A Word Before We Begin

This blessons (blog-lesson) is inspired by a documentary on Paramhansa Yogananda on Netflix entitled Awakening– (watch it if you haven’t already!)

There are so few role models for to learn from and for us to see what it means to live a whole, integral, spiritual and fulfilling life – and Paramhansa’s presence is still here – via the documentary – as a phenomenal role model to show us how!

Watch Awake!

After watching the documentary, I am left thinking about one thing that really has my attention. Paramhansa went out of his way – in every imaginable way—to help and teach the west. I can identify with his phrasing of coming to the “city jungle” and feeling that trees wouldn’t survive. It speaks to me because I feel like I can’t breath when I’m up to my neck in city, stress and m-band -like e stuff. Whereas being somewhere, like the beach, or a place that is comfortable but has nature’s presence, allows me to tap into the flow. I feel like I can breath, like life is more than good. Like I can sense myself and I exist. It is similar to the way I feel when I’m writing. I suppose it has everything to do with focusing on me versus my outer world.

Back to Paramhansa, I’m just not sure that he was fully satisfied with life – and I’m fully aware that I’m projecting here (meaning I may be seeing what I feel, not what’s actually there). I’m not satisfied with life, with the madness, the lack of authenticity and with how difficult it is for me to connect or stay connected. For him, I feel like he dedicated his whole self to helping the western world and in return a hydrogen bomb was dropped in WWII. Maybe the bomb and war would have been much worse if not for him, and maybe he knew this, but it still sounds like a hard blow when you are teaching self-realization and, in this way, promoting peace. He certainly had disappointments, such as not making it back in time to say goodbye to his dying mother and his guru, Sri Yukteswar. On the other hand, his life was divinely guided and I see that he had some reminders (events that occurred in India) to focus his attention within. As such, when he returned to the US he spent days in meditation.

One pivotal moment for Paramhansa must have been when he realized he was always home, no matter where he went, because he was always with himself and God; thus balancing the focus within and the disappointments of life.

I have to say, I just looked up and saw a photo in Starbucks. It is of two men on a truck in a tropical mountain – I guess going to the coffee beans. It’s green and I can almost hear the tropical buzz. I want to be there. I like all the travel I have done to places, especially in Mexico and Bali, (where I felt like life – the one created by the Creator, not the stressful rat-race called life)- was present. Nature’s presence – similar to self-presence. When you hear nature’s sounds, like the buzzing jungle or the crashing waves, you are drawn into the flow of well being. In a city where nature is silenced, there can be an absence of well being. It’s like the movie ‘Pleasantville’: In the movie, life was black and white until people tapped into passion, when life took on color and vibrancy. Sometimes I feel that life is dull in black and white when nature’s flow is absent; life returns to full color when that natural flow of well being, nature’s presence, is present.

That brings me to a dilemma: what is best for my spiritual and personal path? Is it a life closer to nature or a life in the big city where my challenge is to stay connected to my authenticity? On the one hand, nature holds authenticity for you, on the other hand, you have to be able to expand and build things in your life, but there’s not much to build in nature. Was Paramhansa glad he gave his life to living in the city-jungles of the US, which proved to bring him great challenges? Or would he have been better off spending his life meditating in the Himalia’s? By picking the apple, did Eve take she and Adam into the city jungle? Or did Eve’s apple enable them to go build something? Rephrased, was the apple the doorway to self-development that was not afforded in nature, in the garden of Eden?

Here’s the thing: Paramhansa’s said that he realized that either was fine, where he chose to live his life didn’t matter. He still developed himself and fulfilled his life purpose. For many of us to fulfill our life’s purpose, we have to develop ourselves and we aren’t able to do so without living in the city-jungle. Even though it is distracting to our self-realization, it provides the challenges of life that force us to grow and increase our connection to ourselves, which can lead to self-realization. Paradox: distracting us leads to realizing us. Yes, well, the more you experience who and what you are not, the more you begin to realize what you truly are. It is a slow process, like walking around in a dark room to try to figure out what room you are in. So, I always seek to speed up the process, as do my students.

Self Presence & The Garden of Eden

My teachers used the phrase self-presence and, for years, this made no sense to me. I couldn’t comprehend the idea of being here. It was a given, wasn’t it?

“Yes, I am here” – I would say, “So, I’m self-present?”


Then they would say it was an energetic thing – and my understanding of what self-presence is, would lessen.

“How do I bring my energy here? I thought it was always with me. I’m here, right? Wait– what?”

Conclusion: ‘I’m confused. That’s all I know, but I knew more before class today.’- I would think to myself.

That’s what it was like for me. In case you can identify, I’m going to come at it from a different angle, from the two men on the truck in the jungle-photo-angle:


Read the full blog here