Awake: The Life of Yogananda (2014) Movie Script

NARRATOR: I was conscious
in my mother's womb.
Feeling the movements
in her body.
Aware of my own
helpless state.
This body bundle
of bones is not I.
the darkness of the womb
would be dispelled
and light would visit me.
On one side I wanted
to express myself
as a human being,
yet, on the other side,
I didn't.
Because I felt I was spirit.
I see behind the scenes.
The visible man is a shadow.
As soon as I change
my consciousness,
I see everything,
just as if it were
a motion picture.
I distinctly remember
the excitement of meeting
Swami Yogananda.
He was straight
from the heart.
He looked strange,
like a woman with long hair.
But I remember
his powerful eyes.
He created such a stir.
KRISHNA DAS: I remember
the first time I heard
Yogananda's voice.
I got a record,
I think, from SRF.
And I put it on,
and I didn't
know what to expect.
And then, this
booming, powerful
"I, Paramahansa Yogananda,
am singing.
"Sing with me."
I went... (GROANS)
I, Paramahansa Yogananda,
am praying.
Pray with me.
Bless me that
with the awakening dawn...
I may awaken
all souls with my own...
...and bring them to Thee.
He wasn't trying
to sing prettily,
wasn't trying to
entertain people.
He was singing,
you know, to God.
It was so powerful.
While I was in India,
I was with Ravi Shankar.
He gave me
Autobiography of a Yogi.
Just looked at the cover,
and he just zapped
me with his eyes.
I mean I can't imagine...
If I hadn't read that,
I probably wouldn't
have a life. Really.
Yeah, I probably would have
kicked the bucket.
Or I'd just be, you know,
some horrible person
with a pointless life.
It just gave meaning to life.
Steve Jobs apparently had
only one book on his iPad.
Lo and behold,
that book turns out to be
the Autobiography of a Yogi.
MAS VIDAL: Yoga, for many,
has become something
that you do with your body.
But the yogis
never taught that.
The way that
Yogananda taught yoga,
was use the body,
you have a body,
but it's really
about the mind.
Expanding your consciousness.
Who am I? Who you are?
Why we came to
this Earth as a human?
LI MIAO TSENG: It's really
very easy to get lost
in the complexity of life.
conflicted beings as humans.
One of the deepest
things about us
is that our lives
don't make sense,
except in the mystery.
Yogananda provided us
a vocabulary to talk
about the human spirit
that got away from dogma,
and doctrine, and ritual.
Whether it be a Hindu, Muslim,
Christian, Jewish, whatever
tradition you're part of,
Yogananda charted
a path inward
that connected you
with your own divinity.
NARRATOR: Buried during
the Dark Ages...
Kriya Yoga was
revived for modern man
by the deathless
yogi Mahavatar Babaji.
Babaji instructed
Lahiri Mahasaya
to teach Kriya Yoga to others.
The transmission of
the ancient science
from guru to disciple.
Unknown to society in general,
a great spiritual renaissance
started in a remote
corner of Banaras.
As the fragrance of flowers
cannot be suppressed,
so devotees from
every part of India
began to seek
the divine nectar
of this liberated master.
Day after day,
the guru initiated
one or two devotees
into Kriya Yoga,
the science of meditation.
Early in their married life,
my parents became disciples.
Lahiri Mahasaya
predicted my birth,
and that through this body
many shall receive
the spiritual
enlightenment of India.
"The message of yoga
will encircle the globe,"
he said.
It will aid in establishing
the brotherhood of man.
But when I heard
the word "guru,"
it frightened me.
For I knew what that
responsibility meant.
VIDAL: His great burden
is to be the representative
of this 5,000-year-old
This is a man with
intuitive knowledge.
Extraordinary yogic powers.
And he could perceive events
that were decades
in front of him.
But his teachings
caused controversy.
SONI: He would be
called into question,
and everything he worked for
would unravel.
Every soul is on a journey.
People are at different levels
in that journey.
I think we all believe
that there's more to life
than what we experience
every day.
happens to be what I would
call a spiritual prodigy.
A spiritual genius.
Which means had
access to a domain
of awareness that most people
don't have access to.
Like mathematical geniuses,
he explored
a much larger territory
in the spiritual domain.
NARRATOR: Sometimes, I used to
lapse into the consciousness
of my true spirit.
Clear recollections came to me
of a distant life,
in which I had been a yogi
amid the Himalayan snows.
visions of seeing his guru.
the ages, there have been
mystics who come
with special knowledge
that helps us understand
our place in the universe.
Yogananda was born at the dawn
of the atomic age,
when modern physics
would shatter
our most basic beliefs
about the nature of reality
and pave the way
for an ancient
and hidden teaching
to be received by many.
MAN: Yogananda had
been told since infancy
by saints and seers,
that he'd be taking
these teachings to the West.
But he thought,
"How is this possible?"
You know, it was absurd,
because he barely
spoke any English.
NARRATOR: One day, my mind
went away from Ranchi.
I went to the storeroom
to meditate,
and I fell into an ecstasy.
Surely these people
are Americans.
It's scary to the mind.
I think the first
thing was, "Oh, my God."
your own life, having
a message so strong
that it totally changes
your life, in a moment.
And at that time he'd been
here about three years.
Probably thought
this was his life work.
NARRATOR: I had founded
a school following
the educational ideals
of the rishis
whose forest ashrams had been
the ancient seat of learning.
Overcoming restlessness
of the body and mind,
my concentration techniques
achieved astonishing results.
He established
a "How to Live" School,
I wish we had
"How to Live" Schools.
You have to learn
your grammar, you have
to learn your math
and your science.
But you also have
to learn how to live.
One, two, three, four, five.
One, two, three, four, five.
Love conquers all.
Love conquers all.
Very good.
MEHROTRA: He's in love
with his country.
He is being respected
by his community,
he is seeing his
vision manifest
where children
are learning the art
and science of yoga.
And then he's sitting there
and all of a sudden,
he becomes aware
that he has to
leave all of it.
YOGANANDA: God is taking me
away to America.
He never wanted
to come to America.
That was not part
of his dream at all.
"Let me just go
to the Himalayas
and just live in a cave there.
"I can do good there.
I can pray for people."
But his teacher said, "No.
"You must go to the West.
Go to America."
NARRATOR: Tears stood in
my eyes as I cast a last look
at the little boys,
and the sunny acres of Ranchi.
I knew, henceforth,
I would dwell in far lands.
How alone I was here.
Not a soul I knew.
I had heard many stories
about the materialistic West,
a land very different
from India.
It was somewhat of
a daunting experience,
to go out on the streets.
My strange dress prompted
boyish mockery and catcalls.
BOY: What's that?
VIDAL: There were kids that
were throwing stones at him,
calling him names.
he was called a magician
at one point, a snake charmer.
many Americans were still
not used to having Jews here.
And now comes
a darker skinned swami
in orange robes and a turban.
NARRATOR: I noticed
some hot dog signs.
In imagination I saw
all kinds of dogs
going through
the meat chopper.
And I thought, "My Lord.
"Why did you bring me to the
land where people eat dogs?"
When Yogananda came
to the United States,
it was after World War I.
The world was
a very different place.
It was a very powerful time.
There was this upsurge
of freedom.
Freedom of sexuality,
freedom of expression.
Boundaries of known reality
were being shattered
and penetrated.
You had
the Einsteinian
sort of flowering
into quantum physics.
And it became clear
that the world was not
what it appeared to be.
SONI: Western philosophers
are talking about
the death of God.
And Yogananda says,
it's not about
the death of God,
it's about
the reconceptualization
of the divine.
CHIDANANDA: It's significant
that Yogananda's
first lecture in America
was called
"The Science of Religion."
Not Hinduism, because using
religious terminology,
in Western peoples' minds,
would place his offerings
in a box.
But self-realization?
Oh. Yoga?
Oh, those are universal.
Spine and the brain
are the altars of God.
That's where the electricity
of God flows down
into the nervous system
into the world.
and the searchlights
of your senses
are turned outwards.
But when you will
reverse the searchlights,
through Kriya Yoga,
and be concentrated
in the spine,
you will behold the Maker.
That's what
Self-Realization teaches.
The technique of meditation,
recharging the body battery
with cosmic energy.
For it is not a creed
or dogma,
but a science...
...of the soul and spirit.
How the soul descended from
the cosmic consciousness...
into the earth and
the body and the senses... the purpose
of this work.
VIDAL: Imagine hearing that
God is in your spine.
In 1920.
It was radical.
It was a bold explanation
of where to go
to experience God.
God is still
a bit unfathomable.
She's in everything.
She's in everyone.
If you call Him energy,
that's fine.
SONI: Yogananda thought
of self-realization
as a science.
He thought of Kriya
Yoga as a science.
Religion has a lot of baggage,
but a science
means that it's part
of a scientific process.
It's empirical,
you can test certain things.
And your own
spiritual practice
and self-realization
is that scientific process.
An individual is sort of
an organized packet
of consciousness
that is part of a bigger ocean
of consciousness
in that when
you are meditating
and going deep within,
such as in yoga,
your inner consciousness
is combining with
that higher consciousness.
You couldn't have
described to a Westerner
what Yogananda
was teaching prior
to the twentieth century.
There simply wasn't
a vocabulary for it.
The apparently solid body
is made up of
these whirling atoms,
and protons, and electrons.
And those are composed
of energy.
The basic substance
of creation.
NARRATOR: The body
is potentially vast
and omnipresent.
This earth is nothing
but movies to me.
Just like the beam
of a motion picture.
So is everything made
of shadows and light.
That's what we are.
Light and shadows of the Lord.
Nothing else than that.
There's one purpose.
To get to the beam.
VIDAL: But the doors
of perception don't often
open with the intellect.
Something very powerful
has to happen
to shake us out of
our comfort zone.
NARRATOR: It was in
Bareilly on a midnight...
As I slept beside Father,
I was awakened by
a peculiar flutter.
CHIDANANDA: When he was
about 11 years old,
he and his father
were in northern India.
The family was
temporarily separated,
and his mother
had gone to Calcutta
to prepare for the wedding
of the eldest brother.
And unknown to them,
she had contracted
Asiatic cholera.
SYMAN: He had a dream
that night, that his mother
came to him.
NARRATOR: The flimsy curtains
parted and I saw the beloved
form of my mother.
"Rush to Calcutta,
if you would see me."
The wraith-like
figure vanished.
Mother is dying.
I collapsed into
an almost lifeless state.
A telegram arrived.
She had died in
a matter of hours.
NARRATOR: What was
the purpose of this?
Her solacing black eyes
had been my refuge
in the trifling tragedies
of childhood.
Farewell my child.
The cosmic mother
will protect you.
(ECHOING) It is I who have
watched over thee,
life after life,
in the tenderness
of many mothers.
See in my gaze
the two black eyes.
The lost,
beautiful eyes
thou seek'st.
NARRATOR: I used to dream
in my childhood,
a tiger used to break
my leg at night.
Mother used to come running
with a candle and say,
"You are dreaming.
"Where is it broken?"
(CHUCKLES) And then
I used to laugh.
From that time on,
I was watchful,
even in dreams,
to separate the unreal
from the real.
VIDAL: Once he had
cracked open the door,
his world would
never be the same.
But it would take time,
and many tests,
before he would fully awaken
into this new reality.
NARRATOR: Mercifully mother
of the universe,
teach me thyself
through visions,
or through a guru
sent by thee.
I hoped to find them
in the Himalayan snows.
The master whose face
often appeared to me
in visions.
I gazed searchingly
about me, on any
excursion from home
for the face
of my destined guru.
One day, I wiped
my tear-swollen face,
and set out for
a distant marketplace
in Banaras.
Something told me
to look behind.
I had seen him in dreams.
The face was
the one I had seen
in a thousand visions.
Holding a promise
that I had not
fully understood.
I came to know him long before
I met him in this life.
It was him.
It was my master.
He said,
"I have been waiting."
MEHROTRA: A true guru
is there to lead you
to yourself. Not to himself.
To what we are
truly capable of,
not just the limited
aspect of us.
VIDAL: The spiritual path
is farthest from easy.
It requires undoing
aspects of ourselves.
NARRATOR: My guru could not
be bribed, even by love.
The hard core of
egotism is difficult
to dislodge, except rudely.
This flattening to
the ego treatment,
was hard to endure.
I sometimes felt that,
he was discovering
and uprooting
every diseased
tooth in my jaw.
Many teachers will
tell you to believe,
and then put out
your eyes of reason.
My guru said,
"I want you to keep
your eyes of reason open."
In addition,
I will open in you,
the eye of wisdom.
Yoga for me is freedom.
The state of
needing nothing is yoga.
one with peace,
we become one with joy,
we become one with love.
We realize that that
is our true nature.
NARRATOR: How tirelessly
my master labored
that the boy Mukunda
be transformed into
the monk Yogananda.
Three happy years
were spent in humble
circumstances in Boston.
I gave public lectures,
taught classes,
and addressed clubs,
colleges, churches
and groups of
every denomination.
CHIDANANDA: But it took
Yogananda a few years
to realize that he
wasn't in the right place
for this message
to really take off.
SONI: In 1925, Yogananda
arrives in Los Angeles,
and on the first night,
according to the LA Times,
over 6,000 people
attend his talk.
That's double the capacity
of the auditorium.
Los Angeles is
this new frontier.
It's a place of possibility,
of a new beginning.
Ideas of Asian spirituality
have permeated the West Coast
in a way that they haven't
on the East Coast.
People come to Los
Angeles often looking
for something.
So there's this
already mind of a seeker.
SONI: Yogananda does
a seven-night speaker series
at the LA
Philharmonic Auditorium.
People go just
to see the show.
And because he's exotic
and entertaining
and a great speaker.
And then others
really stick around
and end up finding that he has
really powerful teachings
and he's a very good vehicle
for the message.
He knew the power
of initiative.
He didn't wait
for anybody to get
this wisdom out.
He sent out lessons via mail.
Mail order at the time
was completely brand new.
It was like sending
out an e-blast today.
What Yogananda did
that was profound
for Americans
was talk about how
you can have a personal
relationship with the divine.
a totally frustrated man.
I had thought money
could give me happiness.
But nothing seemed
to satisfy me.
I was skeptical,
like everyone was.
Sit straight,
shoulder blades together.
Chin parallel to the ground.
Concentrate on the point
between the eyebrows.
The center of thought
and will...
...and concentration.
And again and again say,
"Reveal thyself"... joy and wisdom
and spiritual perception.
Again and again say,
"Reveal Thyself".
GOLDBERG: James Lynn was
a wealthy industrialist.
And he went on to become
a very close devotee
and an important benefactor
of Yogananda's work
around the country.
CHIDANANDA: Many who joined
his classes stepped forward
and wrote checks
trying to keep
Yogananda in LA.
And he saw such enthusiasm,
he thought this is the place
to establish a center.
NARRATOR: When I saw
the large building on
the crest of Mount Washington,
I recognized it at once.
MATA: As he saw,
this is the place.
CHIDANANDA: This became
the headquarters of his work.
Yogananda called
it the spiritual
White House.
And it was a place
where he gave classes,
he even had rooms
available to rent,
with the idea of starting
a spiritual community.
And the first
event he held there,
before the property
was even purchased
was an Easter sunrise service.
True Christianity has been
lost and forgotten.
And what the ancients
taught in India has been
lost and forgotten.
Those ought to be revived as
one highway to the infinite.
GOLDBERG: One of the keys
to Yogananda's popularity
in America.
Was his love and
affection for Jesus.
He placed Jesus on
the altar with his lineage.
And with Krishna.
CLOONEY: He said
that Jesus really was
representing to us,
"This is who you are
this is your ability
"to open yourself
to the divine mystery in ways
"that you never
thought were possible."
GOLDBERG: Jesus is
revered in India,
people don't realize that.
But he is held to be either
an incarnation of God,
or, at the very least,
a supreme yogi.
CLOONEY: The value of
Yogananda's teaching
was that he picked up
on this angle
that there is this
universal opportunity
to understand who we are.
What is true of Jesus is
also true of all of us.
MARTIN: It's not
about religion at all,
it's about what's
behind religion.
Meditation. Meditate.
That's what he said.
Meditation is the catchword.
SONI: Yoga really is
a philosophical system.
A lot of people go
to yoga to look hot.
It's not set up to
give you flat abs,
even though that's
an nice byproduct.
It's really set up
to understand God.
NARRATOR: Kriya Yoga is
the science of God realization
through meditation.
VIDAL: Yogananda did
teach Hatha Yoga
as one way to
prepare for meditation.
developed this system
of energization exercises.
The tension exercises...
...charge the body
with the life current
from the universe.
distributed evenly
in the body... what keeps the diseases
from settling.
You don't have to be afraid
of germs.
If your body's electrified...
...they'll be electrocuted.
Everything you do
affects your brain.
By tensing the muscles,
you're activating
your frontal lobes.
You lower the stress
hormones in the brain,
it lowers your blood pressure
and your heart rate
and it gets your mind
prepared for
doing whatever it is
that you're about to do.
teaches in the spine
are these instruments
of higher perception
that are normally
dormant in most people.
Through withdrawing
that energy and directing it
by concentration
into the spine and brain.
Yogananda said
those instruments
of divine perceptions awaken.
The physical world is not
the highest reality.
NEWBERG: When we have
a dream at night, it feels
incredibly real while
we're in the dream.
And then we wake up
and we look at
the reality we're now in
and we say, "Oh, okay,
that was just a dream."
Well, when people have
mystical experiences, they say
"Well this is
the ultimate reality,
this feels more real."
And all this other stuff,
that's not really
the real reality.
NARRATOR: Feel the life
currents ascending
and descending in the spine.
By mastery of
the intelligent life
currents in
the central nervous system.
The body and brain
can be purified.
Go up and down the spine.
Feeling the centers
and mentally chanting "om."
WOMAN'S VOICE: Dear Guruji,
I have absorbed so much.
I will try to keep
it all within me,
and profit by it.
has helped my career.
It has helped me
to think very little of me,
and let the great spirit
pass through me.
Dear Swami Dhirananda...
Mount Washington needed
someone to be at the helm.
While Guruji traveled
throughout the United States,
lecturing, giving classes.
He brought one of his
most beloved friends.
He was a very capable teacher.
He was very well-liked.
NARRATOR: I am powerless
to tell how greatly
he has helped me
in carrying on
my educational work
in India and Boston.
He successfully
carried on the work
at the Ranchi school
during my absence from India.
his childhood friend
from Calcutta.
I think as boys,
both of them felt that their
families didn't understand
their spiritual longings.
In fact, Dhirananda
said that it was
impossible for him
to even meditate
at his family home.
So Yogananda allowed him
to hide out in his attic room
and he would sneak food up
to him after the meals.
was a period of almost
ceaseless travel for him.
He was visiting all
of the largest cities
in the Unites States,
where people were
getting their first
glimpse of this
yoga philosophy.
There is no, um,
precursor for Yogananda.
He has to do something
completely new that no one
has done before.
There is no path.
GOLDBERG: There were
other gurus who came.
Swami Vivekananda,
whom Yogananda
respected greatly,
had been here and started
the Vedanta Society
in the 1890s.
But he only stayed
a few years.
Yogananda was
the first major guru
to have a nationwide impact
and really make
America his home.
In America, everybody is busy.
If you keep on running after
too many hobbies,
you won't have any time left
for bliss.
VIDAL: Everything was
covered in the lessons,
from how to achieve
success in our life.
Magnetizing or
attracting your soul mate.
Creating abundance,
how to create
harmony with others,
how to find happiness.
You people do not
sleep correctly.
You subconsciously worry
about unpaid bills.
And allow your
sleep to be disturbed
by the mental
movies of dreams.
By closing the eyes,
and inner relaxation
I can remain
asleep several nights.
And by opening the eyes
and recharging the body,
I can keep awake several days.
CHIDANANDA: Willpower is
really one of the
absolute necessities
for spiritual progress.
Yogananda defined
willpower this way,
he said,
"Will is that
which changes thought
into energy."
"He asks the six
men to line up
"with their hand
on each other's back
"making a line
across the platform.
"Swamiji said, 'The first one,
put your hands on my stomach.'
"With just a tiny
straightening of his body
"and a quick
flick of his stomach,
"Swamiji sent the six men
catapulting across the stage."
What's the key of success?
Concentration power.
You meditate to achieve
the concentration powers.
VIDAL: He would control
his heart and stop the pulse.
And the doctors would rush,
check his pulse,
he's dying,
he doesn't have a pulse.
And then he would
bring himself back to life.
CHOUDHURY: Every human being
in the world has
a supernatural power.
But having doesn't
mean anything
if you don't
know how to use it.
MALE ANNOUNCER: Yoga combines
the physical, mental
and spiritual forces.
Bikram must be in
complete control,
or he's in danger
of being impaled.
Here he goes.
He did it!
And Yogi Bikram
is all right.
But before you use it,
you have to realize it.
That's why Yogananda called
it self-realization.
You have to
realize that power.
Supernatural, cosmic,
physical, mental,
spiritual power.
NARRATOR: Don't take
my word for anything.
Apply these techniques,
and find out for yourselves.
MARTIN: Here is a small,
brown, mystic,
from a nation that
very few Americans
had ever been to,
much less read about.
And he is here
delivering his message
with such force
through personal transmission
to people who came to see him.
NARRATOR: Most important
is to create a church
within yourself.
Where you are the minister
in the temple
of your own soul.
When somebody is in
a deep meditation,
there are
changes in the brain.
We've seen changes
in the brain scans
of the different
parts of the brain
that become more active.
What you're seeing during
a meditation practice
is a very substantial
decrease of activity
in the part of
the brain which normally
helps us to create
a sense of ourself
and a sense of our orientation
in space and time.
As you progressively
block the activity
in that area,
then you block your
ability to establish
your sense of self
as distinguished
from the rest
of the world.
And you begin to feel
that sense of deep
connectedness or oneness
with everything in the world.
GOEL: I'm a physicist
and a physician.
I spent years
between the Harvard
physics department
and Harvard Medical School.
Going back and forth
across the Charles River,
but they don't talk
to each other.
As a child, having been
exposed to things
like Vedic philosophy
growing up in
rural Mississippi,
I became inspired
by this deep belief
that there's
an underlying unity
in nature.
By which these
different fields
could come together.
So that led me
to want to combine
these two worlds of
physics and biomedicine.
Physics, our physics
of the last century
has not come
to terms with life,
living systems and things
like consciousness.
The writings of Yogananda
are very appealing
to a scientific appetite.
He was committed
to bringing together
the technology and
the material efficiency
and the scientific
understanding of the West
with the ancient
spiritual wisdom
of the East.
And creating
a unified framework
and an integrated approach
to living life on this planet.
ROBERT LOVE: In Washington,
something remarkable happened.
Yogananda drew
the largest audiences
a public speaker
had drawn in the city.
Congressmen, senators, judges,
and he was even
invited to the White House
by President Coolidge.
But Yogananda came in
for a rude awakening
when he was in Washington,
which is really part of
the American South.
NARRATOR: In the national
capital, I was told
that white people only
would be permitted
to attend the classes.
This surprised me very much.
I defied this.
And founded
a Afro-American Yogoda center
to teach my negro brethren.
Cosmic delusion is
always snaring us
through our ignorance.
LOVE: The civil rights
movement was still
decades away,
and it was inspired,
in fact, by
a revolution that
was fomenting in India.
CHIDANANDA: Many people
don't realize that
Gandhi was a yogi,
and he was putting
yoga principles
such as non-violence
into action on a mass scale.
SYMAN: Yogananda himself
was a very open and
vocal supporter of Gandhi
and lectured at Harvard
about him and his movement.
LOVE: For this, he was put on
a government watch list
and kept under surveillance.
SONI: Anyone affiliated
with India, and someone
specifically affiliated
with Mahatma Gandhi
would be a person of interest,
for the American government.
Why are these people drawn
to this heathen teacher?
Oh, what is he doing
behind closed doors?
Are they trying to overthrow
our government too?
LOVE: There was literally
a war against yoga
being waged in the media.
GOLDBERG: A huge scandal
erupted when
Swami Dhirananda,
Yogananda's right-hand man,
was discovered giving
private lessons
to a married woman.
And her husband...
...found out about it,
stormed Mount Washington,
and a brawl erupted.
There were crazy
tracts being written,
all kinds of allegations,
not just about Yogananda,
but some of the other swamis
and yoga teachers
that this was a love cult
and they were corrupting
the women of America.
Yogananda, as a yogi,
would often talk
about mastery
over one's sexuality,
over one's urges.
But oftentimes that
was misinterpreted
to mean something scandalous.
LOVE: You had a kind of
paranoia on the part of
the husbands and
law enforcement officials,
that, you know,
we couldn't trust our women
with these
SYMAN: You can read
between the lines here
what the problem really is.
I mean this was a period where
miscegenation laws, you know,
you were forbidden in America,
if you were white,
to marry
a brown-skinned man or woman.
So, I mean, it was
illegal to mix
the races at that point.
This marriage is symbolical...
of breaking down
the barriers...
of the brown Caucasian
of India...
...and the white Caucasian
of America.
SYMAN: On the one hand,
open-minded Americans
revered him,
but his unorthodox views
really raised the ire of more
conservative Americans.
By the time he went
into the Deep South,
it really reached
a fever pitch.
LOVE: "Swami was
ordered to leave Miami
for his own safety.
"The husbands of
more than 200 Miami women
"were preparing to,
'get the Hindu.'"
SYMAN: His supporters
swarmed City Hall,
and during the hearing,
Police Chief Quigg
claims that Yogananda
tried to hypnotize him.
SONI: Yogananda's no
longer being invited
to receive the keys
to different cities.
He's no longer being
invited to speak
to different
religious congregations.
NARRATOR: I am going through
the severest trial of my life.
Judge for yourself
the lying capacity
of the newspapers.
Angeles, the district attorney
eventually cleared Yogananda,
and Mount Washington
of all wrong-doing.
But the damage had
already been done.
NARRATOR: The fruits
of a lifetime of service
to mankind
reduced to ashes
by the soulless efforts
of yellow journalism.
CLOONEY: All these incidents
culminated in a falling out
between Yogananda
and Dhirananda.
Dhirananda left,
and started
another organization not far
from Mount Washington.
LOVE: Many of the students
went with Dhirananda
because Yogananda
had been busy
touring the country
for the last year.
heartbreak came
a couple of years later,
when Dhirananda left
the Swami Order altogether.
And married one of his
Los Angeles students.
Then he sued Yogananda
for his share of the work
they had done together.
NARRATOR: With a heavy heart,
I'm starting for Mexico.
Cutting loose from everything,
that I may consecrate myself
to God entirely.
Divine Mother,
free me,
let me go back to India,
to serve you there, not here.
There, there is bitterness
and heartache and frustration.
And no one to listen
to your message.
VISHWANANDA: In Yogananda's
darkest hours, there's only
one place that he went.
He always went within.
We call it God,
place of stillness.
NARRATOR: Many times
I have tried to walk away
from these organizational
Every time, Divine Mother
comes and takes me by the ear
and says, "Come back."
He said, "When I received
that answer, I wept.
"And I knew I had to go back.
"I knew this is what
God wanted from me."
NARRATOR: Walking away under
the guise of renunciation,
all non-attachment
is the easy part.
It shows more
spiritual fiber to live
a godly life
in the jungle
of civilization.
I love all.
Even those who avow
themselves my enemies.
For I see thee in every being.
I will rebuild this
organization from scratch.
Just as I did when
I arrived from India in 1920.
MATA: With that renewed faith,
and the determination
that he would not give up
even though he was sorely
tried and wanted to leave,
he began to draw disciples.
One of them was me.
I came in 1931.
Many other young
people came.
There were older people here,
there was
all ages living here.
LOVE: Yogananda
had consistently
drawn his devotees
from all walks of life.
Prominent businessmen,
judges, lawyers,
even hardened journalists.
But by the early 1930s,
something very different
was beginning.
A small, core group
of devotees
came to Yogananda
and asked to be accepted into
this monastic path
of complete renunciation.
To completely
devote their whole lives
to following his teachings,
and seeking God
through this path
of Kriya Yoga meditation.
James Lynn,
the wealthy businessman,
was one of them.
And he'd go on to become
a highly advanced yogi,
and take monastic vows
like the others.
And so through Yogananda,
this ancient
monastic swami order
from India
took root
in America.
MATA: Now began the training.
I knew nothing
about renunciation.
CHIDANANDA: The new monastics
took strict vows,
like Yogananda himself,
of simplicity, celibacy,
obedience, and loyalty.
Yogananda's lay students
faced other challenges.
HERB JEFFRIES: I'd been there
about six or seven weeks,
and I said
"Guruji, all my life,
I heard thou canst not,
"thou shalt not,
thou must not.
"These are
the rules of the religious
teachings that I've heard
"around my relatives."
"What I want to know from you
is, what canst thou?"
He said "Well, do you smoke?"
And I said, "Yes."
He said, "You may continue."
"Do you drink?"
"Alcohol?" I said, "Yes."
He said, "You may continue."
"Do you
"enjoy the opposite
sex promiscuously?"
"Well, you may continue."
I said, "Wait a minute.
"You mean that I can
"come up on this hill here,
"in this good place
with all of these
"wonderful people,
your disciples
"and the devotees,
and the brothers up here,
"and study these teachings,
"and I can go back down there
"and do all these things?"
"But I will
not promise you that as you
"continue to study
these teachings,
"that the desire
to do these things
"will not fall away from you."
NARRATOR: Repeated
performance of inaction
creates a mental blueprint.
Causing the formation
of subtle,
electrical pathways
in the brain.
Somewhat like the grooves
in a phonograph record.
Your life follows
the grooves
that you yourself
have created in the brain.
NEWBERG: It appears
that Yogananda was talking
about neuroplasticity
almost 50 years
before Western doctors
took an interest in it.
He said that
regular Kriya practice
could rewire your brain
and help eliminate
unwanted habits.
HARRISON: The Autobiography
of a Yogi is the book
that I keep stacks
of around the house.
And I give it out
constantly, you know,
to people.
You know, like when people
need regrooving.
Read this.
talking about suppression,
we are talking
about transmutation.
that's the whole
science of yoga,
rechanneling your energy.
Creating new patterns
of thinking,
new patterns of
the emotional life.
looked at you penetratingly,
he was changing you.
He said,
when he looked at you
he was changing
your brain cells.
And he did.
LEO COCKS: He started
going into my inner
thoughts and feelings,
maybe things where
you've slipped a little.
He dissected me on
the deepest level
I've ever been.
I felt like I was
being carved down
into a little tiny person,
down to almost like an ant.
And I remember
I just literally
couldn't take anymore.
Humanly, emotionally
couldn't take it.
You know, I was hurting.
I was crying.
He reached over
and he gave me a big hug.
"I've given you
my unconditional love,"
he says.
"Do not fail to take
advantage of it."
It's a friendship
and a love that...
He took you as you were
and he gave it all to you
as much as you could take.
NARRATOR: There is just
a thin screen
of ether between
the world and my guru.
He's haunting me
day and night.
"Return to India.
"You must come.
Make the supreme effort."
Traversing ten thousand miles
in the twinkling of an eye.
His message
penetrated my being
like a flash of lightning.
I have spent 15 years
in spreading my guru's
teachings in America.
Now he recalls me.
Our arrival found
such an immense crowd
assembled to greet us.
I was unprepared
for the magnitude
of our welcome.
We broke our journey
halfway across
the continent,
to see Mahatma Gandhi.
After great discussions
he took lessons,
and recharging exercises.
I was touched
by his spirit of inquiry.
When we prayed together,
the whole place
seemed filled with God.
WRIGHT: Master could
hardly wait until he
got to meet his master.
It was indescribable, the...
...meeting between the two.
Master dropped to
his knees, touched his feet,
of Sri Yukteswar Giri
Yukteswar Giri
was welcoming back
his triumphant son.
NARRATOR: A healing calm
descended at the mere sight
of my guru.
Quietly sitting beside him,
I would feel his bounty
pouring peacefully
over my being.
Such spiritual atmosphere
I so long missed.
Day and night
passes with God-mad,
God-hungry crowds.
It's wonderful to work
amidst people
who don't need coaxing
to be spiritual.
The Himalayan caves
are calling me.
And the people's heart-caves
are welcoming me.
But for a few
beloved disciples
at Mount Washington,
I have no attraction
to go back to America.
I would roam by
the Jumna where Krishna
played his flute of eternity
and never visit the shores
of material life.
The lion of Bengal is gone.
The body which had reflected
omnipresent wisdom lay
lifeless, before me, mocking.
Master mine,
why did you leave me?
The Lord is showing me,
wherever I am,
that's my home.
My home is on the train.
Then it shall be in the hotel.
And then on the ship.
How can I leave my home?
It's everywhere.
CHIDANANDA: When Sri Yukteswar
first sent Yogananda
on his mission to America,
it was right
after World War I,
which was supposed to be
the war to end all wars.
Now, tensions were heating up
in Europe and Asia,
and Yogananda saw
that we could be
entering a period of
even greater horror.
for the teachings was
more urgent than ever.
After his guru died,
something shifted in him.
GOLDBERG: He was just
experiencing these profound
states of consciousness.
His eyes just turned glassy.
He just... (WHOOSHES)
And he was gone, you know.
MATA: And ofttimes it gave
concern to us younger ones.
His heart seemed
to cease beating.
He had instructed us
that whenever he
went into Samadhi,
that we could
bring him out of it
by chanting "om"
in his right ear.
And I thought "Wow.
This is something different."
This was a little scary.
Is my guru,
always now going to be
in this state?
I would be in awe to ever
approach him in the same way.
My body became
just like stone...
and still I was
fully conscious,
...and everything was Light.
CHIDANANDA: And it was out
of that consciousness,
that he was pulling
these writings,
these profound truths
and experiences.
MATA: He constantly
stressed to me,
get my thoughts,
understand what I mean.
I can do much
more now to reach.
To reach others with my pen.
CHIDANANDA: The Autobiography
of a Yogi was the first memoir
of a genuine
Indian holy man.
SHANKAR: It was his
personal feeling about
his devotion to his gurus
and what he really
received from them.
But it's not all
that Yogananda wrote.
Yogananda produced an
incredible literary corpus.
MATA: Every morning,
he would have us bring
a typewriter and a table,
and bring it into his study.
GOLDBERG: He'd still
be up at 1:00 or 2:00
in the morning, writing.
DAYA MATA: Night and day,
he wrote or he dictated.
And we would type
all day long.
MRINALINI MATA: And he would
be totally, totally absorbed.
Hours would go by.
His whole consciousness
became absorbed
in finishing his writings.
And it was that
sense of urgency,
it was like an acceleration,
an acceleration of our
discipline, of our training.
CHIDANANDA: And not only
was he writing,
he was building temples,
founding Brotherhood Colonies,
and encouraging people
to live together
in spiritual communities.
GOLDBERG: And then
in 1945, while he was
writing the autobiography,
we set off
the first atomic bomb.
Few people cried.
Most people were silent.
I remembered the line from
the Hindu scripture
of the Bhagavadgita,
"Now I am become death,
"the destroyer of worlds."
About a hundred years ago,
Einstein gave us a framework
that radically changed
modern physics,
that put energy and matter
on some sort of
equivalent footing.
We're going to have to expand
the language of physics
to come to terms not only
with matter and energy,
but matter, energy,
and maybe even
NARRATOR: The human mind
can and must liberate
within itself
energies greater than those
within stones and metals.
Lest the atomic giant,
newly unleashed,
dawn on the world in
mindless destruction.
CHOPRA: Modern science,
as it is now,
is based on what is called
the subject-object split.
I am the subject
and there is the universe.
Whereas spirituality
says that
there's a consciousness
that includes the subject
and the object.
Consciousness gives
rise to everything,
including the brain.
HARRISON: We've been
brought up to think that
the mind is this thing
that sits up here
somewhere in your brain.
But really,
the mind is everywhere.
NEWBERG: Some people have
argued that consciousness
resides in every cell
of our body.
The only way for us
to really understand
the nature of consciousness
and what it is,
is to explore it both
from the outside in
and from the inside out.
the belief that there's
something outside of you.
But your happiness
is not based on any thing
outside of you.
In the inside,
where the watcher
is watching all
of the craziness,
kind of just laughing.
So look inside
for the watcher,
and be connected
to the watcher.
And then be awake.
GOLDBERG: The Indian
teachings that Yogananda
represented were not escapes.
They were methods of adapting
to these upheavals
and these changes
because they remind
people that we are
more than the personality
and the roles that we play,
and the body we inhabit.
When I am in the soul
I know that...
...nothing is important
on the earth.
Nothing, nothing at all.
Only Love is important.
GOLDBERG: If we're going
to change those kind
of circumstances
so there's hope
for our survival,
the change has to
come from inside out.
NARRATOR: A man who has
reformed himself
will reform thousands.
CHIDANANDA: Yogananda saw
that if there wasn't some
way to reach the masses,
with this message
of experiencing
the spirit within
every human being,
the world would not
survive the transition
into the atomic age.
They were leading
this foundation at that time
to bring
the teachings current.
So they can really create
a transformation on
a collective level
in the world,
not just in the forest.
That forest is here now.
This is bigger,
and is ever-increasing.
If we don't practice
the teachings here,
there will be no
forest left at all.
GOLDBERG: The autobiography
was a doorway in,
it was a table setter
for millions of people.
Whether they ended
up being practitioners
of Kriya Yoga or not,
Yogananda was a doorway
into whatever pathway
they found.
MARC BENIOFF: On the way
out of the memorial
service for Steve,
they handed us a copy
of Yogananda's book.
Steve's last message to us
was, "Actualize yourself."
That was Yogananda's message.
He was constantly
encouraging you
to simultaneously
be able to think
of yourself
as this little blip
on the planet
but on the other hand,
you also had
infinite potentialities.
You had
the eternal soul in you.
So, can you simultaneously
operate with that awareness
of recognizing,
in a humble way,
the limited bounds
of your human life,
and at the same time,
the infinite potentialities
of you as a soul.
We have a far too limited
sense of our capacity
as human beings
to overcome disease,
to overcome poverty.
And therefore,
to allow that power
to begin to transform
the world.
When the Ambassador
of India
visited Los Angeles
for the first time,
how happy Yogananda was
that this representative
of free India,
liberated from
the colonial rule,
had come to Los Angeles.
And he was able to honor him.
A banquet was organized
to welcome the ambassador.
And Yogananda,
being one of
the most well-known
Indians in the community,
was invited to give one of
the key speeches that night.
The night before,
we were walking down the hall,
he turned to me and said,
"Do you know,
it's just a matter of hours,
"and I will be gone."
got up to speak, I was there.
He had always said,
"When I die, I want to die
"speaking of my America
and my India."
"Free me then, O Lord,
from the bondage of the body
"that I may show others
how they can free themselves."
...lotus, scenic beauty,
and sages, thy wide doors
are open,
welcoming God's true sons
through all the ages.
Where Ganges,
woods, Himalayan caves,
and men dream God,
I am hallowed,
my body touched that sod.
CHIDANANDA: He finished
saying, "I am hallowed,
my body touched that sod,"
and then,
he collapsed to the floor.
MATA: As I kneeled
over his body,
tremendous force
entered this body.
With the message to my soul,
"This time you cannot
call him back."
In the yoga tradition,
there is a sacred practice
of knowing when you
will leave your body.
And so consciousness moves
to a grander space.
The doctor said that
he had a heart attack.
NARRATOR: Watch the shore
of the universe,
but do not become
absorbed in it.
I behold life
and death like
the rise and fall
of waves on the sea
I am the ocean
of consciousness.
A guru can't be
a little old man
in a blanket.
Or a guy in robes.
It could look like that,
because guru-ness
might be living in
that body for a while,
and it interacts with you
because you have a karmic
tie with that being,
but that being,
if he's really a guru,
he's not at all identified
with being in that body.
Once I asked a saint in India,
I said, "Athimara..."
I said, "How can I
get closer to my guru?"
He looked at me
like I was crazy.
He said, "Your guru
is what's looking out
of your eyes right now."
So get with that for a while.
Everything is Brahma
Everything is Spirit
Everything is Light