I am just wondering, how do you know that Yogananda did not make everything up that he said and wrote? Can you actually say that you know that he speaks the truth with 100% certainty ?
Your question is good and stimulating. I think Yogananda himself would enjoy it. He himself didn’t think too highly about mere “belief,” but emphasized experiment and personal verification. He called it “the science of religion.” That is the huge difference between any orthodox religious approach and yoga, which is based on experiment and experience.
In the book The Essence of Self-Realization he says: “Religionists should learn above all to test their beliefs, just as science does. Religious leaders should encourage people to prove the teachings of their faith in their own lives, and not to remain satisfied with the claims of others.”
And (same book): “Belief is mental. It is like the hypotheses of science, which require testing by experimentation. Belief, in other words, is provisional. Its premises must be tested in the ‘laboratory’ of meditation, and proved in the direct experience of God. Test your beliefs — not in a doubting spirit. Test them because you want to know the truth, and not merely to think about it.”
Yogananda didn’t even mind doubt, as long as it is done with a constructive spirit, not a distructive one. He said (from the same book): “Constructive doubt, on the other hand, is intelligent questioning, and fair, impartial examination. Those who cultivate this attitude never prejudge an idea. Nor do they accept as valid the unsubstantiated opinions of others. They keep an open mind, and base their conclusions on objective tests. They seek above all to verify those conclusions by their own experience. This is the proper approach to truth.”
So do I know with 100% certainty that Yogananda is right in what he says? No, not yet, as I am not enlightened. But I am “testing the spirits”… and every step I take I see that, yes, he is right. Yes, there is an inner light. Yes, prana heals. Yes, a prayer can bring an answer from God which can seem miraculous. Yes, affirmations work. Yes, love makes us happy, if it is rooted in freedom. And so on.
I am looking forward to verifying his deeper teachings, about bliss in the chakras, bliss in the spine, about the various experiences of deep God-union. Swami Kriyananda says that if we have some inner experiences, our belief turns into faith. That is what I can say with 100%: by now I have faith in the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda. If you want to have it too, you need to practice, and sincerely apply what he says.
Happy New Year, joyfully “testing the spirit,”