The festival of Easter takes place on the first full moon of spring, the full moon of Aries which usually falls in the month of April. This is the celebration of the risen Christ. He is the expression of the love of God, 'the prince of peace'. Christ's crucifixion signifies the total destruction of his ego. His rising from the dead was a proof of his attainment of cosmic consciousness. This is surely a great achievement but it is not as unusual as some people may think. Many great yogis have materialized their bodies after death. For example, Sri Yukteshwar, guru of Paramahamsa Yogananda, materialized his body three months after he had died, as also did Swami Sivananda, soon after maha samadhi, to Swami Satyananda. In the Puranas there are thousands of references to materialization, but the way is not written anywhere. When Christ rose from the dead he became the living essence of universal consciousness. His materialized body was a sign to his disciples that he would continue guiding them without the vehicle of a human body, for he was able to work from the highest consciousness. Christ's rising from the dead was a visible proof that the physical body is a lower reality and spiritual manifestation is a higher reality.
The festival of Vaishakha or 'Buddha Poornima' falls on the full moon of Taurus which usually comes in May. Buddha is the expression of the wisdom of God, the embodiment of light and the indicator of divine purpose. He determined to return once a year from the high place where he dwells and works, Shambala, to bless the world by transmitting spiritual energy to humanity. This is the meaning and purpose behind Vaishakha.
At the time of the Easter and Vaishakha festivals a channel of communication between humanity and God is opened through which flows divine love and wisdom to the waiting and needy people of this world. During these times aspirants and disciples can contact the energies flowing through this channel which are usually not so easily available. Thus they can approach truth and reality more easily than at other times and greater expansions of consciousness become possible.
The true significance of these festivals is that people are afforded the opportunity to place themselves in line with the spiritual forces of Christ who came to bring light and love to the west and Buddha who came to give light and peace to the east. The establishing of these major festivals in relation to the moon brings about a strengthening of spiritual invocation, based upon the power of collective thought. The unified invocative thought of the masses creates a focused stream of spiritual energy which acts as a strong inspiration on the hearts and minds of men, vitalizing and stimulating them.
As one studies the world situation today, it becomes apparent that humanity is divided - east versus west, one race against another. Now we need to reassert the ancient knowledge that man's life on this planet is intended to demonstrate the essential unity of humanity. The manifesting energy should be of integration, coherence and peace. This month's cover depicts the beautiful and serene Shanti Stupa which was built by Japanese Buddhist monks in Rajgirh, Bihar - one of the places where Buddha stayed after establishing his enlightenment. 'Shanti' means peace and this stupa, built on top of Gridhakuta, where Buddha often taught the dharma (way to enlightenment), is a monument dedicated to world-wide spiritual peace, coexistence and harmony. The average person might still be too selfish to think, plan and work for the benefit of mankind, but this stupa is a visible manifestation of forthcoming world peace, brotherhood and the recognition of its obligations which are beginning to permeate the consciousness of men everywhere.
Both Buddhists and Christians are awaiting the coming avatar who will be the teacher, the embodiment of love and unity. They say that when this avatar comes there will be active co-operation and brotherhood everywhere and in every facet of life: economic, social, scientific and spiritual.
That this coming era of peace is now definitely approaching can readily be seen in the world-wide yoga movement which is so rapidly blossoming into a full scale evolutionary network. People everywhere are interested enough to give yoga a try, and many are even ready and willing to devote their whole lives to it. Why? Because it is the time to promote peace and harmony, not only within ourselves individually, but on social, national and international levels as well. And yoga is the way.
Just as Buddha and Christ came to point out the direction of spiritual evolution, so the rishis of yore and the gurus even to this present day, are still pointing out that direction. And what is that direction? It is the path of yoga.