On Criticism, A Guest Post from Brother Bhaktananda

To Criticize Someone Is

AWAKE: The Life of Yogananda, a Guest Post About the New Film

I am very happy to post this information about a new film that details the life of Paramahansa Yogananda. I cannot wait to see it myself, for it was the writings of the Swami from India that opened my heart to Jesus Christ. Just as Christ did, Paramahansa Yogananda embodied divine love on Earth.

AWAKE_POSTER_11x17_GOLD-rgbA_18JUL14-smallOn January 5, 2015, tens of thousands of yogis and spiritual seekers around the world will commemorate the anniversary of Paramahansa Yogananda’s birth. Yogananda (author of the acclaimed spiritual book Autobiography of a Yogi) has been hailed as the “Father of Yoga in the West” for his pioneering role in making known India’s ancient philosophy of Yoga and its time-honored tradition of meditation.

Just as Yogananda (1893-1952) filled lecture halls to capacity across the country in the 1920s and 1930s to teach the techniques and benefits of yoga meditation, the film about his extraordinary life, AWAKE: The Life of Yogananda, is drawing thousands of filmgoers to theatres around the country today.

The award-winning film, AWAKE: The Life of Yogananda, which debuted in October 2014, details the human struggles the Swami from India faced as he traveled across the U.S. during a time of religious intolerance and racism, as well as the profound impact that his teachings still have today. He made an indelible impression on the spiritual landscape of the United States by encouraging people to seek a more personal relationship with God through meditation, a radical idea in the early 20th century. The film’s success continues to grow as spiritual seekers, yogis, and film fans alike flock to theatres across North America.

With so many seekers focused on this beloved spiritual figure’s yoga teachings as a result of the film (which has screened or is scheduled to screen in more than 85 theaters in the U.S. and Canada), the following excerpt  taken from his published writings is especially relevant as we enter the New Year:

“If you want to be loved, start loving others who need your love….If you want others to sympathize with you, start showing sympathy to those around you. If you want to be respected, you must learn to be respectful to everyone, both young and old….Whatever you want others to be, first be that yourself; then you will find others responding in like manner to you.” – Paramahansa Yogananda

The Second Coming of ChristAnother timely work is Paramahansa Yogananda’s unprecedented masterwork of inspiration, The Second Coming of Christ, which takes the reader on a profoundly enriching journey through the four Christian Gospels. Verse by verse, he illumines the universal path to oneness with God taught by Jesus to his immediate disciples but obscured through centuries of misinterpretation: how to become like Christ, how to resurrect the Eternal Christ within one’s self.

This landmark work transcends divisive sectarianism to reveal a unifying harmony underlying all true religions. A groundbreaking synthesis of East and West, it imparts the life-transforming realization that each of us can experience for ourselves the promised Second Coming — awakening of the all-fulfilling Divine Consciousness latent within our souls.

Yogananda said, “In titling this work The Second Coming of Christ, I am not referring to a literal return of Jesus to earth. He came two thousand years ago and, after imparting a universal path to God’s kingdom, was crucified and resurrected; his reappearance to the masses now is not necessary for the fulfillment of his teachings. What is necessary is for the cosmic wisdom and divine perception of Jesus to speak again through each one’s own experience and understanding of the infinite Christ Consciousness that was incarnate in Jesus. That will be his true Second Coming.”

For more information about the movie, click on www.awaketheyoganandamovie.com. To learn more about Paramahansa Yogananda and the organization he established, the Self Realization Fellowship, go to http://www.yogananda-srf.org.

Why Does Evil Exist? A Guest Post from Paramahansa Yogananda

The problem of evil in human lives has always perplexed me. Paramahansa Yogananda writes extensively on, “The Role of Satan in God’s Creation.” I will periodically post more of his East/West teachings here. Quoted from: The Second Coming of Christ: The Resurrection of the Christ Within You, By Paramahansa Yogananda

“An ideal existence is not impossible, but it is for a different time and realm reserved for those who have graduated from the learning assignments of earth life. For the ordinary man in his present stage of evolution, a life without difficulties would be of little value. No lessons of growth would be learned, no transformations of inflexible natures into Godly consciousness, no compelling incentives to seek and know one’s Maker.”

“What Have You to Fear?” a Guest Post from Paramahansa Yogananda

From the Self-Realization Fellowship:

Paramahansa Yogananda  in 1924

Paramahansa Yogananda in 1924

“Enter the portals of the New Year with new hope. Remember that you are a child of God. It lies with you as to what you are going to be. Be proud that you are a child of God. What have you to fear? No matter what comes, believe it is the Lord who is sending that to you; and you must succeed in conquering those daily challenges. Therein lies your victory. Do His will; nothing can hurt you then. He loves you everlastingly. Think that. Believe that. Know that. And suddenly one day you will find you are immortally alive in God.Meditate more and believe in the strong consciousness that God is always with you regardless of what happens. Then you will see that the veil of delusion will be taken away and you will be one with That which is God. That is how I found my greatest happiness in life.”

From a New Year’s letter by Sri Mrinalini Mata, in which she quotes the great master, Paramahansa Yogananda, on New Year’s Eve in 1934.

Place for Him the Gift of Your Heart, A Guest Post from Paramahansa Yogananda

Paramahansa Yogananda in 1924

Paramahansa Yogananda in 1924

“Make your heart an altar of Christ-love — which lives in all races and loves them equally — so that you may love all people, seeing in their body-temples the dwelling place of omnipresent Christ… Exchange gifts as offerings to the Christ in all; and on the Christmas tree of your calm consciousness, richly decorated and glistening with divine soul qualities, place for him the gift of your heart.”– From The Second Coming of Christ: The Resurrection of the Christ Within You by Paramahansa Yogananda (Self-Realization Fellowship, Los Angeles, CA. All rights reserved).

Paramahansa Yogananda, author of the spiritual classic Autobiography of a Yogi and founder of Self-Realization Fellowship, encourages us through his writings and talks to look beyond the material celebration of the holidays, to focus also on the spiritual celebration: our connection with the Divine, which resides within each one of us.

 

Honoring Christ from Our ‘Inner Temples’ A Guest Post from SRF

Paramahansa Yogananda, author of the spiritual classic Autobiography of a Yogi and founder of Self-Realization Fellowship, encourages us through his writings and talks to look beyond the material celebration of the holidays, to focus also on the spiritual celebration: our connection with the Divine, which resides within each one of us.

The following quote by one of Paramahansa Yogananda’s foremost disciples, Sri Daya Mata, president and sanghamata of SRF from 1955 until her passing in 2010, is shared here with permission from SRF.

“Doesn’t almost everyone feel aglow with happiness at Christmas time? There is a deep spiritual reason. It isn’t just the pleasure of exchanging gifts and loving messages, and doing for others. [Paramahansa Yogananda] said that on the birthdays of great ones such as Jesus, there is tremendous rejoicing in heaven. Vibrations of that celestial joy permeate the atmosphere. Those who have open and loving hearts are stirred by it, and those who strive for deeper attunement through devotion and meditation fully participate in that sublime celebration. The degree to which we are in tune with heaven’s joyous recognition of Jesus’ birth depends upon the effort we make to commune with Christ — not just in the outward spiritual festivities in his honor, but in the inner temple of deep meditation.”

– Sri Daya Mata (fromSelf-Realization Magazine, Winter 2006; Self-Realization Fellowship, Los Angeles, CA. All rights reserved).

Enter the Portals of the New Year with New Hope, A Guest Post from Paramahansa Yogananda

By Paramahansa Yogananda

This is my message to you for the New Year:

Your cup of life within and without is filled with the Divine Presence, but because of the lack of attention you do not perceive God’s immanence. When you are in tune, as one tunes in a radio, then you receive Spirit. It is as if you take a bottle of sea water, cork it, and put it in the ocean; although the bottle floats in the waters, its contents do not mix with its oceanic surroundings. But open the bottle, and the water inside merges with the sea. We must remove the cork of ignorance before we can come in contact with Spirit.

* * *

Infinity is our Home. We are just sojourning awhile in the caravanserai of the body. Those who are drunk with delusion have forgotten how to follow the trail that leads to God. But when in meditation the Divine gets hold of the prodigal child, there is no dallying anymore.

Enter the portals of the New Year with new hope. Remember you are a child of God. It lies with you as to what you are going to be. Be proud that you are a child of God. What have you to fear? No matter what comes, believe it is the Lord who is sending that to you; and you must succeed in conquering those daily challenges. Therein lies your victory. Do His will; nothing can hurt you then. He loves you everlastingly. Think that. Believe that. Know that. And suddenly one day you will find you are immortally alive in God.

Meditate more and believe in that strong consciousness that God is always with you regardless of what happens. Then you will see that the veil of delusion will be taken away and you will be one with That which is God. That is how I found my greatest happiness in life. I am not looking for anything now because I have everything in Him. Never would I part with That which is the richest of all possessions.

The excerpts above are from a talk given by Paramahansa Yogananda at the International Headquarters of the society he founded, Self-Realization Fellowship, on New Year’s Eve, 1934. The entire talk is published in Journey to Self-realization, Volume III of Paramahansa Yogananda’s Collected Talks and Essays. (Self-Realization Fellowship, copyright©1997, Los Angeles; reprinted with permission.) For more information about the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda, visit http://www.yogananda-srf.org.

Change Bad Habits with Determination, A Guest Post from Paramahansa Yogananda

By Paramahansa YoganandaThe following excerpts are from a talk given by Paramahansa Yogananda at the International Headquarters of the society he founded, Self-Realization Fellowship, on New Year’s Eve, 1934. The entire talk is published in Journey to Self-realization, Volume III of Paramahansa Yogananda’s Collected Talks and Essays. (Self-Realization Fellowship, copyright©1997, Los Angeles; reprinted with permission.) For more information about the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda, visit www.yogananda-srf.org.

Bad habits are the worst enemies you can have. You are punished by those habits. They make you do things you do not want to do, and leave you to suffer the consequences. You must drop bad habits and leave them behind you as you move forward. Every day should be a transition from old habits to better habits. In this coming year make a solemn resolution to keep only those habits that are for your highest good.

The best way to get rid of your undesirable tendencies is not to think about them; do not acknowledge them. Never concede that a habit has a hold on you….You must develop “won’t” habits. And stay away from those things that stimulate bad habits.

* * *

Do not limit yourself with the narrowness of selfishness. Include others in your achievements and happiness, then you are doing the will of God. Whenever you think of yourself, think also of others. When you think of seeking peace, think of others who are in need of peace. If you do your utmost to make others happy, you will find that you are pleasing the Father.

To live in harmony, to live with strong will power to do the will of Him who sent you, is all you should be interested in. Never lose courage, and always be smiling. Have the smile of the heart and the smile of the face completely in harmony. If your body, mind, and soul register the smile of the inner consciousness of God, you can scatter smiles about you wherever you go.

* * *

Be always with people who inspire you; surround yourself with people who lift you up. Do not let your resolutions and positive thinking be poisoned by bad company. Even if you cannot find good company to inspire you, you can find it in meditation. The best company you can have is the joy of meditation.

Make New Determinations: Be What You Want to Be! A Guest Post from Paramahansa Yogananda

Note: The inspiring guru from India, Paramahansa Yogananda, who lived from 1893 to 1952, and who established the Self-Realization Fellowship in Los Angeles in 1920, lived to share the ancient teachings of yoga with Westerners and promote understanding between people of differing religions. (An image of Jesus Christ appears with P.Y.’s line of gurus at all SRF centers.) 

by Paramahansa Yogananda

The following excerpts are from a talk given by Paramahansa Yogananda at the International Headquarters of the society he founded, Self-Realization Fellowship, on New Year’s Eve, 1934. The entire talk is published in Journey to Self- realization, Volume III of Paramahansa Yogananda’s Collected Talks and Essays. (Self-Realization Fellowship, copyright©1997, Los Angeles; reprinted with permission.)

Make new determinations as to what you are going to do and what you are going to be in this next year. Set a program for yourself; carry it through, and you will find how much happier you will be. Failure to keep to your schedule of improvement means you have paralyzed your will. You have no greater friend and no greater enemy than yourself. If you befriend yourself, you will find accomplishment. There is no law of God preventing you from being what you want to be and accomplishing what you want to accomplish. Nothing detrimental that happens can affect you unless you sanction it.

* * *

Let nothing weaken your conviction that you can be whatever you want to be. There is no one obstructing you unless it be yourself. Though my master Swami Sri Yukteswarji again and again told me that, it was hard to believe it at first. But as I used the God-given gift of will power in my life, I found it to be my savior. Not to use the will is to be inert like a stone, an inanimate object—an ineffectual human being.

* * *

Constructive thought will absolutely, like a great hidden searchlight, show you the pathway to success. There is always a way to be found if you think hard enough. People who give up after a little while bedim their power of thought. In order to gain your end, you must do your utmost to use thought until it is luminous enough to reveal to you the way to your goal.

Cast away all negative thoughts and fears. Remember that as a child of God you are endowed with the same potentialities as the most excellent among men. As souls, none is greater than another. Attune your will to be guided by the wisdom of God as expressed in the wisdom of the sages. If your will is yoked to wisdom, you can achieve anything.

Be Inspired All Year

I envy nature photographers—their eye for beauty and that their job is taking gorgeous pictures. My mom gifts me a wall calendar every year that is filled with breathtaking photos from nature and inspirational quotes from the Bible. Every time I look at it, it is a gift from the hearts of the manufacturer and my mom.

I think the most beautiful American calendar, though, is the one published every year by the Self-Realization Fellowship, which was founded by Paramahansa Yogananda soon after he came to America in 1920 (to share his timeless teachings on India’s ancient practices: the philosophy of Yoga and its tradition of meditation. He blended teachings of the East with the teachings of Jesus Christ from the New Testament, to demonstrate that God’s Love is the basis of everyone and everything.)

The SRF’s annual calendar is a desktop version; each page is seven inches by nine inches, with the date-pages divided into seven days. Each week’s page is paired with a beautiful photograph from nature and sayings from the writings of Paramahansa Yogananda. The quotation for the cover picture (shown above) is:

“The scenery of mountains painted on the ever-changing azure canvas of the sky, the mysterious mechanism of the human body, the rose, the green grass carpet, the magnanimity of souls, the loftiness of minds, the depth of Love—all these things remind us of a God who is beautiful and noble.” ~P.Y.

Another saying paired with a scene of wildflowers in California is:

“Underlying all life is the silent voice of God, ever calling to us through flowers, through scriptures, and through our conscience—through all things that are beautiful and that make life worth living.” ~P.Y.

There is something special about this calendar. As I write appointments or notes on the pages next to striking photographs and the wisdom of P.Y., things seem quieter, deeper, more real—as though touching the pages somehow links me with universal peace. I can’t think of a better gift to give to ourselves or those we love—something for the soul, for hope, for encouragement in these difficult times.

Even though he crossed to the other side in 1952, Paramahansa Yogananda still changes lives with his endearing book, AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A YOGI, and with the INNER REFLECTIONS calendar. The calendar costs $13.95 (a true bargain) and can be purchased at bookstores, and from the Self-Realization Fellowship at (323) 225-2471 or at the link above.

An Explanation For Why We Humans Suffer, from “Autobiography of a Yogi”

I am reading a worldwide bestselling book, Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramahansa Yogananda, the beloved guru who came to America in the 1930s to establish the Self Realization Fellowship (as in the Realization that we are made of light); and to show that the universal threads of the teachings of the great masters of the Eastern world are one with the non-manipulated teachings of the extraordinary master of the Western world, Jesus Christ.I first read the book when I was 23. I was astonished, on the one hand, by the stories of the Indian swamis, saints and gurus who, among other things, appeared in two places at one time, levitated, and manifested objects from ‘thin air;’ on the other hand, I was struck by the rigorous discipline and profound devotion to God that was prevalent in India. (Attendance at our American weekend church services is mere fellowship in comparison.) Reading the book again in later years I thought, “Is there any human who loves God more than Paramahansa Yogananda?”

I have long struggled with accepting that all the suffering in the world is an aspect of God’s teaching plan; and with the idea that Mother Nature (who, at the very least, provides us all with our sustenance) is an illusion. Every time I stand in awe of a sunset, make friends with a critter, or hug a tree, I am blessed. I want to share a passage from the book here because it is the best explanation of what is real and what is not that I’ve ever seen: Continue reading

Meditation For Christmas Morn

It is a blessing to publish here a Christmas meditation from the enlightened spiritual leader, Paramahansa Yogananda, who was sent from India to America by his guru to share stories about our Loving Creator and the oneness of all spiritual consciousness. 

By Paramahansa Yogananda

The following excerpt is from Metaphysical Meditations by Paramahansa Yogananda. Self-Realization Fellowship, Los Angeles. Reprinted with permission.

Paramahansa Yogananda in 1924, Photo Courtesy of Self Realization Fellowship, Los Angeles

Celebrate the birth of Christ in the cradle of your consciousness during the Christmas season. Let His vast perception in Nature, in space, and in universal love be felt within your heart.

Break the limitations of caste, color, race, religious prejudice, and inharmony, that the cradle of your heart be big enough to hold within you the Christ-love for all creation.

On every Christmas morn of your inner perception, prepare precious packages of divine qualities and deliver them to the beloved souls who gather around the Christmas tree of inner awakening to commemorate His birth in understanding, truth, and bliss.

Celebrating the birth of omniscient, omnipresent Christ Consciousness on the joyous Christmas festivity of your inner awakening, you will find the unbroken happiness of your dreams.

Let the omniscient Christ Consciousness come to earth a second time and be born in you, even as it was manifested in the consciousness of Jesus.