In the Autobiography of a Yogi (AY), Paramhansa Yogananda describes many of the miraculous events that he personally witnessed. He speaks of yogis levitating, sitting in a state of suspended animation without any trace of heartbeat or breath, and he further delights us with stories of his own guru’s powers. Yogananda also shares with us a number of mind-expanding scientific explanations about the subtle workings of creation in the chapter on miracles.
The AY is a profoundly moving book for anyone with a thread of spiritual faith running through the fabric of their lives. Yogananda explains the power of mastering the science of Yoga. He shares details about what made the miraculous works of Christ, Krishna, and the various historical figures possible.
The Law of Miracles
In the chapter “The Law of Miracles” Yogananda reveals that miracles, as we know them, are not actually beyond explanation or our ability to comprehend them. He explains that there are higher laws that human beings can operate once a sufficient level of realization has been attained.
Kriya Yoga plus devotion works like mathematics…Paramhansa YoganandaThroughout the AY — his masterpiece, Yogananda describes the high and blissful states of samadhi that are accessible by anyone who dedicates themselves to the practice of scientific pranayama with deep devotion. As he puts it, “Kriya Yoga plus devotion works like mathematics. It cannot fail!”
Yogananda speaks lovingly of his guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar:
Though born a mortal like all others, Master had achieved identity with the Ruler of time and space. In his life, I perceived a godlike unity. He had not found any insuperable obstacle to mergence of human with Divine. No such barrier exists, I came to understand, save in man’s spiritual unadventurousness.
And then there’s us…with all of our complications, imperfections, selfishness, resistances, and annoyances — Do we mere earthlings dare dream of such attainments as described in the AY? Do we, who fall so short of the intense moral vigor and steadfast devotion of the great masters, really have what it takes to go into breathless states and achieve the highest levels of spiritual transcendence? The Masters all answer with an enthusiastic and resounding, “YES!”
We create the psychological boundaries between what is possible for us to achieve…and what we can achieve.It appears that we are the ones who create the psychological boundaries between what is possible for us to achieve and what the Masters have and know that we can achieve. They have come essentially to help us understand how we can become just like them!
We read the AY with a sense of thrill and amusement, but how many of us associate these liberating truths with our own potential? Could it be that we (on some level) think that the supernatural blessings that come as a result of sincere spiritual effort are merely fictional? Do we believe perhaps that these miraculous events only happen in holy places like India or only happened in the myths and legends of old?
Are we truly striving for liberation as devotees and yogis, or superficially content with making only a little effort – excusing our passivity because we are “not there yet?” Yogananda tells us that God is just as much with us now as He ever will be—that there is no distance between us and God except the distance that we ourselves impose. I want to return to Yogananda’s earlier quote:
No such barrier exists, I came to understand, save in man’s spiritual unadventurousness.
Perhaps it is easier to come down with a case of spiritual unadventurousness than we thought.
Let’s face it, our lives aren’t usually full of obvious miracles. They are full of obvious problems! But as the masters have often asserted, “There are no obstacles. There are only opportunities.”
If we see our karma as a spiritual adventure that has much to teach…and if we have faith that the problems are just blessings in disguise, meant to strengthen us in our quest for freedom, then indeed we may witness miracles often!
When I can accept my personal battles as opportunities for growth, I have found that God then can show me how best to overcome them. I have learned to consult with Him more and complain less. Faith is able to move mountains when we’re unwavering and focused. Our prayers can draw insights where previously there appeared no possible solutions. We often can’t see on our own how to proceed, though we can invite Him to show the way.
Human beings are so skillful in their ignorance!Paramhansa Yogananda
Yogananda profoundly observed, “Human beings are so skillful in their ignorance!” He could see how our little egos sabotage us into having to live through experiences of the same karmic lessons over and over again — and how we limit our own potential, ignoring the endless fountain from which it flows. The master, surely out of compassion, gave us some tricks, or hacks, to use to unravel what he called the “Gordian knot of delusion.”
Yogananda’s Miraculous Life Hacks
KRIYA YOGA – Babaji said that this pranayama technique was the greatest technique for spiritual salvation ever given to mankind. He also asserted that the science of Kriya would ultimately spread to all lands and aid humankind in the establishment of world brotherhood. You can get information and learn more about the liberating technique of Kriya Yoga at ananda.org. Kriya Yoga essentially is a series of techniques, learned in succession, that aids one greatly in the inner search.
ENERGIZATION EXERCISES – This series of exercises was developed by Yogananda to help us strengthen our will power and awaken us to the limitless supply of Cosmic Energy that is all around us at every moment. Through this technique, we begin to understand the relationship between our own limited will and the unlimited Divine Will. Energization Exercises help us to develop enthusiasm, mind/body strength, and the willingness to engage in whatever activities life calls us to perform.
THE “SAMADHI” POEM – Through his own experience of the highest spiritual states, Yogananda composed a powerful poem that can be used as a visualization to carry the reader into greater comprehension of the glorious experience of samadhi. The poem is based on Yogananda’s own experience of the highest spiritual states. Here is an excerpt:
All space, like an iceberg, floats within my mental sea,
Colossal container, I, of all things made,
By deeper, longer, thirsty, guru-given meditation,
Comes this celestial Samadhi…
From Joy I came, for Joy I live, in sacred Joy I melt.
Gone forever the fitful, flickering shadows of mortal memory,
Spotless is my mental sky,
Below, ahead, high above, eternity and I,
One united Ray,
A tiny bubble of laughter, I
Am become the sea of Mirth itself.
DEVOTION – Lastly, the most important ingredient on the path to God is our love. It is in our complete offering of self to the Divine that we can finally go breathless and enter the high states of which the Masters speak. There has to be absolute offering of oneself and all of one’s self-identifications to reach this exalted state. This is the Yagya (self-offering rite) that leads to samadhi and it can only be accomplished by the offering of our deep longing and unconditional love.
If you need help with deepening your devotion, along with the AY consider keeping a copy of Whispers from Eternity in your meditation space or bedroom and read deeply and often from that great devotional scripture.
During World War II, many people’s lives were cruelly thrown into concentration camps, facing grotesque deaths. This very hardship resulted in purifying and elevating a known handful of devoted souls to spiritual greatness. They demonstrated that a purpose of external trials is to bring us to a point of surrender that gives everything we have in devotional release to God. This is when miracles happen.
Try This Experiment
The next time you sit to meditate, pretend that it is the last meditation of your life and afterward you will be leaving this world. How much more deeply would you focus? How much longer would you stay relaxed and still? How much more of your heart’s energy would you offer to the Creator? It is possible that this very difference will today bring the spiritual success that you seek.
Paramhansa Yogananda left us with so much to help us to break our delusions. These are only a few of the many great techniques, principles, and prayers he brought to help us. Let’s not waste any more time in thinking that our spiritual victory is for a future time.
Just like the great souls in the AY, we can all be miracle workers and achieve the undreamed of possibilities promised in the teachings of all the Great Masters.
Fill me daily with the love and thanksgiving that overwhelm the heart of a newly awakened saint. Give me the fervor known unto all who have ever loved and found Thee. –Paramhansa Yogananda
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