Category: Paramhansa Yogananda
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What do you think about out-of-body experiences (OBEs)? Yogananda said the astral world is the place where we go after death, and in his Essence of Self Realization he wrote he can see this world almost all the time, and how beautiful this world is. Did he talk about the same astral world as being what we can see when having OBEs? What’s the difference between astral projection, and those other techniques, for advanced kriya yogis? Thank you
Thank you for writing us from Lithuania. Joy and blessings to you!
Paramhansa Yogananda and Swami Kriyananda both emphasize that the deeply committed truthseeker should never seek psychic phenomena, such as out-of-body experiences or astral projection though their meditations or in any other way.
If these phenomena happen in a natural or un-sought-out way, then that is a different thing. At that point, one should pray deeply to God and Guru to be guided on what is trying to happen for you and how best to work with what is happening, so that the ego doesn’t get involved.
The Masters and great ones certainly are able to do things like astral travel, if they are so directed by God. But for anyone else (you mention advanced Kriya Yogis, and I include them in this advice), to "play around" with trying to make them happen is not a good thing to do.
You ask: "Did Yogananda talk about the astral world as being what we can see when having out-of-body experiences (OBEs)?" Not to my knowledge. My best guess, and from what I have read that people say about OBE’s, is that they could be experiencing either the astral worlds or some other location in a material world.
Your progress in meditation is based on your moving toward oneness with God (Self-realization) and you can best determine how well that happening by noticing how you are changing for the better as a person in daily life. That is a much better "measuring stick" of spiritual progress than visions, phenomena, etc., or the lack of these things.
To learn more about the subjects you are bringing up, I’d suggest that you read or re-read the chapter from Autobiography of a Yogi called "The Resurrection of Sri Yuktewsar." Another book on this subject, which I’d highly recommend to you is by Swami Kriyananda and is called How To Be a True Channel.
In chapter 18 of The Autobiography of a Yogi, there’s a footnote that reads, “I do not recall the name of Sri Yukteswar’s friend, and must refer to him simply as ‘Babu’ (Mister).” — Until I read this note the chapter was fine; after reading this comment it hit me — why did Master not recall the name and use it? Everywhere he made sure that the names and details are there. Please help me understand. I felt if he wanted to use the name — he could have. But why he didn’t?
It’s difficult to know what Yogananda had in mind in this instance in using the general term, “Babu.” Perhaps he really did not recall the man’s name, or perhaps he never knew it, or maybe he didn’t clearly hear the name from Sri Yukteswar.
Here’s an interesting thought: it’s also important to understand that a Master such as Yogananda may not always adhere to the image of what we think a Master should be, or how he “should” act in this world. We may assume that a Master would remember a simple thing such as a man’s name, but who knows, maybe he’s indicating through this example that we need to move past our impressions and tune into what is really important: the consciousness behind his personality.
Where is the phrase “Banat banat ban jai” found in Autobiography of Yogi?
This quote is one that Lahiri Mahasaya often used, and is recalled by his disciple, Swami Pranabananda, in chapter 27 of the Autobiography of a Yogi (page 246 in the original reprint of the 1946 edition, available from Crystal Clarity Publishers).
The quote, loosely translated, means: “Striving, striving, one day behold! The Divine Goal!”
In divine friendship,
I’ve two (rather strange!) questions. I hope you'll answer them.
1. Have there been saints and avatars in other planets in this universe?
2. I consider Yogananda as my Guru, and I desire very much that he would still be in my next life, even if I would be born in another planet. But I strongly remember Swamiji saying that we would get a Guru only of Master’s line if that is the one we worship, in any life. How is it then that one of these Gurus would be my Guru in another planet?
From what Paramhansa Yogananda said, it seems fairly certain that saints and avatars are abiding on other planets.
As for your second question – the most important point is to deepen your attunement with Yogananda and feel his presence through the practice of the techniques that he taught (the Energization Exercises, Hong Sau, AUM, and Kriya). Let your heart open with ever deepening devotion to God and Guru and then He will take care of you, whether you are born on this planet again or on some other planet. Remember that an avatar such as Yogananda isn’t limited by time and space so there’s no need to have any concern in this regard.
In divine friendship,
What English version of the Bible do you consider to be closest to the original? Is there a printed version available that includes those parts that were later excised? I wonder why Yogananda used the King James version when he referenced the Bible, even though this version is noted for the liberties it took — liberties that favored poetic appeal over fidelity of meaning. Was Master simply trying to reach the broadest swath of American Christians?
Swami Kriyananda told us that Yogananda almost always preferred to use the King James version, primarily because of its beautiful, poetic way of putting things.
As for fidelity, Yogananda’s interpretations of Biblical scripture were offered from a superconscious understanding and from tuning into deeper meanings of the scriptures, especially of the teachings of Jesus — so this takes care of any fidelity issues.
And probably you are right — during the years that Yogananda was teaching publicly in the USA, the King James was the preferred translation for a majority of the Christian population, so it would be natural for him to offer what most people were more familiar with.
Swami Kriyananda’s commentaries on Biblical scriptures use several different translations (he told us he carefully compared several of them for clarity and how well they seem to stick to higher truths); on the other hand, he, too, often said he loved the rhythm and poetry of the King James version best of all.
I don’t think that all the parts of the Bible which were excised over the centuries are printed in any one book. But a great number of them have been re-discovered and many are in print now. You can search for them under the Dead Sea Scrolls, or the Gnostic Gospels, or the Apocryphal or Lost Books/Gospels of the Bible.
I have faith that the Lord Jesus Christ is God. I see that Yogananda has written a commentary on the Bible. I have it but have not read it all. The main belief of followers of Christ is that if you believe Christ was resurrected from the dead and that he is the son of God then you shall have eternal life. Does Yogananda write anything about this? Why would he not encourage people to believe in Christ and become free after death?
It is very good that you have faith that the Lord Jesus Christ is God, because it is true! But it is also important to remember that Jesus said (talking to all of us!) that "...you, too are Gods." Jesus also said that "...everything I have done, you can do also."
Jesus was and is a son of God, but so are we too, sons and daughters of God! We just have not fully realized (yet!) who and what we really are.
We all have eternal life — always have and always will have it, just as Jesus does. Physical death does not mark the end of our existence.
Jesus was a great Master as was Yogananda, Krishna, the Buddha, and as are many others. They found the way to overcome the need to keep reincarnating again and again in order to learn all needed lessons, and the way to merge back into oneness with God.
After they have achieved this freedom and final liberation, they come back to Earth, to show us how to do that also. It is our eventual destiny. But it can take a long time, so they offer teachings and techniques (and shortcuts!) to help us with this journey home.
Yogananda did write a quite a lot about Jesus, and about who he was/is, what his deeper teachings really mean, and so on. I'd strongly recommend that you read the Resurrection of Christ. I think it will answer all your questions.
Paramhansa Yogananda absolutely did encourage people to believe that Jesus Christ lived and taught, as he did also, how to attain the Christ Consciousness within themselves and how to attain complete freedom, liberation, and oneness with God.
And the good news is that you don't have to wait for your death for this to happen. It's yours now, if you want to find it through prayer and meditation.
What would you say are the 10 core teachings of Yogananda's path?
You asked a very good question. As I see it, the first and most important of Yogananda's top ten core teachings starts with the thought, love God. This means love God with all, your mind, with all your body and with all your strength. I say this because after reading, "The Autobiography of a Yogi" (AY) by Yogananda. After reading that book I couldn't help but feel Master was trying to share with us how deeply the saints he wrote about loved God. Their love and devotion for God and guru is extremely inspiring to me.
Some of the saints loved God as their Heavenly Father, some loved God as their Divine Mother and some loved God as though God were their best friend. The way they showed their love for God was quite diverse, some prayed to God, some meditated to God, some stayed in a cave all alone praying and meditating while others spent just about every waking moment serving others as though they serving Him. The common thread was their deep and sincere love for God. They put loving God first and foremost.
If you have not read The Autobiography of a Yogi, I highly recommend you stop reading this letter and start reading that book immediately. It will answer a lot of questions regarding Yogananda's core teaching. At the same time you read it also read his book, Whispers from Eternity. Equally important, as reading the books mentioned, start meditating deeper, longer, and with every fiber of love in your heart.
It is to say, the essence of Master core teachings go far beyond knowing the teachings mentally. They are to be experienced.
Yogananda came to this life with a mission to show all truth seekers regardless of the religion we may be committed to, the time for knowing (experiencing) God has come. All his teachings and his messages are designed to help us understand that the most important thing we could do with our life is to expand our love God. As the story goes, a learned man came to Master with a list of questions, almost as a test to see if he could trick the Master relative to his teachings. Each time the man asked Master a question Master replied, "Love God." In a short amount of time the man left the interview a bit perturbed. This story has numerous interpretations of its meaning. I'm of the school of thought that all the teachings are intended to help deepen our love for God. If we can love God truly, we will experience Him in a way that all questions get answered almost as if by magic. And by loving Him, we will know Him, and by knowing Him we learn to know our selves in Him. We will merge into the teachings thus we will know them much more than mentally. To know the teachings is one thing. To experience them is another.
I could list ten teachings that could constitute his core teachings, such as, find and follow a true guru, meditate with the Kriya Yoga Techniques, destroy the ego, keep the company of high minded people, know God is the doer, see God in others, live simply and on and on respectively. And make no mistake about it, they are extremely important teachings. But I have found that above all else, learning how to love God is by far the most important teaching of his core teachings.
Again, please don't quote me, but, when they asked Jesus, of all the laws and teachings which is the most important to follow, his answer was to love God with all your body, with your entire mind, and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as your self.
So knowing a lot about core teachings is one thing. Loving God sincerely, with deep devotion and learning how to receive His love is beyond words.
In His love and joy,
Can you please tell me in which book Paramahamsa Yogananda wrote about the chakras and the Bhagavad Gita?
There is a book published by Self-Realization Fellowship called God Talks to Arjuna. It is Yogananda's commentaries on the Bhagavad-Gita. His original manuscript forms the basis of it, but it has been highly edited by SRF so it is not really his style or voice. Much of the information is from him, but by no means all of it. For example, the book is filled with footnotes which Yogananda never included.
Obviously, I am no so keen on that book, and, fortunately there is another option.
Swami Kriyananda wrote a commentary on the Bhagavad-Gita based on his knowledge of Yogananda's commentaries both from reading the original manuscript and helping Yogananda with editing that manuscript. Swamiji said when he wrote this book with each stanza he was able to remember all of Yogananda's explanations and that is what he offers. The style and voice of what Swamiji calls The Essence of the Bhagavad-Gita Explained by Paramhansa Yogananda is the way I understand Yogananda himself to be, whereas the SRF book is not.
This conclusion is not just SRF-bashing. In the course of the 12-years of litigation that SRF pursued against Ananda (see www.YoganandafortheWorld for details of that, or read the recently published A Fight for Religious Freedom by Jon Parsons) I had the opportunity to see many pages of the original manuscript of Yogananda's commentary on the Bhagavad-Gita. SRF obtained a strict confidentiality order which is still in force and, unfortunately prevents me from being specific, so I can only say the manuscript is in Yogananda's own voice. The book SRF published is mostly not. I have not read all the pages of the SRF book. In what I have read, occasionally to me it sounds like Yogananda, but mostly it does not.
Another way that is available to everyone that the voice of Yogananda can be contrasted to the voice of SRF is by comparing the original version of Autobiography of a Yogi published by Crystal Clarity (Ananda) Publishers with that 13th edition published by SRF. Ananda's is the blue version; SRF's the orange one. That tells the whole story. You'll find more about versions of the Autobiography also on the website mentioned above.
The essential difference is that Yogananda's own voice is warm, encouraging, forgiving, humourous, easy to understand, practical, down to earth. That is what you find in Essence.
By contrast, I find God Talks to Arjuna is difficult to understand, tends to be declarative in its statements rather than encouraging, and often dogmatic in its conclusions. After reading God Talks to Arjuna I didn't have much hope that God would ever talk to me. Whereas Essence gives me hope for my spiritual future.
As for the chakras, I believe there is some information in God Talks to Arjuna, but I can't think where else there are published writings by Yogananda about that subject. Maybe they exist, but I don't know where. You will find the chakras well explained in the Art & Science of Raja Yoga by Swami Kriyananda. Also in a book by Savitri from Ananda, and in many recorded talks by Swamiji and other Ananda teachers. All are Yogananda's teachings, but not his writings.
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