Paramahansa Yogananda is the author of the best-selling spiritual classic, Autobiography of a Yogi. Yogananda has impacted millions of people from all over the world through his teachings, Steve Jobs including (he loved the Autobiography of a Yogi) on the underlying unity of all true religions, the art of balanced health and well-being in body, mind, and soul and the science of KriyaYoga meditation.
His wisdom and love for humanity have truly touched my heart in ways words cannot even express. The more reason to let his words speak for themselves, and share with you 36 of the most powerful life lessons you too can learn from Paramahansa Yogananda today.
36 Life Changing Lessons to Learn from Yogananda
1. Your trials did not come to punish you, but to awaken you.
“Your trials did not come to punish you, but to awaken you – to make you realize that you are a part of Spirit and that just behind the sparks of your life is the Flame of Infinity.” ~Yogananda
2. The season of failure is the best time for sowing the seeds of success. ~ Yogananda
3. You are not your mistakes
“Is a diamond less valuable because it is covered with mud? God sees the changeless beauty of our souls. He knows we are not our mistakes.” ~Yogananda
4. You must not let your life run in the ordinary way.
“You must not let your life run in the ordinary way; do something that nobody else has done, something that will dazzle the world. Show that God’s creative principle works in you.” ~Yogananda
5. Incredible amounts of energy are hidden in your brain.
“Incredible amounts of energy are hidden in your brain; enough in a gram of flesh to run the city of Chicago for 2 days. And you say you are tired?”~Yogananda
6. Be honest with yourself.
“Be honest with yourself. The world is not honest with you. When you are honest with yourself you find the road to inner peace.”
7. Change yourself and you have done your part in changing the world. ~ Yogananda
“The deeper the Self-realization of a man, the more he influences the whole universe by his subtle spiritual vibrations, and the less he himself is affected by the phenomenal flux.”
8. Never do anything that taints your mind
“Never do anything that taints your mind. Wrong actions cause negative or evil mental vibrations that are reflected in your whole appearance and personality. Engage in those actions and thoughts that nurture the good qualities you want to have.” ~Yogananda
9. What you condemn in others, you will experience yourself.
“If you criticize others judgmentally, rather than simply commenting on their behavior impartially, that shows that you have their faults to work on in yourself. By criticizing others, moreover, you increase those faults in yourself. What you condemn in others, you will have to experience, someday, yourself. That is the karmic law. In that way, people are taught compassion.”
10. Look fear in the face and it will cease to trouble you.
“Roam in the world as a lion of self-control; see that the frogs of weakness don’t kick you around.”
11. Live simply. Don’t get caught in the machine of the world
“Live simply. Don’t get caught in the machine of the world— it is too exacting. By the time you get what you are seeking your nerves are gone, the heart is damaged, and the bones are aching. Resolve to develop your spiritual powers more earnestly from now on. Learn the art of right living. If you have joy you have everything, so learn to be glad and contented…. Have happiness now.”
12. Be happy within yourself, right now
“Make up your mind that you will be happy whether you are rich or poor, healthy or unhealthy, happily married or unhappily married, young or old, smiling or crying. Don’t wait for yourself, your family, or your surroundings to change before you can be happy within yourself. Make up your mind to be happy within yourself, right now, whatever you are, or wherever you are.”
13. There is no place in the world where you can flee to escape yourself
“People are running, running, but there is no place in the world to which they can flee to escape themselves. Ultimately, each one must face himself.”
14. Millions of people are being robots, conditioned by their environment.
“Millions of people never analyze themselves. Mentally they are mechanical products of the factory of their environment, preoccupied with breakfast, lunch, and dinner, working and sleeping, and going here and there to be entertained. They don’t know what or why they are seeking, nor why they never realize complete happiness and lasting satisfaction. By evading self-analysis, people go on being robots, conditioned by their environment. True self-analysis is the greatest art of progress.”
15. Truth is often bitter before is sweet
“Worldly people do not like the candor which shatters their delusions. Saints are not only rare but disconcerting. Even in scripture, they are often found embarrassing!” ~Yogananda
16. Seek divine wealth, not the paltry tinsel of earth
“Seek divine wealth, not the paltry tinsel of earth. After acquiring inward treasure, you will find that outward supply is always forthcoming.”
17. Having lots of money while not having inner peace is like dying of thirst while bathing in the ocean. ~ Yogananda
18. The mind is the creator of everything
“Mind is the creator of everything. You should, therefore, guide it to create only good. If you cling to a certain thought with dynamic will power, it finally assumes a tangible outward form. When you are able to employ your will always for constructive purposes, you become the controller of your destiny.” ~Yogananda
“If you permit your thoughts to dwell on evil you yourself will become ugly. Look only for the good in everything so you absorb the quality of beauty.”
19. Tear away the mask of the human being.
“You do not have to struggle to reach God, but you do have to struggle to tear away the self-created veil that hides him from you.”
“Communion with God is the only thing to live for. You will have to come to that understanding eventually, often after much suffering. Why not learn now? He is ready to welcome you. You can’t fail to reach God ultimately. It is foolish to ask, “Will I be able to get into the kingdom of heaven?” There is no other place you can stay, for that is your real home. You don’t have to earn it. You are already God’s child, made in His image. You have only to tear away the mask of the human being and realize your divine birthright.” ~Yogananda
20. Only the wise know just where predestination ends and free will begins.
“Meanwhile, you must keep on doing your best, according to your own clearest understanding. you must long for freedom as the drowning man longs for air. Without sincere longing, you will never find God.”~Yogananda
21. In the center of your being, you’ll find Peace
“Retire to the center of your being, which is calmness.”
22. Imagination is the door through which disease as well as healing enters
“The body is a treacherous friend. Give it its due; no more. Pain and pleasure are transitory; endure all dualities with calmness, trying at the same time to remove yourself beyond their power. Imagination is the door through which disease, as well as healing, enters. Disbelieve in the reality of sickness even when you are ill; an unrecognized visitor will flee!”
23. Your health or lack of it reflects your subconscious expectations
“It has been your thoughts that have made you feel alternately weak and strong.’ My guru looked at me affectionately. ‘You have seen how your health has exactly followed your subconscious expectations. Thought is a force, even as electricity or gravitation. The human mind is a spark of the almighty consciousness of God. I could show you that whatever your powerful mind believes very intensely would instantly come to pass.’ “Knowing” ~Yogananda
24. The body is literally manufactured and sustained by mind.
“If the master allows himself to be commanded by a servant, the latter becomes autocratic; the mind is similarly enslaved by submitting to bodily dictation.”
25. Do not seek absolute values in the relative world of nature.
“God is simple. Everything else is complex. Do not seek absolute values in the relative world of nature.” ~Yogananda
26. Solve all your problems through meditation.
“The great guru taught his disciples to avoid theoretical discussion of the scriptures. “He only is wise who devotes himself to realizing, not reading only, the ancient revelations,” he said. “Solve all your problems through meditation. Exchange unprofitable speculations for actual God-communion.”
27. Continual intellectual study results in vanity
Continual intellectual study results in vanity and the false satisfaction of an undigested knowledge.
28. Do not mistake the technique for the Goal
“You go often into the silence, but have you developed anubhava?” He was reminding me to love God more than meditation. “Do not mistake the technique for the Goal.”
29. Just because someone is an eloquent speaker on metaphysics it doesn’t mean he is a Master
“Numerous bewildered seekers in the West erroneously think that an eloquent speaker or writer on metaphysics must be a master. Proof that one is a master, however, is supplied only by the ability to enter at will the breathless state (sabikalpa samadhi) and by the attainment of immutable bliss (nirbikalpa samadhi). The rishis have pointed out that solely by these achievements may a human being demonstrate that he has mastered maya, the dualistic cosmic delusion. He alone may say from the depths of realization: “Ekam sat” (“Only One exists”).
30. If we don’t practice what we learn, all knowledge is in vain
“I don’t want people to think that they can attain realization simply by listening to others or by reading books. They must practice what they read and hear.” ~ Yogananda
31. You belong to no one, and no one belongs to you
“Always remember that you belong to no one, and no one belongs to you. Reflect that someday you will suddenly have to leave everything in this world-so make the acquaintanceship of God.”
32. Attachment is blinding
“Attachment is blinding; it lends an imaginary halo of attractiveness to the object of desire.”
33. There is but one religion in the world, for there is but one God
“If religion means primarily God-consciousness, or the realization of God both within and without, and secondarily a body of beliefs, tenets, and dogmas, then, strictly speaking, there is but one religion in the world, for there is but one God.” ~Yogananda
34. All you need to do is improve your knowing
“Self-realization is the knowing in all parts of body, mind, and soul that you are now in possession of the kingdom of God; that you do not have to pray that it come to you; that God’s omnipresence is your omnipresence; and that all that you need to do is improve your knowing.”
35. If you are satisfied only with belief, it becomes dogma—narrow-mindedness
“The truths taught by Jesus went far beyond blind belief, which waxes and wanes under the influence of the paradoxical pronouncements of priest and cynic. Belief is an initial stage of spiritual progress necessary to receive the concept of God. But that concept has to be transposed into conviction, into experience. Belief is the precursor of conviction; one has to believe a thing in order to investigate equitably about it. But if one is satisfied only with belief, it becomes dogma—narrow-mindedness, a preclusion of truth and spiritual progress. What is necessary is to grow, in the soil of belief, the harvest of direct experience and contact of God. That indisputable realization, not mere belief, is what saves people.” ~Yogananda
36. The Final Goal is unity with Spirit
“Ignoring all prejudices of caste, creed, class, color, sex, or race, a swami follows the precepts of human brotherhood. His goal is absolute unity with Spirit.”
“Be afraid of nothing. Hating none, giving love to all, feeling the love of God, seeing His presence in everyone, and having but one desire – for His constant presence in the temple of your consciousness – that is the way to live in this world.”
“I call myself a nationalist, but my nationalism is as broad as the universe. It includes in its sweep all the nations of the earth. My nationalism includes the well-being of the whole world. I do not want my India to rise on the ashes of other nations. I do not want India to exploit a single human being. I want India to be strong in order that she can infect the other nations also with her strength.” ~ Yogananda, The Autobiography of a Yogi
“There is a magnet in your heart that will attract true friends. That magnet is unselfishness, thinking of others first; when you learn to live for others, they will live for you.”