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.”
It was in the fall of 1966 that I found Autobiography of a Yogi, although in truth I think it found me. It was a time of great transition in my life. I had graduated from college and moved to San Francisco a few months earlier, and was just starting out as an independent adult. I was looking for a direction, having felt that my major in college, psychology, was simply not capable of answering the questions I had long been asking. I was interested in awareness, in the scope of human consciousness, and in happiness. More schooling was not going to give me what I was seeking. And yet, where was I to turn? I had long abandoned religion, at least the formalized “Churchianity” I was given in my youth.
We recently went on a pilgrimage to Babaji’s cave. There were forty-five pilgrims on the trip, with most of us seeing this sacred spot for the first time. It was here, in this little secluded cave in the middle of nowhere and of everywhere, that our lineage took birth. From this tiny cave, the science of Kriya Yoga has spread around the globe. It was here that Lahiri Mahasaya received not only Kriya initiation, but also the charge to take it back to the masses of spiritually thirsty souls. Autobiography of a Yogi relates that Babaji told him, “A deep purpose underlay the fact that you did not meet me this time until you were already a married man, with modest business responsibilities. You must put aside your thoughts of joining our secret band in the Himalayas; your life lies in the crowded marts, serving as an example of the ideal yogi-householder.”
“Surely this must be the cave itself! It matches every description given in Autobiography of a Yogi.” We were listening, enthralled, to a remarkable tale of the search for Babaji’s cave, the existence of which was revealed to the world by Paramhansa Yogananda in that book.
Once when Swami Kriyananda was a young monk, he was sitting quietly at the feet of his guru, Paramhansa Yoganandaji. Filled with devotion for his master, Swamiji silently prayed, “Teach me to love you as you love me.”
It was quiet and cool in the interior of the dimly lit church – a dramatic contrast to the ceaseless activity on the college campus during this hot day in late spring of 1969. A friend had given me Autobiography of a Yogi to read, and it had awakened in me a keen desire to learn to meditate.