View the study questions we have created for reading the inspiring Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda.
- Share your inspiration for joining a study group. What are your hopes for the group?
- What brought you to the reading of this book?
- How do you relate to the word “guru”? Do you have any preconceptions about India, the guru-disciple relationship and the meaning of spirituality?
- What does the word “disciple” mean to you? Had you heard it before reading this chapter?
- Why do you think Paramhansa Yogananda writes of the guru-disciple relationship? (Within the first page, first paragraph, first sentence!)
- Have you had an experience like Yogananda that caused you to have to turn to the Divine for strength and realizing that everything is really Spirit bringing to us what we need to feel His/Her Presence more tangibly in our daily life?
- Had you heard of the ancient Swami order of renunciation (coming from India) before reading this book?
- What do the Himalayas and pilgrimage mean to you?
- Does the image of Yogananda’s mother have any special meaning to you?
- Have you ever had an “intuition” or premonition and listened/not listened to it?
- What does the “talisman” Yogananda received represent?
- What is Faith? And what does it mean to you?
- What are examples of moments when you feel the Divine has aided you in developing that Faith?
- How do we know whether to stay in “seclusion” or to be more out in the world, serving others? How can we best serve others in the world? What are examples in Paramhansa Yogananda’s life of balancing meditation and service?
- What is the best way to be “spiritual”? How and why does this change individually?
- What challenges have you faced leading a spiritual life? Has anyone ever tried to talk you out of your spiritual practices? What was that like and how did you handle it? How do you keep going when this part of your life is challenged?
- How do you stay steady on the path? Or have there been moments where you left the path and come back? If you are just finding or discovering what being on the path means to you, can you share what this is like?
- How does devotion give courage on the spiritual path? How can we use prayer to strengthen our commitment on the path?
- Share what this quote from Solomon means to you: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”
- How does this book approach the answer to why there is good and evil present in God’s creation (symbolized by the Divine Mother image, Kali)? What is the concept of maya—the cosmic delusion of separateness—versus the realization of unity in all creation? How does suffering help us in understanding these truths?
- What is the nature of true wisdom, as explained in this chapter? How does this relate to the lesson of the “perfume saint”?
- Why do you think patience is used as a “test” when a truth seeker hopes for a meeting with a true master? Have you ever had such an experience or do you know of another’s story of such a moment?
- What does the quote, “Mind is the wielder of muscles,” mean to you in relation to the idea of mind over matter? In relation to the importance of physical and mental strength when facing the most powerful obstacles in life?
- How do you approach the idea that our physical body and all that we perceive as its strengths and weaknesses are a result of our consciousness? Our thought-habits over time? How can we use the power of our mind to overcome our weaknesses? Have you ever been able to do this in your life or have you made an effort to use your thoughts to improve your physical well-being or mental strength?
- If our power is determined by our energy, how can we use the power of will and courage to increase that energy so that we may be “empowered”? Conversely, how does fear inhibit our flow of energy, and thus power?
- What does this sentence mean to us as devotees who practice techniques? “He was reminding me to love God more than meditation. ‘Do not mistake the technique for the Goal.’”
- How has this phrase been a part of your own experience, or as you see happening in the world today? “What rishis perceived as essential for human salvation need not be diluted for the West. Alike in soul though diverse in outer experience, neither West nor East will flourish if some form of disciplinary yoga be not practiced.”
- Even though we know true joy lies within, why do we still sometimes struggle with material desires or “giving up” something for the path? Or, in some cases, worrying that we may someday be left with nothing because we gave everything to a life for God?
- Why is it important that East and West unite in science? (Hint: It is impersonal in nature.) What does this partnership represent?
- How did Bose’s discoveries show the unity of all life?
- How can Bose’s scientific attitude of “regarding gain and loss, success and failure, as one” help us pursue greater discoveries in our life?
- Why is patience such an important quality on the path?
- What does the concept of God as Divine Mother mean to you?
- How do you experience devotion or what does devotion to the Divine mean to you in your spiritual life?
- Why does the practice of facing the fear of death help the aspiring yogi?
- Have you ever had to place all of your faith in the Divine for something significant to change/happen in your life? What kind of energy did it require from you?
- Read the paragraphs where Yogananda first bows at the feet of his guru. Perhaps sit quietly as a group and while reading, then meditate for a few minutes on the magnificent love between these two avatars.
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- How does Yogananda’s life show how giving your self to the search for God or “seek Ye first the kingdom of God” applies to being taken care of? How does fear prevent us from having faith that we will be provided for if we put God first?
- What do you do in your life to maintain childlike trust for God?
- What are examples where you have put God first and Life has provided for your needs?
- Share your search for a guru or true spiritual teacher, if applicable. What does it mean to the soul when they finally come to a place where they can give their life into the hands of such a great one?
- Thinking of Swami Sri Yukteswar’s stories and morals, have you ever had a fear that you decided to overcome by dealing with it straight on?
- Do you have an attachment that you feel may be blinding you, and if so, how do you hope to overcome it?
- As a child, did you ever have your parents give advice that has since stuck with you? Or a way of approaching the world?
- What is the lesson in the section on “outwitting the mosquito”?
- Share your experience with the power of your words to bring something into reality.
- How was Yogananda’s longing for experience with yogis in the Himalayas finally overcome?
- As described in this text, how does one overcome the need for sleep?
Chapters 14 through 48 coming soon. More questions will keep being added throughout the year. Feel free to add your own to the comments below and we may add them to this page.
- What is the list of Satyagraha vows taken by Gandhi’s strict followers?
- Why are the values of Gandhi so important relevant to what the world is facing today?
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