Toward the end of his mission in Israel, Jesus asked his disciples: “What think ye of Christ?” (Matthew 22:42).
It is a sad but true fact that the teachings of any master or world-teacher are misunderstood even during his life, and after his departure from this world there is a steady degeneration and distortion of his teachings until what remains is unrecognizable. It is rare that the teachings of a master survive even one generation unmarred. Many fundamental distortions of Jesus’ teachings in the first three centuries created a religion far from His original message.
The masters are always aware of the tenuous nature of their precepts. That is why Jesus, speaking of His future rebirth in this world, asked His disciples: “When the Son of man cometh [again], shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:22, 23).
Many times Paramhansa Yogananda said to his disciples: “When I am gone you will all change everything.” The first time I went into the bookstore at the Hollywood center in 1961, I met one of Yogananda’s first New York City disciples, Annie Vickerman, the wife of Warren Vickerman, Yogananda’s second American disciple. In our conversation she said: “Master more than once said to Vickie [her husband] and myself: ‘After three generations you will not even know I came to this country.’ When we asked him what use his coming here was, he told us: ‘I have planted a seed and it will grow. My work will go on, even if my name is not mentioned.’”
Confusion about Christ
One of the most harmful deviations from the original teachings of Jesus was the confusing of Jesus with Christ. “Christ” and “Christ Consciousness” are designations of Ishwara, the Lord, the personal creator aspect of God (Brahman). As an ordinary Christian I never met anyone who understood the doctrine of the Trinity and could speak a single intelligent sentence about it. But when I read the writings of Paramhansa Yogananda it was not just clear, it was simple.