Paramhansa Yogananda’s book, Autobiography of a Yogi, is a work that continues to touch the lives of millions of people even 73 years after its publication in 1946.
Its power was illustrated to me during a recent visit to China. Walking past a bookstore in Guangzhou, a lady I know glanced at the front-window display of newly released books. Her attention was drawn to a picture of a long-haired man in orange robes. Stopping, she studied the book more closely and spontaneously began to weep, overcome by an unexpected emotion. Collecting herself, she continued walking, but within a short distance she stopped again and returned to look once more at what had so moved her. Again, tears came to her eyes before she entered and purchased a copy. That book was the Autobiography of a Yogi.
Dramatic as this story is, it is not unique. I’ve heard similar accounts and, in fact, my own introduction to The Autobiography was much the same. A recent graduate from college, I had been drifting aimlessly toward a career when I came across the “AY” and my life radically changed course. It was as if a door had opened, inviting me into another realm. Swami Kriyananda also had a similar experience and later asked Yogananda about the book’s influence.
“Yes,” the Master said, “It’s because I put my vibrations into it.”
What did Yogananda mean by that? Just as we know that the spoken word conveys a speaker’s character, so too does the written “voice” reveal an author’s vibration. Some immediately attract while others do the opposite, repelling us like a magnet. That woman in China was sensitive to Yogananda’s “magnetism,” which awakened long buried feelings and “memories.”
The analogy of a magnet is particularly apt in the practice of yoga. From physics we learn of two ways to create a magnet. The first is to place a bar of iron in close proximity to a strong magnet. In time, the bar too becomes magnetized simply by being next to the strong magnet. For the spiritual aspirant, the lesson is obvious; put yourself in the company of those who are spiritually strong.
Yogananda often quoted a phrase from the Bible, “To all those who received him, gave he power to become the Sons of God.” When with close disciples, rarely did Yogananda speak philosophy or techniques, but instead he emphasized attunement to the guru. “Be in tune,” he repeatedly advised. To the open and willing heart, the guru magnetically transfers his blessings.
The second way to create a magnet is by rotating a current of electricity around an iron bar. The electric current causes the bar’s molecules to align themselves in a uniform north/south polarity to create an electromagnetic field. Application of this principle to meditation and pranayam gives us the science of Kriya Yoga.
Subtle pranic currents associated with the breath are rotated around the central “bar” of the spine, thereby aligning our scattered energies to create a magnetic pull upon the outward flow of life force toward the senses. Through daily practice and living in harmony with Nature’s Laws, the yogi withdraws his attention away from the surface of the body into the inner spine and from there, directs his life force upward toward the brain.
Magnetism is the secret of all spiritual and material success. Whether seeking a spiritual guide, prosperity, wealth, health, abundance or opportunities, we find these things often elude us until we learn the power of attraction. For drawing the guru’s blessings, this begins by purifying our heart; for material success, by changing our attitudes and thoughts. When we learn to change our magnetism, we have the power to change our lives.