By Paramahansa Yogananda September 2004 Autobography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda is a true spiritual classic of our times. In the book, the author, an accomplished yogi himself, writes about his mystical experiences in the association of other evolved masters. Swami Kriyananda (J. Donald Walters), one of Yogananda’s foremost disciples, has now published a reprint of the book in its original 1946 edition.In the following excerpt from ‘The Law of Miracles’, a chapter in the book, Yogananda explains the miracles performed by realised yogis from the standpoint of modern western science. Drawing on his flawless knowledge of quantum physics and Einstein’s theories, he demonstrates how the true nature of the material world is ‘mind-stuff’, maya. This ‘illusion’ then readily lends itself to alteration or rearrangement by a liberated being, whose consciousness is one with it. How did Christ resurrect his crucified body? How did Lahiri Mahasaya and Sri Yukteswar perform their miracles? Modern science has, as yet, no answerAssembling the light images as he pleases, the cinematographer achieves optical wonders which a true master produces with actual light rays The great novelist Leo Tolstoy wrote a delightful story, The Three Hermits. His friend Nicholas Roerich has summarised the tale, as follows: “On an island there lived three old hermits. They were so simple that the only prayer they chanted was: ‘We are three; Thou art Three—have mercy on us!’ Great miracles were manifested during this naive prayer. “The local bishop came to hear about the three hermits and their inadmissible prayer, and decided to visit them in order to teach them the canonical invocations. He arrived on the island, told the hermits that their heavenly petition was undignified, and taught them many of the customary prayers. The bishop then left on a boat. He saw a radiant light from far. As it approached, he discerned the three hermits, who were holding hands and running upon the waves in an effort to overtake the vessel. “‘We have forgotten the prayers you taught us,’ they cried as they reached the bishop, ‘and have hastened to ask you to repeat them.’ The awed bishop shook his head. “‘Dear ones,’ he replied humbly, ‘continue to live with your old prayer!’” How did the three saints walk on the water? How did Christ resurrect his crucified body? How did Lahiri Mahasaya and Sri Yukteswar perform their miracles? Modern science has, as yet, no answer; though with the advent of the atomic bomb and the wonders of radar, the scope of the world-mind has been abruptly enlarged. The word ‘impossible’ is becoming less prominent in the scientific vocabulary. The ancient Vedic scriptures declare that the physical world operates under one fundamental law of maya, the principle of relativity and duality. God, the Sole Life, is an Absolute Unity; He cannot appear as the separate and diverse manifestations of a creation except under a false or unreal veil. That cosmic illusion is maya. Every great scientific discovery of modern times has served as a confirmation of this simple pronouncement of the rishis. Newton’s Law of Motion is a law of maya: “To every action there is always an equal and contrary reaction; the mutual actions of any two bodies are always equal and oppositely directed.” Action and reaction are thus exactly equal. “To have a single force is impossible. There must be, and always is, a pair of forces equal and opposite.” Fundamental natural activities all betray their mayic origin. Electricity, for example, is a phenomenon of repulsion and attraction; its electrons and protons are electrical opposites. Similarly, the atom or final particle of matter is, like the earth itself, a magnet with positive and negative poles. The entire phenomenal world is under the inexorable sway of polarity; no law of physics, chemistry, or any other science is ever found free from inherent opposite or contrasted principles. Physical science, then, cannot formulate laws outside of maya, the very texture and structure of creation. Nature herself is maya; in her own domain, she is eternal and inexhaustible; future scientists can do no more than probe one aspect after another of her varied infinitude. Science thus remains in a perpetual flux, unable to reach finality. The majestic manifestations of gravitation and electricity have become known, but what gravitation and electricity are, no mortal knows. To surmount maya was the task assigned to the human race by the millennial prophets. To rise above the duality of creation and perceive the unity of the Creator was conceived as man’s highest goal. The world illusion, maya, is individually called avidya, literally, ‘not-knowledge,’ ignorance, delusion. Maya or avidya can never be destroyed through intellectual conviction or analysis, but solely through attaining the interior state of nirbikalpa samadhi. The Old Testament prophets, and seers of all lands and ages, spoke from that state of consciousness. Ezekiel says (43:1-2): “Afterwards he brought me to the gate, even the gate that looketh toward the east: and, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory.” Among the trillion mysteries of the cosmos, the most phenomenal is light. Unlike sound-waves, whose transmission requires air or other material media, light-waves pass freely through the vacuum of interstellar space. Even the hypothetical ether, held as the interplanetary medium of light in the undulatory theory, can be discarded on the Einsteinian grounds that the geometrical properties of space render the theory of ether unnecessary. In the gigantic conceptions of Einstein, the velocity of light dominates the whole Theory of Relativity. He proves mathematically that the velocity of light is so far as man’s finite mind is concerned, the only constant in a universe of unstayable flux. On the sole absolute of light-velocity, depend all human standards of time and space. Not abstractly eternal as considered earlier, time and space are relative and finite factors, deriving their measurement validity only in reference to the yardstick of light-velocity. In joining space as a dimensional relativity, time has surrendered age-old claims to a changeless value. Time is now stripped to its rightful nature—a simple essence of ambiguity! With a few equational strokes of his pen, Einstein has banished from the cosmos every fixed reality except that of light. Created by mayaIn a later development, his Unified Field Theory, the great physicist embodies in one mathematical formula the laws of gravitation and of electromagnetism. Reducing the cosmical structure to variations on a single law, Einstein reaches across the ages to the rishis who proclaimed a sole texture of creation—that of a protean maya. On the epochal Theory of Relativity have arisen the mathematical possibilities of exploring the ultimate atom. Great scientists are now boldly asserting not only that the atom is energy rather than matter, but that atomic energy is essentially mind-stuff. With the recent discovery of the electron microscope, came definite proof of the light-essence of atoms and of the inescapable duality of nature. “The stream of knowledge,” Sir James Jeans writes in The Mysterious Universe, “is heading towards a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine.” Twentieth-century science is thus sounding like a page from the hoary Vedas. From science, let man learn the philosophic truth that there is no material universe; its warp and woof is maya. Its mirages of reality break down under analysis. As the reassuring props of a physical cosmos crash beneath him, man dimly perceives his idolatrous reliance, his past transgression of the divine command: “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.” The release of the atomic energies is brought about through the annihilation of the material particles. Therefore, the ‘death’ of matter has been the ‘birth’ of an Atomic Age. Light-velocity is a mathematical standard or constant because no material body, whose mass increases with its velocity, can ever attain the velocity of light. Stated another way: only a material body whose mass is infinite could equal the velocity of light. This conception brings us to the law of miracles. The masters who are able to materialise and dematerialise their bodies or any other object, and move with the velocity of light, and utilise the creative light-rays in bringing instant visibility into any physical manifestation, have fulfilled the necessary Einsteinian condition: their mass is infinite. The consciousness of a perfected yogi is effortlessly identified, not with a narrow body, but with the universal structure. Gravitation, whether the ‘force’ of Newton or the Einsteinian ‘manifestation of inertia,’ is powerless to compel a master to exhibit the property of ‘weight’ which is the distinguishing gravitational condition of all material objects. He who knows himself as the omnipresent Spirit is subject no longer to the rigidities of a body in time and space. Their imprisoning ‘rings-pass-not’ has yielded to the solvent: “I am He.” “Fiat lux! And there was light.” God’s first command to His ordered creation (Genesis 1:3) brought into being the only atomic reality: light. On the beams of this immaterial medium occur all divine manifestations. Devotees of every age testify to the appearance of God as flame and light. Mass of lightA yogi who through perfect meditation has merg
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