Autobiography of a Yogi changed my life. Really, it did. There is a power in that book that is far beyond the ordinary. Paramhansa Yogananda said to Swami Kriyananda on their first meeting, “I put my vibrations into it.”
We came into the world just weeks apart, Autobiography of a Yogi and I, born together in December 1946. Both of us were riding on waves of human hope: I was part of the “baby boomer” generation that emerged after millions of American servicemen returned from World War II. Hoping to leave the horrors of war behind, the soldiers wanted nothing more than to create a secure, prosperous life for their children.
This is a story about the power of our thoughts. Some years ago I was playing a game of doubles in racquetball, meaning there are two players on each side. The object of the game is to keep the ball in play, trying to force the opposing team to make an error. Unfortunately, my partner was making most of the errors that evening. Although outwardly I tried to sound encouraging, inwardly I was thinking, “Can’t he hit anything back?” As the game progressed, he got worse and worse, and my thoughts followed right along behind.
I had an intriguing dream a few nights ago: It began as a conversation with a visionary scientist, reminiscent of Nikola Tesla, explaining to us his theories on the inner workings of the universe. Such conversations usually fly well over my head, but because he was communicating not with words but thought transference, I could easily understand his concepts.
Toward the end of his life, Swami Kriyananda would often remark, “I feel so blissful, I can hardly contain it.” We had seen him maintain a joyful spirit during many difficult times: temples collapsing or burning down, car accidents, health crises. No matter what was happening around him, Swamiji demonstrated that it didn’t have the power to touch his inner Self.
Paramhansa Yogananda began his Autobiography of a Yogi with these words: “The characteristic features of Indian culture have long been a search for eternal verities and the concomitant disciple-guru relationship.” For the Master to introduce his spiritual classic in this way shows the vital importance, in fact the inescapability, of discipleship in the search for God.
A few days ago we participated in a very inspiring event. At our Ananda community near Assisi, Italy, we held a world peace conference with a Japanese organization, The World Peace Prayer Society, that promotes the Fuji Declaration, “calling for the rebirth of humanity’s sacred spirit and a new civilization in which all life is connected as one.” Devi and I were part of a panel of spiritual teachers that included a Buddhist monk, a Christian monk, the imam of Perugia, a leader from the Baha’i faith, as well as the founder of the International School of Forgiveness. As we sat together in our Temple of Light, we each spoke about how to promote peace and harmony among nations, religions, and individuals. The day ended movingly with a parade of flags and prayers for peace in every country on earth.
In the early years of Ananda Village, Kirtani was part of the team of devotees who helped to establish the organic vegetable gardens there. Now a nayaswami and director of the Ananda Community near Assisi, Italy, Kirtani shared a beautiful story with us recently during our visit there.
According to the ancient teachings of India, there is a great repeating historical cycle of four ages, called the yugas, which lasts 24,000 years. For 12,000 years the consciousness of man rises to its height, and then begins a 12,000-year descent into darkness. Our current age, Dwapara, is in the ascending half of this cycle. It started in 1700 and will last for 2,400 years. The scale of the yugas is so large that it is hard to visualize, but if we divide by 100 it will help us see the major trends. For fun, then, let’s think of a king named Dwaparian ruling this beautiful, blue island called Earth. His reign will last 24 years. With so many people feeling hopeless about current events, it is important to realize that we are only a little over three years into his rulership.