The Autobiography of a Yogi has been read by millions of people all over the world since its publication in 1946. A common feeling after having read it, is “What next?” An invitation to take courses or lessons is offered but somehow, for those who take that step, there’s too large a gap between the inspiration of the former and the hard work of the latter.
This common experience is like watching a good movie: you’re on the edge of your seat at some points; crying with sadness, another; laughing here and there, and, finally, by the end, you feel good and are glad you watched. Maybe you spend a few minutes afterward or later thinking about the movie, BUT, you go home and life returns to normal. No real change in your life has occurred beyond momentary inspiration, a little bit of serious thought, and the pleasure of passing entertainment.
We received on the website the question below from a student in college that expresses the concern that nothing lasting will come of his experience in reading the “A.Y.” Here’s what he says:
“I am and student and I started reading this book a few weeks ago and as of now, I am on chapter 4. I want to know that what kind of knowledge and wisdom will I get after reading the whole book? This book’s knowledge is respected by the people around the globe but still I am not able to figure out what sort of knowledge and wisdom I'll get apart from kriya yoga and experiencing inner self?”
You are asking practical questions related to your goal of education. Well done!
Many years ago when I first met Swami Kriyananda (a direct disciple of Yogananda and the founder of Ananda worldwide), I heard him say in a public talk that "Faith is the most practical thing of all." This seemed contradictory to me at first. Later he would sometimes add "Action is clarifying." The value of taking action on the inspiration one receives cannot be understated. Ideas are of the mind but it is the heart that can motivate us to act and make real our inspirations.
At the time, I was "fresh" from college (a euphemism, merely, I was happy to be done with college) and very much in the mindset that you express: fascinated with ideas but unsure of what to do. And yet, it is good to ask questions like this.
First of all, rest assured that the Autobiography of a Yogi is saturated with knowledge both of this world and of the subtler worlds. It is a distillation of India's ancient knowledge and is drawn from direct, personal perception and not just book-learning. It is saturated, also, with "how-to-live" wisdom and expresses faith in the unseen truths that operate this world invisibly, subtly but inexorably. In short, it has changed the lives of millions of people.
Often, the change is a delayed reaction. For many, the "AY" plants seeds of faith. These seeds may sprout later in life when the person is ready to water these seeds so that they blossom into flowers of wisdom and yield the fruit of Self-realization. At the same time, how often have I heard students of meditation express regret that they didn't act on the inspiration they first had at the time, decades earlier, they had read the "AY."
However, your question is wise because what you are seeking cannot be found in a book; it cannot be found outside yourself; it cannot be found without diligent effort. Like a miner deep underground digging for gold buried in the dark rocks of the subconscious mind, you will have to earn it for yourself. The "AY" shows what is possible if you make the right effort. It will not make the effort for you!
Wisdom is not of the mind; it is of the heart. Wisdom is not in the skies but lies buried deep in the earth of your Being.
So, you are right to question but right also to keep on reading. Just as your studies will benefit the rest of your years on earth, so too will the "AY" if you receive it in your heart.
May the Light of Wisdom shine before you,
Seattle WA USA