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The wisdom of Paramahansa Yogananda

Bill Fox

Bill Fox

By Bill Fox/Columnist

Last column I mentioned how I had discovered a spiritual writer who had influenced several people of influence, Paramahansa Yogananda.

His book, “Autobiography of a Yogi” has sold several million copies and has been translated into 45 languages. In 1999, it was designated one of the “100 Most Important Spiritual Books of the 20th Century.”

Steve Jobs arranged for Yogananda’s autobiography to be given to all 500 guests at his memorial.

The Autobiography has been an inspiration for many people including George Harrison, Ravi Shankar and Jobs.

In the book Steve Jobs: A Biography the author writes that Jobs first read the Autobiography as a teenager. He re-read it in India and later while preparing for a trip, he downloaded it onto his iPad and then re-read it once a year up until his death.

It’s virtually impossible for me to relate to you how wise I have found this Indian mystic, but let me share some of his wisdom I am in the midst of discovering and ask you to keep an open mind:

– Life is a battle. Men are fighting their inward enemies of greed and ignorance. Many are wounded with bullets of desires.

– A saint is a sinner who never gave up.

– The Lord has arranged for us this visit to the earth, but most of us become undesirable guests by considering certain things here as our very own. Forgetting the temporary nature of our stay, we form various attachments: my home, my work, my money, and my family. When our Earth-visa expires we are forced to leave behind us all we had thought we possessed.

– Truth is never afraid of questions.

– Why be upset because God hasn’t shown himself to you? Think of the long time you ignored him.

– We are looking at God in one another.

– Evildoers hate the truth and worldly people are satisfied with the ups and downs of life. Neither want to change… They may be compared to a man who has lived for many years in a dark room. Someone comes and switches on the light. To the half-blind man the sudden brilliance seems unnatural.

– Saints play whatever role God wills, whether or not it conforms to public opinion.

– Religious rites may help man to think of God his infinite Creator. But if there is too much ritual everyone forgets what it is all about.

– In answering a student’s question about what is God, Yogananda replied, “A Christian sees Christ, a Hindu beholds Krishna or the Divine mother and so on… how can I convey to you in words the nature of God? He is ineffable, indescribable. Only in deep meditation shall you know His unique essence.”

– The rains of God’s mercy cannot gather on mountain tops of pride, but flow easily into valleys of humbleness.

– The Lord is not distant, but near. I see Him everywhere.

– Mankind has only one real enemy – ignorance. Let us all work together for its destruction, helping and cheering one another along the way.
– A suggested prayer to a student who had prayed for a particular need – “Heavenly Father, I know that you anticipate my every need. Sustain me according to Your Will.”…If a man is eager to own a car, for instance and prays for it with sufficient intensity, he will receive it. But possession of a car may not be the best thing for him. Sometimes the Lord denies our little prayers because He intends to bestow on us a better gift.”

– The modern man has little control over his senses, impulses, moods, and desires. He is quickly influenced by his environment. He can be overburdened with worldly duties. He usually forgets to say even a tiny prayer to God.

– A real leader is one who first learned obedience to others, who feels himself to be the servant of all, and who never puts himself on a pedestal. Those who want flattery don’t deserve our admiration.

I’m at praying your comments will not be too negative.