The Book That Changed My Life

Life changing events and moments may not happen very often. When they do, it can be an experience that affects the rest of your life.

One of these moments happened to me when I was eighteen. I have been forever grateful for this book being the spark, the inspiration, and the breath of Spirit that moved me to start a spiritual journey in life.

It was the middle of the night, and I was visiting a friend. We were talking into the late hours and when I left she gave me a book titled Autobiography of a Yogi.

There was a photo of an Indian guru named Paramahansa Yogananda. Something about his eyes in the photo was unusual, as if the photo captured the energy and love that was emanating from them.

Yogananda was the first yoga master of India whose mission brought him to live and teach in the West. His firsthand account of his life experiences in India includes childhood revelations, stories of his visits to saints and masters in India, and long-secret teachings of yoga and Self-realization that he first made available to the Western reader.

As I read the book I was amazed at the uniqueness of his story, as well as the Sanskrit words and names that were in the book. If there is such a thing as past lives, I know I must have been in India for at least one, maybe many more. The stories, Sanskrit, and descriptions seemed unusually familiar.

His story was fascinating. A spiritual seeker and journey that included meeting wise gurus and learning sacred knowledge, and experiencing ecstatic moments in and out of meditation.

I learned recently that Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple Computer, also read this book when he was seventeen, then traveled to India two years later to try to meet Yogananda, who had died a few months before. He stayed there and read the book again three times. The book was so influential and inspiring that he ended up reading it once a year for the rest of his life.

I also read Job’s authorized biography by Walter Jacobson, and the book is mentioned there. Jobs died on October 5 2011. His memorial service was held on October 16th and was attended by hundreds including famous friends such as Bill Gates. At the end of the service, everyone was given a brown box. In the box was a copy of Autobiography of a Yogi. It was Steve Jobs last gift. Check out the YouTube video “Steve Jobs Last Gift”.

It was also an amazing gift in my life, and I have read it several times over the years. It changed my life and set me on a path and spiritual journey for the rest of my life that continues today. Yogananda’s photo has always been in my home. Even now as I write this blog his photo is right next to my laptop.

Normally a life changing event does not happen from just from reading a book. Indeed, it was not just a book that I read. It was the thoughts and energy and spiritual inspiration in between the lines and within the stories told. It was the intense devotion and love of the Divine of Yogananda that so deeply affected me. I felt that my spiritual awareness was actually opened up, as if my consciousness had crossed a new threshold of expanded knowledge and wisdom. For some reason I was inspired to go into the local foothills and fast on oranges, almonds and water for three days. I maintained silence and did a lot of meditation. When I came out of the foothills I was changed. It was the beginning of a lifelong spiritual journey.I never became active in the SRF movement, or in studying his meditation techniques beyond the initial lessons I received by mail. I visited the original world headquarters on Mt Washington near Pasadena where I lived at the time.

To this day I can glance at those amazing eyes at any time and be reminded of a lifelong spiritual journey that was originally inspired by his book. His photo seems to radiate the spark of the Divine and I feel deep gratitude for his book being such an inspiration and for the life changing experience that I had as a result of reading it.  Namaste.

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