First Friday night of every month, there’s a book club meeting at the yoga center. The book we’re currently reading is “Autobiography of a Yogi” by Paramahansa Yogananda, a holy man whose influence has reached (and is still reaching) an astounding number of people. This is a classic volume, and I’ve known about it for decades—probably even had it in my own library for that long—but until now I’ve never read it. In 1999, this autobiography (published in 1946) was designated one of the “100 Most Important Spiritual Books of the 20th Century.” I’m only 57 pages in, and I already get why.
Reading about his childhood, his early yearning for God and devotion to spiritual enlightenment, I become aware of my own barrenness in this area. All I really want is a full belly, a happy heart, and a soft place to land. I don’t really want to give away all my belongings and head off barefoot up into the Himalayas. I am spoiled rotten, soft, ignorant, and lost.
Hmmm. And yet, his yearning for God resonates with me. I know it well. It’s just that I’ve found a million ways to turn my back on it. (I don’t know. The whole God thing feels more like Santa these days.) But this book has given rise to a resilient little sprout of desire in me, and that’s no small feat.
I have begun to realize that the world, life, everything, is even more unfathomable than I had thought possible. And I’m inspired to experiment with my own mind. I’m inspired to resume my regular sitting practice—but this time with stronger resolve, and with the spiritual effort that comes from a deeper place in me, from where that little sprout sits, lifting its face toward the sun. I need to get out of the way so the sun can reach it.
I will leave messages along this path, as I make my way through this experiment. We’ll see how it goes.