Finding the Yogic Life

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yoganandaTo paraphrase a famous cliché, when the seeker is ready, his path to truth appears.

For me, that path took a while to come into view. I had explored a number of others, in particular the wisdom and ways of Buddhism, Taoism, shamanic mysticism, and the spiritual insights revealed in quantum physics. But I was unfamiliar with yoga philosophy, the practice of meditation, or the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda.

At the age of 53, I agreed to accompany my wife to a meditation class at Ananda Seattle. I did not anticipate a life-changing experience, nor did it suddenly unfold. But to my surprise, I was drawn to the full spectrum of what was being offered: a new way of life – a yogi’s life – based on the principles and precepts that Yogananda brought from India to the West.

In his seminal book, Autobiography of a Yogi, Yogananda opened my mind and heart to the purpose, power and grandeur of what my life could be.

Prior to finding Ananda and the autobiography, I would have been considered a successful and happy person. According to modern society, that is. But there was a deeper yearning inside me. Once I read that book and began to meditate, I knew I had found a loving, living guide to the truths I had been seeking.

Autobiography of a Yogi includes miraculous events and encounters that disclose to us what lies within our own untapped capabilities. It sets forth the means for us to cultivate and refine them. Just as Yogananda himself was borne to the blissful summit of self-realization by his guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar, so are we shown the promise that awaits us, too, in allowing such a master to lead us to our soul’s liberation.

My wife and I chose to live as Yogananda envisioned: in spiritual community. In service to Ananda together for 20 years, we made our home in four of Ananda colonies: in Seattle, Wash.; Palo Alto, Calif.; Pune, India; and Laurelwood, Ore.). We were ordained as Lightbearers in 2007 and as Nayaswamis in 2009. I am currently the manager of Ananda’s Portland temple and teaching center.

Living and working in community with spiritually supportive people has done wonders for me, especially in this past year when my wife became ill and passed away. Her transition was greatly eased by the love and assistance we received from devotees around the world, enabling me, even in this time of difficult loss, to experience an expansion of spirit and a deepening of inner peace. Were it not for the power and inspiration of Yogananda’s teachings, grief could have overwhelmed me.

As I have turned increasingly inward, my happiness has become more readily accessible too. My understanding of success has a far more enlightened perspective as well. I no longer view it as dependent on outward circumstances or pursuits. I have found the source of true success beckoning to me from within, from the center of my own being.

I could not be more grateful to Yogananda and his Autobiography of a Yogi. He has shown me how to live in joy. This life is available to you also.

This December 1st will mark the 70th anniversary of the original publishing of the Autobiography of a Yogi. That evening 7-8:30pm, Ananda Portland will host a celebration at the New Renaissance Bookshop. Join Nayaswamis Daiva and Gangamata to see the world premiere of The Spark, a documentary short film revealing how Yogananda and his Autobiography of a Yogi ignited a spiritual revolution in the West. I’m thrilled to give you a gift through Ananda:  a free audiobook or e-book of the original autobiography.  If you have already been touched by the autobiography, you’re invited to share your story of awakening in video or writing.

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Nayaswami Surendra Conti can be reached at Ananda Portland temple and teaching center, surendra@anandaportland.org

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