Parallels Between EBT's and Yogananda's "Autobiography of a Yogi" (Non-Returner Realms?)

While I can’t attest for the truth of Paramhansa Yogananda’s exceptionally colorful “Autobiography of a Yogi”, I was struck reading it years ago by the description, given to Yogananda by his deceased master, of the realm he now resided in, which he termed the “Hiranyaloka”, and its similarity to the Buddhist Suddhāvāsā, or Pure Abodes of Non-Returners.

“As prophets are sent on earth to help men work out their physical karma, so I have been directed by God to serve on an astral planet as a savior,” Sri Yukteswar explained. “It is called Hiranyaloka or ‘Illumined Astral Planet.’ There I am aiding advanced beings to rid themselves of astral karma and thus attain liberation from astral rebirths. The dwellers on Hiranyaloka are highly developed spiritually; all of them had acquired, in their last earth-incarnation, the meditation-given power of consciously leaving their physical bodies at death. No one can enter Hiranyaloka unless he has passed on earth beyond the state of sabikalpa samadhi into the higher state of nirbikalpa samadhi.

“The Hiranyaloka inhabitants have already passed through the ordinary astral spheres, where nearly all beings from earth must go at death; there they worked out many seeds of their past actions in the astral worlds. None but advanced beings can perform such redemptive work effectually in the astral worlds. Then, in order to free their souls more fully from the cocoon of karmic traces lodged in their astral bodies, these higher beings were drawn by cosmic law to be reborn with new astral bodies on Hiranyaloka, the astral sun or heaven, where I have resurrected to help them. There are also highly advanced beings on Hiranyaloka who have come from the superior, subtler, causal world.”

Other interesting parallels also came up reading it, and I’d be interested in hearing any reflections others have : ) May all beings be well!

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The book was published in 1946 but influenced the West in the 60’s when there was a thirst for Eastern spiritual knowledge and few sources available.

" One of the most famous advocates of the book was Steve Jobs, the co-founder, and formerly Chairman and CEO of Apple Inc. Jobs “first read Autobiography of a Yogi as a teenager, then re-read [the book] … once a year ever since.”[26]"


Although Jobs apparently hasn’t progressed to the practice stage, this puts into perspective the needs of the different eras when since 1990 attention has shifted to actual practice.

“One approach to resolving this problem that is popular today is the eclectic one: to pick and choose from the various traditions whatever seems amenable to our needs, welding together different practices and techniques into a synthetic whole that is personally satisfying. Thus one may combine Buddhist mindfulness meditation with sessions of Hindu mantra recitation, Christian prayer with Sufi dancing, Jewish Kabbala with Tibetan visualization exercises. Eclecticism, however, though sometimes helpful in making a transition from a predominantly worldly and materialistic way of life to one that takes on a spiritual hue, eventually wears thin. While it makes a comfortable halfway house, it is not comfortable as a final vehicle.”

—Bikkhu Bodhi, 1985

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Incidentally, Paramhansa Yogananda developed ‘Kriya Yoga’ as well as a set of weekly introductory lessons in English leading up to initiation which are very similar to the Ethics and Meditation steps of the three fold training.

Gorakhpur, where Paramhansa was born is located just 60 km from Piprahawa, which many claim is the original Kapilavastu of the Buddha’s time.