Posts Tagged ‘Self-Realization Fellowship’

My Interview with Philip Goldberg on His Book, “The Life of Yogananda”

March 30, 2018



Philip Goldberg

Welcome Phil, thank you for joining us today.
Hey, it’s good to be with you, Phil. Double Phil.

Allow me to introduce you. Philip Goldberg is the author of American Veda, which explores how the spirituality of India seeped into the cultural bloodstream of America. He co-hosts a spiritually themed podcast, leads American Veda Tours through India, and blogs regularly for popular media sites. His latest book, and the subject of our conversation today, is The Life of Yogananda, which is a biography of Paramahansa Yogananda, author of the spiritual classic, Autobiography of a Yogi.

(Click here to order your copy of The Life of Yogananda.)

Phil, why did you choose to write a biography of Yogananda, whose iconic autobiography has been read by millions of people?
I’m sure you will appreciate that that is the most commonly asked question I’ve had in the last few years as I worked on the book, and the answer is there’s an awful lot about Yogananda’s life that is not in his iconic memoir. Especially his life after he left India and came to America, where he would spend just about the rest of his life.

I did a page count of Autobiography of a Yogi, and it turns out that less than 10 percent of the book is about his years in America, and there are portions of those years that he summarizes in a sentence or two that in fact lasted four or five years. So there’s an awful lot that people don’t know about Yogananda if all they’ve ever read is Autobiography of a Yogi, and I wanted to fill the gaps.

What do you see as Yogananda’s place in the overall spiritual history of the western world?
It’s immense, actually. You know, when I first read Autobiography of a Yogi, at the risk of giving away my age, it was 1970, and it had a big impact on me and a big impact on my whole cohort of young spiritual seekers that were just then discovering Indian philosophy and the practices that come from the yogic repertoire, like meditation. The Beatles had just gone to India, and not long before that, the whole interest exploded.

Autobiography of a Yogi was probably the most borrowed and most often ripped-off book among that cohort of youngsters doing all that spiritual exploring. Falling in love with India, falling in love with practices like meditation, and with gurus like Yogananda. He was of course long gone by then, but the autobiography was a big deal, and launched millions of (more…)

Awake: The Life of Yogananda

November 25, 2015



Click here to order the Awake DVD.

Click here to choose a one-time digital rental of Awake for $4.99.

Co-director Paola di Florio

Co-director Paola di Florio

Awake: The Life of Yogananda, the documentary exploring the life of Indian guru Paramahansa Yogananda, author of the spiritual classic Autobiography of a Yogi, opened in theaters nationwide in the fall of 2014.

Co-director Lisa Leeman

Co-director Lisa Leeman

The film quickly gained great acclaim, winning prestigious awards at major film fests, including the (more…)

A Heartwarming Message from Daya Ma on Her 100th Birthday

June 11, 2015


This photo was taken at the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine Temple on January 31, 2014. Why is that date significant? It is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Sri Daya Mata, who served as the beloved president of SRF from 1955 until her passing on November 30, 2010.

Sri Daya Mata

Sri Daya Mata

On the night before Daya Ma’s guru, Paramahansa Yogananda, left this world, he told her, “When I am gone, only (more…)

A Block Away

February 19, 2012

Paramahansa Yogananda's Hermitage

Hi, everybody! I made a quick three-minute video to show you where I live and what I’m a block away from: the Self-Realization Fellowship temple and Paramahansa Yogananda‘s Hermitage and (more…)

A Pumpkin Paradise in Encinitas!

November 1, 2011


Last night, I was privileged to be part of the Halloween festivities outside Self-Realization Fellowship Books & Gifts, the store in Encinitas where I volunteer on Thursday afternoons.

The front entrance to SRF Books & Gifts

Bramachari Luca, who is featured in the above two-minute Wall Street Journal video, and I swept the sidewalk clean of hay in the afternoon.

The left side of the SRF Books & Gifts building

At eight o’clock a bunch of us, including a number of SRF monastics, broke everything down and cleaned up. All the pumpkins were handed out to the public, first come first served. I just tried to do what I could and stay out of the way of the people who knew what they were doing. It was fun to be part of something so cool!

The right side of the SRF Books & Gifts building

Christopher Gray, my next-door neighbor and friend, did a lot of the hard work in setting up the display  yesterday afternoon and breaking it down at night. Thanks to Chris, you didn’t have to be there to enjoy the festivities!

The lights come on and the crowds come out!

Chris’ eight quick-hit videos (seven of which are eighteen seconds or less) cover all the pumpkins on display, and his photos capture (more…)

An Eye-Opening Ritual in Encinitas

August 22, 2011

Yesterday, for the first time in over three months, I was once again able to tour Paramahansa Yogananda‘s Hermitage on the Self-Realization Fellowship ashram grounds in Encinitas.

This is me in my favorite spot in Encinitas, standing on the Hermitage lawn with nothing but the ocean in front of me

The Hermitage, where Yogananda lived for more than a decade in the late 1930s and 1940s, is where he wrote much of his spiritual classic, Autobiography of a Yogi. The Hermitage (more…)

Finally Home

August 6, 2011

The Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, site of the annual Self-Realization Fellowship Convocation

It’s Convocation Eve, the Saturday night before the annual, weeklong Self-Realization Fellowship World Convocation commences at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles. Arriving at the Westin always feels like a homecoming, like I’ve stumbled upon an oasis of peace, love and devotion hidden away among six-lane freeways and towering skyscrapers.

At a meeting for volunteers, an SRF monastic who has been in the order for more than fifty years, related the story of how he came to the organization. He had shown up a few minutes late for his first service in the small chapel inside the SRF International Headquarters atop Mount Washington in Los Angeles. The first thing he saw was devotees pranaming. His first thought was, “This is weird.” Yet at the same time, he felt a deep peace and (more…)

Meditation for Christmas Morn

December 24, 2010

Paramahansa Yogananda

In the spirit of the true meaning of Christmas, I am pleased to share this excerpt from Metaphysical Meditations by Paramahansa Yogananda. May you have a wonderful holiday season and may 2011 bring ceaseless blessings your way.


Celebrate the birth of Christ in the cradle of your consciousness during the Christmas season. Let His vast perception in Nature, in (more…)

Sri Daya Mata’s Memorial Service: The Video

December 23, 2010

Sri Daya Mata

I was privileged to attend the memorial service for Self-Realization Fellowship president Sri Daya Mata at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium on Sunday, December 12, 2010. The service was warm and intimate, filled with reverence, reflection and reminiscing. Thanks to this professionally produced video footage, you’ll feel like you were right there yourself, on center stage for the complete 150-minute ceremony.

Click here to read my account of visiting Sri Daya Mata while she lay in state at Forest Lawn.

Click here to read a brief bio of Sri Daya Mata.

Click here to learn how to order the Self-Realization Fellowship Lessons for home study, a course I highly recommend.



My Life In Encinitas: A Photographic Walking Tour

December 18, 2010

After nineteen days in Encinitas, California, I still find myself walking the streets with a skip in my step, a smile on my face and a song in my heart. Walk along with me and I’ll show you the sights!

The view from Third Street, looking down C Street toward the public entrance to Moonlight Beach

If I leave my front door and hang a left, walking north toward C Street, here’s the view of the ocean I have from the end of the block.

Walking down C Street for two blocks, I come to the Moonlight Beach parking lot

Here's a view of Moonlight Beach from the parking lot

Moonlight Beach in all its glory

Another shot of Moonlight Beach framed against clouds and water


Devotion + Dedication = Enlightenment

December 16, 2010

A religious or spiritual path that demands that I  follow an external set of rules based on the experience of others does not appeal to me. I value paths that encourage me to seek my own experiences through inner exploration and discovery.

Many a doctrine is like a window pane. We see truth through it but it divides us from truth.
Kahlil Gibran

Sufism is one such path. Guidance is required but it is up to the spiritual seeker to do the work necessary to gain enlightenment. Click here for my video interview on the principles of Sufism with Dr. Ibrahim Jaffe, the leader of the Shadhiliyya Sufi order in the United States, and the founder of both the Shadhiliyya Sufi Center and the University of Spiritual Healing and Sufism.

Self-Realization Fellowship is another path that demands much of its followers. As founder Paramahansa Yogananda said in a Thursday evening talk at the Self-Realization Fellowship temple in Encinitas, California, some sixty years ago:

Most religions try to hold followers by rousing their emotions or intellect, or insisting on blind belief in theological dogma. But the Masters of India hold you by (more…)

An Intimate Farewell to Sri Daya Mata

December 12, 2010

Sri Daya Mata

I am writing this during the two-hour bus ride back to Encinitas after attending the memorial service for Sri Daya Mata, the longtime president of Self-Realization Fellowship, at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. It was a beautiful and poignant ceremony that celebrated the life of a very special woman who was viewed by countless devotees around the globe as the very incarnation of divine love.

Click here to watch high-quality video of the memorial service.

I had been privileged to see “Ma” in person at the annual SRF World Convocation in 2000. She was eighty-six years old at the time and it was to be her last public appearance at Convocation. When the crowd realized that their beloved Ma was indeed about to make an appearance, an excited buzz rippled through the ballroom. I decided to dash to the restroom before she began speaking, but when I reached the exit doors, a security guard informed me that if I left I would not be allowed back in. For a moment, I was taken aback. Then I understood. A security lockdown was indeed necessary, as it would be for the leader of any global religious organization.

Mother Center on Mount Washington in Los Angeles

Fast-forward to yesterday. Another bus ride, this time with a (more…)

In Memoriam: Sri Daya Mata

December 6, 2010

Sri Daya Mata

Sri Daya Mata, the longtime president of Self-Realization Fellowship, left her mortal form on November 30, 2010. She was ninety-six years old and had been a devotee of Paramahansa Yogananda since the age of seventeen. The turning point of her life was when she heard Yogananda speak in her hometown of Salt Lake City in 1931. She recognized immediately that here was a man who truly knew God. She remembered thinking, Him I shall follow. And follow him she did, joyfully, reverently and unconditionally for the next seventy-nine years.

I had the honor of seeing “Ma” speak at the annual SRF World Convocation in Los Angeles in 2000. It was my first Convocation and the last one that she attended in person. It is impossible to fully convey the purity of her heart and her total devotion to God and Guru. Ma was the radiant beam of divine love made manifest in human form.

At a memorial service for Ma, the minister at the Encinitas temple told us that he had two responses to the news of Ma’s passing. First, he felt gratitude for all she had given to Yogananda’s work. Second, he (more…)

God’s Living Brush

December 3, 2010

A koi pond in the Self-Realization Fellowship Gardens (photo taken by my daughter, Erin, in January 2005)

As I sat on a stone bench in the Self-Realization Fellowship Meditation Gardens yesterday and gazed out at the ocean just after sunset, I was transfixed by the sheer beauty of what was in front of me. The deep blue of the ocean, the red hues on the horizon . . . I felt I was looking at a museum-quality painting. And in a sense, I was. This world is but a (more…)

How to Meditate for Beginners

August 16, 2010

Paramahansa Yogananda, founder of Self-Realization Fellowship

Over the years, many people have asked me how to meditate. They want to start but are not sure how to begin. If you would like to start a meditation practice, I heartily endorse the instructions given on the newly remodeled Self-Realization Fellowship website.

Click here for How to Meditate—Beginner’s Instructions. Follow the steps to advance to Correct Posture and A Beginner’s Meditation. You’ll also find links to information about prayers, affirmations and devotional chanting.

As a bonus, click here for a handful of very short Q&A videos on meditation. Plus, click on Guided Meditations under the Meditation & Kriya Yoga menu at the top of the site and you’ll find three fifteen-minute audios of Guided Meditations.

To commune daily with God in deep meditation, and to carry His love and guidance with you into all your dutiful activities, is the way that leads to permanent peace and happiness.
Paramahansa Yogananda

If this material interests you, click here for information about SRF’s Lessons on Meditation and (more…)

Meditation: Falling Awake

April 19, 2010

This insightful double-interview, Meditation: Falling Awake, was presented on The Spirit of Things on the ABC Radio Network. Host Rachael Kohn interviewed Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, who says the purpose of meditation is mindfulness, not bliss; and Self-Realization Fellowship monk Brother Satyananda, who makes the case that meditation can produce mindfulness and spiritual bliss.

What is mindfulness? In the interview, Dr. Kabat-Zinn defines it as: The awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.

Click on the audio player below to listen to the (more…)