Spiritual Journey

I have begun to read the Autobiography of  a Yogi by Parahamsa Yogananda, again. I had read it a few times before and appreciated it. Not only is Yogananda a good storyteller, he has very interesting things to say.

Recently, the desire to read this book again has grown within me. I remembered noticing the second time I read it the positive effect it had on my outlook and temperament, especially when I was reading the passages on the lives of the saints. Similarly, I had noticed a similar difference in my general attitude when I was listening to Brian Tracy’s cd series “The Psychology of Achievement”. These experiences point to the phenomenon that the food we feed the mind is important, as it affects us deeply.

I’ve begun listening to Brian Tracy’s Psychology of Achievement again in my car–I bought a car with a working cd player–and I’ve noticed again how my mental outlook has much improved. Although I am by nature an optimist, these cd’s help me be more fully positive, perhaps by reinforcing my natural temperament as well as by helping me address pockets of myself where I am not particularly positive.

And so at this third experience of noticing the impact of what I read or listen to on my outlook and focus, my mind has begun to remember the positive effects that reading Autobiography of a Yogi had on me. I began to think of reading it again. During the time this idea was developing, I found myself in a local bookstore, skimming a few books on a particular topic. I’d gathered several books and was looking for a place to scan them. The only empty chair I found was in the biography section, and there, looking at me when I happened to glance up from my reading, was the Autobiography of a Yogi. I resolved then to buy the book, although not on that trip.

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I suppose now I should confess to something that I don’t usually share with people, at least to any significant extent. My life is filled with spiritual (and, to a lesser extent, psychic) phenomena. I have an ambivalent attitude toward these experiences. My first reaction tends to be negative. I very much like things to be provable and replicable, and if I could apply the scientific method (including peer review) to spiritual experiences, I would. However, much of the spiritual seems to be highly individual in nature, for while any particular person’s experiences are not necessarily unique to that person, since each person is at a different place along the spiritual path, it may well seem that way.

For a long time I resisted that these things were happening. When I was a child, I could hear whispering–whether it was the whispering of spirits or other phenomena, I don’t know. It irked me considerably, because I couldn’t tell what they were saying, and it was distracting.

I once told my third grade teacher I was having trouble concentrating on my work because of the voices in my head. Her teacher-like answer was that if I didn’t do my work, I’d have much more to worry about from the voices outside my head. Since there was no help in that quarter with these voices, I decided to banish the voices. I’m not sure how I did it, I just know that I did. I haven’t heard them since, but I still intensely dislike the radio to be on at a volume low enough that you can hear it, but not loud enough to distinguish the words. It reminds me too much of those irritating voices.

Nowadays, much of the spiritual information that I receive is incomplete, as if it is interrupted by static. I have suspected for years that I myself am the source of that static. For, although I have come to accept the occasions when I manifest objects (or aid or situations that I have requested) and no longer falsely ascribe these events to “luck” when I know it is something else, I still have great difficulty accepting information, like names or places or numbers, that is verifiable. I can’t decide if I am more afraid that verifiable information would prove to be false, leaving me in a precarious position with respect to my understanding of the world, or true, which would also leave me in a precarious position with respect to my preferred understanding of the world.

It seems that while I (understandably) derive no comfort from the idea that these experiences might be delusional, oddly enough, the possibility that they may be true and that there is much more going on in the world than our science can substantiate is perhaps even more frightening. So I keep myself in a strange limbo, begrudgingly accepting happenings and occurrences that seem mild and don’t warrant any grand attention yet creating my own static and interference so that I cannot receive information that threatens to tip the uneasy scales in one direction or another.

Still, despite my deep-seated reluctance, the overwhelming number and frequency of experiences is slowly pointing my compass needle to North. Yet I drag my feet. I like logic and truth, and while these phenomena may well be products of logic and truth, they are not the logic and truth by which I prefer to measure the world and its events.


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