Am I Betraying My Church?
I was currently given the Autobiography of a Yogi book to read. I read the book and found myself closer to God. But somewhere between finishing the book and joining a church (first one I have joined recently) I have found my faith conflicting. I almost felt lost between the two. Throughout my struggle I have been praying to God, and trying to make myself realize its him I need to be focusing on and that is all that matters. But I have a nagging guilt like I'm betraying church.
—Rachel, New Zealand
The Autobiography of a Yogi almost always has a profound effect on those who read it, especially sincere truth-seekers – and it seems that you are one!
There is probably no reason for a conflict of faith, or for you to “become lost” between the doctrines of your church and the teachings of Yogananda – depending, of course, on what your church teaches.
Some churches are not very open-minded about someone’s attraction to teachings of a great guru like Yogananda. Some are OK with it. In either case, it is possible to do both. Sometimes it is best to keep the Yogananda part to yourself and simply have an inner life that you keep private.
Yogananda often encouraged church members to remain true to their churches, attending them regularly and practicing what they were taught there, IF (big if) they sincerely felt that the beliefs and practices of the church were attending were serving their spiritual needs well.
He also often said that practicing the path of Kriya Yoga meditation which he taught, would help you to deepen your faith, no matter what it might be.
And yes, you are correct. It is God on whom we need to focus; in doing such, you will be guided to just exactly where you need to be.
I’d encourage you to let go of all guilt. It’s a waste of time and energy. Keep praying and moving forward spiritually, as best as you can. God watches our hearts (as no one else really can!) and knows of our sincerity, even when we make mistakes. It’s our sincerity that counts most.