“Nothing is impossible unless you think it is. When you use life’s experiences as your teacher and learn from them, the true nature of the world and your role in it, your experiences become valuable guides to eternal fulfillment and happiness.” – Paramahansa Yogananda
Exactly 100 years ago today, the “father of yoga in the West”, Paramahansa Yogananda, landed in Boston at the Harbor Pier.
He didn’t bring a large entourage along with him. Nor was there a gathering of people awaiting him. Yogananda made the long ocean voyage from India to America alone, arriving in a foreign land where he knew no one. He was 27 years old and had just $500 in his pocket.
His mission: to spread peace and spiritual understanding through the ancient teachings of Kriya Yoga.
Yogananda loved India and wanted nothing more than to roam Her lands and immerse himself in the bliss of deep meditation. But he had visions of the crowds of people he would teach and the large facilities he would be in charge of. As much as he might have wanted to resist, he let go of his personal desires, accepted the call, and set out on the journey that would transform the lives of countless people.
A few of Yogananda’s accomplishments:
- Founded the Yogoda Satsanga Society of India which has over 150 temples and centers today
- Founded the Self-Realization Fellowship which has blossomed into a worldwide organization with over 500 temples in over 50 countries
- Published the bestselling book Autobiography of a Yogi that has sold over 4 million copies
- Personally initiated over 100,000 people into Kriya Yoga
On September 19th, 2020, the City of Sparta docked in Boston after six weeks at sea, and Yogananda disembarked. In the coming years he would go through many struggles, financial difficulties, and other trials including running a large spiritual organization during the Great Depression and World War II. But he would remain on-purpose, engaged in his dharma and destiny.
100 years later, the impact of Yogananda’s life on modern society is difficult to measure. Millions of people practice daily meditation using the methods and techniques he taught, and countless people of all faiths have been inspired by his writings. The surge of interest in eastern spirituality he helped spark has grown into nothing short of a revolution.
Yogananda paved the way for the many teachers who would come later and continue to add momentum to the movement. Today there’s a yoga studio on virtually every corner in major cities. There are meditation rooms in airports and corporate facilities. And over 14% of Americans have meditated at least once in the past year.
But the real influence of the great yogi can be seen on the individual level of anyone who has practiced Kriya Yoga for an extended length of time. What Yogananda taught, and what the people who have applied his teachings have experienced, is that we are greater than we imagine ourselves to be. We are not limited, separate, isolated selves. We are changeless, boundless, timeless Spirit.
Using the methods Yoganada left us with, we can learn to reverse the flow of our awareness. We can direct it inward, away from the senses, and discover the immortal Presence at our core. Within that Presence we will discover the peace, happiness, and freedom we seek.
“Live quietly in the moment and see the beauty of all in front of you. The future will take care of itself.” – Paramahansa Yogananda