God Is for Everyone is the core of Yogananda’s teachings. This book presents a concept of God and spiritual meaning that will broadly appeal to everyone, from the most uncertain agnostic to the most fervent believer. Clearly and simply written, thoroughly nonsectarian and non-dogmatic in its approach, God Is for Everyone is the perfect introduction to the spiritual path.
“Spiritual religion,” as explained by Paramhansa Yogananda, one of the great spiritual masters of the twentieth century, offers a pragmatic, eminently useful set of solutions to our most profound problems. The Divine Spirit is the hidden inspiration behind all that we do, the one true experience that we all seek, the lasting happiness that eludes us when we seek it elsewhere. No mere abstraction, God is a real, ever-present, ever-conscious force available for us to tap into at all times.
Importantly, this is a vision of spiritual practice that emphasizes the underlying unity of all religions, while respecting the many different ways and forms of worship. In these times of intense religious strife, this landmark approach to religious unity is certain to help usher in an era of true mutual respect and understanding among the world’s great religious traditions.
God Is for Everyone is a thrilling, compassionate exploration of our deepest human needs . . . and the only way to fulfill them. This book brings fresh new insight to ourselves and our most sacred practices.
1. Religion: a Universal Need
2. A Brief History of Religion
3. The Goal of Life
4. Pleasure Is Counterfeit Happiness
5. Happiness Is Counterfeit Bliss
6. The Source of Inspiration
7. Religion and Spirituality
8. The Refinement of Awareness
9. The Return to Zero
10. The Science of Religion
11. The Nature of Bliss
This book was first intended to be a slightly polished version of Paramhansa Yogananda’s first literary offering, The Science of Religion, which he published in 1920 before coming to America from his native land, India. Instead, it has become a new book. The message, though expanded upon, is the same, though I don’t suppose a sentence of the original remains. I have written it as though it had been penned by Yogananda himself. This method has often been employed by disciples of a great master. In Paramhansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi we are told that his guru’s guru, Lahiri Mahasaya, would sometimes tell a disciple, “Please expound the holy [scripture] stanzas as the meaning occurs to you. . . . I will guide your thoughts, that the right interpretation be uttered.”* In this way, Yogananda continued, many of Lahiri Mahasaya’s perceptions were recorded and published.
Though all my books represent a conscious attempt to be an instrument for his teaching, it must be said that this one has been more so. It was a sincere effort to rewrite his book for him—as a ghostwriter if you like, though he isn’t physically here to check my efforts. I present it as his book because all the ideas are, deliberately on my part, his own. This present version will, I hope, be easier to comprehend and more enjoyable to read. For although the first edition contained wonderful teachings, it stated them so weightily that many a daunted reader has not remained with it to the end.
The Science of Religion has never sold well, a particularly unfortunate fact in light of Yogananda’s clear intention, through this book, of reaching a broad audience. That tens of thousands in America later attended his lectures, and that many of them became his students, makes it all the more important that the message he expressed in this book be disseminated, now, as widely as possible.
In 1955 I was discussing editorial matters by telephone with Laurie Pratt, Paramhansa Yogananda’s chief editor. Today, Miss Pratt is better known by her monastic name, Tara Mata. I knew her then as Laurie. She lived a quasi-hermit’s life, and rarely communicated except by phone.
During our discussion she remarked, “I’m thinking of dropping the publication of The Science of Religion.”
“Why on earth?” I cried in dismay. “Its message is central to Master’s** teachings!”
“Master never actually wrote it,” she replied. “It doesn’t even have his vibrations.”
This book had always been a favorite of mine—not for its style, perhaps, but certainly for its contents. “Who did write it, then?” I demanded.
“Swami Dhirananda,” she answered. This monk had been summoned to America by our Guru during the 1920s to help him with the spread of his work. Dhirananda had departed the scene, however, long before my own entrance onto it as a disciple in 1948. His name was only dimly familiar to me.
“The very writing style,” Laurie continued, “is Dhirananda’s, not Master’s. It is heavy and pedantic, and betrays the pride he felt in possessing a master’s degree. Even his choice of words projected none of Master’s charm and simplicity. The Science of Religion reads more like a scholarly dissertation than as a work of deep inspiration!”
“But in its ideas, at least,” I protested, “it has to be Master’s! For that reason alone, surely, it would be a pity simply to drop it!”
Perhaps my dismay influenced her. At any rate, the book continued in print. Her comments also, however, remained firmly etched in my memory.
I learned a little more about Dhirananda’s role in authoring The Science of Religion during four years that I spent in India in the early 1960s. There I had occasion to speak with Swami Satyananda, another of the Master’s early companions. Satyananda told me, “After Yoganandaji’s return from his visit to Japan, which he describes in Autobiography of a Yogi, he was inspired with insight on how to reach a worldwide public with the message God had given him. Accordingly, he wrote an outline of those ideas in Bengali. He didn’t yet feel capable of writing them in English, however, so he asked Swami Dhirananda, a member of our little group, to write them in English as a booklet.”
Dhirananda, in other words, was the ghostwriter; the truths expressed were all Yogananda’s. A human being is not the clothes he wears, but the living person inside them. The inspiration for The Science of Religion, similarly, was Yogananda’s; Dhirananda only tailored the suit.
English usage has changed over the past eighty years. Dhirananda’s somewhat cumbersome style is now outmoded. Nor was it ever elegant, and the suit he tailored was always a poor fit. The coat, moreover, with its excessive repetitions of concepts, had become frayed at the elbows, rather like a professor’s old jacket at the twilight of his career.
In fairness, I must add that Daya Mata, the president of Self-Realization Fellowship, has disputed my claim that Paramhansa Yogananda did not actively author this book. Dhirananda, she insists, was its editor, not a ghostwriter basing his work on Master’s notes. I can only say in reply that I have expressed my own very clear memory of both Laurie Pratt’s and Swami Satyananda’s comments. I have no wish to argue this point, so will leave it to the reader to decide which version he prefers.
In May of 1950, Paramhansa Yogananda gave me instructions for my own future service to his mission. “Your work,” he said, “will be lecturing, writing, and editing.”
I hesitated over that second item. “Sir,” I said, “haven’t you already written everything that needs to be said about your teachings?”
“Don’t say that!” he exclaimed, surprised at my obtuseness. “Much more is needed!”
Since that time I have devoted my life to carrying out those instructions. My books, which at present number more than eighty, have been written primarily to interest people in his teachings. I have tried also to show that his insights lead irresistibly to ever-broader conclusions. My efforts have been rewarded in that they have, so far, reached millions of readers—not only in English, but (as of this writing) in twenty-seven other languages. I have also edited a book of conversations that I and others had with our Guru, which were published under the title, The Essence of Self-Realization.
Finally, I have edited what, to me, is a veritable scripture: Yogananda’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam Explained, on which task he got me started a few months before our conversation quoted above. My earnest prayer has always been to reach a wide audience with his teachings, and to demonstrate in addition their immense practical value in people’s daily lives.
I was recently again reading The Science of Religion, when the thought came to me, “Laurie was right! The ideas expressed here are wonderful, but they don’t touch the heart.” I then thought, “Would it be presumptuous of me to attempt to rewrite this work?” I prayed inwardly for guidance.
The present edition is the result of that prayer. This is still my Guru’s work, though it has been extensively rewritten. Even though thoughts have been expressed in new words, and stories added to illustrate the points made, I’ve tried conscientiously to express only his ideas. Most of the stories were ones he himself often related—to everyone’s delight, for even when imparting deep wisdom he could be marvelously entertaining! I’ve done my best to present his concepts as he himself might have done, with the fluency he later achieved in English. And I’ve tried to convey some of the inspiration that we, who heard him, invariably felt when he spoke.
I encountered more difficulties with this project, however, than I’d expected. I’ve always been comfortable with editing his words, so rich with wisdom. Indeed, they have become my whole way of life. I found it a challenge, however, to separate his ideas from interpolations added by Dhirananda.
Eventually I found it necessary to go through the text with a view not only to improving its style, but to clarifying its concepts. I’ve replaced whatever lack of clarity I found in Dhirananda’s version with Yogananda’s actual teachings as I understand them from years of study and experience, and from my numerous conversations with him.
It might help the reader if I explained further why Laurie would have even considered dropping the publication of this book. The sad truth is, Dhirananda, some years after arriving in America, betrayed his guru. Ambition, and consequent envy, are unfortunately not unheard of among the disciples of great masters. (Consider Judas Iscariot’s historic betrayal of Jesus Christ.) When a disciple gives precedence to his ego over his discipleship, he sometimes attacks his guru as if saying, “All that I’ve gained has been by my efforts. I alone, therefore, deserve all the credit.” The enlightened teacher meanwhile, himself free from all ego-prompted desires, views ingratitude even in its extremest form of treachery as a spiritual disease, which he must eventually cure in his erring disciples.
Dhirananda went so far as to try to encompass Yogananda’s financial ruin. That our Guru continued to keep this book in print is, to my mind, an example of the extraordinary magnanimity I always beheld in him.
It has been my utter joy to work on this book—renamed now, God Is for Everyone. The concepts it expresses deserve the best possible treatment. I prayed constantly that my Guru guide my thoughts during the months I labored on this project. Now that it is finished, I pray deeply that my humble efforts have pleased him.
With heartfelt sincerity,
Swami Kriyananda (J. Donald Walters)
Ananda Village, Nevada City, California
* First Edition reprint, Crystal Clarity Publishers, p. 40.
** “Master” was the term of love and respect we disciples used when addressing our Guru, and when speaking about him among ourselves.
Religion: A Universal Need
This book has been written to demonstrate that religion is a pragmatic necessity for everyone: that God is deeply relevant to every life, and is by no means the side issue so many people try to make Him.
If we accept that He exists, it surely goes without saying that He cannot be some minor or merely local deity. In the vast universe revealed to us by modern astronomy, God can only be thought of as infinite. To describe infinity adequately, however, would be impossible. Language derives from shared experience; it is not adequate for describing cosmic verities. The clearest mind could not conceptualize a state of consciousness that is both infinitely large and infinitesimally small—and that confounds reason itself, moreover, by being neither large nor small! The Bible describes the futility of any such attempt. “My thoughts,” it says in Isaiah 55:8, “are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” Mere thought could not span the abyss between finitude and infinity.
Nevertheless, there is something in human nature that feels imprisoned by finitude. Deep inside us we long to embrace infinity. We will never be satisfied until we have unraveled the mystery of existence. For man, despite Darwin’s disparaging verdict, is more than animal. Everyone pondering life’s strange twists and turns must surely ask himself sometimes whether there isn’t some higher reality: wise, kindly (so he hopes!), and forever aware of his individual existence.
Most people think of God only vaguely, if at all. They may imagine Him as in some obscure way omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent. They may think of Him more personally, though still vaguely, as “all-merciful,” or “all-wise.” They may endow Him mentally with a form of some sort. In any case, they usually separate Him from daily reality as they know it.
This book offers an alternative to all such abstractions. What purpose is served, indeed, by holding God at a distance? Theological definitions may persuade us to bow before Him in reverence, but they cannot inspire us to love Him. Religiously inclined people may consider it excessively familiar to address Him as their very own, yet, if He created us, how can He be anything else? Why do we today, influenced by an ancient tradition, address Him still in the familiar form as “Thou”? Perhaps, somewhere in the past, God’s closeness was more generally accepted. In any case—at least in today’s English—”Thou” is no longer used. Even in conversation with our own nearest and dearest, this form of address seems to us unsuitable, because strangely formal. Indeed, one wonders whether even in olden times the familiar way of addressing God was not rather an affirmation suggested by saintly preceptors, instead of a reflection of the way most people actually thought of Him. For people also thought of Him, then, as the almighty Lord—not a concept, surely, to inspire intimacy!
It is easier, in a sense, to visualize God in the starry heavens than in our own homes. The stars, so remote from humdrum earthly existence, suggest to our minds perfect stillness, harmony, and wisdom. By contrast, our homes are often scenes of strife and rivalry. Yet if God’s omnipresence includes the stars, He must also be right around us—even (as Jesus Christ put it) inside us. Moreover, were we able to view the stars up close we would see them to be blazing furnaces, where violent explosions erupt constantly—hardly scenes of stillness and harmony!
In any case, we cannot be forever contemplating the heavens. To the extent that we hold God aloof from our daily realities, we alienate Him from us. We need a concept of God that will bring Him into our kitchens, our bedrooms, our living rooms—yes, even when those living rooms are crowded with guests. If God is everywhere, He must be quite as near to us as He is far away. We need to make Him our immediate reality. We need to seek His guidance and inspiration in our most intimate thoughts and feelings; relate to Him when the world is most demanding of our attention; seek His influence even in light undertakings; listen for His laughter behind our silliest jokes, and ask Him to infuse with His love our tenderest sentiments! If we don’t see our need for Him simply in order to exist, we reduce Him to a mental abstraction: useful in mathematics, perhaps, but lacking in closer significance for us.
Ultimately, God alone can satisfy our most personal needs. In our dealings with other people, He is our conscience. In our labor, He is our satisfaction. When we read a good book or listen to uplifting music, He is our inspiration. In everything we do, from the performance of serious duty to the most trivial pursuits, He is there, watching, joining in if we invite Him to, and giving us our strength. To ignore Him means to go stumbling blindly through life, unaware of innumerable pitfalls on the path before us.
People distance themselves from God when they think of Him abstractly. Perhaps they imagine their belief will “save” them, but without love, what could salvation itself be? Theological definitions give no comfort to the heart. They are like antique chairs placed about to be seen, but not sat upon! Again, they are like precious chinaware, stored away safely in cupboards, but seldom used. People remember God during their times of suffering—but otherwise? In grief they may take Him out of that cupboard, dust Him off, and examine Him more carefully. Usually, however, they consider themselves well enough off without Him, as they go trudging wearily from one crisis to another, their brows furrowed in anxiety.
We need a concept of God that will motivate us to love Him. He is, even if we know it not, our very own. Do we, however, perceive ourselves as His own? We ought to, for so we are.
What I plan to do in this book is introduce a concept of God that will inspire you to want to know Him. Once you have this knowledge, it will be your fault alone if you think Him far away. How you relate to Him is crucial to your happiness. To define Him with hairsplitting exactness may puff one up in pride, but it will offer no nourishment for the soul. Even to long for God, though one receive no response from Him, is incomparably more fulfilling to the heart than any pursed-lips acknowledgement that, “Possibly—indeed, I may assert with a modicum of confidence that something must actually exist ‘up there,’ in regions subtler than any with which humanity is at present familiar.”
The theologian presents his “proofs” and syllogisms—to what practical purpose? Even he, however, must smile indulgently when he sees his little daughter playing with dolls. Will he accuse her of lavishing affection uselessly on inanimate objects? Let us hope not! Wise and learned he may be, but as a human father he must recognize that her affection, though offered only in play, helps to prepare her for motherhood later on.
In her childish games she may also learn something else: the importance of loving without any thought of return. The ability to love selflessly is a sign of maturity. Whether the love is given wisely is another matter—a lesson reserved, perhaps, for higher schooling in life.
In religion, similarly, the most important thing is to love selflessly.
A materialist in India once remarked to me scornfully: “Someday you and others who dedicate yourselves to the search for God will be very disillusioned, when you wake up to the discovery that He doesn’t exist.”
“You may be right,” I replied smiling, “but at least we’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that we’ve done some good!”
Ultimately, the main beneficiary of every good deed, and the main victim of every harmful one, is one’s own self. Obviously, the question of God’s existence is important. More important to us first, however, is that we develop in understanding. Whether He exists is meaningful primarily to the degree that we are conscious of His presence. Our first need is to develop our awareness. That little girl’s love for her dolls is indeed, in a sense, requited: Love itself is her reward. As the poet Tennyson put it, “It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” Where true love—not passion, and not desire—is concerned, neither subject nor object really matters. What counts is love itself.
In religion, similarly, when people claim to have accepted Krishna, Rama, Buddha, Jesus Christ, or someone else as their “personal Savior,” what matters is the depth and purity of their love. Whom they accept is less vital to their salvation than the question: Am I, myself, acceptable to God? God doesn’t need reassurance that we find Him acceptable! What He wants from us is our love, reciprocating the love He has ever given us, His human children. If our way of worshiping Him is incorrect, but the love of our hearts is selfless and pure, He will have no difficulty in correcting our error.
Whenever I hear the expression, “Praise the Lord!” the image comes to my mind of the Lord as a rich, pampered lady craving flattery as her social due! God doesn’t need our praise! He is, in Himself, completely impersonal; that is to say, He wants nothing: He simply is. In compassion, however, He is deeply personal, especially in what He wants for us: our fulfillment in perfect bliss. Otherwise, He is like a radio station broadcasting on the “wavelength” of superconsciousness. We need to tune our mental “radios” to that frequency, lest we receive some other program out of the many that are broadcast on the “airwaves” of consciousness: selfish ambition, desire, arrogance, sectarian intolerance—the innumerable distortions produced by delusion. Unless our motives are pure, we may find ourselves attuned to one of these aberrations, and delude ourselves that we are receiving “inspiration.”
How can we distinguish between false and true inspiration? As you’ll see in these pages, it depends always on whether the program we listen to influences us to live more narrowly centered in our egos, or more expansively in a self that embraces ever-broader realities. Egotism is self-imprisoning. Humility and heartfelt kindness, on the other hand, are liberating.
Every human being must discover what is, for him personally, most deeply meaningful. The more self-honestly he can address this question, the sooner he will find the way out of his dark cave of delusion into the clear light of understanding.
If what is most meaningful for you is the possession of money, visualize yourself as possessing it in superabundance. Ponder, then, the consequences of that excess. Would it make you truly free, or happy? Would you even be its possessor? Or would you be enslaved by it? An excess of wealth is suffocating. Your long-lasting needs lie far from hoarded wealth. A greater satisfaction than gloating over coffers of inanimate jewelry and gold is the innocent enjoyment of life itself. Such has been the discovery of everyone who has ever had an opportunity to make the comparison. Be pragmatic in your seeking! Be completely honest, as I said, with yourself. In the following pages, we’ll explore further ramifications of these concepts.
This book is being written also for another purpose: to emphasize the commonality of all true religions, which aim to uplift the human spirit, though many of them, unfortunately, polarize it with bigotry and intolerance. Too long have religious leaders sought the bedrock of their faith in dogmatism. It is time they realized that religion can and should promote universal harmony. The pages of history are stained with the blood of countless atrocities—sad consequences of clinging blindly to untested beliefs. This narrow attitude is certain to change, as people’s realities become more global, transformed by rapid travel and ever-speedier communication. Humanity is sure to ask itself increasingly, “How fundamental, really, are our differences?”
God is one. Truth is one. In material science the proofs of hypotheses are accepted as conclusive. Simple experimentation is the key to universal agreement, no less so as former notions of material substantiality are replaced by the knowledge that matter is insubstantial. The human body, so real to our senses, is now known to consist mostly of space. If people everywhere could be persuaded to submit their religious beliefs to the test of actual experience, they would find that dogmas constitute only a crust that covers an essentially formless reality. Many religious differences might then be resolved, for in human life the counterpart of scientific experimentation is the test of experience.
Even the teachings of various religions, each of which claims to be inspired by divine revelation, would merge in a unanimity of understanding. For the revelations themselves only declare truth: They do not, in themselves, define truth. Truth, like gas, which conforms to the shape of its container, is abstract. Those who know truth express it according to people’s capacity for understanding.
Ram Proshad, a great poet-saint of India in the eighteenth century, showed his awareness of this fact. Though a devotee of God in the personal form of the Divine Mother, and blessed frequently by visions of Her, he sang in one of his well-known songs, “Oh, I know that a thousand scriptures declare Thee to be beyond all form (nirakara). Nevertheless, appear to me as the Mother I adore!”
People’s different opinions about God need not be mutually contradictory. A study of the lives of those who have deeply lived their religions—the genuine saints, who appear from time to time in every religion*(3)—reveals numerous points that they had in common. Among those similarities is an appreciation for divine aspiration whatever the form it takes, and a gentle disapproval of narrow-mindedness. The difference between being conscious of God’s presence and merely serving Him busily suggests that a more enlightened understanding may someday inspire in humanity everywhere a spirit of religious friendship and cooperation.
Human nature is infinitely complex—unlike that of lower life forms, whose responses are simple and more uniform. Even low life forms are not uniformly predictable in every reaction, the origin of which is an imperceptible center of individual consciousness.
Differences of belief among the world’s religions are inevitable. Indeed, they are desirable. For God’s expressions are ever unique. No two snowflakes are ever exactly alike: no two eyes, no two voices, no two thumbprints. The amazing variety in the universe should inspire people to a deeper appreciation for one another, without judging anyone. Only egotists want mirror images of themselves placed all around them—like Rameses II and his ubiquitous, self-laudatory statues. What a world it would be, were it not for life’s infinite variety! What a world, indeed, if everyone wanted, let us say, to be a streetcar conductor! Religious differences, once it is recognized that divine aspiration exists everywhere, ought to increase people’s appreciation for truth in all its manifestations. For those manifestations are like the facets of a diamond: displaying brilliance and beauty from whatever angle the stone is viewed. If God and truth are one, a sincere desire for understanding cannot but lead to an awareness of that oneness, and to an appreciation also for its endlessly varied manifestations. Language itself expresses similar concepts variously. The English word, love, means essentially the same thing as the French word, amour, and as the Sanskrit, prem. Despite their various shades of linguistic meaning,*(4) all these differences express a universal feeling of the heart. What, except pride, can induce people to denounce one another in the name of one, universal God?
Every religion teaches, in fact, the same basic principles. God may be approached variously, but there is not one religion that tells its votaries to hate, steal, or view with indifference the sufferings of others; to suppress those ruthlessly who hold opinions different from one’s own. Emperors lusting for conquest may demonstrate such behavior, but the wise? Never! No one ever pairs wisdom with contractive attitudes such as bigotry, cruelty, and intolerance. There is a well-known saying, “Handsome is as handsome does.” It may be said with equal truth, “Wisdom is as wisdom manifests.”
Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam—every true religion, in fact—is no merely cultural phenomenon. It is dedicated to doing the divine will, which is ever to uplift human consciousness. Could any religion take out a divine patent on what simply IS? Humanity has one common Father/Mother, whom it calls variously God, Dio, Dieu, Gott, Bog, Jehovah, Allah, Ishwara, Jagadamba, and by many other names. Universal truths, similarly, are the same everywhere. Religion is no mere ornament of civilization: It is the fundamental need of all human beings. Rightly understood, true religion offers hope and inspiration impartially. Its forms vary with different cultures and different social conditioning, but always its purpose is to raise human consciousness. Truth never endorses any one culture exclusively. People who seek truth earnestly find their understanding becoming ever-increasingly refined.
What I have written so far, then, is not a plea for syncretism. It is not, in other words, a proposal to compromise true teachings for the sake of establishing interreligious harmony. Only in higher awareness, never in compromise, can the universality of truth become generally accepted. Oneness must be experienced, not merely proclaimed. It is not something society can vote into existence.
Here, then, is the purpose of this book: to encourage people everywhere to seek a meaningful relationship with God, and to establish, as a projection of that inner relationship, the brotherhood of all mankind. The noble plant, truth, will never flourish except in the soil of spiritual love. In desert wastes of dogmatism and sectarian rivalries it can only, as history demonstrates, wither and die. When the plant is nourished by “living waters” of selfless love—to paraphrase the words of Jesus Christ—it will suffice for every human need.
The religions of the world are only denominations in the one, universal religion, Truth. The classifications of Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and all the others are superficial, despite every claim to the contrary. True religion merits the indigenous name for religion in India: Sanaatan Dharma, “the Eternal Religion,” or, more exactly, “The Way to Eternal Enlightenment.”*(5) Insofar as evidence is actually available, sectarianism is itself a soap bubble: colorful, perhaps, but lacking in substance. For want of evidence, people with sectarian attitudes advance their claims with emotional fervor. Facts would give their reasoning powers something to “chew on,” but unsubstantiated claims usually distort truth, even as bubbles do the images reflected in them. Truth alone transcends the limitations of human understanding.
Belief is hypothesis; faith, on the other hand, is born of experience. In the evolution of thought, conditioned as we’ve become by scientific methodology, it is time we focused on the actual experience of spiritual truth, and on the wisdom brought by that experience. It is time all men recognized as superstition the separatist, but unsubstantiated, claims so long prevalent in orthodox religion.
Faith is wisdom. And wisdom is the awareness of man’s relationship to Cosmic Verity.
*(3) Paramhansa Yogananda, in common with most Indians, considered someone a saint who lived in the grace of God. Sainthood did not, in his eyes, require formal canonization by the pope of Rome. While I myself was living in India during the 1960s, a Catholic priest from Belgium challenged me, “Just what do you mean by the word, ‘saint’?” I replied, “My reference is to the ancient Sanskrit, sant, from which our own word is derived. One is a saint who, regardless of his formal religious affiliation, is holy in the sight of God.”—JDW
*(4) Prem, for example, means spiritual love, without any limitation of ego-consciousness, and certainly without emotional passion.
*(5) Dharma means “religion, or way,” which implies movement or development of some kind. Sanaatan (“eternal”), however, implies eternal truth—that which exists beyond time and space. I therefore prefer to render the term, Sanaatan Dharma, as “The Way to Eternal Enlightenment,” and not the standard English rendering, “The Eternal Religion.” For implied in the term is the eternity of enlightenment, and not some one and only (to those who are addicted to sectarian beliefs), “eternal way.”
The term, Hinduism, was a foreign imposition on the religious system of India, based on the scholarship of Westerners. This long-accepted view was reported by John Garrett in A Classical Dictionary of India in 1871, who wrote that “a people who spoke Sanskrit, and followed the religion of the Vedas, came into India in some very distant age from lands west of the Indus.” This view of history is coming under increasing scrutiny by modern scholars, more and more of whom reject it as false. Indian indigenous tradition gives no hint of such a view.
This book was originally written by Paramhansa Yogananda in 1920, before he first came to America. He was not fluent enough in English at that time to trust himself to produce a published work, as he wanted this one to be, declaring the central essence of his teachings. Indeed, it might be called his manifesto: the essential message that his life was intended to convey to all men.
Swami Satyananda, an early disciple of the Master’s, told me in India in 1961 that when Master was returning from his trip to Japan, before he set out on his mission to the West, he had the inspiration for how best to attract modern man to a more spiritual state of consciousness. He wrote an outline of his ideas, then asked a scholarly friend and disciple of his to put those ideas in an acceptable form for English-speaking readers. The Science of Religion was the result.
After this book entered the public domain, the Ananda member in charge at Crystal Clarity asked me whether I thought it was a good idea to put the book out in a new edition. I had always loved this book, but until then I’d only read it passively. Now, as I contemplated assuming responsibility for republishing it, I read it with much greater care.
I’ve explained my reactions in the preface, so I won’t give them again here. Simply put, the book needed serious revision. Its style was not engaging, but pedantic, as though the ghostwriter had wanted to impress rather than engage his readers. The logic was not developed in a clear, simple line that would lead readers to say, “Why, of course!” Indeed, there were too many inconsistencies in the reasoning. The fault lay not with the author himself—that is to say, not with Yogananda, who had first penned the outline of ideas—but with his ghostwriter, who himself may be excused on account of his own youth and inexperience with explaining subtle truths.
This book was, and should be understood as, a manifesto of my Guru’s life, mission, and message to the world. Its importance is, therefore, supreme. I hope this new edition will serve the book’s original purpose more satisfactorily for the earnest seeker of true values in life.
“God Is for Everyone provides us a wonderful new reworking of Paramhansa Yogananda’s profound yet practical voice on the complex but crucial issues of religion, spirituality, and yoga. It leaves the reader in touch with their higher Divine nature apart from all outer differences of religious belief and practice.”
—Dr. David Frawley, Founder of The American Institute of Vedic Studies, author of Yoga and Ayurveda and Vedantic Meditation
“This book reaches out to every person and therein lies its natural and powerful attraction. It speaks to the deep well of wisdom within and beckons us to our highest calling. Anyone seeking to extend and deepen their spiritual horizons will find great inspiration in God Is for Everyone.”
—Michael Toms, Cofounder of New Dimensions Radio, author of A Time for Choices and True Work
“Kriyananda, who was born in Rumania and educated at Haverford College and Brown University, became a disciple of Yogananda in 1948. A much published writer in his own right, Kriyananda has rewritten and updated Yogananda’s earlier The Science of Religion into this clear and thoroughly captivating book, making the original work eminently more accessible to large numbers of contemporary spiritual seekers.
“Yogananda offers an extraordinary ecumenical outlook even as he embodies age-long traditions of Indian spiritual wisdom. The rational, cognitive Western approach to religion is balanced with the wisdom and compassion so honored in the East. By synthesizing these two valuable frames of influence, God Is for Everyone helps the modern reader consider concepts of God and spiritual meaning within an intelligent, religiously unified framework. Religion, spirituality, and especially spiritual religion provide a balanced view through the mind-heart combination. Readers are told that the Divine Spirit is the hidden inspiration behind all action, the one true experience that everyone seeks, the lasting happiness that eludes when sought elsewhere. No mere abstraction, God is a real, ever-present, ever-conscious force available for anyone to tap into at all times.
“‘The best possible definition of God,’ writes the author, ‘is Ever-Existing, Ever-Conscious, Ever-New Bliss.’ While there are additional ways to define God, such as Love, Peace, Power, and Light, Bliss is stressed in this work because ‘Bliss fulfills humanity’s need not only for complete freedom from suffering, but for freedom in divine completion. All men want to be aware that they are blissful. Conscious bliss will give them that awareness.’
“This book makes accessible the inspired pursuit of Bliss in simple, understandable ways. Written as an introduction for those just starting on the spiritual path, it is also a rejuvenating and inspiring boost for experienced seekers. Clear, practical techniques are offered to enhance personal spiritual practices. The author maintains that ‘everyone in the world is on the spiritual path’ whether they know it or not, even if they are temporarily merely seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. Sooner or later, ‘They will want to experience Him (God).’ Experiencing God—and specifically experiencing God as Bliss—is that underlying goal of this work, based on the teachings of a self-realized teacher. It hits the mark for contemporary spirituality.”
“How are we to cultivate a personal relationship with God, in an age dominated by scientific practicality? Paramhansa Yogananda, the great master of yoga, attempted to reveal, in a 1920 book, The Science of Religion, the inner methods by which spiritually thirsty souls can most easily find God-communion in the present age. Yogananda was insufficiently familiar with the English language at the time to write the book himself, however, and so he asked a disciple, Swami Dhirananda, to serve as his ghostwriter. The results were infelicitous: heavy and pedantic, reflecting the pride Dhirananda took in his intellectual attainments.
“Nearly thirty years later, Yogananda told a young American disciple, Swami Kriyananda, ‘Your role will be writing and editing.’ Kriyananda . . . revealed from the first a unique depth of understanding of his guru’s teachings. He would write more that 80 books showing the relevance of those teachings in fields as diverse as meditation and marriage. If proof of his worthiness to resurrect this important work is required, it can be found in the quality of the results. As rewritten by Kriyananda, God Is for Everyone glows with Yogananda’s inspiration. Its message of a nonsectarian, practical path by which all can experience their inner oneness with God, shines forth in its original, intended glory.
“This is religion looking forward eagerly toward the future, not sighing lamely over its past glory, and retreating into dogma and text before science’s bold advances. It is spirituality not in conflict with science, but fully embracing the scientific method, with recommendations for practical experimentation and careful evaluation of results. This is religion’s next glorious hour. It is in human nature itself that the author discovers the roots of the spiritual urge, as well as the method of its flight and its final fulfillment in God-joy. ‘Highly recommended’ would be pathetically inadequate. This landmark work of universal spirituality deserves to be read by everyone.”
—East West Magazine (George Beinhorn)
“In God Is for Everyone, I find wisdom as vast as eternity spoken with a voice soft and gentle as a child’s. Within these pages we are once again reminded of the qualities necessary for entering the ‘kingdom of heaven.'”
—Maury Lamb, Founder, Quantum Leap Institute