Spiritual Practices

of the World's

Great Faith Traditions

Cover of Autobiography of a Yogi

Paramahansa Yogananda


   Paramahansa Yogananda

   (1893-1952), the spiritual 

   successor of Swami Sri

   Yukteswar, came to the

   United States in 1920. He

   was the first great spiritual

   master of India to live and 

   teach in the West for an

   extended period of time (over

   30 years until his death).

Considered the Father of Yoga in the West, Yogananda embodied an all-consuming desire to know and love God while simultaneously presenting the teachings and practice of kriya yoga in a highly disciplined scientific and philosophical framework to the Western world. His teachings live on in over 400 practice centers around the world.

Founder of the Self-Realization Fellowship (1920) and Yogoda Satsanga Society of India (1917),Yogananda is the author of the best-selling spiritual classic Autobiography of a Yogi, which has been read by millions of people around the world.

The Self-Realization Fellowship

Consider some of the parallels to concepts in The Urantia Book which are found in the published Ideals and Aims of the Self-Realization Fellowship:

  • To disseminate among the nations a knowledge of definite scientific techniques for attaining direct personal experience of God.
  • To teach that the purpose of life is the evolution, through self-effort, of man’s limited mortal consciousness into God Consciousness; and to this end to establish Self-Realization Fellowship temples for God-communion throughout the world. 
  • To reveal the complete harmony and basic oneness of original Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ and original Yoga as taught by Bhagavan Krishna; and to show that these principles of truth are the common scientific foundation of all true religions.
  • To encourage “plain living and high thinking”; and to spread a spirit of brotherhood among all peoples by teaching the eternal basis of their unity: kinship with God.
  • To demonstrate the superiority of mind over body, of soul over mind.
  • To unite science and religion through realization of the unity of their underlying principles.

Pray deeply to God

in the language

of your own heart

Through daily practice of the foregoing instructions, you can prepare yourself for the practice of the deeper techniques of concentration and meditation that are given in the Self-Realization Fellowship Lessons.

These scientific techniques will enable you to dive ever more deeply in the great ocean of God's presence. 

We all exist at this very moment in that ocean of Spirit; but only by steadfast, devoted, scientific meditation may we consciously perceive that we are individualized soul waves on the vast ocean of God's bliss.

spiritual practice


Beginner’s meditation

As taught by Paramahansa Yogananda

"As a first step toward entering the kingdom of God, the devotee should sit still in the correct meditation posture, with erect spine, and tense and relax the body  for by relaxation the consciousness is released from the muscles.

"The yogi begins with proper deep breathing, inhaling and tensing the whole body, exhaling and relaxing, several times. 

"With each exhalation all muscular tension and motion should be cast away, until a state of bodily stillness is attained.

"Then, by concentration techniques, restless motion is removed from the mind. In perfect stillness of body and mind, the yogi enjoys the ineffable peace of the presence of the soul.

"In the body, life is templed; in the mind, light is templed; in the soul, peace is templed. The deeper one goes into the soul the more that peace is felt; that is superconsciousness.

"When by deeper meditation the devotee expands that awareness of peace and feels his consciousness spreading with it over the universe, that all beings and all creation are swallowed up in that peace, then he is entering into Cosmic Consciousness. He feels that peace everywhere — in the flowers, in every human being, in the atmosphere. He beholds the earth and all worlds floating like bubbles in that ocean of peace."

   ~ Paramahansa Yogananda, from The Yoga of Jesus 

Paramahansa Yogananda's

instructions on how to meditate

1.  Prayer

After you are established in the meditation posture, begin by offering God a prayer from your heart, expressing your devotion and asking His blessings on your meditation.

2.  Tense and Relax to Remove All Stress 

Inhale, tensing the whole body and clenching the fists. 

Relax all the body parts at once and, as you do so, expel the breath through the mouth in a double exhalation, "huh, huh."

Repeat this practice three to six times.

Then forget the breath. Let it flow in and out naturally, of its own accord, as in ordinary breathing.

3.  Focus Attention at the Spiritual Eye 

With the eyelids half closed (or completely closed, if this is more comfortable to you), look upward, focusing the gaze and the attention as though looking out through a point between the eyebrows.

Do not cross the eyes or strain them; the upward gaze comes naturally when one is relaxed and calmly concentrated.

What is important is fixing the whole attention at the point between the eyebrows. This is the Christ Consciousness center, the seat of the single eye spoken of by Jesus: 

"The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light." (Matthew 6:22)

When the purpose of meditation is fulfilled, the devotee finds his consciousness automatically concentrated at the spiritual eye, and he experiences, according to his inner spiritual capacity, a state of joyous divine union with Spirit.

4.  Pray Deeply to God in the Language of Your Own Heart

Whether you see the light of the spiritual eye or not, however, you should continue to concentrate at the Christ Consciousness center between the eyebrows, praying deeply to God and His great saints. In the language of your heart invoke Their presence and Their blessings.

Silently chant and pray to God, keeping the attention at the point between the eyebrows, until you feel God's response as calm, deep peace and inner joy.

5.  Daily Practice as Preparation for the Deeper Techniques

The meditation period should last at least thirty minutes in the morning and thirty minutes at night. The longer you sit, enjoying the state of meditative calm, the faster you will progress spiritually. Carry into your daily activities the calmness you feel in meditation; that calmness will help you to bring harmony and happiness into every department of your life.

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