions of man and allocating appropriate rewards and punishment, 2) an objective moral standard, in which all subjected creatures were required to conform, 3) independent moral agents, possessing the capacity to understand the moral law and make freewill decisions. The Kriya Yoga worldview denies the existence of all three, yet affirms the existence of karma and reincarnation.

Moreover, this concept of subjective morality is not externally livable. Without objective standards of morality, our legal system would collapse, there would be no basis for human rights groups, and you could not demand retribution from someone that stole your identity. While you may feel another’s action is immoral, that is simply your opinion, and the subjective morality of the other individual may permit such actions. However, instinctively we know there is an objective standard of morality—that “good” and “evil” truly exist in our world. Fundamentally, we know that Hitler’s actions in the holocaust were wrong and warrant disapproval. Just as our sense experience demonstrates the physical world is objectively real, our moral experience demonstrates that moral values are objectively real.

Additionally, the propagation of subjective morality does not stop the same individuals from denouncing rape, child abuse, terrorism, and inequality. This demonstrates the principle that the concept of subjective morality is not externally livable, and those who propagate it quickly controvert the notion. In fact, Kriya Yoga propagates a moral absolute, claiming that every person is equally valuable. For this statement to be true, an objective moral standard must exist. If morality is merely subjective, then the concept of human value must also be subjective. This clearly demonstrates the inconsistency and contradictory nature of the worldview, disqualifying it as a reasonable hypothesis.

 

Comparing the Christian Worldview

Conversely, the Christian worldview proclaims an objective moral law, revealed by a Moral Lawgiver (Leviticus 18:4-5; Psalm 19:7). Since God is good by His very nature (Mark 10:18; Psalm 119:68; Psalm 136:1), He exhibits the ultimate standard of moral values. This provides a basis for objective morality, and provides a standard of judgement. This objective standard is intelligible, as God is a personal being, distinct from His creation, who has chosen to reveal attributes of His character to mankind (Romans 1:20; Hebrews 1:1-3). Moreover, He has endowed humans with free will (Deuteronomy 30:19) and a conscience (Romans 2:15), providing them with the capability of discerning right and wrong, and making autonomous moral decisions. This explains our innate desire for justice, and our fundamental understanding that rape, child abuse, and murder are not just subjectively distasteful acts, but they are objectively reprehensible.

Concerning value theory, Christian doctrine ascribes inherent value to human life, as unique creatures made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27; Genesis 9:6). While Christianity attributes value is to the rest of God’s creation, man remains distinct, endowed with special intrinsic value, as the only creature made in God’s image. This concept of inherent value provides the only logical basis for human rights.

To summarize, the Christian worldview provides a basis for objective morality, ascribes inherent value to humans, and remains logically consistent throughout. The Christian worldview properly corresponds with reality, increases practical understanding, and is externally livable. Based upon these factors, the Christian worldview proves superior to the Kriya Yoga worldview in the area of Axiology.

 

Predicament & Resolution: What is Humanity’s Basic Problem, and How is it Solved?

Media headlines display the prevalence of violence, famine, disease, and strife. It is clear, these conditions are not ideal. Every worldview must account for humanity’s fundamental problem, explaining why these horrible conditions exist, while providing a viable hypothesis for resolving the problem. The Kriya Yoga worldview defines humanity’s problem as ignorance. Reverend Jensen explains, “Ignorance is the root of all suffering…being ignorant of our true, divine nature is the most basic problem of humankind…The primary cause of [all] human suffering and misfortune is [an] inaccurate or incomplete perception of our essence of being and our relationship with God and the universe.”17 Since ignorance is the fundamental problem, overcoming ignorance (through the practice of meditation) provides the solution. Once humans return their “awareness to its original wholeness and identify appropriately with our self, others, all of life, and the universe,” resolution is achieved.18

This of course leaves the question, “where does ignorance come from?” If everything in the universe is a manifestation of Ultimate Reality, then it follows that ignorance must be an inherent attribute of Ultimate Reality. If ignorance were essential to the nature of Ultimate Reality, it would be impossible for manifestations of Ultimate Reality to overcome. Moreover, why would we desire to overcome ignorance? How would we even come to the realization that a problem existed? Would it not be more plausible that we would just remain infinitely ignorant to the fact?

In this regard, the Kriya Yoga worldview produces more questions than it is capable of answering. It proves incapable of increasing knowledge, or improving understanding of the human predicament. In this subject area, it is evident the Kriya Yoga worldview fails in both explanatory power and scope, precluding it from being the best possible hypothesis.

 

Comparing the Christian Worldview

By comparison, the Christian worldview asserts God created the universe, and everything in it, declaring His creation “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Endowing humans with free will, God afforded Adam and Eve (the first created humans) a choice to obey God’s command or rebel against Him (Genesis 2:16-17). Man’s rebellion against God introduced sin and death into the world (Romans 5:12), producing a cascading effect, which would ultimately change the nature of man and fracturing the creation (Genesis 3:17-18; Romans 8:22). Subsequently, man developed a predisposition to rebel against God (Galatians 5:17; Romans 3:9-12), perpetuating moral depravity and producing adverse effects throughout the world.

While acts of rebellion against God (i.e. failures in meeting His objective moral standards) produce a multitude of undesirable physical ramifications (death, disease, strife, etc.), these actions have created a fundamental predicament for humanity—their separation from God (Isaiah 59:2). Moreover, when judged against God’s objective moral standard, it becomes evident that everyone is guilty of violating the moral law (Romans 3:23), and thus are deserving of punishment (Romans 6:23; Matthew 25:46). Unwilling that man should perish in his rebellion, God orchestrated a divine act of redemption, purposing to justify man from his moral failings, to restore the relationship between God and humanity, and allowing man to secure the promise of eternal life with Him (Romans 6:23). This redemptive act was accomplished when Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our moral failings, dying on the cross for the sins of mankind (Romans 5:8; Isaiah 53:5; 1 Corinthians 15:3-5). Accepting Jesus’ payment for our sins, legally allows God to dismiss our case, justifying us from our moral failings, and granting us eternal life with God (Romans 10:9; John 3:16; 1 Timothy 1:16).

This portrait adequately explains the depravity of the world in which we live, remains logically consistent throughout, and provides a reasonable solution to humanity’s predicament. Moreover, it corresponds with reality, accounting for the free will of human beings and objective moral values. The Christian worldview is capable of explaining the human predicament, the origin of sin, and outlining a viable solution, thus making it superior to the Kriya Yoga worldview, which proves inadequate in all respects.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, the fundamental truth-claims propagated in the Kriya Yoga worldview, fail under objective analysis, incapable of corresponding with reality. Kriya Yoga proves logically inconsistent, while denying empirical data obtained through scientific inquisition and contemporary philosophical understanding. Furthermore, it lacks the explanatory power and scope in addressing various aspects of the world (e.g. metaphysical origins, and the human predicament), requiring rejection as the best hypothesis. While Kriya Yoga may be subjectively appealing to some, and may promote positive social interaction, the worldview is unable to provide any intellectual benefit, requiring the suspension of objective rationality. In contrast, Christianity provides a superior worldview in all accounts, remaining logically consistent throughout, while providing an adequate explanation of the world’s affairs, and simultaneously corresponding with scientific discoveries and philosophical understanding. Therefore, the Christian worldview ought to be favored over the Kriya Yoga worldview.

 

 

Footnotes

  1. Kenneth Richard Samples, A World of Difference: Putting Christian Truth-Claims to the Worldview Test (Michigan: Baker Books, 2007), 21.
  2. Guruji Swami Shree Yogi Satyam, “Kriyayoga Meditation,” Kriyayoga Meditation Center, accessed December 03, 2015, http://www.kriyayoga-yogisatyam.org/KriyayogaMeditation.htm.
  3. Sundari Jensen, in a discussion with the author, October 2015.
  4. John D. Barrow and Frank J. Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), 442.
  5. Stephen Hawking, “The Beginning of Time,” The Official Website of Stephen Hawking, accessed December 03, 2015, http://www.hawking.org.uk/the-beginning-of-time.html.
  6. Dr. Wollack assess the age of the universe to be approximately 13.77 billion years. While his estimate is slightly different from Dr. Hawking’s estimate, both agree on the finite age of the cosmos. Edward J. Wollack, “Foundations of Big Bang Cosmology,” The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, accessed December 03, 2015, http://map.gsfc.nasa.gov/universe/bb_concepts.html.
  7. William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, Third Edition (Illinois: Crossway Books, 2008), 116.
  8. David Hilbert, “On the infinite,” in Philosophy of Mathematics: Selected Readings, Second Edition, ed. Paul Benacerraf and Hilary Putnam (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1983), https://math.dartmouth.edu/~matc/Readers/HowManyAngels/Philosophy/Philosophy.html.
  9. For additional interaction with this topic, see the second premise of the Kalām Cosmological Argument in “Facing the Facts: The Kalām Cosmological Argument
  10. All Scriptural references taking from the King James Version, unless otherwise noted.
  11. For a more detailed explination of the Kalām Cosmological Argument, see “Facing the Facts: The Kalām Cosmological Argument
  12. Douglas Groothuis, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith (Illinois: IVP Academic, 2011), 214.
  13. Samples, A World of Difference, 25-26.
  14. Sundari Jensen, in a discussion with the author, October 2015.
  15. Ibid.
  16. Ibid.
  17. Ibid.
  18. Ibid.

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