On December 1 this year (2016), the beloved and world renowned classic, “Autobiography of a Yogi,” by Paramhansa Yogananda, will celebrate the 70th anniversary of its first publication. Crystal Clarity Publishers is offering a free online digital copy on that day, Thursday, December 1. To sign up for your free copy go to https://www.ananda.org/free-
No one really knows how many millions have read this modern scripture but we know it has changed the lives of many thousands. I am one of those people! There’s an expression I hear every week that goes like this: “Truth is one and eternal.” "Eternal" also means timely, as well as timeless. Timeless truths are as fresh and applicable today as thousands of years ago .... or thousands of years to come.
2016 is probably the strangest election campaign for president that America has experienced in, well, who knows how many decades, perhaps well over a century. Crass, insulting, a blatant disregard of truth and facts….the list of bottom-feeding characteristics goes on and on. A sad state of affairs that, to those of us who seek to find the cup of life half-full, gives rise to the hope that the sorry experience will be a wake-up call to the majority of Americans who are of goodwill, compassion, high ideals and wisdom.
Paramhansa Yogananda, author of the “A.Y.” (as the “Autobiography” is often and lovingly referred to), came to America to live in 1920. As a person of color, he experienced prejudice and discrimination. But ever ebullient, upbeat, energetic, and accepting of all, he won friends wherever he went. He predicted that the time was coming when America and India would “lead the world.” By this he meant that America and India would come to symbolize and epitomize the twin ideals of material efficiency and nonsectarian spirituality. He said that meditation would someday become the unifying practice and ideal of all religions, regardless of dogma, ritual and tradition.
Yogananda came to see that just as science has taught us to experiment and to achieve useful results, so too those of high ideals and spiritual goals would seek to experiment and find practical ways to achieve states of spiritual consciousness rather than just theorize about them, embrace mere belief, or practice only rituals or good deeds. Direct, intuitive experience of God or one the divine states such as peace, love, or joy would someday, he predicted, become the goal of religionists in the future.
The 2016 presidential campaign starkly symbolizes the contrast between “materialism” (as a false "religion") and “consciousness” (as the essence of reality). Materialism pretends to be practical in its “earthiness.” It upholds for its devotees the "supreme" value of possessions, prestige, wealth, pleasure and superiority. It disdains those it deems inferior whether in intelligence, status, race or gender. Donald Trump, a proponent of this false religion, is more in tune with the likes of Vladimir Putin than with Pope Francis or Mother Teresa, what to say, Paramhansa Yogananda! Trump symbolizes a corollary version of ISIS: dogmatic, racist, disdainful of higher values, rude, and generally ignorant of more refined values.
"Consciousness" values intention, the golden rule, and divine states of transcendence. It is expressed by kindness, cooperation, and moderation; by sensitivity to the realities of others, as well as fearlessness in the defense of the defenseless and righteousness in the struggle for justice.
We see in the teachings of India, as demonstrated in India’s classic and epic tale, the “Mahabharata,” and in that chapter of the Mahabharata that constitutes India’s most beloved scripture, the Bhagavad Gita, the very same struggle, indeed a war, between higher values and materialistic (ego-affirming) ones. The message of Lord Krishna in that great scripture is a call to “arms.” We must, he teaches, fight the “battle of life.” We must raise our consciousness above the petty demands of the ego with its countless cousins in the form of myriad personal desires.
The history of America, too, contrasts grasping for natural and human resources in pursuit of power and wealth versus the high ideals of freedom and justice upon which our nation was founded.
This election will soon be a faded and jaded memory but the struggle between light and dark continues. The “A.Y.” however will stand tall and long in the history of the centuries to come as a beacon of light from the east. Praising the practicality of the West while teaching the scientific methods of God realization from the East, Paramhansa Yogananda symbolizes the best of east and west in what humanity must aspire to become if we are to survive our long history of tribalism, genocide, warfare, and prejudice.
In his life story, Yogananda visits both saints of east and west, and, scientists of east and west. He renders unto each of them the honor and respect for their accomplishments and for the example each offers of how to live nobly and productively in the modern world.
The “A.Y.” offers to humanity hope for a better world even as it paints its charming stories in colors drawn from the waning years of what is now, for us, a bygone era. Yogananda and those whose lives he upholds for us are as ambassadors from a gentler and nobler race. These men and women of science and of Spirit model for us a lifestyle and values, which, while timeless, are urgently timely for the survival, prosperity, and happiness of humanity in the ages to come.
To participate in the celebration of the “A.Y.’s” 70th anniversary visit https://www.ananda.org/free-
Joy to you,