All the gods of the pagans are demons (Psalm 95:5)
From Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future, by Hieromonk Seraphim Rose
Hinduism’s Assault Upon Christianity
The following article comes from the experience of a woman who, after attending high school in a Roman Catholic convent, practiced Hinduism for twenty years until finally, by God’s grace, she was converted to the Orthodox Faith, finding the end of her search for truth in the Russian Church Outside of Russia. She currently resides on the West Coast. May her words serve to open the eyes of those Orthodox Christians who might be tempted to follow the blind “Liberal” theologians who are now making their appearance even in the Orthodox Church, and whose answer to the assault of neo-paganism upon the Church of Christ is to conduct a “dialogue” with its wizards and join them in worshipping the very gods of the pagans.
The Attractions of Hinduism
I was just sixteen when two events set the course of my life. I came to Dominican Catholic Convent in San Rafael (California) and encountered Christianity for the first time. The same year I also encountered Hinduism in the person of a Hindu monk, a Swami, who was shortly to become my guru or teacher. A battle had begun, but I wasn’t to understand this for nearly twenty years.
At the convent I was taught the basic truths of Christianity. Here lie the strength of the humble and a snare to the proud. St. James wrote truly: God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble (4:6). And how proud I was; I wouldn’t accept original sin and I wouldn’t accept hell. And I had many, many arguments against them. One Sister of great charity gave me the key when she said: “Pray for the gift of faith.” But already the Swami’s training had taken hold, and I thought it debasing to beg anyone, even God, for anything. But much later, I remembered what she had said. Years later the seed of Christian faith that had been planted in me emerged from an endless sea of despair.
In time the nature of the books that I brought back to school with me, all in plain covered wrappers, was discovered. Books like the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads, the Vedantasara, theAshtavakra Samhita… In part my secret was out, but nothing much was said. No doubt the Sisters thought it would pass, as indeed most of the intellectual conceits of young girls do. But one bold nun told me the truth. It’s a very unpopular truth and one that is rarely heard today. She said that I would go to hell if I died in Hinduism after knowing the truth of Christianity. Saint Peter put it this way: For by whom a man is overcome, of the same also he is the slave. For if, flying from the pollutions of the world, through the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they be again entangled in them and overcome, their latter state is become unto them worse than the former. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of justice, than after they have known it, to turn back from that holy commandment which was delivered to them (2 Peter 2:19-21). How I despised that Sister for her bigotry. But if she were alive today I would thank her with all my heart. What she told me nagged, as truth will, and it was to lead me finally to the fullness of Holy Orthodoxy.
The important thing that I got at the convent was a measuring stick, and one day I would use it to discover Hinduism a fraud.
The situation has changed so much since I was in school. What was an isolated case of Hinduism has developed into an epidemic. Now one must have an intelligent understanding of Hindu dogmatics if one is to prevent young Christians from committing spiritual suicide when they encounter Eastern religions.
The appeal of Hinduism is full spectrum; there are blandishments for every faculty and appeals to every weakness, but particularly to pride. And being very proud, even at sixteen, it was to these that I first fell prey. Original sin, hell, and the problem of pain troubled me. I’d never taken them seriously before I came to the convent. Then, the Swami presented an “intellectually satisfying” alternative for every uncomfortable Christian dogma. Hell was, after all, only a temporary state of the soul brought on by our own bad karma (past actions) in this or in a former life. And, of course, a finite cause couldn’t have an infinite effect. Original sin was marvelously transmuted into Original Divinity. This was my birth right, and nothing I could ever do would abrogate this glorious end. I was Divine. I was God: “the Infinite Dreamer, dreaming finite dreams.”
As for the problem of pain, the Hindu philosophy known as Vedanta has a really elegant philosophical system to take care of it. In a nutshell, pain was maya or illusion. It had no real existence — and what’s more, the Advaitin could claim to prove it!
In another area, Hinduism appeals to the very respectable error of assuming that man is perfectable: through education (in their terms, the guru system) and through “evolution” (the constant progressive development of man spiritually). An argument is also made from the standpoint of cultural relativity; this has now assumed such respectability that it’s a veritable sin (with those who don’t believe in sin) to challenge relativity of any sort. What could be more reasonable, they say, than different nations and peoples worshipping God differently? God, after all, is God, and the variety in modes of worship make for a general religious “enrichment.”
But perhaps the most generally compelling attraction is pragmatism. The entire philosophical construct of Hinduism is buttressed by the practical religious instructions given to the disciple by his guru. With these practices the disciple is invited to verify the philosophy by his own experience. Nothing has to be accepted on faith. And contrary to popular notions, there aren’t any mysteries — just a tremendous amount of esoteric material — so there simply is no need for faith. You are told: “Try it, and see if it works.” This pragmatic approach is supremely tempting to the Western mind. It appears so very “scientific.” But almost every student falls right into a kind of pragmatic fallacy: i.e., if the practices work (and they do in fact work), he believes that the system is true, and implicitly, that it is good — This, of course, doesn’t follow. All that can really be said is: if they work, then they work. But missing this point, you can understand how a little psychic experience gives the poor student a great deal of conviction.
This brings me to the last blandishment that I’ll mention, which is “spiritual experiences.” These are psychic and/or diabolic in origin. But who among the practitioners has any way of distinguishing delusion from true spiritual experience? They have no measuring stick. But don’t think that what they see, hear, smell and touch in these experiences are the result of simple mental aberration. They aren’t. They are what our Orthodox tradition calls prelest. It’s an important word, because it refers to the exact condition of a person having Hindu “spiritual experiences.” There is no precise equivalent to the term prelest in the English lexicon. It covers the whole range of false spiritual experiences: from simple illusion and beguilement to actual possession. In every case the counterfeit is taken as genuine and the overall effect is an accelerated growth of pride. A warm, comfortable sense of special importance settles over the person in prelest, and this compensates for all his austerities and pain.
In his first Epistle, Saint John warns the early Christians: Dearly beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits if they be of God… (4:1).
Saint Gregory of Sinai was careful to instruct his monks on the dangers of these experiences: “All around, near to beginners and the self-willed, the demons are wont to spread the nets of thoughts and pernicious fantasies and prepare moats for their downfall…” A monk asked him: “What is a man to do when the demon takes the form of an angel of light?” The Saint replied: “In this case a man needs great power of discernment to discriminate rightly between good and evil. So in your heedlessness, do not be carried away too quickly by what you see, but be weighty (not easy to move) and, carefully testing everything, accept the good and reject the evil. Always you must test and examine, and only afterwards believe. Know that the actions of grace are manifest, and the demon, in spite of his transformations, cannot produce them: namely, meekness, friendliness, humility, hatred of the world, cutting off passions and lust — which are the effects of grace. Works of the demons are: arrogance, conceit, intimidation and all evil. By such actions you will be able to discern whether the light shining in your heart is of God or of satan. Lettuce looks like mustard, and vinegar in color like wine; but when you taste them the palate discerns and defines the difference between each. In the same way the soul, if it has discernment, can discriminate by mental taste the gifts of the Holy Spirit from the fantasies and illusions of satan.”
The misguided or proud spiritual aspirant is most vulnerable to prelest. And the success and durability of Hinduism depends very largely on this false mysticism. How very appealing it is to drug using young people, who have already been initiated into these kinds of experiences. The last few years have seen the flowering and proliferating of Swamis. They saw their opportunity for fame and wealth in this ready-made market. And they took it.
A War of Dogma
Today christianity is taking the thrusts of a foe that is all but invisible to the faithful. And if it can, it will pierce to the heart before declaring its name. The enemy is Hinduism, and the war being waged is a war of dogma.
When Vedanta Societies were founded in this country, around the turn of the century, first efforts were directed to establishing that there was no real difference between Hinduism and Christianity. Not only was there no conflict, but a good Christian would be a better Christian by studying and practicing the Vedanta; he would understand the real Christianity.
In early lectures, the Swamis attempted to show that those ideas which seemed peculiar to Christianity — like the Logos and the Cross — really had their origin in India. And those ideas which seemed peculiar to Hinduism — like rebirth, transmigration of the soul and samadhi (or trance) were also to be found in Christian scripture — when it was properly interpreted.
This kind of bait caught many sincere but misguided Christians. The early push was against what might be called “sectarian” dogmas, and for a so-called scientific religion based on a comparative study of all religions. Primary stress was always on this: there is no such thing as difference. All is One. All differences are just on the surface; they are apparent or relative, not real. All this is clear from published lectures that were delivered in the early 1900’s. Today we are in great danger because this effort was so very successful.
Now common parlance has “dogma” a derisive term. But this scorn could not have originated with those who know that it refers to the most precious heritage of the Church. However, once the bad connotation became fixed, the timid, who never like to be associated with the unpopular, began to speak of “rigid dogma,” which is redundant but bespeaks disapproval. So the attitude was insidiously absorbed from “broad-minded” critics who either didn’t know that dogma states what Christianity is, or simply didn’t like what Christianity is all about.
The resulting predisposition of many Christians to back down when faced with the accusation of holding to dogma has given the Hindus no small measure of help. And aid from within had strategic advantages.
The incredible fact is that few see that the very power that would overturn Christian dogma is itself nothing but an opposing system of dogmas. The two cannot blend or “enrich” each other because they are wholly antithetical.
If Christians are persuaded to throw out (or what is tactically more clever) to alter their dogmas to suit the demand for a more up-to-date or “universal” Christianity, they have lost everything, because what is valued by Christians and by Hindus is immediately derived from their dogmas. And Hindu dogmas are a direct repudiation of Christian dogmas. This leads us to a staggering conclusion: What Christians believe to be evil, Hindus believe to be good, and conversely: What Hindus believe to be evil, Christians believe to be good.
The real struggle lies in this: that the ultimate sin for the Christian, is the ultimate realization of good for the Hindu. Christians have always acknowledged pride as the basic sin — the fountainhead of all sin. And Lucifer is the archetype when he says. “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. I will ascend above the clouds; I will be like the Most High.” On a lower level, it is pride that turns even man’s virtues into sins. But for the Hindu in general, and the Advaitin or Vedantan in particular, the only “sin” is not to believe in yourself and in Humanity as God Himself. In the words of Swami Vivekananda (who was the foremost modern advocate of Vedanta): “You do not yet understand India! We Indians are Man-worshippers after all. Our God is Man!” The doctrine of mukti or salvation consists in this: that “Man is to become Divine by realizing the Divine.”
From this one can see the dogmas of Hinduism and Christianity standing face to face, each defying the other on the nature of God, the nature of man and the purpose of human existence.
But when Christians accept the Hindu propaganda that there is no battle going on, that the differences between Christianity and Hinduism are only apparent and not real — then Hindu ideas are free to take over the souls of Christians, winning the battle without a struggle. And the end result of this battle is truly shocking; the corrupting power of Hinduism is immense. In my own case, with all of the basically sound training that I received at the convent, twenty years in Hinduism brought me to the very doors of the love of evil. You see, in India “God” is also worshipped as Evil, in the form of the goddess Kali. But about this I will speak in the next section, on Hindu practices.
This is the end in store when there is no more Christian dogma. I say this from personal experience, because I have worshipped Kali in India and in this country. And she who is satan is no joke. If you give up the Living God, the throne is not going to remain empty.
Hindu Places and Practices
In 1956 1 did field work with headhunters in the Philippines. My interest was in primitive religion -particularly in what is termed an “unacculturated” area — where there had been few missionaries. When I arrived in Ifugao (that’s the name of the tribe), I didn’t believe in black magic; when I left, I did. An Ifugao priest (a munbaki) named Talupa became my best friend and informant. In time I learned that he was famous for his skill in the black art. He took me to the baki, which is a ceremony of ritualistic magic that occurred almost every night during the harvest season. A dozen or so priests gathered in a hut and the night was spent invoking deities and ancestors, drinking rice wine and making sacrifices to the two small images known as bulol. They were washed in chicken blood, which had been caught in a dish and used to divine the future before it was used on the images. They studied the blood for the size and number of bubbles in it, the time it took to coagulate; also, the color and configuration of the chicken’s organs gave them information. Each night I dutifully took notes. But this was just the beginning. I won’t elaborate on Ifugao magic; suffice it to say that by the time I left, I had seen such a variety and quantity of supernatural occurrences that any scientific explanation was virtually impossible. If I had been predisposed to believe anything when I arrived, it was that magic had a wholly natural explanation. Also, let me say that I don’t frighten very easily. But the fact is that I left Ifugao because I saw that their rituals not only worked, but they had worked on me at least twice.
I say all this so that what I say about Hindu practices and places of worship will not seem incredible, the product of a “heated brain.”
Eleven years after the Ifugao episode, I made a pilgrimage to the Cave of Amarnath, deep in the Himalayas. Hindu tradition has it the most sacred place of Siva worship, the place where he manifests himself to his devotees and grants boons. It is a long and difficult journey over the Mahaguna, a 14,000 foot pass, and across a glacier; so there was plenty of time to worship him mentally on the way, especially since the boy who led the pack pony didn’t speak any English, and I didn’t speak any Hindi. This time I was predisposed to believe that the god whom I had worshipped and meditated on for years would graciously manifest himself to me.
The Siva image in the cave is itself a curiosity: an ice image formed by dripping water. It waxes and wanes with the moon. When it is full moon, the natural image reaches the ceiling of the cave — about 15 feet — and by the dark of the moon almost nothing of it remains. And so it waxes and wanes each month. To my knowledge, no one has explained this phenomenon. I approached the cave at an auspicious time, when the image had waxed full. I was soon to worship my god with green coconut, incense, red and white pieces of cloth, nuts, raisins and sugar — all the ritually prescribed items. I entered the cave with tears of devotion. What happened then is hard to describe. The place was vibrant — just like an Ifugao hut with baki in full swing. Stunned to find it a place of inexplicable wrongness, I left retching before the priest could finish making my offering to the great ice image.
The facade of Hinduism had cracked when I entered the Siva Cave, but it was still some time before I broke free. During the interim, I searched for something to support the collapsing edifice, but I found nothing. In retrospect, it seems to me that we often know something is really bad, long before we can really believe it. This applies to Hindu “spiritual practices” quite as much as it does to the so-called “holy places.”
When a student is initiated by the guru, he is given a Sanskrit mantra (a personal magic formula), and specific religious practices. These are entirely esoteric and exist in the oral tradition. You won’t find them in print and you are very unlikely to learn about them from an initiate, because of the strong negative sanctions which are enforced to protect this secrecy. In effect the guru invites his disciple to prove the philosophy by his own experience. The point is, these practices do in fact work. The student may get powers or “siddhis.” These are things like reading minds, power to heal or destroy, to produce objects, to tell the future and so on — the whole gamut of deadly psychic parlor tricks. But far worse than this, he invariably falls into a state of prelest, where he takes delusion for reality. He has “spiritual experiences” of unbounded sweetness and peace. He has visions of deities and of light. (One might recall that Lucifer himself can appear as an angel of light). By “delusion” I don’t mean that he doesn’t really experience these things; I mean rather that they are not from God. There is, of course, the philosophical construct that supports every experience, so the practices and the philosophy sustain each other and the system becomes very tight.
Actually, Hinduism is not so much an intellectual pursuit as a system of practices, and these are quite literally — black magic. That is, if you do x, you get y: a simple contract. But the terms are not spelled out and rarely does a student ask where the experiences originate or who is extending him credit — in the form of powers and “beautiful” experiences. It’s the classical Faustian situation, but what the practitioner doesn’t know is that the price may well be his inmortal soul.
There’s a vast array of practices — practices to suit every temperament. The chosen deity may be with form: a god or goddess; or formless: the Absolute Brahman. The relationship to the chosen Ideal also varies — it may be that of a child, mother, father, friend, beloved, servant or, in the case of Advaita Vedanta, the “relationship” is identity. At the time of initiation the guru gives his disciple a mantra and this determines the path he will follow and the practices he will take up. The guru also dictates how the disciple will live his everyday life. In the Vedanta (or monistic system) single disciples are not to marry; all their powers are to be directed towards success in the practices. Nor is a sincere disciple a meat eater, because meat blunts the keen edge of perception. The guru is literally regarded as God Himself — he is the disciple’s Redeemer.
At base, the many “spiritual” exercises derive from only a few root practices. I’ll just skim over them.
First, there’s idolatry. It may be the worship of an image or a picture, with offerings of light, camphor, incense, water and sweets. The image may be fanned with a yak tail, bathed, dressed and put to bed. This sounds very childish, but it is prudent not to underestimate the psychic experiences which they can elicit. Vedantic idolatry takes the form of self-worship — either mentally or externally, with all the ritualistic props. A common aphoristic saying in India epitomizes this self-worship. It is So Ham, So Ham, or “I am He, I am He.”
Then there’s Japa, or the repetition of the Sanskrit mantra given to the disciple at his initiation. In effect, it’s the chanting of a magic formula.
Pranayama consists in breathing exercises used in conjunction with Japa. There are other practices which are peculiar to the Tantra or worship of God as Mother, the female principle, power, energy, the principle of evolution and action. They’re referred to as the five Ms. They’re overtly evil and rather sick-making, so I won’t describe them. But they, too, have found their way to this country. Swami Vivekananda prescribed this brand of Hinduism along with the Vedanta. He said: “I worship the Terrible! It is a mistake to hold that with all men pleasure is the motive. Quite as many are born to seek after pain. Let us worship the Terror for Its own sake. How few have dared to worship Death, or Kali! Let us worship Death!” Again, the Swami’s words on the goddess Kali: “There are some who scoff at the existence of Kali. Yet today She is out there amongst the people. They are frantic with fear, and the soldiery have been called to deal out death. Who can say that God does not manifest Himself as Evil as well as Good? But only the Hindu dares worship Him as the Evil. “
The great pity is that this one-pointed practice of evil is carried on in the firm conviction that it’s good. And the salvation that is vainly sought through arduous self-effort in Hinduism can only be wrought by God through Christian self-effacement.
Evangelizing the West
In 1893 an unknown Hindu monk arrived at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago. He was Swami Vivekananda, whom I have mentioned already. He made a stunning impression on those who heard him, both by his appearance — beturbaned and robed in orange and crimson — and by what he said. He was immediately lionized by high society in Boston and New York. Philosophers at Harvard were mightily impressed. And it wasn’t long until he had gathered a hard core of disciples who supported him and his grandiose dream: the evangelizing of the Western world by Hinduism, and more particularly, by Vedantic (or monistic) Hinduism. Vedanta Societies were established in the large cities of this country and in Europe. But these centers were only a part of his work. More important was introducing Vedantic ideas into the bloodstream of academic thinking. Dissemination was the goal. It mattered little to Vivekananda whether credit was given to Hinduism or not, so long as the message of Vedanta reached everyone. On many occasions he said: Knock on every door. Tell everyone he is Divine.
Today parts of his message are carried in paperbacks that you can find in any bookstore — books by Aldous Huxley, Christopher Isherwood, Somerset Maugham, Teilhard de Chardin, and even Thomas Merton.
Thomas Merton, of course, constitutes a special threat to Christians, because he presents himself as a contemplative Christian monk, and his work has already affected the vitals of Roman Catholicism, its monasticism. Shortly before his death, Father Merton wrote an appreciative introduction to a new translation of the Bhagavad Gita, which is the spiritual manual or “Bible” of all Hindus, and one of the foundation blocks of monism or Advaita Vedanta. The Gita, it must be remembered, opposes almost every important teaching of Christianity. His book on the Zen Masters, published posthumously, is also noteworthy, because the entire work is based on a treacherous mistake: the assumption that all the socalled “mystical experiences” in every religion are true. He should have known better. The warnings against this are loud and clear, both in Holy Scripture and in the Holy Fathers.
Today I know of one Catholic monastery in California where cloistered monks are experimenting with Hindu religious practices. They were trained by an Indian who became a Catholic priest. Unless the ground had been prepared, I think this sort of thing couldn’t be happening. But, after all, this was the purpose of Vivekananda’s coming to the West: to prepare the ground.
Vivekananda’s message of Vedanta is simple enough. It looks like more than it is because of its trappings: some dazzling Sanskrit jargon, and a very intricate philosophical structure. The message is essentially this: All religions are true, but Vedanta is the ultimate truth. Differences are only a matter of “levels of truth.” In Vivekananda’s words: “Man is not travelling from error to truth, but climbing up from truth to truth, from truth that is lower to truth that is higher. The matter of today is the spirit of the future. The worm of today — the God of tomorrow. The Vedanta rests on this: that man is God. So it is for man to work out his own salvation. Vivekananda put it this way: “Who can help the Infinite? Even the hand that comes to you through the darkness will have to be your own.”
Vivekananda was canny enough to know that straight Vedanta would be too much for Christians to follow, right off the bat. But “levels of truth” provided a nice bridge to perfect ecumenism — where there is no conflict because everyone is right. In the Swami’s words: “If one religion be true, then all the others also must be true. Thus the Hindu faith is yours as much as mine. We Hindus do not merely tolerate, we unite ourselves with every religion, praying in the mosque of the Mohammedan, worshipping before the fire of the Zoroastrian, and kneeling to the cross of the Christian. We know that all religions alike, from the lowest fetishism to the highest absolutism, are but so many attempts of the human soul to grasp and realize the Infinite. So we gather all these flowers and, binding them together with the cords of love, make them into a wonderful bouquet of worship.”
Still, all religions were only steps to the ultimate religion, which was Advaita Vedanta. He had a special contempt for Christianity, which at best was a “low truth” — a dualistic truth. In private conversation he said that only a coward would turn the other cheek. But whatever he said about other religions, he always returned to the necessity of Advaita Vedanta. “Art, science, and religion,” he said, “are but three different ways of expressing a single truth. But in order to understand this we must have the theory of Advaita.”
The appeal to today’s youth is unmistakable. Vedanta declares the perfect freedom of every soul to be itself. It denies all distinction between sacred and secular: they are only different ways of expressing the single truth. And the sole purpose of religion is to provide for the needs of different temperaments: a god and a practice to suit everyone. In a word, religion is “doing your own thing,”
All this may sound far-fetched; but Vivekananda did an effective job. Now I’ll show how successful he was in introducing these Hindu ideas into Roman Catholicism, where his success has been the most striking.
Swami Vivekananda first came to America to represent Hinduism at the 1893 Parliament of Religions. 1968 was the 75th anniversary of this event, and at that time a Symposium of Religions was held under the auspices of the Vivekananda Vedanta Society of Chicago. Roman Catholicism was represented by a Dominican theologian from De Paul University, Father Robert Campbell. Swami Bhashyananda opened the meeting with the reading of good-will messages from three very important people. The second was from an American Cardinal.
Father Campbell began the afternoon session with a talk on the conflict of the traditionalist versus the modernist in modern Catholicism. He said: “In my own university, surveys taken of Catholic student attitudes show a great swing towards the liberal views within the last five or six years. I know that the great Swami Vivekananda would himself be in favor of most of the trends in the direction of liberal Christianity.” What Father Campbell apparently didn’t know was that the modernistic doctrines he described were not Christian at all; they were pure and simple Vedanta.
So there will be no question of misinterpretation, I shall quote the Father’s words on the modernists’ interpretation of five issues, just as they appeared in three international journals: the Prabuddha Bharata published in Calcutta, the Vedanta Kesheri published in Madras, and Vedanta and the West, published in London.
On doctrines: “Truth is a relative thing, these doctrines and dogmas (i.e., the nature of God, how man should live, and the after-life) are not fixed things, they change, and we are coming to the point where we deny some things that we formerly affirmed as sacred truths.”
On God: “Jesus is divine, true, but any one of us can be divine. As a matter of fact, on many points, I think you will find the liberal Christian outlook is moving in the direction of the East in much of its philosophy — both in its concept of an impersonal God and in the concept that we are all divine.”
On Original Sin: “This concept is very offensive to liberal Christianity, which holds that man is perfectable by training and proper education.”
On the world: “The liberal affirms that it can be improved and that we should devote ourselves to building a more humane society instead of pining to go to heaven.”
On other religions: “The liberal group says: ‘Don’t worry about the old-fashioned things such as seeking converts, etc., but let us develop better relations with other religions.'”
So says Father Campbell for the modernistic Catholics. The modernist has been led like a child by the generous offer of higher truth, deeper philosophy and greater sublimity — which can be had by merely subordinating the living Christ to modern man.
Here, then, we see the spectacular success of Hinduism, or Swami Vivekananda, or the power behind Vivekananda. It’s made a clean sweep of Roman Catholicism. Her watchdogs have taken the thief as the friend of the master, and the house is made desolate before their eyes. The thief said: “Let us have interfaith understanding,” and he was through the gate. And the expedient was so simple. The Christian Hindus (the Swamis) had only to recite the Vedanta philosophy using Christian terms. But the Hindu Christians (the modernistic Catholics), had to extrapolate their religion to include Hinduism. Then necessarily, truth became error, and error, truth. Alas, some would now drag the Orthodox Church into this desolate house. But let the modernists remember the words of Isaiah: Woe unto them that call evil good and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! (Is. 5:20-21).
The Goal of Hinduism: The Universal Religion
I was amazed to see the inroads that Hinduism had made during my absence from Christianity. It may seem odd that I discovered these changes all at once. This was because my guru held dominion over my every action and all this time I was, quite literally, “cloistered,” even in the world. The Swami’s severe injunctions kept me from reading any Christian books or speaking with Christians. For all their pretentious talk that all religions are true, the Swamis know that Christ is their nemesis. So for twenty years I was totally immersed in the study of oriental philosophy and in the practice of its disciplines. I was ordered by my guru to get a degree in philosophy and anthropology, but these were only avocations that filled time between the important parts of my life: time with Swami and time with the teachings and practices of Vedanta.
Swami Vivekananda’s mission has been fulfilled in many particulars, but one piece is yet to be accomplished. This is the establishing of a Universal Religion. In this rests the ultimate victory of the Devil. Because the Universal Religion may not contain any “individualistic, sectarian” ideas, it will have nothing in common with Christianity, except in its semantics. The Word and the Flesh may be fires in the stove and the chimney, but the Universal Religion will be a total conflagration of Christianity. The point of all this is that the Jesuit priest Teilhard de Chardin has already laid the foundation for a “New Christianity,” and it is precisely to Swami Vivekananda’s specifications for this Universal Religion.
Teilhard de Chardin is an anomaly because, unlike traditional Roman theologians, he is highly appreciated by scholarly clergy who, in charity, I believe don’t have any idea what he is talking about. Because Teilhard’s ideas are to a great extent plagiarisms from Vedanta and Tantra gummed together with Christian-sounding jargon and heavily painted with evolutionism.
Let me quote one example from him: “The world I live in becomes divine. Yet these flames do not consume me, nor do these waters dissolve me; for, unlike the false forms of monism that impel us through passivity towards unconsciousness, the pan-Christianism I am finding places union at the term of an arduous process of differentiation. I shall attain the spirit only by releasing completely and exhaustively all the powers of matter… I recognize that, following the example of the incarnate God revealed to me by the Catholic faith, I can be saved only by becoming one with the universe.” This is outright Hinduism. It has a little bit of everything in it — a recognizable verse from an Upanishad and pieces from several of the philosophical systems along with their practices.
In a press conference given by Father Arrupe, General of the Society of Jesus, in June of 1965, Teilhard de Chardin was defended on the grounds that “he was not a professional theologian and philosopher, so that it was possible for him to be unaware of all the philosophical and theological implications attached to some of his intuitions.” Then Father Arrupe praised him: “Pere Teilhard is one of the great masters of contemporary thought, and his success is not to be wondered at. He carried through, in fact, a great attempt to reconcile the world of science with the world of faith.” The upshot of this reconciliation is a new religion. And in Teilhard’s words: “The new religion will be exactly the same as our old Christianity but with a new life drawn from the legitimate evolution of its dogmas as they come in contact with new ideas.” With this bit of background let us look at Vivekananda’s Universal Religion and Teilhard’s “New Chrisitianity.”
Second, its foundation is evolution. In Teilhard’s words: “A hitherto unkmown form of religion — one that no one could yet have imagined or described, for a lack of a universal large enough and organic enough to contain it — is burgeoning in men’s hearts, from a seed sown by the idea of evolution.” And again: “Original sin… binds us hand and foot and drains the blood from us” because “as it is now expressed, it represents a survival of static concepts that are an anachronism in our evolutionist system of thought.” Such a pseudo-religious concept of “evolution,” which was consciously rejected by Christian thought, has been basic to Hindu thought for millenia; every Hindu religious practice assumes it.
Third, the Universal Religion will not be built around any particular personality, but will be founded on “eternal principles.” Teilhard is well on his way towards the impersonal God when he writes: “Christ is becoming more and more indispensable to me… but at the same time the figure of the historical Christ is becoming less and less substantial and distinct to me.” “My view of him is continually carrying me further and higher along the axis of hope!).” Sad to say, this non-historical “Christ” spirit is Hindu orthodoxy, not Christian.
Fourth, the main purpose of the Universal Religion will be to satisfy the spiritual needs of men and women of diverse types. Individualistic, sectarian religions cannot offer this. Teilhard believed that Christianity did not fit everybody’s religious aspirations. He records his discontent in these words: “Christianity is still to some extent a refuge, but it does not embrace, or satisfy or even lead the ‘modern soul’ any longer.”
Fifth and final, within the Universal Religion (or New Christianity) we are all wending our way to the same destination. For Teilhard de Chardin it is the Omega Point, which belongs to something that is beyond representation. For Vivekananda it is the Om, the sacred syllable of the Hindus: “All humanity, converging at the foot of that sacred place where is set the symbol that is no symbol, the name that is beyond all sound.”
Where will it end, this deformation of Christianity and triumph of Hinduism? Will we have the Om, or will we have the Omega?
Excerpt from Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future, by Hieromonk Seraphim Rose