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Autobiography of a Yogi introduces the reader to the life of Paramahansa Yogananda and his encounters with spiritual figures of both the Eastern and the Western world. Paramahansa Yogananda was born as Mukunda Lal Ghosh in Gorakhpur, India, into a Bengali Hindu family.
The book begins with his childhood family life, to finding his guru, to becoming a monk and establishing his teachings of Kriya Yoga meditation. The book continues in 1920 when Yogananda accepts an invitation to speak in a religious congress in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. He then travels across America lecturing and establishing his teachings in Los Angeles, California. In 1935, he returns to India for a yearlong visit. When he returns to America, he continues to establish his teachings, including writing this book.
Autobiography of a Yogi is an introduction to the methods of attaining God-realization and to the spiritual wisdom of the East, which had only been available to a few in 1946.
The author claims that the writing of the book was prophesied long ago by the nineteenth-century master Lahiri Mahasaya (Paramguru of Yogananda) also known as the Yogiraj and Kashi baba. Before becoming a yogi, Lahiri Mahasaya’s actual name was Shyama Charan Lahiri.
It has been in print for seventy years and translated into over fifty languages by Self-Realization Fellowship.
Paramhansa Yogananda, widely credited with bringing yoga to the west, tells the story of his remarkable lifelong spiritual journey in Autobiography of a Yogi.
From a very young age, Yogananda, born Mukunda Lal Ghosh, was clearly more spiritually natured than most. He grew up one of eight children to his mother, a “queen of hearts,” and his father, a strict disciplinarian who held a high position in the Bengal-Nagpur railway.
His parents were disciples of Lahiri Mahasaya, the guru of Yogananda’s own guru, and they enjoyed a calm and loving marriage. Aside from young Mukunda’s strong spiritual yearnings, he and his siblings appeared to have a typical lifestyle.
When he was 11 years old, Yogananda’s mother appeared before him in a vision that foretold her death. He would continue to have similar premonitory visions throughout his life. Soon after his mother’s death, Yogananda began feeling drawn toward the Himalayas and planned a pilgrimage. He was stopped by his older brother, Ananta, but Yogananda did not stop seeking his spiritual teacher, who he finally found at the age of 17.
Though he first distrusted his instincts, Yogananda knew immediately who Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri was when he saw him in a Benares market. He had seen him in visions and his appearance had been announced that morning by a “divine womanly voice.” During those first few moments of the meeting, the two promised each other unconditional love.
Soon after, Yogananda gave responsibility for his life over to his guru though he didn’t like all of his master’s suggestions or his “cold” manner at times. Sri Yukteswar was firm but loving, and he had an intense impact on Yogananda.
The guru-disciple relationship, which according to Yogananda began lifetimes ago, is a key aspect of the book. Yogananda’s devotion to Sri Yukteswar only grows stronger with time. At times he stays at Sri Yukteswar’s ashram, delighted to hear stories of Sri Yukteswar’s life.
Sri Yukteswar initiates him into Kriya yoga, something he had experienced twice before but which he only feels the transformative power of when under his master’s auspices. During his time at Sri Yukteswar’s ashram (which was near the Serampore College Yogananda attended), he sometimes struggles to perform the mundane tasks that are required. He’d prefer to be meditating.
Sri Yukteswar teaches him the importance of serving one’s worldly purposes. At other times, the two live continents apart. Even when they are living far apart, however, Yogananda claims his master appeared before him in a vision. He also appeared, in flesh and blood, from beyond the grave. This type of otherworldly experience pervades the book until it just appears a typical fact of life for Yogananda.
Yogananda received his Bachelor’s degree from the Serampore College in Calcutta in 1915, though he made no attempt to say he was a good student – he grudgingly did the minimum to get by in school, as he was only interested in the spiritual path.
In 1917, Yogananda founded a school for boys in Dihika, West Bengal, where yoga was taught along with the typical curriculum. In 1920, Yogananda went to the United States where his talks about religion and yoga were enthusiastically received. He founded the Self-Realization Fellowship and lectured widely.
In 1925, he established the Self-Realization Fellowship headquarters in Los Angeles, California. He met with various eminent spiritual figures and other notable people, including Therese Neumann, Sri Anandamayi Ma, Mohandas Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, Sir C. V. Raman, and Luther Burbank.
Though Yogananda was Hindu, he respected and seems to have resonated with all religions. He often shared the teachings of Jesus Christ and quoted various other religious figures. His ability to transcend religion attracted numerous devotees and earned him respect among the masses.
StoryShot #1: Self-Realization
The knowing -in body, mind, and soul- that we are one with the omnipresence of God; we do not have to pray that it come to us, we are not merely near it at all times, but that God’s omnipresence is our omnipresence. We are just as much a part of Him now as we ever will be. All we have to do is improve our knowing.
StoryShot #2: Living a Life of Happiness
Live quietly in the moment and see the beauty of all before you. The future will take care of itself.
― Paramahansa Yogananda #autobiographyofayogi
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Making others happy, through the kindness of speech and sincerity of right advice, is a sign of true greatness. To hurt another soul by sarcastic words, looks, or suggestions, is despicable.
Be comfortable within your purse,” he often said. “Extravagance will buy you discomfort.
Look fear in the face and it will cease to trouble you. Forget the past, for it is gone from your domain! forget the future, for it is beyond your reach! control the present! Live supremely well now! This is the way of the wise.
Ordinary love is selfish, darkly rooted in desires and satisfactions. Divine love is without condition, without boundary, without change. The flux of the human heart is gone forever at the transfixing touch of pure love.2.938-3.188-2.938-5.438 0-1.188 0.375-2.313 0.938-3.313 3.188 4 8.063 6.625 13.5 6.875-0.125-0.5-0.188-1-0.188-1.5 0-3.625 2.938-6.563 6.563-6.563 1.938 0 3.625 0.813 4.813 2.063 1.5-0.313 2.938-0.813 4.188-1.563-0.5 1.5-1.563 2.813-2.875 3.625 1.313-0.188 2.563-0.5 3.75-1.063-0.875 1.313-2 2.5-3.25 3.438z">
The Creative Power of Initiative
What is the initiative? It is a creative faculty within you, a spark of the Infinite Creator. It may give you the power to create something no one else has ever created. It urges you to do things in new ways. The accomplishments of a person of initiative may be as spectacular as a shooting star. Apparently creating something from nothing, he demonstrates that the seemingly impossible may become possible by one’s employment of the great inventive power of the Spirit.
See the Image of God in All Men
Many people excuse their own faults but judge other persons harshly. We should reverse this attitude by excusing others’ shortcomings and by harshly examining our own.
Habits of Thought Control One’s Life
Success is hastened or delayed by one’s habits. It is not your passing inspirations or brilliant ideas so much as your everyday mental habits that control your life. Habits of thought are mental magnets that draw to you certain things, people, and conditions. Good habits of thought enable you to attract benefits and opportunities. Bad habits of thought attract you to materially minded persons and to unfavorable environments.
Power of Divine Will
Divine Will has no boundaries; it works through laws known and unknown, natural and seemingly miraculous. It can change the course of destiny, wake the dead, cast mountains into the sea, and create new solar systems.
From the Ocean of Abundance
Just as all power lies in His will, so all spiritual and material gifts flow from His boundless abundance. In order to receive His gifts, you must eradicate from your mind all thoughts of limitation and poverty. Universal Mind is perfect and knows no lack; to reach that never-failing supply you must maintain a consciousness of abundance. Even when you do not know where the next dollar is coming from, you should refuse to be apprehensive. When you do your part and rely on God to do His, you will find that mysterious forces come to your aid and that your constructive wishes soon materialize. This confidence and consciousness of abundance are attained through meditation.
The Way of Meditation
By the power of concentration and meditation, you can direct the inexhaustible power of your mind to accomplish what you desire and to guard every door against failure. All successful men and women devote much time to deep concentration. They are able to dive deeply within their minds and to find the pearls of the right solutions for the problems that confront them.
If you learn how to withdraw your attention from all objects of distraction and to place it upon one object of concentration, you too will know how to attract at will whatever you need.
Success is Measured by Happiness
Consider whether fulfillment of the goal you have chosen will constitute success. What is success? If you possess health and wealth but have trouble with everybody (including yourself), yours is not a successful life. Existence becomes futile if you cannot find happiness.
When wealth is lost, you have lost a little; when health is lost, you have lost something of more consequence; but when the peace of mind is lost, you have lost the highest treasure.
― Paramahansa Yogananda #autobiographyofayogi
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Put God’s Power Behind Your Efforts
Release for constructive purposes the power you already have, and more will come. Move on your path with unflinching determination, using all the attributes of success. Tune yourself with the creative power of Spirit. You will be in contact with the Infinite Intelligence that is able to guide you and to solve all problems. Power from the dynamic Source of your being will flow uninterruptedly so that you will be able to perform creatively in any sphere of activity.
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