We were discussing some major themes in Autobiography of a Yogi with a group of close friends. This great spiritual classic is so rich in expansive wisdom that every time I open it, I find some new truths revealed. It no doubt provides unique inspiration for each person who reads it, according to the level of their own spiritual understanding.

During the discussion, one of our friends shared a thought that had never occurred to me. “The Autobiography,” he said, “can be seen as a Dwapara Yuga epic in which many problems occur, but are all resolved with the understanding that energy and consciousness, not matter and form, are the ultimate reality.” What a brilliant insight!

Throughout the book, Master faces many challenges large and small, all of which are overcome by faith and divine intervention: being healed of deadly cholera by Lahiri Mahasaya’s intercession through his photo; passing his high school exams through the help of a scholarly friend and a Sanskrit verse in an empty lot; finding his guru standing before him in Benares after desperately searching for him; overcoming his brother Ananta’s skepticism through his courage and faith during his penniless journey to Brindaban.

Through these stories and many more like them, Master is teaching us invaluable lessons. First, don’t expect life to be easy, even for devotees. Here is a wonderful affirmation Master gave us: “Life is a struggle for joy all along the way. May I fight to win the battle on the very spot where I now am.” Accept that difficulties are a part of the spiritual path, and go into the fray with strength and courage.


Master is also showing us how to detach from any problem and approach it with the understanding that only consciousness is real. Another affirmation he’s given us is: “When fear or anger or any kind of suffering comes to me, I will view it as a spectator. I will separate myself from my experiences. At all costs I will endeavor to retain my peace and happiness.” Behind the form of every test is the opportunity to transcend it and to grow spiritually. By holding firmly to this thought, we come to understand what Master also teaches us: “There are no obstacles, only opportunities.”

Finally (for the purpose of this brief blog, because one could go on at length) his autobiography shows us that, come what may, God is always protecting and guiding us. Faith in Him/Her is the best tool we have to face and overcome all of our problems.

Speaking for each one of us, Yoganandaji declares: “My earthly experiences serve as a process of destruction of my limiting mortal delusions. In God even the most ‘impossible’ dreams are realized. (‘I will give him the morning star.’ —Revelations 2:28)” This “morning star” is the divine light which shines within us, revealing God’s unwavering presence in our life.

As I write these words, Jyotish and I are in Mumbai for the last few days before returning to America after four months of traveling and teaching. My heart is filled with gratitude and joy as I realize how smoothly everything has gone. In the face of a myriad of possible problems, each step has been filled with protection and grace. When challenges have come, we’ve been given the strength to face them with joy.

In part this is true because we’ve offered our life and our service to God and Guru. Perhaps the Autobiography’s most important lesson for overcoming problems is this: Give your service, your devotion, your life wholeheartedly to God. In time you will behold, hidden behind every test, His smiling face.

With love and joy,

Nayaswami Devi