Long before Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer and other spiritual teachers that we have invited into our living room on television , there was Paramahansa Yogananda.
A few months ago Renee and I watched the movie Awake. It is a documentary about the life of Paramahansa Yogananda. I had known of him through Tom Long, who some of you might know from his center in Greene, NY. He is a big fan of Paramahansa Yogananda and generally when Tom likes a spiritual teacher that much they are someone special. I thought that it would be good to look into Yogananda’s writings and after watching Awake, I put him in the forefront of my mind when I considered what book to read next.
Heart Centered Living will feature the movie Awake later this month on the 29th at 6PM at the First Congregational Church. 30 Main Street Binghamton,New York.
Ahead of his time
Yogananda was surprisingly ahead of his time. I’ve read a decent amount of spiritual writings over the years, but I was quite surprised how his writings are not only ahead of their time but are timeless. They can apply to then, now and certainly the future. Since watching Awake, I have been reading “Man’s Eternal Quest” by him. All of the quotes in this post are from that book and I have noted the page numbers. The book was created from a number of his lectures from the 1920’s on through the 1940’s. He conveys his teaching in a style that is understandable and readily grasped. He relates his teachings to life directly.
“Yoga is for everybody, for the people of the West as well as those of the East. One would not say that the telephone is not for the East just because it was invented in the West. Similarly, the methods of Yoga, although developed in the East, are not exclusively for the East but are useful to all mankind.” (p17)
He was also intuitive to such a degree that he predicted his own death. “I will not die in bed, but with my boots on, speaking of God and India.” After he gave a speech in 1952 and ended with a reading from his poem “My India”, he lifted his eyes upward and entered mahasamadhi, an advanced yogi’s earth exit. He had died as he had lived,exhorting man to know God. (from the Introduction of Man’s Eternal Quest)
Yogananda crossed the boundaries between Hindu beliefs and Christian beliefs in a fluid manner. His belief system included the belief in a Christ consciousness. He spoke of self realization and how it can only be learned through experience.
“Self-realization is not something one can learn from books, it comes only through personal experience. Realization of truth, experience of God – not dogma merely-is what every religion should bring to it’s followers. What Jesus Christ realized, we too must experience. He didn’t teach that his followers should worship him as a personality, but rather experience what he experience in his oneness with God. That can be attained only by meditation and bu following God’s laws. To worship Jesus because he is Jesus is not enough. Embrace the universal ideals he taught, and strive to be like him.”(p 27)
Yogananda’s Spiritual Legacy
Yogananda started his teachings in America in 1920, eventually winding up in California where in 1925 he founded the international headquarters for Self-Realization Fellowship. Temples exist all over the world today, over 500. The closest one to Binghamton, New York is in Syracuse, New York.
He founded the Self-Realization Fellowship to disseminate his teachings and to preserve their purity and integrity for future generations. In that way, no matter what material you encounter out there about Yogananda, you can be certain that material that bears the seal of the Self-Realization Foundation is pure. The seal means that it has been vetted by people that have been been trained by his closest hand picked disciples. The seal appears on the top of the Self Realization Fellowship Site and also shows up as the little favicon that shows up in the tab when you open the site.
Yogananda was a practitioner of Kriya Yoga as a path to meditation. When many people think of yoga the first thing that comes to mind is the poses of physically directed Hatha Yoga, but there are actually quite a few different types of yoga. Kriya yoga seems to be more of a mediative self reflective type of yoga, a method of connecting with inner peace and source. It reminds me a bit of Buddhist meditations that I have participated in, in the past.
Self Realization Fellowship
I read on the Self Realization Fellowship Site that there are Self-Realization Lessons that are available as a 3.5 year mail order course where material is sent out every two weeks. Yogananda made sure that it would stay affordable in that the cost of the lessons are just to cover the cost of printing and mailings.
A blog that focuses on quotes from Paramahansa Yogananda
Heart Centered Living will feature the movie Awake
Monday, Feb 29th 6-8
(Heart Centered Movie Night) Awake
The life of Paramanhansa Yogananda. By personalizing his own quest for enlightenment and sharing his struggles along the path, Yogananda made ancient Vedic teachings accessible to a modern audience, attracting many followers and inspiring the millions who practice yoga today. Love Offering $$