Self-Realization Fellowship Plaque

Guru Yogananda

Yesterday I read Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi for the first time. This is the book that Steve Jobs first read as a teenager at Reed College, then read multiple times in India while sick with dysentery (he’d traveled there seeking enlightenment), and then he reread the book every year since, at least according to his biographer, Walter Isaacson. Fascinatingly, at Jobs’s memorial service in 2011, all of the attendees received a copy of Autobiography of a Yogi in a small brown box.

Shortly after Jobs’s death, I remember starting to read Autobiography of a Yogi but losing interest fairly early on, as soon as Yogananda started to talk about miracles, coincidences, and telepathy. I’d forgotten about the book until several months ago, after watching some interviews with Anneke Lucas about her harrowing upbringing as a child sex slave for Belgian aristocrats and criminals.

At one point, Lucas was injured so much that she had a near-death experience, during which she encountered a kindly man who she much later recognized as Paramahansa Yogananda, when she saw his photo on the cover of his autobiography in a New Age book store. So he became her guru on her path of healing and service to others.

I don’t remember meeting Yogananda in a past life or anything, but I remember as a child being strangely affected by that famous photo of him when I saw his autobiography on one of my dad’s bookshelves (my dad collected thousands of books on the spiritual world, much to my mom’s annoyance). There was something so pure and benevolent and kind about Yogananda that the photo captured, and in my mind’s eye I could picture Ms. Lucas seeing the photo and recognizing him as the man who greeted her on the astral plane.

Until very recently, I wouldn’t have been open to accepting any of the supernatural stories in Yogananda’s book, but he’s so sincere about everything and also so in tune with the skepticism of the materialistic world that I have no choice but to accept him as a truthful narrator of his own incredible journey. It helps that everything described by all the near-death experience interviewees I’ve watched agrees with everything Yogananda writes about consciousness.

In terms of improving my own life circumstances, the best wisdom I picked up yesterday was in Alex Ferrari’s interview with Nir Eyal about distractability. Eyal suggests making a time-boxed calendar for the week ahead, or at least for the day ahead, rather than become enslaved by the tyranny of a to-do list that only gets longer and makes you feel bad for not measuring up (because the time aspect is missing from your planning).

Nir Eyal also made the insightful point that “time management is pain management”. We avoid and procrastinate on tasks that are painful, but we know that not taking care of painful tasks makes them even more painful.

Guru Yogananda died young, age 59, and in a very yogic way. He simply left his body after concluding his speech at a banquet in honor of the Ambassador to India, in Los Angeles, on 7 Mar 1952. The mortuary director at Forest Lawn in Glendale, where Yogananda was interred, sent a notarized letter to the Self-Realization Fellowship marveling at how Yogananda’s body had miraculously refused to show any visible signs of physical decay, even 20 days after death, an occurrence that he said was unique in their experience.

I couldn’t help but think about Steve Jobs’s early death and the karmic aspects that had eluded me earlier. I can’t imagine a world where Jobs had lived longer, because after his death, the world became, at least to me, a much less spiritual and a much more materialistic place, until I felt a change in the “astral plane” starting around March 2022.

My father died in 2013, and I feel similarly about his absence during the past decade. I’d love to be able to talk with my dad today about my agreement with his beliefs in NDEs and the afterlife, although I can feel now that I have some connection with him on the other side, which was something that of course he told me that he intended to try to do after he died.

I wonder also about Steve Jobs’s karma from having Apple products assembled in factories in China under such cruel circumstances that workers were committing suicide to escape. He also made a lot of deals with Disney, a company that’s a lot more sinister than Jobs probably realized at the time.

On a related note, Apple has started manufacturing iPhones in India, but since the factory is still run by Foxconn, I’m assuming that they’ll try to run the Indian factory in the same way that their Chinese factories are operated.

We’re living through a very strange and mystical time, and those of us who are trapped in the twin matrices of the physical world and the commercial Internet are going to have a much more difficult time than people who’ve learned through meditation practice to see reality through spiritual eyes.




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