“The Law of Miracles”


From Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda

Celebrating of the 75th anniversary of Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography 

In discovering the unity of matter and energy that pervades the universe, modern science changed the way we view ourselves and the world. Yet centuries before scientific evidence attested to the essential relation between matter and energy, the great yogis of India were demonstrating a still deeper component in the equation of reality: that of consciousness.

By expanding their mental awareness beyond the limitations of the physical body, these masters of the science of yoga were proving the essence of human reality to be omnipresence.

In the chapter “The Law of Miracles” from the spiritual classic Autobiography of a Yogi, which celebrates 75 years in continuous print this December, Paramahansa Yogananda provides a profound account of the nature of reality and what is needed to lift the veil of ‘maya’ —cosmic delusion—that separates human consciousness from the changeless Reality.

The following excerpts are from Chapter 30 of Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda (Self-Realization Fellowship, Los Angeles, California, https://www.yogananda.org/. All rights reserved.)


“The Vedic scriptures declare that the physical world operates under one fundamental law of maya, the principle of relativity and duality. God, the Sole Life, is Absolute Unity; to appear as the separate and diverse manifestations of a creation He wears a false or unreal veil. That illusory dualistic veil is maya. Many great scientific discoveries of modern times have confirmed this simple pronouncement of the ancient rishis.

“Newton’s Law of Motion is a law of maya: “To every action there is always an equal and contrary reaction; the mutual actions of any two bodies are always equal and oppositely directed.” Action and reaction are thus exactly equal. “To have a single force is impossible. There must be, and always is, a pair of forces equal and opposite.”

“The stream of knowledge,” Sir James Jeans writes in The Mysterious Universe, ‘is heading toward a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine.’

“Twentieth-century science is thus sounding like a page from the hoary Vedas.

“From science, then, if it must be so, let man learn the philosophic truth that there is no material universe; its warp and woof is maya, illusion. Under analysis all its mirages of reality dissolve. As, one by one, the reassuring props of a physical cosmos crash beneath him, man dimly perceives his idolatrous reliance, his transgression of the Divine Command: ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before Me [Exodus 20:3].’

“In his famous equation outlining the equivalence of mass and energy, Einstein proved that the energy in any particle of matter is equal to its mass or weight multiplied by the square of the velocity of light. The release of the atomic energies is brought about through annihilation of the material particles. The “death” of matter has given birth to an Atomic Age.

“Light velocity is a mathematical standard or constant not because there is an absolute value in 186,300 miles a second, but because no material body, whose mass increases with its velocity, can ever attain the velocity of light. Stated another way: only a material body whose mass is infinite could equal the velocity of light.

“This conception brings us to the law of miracles.

“Masters who are able to materialize and dematerialize their bodies and other objects, and to move with the velocity of light, and to utilize the creative light rays in bringing into instant visibility any physical manifestation, have fulfilled the lawful condition: their mass is infinite.

“The consciousness of a perfected yogi is effortlessly identified not with a narrow body but with the universal structure. Gravitation, whether the “force” of Newton or the Einsteinian “manifestation of inertia,” is powerless to compel a master to exhibit the property of weight: the distinguishing gravitational condition of all material objects. He who knows himself as the omnipresent Spirit is subject no longer to the rigidities of a body in time and space. The imprisoning “rings-pass-not” have yielded to the solvent: I am He.”

“A yogi who through perfect meditation has merged his consciousness with the Creator perceives the cosmical essence as light (vibrations of life energy); to him there is no difference between the light rays composing water and the light rays composing land. Free from matter-consciousness, free from the three dimensions of space and the fourth dimension of time, a master transfers his body of light with equal ease over or through the light rays of earth, water, fire, and air.”

“In 1915, shortly after I had entered the Swami Order, I witnessed a strange vision. Through it I came to understand the relativity of human consciousness, and clearly perceived the unity of the Eternal Light behind the painful dualities of maya. The vision descended on me as I sat one morning in my little attic room in Father’s Garpar Road home. For months the First World War had been raging in Europe; I had been reflecting sadly on the vast toll of death.

“As I closed my eyes in meditation, my consciousness was suddenly transferred to the body of a captain in command of a battleship. The thunder of guns split the air as shots were exchanged between shore batteries and the ship’s cannons. A huge shell hit the powder magazine and tore my ship asunder. I jumped into the water, together with the few sailors who had survived the explosion.

“Heart pounding, I reached the shore safely. But alas! a stray bullet ended its swift flight in my chest. I fell groaning to the ground. My whole body was paralysed, yet I was aware of possessing it as one is conscious of a leg gone to sleep.

“‘At last, the mysterious footstep of Death has caught up with me,’ I thought. With a final sigh, I was about to sink into unconsciousness when lo! I found myself seated in the lotus posture in my Garpar Road room.

Hysterical tears poured forth as I joyfully stroked and pinched my regained possession: a body free from a bullet hole in the breast. I rocked to and fro, inhaling and exhaling to assure myself that I was alive. Amidst these self-gratulations, again I found my consciousness transferred to the captain’s dead body by the gory shore. Utter confusion of mind came upon me.

“‘Lord,’ I prayed, ‘am I dead or alive?’

“A dazzling play of light filled the whole horizon. A soft rumbling vibration formed itself into words:

“‘What has life or death to do with light? In the image of My light I have made you. The relativities of life and death belong to the cosmic dream. Behold your dreamless being! Awake, My child, awake!’

As steps in man’s awakening, the Lord inspires scientists to discover, at the right time and place, the secrets of His creation. Many modern discoveries help man to apprehend the cosmos as a varied expression of one power —light, guided by divine intelligence. The wonders of the motion picture, of radio, of television, of radar, of the photoelectric cell —the amazing ‘electric eye,’ of atomic energies, are all based on the electromagnetic phenomenon of light.”

“After I had finished writing this chapter, I sat on my bed in the lotus posture. My room was dimly lit by two shaded lamps. Lifting my gaze, I noticed that the ceiling was dotted with small mustard-coloured lights, scintillating and quivering with a radium like  lustre. Myriads of pencilled rays, like sheets of rain, gathered into a transparent shaft and poured silently upon me.

“At once my physical body lost its grossness and became metamorphosed into astral texture. I felt a floating sensation as, barely touching the bed, the weightless body shifted slightly and alternately to left and right. I looked around the room; the furniture and walls were as usual, but the little mass of light had so multiplied that the ceiling was invisible. I was wonder-struck.

“‘This is the cosmic motion-picture mechanism.’ A Voice spoke as though from within the light. ‘Shedding its beam on the white screen of your bed sheets, it is producing the picture of your body. Behold, your form is nothing but light!’

“I gazed at my arms and moved them back and forth, yet could not feel their weight. Ecstatic joy overwhelmed me. The cosmic stem of light, blossoming as my body, seemed a divine reproduction of the light beams that stream out of the projection booth in a cinema house and make manifest the pictures on the screen.

“For a long time I experienced this motion picture of my body in the faintly lit theatre of my own bedroom. Though I have had many visions, none was ever more singular. As the illusion of a solid body was completely dissipated, and as my realization deepened that the essence of all objects is light, I looked up to the throbbing stream of lifetrons and spoke entreatingly.

“‘Divine Light, please withdraw this, my humble bodily picture, into Thyself; even as Elijah was drawn up to heaven in a chariot of flame.’[II Kings 2:11]

“This prayer was evidently startling; the beam disappeared. My body resumed its normal weight and sank on the bed; the swarm of dazzling ceiling lights flickered and vanished. My time to leave this earth had apparently not arrived.

“‘Besides,’ I thought philosophically, ‘Elijah might well be displeased at my presumption!’”

This is an excerpt from Chapter 30, “The Law of Miracles,” from Yogananda’s iconic autobiography. The following excerpt is from Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda. Self-Realization Fellowship, Los Angeles, Calif., www.yogananda.org. Reprinted with permission.


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