Eastern & Western religious philosophy is one of my areas of interest about which I write essays exploring the nature of reality and being.
Know Better in Order to Feel Better
In this collection of insightful articles, A World in Transition: Finding Spiritual Security in Times of Change, Paramahansa Yogananda, founder of Self-Realization Fellowship, and others offer reassuring counsel for meeting the challenges involved in the changes that keep humanity nervous, frustrated, and dissatisfied in the turmoil of this ever-changing world.
In the Foreword to this collection, Dr. Robert Muller, (1923-2010), former United Nations Assistant Secretary-General, who found renewed hope for world peace through Paramahansa Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi writes,
As we enter a new century, a new millennium, I pray that the spirit and teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda will bless every reader with a similar rebirth of hope, and beautiful enlightenments of heart and mind, thus contributing to an evolutionary advance of humanity into a global spiritual age.
Like all publications of the writings of Paramahansa Yogananda and those of his close followers, including former Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) president Sri Daya Mata, long time monastics Brother Anandamoy and Brother Achalananda, Tara Mata, Mrinalini Mata, and Brother Mitrananda, A World in Transition offers practical understanding based on hard science as well as inspiring and uplifting abstract ideas that gladden the heart and mind.
However, Paramahansa Yogananda wanted his followers and others in his audience to "know" better, as well as feel better. Thus each of the book’s five parts illustrates the balance between the physical world and the spiritual world:
Part I: The New Millennium: End or Beginning?
Part II: The New Harmony Between Science and Spirituality
Part III: The New Religion
Part IV: The New World
Part V: The New Humanity
To the end of helping humanity "know" better as well as "feel" better, the yoga master known as "the father of yoga in the West" Paramahansa Yogananda avers,
Periodically throughout history, the world has gotten into a mess. During times of war, it becomes a torture chamber for millions of human beings. True happiness, lasting happiness, lies in God, "having whom, no other gain is greater."
The articles in this book address the dissatisfaction with which each individual feels confronted in a world that remains in constant flux. The pain of violence is always pushing against the pleasure of peace, and the heart and mind become frustrated through the powerlessness to correct each devastating occurrence.
Violence in the News
The world remains a turbulent place that is always changing. The study of history teaches that some historical eras are more unstable than others; nevertheless, some degree of turbulent activity is always present. Although most individuals likely hope to die peacefully in their sleep, preferably at an advanced age, news reports continue to affirm that many individuals meet violent deaths.
The state of the world is not all turbulence and violence, however. There is much peace and tranquility to be experienced. And no doubt it is true that most of us would claim that our spirituality is the place to which we go for that much-needed calmness. But how is it that violence and calmness seem to exist together in this world? And just how can we claim one and not the other? Or are we destined to exist as helpless victims of other people's violent tendencies?
Placing Violence in Perspective
In A World in Transition, Paramahansa Yogananda offers some important truths that help us place in perspective our consternation about the chaotic nature of life in a changing world. In the first article, "The End of the World," the yoga master offers these comforting words,
In spite of all the ruthless, desecrating ways in which man has wrought destruction in God's creation, still we will find that evil destroys itself, and that the power of God marches on in the face of every opposition.
This powerful statement proclaims that regardless of how badly mankind mismanages affairs, through the power of goodness that mismanagement will be opposed and things will ultimately be set aright. If evil destroys itself, then we have no need to live in constant fear. With "the power of God march[ing] on in the face of every opposition," we remain secure.
God's power of goodness always protects us, so we truly have no need to doubt. In this same article, Paramahansa Yogananda says that the literal end of the world comes about in two forms, partial and complete dissolution. The good news is, "It will be a long, long time before we can expect complete dissolution." But through various cataclysms, the world has already seen partial dissolution, an example being Noah's flood.
Kriya Yoga and Nonattachment
More important, however, than the literal end of the world is the metaphysical end of the world, which is possible for all of us through the practice of Kriya Yoga, or some other spiritual technique, and learning nonattachment to the physical world, along with evolving into desirelessness. The guru says,
For your own happiness you must strive to live free of worldly desires. If there is anything that you can't do without, you have a terrible lesson to learn.
Becoming desireless and nonattached is an essential part of our spiritual education. Such states of being are achieved through living a spiritual life, learning to depend on ineffable forces instead of material forces. Paramahansa Yogananda brought yoga to the West to teach Westerners how to achieve those goals of desirelessness and nonattachment.
In her article, "Guidance and Encouragement for the Years Ahead," Sri Daya Mata, who served as president of Self-Realization Fellowship from 1955 to 2010, admonishes devotees:
Don't be discouraged by this doom and gloom; it will pass. The more we take our minds away from the body's attachments to this sphere, the more we can lift our consciousness into that divine kingdom.
This book offers a useful overview of the ideas that Paramahansa Yogananda lays out in all of his writings that explain his teachings. He came to America to offer the West his knowledge of the Eastern practice of yoga, and he remained here for the rest of life teaching the tenets of Kriya Yoga, the method that leads the mind to the peace and calmness that make it possible to unite the soul with its Creator.
A World in Transition provides readers with new ways of looking at the issue of change in world events. Instead of dread and trepidation, a spiritual mindset can offer much-needed peace in confronting the ever-present chaotic events that are always plaguing the heart and mind in a world, which operates through oppositional state. The loving advice offered in this book works to help overcome the delusive power of maya, in order to focus on peace and harmony as one travels the spiritual path to God-union.
- Paramahansa Yogananda, et al. A World in Transition: Finding Spiritual Security in Times of Change. Self-Realization Fellowship. 1999. First Edition. Print.
- SRF Blog. "Resources on Our Site To Help You Cope With the Current World Situation." Accessed April 14, 2021.
- Official Web site of Dr. Robert Muller. Accessed April 14, 2021.
- James Trefil. "Evidence for a Flood." Smithsonianmag.com. April 1, 2000.
- Editors. "Maya." Paramahansa Yogananda: The Royal Path of Self-Realization. Accessed April 14, 2021.
© 2016 Linda Sue Grimes