My Experiences With Paramahansa Yogananda
by Roy Eugene Davis
Editor’s Note: Roy Eugene Davis is the only disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda who is still actively teaching. He is the founder of the Center for Spiritual Awareness, the headquarters and retreat center of which is located in Lakemont, Georgia. The following is an excerpt from the second edition of his book Paramahansa Yogananda As I Knew Him.
It has been estimated that perhaps thirty million people in the United States participate in some kind of yoga practice or are interested in learning about it. I first learned about yoga in 1949 while reading a book borrowed from a public library in Warren, Ohio, and began practicing some of the Hatha Yoga postures and meditation methods.
A few months later, while reading Autobiography of a Yogi, written by Paramahansa Yogananda, I intuitively knew that the author was my guru, which he affirmed a few months later when I met him in Los Angeles, California.
The Sanskrit word guru means “teacher.” Some yoga gurus share useful information. Some who are more spiritually conscious may be able to assist a person to be aware of their innate spiritual potential. Some can assist receptive truth seekers to awaken from egocentric awareness to spiritual awareness, realization of their pure essence and higher realities, and complete enlightenment. Paramahansa Yogananda had all of those abilities.
During our first private talk, after telling me what books to read and how often to meditate, he quietly said, “Read a little. Meditate more. Think of God all the time.” A few days later, he told me, “You have a wonderful future.” Since then, for almost seventy years, my life has been very fortunate because of my right endeavors and continued learning.
After almost two years of intensive meditation and regular meetings with my guru, he asked me to kneel by his chair, put his hands on my head, and said, “I ordain you as a minister. Teach as I have taught and initiate devotees of God in kriya yoga.” After a brief pause, he said, “The same God that is in me, is in you! What I have done, you should do!”
Kriyas are actions or processes used to purify the mind and restore awareness to its original clarity. They include disciplined thinking and living; self-inquiry to discern what is true along with meditation practice to experience one’s essence; and surrender of egocentric characteristics to realize the aspect of ultimate Reality that regulates universal processes without being influenced by them. Yoga is the unification of attention and awareness with one’s true nature or pure essence.
My guru often told me to stay attuned to his mind and consciousness. He said, “When you are in tune with me, I can more easily help you. When you are not in tune, there may be static in the mental radio and it is more difficult to help you.”
Mental and spiritual attunement with one’s guru can be nurtured by being respectful, devoid of egocentric inclinations, and willing to learn. In an ideal guru-disciple relationship a disciple’s innate divine qualities become more pronounced and there can be a direct transmission of spiritual power and knowledge.
During an informal meeting with a few disciples, Paramahansaji confided, “I am not the guru. God is the guru, I am only God’s servant.” Yet, he played his role as one who removes darkness and heaviness from the mind and consciousness of disciples and was able to help some of them to be Self-realized.
He taught many thousands of people to grow to emotional and spiritual maturity and emphasized quantity and quality service to others. Quantity service was reaching out to many people to help them nurture their total well-being. Quality service was working with initiated disciples who had the capacity to comprehend the teachings and be fully committed to spiritual practices that would clarify their awareness.
My final private visit with him was during an early evening a few weeks before he left his body on March 7, 1952. After we had talked for about an hour, he said, “Don’t allow your mind to be troubled by what others say or do. Don’t look back or be distracted by anything that happens. Look directly to the goal [Self-realization] and accomplish it in this incarnation. You can do it.”
After a brief pause, he said, “Whenever you initiate someone into kriya yoga practice, I, or one of the Great Ones, will be there.” He didn’t mean that he or one of the gurus in our kriya yoga tradition would be there in an astral or spiritual body, but that the consciousness and spiritual energy flowing through the lineage of gurus would be present. I have often had that experience through the years when I was teaching.