REVEALED: The UNTOLD TRUTH About Paramahansa Yogananda’s LIFE & MISSION! with Philip Goldberg

In the heart of our spiritual exploration, we often encounter figures whose lives illuminate the path for us all. On today’s episode, we welcome Philip Goldberg, a scholar, teacher, and author whose work delves deeply into the life and teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda. With a gentle touch, Goldberg paints a vivid portrait of Yogananda’s journey from the banks of the Ganges to the bustling streets of Boston, bringing ancient wisdom to a new world.

Philip Goldberg shared that Yogananda’s mission was not just a personal endeavor but a destiny foretold in his youth. His guru recognized the potential in the young Yogananda, preparing him for a monumental task: bringing Kriya Yoga to the West. Goldberg eloquently explains that Yogananda was destined to transform the spiritual landscape of America, a mission that required immense courage and unwavering dedication.

Yogananda’s arrival in America in 1920 marked the beginning of a remarkable odyssey. As Goldberg recounts, the young swami arrived with little more than his spiritual fervor and the blessings of his lineage. Despite initial struggles, including cultural shock and racial prejudice, Yogananda’s teachings began to resonate with a growing number of Americans. He moved from small gatherings in living rooms to filling symphony halls, his message of inner peace and universal love finding fertile ground in the West.

One of the most intriguing aspects of Yogananda’s work, as highlighted by Goldberg, was his ability to bridge Eastern and Western spiritual traditions. Yogananda spoke extensively about Jesus Christ, presenting him as a figure akin to the great sages of India. This inclusive approach allowed many to reconnect with their spiritual roots, seeing Jesus through a new, esoteric lens. Goldberg notes that this was not merely a strategic move but a sincere reverence for all enlightened beings, fostering a deeper spiritual unity.

SPIRITUAL TAKEAWAYS

  1. Inner Transformation: The essence of Yogananda’s teachings lies in personal transformation through Kriya Yoga, a practice that helps individuals achieve inner peace and higher states of consciousness.
  2. Universal Love: Yogananda emphasized the importance of universal love, transcending religious boundaries and fostering a spirit of inclusivity and compassion.
  3. Overcoming Adversity: Yogananda’s journey demonstrates the power of perseverance and faith in overcoming life’s challenges, inspiring us to pursue our spiritual goals with determination.

In a moving recollection, Goldberg describes Yogananda’s final days, filled with tireless work to ensure his teachings would endure. He continued writing, teaching, and organizing, knowing that his time was limited. On the night of his passing, Yogananda spoke about his love for India and concluded with a heartfelt poem before peacefully departing from this world.

In this profound conversation, Philip Goldberg encapsulates the spirit of Yogananda’s legacy. Through meticulous research and heartfelt storytelling, Goldberg ensures that Yogananda’s light continues to shine brightly, guiding seekers on their spiritual journey.

Please enjoy my conversation with Philip Goldberg.

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Follow Along with the Transcript – Episode 454

Philip Goldberg 0:00
So he was bringing Kriya Yoga to the west. That was his destiny, which, according to what I've read, you know, was told to his parents when he was an infant, that he would have some kind of mission and his garage react test four had been told by his guru that he would one day have a disciple who would go to America and treat tests were recognized in the young Yogananda before he was called Yogananda, that he would be that one, and he was essentially trained for that mission.

Alex Ferrari 0:50
I like to welcome to the show, Philip Goldberg. How are you doing, Philip?

Philip Goldberg 0:53
I'm well, thank you, Alex, how are you?

Alex Ferrari 0:57
I'm very good. Thank you so much for coming on the show you and I have a love for a certain guru who, who walked who walked the earth a few years ago and really threw the earth upside down a little bit, especially the West, kind of tossed and turned and was a very strong spiritual teacher, and everyone who's ever listened to any of my episodes knows that that person is Paramahansa Yogananda. And, you know, he very famously wrote a little book called The Autobiography of a Yogi. Which is it's about, well, how about 800 page?

Philip Goldberg 1:33
500 or something.

Alex Ferrari 1:35
It's a lot of pages. But that book really transformed a lot of people's lives is still transforming people's lives to this day, but you decided to write a book called The Life of Yogananda, which seems counterproductive, since he already wrote an autobiography. So why does the first question I was asked, but he already wrote an autobiography. Why do you want to do it? So can you explain to everybody, first of all who Yogananda was and what drew you to his his life and his teachings and then why you wrote this book?

Philip Goldberg 2:07
Okay, we'll go in that order then. Yogananda was possibly the most important of the spiritual teachers who came to the west from India, but I don't buy most important I mean, the most influential, certainly in the top three. I, my prior book was called American Veda. And that covered the whole history of how India's ancient spiritual teachings found its way into America and transformed the cultural and spiritual landscape of the country in a way that's rarely appreciated sufficiently. Yogananda was a key player. He came here in 1920. There hadn't been that many Indian gurus prior to that, that his illustrious predecessor Swami Vivekananda, came to the US. Actually the same year, Yogananda was born at 93 and swamis in his lineage, or in America at the time yoga Nan became but they were pretty low key. Yogananda was the first to gain prominence and stay here. He spent the last 32 years of his life in America. And so he had the time and the energy and the skill and the charisma to reach of a great number of people and left behind when he passed in 1952. His famous Autobiography of a Yogi which has been called one of the most or one of the most important spiritual books of the 20th century, and tip as you said, to this day, people, people's lives are changed by it. And so when I wrote American Veda I had a chapter on Yogananda and his impact and afterward in thinking, what do I want to do next? It kept coming to me what an interesting human life. Yogananda led and I couldn't do it. justice in the 20 some odd pages, I couldn't, you know, devote to it in the previous book. So I said, that's a story that should be told. But I had the same thought you did. But you know, why write a biography of somebody who's famous for an autobiography. So I reread Autobiography of a Yogi for, you know, fourth or fifth time or whatever. And did a page count. And realize that less than 10% of that book is about his life after the age of 27 when he came to America. And that, and there were passages that read like, and then four years past in Boston, and I thought, Well, no, you can't get away with that. He came is first stop was Boston in 1920. He was there for the first four years he was in America. How did he survive? How did he? What did he do? How did he you know, fulfill His mission? How did he deal with winter? England, you know, give me details. So I said, okay, there are gaps in his personal story, and someone's should fill them. And that, so I took it on that that's essentially what happened.

Alex Ferrari 6:40
So he so Yogananda was doing the yada yada yada, I moved to LA.

Philip Goldberg 6:46
In a sense. Also, what's interesting is, it's called Auto biography of Yogi. But a big portion of it is about other people, people, he's met interesting people, saints, scientists, all kinds of holy people. miracle workers is girls. And so the actual auto biography portion of it left a lot out. And so, you know, that fascinated me, I had already gotten hints, in my prior research that there were stories to tell, that he didn't tell, and details that are worth knowing. And a human story that holds up as a narrative that we can all learn from.

Alex Ferrari 7:40
Where does one go for information like this? Because I'm assuming it's a self realization Fellowship, which is his organization, because they're the ones that house pretty much everything that's available on Yogananda, but most of that stuff's not public. So how did you? How did you get access to these stories?

Philip Goldberg 8:00
Good question. But one thing, there's more available in public domain than people realize, obscure, you know, articles and journals, or, you know, memoirs written by people who knew him, but no, including one by his brother wrote about their childhood. But you're right, the the principal archive is held in LA by the Self Realization fellowship, so I could not have undertaken the project without their cooperation. It's not like there's a room and they said, here's the key go. I need I had a liaison who was essentially, you know, the most knowledgeable historian in the organization and I would ask questions, that person would bring me documents from the archive or an explanation and an answer, and that has been valuable. And then I in the process, people outside of self realization fellowship there, you know, like any other spiritual organization, there's always breakaway groups, small, small ones, but some of them were people are started by people who were direct disciples of Yogananda, and they had stories, they had documents. They had letters. And people heard I was doing this and they said, Oh, you know, I've got this file cabinet full of stuff and you find things and people hear about you. So You just do your homework. And some of it was things like going into the Los Angeles Times archive, and seeing articles from the 1920s and 30s travel documents for, you know, his passport, and when he left the country, and you know, there, there there things that you've you come across and it adds, you know, also went to India and talked to people there, you know, his family members, you know, who didn't necessarily know him because, you know, he died in 1952. But who had letters and who had stories and you know, so you just do you, you do your research.

Alex Ferrari 10:50
So let me ask you this, then what happened to him? I always wondered that too, about those those four years in Boston, because he shows up, he's horrified that they're, that they're selling hotdogs, he thinks, Oh, my God, what kind of country have you brought me to? That they eat dogs? Those kinds of stories. But what what did he do those years because he came essentially, on a boat showed up. No one knows who he is. He is dressed in a way that people from the 1920s in Boston, he looked essentially like an alien because people even they've heard of India, maybe but they had never seen an Indian. Let it work.

Philip Goldberg 11:30
They did. You know, maybe a few rarefied people did as I said, they were you know, the occasional yoga person, Swami Vivekananda had spent time there 20 or so years earlier. But you're right. 1920 That was the it he arrived two months before women voted for the first time. You know, that's a long time ago. And racism was ascendant. The Ku Klux Klan was being you know, had a huge revival at that time. So he, if you look at his passport photo, you see him beard it, he shaved, he shaved his beard on the boat, because people warned him that he didn't want to stand out that much. In, in the streets, but he didn't cut his hair yet, that would have been a violation of the order of Swamis that he was in. And he learned over time to do things like tuck his long hair into his collar, you know, in the back and wear a hat and wear a western clothing when he was in public. But, you know, at first he didn't, by the way, he was an entirely a stranger, because he came to speak at a conference that was being held in Boston. And he had acquired the, he was substituting for the originally scheduled representative of Hinduism In this interfaith setting. And, you know, it was very young, was very uncertain about his command of English. But he came here and stayed in a YMCA for a few days before the sponsors of the conference, you know, housed him in a proper way and ended up staying and there's a lot of funny stories of his adjusting to American like riding a subway for the first time, not knowing how a drinking fountain operated. You know, and being a vegetarian and all that, you know, is there's a lot of funny stories, but on the other hand, there was harassment to and you know, he was a dark skinned foreigner, at a time when even the Irish and Jews were being discriminated against, you know, so you could imagine.

Alex Ferrari 14:10
So he did, I would imagine he had some struggles. And he, I mean, did he have a job to pay the bills? How did so who was it who was paying his bills these four years while he was there?

Philip Goldberg 14:21
You are asking the kinds of questions a biographer has, he had some money from his father, he was raised in a affluent household by hard working father who worked for the British railway system. And also it should be noted, you know, this is 27 years before India gained its independence. So he was as subject of the British Empire and could have been deported at any time and they were spying on him. Because they didn't. They were on the lookout for people. All raising money and guns in the West to support the freedom movement. And the more prominent and became the more they looked out, you know, kept an eye on him. But so he came to speak at this conference, his father had given him some money and paid for the chips passage. And then he said, if I'll be back, unless the Americans need me. And after his tough first talk at that conference, which was his talk was titled The Science of religion. He hung around and waited to see what would happen. And then somebody invited him to speak at a church, outside of Cambridge, in Somerville, Massachusetts. And people heard him speak. And so somebody said, Oh, I have a study group come speak in my living room. And it was the same kind of story that every visiting guru or Buddhist monk or whatever, followed, started out small, with a small group of people who liked what he had to say. And supported him and paid did I had some money, helped out, arranging for him to speak here and there. And so went from 1015 people in some was living room to a few years later, filling the symphony hall and Boston, it just grew in that way. And they were always money issues, and always organizational issues that he had to deal with in those kinds of concerns only grew as as fast as fame and success were.

Alex Ferrari 16:59
Now you mentioned that he had a mission in this in this life to do something, what exactly were the parameters of that mission?

Philip Goldberg 17:07
Yeah, it wasn't, you know, like a mission statement that we're used to, carefully crafted by.

Alex Ferrari 17:17
But since we've already seen what he did, we could kind of guess what his mission was. So well. So what

Philip Goldberg 17:22
So his mission was essentially to bring the teachings the, you know, of the Indian tradition, what we think of now as Hinduism, but really certain core philosophical, and principles and methods, practices that we think of as yoga, the yoga philosophy, yoga practices, Vedanta philosophy, so not all of Hinduism, which is very vast and diverse, but certain core principles that were acceptable to Western culture, Western thinkers, Western values, and in particular, the teachings of his particular lineage, which he called kriya, yoga. So he was bringing Kriya Yoga, which is embedded in the larger overall principles of the well of the apana shots and the Bhagavad Gita. To the west, that was his, you know, Destiny, which, you know, according to what I've read, you know, was told to his parents when he was an infant, that he would have some kind of mission and his garage react test for had been told by his career that he would one day have a disciple who would go to America. And tests were recognized in young Yogananda before he was called Yogananda, that he would be that one. And he was essentially trained for that mission.

Alex Ferrari 19:21
And he also when he brought over kriya yoga and aspects of the yoga philosophies and things like that he also introduced meditation. Is he the first to do is he the first to do meditation or was the in a big way, in a big way?

Philip Goldberg 19:38
Well, yeah. First to make it accessible to that number of people. Yes. Swami Vivekananda is known mostly for articulating Vedanta philosophy in a way that he sort of set the template for the how to use which language to use what to emphasize to Westerners and his Swamis carried that on. But they had meditation practices. They just it was more low key Yogananda reached far more people, and perhaps taught more systematic methods of meditation practices, we should say that because that wasn't just, and then of, you know, that set the stage for the 1960s and 70s, when there were a whole lot of gurus. And when the Beatles picked up on Transcendental Meditation that of course, that exploded. And so what Vivekananda started and Yogananda brought forth to large numbers of people eventually became mainstream in America through this succession of of teachers and the available access to you know, through technology and so forth.

Alex Ferrari 21:06
Now, the Beat you brought up The Beatles, because it's probably one of my favorite bands of all time is I'm not alone in that. And I was fascinated to know that I was a Beatles fan all my life, but I had no idea the impact that Yogananda and Autobiography of a Yogi had on them, so much so that his lineage is in Sergeant Pepper's album. The very famous cover you see, on the Baba Ji, Yukteswar. I think we'll hear Maharsha is in there as well.

Philip Goldberg 21:37
Yeah, all four.

Alex Ferrari 21:39
All four of them are in there. And I was like, Oh, my God, how do they what is happening? Tell me how that happened

Philip Goldberg 21:47
It's George. George was the driving spiritual force of the Beatles. And if you know, after the Beatles broke up, George piano was such a sincere yogi and practitioner. And that carried through to the rest of his life. And you know, I've given presentations of just about George and you could see it in the lyrics of his some of the songs he wrote with The Beatles and then later in his solo career. He was a strong advocate of Indian philosophy and spirituality, and his real sincere seeker and it started with him musically when he discovered the sitar and went to India to study with Ravi Shankar. And Ravi Shankar gave him two books, one of which was Autobiography of a Yogi. And the other was one of the cofounders books called Raj yoga and those transformed George's life. There's actually four or five different guru lineages that have a claim on George. So, you know, you're when when they were conceiving the album cover for Sergeant Pepper, which came out in 1967. Each of the Beatles could choose for cultural icons to put on the cover. So you see Muhammad Ali and Bob Dylan and Mae West and WC Fields and all these people, George's four or the four guru's

Alex Ferrari 23:33
Wow, I didn't know that one. That's a little bit of information

Philip Goldberg 23:38
And it should be said that he over the course of his life, he would keep stacks of autobiography around to give to people, but you know, the, the Transcendental Meditation people, the Vedanta society, people, the Hari Krishna is because George was a big devotee of chanting and how they all have a claim on George

Alex Ferrari 24:05
Yet but the George put the for the gurus on the cover. So that says something. I'm just throwing that out.

Philip Goldberg 24:11
Oh, yeah, there's a lot. Go and visit SRF when he was in LA, and he would, he would give out copies of Autobiography of a Yogi but you know, he didn't limit himself to anyone.

Alex Ferrari 24:26
Yes, as he shouldn't as he shouldn't be the first to say, as Yogananda be the first to say that is like, quite right. To go to all teachings. One thing that I found really fascinating when I first was introduced to Yogananda, I was just I was introduced to Autobiography of a Yogi when I was in my mid 20s. I started reading it could not, it was I was so not ready. Just so not ready for it. I was reading like, Guys levitating bio lope patient this is a guru walking around who's still alive after 2500 years in the Himalayas like It was so far out of my comfort zone that I put the book away. It was only until my mid 30s, where it picked it up again. And then I started to understand and then I started to really dig deep into it. But what I found fascinating about Yogananda, that kind of a thing set him apart from his contemporaries is that he brought Jesus Christ into the mix.

Philip Goldberg 25:22
Oh, man, big time.

Alex Ferrari 25:24
Yeah. And he was talking about Jesus, and he put them up there, he put Jesus up there with his other lineage, and that Jesus was part of his lineage. And that was such a, I'm not saying it was a smart marketing play. But I don't think I don't think he was looking at it that way. But in hindsight, it opened the door to so many people on the west, because everyone here knows Jesus, that the West was basically, you know, built upon Christian values, and, you know, so on and so forth. But it was really fascinating. What do you know about that? Why are you laughing?

Philip Goldberg 25:58
Like, you've touched on a lot of things. First of all, I want to say, for your listeners, I teach courses from time to time, through Hindu University of America, Hu a.edu. They have a wonderful curriculum of classes and online courses. And one of the courses I do is going through Autobiography of a Yogi chapter by chapter. And so I would invite people to look at that ad because I can I bring in all the stuff that's not in the book. I learned in my own research, but about the presence of Jesus. One thing that is common across the Eastern traditions, essentially, you know, if you go to India, and you mentioned Jesus, people just think of him as a great spiritual teacher. And they, they're happy to, you know, extol him and quote him and all that. And all the Guru's who came here had nothing but respect and reverence for Jesus. It's very common. It's one of the beautiful things about the Hindu and Buddhist cultures is the openness to any great saint or teacher. Yogananda took that to another level. He didn't just hold Jesus up and quote him and hold him up as an example. He claimed that Jesus was essentially part of his own lineage, and that he and the aforementioned Baba Ji, the deathless Yogi are in some kind of communication. And the Yogananda his whole mission is essentially endorsed and set up by them. He spoke about Jesus so much, that there's a two volume set totally in mind now. 1200 pages sitting on your shelf, I'm sure. Yeah, right. Yeah, I see it next to the geek. And, you know, it's called the Second Coming of Christ and it was assembled by His devotees after he died of everything he said, and wrote about Jesus. So that's, it's a lot. And he mastered, you know, how to talk about it and how to bring Jesus it's not the interpretation of Jesus, you'll find in the, in the, you know, next Sunday's sermon, wherever you are. It's a more esoteric one, of course. But it's fascinating, and you're absolutely right. I know you were joking when you called it a marketing ploy, but he but that he was accused of that. He was accused of that, you know, he's selling out to the Christians. He's pandering to them, you know, putting up Jesus and all that but it was sincere, you know, when he when they acquired the property that to this day, is the headquarters of SRF internationally on a hilltop in LA. He scheduled the opening of that 1925 for Easter Sunday morning. And, you know, every Christmas he celebrated, you know, in ways that you know, many Christians don't, you know, all day, meditation practice on the day before and then of course, gift giving and food and, you know, celebrity Tory thing he, he was very sincere in his reverence for Jesus as a as an avatar as a great saint right up there with his, you know, his own tradition of Krishna. And you know, that sort of thing. So it was sincere. Did it also work as a marketing device? Sure. Because many you know it, it assuage the conscience of many people who are curious about him and attracted to him, but also felt very strongly about their roots in Christianity. But let's not also overlook the fact that it was a turn off for many people.

Alex Ferrari 30:44
Yeah, it was searching for searching, they're searching for something other than Jesus, like, man, Jesus is here again.

Philip Goldberg 30:53
It was I've interviewed so many people, and for one thing, Jews and atheists, they had a little trouble with this Jesus presence. And many Christians who had given up who had rejected the church and their own Christian roots, had to suddenly say, wait a minute, what's this about and wrestle with that? And then, but more common, were Christians who had been alienated from their faith from their tradition, usually when they're high school or college age and all that and found their way back to it through Yogananda. B, because the interpretation they've that through Yogananda, they found that Jesus, they could love again.

Alex Ferrari 31:52
You know. And I'll tell you what, I mean, I think that's essentially what happened to me, because I'm a recovering Catholic, as I always joke. And I was introduced to that, but I rejected the church years ago, because I plot holes in the story and the yada yada Jesus is from 13 to 30. You know, that, you know, which they talk about as possible time in India and all this kind of stuff, which I'll ask you about in a second. But I, I always love the teachings of Jesus just just take religion out of it. Just as a human being to another human being his teachings are beautiful. But it was all mixed up in this dog mine and fear and anger that I just couldn't grab on to both through yoga Nanda, you open up that door again to his teachings, and, oh, that's, that's the Jesus I can I can I can hang with that guy. You know, because he's not going to judge me, you know, he's not going to do this or that. And now it's been now it's my mission in life to constantly ask questions about everything that to do with

Philip Goldberg 32:59
Your story mirrors a lot. In fact, it's, it's a variation of my own story. And I've written about this, you know, I usually, every Christmas, I tried to republish this essay, I wrote about my own path. I was raised by atheists, Jews, to you know, think religion was for fools. And I had no religious training or whatever. And I knew very little about it. You know, I just like everybody else raised in America, you know, about Christmas and Easter, and you hear this stuff. But after getting into Indian philosophy, and starting my own meditation practice and everything, I read Autobiography of a Yogi. And I said, Hold on, he's writes about Jesus a lot. What what's going on here? What have I missed? I may have maybe I missed something. So I got a New Testament and read it. And I had already read the Bhagavad Gita. I had already read the, you know, some of the apana shots, and all this literature. So I'm reading the New Testament for the first time and I'm, and my thought was, oh, I get it. He was a girl. He was a yoga master, he had disciples and it's just like the apana shots. And so suddenly, I found myself being open to stuff and I go to, and I started realizing how much I like Christmas carols. So I check out a different church every Christmas Eve to have a birthday party for a great yogi. That's what happens.

Alex Ferrari 34:52
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So let me ask you this in your research following Yogananda is life when you went down the rabbit hole of Jesus's connection with Yogananda, did you find out any stories about the time between the years 13 and 30? Where there's a lot of Jesus in India ideas are Tibetan? My understanding is India, Tibet, and Egypt. Those are the those are the three places he kind of hung out for a minute.

Philip Goldberg 35:55
Oh, also, I've heard Persia.

Alex Ferrari 35:58
Yeah, pretty much

Philip Goldberg 36:02
I don't, I heard all the stories, and it wasn't just been researching Yogananda's life, you know, and all the I've taken tour groups to India. I've investigated all the different gurus, teachings and everything. And you hear the stories, you know, there's even films made about Jesus in India, you know, people have been speculating about those missing years, forever. And it's plausible. I mean, Pierre did travel from what we think of as the Holy Land and from Greece, you know, Overland. Alexander the Great went to India Well, what what's now Pakistan. He met Yogi's put, it said that the fabulous and other Greek philosophers had contacts with Indian sages who believe there were trade routes between the Middle East and Greece and India. But what actually happened? You know, I had no idea.

Alex Ferrari 37:15
They didn't have the film cameras. Now,

Philip Goldberg 37:16
I always joke that if you're an Indian, especially if you're in Kashmir, which is one of the legends for a few rupees, somebody who will show you where Jesus is actually buried. He wasn't really crucified, you know, that. The he found his way to India and spent his life in the Himalayas.

Alex Ferrari 37:43
I've heard all those stories as well. I heard the mother, Mother Mary died along the route, and that she's buried somewhere in Pakistan. You know, that he was it was Da Vinci Code, she was married, he had kids. He was Mary Magdalene was not a whore. He was his wife. And apparently the apparently the proprietor of his entire mission. Geez, because he had that someone had to pay the bills for Jesus and she came from. So these are the stories we all hear. Have you heard the stories?

Philip Goldberg 38:15
I've heard stories, many stories like that. There's the first time I heard of Mary Magdalene being the the financier of the organization. I knew, you know, they presume, presumably she they were husband and wife. I mean, people are going I've heard so many stories about so many legendary people. You know, you live in LA you hear stories about celebrities, so why not Jesus?

Alex Ferrari 38:51
Now, we touched upon a very pivotal figure in the Autobiography of a Yogi and and Yogananda's life, which is Mahavatar, Baba Ji. And Baba Ji is one of the most fascinating characters in Autobiography of a Yogi. Can you talk a little bit about Baba Ji, what he's doing what impact he had on Yogananda Because apparently, Yogananda I think met him twice or three times. I'm not mistaken. In the book, at least, I think at least twice. But it might be three times in his life, where he actually had a conversation with the real Baba Ji and other than stories that he heard from his guru. But can you talk a little bit about Baba Ji and his impact on this work Yogananda his life and its impact on the world?

Philip Goldberg 39:36
Well, again, we're in the realm of what's true. What's mythology? What's good storytelling? I'm not qualified to know. But Baba Ji is a legendary yogi. In the Himalayas, who, you know who had such mastery of mind over matter of consciousness as a, that he didn't age and has lived for hundreds of years. And there are people today who claimed to have met him and been ordained by him to have some teaching mission. Are they lying? Are they deluded? Is it real? I have no idea. I once met somebody who claimed to be Baba Ji, that guy was deluded. But, you know, that was just too obvious, but who knows, but in Yogananda world you could say Baba Ji is the custodian of the Kriya Yoga lineage and appeared to Yogananda as gurus guru and the Lahiri Mahasaya, when he had was a young man and said, You will bring out these teachings from the obscurity that they've fallen into and make them more widely available. And you will do it without giving up your, your job and your role as a husband, mother and a father and because so you will set an example that these teachings are not just for redundancy, it's but for you know, people living in the world. And that's what was Lahiri Mahasaya, than he had a disciple named Shri test suar who was also a householder until, you know, he was a widower and to renounce your vows, and he became an honors girl. So the lineage is passed down from Baba Ji to Lahiri monastery to Sri tesselaar to Yogananda, and of course, you know, lesser known peep lesser known gurus who had their own branches of that lineage that you know, you're not the not the only one other disciples of Lahiri and you tesselaar had their own smaller institutions. So that's who he presumably is, and is presumably still alive. And as I said, People claim all kinds of things who knows what's true, but that's the legend of, of Baba Ji. And I've taken tour groups to places in India where there's there's one place where the Organon does lineage maintains that it's a cave where Baba Ji lived, and where, you know, and, you know, and these are powerful places, and they're powerful stories, and some people believe them and some people don't. But I always like to say, it doesn't matter. You know, the teachings are the teachings, the methods of Kriya Yoga, just like the methods of other yoga lineages. They work, they have an effect on people, that's what really matters. And you know, whether you believe Yogananda stories or not, whether you talked earlier about reading autobiography, and your reaction to all the miracles and the healings, and the feats of yogic powers and all that, my experience with people is there are two kinds of people who really love the autobiography of Yogi people who love the, the miracles and can't get enough for them. And people who don't believe a word of it, but they, they get a lot out of a book for other reasons. Because it's the book is a lot of things to you know, there's a lot in there. And every time I reread it to teach one of those courses I mentioned, I find something new, and there's there's a lot there. So some people just poopoo the miracles, or say, well, some of them may be true, and but I don't believe this one in that one. And I think Yogananda was fooled or whatever. Here's that but here's a point about this is interest thing he made, they're so prominent in the book. And at the same time, if you read the commentaries about his own commentaries about he'll tell you, but there are lots word words important. What's important is the experience inside you, when you practice these methods of yoga. These stories, you can believe them, you know, they're meant to make a point. So, and that's consistent with all the great spiritual teachers, all the gurus, all the yogi's Buddha himself, they tell you, yeah, these, these feats of consciousness and everything, they're, they're absolutely true. I, you know, these, there's things that an advanced yogi can do. But they're not important. Don't get caught up in them, don't waste your time trying to attain these things, or think about them. What matters is the inner peace and the expanded awareness and the love that these methods bring about in, in practice. But yet, there's all these stories. So one day, when I was researching my biography of him, I was meeting with a swami Chetan, on the who became the head of the organization. After not long after, I was meeting with him about my research. And I said, Why do you think Yogananda included so much why there's so many of these stories in the book? And he said, he, he tells you in the book, and he said, What do you mean? And he opens the front of the book. And if you if you have a copy of autobiography view, if you have a copy of any book, you'll see what's called the copyright page. Where was not the copyright page, the title page is always a page with just the title, the author, the publisher. On that page, there's a quote from the Bible, from the New Testament. And it says, Except you see signs and wonders, you will not believe that's from the book of John, he put it in there. It was, like he's telling you at the beginning, that's why this because some people need to see miracles and everything in order to really pay attention.

Alex Ferrari 47:53
Pay attention. You know, from my, from my studies, and yoga philosophies, I've understood that these these powers, the yogic powers, and there's a handful of them levitation by location, manifestation, basically all the stuff that that Jesus did, which again, goes back to your theory of Yogi, but they can be traps for, for the yogi going through it. Because you know what, when you levitate, pretty, pretty darn off. Cool. To love it. And to show that off, the ego will come in like, you know what, I think I can show this or if you're able to manifest something, or if you ever do bio, lo que these are things that the ego would just love, because you're so much superior to everyone else, that it is a trap for many Yogi's and yoga and some Yogi's get caught up in that, and they just try and they focus on just learning how to levitate for 30 years. And that's what they do. But that's not where

Philip Goldberg 48:55
Or to read minds are to all kinds of stuff that and the question is, Are these real? You know, and I have no doubt that these are attainments, you know, that have been witnessed and observed and attained. And some of them like the mind powers, you know, they're just, it's like, you could pick up a basketball and shoot and maybe skirt because we all can do that. But not everybody's a little Bron James. So we all have intuition and hunches and feelings and you know, all that stuff. And we've experienced certain psychic things happening in our life. Take that to an extreme and you have you know, the LeBron James is of Yogi's doing what we think of as extraordinary things. So I have no doubt the question is so what? When Buddha was asked if he can perform miracles, He said yes. When I'm hungry, I eat. When I'm thirsty, I drink, that's a miracle. It's a miracle. And, you know, so are they happy? Are they in bliss consciousness? Have they transcended the, you know, sufferings of the world? That's why people follow yogic paths. Not so they can manipulate other people with their mind or, you know, float

Alex Ferrari 50:34
Exactly. You know, you mentioned Lahiri Mahasaya, who's one of my favorite of the Guru's because he had a family. And that's unlike most gurus are usually, you know, they are monastic, in many ways, and they stay away from having that. And I have family, I have a family. And I always like to say, I always like to joke, I'm like, I wonder how Yogananda would have done if he had five kids running around and a wife and a mortgage and all this kind of stuff. It's easy to find enlightenment. You don't have to deal with that. I'm just joking. But it's easier. And then here ma che is that one guru, they look to like, he had a family, he had a job. He was an accountant. I mean, he and he still slowly but surely became the spiritual teacher. So it is doable. And Baba Ji, if he does exist, Baba Ji was so smart in allowing someone like lahir ma che to be the catalyst of Kriya Yoga as an example to others to go no, you don't have to be in the Himalayan Mountains for 100 years meditating. You know, from what I understand what I understand now that the age and not for everybody, but the age of this enlightenment, in the Himalayas, you know, in a cave somewhere away from the world or even in a in a in a, in a church or in you know, a month, you know, retreat a castle somewhere. That world is great. But from my understanding is now it's the time for them to come down from the mountains, and to start doing these kinds of teachings within the mass media, getting jobs within companies doing these things to be actually to do change in the world and elevate everyone's awakening. Consciousness. Would you agree?

Philip Goldberg 52:24
Yeah. Well, there's a there's a role for monastics Correct. Most of the teachers who came here, whether they're Buddhist or Hindu or whatever, were monks. But they taught householders. They made it very plain. You don't have to this is many are called but few are chosen. You know, most the great majority of human beings are meant to be in families and have careers and jobs. And that's the curriculum for our you know, most of our incarnations. But there's a role to be played for monks and nuns. And essentially, they're specialists. You know, they, they they have they don't have the distractions of family life and career so they can devote themselves fully to this. This is why Yogananda who himself was a monk, he made he empowered the people around him, who to run the organization and carry on his legacy. He put that in the hands of the monastics he created a monastic order for Westerners, so did other gurus, all of them have them some equivalent of that. And, you know, it's a very attractive proposition for people who get involved in a deep, serious spirit, virtual path, but it's not for everybody. It has its own challenges. You know, you give up you you're giving up a lot and you are, it's a lot is expected of you. You're not just sitting in a cave, you're running an organization and you have people to deal with and managerial responsibilities, teaching responsibilities and all that. And you have to, you know, remain unattached from certain things. And you know, even I, it's very tempting once you get onto a yogic path to say, oh, all this stuff is a distraction. I'm just going to go live in an ashram or, you know, a monitor. You know, maybe it'll last a short period of time before iced. I used to joke that I got I did that for a while I would go on long meditation retreats say, Oh, I'm not going back, I'm on and just do this, I'm going to take vows. And then, you know, a week later, I'm thinking, how are the Mets doing? You know, and probably? Where are the women? And, you know, wonder if The Beatles have a new album? Yeah, it just some of us are not meant to be that way. We all have a role for each.

Alex Ferrari 55:32
Correct. Your role was to do the work that you're doing. And you couldn't do that in an ashram. I mean, you have to be out mingling with the world. And look, Yogananda you know, he was he was, you know, a person who was not in a cave somewhere, he built an organization he traveled, he spoke, he interacted with people on a constant basis for 32 years in the United States, that is far as far beyond being a monk.

Philip Goldberg 56:00
That's right. And, you know, and this isn't my biography of him, because it shows up a lot in his letters and other things. There were times when he said, I don't want to do this anymore. This is too much hassle, I have need to think about money. And these foolish people who get into squabbles with one another and aren't, you know, and people attacking me and people suing me and people making accusations and people opposing me, I just wanted to live a peaceful life of, of a yogi, I want to go live by the Ganges River and in the Himalayas. And but that didn't, you know, he had a mission, and it wasn't to be. But there were times when he you know, the people around him thought he's not coming back, you know, he's, he's, he was given us up. But he couldn't. It was His mission. But he had a lot of responsibility, and cement his work very hard. And anybody, you know, just think of it you start a business or something. It's a lot of work. And essentially, you know, he had a mission, and the more successful he was, the more administrative headaches, the more you know, public relations, headaches. So, you know, he worked, he worked very hard. And that's a great example. I've had people read my book, and say, Oh, I'm so happy that I read it, because part of me wanted, you know, thinking, why is my life so difficult? And then I realized, even Yogananda had challenges. This is, you know, this is life in the world. So I feel better about things now.

Alex Ferrari 57:57
Yeah, and he, I mean, he did have, he had a lot of struggles a lot, a lot of struggles in his day, and during the end of his life, and please correct me if I'm wrong, but he started to write, like, so much. He was trying to get it all because he knew, because he knew when he was going to go, he knew that the clock was running out for himself. And he was writing apparently, just just insanely books, after books, after books, translating, translated or dictating, dictating, dictating books, or books, right.

Philip Goldberg 58:28
And not only that, you know, making sure his organization was in place for his departure, making sure it would be financially secure, making sure that people who are going to carry on his legacy were properly trained and properly oriented. He's continued to give public talks, all of which were transcribed, and, you know, ended up in books. So he was working very hard. He stopped traveling, he if first 15 years or so here, he traveled all the time, stopped traveling after a while and just stayed in Southern California. You know, if if he were around now, he'd be making YouTube videos. And those days, he was writing books.

Alex Ferrari 59:24
That was, that was the medium of his time. That was the way to go out to the masses. Now he would be absolutely a YouTube star. No question. No question about it whatsoever. One last thing, Philip, I wanted to ask you about. I heard this from from somewhere that when he died, when Yogananda past, he basically was he was speaking and he he told us his disciples that night tonight, I'm leaving you and they're like, no, no, no, that's impossible.

Philip Goldberg 59:53
He didn't he didn't tell them that.

Alex Ferrari 59:55
Oh, he didn't. He didn't say that. Okay,

Philip Goldberg 59:57
But they inferred either from some of the things he said.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:02
Got it. Okay. So he was he was dropping out. But then he in the middle of a talk just fell and apparently was from cardiac arrest.

Philip Goldberg 1:00:12
True, but it was at the end of his talk. And it was, I have to say, researching and writing that chapter about his final years and days and final night. It was really moving. For me to do that. It was a beautiful thing. He had, he had he loved his homeland. He loved India and what it stands for, and one of the poignant things was he always wanted to go back again, and visit him. And he only did once in this old time after he came here, and he wants to go back. But it never did. That he once said that he would die with India on his lips. And he did. It was the final his final night was a banquet celebration. This is, what five years after almost five years after India became independent. And its first, the first post independence ambassador to the US was visiting Los Angeles. And they had banquets for him and every yoga Nanda hosted them. And he gave a talk at this banquet. And he concluded his talk by reading a section of a poem of his about his love for India. And as soon as he finished, he collapsed.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:52
He died with India in his lips. Yeah. Now, one last thing when he passed, the legend goes that he didn't decay, that he was as vibrant as the day he was alive. And there was there's video of it. There's actual film of him at his, as they were burying him, I think, or wherever that ceremony

Philip Goldberg 1:02:17
I have to be you know, that's all the issues I've ever seen of autobiography of Yogi have this thing about how his body didn't corrupt. And people have disputed that for one thing, he was embalmed. And and the body was open casket only for a short period of time. No one knows. No one's open the casket since and, you know, according to one what is called corn or there was started to see some signs of, of decay. Others say oh, no, this, he held up the body held up much longer than is the norm and other people would dispute that. And personally, I don't care.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:13
Right. It's, it's, it's fascinating, because that's basically every great spiritual teacher, there's always

Philip Goldberg 1:03:20
There's always legends, there's always stories. You know, Jesus isn't the only one who was supposed to have a virgin birth, or was resurrected or any of that in a sea, you know, know what to believe? And I always thought, if they were open Yogen on this casket and find him looking like he did in 1952, it would be miraculous. But would it change anything? Would it make his methods? Any more valuable? Any more practical? Would it make the philosophies he espoused any less? True or more true? No, that's what really matters.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:04
Where's it? Do you know where he's buried? I don't know where he's buried.

Philip Goldberg 1:04:08
Forest Lawn Cemetery out outside of Los Angeles.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:12
He's at Forest Lawn I didn't know he was a Forest Lawns. Yeah, my next trip to LA I'm making

Philip Goldberg 1:04:18
There was a there was an effort to move to disinterred and move it to SRF headquarters. Sure, but the people the people who live in the neighborhood stopped it. They didn't they didn't want pilgrims coming, you know, passing, going to visit this tomb all the time.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:39
Fair enough. I feel like I'm gonna ask you a few questions that ask all of my guests. What is your definition of living a fulfilled life?

Philip Goldberg 1:04:46
Knowing who we truly are.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:49
If you had a chance to go back in time and speak to a little Philip, what advice would you give him?

Philip Goldberg 1:04:57
You could have been a Major League pitcher No, I'm kidding.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:04
The Mets needed you, the Mets needed you.

Philip Goldberg 1:05:08
No, I would, I would say be grateful for every moment. Live with no regret.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:20
How do you define God or Source?

Philip Goldberg 1:05:22
I really stay away from the G word it means so many different things to so many. That's why I said source. Yes, that which is always was always will be was never born will never die. And to circle back to your first question that is true we truly are.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:49
What is love?

Philip Goldberg 1:05:50
That which binds everything?

Alex Ferrari 1:05:53
And what is the ultimate purpose of life?

Philip Goldberg 1:05:55
To know who we truly are. Live our full potential and serve.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:06
Philip where can people find out more about you and the amazing work you're doing in the world?

Philip Goldberg 1:06:10
My website, philipgoldberg.com when it's working properly as everything and my podcasts which is called Spirit Matters, which find that the mind body spirit.fm My books of course, which you find out about on my website, but the website is is the first stop.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:38
Did you have any parting messages for the audience if you were channeling Yogananda today?

Philip Goldberg 1:06:46
We live in very difficult times. Protect yourself, find the sanctuary of peace within yourself. Anchor yourself there and then come out and do something to help.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:04
Philip it has been a pleasure and honor speaking to you about your work and Yogananda anytime I could talk about, Yogananda I'm happy. So thank you so much for spreading and spreading his story in the world my friend.

Philip Goldberg 1:07:18
Thank you. Thanks for your great questions. And for the invitation. That was a pleasure.

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