Book Reviews - The New Path
by Life Positive
Autobiographical books, especially by those on the spiritual path, are fascinating. It is always instructive to know how anotherís journey began and gathered momentum, particularly when the person is Swami Kriyananda, founder of Ananda Sangha and a direct disciple of the legendary Paramahansa Yogananda.
Born J Donald Waters to American parents, Ray and Gertrude Walters, from an early age he was alienated from the aspirations of his school and college mates to belong, to be successful and so on. At age 16, his father offered to buy him a tuxedo and his reply was, ďDonít bother, Dad. I donít expect to make enough money to pay taxes.Ē
Driven to seek a higher reality he tried first through science, then social reform, then the arts and ceased his search finally in 1948 when he met his guru, Paramahansa Yogananda.
He had gone to a bookshop where he stumbled upon Yoganandaís spiritual classic, Autobiography of a Yogi. Putting it aside he bought another book but the next day the book compelled him to return and pick it up. The picture of Yogananda on the cover convinced him that this was the mentor he was looking for. Earlier, he had stumbled upon an excerpt from the Bhagavad Gita and was enraptured by its panoramic vision and profound spiritual insights. Having been disenchanted with Christianity, he recognised here a true path, and in Yogananda a true guru.
The book focuses thereafter on his years with his guru, offering an interesting insight not just into the working of a spiritual organisation but also into the nature of the guru.
It turns out the Yogananda had strict ideas on renunciation. When one of his disciples wondered if she should go and take care of her mother, he fiercely upbraided her and told her to go away. It was only when she admitted that she really did not want to go that he relented and told her that her motherís lot was Godís will alone. He then had her brought into the ashram where she was looked after for the rest of her years. Many gurus would consider it mandatory for disciples to take care of their aging parents if there was no one else to do it. It was surprising to read about such a rigid stand on the part of one who has always been considered one of the broadest minds in Indian spirituality.
We also get a detailed portrait of Swamiji himself. Once, when he had to pass a Greek examination and had hitherto been hopeless in the language, he told himself on the night before the exam that he was Greek. In the few hours that remained he found himself soaking in the subject at an amazing rate and when the result were out, he was one of the two who had passed! On a trip to Mexico he told himself the same thing and in a couple of weeks managed to speak Spanish fairly fluently. On that same trip he fell ill and was rcommended hospitalisation for two weeks. Penniless, he told himself that he was well and in a couple of days, he indeed was.
He explains that when you sensitively attune to the Source and eliminate from your mind all thoughts of failure, you achieve remarkable things. For one who went on to be a prolific writer, composer and spiritual teacher, achieving remarkable things was par to the course. An absorbing and insightful book.
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