Paramahansa Yogananda (born Mukunda Lal Ghosh; January 5, 1893 – March 7, 1952) brought the ancient teachings of yoga meditation to the United States, which earned him the title “Father of Yoga in the West.”
Born into a devout and well-to-do Bengali family, his family knew from a young age that Yogananda had a spiritual understanding and awareness beyond the norm. An Indian monk, yogi, and guru, Yogananda introduced millions of people to meditation and Kriya Yoga, an ancient scientific method of expanding consciousness.
He founded an organization called Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF)/ Yogoda Satsanga Society (YSS) of Indian and spent his last 32 years of life in America. Both his parents had spiritual training under Lahiri Mahasaya, a well-known guru in the SRF lineage who helped reintroduce Kriya Yoga in modern India. As Yogananda’s mother held him as an infant, Lahiri Mahasaya blessed him and foretold: “Little mother, thy son will be a yogi. As a spiritual engine, he will carry many souls to God’s kingdom.”
When Yogananda turned 17, he became a disciple of the Bengali yoga guru Swami Sri Yukteswar. During the next ten years spent with him receiving intensive spiritual training, his master told him he was chosen to introduce Kriya Yoga to the west. Yogananda knew he had a mission to unite the Eastern and Western religions and to show the importance of balance between physical growth and spirituality, especially in the United States.
His life’s work lives on today in the hearts of many of his students and disciples. His dedication to God and loving service to humanity helped bring peace and lasting fulfillment to the souls of many. In honor of his life and legacy, we want to share some of the best quotes from him to bring hope during difficult times.
Here are 20 quotes from the great master Paramahansa Yogananda that will give you hope:
- “Why worry? Do your best, and then relax. Let things go on in a natural way, rather than force them. Then everyone around you will be relaxed, too.”
- “If we could but realize the effect of the burdens we often place upon the mind, we might wonder that we have not had a breakdown long ago. Taxed with all kinds of worries and anxieties, the mind is soon overwhelmed by the load. Fear creeps in as a result, and we lose our mental poise and spiritual balance. The trouble is that instead of living only in the present, we try to live in the past and in the future at the same time. These loads are too heavy for the mind to carry, so we must restrict the amount of the load. The past is gone. Why continue to carry it in the mind?”
- “To love those that love you is easy. To love those that love you not is not so simple. If you want to change anyone, set a better example. Show more kindness, more understanding, more love. That has a sure effect. To those who are not kind, show kindness. To those who are mean, show bigness of heart.”
- “We are what we think we are. The habitual inclination of our thoughts determines our talents and abilities and our personality. So whatever you want to be, start to develop that pattern now.”
- ‘This Self [Soul] is never born, nor does it ever perish; nor having come into existence will it again cease to be. It is birthless, eternal, changeless, ever-same (unaffected by the usual processes associated with time). It is not slain when the body is killed.’ (The Gita II:20)
- “Forget the past. The vanished lives of all men are dark with many shames. Human conduct is ever unreliable until man is anchored in the Divine. Everything in future will improve if you are making a spiritual effort now.”
- “You are, and ever will be, a perfect reflection of Spirit. You were Spirit; now you imagine yourself to be mortal, but by meditation on your true Self, and by performing God-reminding actions constantly, you can remember your forgotten Spirit-nature and remain in that consciousness through all futurity. Since you are immortal, do not burden yourself with earthly limitations.”
- “So long as a person has obsessive desires for the excitement of viewing motion pictures, so long he will seek no higher pastime. Similarly, so long as a man is interested in and attached to the drama of his present incarnation, at death, he will depart with unfinished desires and be compelled to return to earth to experience other motion picture sequences, until all his fascinations have been fulfilled.By nonattachment, by beholding the scenes of life as a divine panorama, and by meditation and ecstasy, man gradually realizes that God is the sole Director of the cosmic cinema. The wisdom so acquired brings about the reunion of the individualized soul with Spirit, thus ending—at last and forever—the long separation.”
- “Creation is light and shadow both, else no picture is possible. The good and evil of Maya must ever alternate in supremacy. If joy were ceaseless here in this world, would man ever desire another? Without suffering, he scarcely cares to recall that he has forsaken his eternal home. Pain is a prod to remembrance. The way of escape is through wisdom. The tragedy of death is unreal; those who shudder at it are like an ignorant actor who dies of fright on the stage when nothing more has been fired at him than a blank cartridge.”
- “Do not take life’s experiences too seriously. For, in reality, they are nothing but dream experiences. Play your part in life, but never forget that it is only a role.”
- “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.”
- “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.”
- “It takes long time-many incarnations of right action, good company, help of the guru, self-awakening, wisdom, and meditation-for man to regain his soul consciousness of immortality. To reach this state of Self-realization, each man must practice meditation to transfer his consciousness from the limited body to the unlimited sphere of joy felt in meditation.”
- “Hope is the eternal light held aloft by the soul as man travels the pathway of incarnations to reach God. Never relinquish hope, for you would then have to wait miserably in darkness, unable to resume your journey toward the Divine until you can choose to raise once again the searchlight of hope.Through meditation, you can permanently avoid the state of hopelessness. Seek happiness more and more in your mind and less and less in material things. Bring the living God of unalloyed joy to the altar of your heart, and worship Him there with the incense of love. Realize that you and He are one.”
- “If you have given up hope of ever being happy, cheer up. Never lose hope. Your soul, being a reflection of the ever joyous Spirit, is, in essence, happiness itself.”
- “It is very difficult to reach God. If even a concert pianist must work hard to become successful in his profession, how much more earnestly must the devotee “work” at meditation in order to realize the Infinite! Here, however, is an encouraging thought: Everyone who makes a sincere effort on the spiritual path will surely reach his goal. You cannot say that of worldly ambition. Not everyone can become a famous pianist, no matter how hard he tries. For in every field there is room at the top for very few. All men, however, can claim their sonship equally with the Heavenly Father.”
- “By the practice of meditation, you will find that you are carrying within your heart a portable paradise.”
- “You cannot buy peace; you must know how to manufacture it within, in the stillness of your daily practices in meditation. When you think that you have reached the utmost depth of silence and calmness, go deeper still. In the silence you will receive from God the answers to your life’s problems.”
We hope these quotes from the renowned Yogananda will give you strength and hope during this difficult time. Remember that this too shall pass. And, if you go within to seek peace and fulfillment, nothing outside yourself can touch you.
Perhaps the recent events in the world have been a wake-up call that we should collectively slow down. Let us look to ourselves for the answers. Valuable lessons sometimes wear disguises of difficult teachers. But, to have hope for a better world, we must do the work within ourselves to create this reality.