Since the first publication of this book thirty years ago, it has appeared in several editions and languages. Recently I reread it, and decided that, after so many years, it could do with revision. And though the same number of years of my own life have passed also, bringing me now to the age of eighty-two, I decided not to bring the reader comparably up to date on my own life. Essentially, indeed, this book was never intended to be an autobiography so much as an account of my life with Paramhansa Yogananda. My basic purpose was to tell about his life from the perspective of a disciple. This would, I felt, fill a much neglected need.
I’ve written here about the deep humility which caused him, in his autobiography, to relate more about other great saints he had known than about himself. Indeed, the average reader might receive the impression from that autobiography that the author himself was not even a master, but simply a devout, earnest spiritual seeker who had had the good fortune to meet all those saints.
What I have done here, then, is complete the story of his life from an objective point of view. In this sense, I might indeed have titled this book A Gospel of Paramhansa Yogananda, were it not for the fact that I have also written other books, containing hundreds more of his sayings.
This book is also, and primarily, a sequel to Yogananda’s autobiography, which, I am told, has become the best-selling spiritual autobiography of all time, and is still, after more than sixty years, among the ten best-selling spiritual books in the world.
The underlying saga of my own life has been universal in that it has been mostly a search for truth. Thus, this book is really more concerned with principles than with persons or events.
My story — detailed in Part I of this book — begins with my boyhood search. I sought by many paths: scientific, political, artistic, literary, dramatic, religious, philosophical, and (finally) spiritual. My hope is that this book will touch a receptive chord in others, for what I have dealt with here is a search that is central to the life of every man.
One day a disciple asked Yogananda, “Will I ever leave the spiritual path?”
“How could you?” the Master asked. “Everyone in the world is on the spiritual path.”
This book is an attempt to demonstrate the truth of those words.
I met Paramhansa Yogananda on September 12, 1948, at the age of twenty-two. I had just read his autobiography. It had inspired me to take the next bus across the country (from New York to Los Angeles, where he lived). So deeply had his book affected me that the first words I addressed to him — they would have been inconceivable for me even one week earlier — were, “I want to be your disciple.”
The Guru must have seen how desperate I was for the truths he had to share, for he accepted me at that very meeting as a monastic disciple. From then on, I lived with him for the remaining three and a half years of his life, and have served him and his work throughout my life.
January 31, 2009