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on December 10, 2012
This ebook falsely portrays one of the greatest charlatans of the 20th century in a positive light. If you are looking for the truth regarding eastern mysticism you won't find it here. It is such a shame someone who lead so many people to hell
continues to be held in reverence by anyone.

If you are seeking enlightenment seek GOD through prayer and Bible study. Wisdom is a gift of the HOLY SPIRIT. The Bible contains perfect wisdom through the ages. It has answers to ALL life's problems. The Bible is a gift from GOD for our betterment, to impart Divine instruction, correction, reproof and edification. Amazon has a good translation free - the English Standard Version.

JESUS is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one gets to the FATHER except through HIM. Seek HIM!
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on January 9, 2012
At the end of Walter Isaacson's biography Steve Jobs, he asks Steve what he has on his iPad. One book, and one he reads every year according to the book is Autobiography of a Yogi.

I put the audio book on my iPhone and listened on a sunny bike ride. I can remember a tale of the author visiting a guru who was so strong, he could defeat a lion with his bare hands.

Wanting to hear the tale again, I started the book from the beginning creating an image in my mind of each word. I pictured in my mind him telling his sister he will have a boil on his body tomorrow. He does. Then he tells her that kites being flown nearby will fall from the sky - chopped in battle by fellow kite flyers - and fall into his hands. They do.

According to Isaacson's biography, Jobs delayed taking conventional medical action for 9 months, relying on unconventional practices. He's dead.

What is the merit of these tales?
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on October 24, 2005
I have great respect for certain Indian philosophies such as ahimsa, buddhism, and some aspects of Yoga. I practice the asanas of yoga as well, but even so, I feel no compunction in dishing out criticism of hocus pocus associated with these traditions when necessary. And if the industry of peddling Eastern ideas to Americans is a safe haven for new-agey BS, you've just hit upon the mother load.
This book begins with Yogananda claiming that as an infant he felt trapped by his body and wished to transcend. Uh huh, right. That's more unbelievable than Mozart composing concertos at the age of five, and Yoganada is definitely far from being Mozart. He continues to describe his first usage of mysterious Yogi powers, when as a youngling he changed the direction his kite was flying by willing it so. He reminds me much more of a kid I knew in grade school who could change the traffic lights to green just by concentrating hard and long enough.
After failing exam after exam and only barely passing school by an act of god (his claim, not mine), the maturing Yogananda realizes that his future as a pseudoscientist will be much brighter than as someone who actually thinks for a living. The robes are donned, and from then on, it's smoke and mirrors as Yogi becomes a regular Indian Houdini. Following in the footsteps of great pseudoscientists who came before, he draws inspiration from real science, Yoganizing it for his purposes; he claims that biology supports his notion that plants feel pain akin to human pain because--get ready for the dazzling proof--plants minutely recoil when jabbed by needles. Nice demonstration of affirming the consequent: if a life form feels pain, then it will sharply recoil when pricked. Plants sharply recoil when pricked, therefore plants feel pain. QED.
That's fine if Yogananda wants to hallucinate about spectral monks flying through the Himalayas and relate this to us with a wink. I like a tall tale as much as the next guy, but the problem is that he really expects us to accept all of his more than extraordinary claims at face value. Am I missing the bigger picture by nit-picking what's possible and what's not? After all, isn't Indian spirtualism an equally valid alternative to Western thinking? Well no, because we happen to all live on the same planet under the same laws of physics. This book does present a different way of thinking--a WRONG way. It is not a matter of cultural bigotry to say that science, which by chance happens to be have been developed by the Western world, can hold magical claims accountable for lack of evidence. If Yogananda and his non-eating saint buddies are really telling the truth, why can't they go into a laboratory and reproduce the amazing feat of "generating sustenance from the air". I'll tell you why: it's because Miss non-eating Yogi-ette is popping samosas like a madwoman when no one is looking! A photograph of Yoganada standing alone is included in the book, captioned "Yogananda standing with his master, who did not care to be photographed, so he made himself invisible." Wake up people, these guys are sneaky tricksters who desire worship!
Why I finished this book, I can't honestly say. Maybe it was out of respect for my Indian friend who recommended it to me, or maybe it was like listening to Howard Stern when you just have to hear what he's going to say next to top the last thing. The book gets progressively more absurd if you can hang on long enough, but to save you the suspense, I'll cut right to the biggest whopper in the whole book: Yogananda claims that he met this Indian messiah of sorts who is followed around by a bunch of immortal yogi ghosts in a giant palace which appeared out of nowhere some unspecified place in the Himalayas with no (mortal) witnesses present, who told him to go forth and preach the word on his behalf, inculcating the masses with knowledge of his supernatural presence. And if that's not enough, Yogananda claims that this messiah character was heretofore completely unknown to mankind, and that Yogananda was the first *and only* person to have met him. To believe this, you'd have to be a moron, but I guess there are enough of those. Did you know that according to the New York Times, a recent study showed that 1/5 Americans think the sun rotates around the earth? Maybe that's how cranks like Yogi here get so famous. I'll know to be really scared when I see people walking down the street, arms over their heads and index fingers pointed up, searching for fetal reincarnations of their late friends with Yogi's patented "spiritual antenna" technique.
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on October 1, 2008
Why the author was drawn to becoming a Yogi as a child is very revealing. Paramahansa plainly relates that he believed he would have power over animals, such as having tigers as pets. What child doesnt fantisize about super powers?; India at the turn of the last century was rooted in superstition,with countless Fakirs demonstrating all manner of powers from levitating to producing the the smell of various flowers at the tip of ones fingers,as the author relates. The Discovery channel has shown how such feats,(tricks)are performed by fakirs(fakers),but such knowledge would not have been known by the author who obviously absorbed the cultural beliefs of that time period and built on such magical thinking.
Many of his stories as heresay,such as a herb appearing in the hand of a relative,and monks that live without eating for hundreds of years. Other accounts,such as witnessing the astral projections of other gurus,and bringing the dead back to life,leave me wondering whether Paramarhansa purposely fabricated such accounts to enhanse his teachings or whether he was honestly delusional in his perceptions.
The most memorable account to me,and perhaps the one which has imspired so many ratings of 5, is the following discription of a meditation experience he had:
....."My body became immovably rooted; breath was drawn out of my lungs as if by some huge magnet. Soul and mind instantly lost their physical bondage, and streamed out like a fluid piercing light from my every pore. The flesh was as though dead, yet in my intense awareness I knew that never before had I been fully alive. My sense of identity was no longer narrowly confined to a body, but embraced the circumambient atoms. People on distant streets seemed to be moving gently over my own remote periphery. The roots of plants and trees appeared through a dim transparency of the soil; I discerned the inward flow of their sap. The whole vicinity lay bare before me. My ordinary frontal vision was now changed to a vast spherical sight, simultaneously all-perceptive. Through the back of my head I saw men strolling far down Rai Ghat Road, and noticed also a white cow who was leisurely approaching. When she reached the space in front of the open ashram gate, I observed her with my two physical eyes. As she passed by, behind the brick wall, I saw her clearly still.
All objects within my panoramic gaze trembled and vibrated like quick motion pictures. My body, Master's, the pillared courtyard, the furniture and floor, the trees and sunshine, occasionally became violently agitated, until all melted into a luminescent sea; even as sugar crystals, thrown into a glass of water, dissolve after being shaken. The unifying light alternated with materializations of form, the metamorphoses revealing the law of cause and effect in creation. An oceanic joy broke upon calm endless shores of my soul. The Spirit of God, I realized, is exhaustless Bliss; His body is countless tissues of light. A swelling glory within me began to envelop towns, continents, the earth, solar and stellar systems, tenuous nebulae, and floating universes. The entire cosmos, gently luminous, like a city seen afar at night, glimmered within the infinitude of my being. The sharply etched global outlines faded somewhat at the farthest edges; there I could see a mellow radiance, ever-undiminished. It was indescribably subtle; the planetary pictures were formed of a grosser light. The divine dispersion of rays poured from an Eternal Source, blazing into galaxies, transfigured with ineffable auras. Again and again I saw the creative beams condense into constellations, then resolve into sheets of transparent flame. By rhythmic reversion, sextillion worlds passed into diaphanous luster; fire became firmament. I cognized the center of the empyrean as a point of intuitive perception in my heart. Irradiating splendor issued from my nucleus to every part of the universal structure. Blissful AMRITA, the nectar of immortality, pulsed through me with a quicksilverlike fluidity. The creative voice of God I heard resounding as AUM, {FN14-1} the vibration of the Cosmic Motor. Suddenly the breath returned to my lungs. With a disappointment almost unbearable, I realized that my infinite immensity was lost. Once more I was limited to the humiliating cage of a body, not easily accommodative to the Spirit. Like a prodigal child, I had run away from my macrocosmic home and imprisoned myself in a narrow microcosm. My guru was standing motionless before me; I started to drop at his holy feet in gratitude for the experience in cosmic consciousness which I had long passionately sought. He held me upright, and spoke calmly, unpretentiously. "You must not get overdrunk with ecstasy. Much work yet remains for you in the world. Come; let us sweep the balcony floor; then we shall walk by the Ganges." I fetched a broom; Master, I knew, was teaching me the secret of balanced living. The soul must stretch over the cosmogonic abysses, while the body performs its daily duties. When we set out later for a stroll, I was still entranced in unspeakable rapture. I saw our bodies as two astral pictures, moving over a road by the river whose essence was sheer light.
Sri Yukteswar taught me how to summon the blessed experience at will, and also how to transmit it to others if their intuitive channels were developed. For months I entered the ecstatic union, comprehending why the UPANISHADS say God is RASA, "the most relishable." One day, however, I took a problem to Master. "I want to know, sir-when shall I find God?" "You have found Him." "O no, sir, I don't think so!" My guru was smiling. "I am sure you aren't expecting a venerable Personage, adorning a throne in some antiseptic corner of the cosmos! I see, however, that you are imagining that the possession of miraculous powers is knowledge of God. One might have the whole universe, and find the Lord elusive still! Spiritual advancement is not measured by one's outward powers, but only by the depth of his bliss in meditation. "EVER-NEW JOY IS GOD. He is inexhaustible; as you continue your meditations during the years, He will beguile you with an infinite ingenuity. Devotees like yourself who have found the way to God never dream of exchanging Him for any other happiness; He is seductive beyond thought of competition. "How quickly we weary of earthly pleasures! Desire for material things is endless; man is never satisfied completely, and pursues one goal after another. The 'something else' he seeks is the Lord, who alone can grant lasting joy."...
As far as I am conserned the above is a beautiful excerpt which is the prize of the book,sandwich among what is either boring, fanciful,and questionable. I am sorry to shatter any goal anyone has of this author being a Guru with all the answers. Just consider the author's 'teachings' regarding a heathy diet, basically cow fat(ghee)on too many starchy carbohydrates, he dropped dead of a heart attack in his late 50s; yet in a clip on Youtube he is teaching how one can live 100 years.
If you search Youtube you can hear the author's voice which is in the same "grand sounding authoritarian style" of the politicians of the 1930s. I think it shows an accurate image of a man who unequivically believes in the power of amulets but who just may be attempting to oversell the power of being a Yogi with a few good Avatar stories,topped off by an Indian-style Lazareth-raised-from-the-dead account,but then again he may have been honestly delusional. I suggest buying The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.
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on November 8, 2002
Like Gandhi, Yogananda writes humbly and includes his foibles and the pratfalls he takes as he journeys through life's lessons. In fact, unless you read elsewhere about his life you won't realize how much he understates his own accomplishments while he honors other spiritual seekers and teachers he encounters.
His stories of encounters with amazing saints of all regions and religions are spell-binding, and you may find yourself (like me) devouring the whole book on your first read -- just reveling in the wonders of these true spiritual seekers. On successive readings I delved deeper into the equally fascinating footnotes, learning about the exotic realms of Indian spirituality and its unexpected parallels with the original Christian teachings of Christ, St. John, and St. Paul.
In fact, the countless strata of insights and implications that surface with repeated readings of Autobiography of a Yogi argue for spending a few more dollars on the trade paperback rather than the mass market paperback edition, since you'll want to return numerous times over the years. The Self-Realization Fellowship editions are to be preferred over others. Yogananda himself started that organization (SRF), and the award-winning quality of SRF editing and printing shines through them - in contrast to bootlegged editions printed up by renegade outfits.
In all my reading in spirituality, yoga, and comparative religion, I have discovered no work that so completely fulfills Carl Jung's prophecy that yoga science (the whole science, not just the athletic postures) will offer you ''undreamed-of possibilities'' as Yogananda's autobiography. As the author explains, 'yoga' comes from the root meaning 'union' - and he reveals, ever more deeply, the underlying oneness of Christianity and yoga, of spiritual truth and scientific truth, of the worldly and the spirituality. It will deepen anyone's own faith and sensibility -- of whatever religion (or none), of the science of matter... or mind... or Spirit.
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on September 30, 2006
This book is full of stories, or perhaps lies might be a better word, because nowhere is it indicated that the stories are not the truth.

While there may be some valid information here of a spiritual nature (that's why I gave it 2 stars instead of 0), basically it is full of b.s. about "miracles" the author has seen or performed himself.

I found it a real turn off.

I recommend most any other spiritual book over this one.
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on December 29, 2009
Books that I would recommend over this one: "I Am That", "Pointers From Nisargadatta", "Be As You Are", Talks with Ramana Maharshi, The Spiritual Teachings of Ramana Maharshi, The Bhagavad Gita, The Ashtavakra Gita, Advaita Bodha Deepika, No Mind - I Am the Self , and The Yoga Vasishta.
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on December 29, 2009
Books that I would recommend over this one: "I Am That", "Pointers From Nisargadatta", "Be As You Are", Talks with Ramana Maharshi, The Spiritual Teachings of Ramana Maharshi, The Bhagavad Gita, The Ashtavakra Gita, Advaita Bodha Deepika, No Mind - I Am the Self , and The Yoga Vasishta.
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on September 21, 2012
Gurus being in two places at once. Saints living for years without food. Indian holy men who wrestle with lions. A messianic immortal guru who shows up at will floating through the air. Lazarus-like resurections and mysterious secrets that can only be shared between master and students. Throw in a touch of first class name dropping via a visit with Mahatma Ghandi and you have the makings of a world class scam artist. None of this nonsense is the reason that I am terribly terribly underwhelmed by "Autobiography of a Yogi". The real reason I am underwhelmed is for the life of me I can't figure out what contribution this overweight individual actually made. Numerous passages and a number of startling images indicate that this holy man may very well have been a closeted homosexual. Given the time and the culture he came from the closeting was understandable. But back to my point. What did he actually do? He was not responsible for yoga being brought to America. That was a scandalous teacher name Pierre Bernard who first taught hatha yoga in San Francisco around the turn of the century. Paramahansa Yogananda wasn't a Hatha teacher at all, in fact given his girth it is doubtful he had any kind of Hatha practice. The true fathers of Hatha yoga in America are Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, whose students included B.K.S. Iyengar, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois T.K.V. Desikachar and Indra Devi and Paramahansa Yogananda's youngest brother Bishnu Ghosh who was the Guru of hot yoga carnival barker Bikram Choudhury.
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on April 14, 2015
I really don't understand the appeal of this book. It was recommended to me by my psychiatrist after someone close to me died. He said it really helped another client of his deal with a similar loss. I suppose if you were gullible enough to believe all the stories of bi-location, levitation, magic odor-manifestation, and so on, then you might find some comfort in the spiritual claims and assumptions of the author. But if the author is telling the truth, then India is brimming with spiritual masters breaking the laws of physics for anyone to see. I just couldn't buy it. And a little research into the author's life revealed him to be your typical guru/cult-leader type, big ego, lots of false prophecies, all the usual stuff. He did seem to be mostly harmless, however. No child molestation or financial pyramid schemes that I could find.

Now, I want to be clear that I have nothing against Hinduism or the Indian culture. Genuine Hinduism is one of the most varied and rich cultures in the world. I just think Yogananda was the first person to begin the Westernization of Hinduism. People seem willing to believe almost anything if you say it came from, or happened in, India. I think this book ultimately fails in its aim to bring Hindu wisdom to the West, since it is so riddled with nonsense that it runs the risk of turning the less credulous reader off the subject entirely.
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