For our annual Inner Renewal Week starting next week we will focus on various writings of Paramhansa Yogananda and Swami Kriyananda, including Autobiography of a Yogi, Conversations with Yogananda, and The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita. But reading and discussing books is all too often merely an intellectual exercise, even when it is inspiring. We want to take a different approach. We will take the teachings, examples, and stories of these “scriptures” as practical guides on how to live. After all, unless we integrate good advice into daily life it does little to change us. Here are a few strategic gems in the Autobiography.
Make the search for God a central focus of your life. Yogananda starts his great opus with this immortal sentence: “The characteristic features of Indian culture have long been a search for ultimate verities and the concomitant disciple-guru relationship.” This states the theme of the book and shows us the right goal for our lives. Swami Kriyananda begins each of the vows he wrote by declaring that the spiritual search should direct our lives, and he makes the point more strongly, the deeper the level of commitment involved. In the vow of complete renunciation for nayaswamis, he expresses it this way: “From now on, I embrace as the only purpose of my life the search for God.”
Expect miracles. Autobiography of a Yogi is filled with stories of miracles. Yogananda says that, even from birth, he had clear memories of past lives, and complete awareness. And he says it with humor: “The beguiling scope of an infant’s mind! adultly considered limited to toys and toes.” He is subtly giving us yet another guide for how to live: with humor, laughter, and joy.
Then he moves on to rarer occurrences, of masters who can manifest themselves in wheat fields and hotel rooms, levitate, bilocate, and be in constant conversation with Divine Mother. He convincingly follows the example of Jesus, who said, “Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe.”
It may seem that miracles happen only to Yogananda and other great souls. Have you and I seen miracles? Yes, absolutely! If we but peer behind the curtain of outward appearances, miracles abound in our lives. Yogananda states that we couldn’t live for a minute without the constant flow of grace from God. Sometimes God makes His grace more obvious. Many times on a birthday or special occasion for Swami Kriyananda I have seen a rainbow appear, sometimes in a clear blue sky. It has become a semi-expected sign of blessing at those times.
But the greatest miracle of all is the inner transformation that takes place when we make the spiritual quest a true goal of our life. One time Devi was lamenting to Swami Kriyananda that she didn’t think she had made much progress. “How can you say that!” he replied forcefully. “You are a completely different person than you were when you came to Ananda.” I have been blessed with a life where I see ordinary people gradually becoming transformed into saints. What greater miracle can I expect?
These blogs are too short to be able to discuss at length so many other themes in the Autobiography. But here, briefly, are a few for you to consider as guides to your life:
Fill your life with love: love of family, love for your guides, and, most importantly, love for God.
Seek to be in the presence of saints. If you don’t happen to have any living in your neighborhood, as Master did, then start with books. If you are sincere, you will be led to living saints.
Meditate, pray, chant, and let the very flow of your breath be filled with a yearning for eternal verities.
I have read Autobiography of a Yogi many times, perhaps you have too. Now is the time to take a step beyond reading it and begin living it.
To learn more about Inner Renewal Week this year, visit The Expanding Light.
Listen to the weekly commentary for this blog, with special behind-the-inspiration stories and answers to common spiritual questions. Subscribe to the podcast or download the audio recording by right-clicking here. Or listen to it here (3:01):
Download the audio recording of this week’s blog by right-clicking here. Or listen to it here (5:50):
Thank you, Jyotish, for showing us how to integrate the most important book of our life, into our daily lives.
We, too, saw a rainbow in a completely blue sky, on Swami’s 59th birthday in Como, Italy.
“Look, Swami, there’s that rainbow again!”, cried Ram.
“Well, that’s our blessing, ” Swami answered simply.
How much needed in material terms for such enlightenment? I leave it to God to enlighten me at his comfortable time
Thank you for the inspiring blog. Yes, we need to take what Master have gave us and integrate into our life
I’m looking forward to the other ones,🌺Gloria
It’s always so inspiring to read your blog as it has the vibrations of master’s maybe because you both live these teachings. Blessed to receive 🙏🌹🙏🌹
In search of ultimate bliss, in search of God, I’ve found a few videos on YouTube from a channel called ‘Nanak Naam’ and the speaker is Satpal Singh. Please, all of you, pay a visit there. The contents are in English
Beautiful write up and awesome share , it is meaning for everyone on spiritual quest! Pranam from New Delhi , India.
Grateful to share this life with you Jyotish. Thanks for all you do and for all you share with us. See you next week.
It’s an amazing life when we ask Divine Mother to guide us each & every day, each & every step of our way. When I first read Autobiography, 1969, I was so relieved to discover that there was someone who “knows what’s what”. I was 21& needed to know how to live a good life. The times were turbulent & I couldn’t embrace the war/politics/racism of my Southern upbringing . I was determined to find something that was “right& righteous.” I discovered Yoga & soon came Autobiography, and I’ve never had one doubt since then. My old life transformed into a brand new, ever new life.
Very very happy to read your message and you are very blessed in this young age 🙂, keep it up and spread, for the services to Humanity and services to almighty, omnipresent,
Thank you, Jyotish. My particular area of study is Swami Kriyananda. Thus I’ve read SK As We Have Known Him and SK: Lightbearer each six times, finding Lightbearer in particular always new and inspiring. I’ve also read A Place Called Ananda four times. The updated 2003 edition is wonderful – it’s his most personal book, and thus uniquely valuable.
I see Paramhansa Yogananda through the filter of his great disciple Swami Kriyananda. For example, Swamiji said his most important book was Out of the Labyrinth. I’ve read it six or seven times, and it has amazingly deepened my comprehension of the new understanding that Paramhansa Yogananda brought for Dwapara Yuga.
Dear Jyotish, Thank you once again for wonderful advice, I am looking forward for more next week.
Dear Nayaswami Jyotish, thank you for beautiful post and advice on making the teachings practical for every day life! And speaking of every day life, my seven and a half year old grandson has me read from Autobiography of a Yogi for his bedtime story almost every night.
Joy and gratitude,
Very good keep it up sir very good samskar giving to your grandson, you are so lucky,my grand son is on cricket, even I am yoga instructor I could not make him feel interesting in spiritual way ☺️
Good advice. Living the spiritual life is better then reading it.
On the subject of miracles….One year a few years back, I was living and working as a staff member at the Ananda Meditation Retreat. The summer I was there, it so happened that my birthday–July 3rd– fell on Gurupurnima. I was thrilled! I prayed to Divine Mother for 2 birthday wishes for that day: 1) to have a Gurupurnima kirtan in the temple; 2) to hear from my (estranged) brother. WELL! This is what happened: at 7:40 on the eve of my birthday and Gurupurnima, the most amazing group of musicians and chanters assembled for the kirtan. The chanting that followed was truly divine, bringing me to a state of ecstasy! When it was over, someone suggested that we continue the chant and take a hike–under the full moon!–to Bald Mountain, a high lookout point about a half mile from the temple. Oh, what a glorious walk that was! In the beauty of nature, shimmering under the moonlight, enhanced by our lovely voices chanting the names of God! It was the BEST kirtan EVER!! Then… I got back to my cabin after this magical, mystical event to find I had a voice message…and, you guessed it! It was my brother, leaving a message of happy birthday! AT EXACTLY 7:40, I KID YOU NOT! (I had not heard from him in at least 2 years… and he NEVER calls me. If we talk it is because I call HIM.) So… Divine Mother granted BOTH of my birthday wishes, AND at the same time!!!! This was truly one of my most powerful confirmations that miracles really DO happen and in the most amazing ways!
It happens for good and innocent people,and pure heart 💖 disciple of Maa,
Dear Nayaswami Jyotish Ji,
Thank you for this inspiring blog. When I look at my life before and after Ananda. Everything seems to be a Miracle. Our sincere gratitude to Swamiji, and all Acharyas at Ananda Sangha for helping us to live Master’s teachings.
Very inspiring – reading Vs living
Very nice, smooth and sweet voice namaste dear Nayaswami jyotish,🙏🙏🙏🙏