I suddenly find myself with a lot of time on my hands and it is a gift from the Divine. It is allowing me to delve deeply into spiritual reading of all traditions. For ultimately, it is all one.
I have been reading the letters that Paramahansa Yogananda wrote to James Lynn – his first successor at the Self Realization Fellowship. These letters are contained in the book, Rajarsi Janakananda: A Great Western Yogi.
They are exquisite and beautiful and vulnerable – and offer an unseen window into Yogananda’s soul, for they were written to one he considered a soul friend and equal to no other. These letters are so different from Yogananda’s other works. It shows his deep humanity, and has given me a greater appreciation and deeper love for him. And his letters should be ranked alongside the classic written works that are the product of other great spiritual friendships such as as the divine friendships between – Francis de Sales and Jane de Chantal, Francis of Assisi and Clare of Assisi, Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, and countless others. This type of spiritual writing has fascinated and held my soul captive for decades. I even considered doing my doctoral work in this area of research.
I include two excerpts from the book which touched me deeply and which also resonate with the season. The first comes from a letter written by Yogananda on Christmas Eve in 1935, in India, during a year or so that these two friends spent apart:
“Days, nights, months are passing; and with each footstep we are approaching the Eternal Kingdom. While millions are thinking they are approaching old age, death, and oblivion, we know we are approaching eternal life, eternal youth, eternal wisdom, eternal protection. So you must realize each day you are approaching Heaven. When you sit in meditation, expand your body…
“Stillness is the altar of the Spirit. There is no limit to the deepening of stillness. There is no limit of ever new Joy. Never give mental boundaries to your perception of Joy. One thing pleases me most, that you feel deepening of Joy ever since you wrote to me: ‘My joy and bliss are growing deeper.’ That is what my beloved, blessed one always writes me and what pleases me most. So no boundaries to your perception in meditation. No depths to be reached; you must keep expanding in universal consciousness and keep deepening your appreciation of ever new unending Bliss. He is the inexhaustible Bliss who will entertain us throughout eternity without cessation.
“With love – ever my own boundless blessings to you.” (p.96)
And this second excerpt, comes from a letter dated July 1, 1936, a few months before Yogananda’s return to America:
“As I sit still, I become more still. Stillness has many screens, so has realization many layers. You must never think that you have found the last stillness, last realization, or last joy. Whenever you feel you have reached the climax of stillness or realization or joy, seek further, and you will enter into a finer, deeper state. Go on doing that unto eternity, and still you will say God is inexhaustible. So are we seeking God that our perceptions may never grow stale and our growing hunger for joy may never get satiated or saturated throughout eternity. This is the way; follow eternally, going behind each deeper perception. Peel them like onions, and God will be ever hiding behind every layer of perception.
“With eternal love to you. Ever yours.” (p. 120)
These words speak for themselves…