Recently, I was discussing life after death with a friend. I’d mentioned something about the concept of reincarnation in Buddhism. My friend pointed out that Jesus described heaven as a house with many mansions (or rooms). Later that day, I found a new way of understanding the Jesus the yogi when I thought more about this conversation.
If you have trouble thinking of Jesus as a yogi, read on. And remember, the definition of yoga is union and the goal of yoga is union with the divine.
Jesus The Yogi in John 14
I wondered, when Jesus spoke of the house with many mansions, which Christians understand as a metaphor for heaven, was he saying the room we’ll occupy depends on how we live now— an idea similar to reincarnation? Or was he saying there’s enough room in the house for those who follow him? Or was it something else? I was curious, so I decided to find the passage.
Jesus speaks about the rooms in heaven, which he calls his father’s house, in the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John. The scene is the Last Supper, and Jesus’ worried disciples are trying to understand where he is going and why they can’t come with him (yet).
Jesus The Yogi Helps Us Transcend Fear
Jesus knew he was returning to his heavenly father — to God. To put this in the language of other spiritual traditions, he was returning to Source, Brahman, or another term that means God. Jesus’ disciples are understandably sad, worried, confused, and afraid. So the first thing Jesus does in John 14 is comfort his friends. “Do not let your hearts be troubled,” he says. (John 14:1)
Jesus assures his disciples that he is going to a good place, and he will be back for them. Yes, they can come too, but they’re not quite ready. Then he reveals a surprising secret. “You know the way to the place where I am going,” He says. (John 14:4)
As a child, I interpreted this story to mean Jesus was going to a physical place—like Disneyland—and that his disciples would get to go there too someday, but first they would have to grow a little taller so they could go on the rides.
Okay, those were not my exact thoughts, but you get the point.
When I read John’s Gospel now, I notice what I didn’t notice before: the idea that we already know the way to the place Jesus is going.
Finding Our Way When We Don’t Know Where We’re Going
I probably would have asked the same kinds of questions the disciples asked if I had been at the Last Supper with Jesus. Knowing my dear teacher’s physical life as I knew it was about to end would have troubled me too.
I might have asked the same question the disciple Thomas asked: “Lord, we don’t know where you’re going, so how can we know the way?”
To that Jesus the yogi basically said trust me, you’ll find your way. And when you do, you’ll see you are living as I have. No doubt that was a challenge for Thomas, as it is for us today. We humans like to know where we’re going, and we like to have clear ideas about what we need to do to get there.
Philip, a bit impatient, asked Jesus to show him the father. He wanted to see the proprietor of those heavenly rooms. Jesus told Philip that he and the others were already seeing him. How did they not know this by now? “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?” he asked. (John 14:10)
At this moment, Christians believe, Jesus is revealing his divinity. “The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work,” Jesus says.
But there’s more. Jesus wanted his disciples—and us—to understand that there are times when we need to rely on inner knowing and faith, not just what we see in front of us.
Jesus’ Yoga Is A Journey of Trust
If it seems strange that I’m speaking of the yoga of Jesus, remember that the goal of yoga is union with God. Has there been another person in history more focused on that goal than Jesus?
Jesus the yogi knew his friends were just beginning to understand this idea of being one with God. He promised he would not leave them to continue the journey on their own after he left his physical body. Christians will recognize this as the moment Jesus tells the disciples to be on the lookout for the Holy Spirit.
If you’re with me so far (and if you believe what Jesus said), you may feel more hopeful about the possibility of enlightenment and salvation. And perhaps, at least for the moment, you’re less afraid of what the future holds. The Holy Spirit came so we would not be lost, so we would still have a guide.
Opening to Our Own Divine Nature
But notice this, yogis. Jesus goes on to say of the Holy Spirit, that when that spirit arrives—that is, once we open our eyes to it, an even more amazing thing will happen. “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”
We’re all one. And we’re all one with God. And take a closer look. The problem isn’t that we haven’t earned this, it’s that we haven’t realized it. This is not just the yoga of Jesus. It’s yoga. As yogis know, our true nature has always been what it is. We just need to open our eyes to the truth.
When we see another being who is living that truth, we want to experience the same thing. But it doesn’t happen overnight. Sometimes it doesn’t even happen after a lifetime of practice. And that leaves us feeling scared and alone.
The disciples had to hear again (and again and again), “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) He tells them to be glad he is leaving because he is going to a good place. And, he isn’t really abandoning them anyway. If we look inside ourselves, we will find what we need. We will find him there.
Jesus the Yogi Taught Faith in The Face of Fear
Fear of the unknown, of abandoning the status quo for something greater, has always held humans back, often making our journey on the road to redemption slow and painful. When Jesus was taken away and crucified, it was difficult for his disciples to keep the faith. But the crucifixion happened, Jesus said, so the world (or at least those who were ready to understand) could see that his love of the Father (of the truth) had saved him.
And here’s more good news for spiritual seekers of all faiths and backgrounds. Jesus told his friends they were kind of at an advantage because they knew him in the flesh. But he did not say all hope is lost for those who weren’t around to meet him in those days or hear about him later. The Holy Spirit is, and always has been, right here to lead us to truth.
Jesus had the same goal yogis have—to return to God. And he wanted his friends to have the same experience. But he knew that for most of us, coming to God is a journey of faith and practice. As a master teacher who understood that God is in all beings and all beings are in God, Jesus was able to trust the journey that would take him from death to new life.
We don’t have to be afraid, even though we don’t understand everything right now. If we believe Jesus (and other master teachers), we already know; we just don’t know that we know.
Yoga is the practice and the journey of opening to the truth that is already there. It’s the practice of returning to God.
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Hi, I’m Maria. I created Yoga Circles for you if you want to delve more deeply into the philosophy, practice, and life-changing effects of yoga. I’m also a writer and editor who helps small business owners, wellness professionals, teachers, and authors publish books, develop marketing strategies, and connect with readers, clients, and students. Visit my website (link below) for more about that. I’d love to hear from you!