I bought the book, and slowly read it contemplatively for months. The spiritual teachings and ancient yogic notions in the book were backed by the latest physics and nueroscience of his time. He was a spiritual genius. The words he wrote were radical, yet innately sensical notions. Yogananda's message is responsible for igniting the modern yoga movement and effecting millions of westerners since his first visit to America almost 100 years ago.
These memories of Paramahansa Yogananda and his cosmically meditative messages were shaken up in me when I had the opportunity to watch the recently released documentary, Awake: The Life of Yogananda. If you're in New York or California you're in luck! The screenings have been widely extended to November 6, 2014. Here are some of the cinemas where you can catch the screening of Awake for at least one more week.
During Yogananda's 1936 visit to India after fifteen years in America, his guru, Sri Yukteswar, passed away. This appeared to be a difficult time for Yogananda because from that moment forward he would often enter into a state of Samadhi (the Sanskrit word which defines the ultimate state of consciousness that unites individual and Cosmic consciousness). Yogananda would tell his students to chant "OM" into his right ear whenever they needed him. When they did that, he would abruptly return into his body and interact with his students. Otherwise, Yogananda would remain in this transhuman state of consciousness for endless periods of time.
In the documentary, there are video clips of an eerie, glassy-eyed Yogananda contemplatively looking into the infinite. Eventually, there came a point in time where Yogananda began to write profusely. He was slipping in and out of states of Samadhi when he produced his groundbreaking books, Autobiography of a Yogi, The Yoga of the Bhagavad Gita, and The Yoga of Jesus. The written works of Yogananda are cosmic in nature, because they do not come from an ordinary state of consciousness, but from the timeless realms of a yogi in Samadhi.
"Mahasamadhi: The last meditation, or conscious communion with God, during which a perfected master merges himself in the cosmic Aum (Om) and casts off the physical body. A master invariably knows beforehand the time God has appointed for him to leave his bodily residence."
Steve Jobs had one book in his iPad, "The Autobiography of a Yogi." In fact, the one and only gift that he left for his friends and family at his Stanford memorial service was a copy of Yogananda's book, "The Autobiography of a Yogi." Below is a poem Yogananda featured in his autobiography, entitled "Samadhi." Yogananda urged his students to memorize his poem, and with good reason—It's a linguistic doorway to the ultimate experience, and once you're there, you're here.
Vanished the veils of light and shade,
Lifted every vapor of sorrow,
Sailed away all dawns of fleeting joy,
Gone the dim sensory mirage.
Love, hate, health) disease, life, death,
Perished these false shadows on the screen of duality.
Waves of laughter, scyllas of sarcasm, melancholic whirlpools,
Melting in the vast sea of bliss.
The storm of maya stilled
By magic wand of intuition deep.
The universe, forgotten dream, subconsciously lurks,
Ready to invade my newly wakened memory divine.
I live without the cosmic shadow,
But it is not, bereft of me;
As the sea exists without the waves,
But they breathe not without the sea.
Dreams, wakings, states of deep turiya sleep,
Present, past, future, no more for me,
But ever-present, all-flowing I, I, everywhere.
Planets, stars, stardust, earth,
Volcanic bursts of doomsday cataclysms,
Creation’s molding furnace,
Glaciers of silent x-rays, burning electron floods,
Thoughts of all men, past, present, to come,
Every blade of grass, myself, mankind,
Each particle of universal dust,
Anger, greed, good, bad, salvation, lust,
I swallowed, transmuted all
Into a vast ocean of blood of my own one Being!
Smoldering joy, oft-puffed by meditation
Blinding my tearful eyes,
Burst into immortal flames of bliss,
Consumed my tears, my frame, my all.
Thou art I, I am Thou,
Knowing, Knower, Known, as One!
Tranquilled, unbroken thrill, eternally living, ever new peace!
Enjoyable beyond imagination of expectancy, samadhi bliss!
Not a mental chloroform
Or unconscious state without wilful return,
Samadhi but extends my conscious realm
Beyond the limits of the mortal frame
To farthest boundary of eternity
Where I, the Cosmic Sea,
Watch the little ego floating in me.
The sparrow, each grain of sand, fall not without my sight.
All space like an iceberg floats within my mental sea.
Colossal Container, I, of all things made.
By deeper, longer, thirsty, guru-given meditation
Comes this celestial samadhi
Mobile murmurs of atoms are heard,
The dark earth, mountains, vales, lo! molten liquid!
Flowing seas change into vapors of nebulae!
Aum blows upon the vapors, opening wondrously their veils,
Oceans stand revealed, shining electrons,
Till, at last sound of the cosmic drum,
Vanish the grosser lights into eternal rays
Of all-pervading bliss.
From joy I came, for joy I live, in sacred joy I melt.
Ocean of mind, I drink all creation’s waves.
Four veils of solid, liquid, vapor, light,
Myself, in everything, enters the Great Myself.
Gone forever, fitful, flickering shadows of mortal memory.
Spotless is my mental sky, below, ahead, and high above.
Eternity and I, one united ray.
A tiny bubble of laughter, I
Am become the Sea of Mirth Itself.