Like so many in my generation of the 1960s, I wanted to unravel one of humanity’s deepest questions: What is the purpose of life?
I studied psychology, hoping to find something that would show me the far horizon of human potential. My studies in college were a dry hole, a barren landscape (for me, at least) of lab rats, mental illness, and shallow sociological conclusions.
So, the day after my last college exam, I left Minneapolis and followed the New Age trail to San Francisco, CA, where I hoped I would find a more supportive environment. My quest for expanded consciousness did not lie down the psychedelic streets of the hippie movement, but rather with the budding spiritual milieu.
When in October 1966 I was given a copy of Autobiography of a Yogi, by chance, it was a life-changing event for me. As I began reading, it seemed to be just one more in a long line of thought-provoking books.
There were many things my doubting mind had to put on a shelf. But I had a deep underlying certainty that what Paramhansa Yogananda wrote was absolutely truthful. This was not someone teaching boring theories or secondhand concepts. What was written on those pages came from his personal experience and actual realization.
I wanted to experience what he wrote about. He held out not only a vague hope, but the promise that someday I could experience it too. This I could relate to. This I could try, with enthusiasm.
And doing so changed me. . . .
I moved from despair to hope, from someone with no clear direction in life to someone who now had a goal—to experience Divine Bliss—and a pathway to follow.
I let go of my agnostic skepticism and came to accept that a Divine Intelligence is guiding everything.
I began to see my spiritual potential and to live it: Many things that my education, environment, and youthful cynicism had led me to believe impossible, I could now see and experience. The Autobiography of a Yogi expanded not only the limits of my human consciousness, but more importantly, my potential. Since that first reading I have found many saints and yogis who have had the same experiences. If they can, so can I. So can you.
I opened my heart—Yogananda’s transparent goodness and love shined through his Autobiography, and changed me. Until then, my heart had been dry and aching.
I found my lifelong guide, mentor, friend, and supporter: Swami Kriyananda, a direct disciple of Yogananda. Swamiji gave my life a spiritual and practical direction the day I met him, just a few months after Autobiography of a Yogi had awakened me.
Together, we are building Yogananda’s vision of world brotherhood communities. The Ananda communities around the world are living, breathing expressions of Yogananda’s teachings: people living, working, and experiencing the practical, spiritual life in harmony with one another, with nature, and with the greater society.
Swamiji’s guiding hand continues to inspire my life today, as Spiritual Director of Ananda Sangha Worldwide, with my wife, Devi. I am grateful beyond the power of mere words to express.
I have long known that my experience is not unique, that thousands of others have also had their lives changed by the Autobiography of a Yogi. Is this also true for you, dear reader?
This December we celebrate 71 years of the original Autobiography of a Yogi. Ananda offer you a gift—a free audiobook or e-book of the original Autobiography.
You may also enjoy watching The Spark, a documentary short film that reveals how Yogananda and his Autobiography ignited a spiritual revolution in the West.
In Deep Gratitude,
Nayaswami Jyotish is Spiritual Director of Ananda, a worldwide spiritual movement to help you find joy within yourself, based on the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda.