I do occasional book reviews on this blog of the yoga books I have been devouring. Please see them all if you click on the category: Yoga Musings from a book worm.
This one I have hesitated writing over because it is not an entirely postive one.
Autobiography of a Yogi - Yogananda
Click read more....
Well, apparently I ought to be inanely positive in my blogs. And I sure as hell cannot write any better that this chap...pot kettle....Hum ha.... finally I thought to myself... well it's my blog and my humble opinion. Why shouldn't I write it? Let's go!
At least the central message is ok (although not direct!) Like all those totally awful, but valuable, self published business books you've probably been forced to read by your company it can be summarised in 3 bullet points (yet it is hundreds of pages long):
My problem is not the central message above. It's just that I really, really need to see it myself or experience it directly to believe that they in particular were enlightened. I can accept that enlightenment is possible, and the Gurus that he has dotefully described were good, but when it is being colourfully written about years later, I can still want to experience it directly.
I just am sometimes such a cynic. You hear of an adolescent boy idolising an old guru and you wonder if he has been manipulated. You hear of visions and hallucinations and you wonder if it happened in Oxford tomorrow would they be sectioned or listened to? You hear that the eldest guru was not well thought of and you think....did his peers have a point?
The good thing about the book is that it does acknowledge the need in all of this stuff to go and discover it directly for yourself. The other good thing is the chapter about physics...although I think it may be 30 odd years out of date.
I just wish he followed his Guru's advice and avoided recounting miracles, they only make you cynical. I wish that the first 4 (ish) chapters were not dedicated to writing about how amazing the book was going to be. I wish that the journey from becoming a Swami (monk) to being able to see the future or heal people was expanded on as this is the real leap in the journey! I wish that there was a bit more balance when the eldest guru was described (now that is not going to happen). I wish that all the myriad of occasions that people saw and suddenly believed (at least twice because food was coincidentally provided) were just missed out. And I finally wish that someone who is enlightened, thinks they are enlighened or knows someone who is would contact me so I can see it myself.
I don't recommend this book if you are reading it for an understanding of yoga. Definately do not pick it up as a starter text because if you are a cynically brought up person it would put you off yoga and that would be a shame because the good that so many people get from Yoga...even if they just do physical hatha.... is brilliant. Also, you need a fairly firm grasp of the philosophy to make sense of the bits that are drip fed into the autobiography. I'd suggest starting with a down to earth edition Iyengar light on yoga, Bhagavad Gita this edition or (for similar message but obviously not yoga) Buddhism Plain and Simple by Steve Hagen which is completely about self discovery is frank, short and not story telling.
That said if you want a story there are plenty in this book!
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