“May Thy Love shine forever on the sanctuary of my devotion. And may I be able to awaken Thy love in all hearts.”
If you have not read “Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda, I highly recommend it! It is the inspiring story of a man that was chosen to bring meditation to the west at a time when most had no idea of its power or how to begin.
Autobiography of a Yogi is a first-hand account of the life experiences of Paramhansa Yogananda. It is known as one of the best-selling spiritual classics of all time, read by millions of people all over the world, and recognized universally by varying religious traditions as a beautiful depiction of the spiritual path.
“It is a treasured collection of stories, humor, and practical and scientific explanations of the great yoga wisdom of the east long before Yogananda was born, a saint named Babaji lived in the Himalayas. One day, Jesus appeared to him, and told him that although Jesus' followers still do good works, they have forgotten how to commune with him inwardly in meditation.
He told Babaji to send someone to the West to remind his people that the goal of life is to become one with God through inner communion. That person was to be Yogananda. Paramhansa Yogananda,"
We are now in the last months of teaching a 300 Yoga Teacher Training through The Raja Center and one of the books that I have them read is this one, Autobiography of a Yogi. We have just come to the end of this beautiful book and the lessons and stories of this book are so inspiring I thought I would inspire you to pick it up as well!
Reading and discussing books is all too often merely an intellectual exercise, even when it is as inspiring as this book is. I thought I might take a different approach. I’d like to take the teachings, examples, and stories of these “scriptures” as practical guides on how to live. After all, unless we integrate good advice into daily life it does little to change us. Here are a few strategic gems from the Autobiography.
Make the search for God a central focus of your life.
Yogananda starts his great opus with this immortal sentence: “The characteristic features of Indian culture have long been a search for ultimate verities and the concomitant disciple-guru relationship.” This states the theme of the book and shows us the right goal for our lives.
Ishvara Pranidhana is the ability to see God in all beings and in life itself. This of course is not an easy thing to do but the mere suggestion might inspire you to begin this search.
“Namaste”, is a greeting that means, “The God within me acknowledges the God within you.” We use these words often within a practice, or entering into a yoga class, or perhaps while traveling in particular countries where it is equivalent to saying hello and goodbye. The difference is that it is not the same, it is saying to look further, see deeper, be present for a moment and acknowledge the oneness that flows through all beings. Seems too deep to do every time you greet another human being? Perhaps this would be a good place to contemplate this simple and loving greeting, since you say hello and goodbye countless of times a day…. Take a moment to merely see them more clearly.
To recognize that we are equal and created in God’s likeness and we are all experiences of the same God, can begin to shift how you relate to others and begin the flow of divine love that can flow from you to all other beings. It is also called Bhakti Yoga.
Autobiography of a Yogi is filled with stories of miracles. Yogananda says that, even from birth, he had clear memories of past lives and complete awareness. And he says it with humor: “The beguiling scope of an infant’s mind! adultly considered limited to toys and toes.” He is subtly giving us yet another guide for how to live: with humor, laughter, and joy. Then he moves on to rarer occurrences, of masters who can manifest themselves in wheat fields and hotel rooms, levitate, bi-locate, and be in constant conversation with Divine Mother. He convincingly follows the example of Jesus, who said, “Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” It may seem that miracles happen only to Yogananda and other great souls. Have you and I seen miracles? Yes, absolutely! If we but peer behind the veil of outward appearances, miracles abound in our lives. Yogananda states that we couldn’t live for a minute without the constant flow of grace from God. Sometimes God makes His grace more obvious.
I have often awakened in the morning and the natural flow of the day's “to-do list” arises with a moment of boredom, I remind myself that today a miracle can happen! Not only can a miracle happen, but a miracle will happen! Then I smile because it is so easy to forget the divineness of our lives and fall into the mundane, but it is also true that a miracle will happen today, so I wait for it! I look for it! I expect it and I am never disappointed!
The greatest miracle of all is the inner transformation that takes place when we make the spiritual quest a true goal of our lives. These blogs are too short to be able to discuss at length so many other themes in the Autobiography. But here, briefly, are a few for you to consider as guides to your life:
Fill your life with love: love of family, love for your guides, and, most importantly, love for God. Seek to be in the presence of saints. If you don’t happen to have any living in your neighborhood, as Yogananda did, then start with books. If you are sincere, you will be led to living saints. Meditate, pray, chant, and let the very flow of your breath be filled with a yearning for eternal verities.
I have read Autobiography of a Yogi many times, perhaps you have too. Now is the time to take a step beyond reading it and begin living it.
I have recently returned from Bali, and whenever I am blessed to spend time with the Balinese people, I am reminded that living in the present, with kindness, devotion, service, and love of God and humanity is easy! What is not easy is living without it!
We are jaded here in this country, but that doesn't mean we are lost. Look for the miracles in your life, learn to quiet that mind of yours, and watch as the beauty of life itself blooms right in front of you.
Life itself is a miracle, just look in the mirror if you doubt it.
Hari Om Tat Sat