Ananda Sangha – Spreading the Light of Yoga Through the Teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda. As Told by Swami Kriyananda
My clearest early memories all relate to a special kind of happiness, one that seemed to have little to do with the things around me, that at best was only reflected in them. A lingering impression is one of wonder to be in this world at all. What was I doing here?
Intuitively I felt that there must be some higher reality—another world, much more radiant, beautiful and harmonious, than this earthly plane represented.
Beautiful sounds and colors thrilled me almost to ecstasy. Sometimes I would cover a table down to the floor with a colorful Indian blanket, then crawl inside and fairly drink in the luminous colors.
At other times, gazing into the prism formed by the broad edge of a mirror on my mother’s dressing table, I would imagine myself living in a world of rainbow-colored lights.
Often also, at night before I fall asleep, I would see myself absorbed in a radiant inner light, and my consciousness would expand beyond the limits of my body.
At that time I thought that this was the norm and everyone went to sleep this way.
Later I learned that this was very rare. If not viewed as weird by most.
Gradually I lost that precious gift. Regaining it again much later in my meditations when I was in my twenties, after my kriya yoga initiation from my beloved Guruji – Paramhansa Yogananda. It was then when I realized that since then, no time has passed.
But more f that later…
As I grew older, my inner joy spilled over into an intense enthusiasm for life.
Living in Charleston – North Carolina at that time, I was moderately happy, except for the fact that I had a nagging thought that bothered me constantly: Is there no meaning to it all? Is life nothing but a process of boredom and monotony? Surely there must be some higher purpose—hidden, perhaps, but beautiful and Divine.
One question returned to me constantly with increasing urgency: But, what is God?
If God existed he mustn’t be just a grumpy judge in the clouds…
God has to be, I thought, if nothing else, a conscious Being. I had read somewhere that He is a dynamic force of happiness. Well, He had to be that, too, of course.
Pursuing these thoughts, I found myself concluding, that what I wanted, what all mankind really needs therefore is God.
God Himself must be conscious, I was thinking, and, having created everything, must also have produced it out of consciousness. Therefore He is consciousness: Essential Consciousness.
One might, I reflected, devote his entire life to this truth, and never grow tired. What a thrilling prospect! This, then, would be my calling in life: I would seek God!
On my return home one night I found my friends seated, chatting, in the kitchen. I joined them, for a cup of coffee. My thoughts, however, were far away from that gathering.
So overwhelmed was I by my new insights that I could hardly speak.
“Look at Don! They cried. What’s he got to be so solemn about?” When they found that I wouldn’t, participate in their cheer, the laughter turned to teasing.
“Don keeps trying to solve the riddle of the universe! Yuk! Yuk! Yuk!”
“Ah, sweet mystery of life!” wailed another.
“Why, can’t you see?” turned to me the fourth, “It’s all so simple! There’s no riddle to be solved! Just get drunk when you like, have fun, shack up with a girl whenever you can, and forget all this craziness!”
“Yeah,” echoed the first, heavily. “Forget it.”
To my present state of mind, my roommates sounded like yapping puppies. Of what use to me are such friends? Without sauying a single word to them, I stood up and left the room.
A few days later I was discussing spirituality with an acquaintance. “If you want spiritual teachings,” he mentioned suddenly, “you’ll find all your answers in the Bhagavad Gita.”
“What’s that?” Somehow I found this exotic name deeply appealing, and also, in some unaccountable way, familiar.
It’s a Hindu scripture. He said. Hindu? And what was that? I knew nothing of the Indian teachings.
This name, however, the Bhagavad Gita, lingered with me profoundly.
Ii started researching and one day, I came upon excerpts from the Hindu teachings— a few pages only, but what a revelation! Here the emphasis was on cosmic realities. God was described as an Infinite Consciousness; man, as a manifestation of that consciousness.
Wow, this was the very concept I myself had worked out during my long thoughts previously in Charlestown!
Man’s highest duty, I read, is to attune himself with the divine consciousness: Again, this was what I, too, had worked out!
Man’s ultimate goal is—I found the thought echoed back to me— to experience that divine reality as his true Self.
But, how scientific! What infinite promise!
Here, I found also explanations, presented with crystal clarity and logic. Best of all, I found the counsel I had been seeking: not only on how to live a spiritual life generally, but, more specifically, on how to seek God.
I Was Astounded!
This was exactly what I’d been seeking! I felt like a beggar who has just been given a mountain full of jewels, gold and gems.
Here are some excerpts from the Bhagavad Gita;