Jim Ballard, an admirer of the Hindu guru Paramahansa Yogananda and other Eastern teachers, is the author of a small, illustrated book, Little Wave and Old Swell: A Fable Of Life and Its Passing (NY: Atria Books, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.; Hillsboro, OR: Beyond Words Publishing, 2007). The Foreword is by Christian speaker and author Ken Blanchard.
Yogananda and Jesus
The inside back cover states, “Teachings of the world-renown author and yogi Paramahansa Yogananda inspired Jim to write this wave fable.” The last page of the book has a brief homage to Yogananda, a Hindu guru who came to the United States in 1920, citing him as a “great Indian sage who often compared the span of a human life to the rising and falling of an ocean wave.”
The last page also has a photograph of Yogananda (displayed on this page), which is very familiar to me. This is the same photo used for Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi. I used to gaze upon it many times when reading Yogananda’s book back in my New Age days. I eventually cut the photo out and pasted it into a picture frame, placing it on the bedroom mantelpiece where I spoke and prayed to the deceased Yogananda through this image.
The back cover lists endorsing comments from New Ager Deepak Chopra, Gary Wright (composer of “Dreamweaver”), and Christian speaker and author Ken Blanchard.
In the Foreword, which Blanchard wrote, he does acknowledge that the author of this book, Jim Ballard, is on a “separate spiritual path” and follows Yogananda (viii). Blanchard continues, saying, “The fact is, Yogananda loved Jesus, and Jesus would have loved Yogananda” (viii). Blanchard goes on to say that every Christmas at the Self-Realization Fellowship headquarters in Los Angeles (founded by Yogananda), the followers listen to taped messages of “Yogananda’s love for Jesus and his teachings. The way I see it, love is love” (viii-ix). Blanchard ends by recommending the book, advising the reader: “Read it many times. Let it speak to your heart” (ix).
This Foreword is problematic because Yogananda was not speaking of the biblical Jesus. For Yogananda, Jesus was another figure altogether — an advanced guru who came to model a “Christ consciousness” for man to follow.
In Autobiography of a Yogi, parts of which I lovingly read many times as a follower of these ideas, Yogananda writes that Christ was the first one to “activate Christ consciousness in creation” (198). He also states that man reincarnates until he awakens to the Christ Consciousness and thus regains his status as “a son of God” (199). Jesus represented the Christ consciousness in all men (335). The title of one of Yogananda’s books says it all: The Second Coming of Christ: The Resurrection of the Christ Within You.
Yogananda was not calling men to love the Jesus whom I came to know many years later, the God-man who paid the penalty for sins on the cross and bodily rose the third day. Rather, Yogananda taught an Eastern/New Age Jesus who showed the way for men to activate the Christ Consciousness in order to achieve enlightenment. Christ comes “again” when we awaken to our Christ Consciousness within. This teaching is the gospel of the New Age, rooted in Eastern and New Thought beliefs.
For me, this is very personal as Autobiography of a Yogi was one of the key books (along with others such as Fritjof Capra’s The Tao of Physics, Jane Roberts’ Seth Speaks, Ram Dass’ Be Here Now, books by Carlos Castenada, Edgar Cayce, and Ruth Montgomery, and numerous others) I had read that pulled me deeply into an Eastern-New Age worldview. God mercifully delivered me from this bondage at the end of 1990 as I was reading God’s word, redeemed me through faith in Christ, and made me free. Yogananda’s Jesus does not match the historical Jesus who suffered and died for our sins. Nor is the message of this book in line with a Christian worldview.
All from one and back to one
In this book, Little Wave learns to “be still” and go within (31-32). He learns who he really is from Old Swell: “You are a moving wrinkle on the seamless fabric of the Great Deep…You thought that you were separate, but no. You can never be apart from your Source. Know that you and I and all of our brother and sister waves are One with the Great Deep. We have always been One. We shall always be One” (37).
This is Eastern Nondualism and New Age philosophy — we think we are separate but actually are all one with the Source (pantheism). The capital letter “O” at the beginning of “One” is not accidental but refers to the Absolute, the Hindu godhead. I totally “get” this because this is what I believed for many years through my studies and following of Eastern religions and New Age beliefs.
The “One” in this book is not the personal Creator God who made the world out of nothing and created it distinct from His own being. The One creates from himself, from his own nature, so that there are no distinctions between the One and creation. But creation is not fallen in the Eastern view — it is an illusion that we “play” in for awhile until we realize who we really are — beings with a divine nature. The One is not a standard for absolute good as is the Biblical God, but rather is the only reality to which we all return. The realization of this oneness is what we need to awaken to, according to Yogananda and Jim Ballard.
After getting caught up in a storm, Little Wave tries “Deep Listening” again and hears “the Sound” (59, 61). The “sound” is “Ommm-m-m-m” and is “the Voice of Everything” (62). Of course, this is the “Om” (pronounced “Aum” when using it in meditation or chanting) of Hinduism, signified by this \ (this information about “Aum” is not in the book). This sound
represents the “sacred sound of the universe” and when repeated slowly as a mantra, it is considered to have the capability of making changes in the spiritual nature.
By listening, Little Wave is becoming his “true self.” Old Swell tells him he will now be called “Small Swell” (63-64). Small Swell has noticed waves crashing on the shore, which he calls “Destiny.” He is afraid that this will mean his end, but Old Swell reassures him, telling him that it “not an ending…but a returning” (72). Small Swell learns that he has been many waves (had past lives) and that a wave is “but a part of the Great Deep that plays for a little time in the show of things and then returns to the place from whence it came” (75). Small Swell feels only joy when he finally crashes on the beach and discovers that although his waters now blend with the Great Deep, “he was still himself” (80-81). How a wave dispersed into the ocean can still be a wave is not explained.
What if all were one?
The book, which Ken Blanchard describes in the Foreword as a “tale to tell children,” teaches the salient points of Hindu Nondualist philosophy, which is also the basis of the new spirituality now permeating our culture: there is only one reality, the Source or the One; we come from the One and are a part of the One; and we discover our “true self” through going within; we reincarnate, and eventually rejoin the One, merging with it.
But if we are all one, and all come from the One, and go back to it/him/her, there are no real distinctions. This means that one cannot make distinctions between bad and good, you and me, God and you, the earth and God, the earth and me, etc. It is just all one big cosmic soup. There can be no intelligence in the One since the One is disseminated throughout creation, and has no mind or being apart from everything else. And since there are no distinctions, the One must be part of the refuse, animals, excrement, garbage dumps, etc. Why did we leave the One? This is not explained. And how did we leave the One if all is One?
If we believe this book, then we cannot trust our mind or senses which tell us that we are separate individuals from each other, separate from creation, and are able to make distinctions. This would mean that what see and hear is all a big deception or a ruse, which indicates that discerning right from wrong is just a joke and is meaningless. There is no separation of good from bad, either, since they become swallowed up in the One. The seeming innocence of this “fable” is a mask for a much darker tale ? the tale that gives lie to the claims of Scripture about Jesus as the Redeemer, that renders his bodily resurrection insignificant, and turns the God of the Bible into a fiction. This story, mythical to its core, ironically attempts to make a myth of God’s word.
The evidence in nature is that there is a Creator; that our world had a beginning and Someone had to bring it about; that our conscience convicts us of our shortcomings, crimes, selfish nature, greed, and imperfections; and that in the heart of our very being, we long for redemption. This redemption is not liberation from cycles of lives, nor is it realization that we are pieces of a cosmic being who somehow lost its parts into the world. The redemption is through the holy and sinless Son of God who incarnated as man, who knows our sufferings, and who suffered and died for us, making the way possible for reconciliation with God.
“He who rejects Me, rejects Him who sent Me.” Luke 10.16b
“You search the Scriptures for in them you think you have eternal life; and these they are which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” John 5.39, 40
Ken Blanchard has written Forewords to and an endorsement of these New Age books:
1. Blanchard wrote the Foreword to clairvoyant (a type of psychic) Ellen Tadd’s book, (April 2003), Death and Letting Go.
2. Blanchard wrote the Foreword to Mind Like Water by Jim Ballard (September, 2002).
One of the endorsements on the back cover compares Ballard to Alan Watts (Zen Buddhist): “Not since Alan Watts has an American author made Eastern knowledge so accessible, relevant, and practical–even for a Type A, stressed-out, left-brain thinking, typical American such as myself.” –Ken Miller, President of Teacher Education Institute
3. Blanchard wrote the Foreword to Buddhist Franz Metcalf’s book, What Would Buddha Do at Work?: 101 Answers to Workplace Dilemmas (2001). Metcalf also wrote a book for teens, Buddha in Your Backpack: Everyday Buddhism for Teens.
4. Blanchard wrote an endorsement on the back cover of New Ager Deepak Chopra’s book, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. Blanchard states that Chopra’s book has “wonderful guiding principles.”
Chopra is one of the leading New Age writers and speakers today.
[NOTE: Ken Blanchard wrote in his book, We Are the Beloved, published in 1994, that he became a believer in Christ 1985, so he was a believer when he endorsed the New Age books.]