Autobiography of a Yogi: Massive Reader’s Block

Twice, I’ve struggled with reading Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi (AY). 

I get to a certain point -somewhere around page 200- and it’s boring. So boring, I simply put it down as I can’t derive anything from it. Now, I feel more than a little guilty about this. When I look at other people’s most loved book lists (and after shuddering at their choice of Eat, Pray, Love), AY is often listed – right up there with the Yoga Sutra. 

Now, I’m a tenacious little blighter. I persisted with Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time for five books before coming to the conclusion that the series was like Days of Our Lives in fantasy form (incidentally, Jordan died before he completed the series). I’ve patiently read Kate Elliott’s Crown of Swords series (much better than Jordan if you’re into epic fantasy). Hell, I’ve persisted with my PhD thesis for eight years, which includes a second block of fieldwork and a complete re-write. 

I’m not a quitter.

 …but when it comes to Autobiography of a Yogi, I hit a wall. Page 200. Smack! And I can’t do it anymore.

 As soon as I put the book down, I start to wonder: am I missing out on something? Others seem to adore this book. People claim that it changes their lives. Yogananda outlines his Kriya Yoga system in there. There must be some reason others find it so enlightening. Perhaps I should just head-butt my way past reader’s block? 

Another part of me says: chill out. You’re not really finding anything life changing in the text, so read something else.  

 Is it because I know Yogananda’s story from other biographical accounts? Or is it that his words simply don’t speak to me in the same way that the Yoga Sutras, or Desikachar or Mark Whitwell’s words do?

 Whatever it is, I’m feeling a bit left out. Why don’t I get the special message, the vibes, the wisdom from his book? What’s wrong with me that I find it ho-hum, and tune out at page 200? Where’s my bite of the cherry?

 Or is it that it’s simply not my cherry to bite?


6 thoughts on “Autobiography of a Yogi: Massive Reader’s Block

  1. Interesting question.

    Personally I loved reading Autobiography of a Yogi, as much as I’ve enjoyed reading about other yogic saints.

    But more – I did get the *jolt* of transmission from this book. Not so much from reading the story, but from the copy of his handwriting at the start of the book and his picture. I can’t remember whether or not I had trouble finishing the book, but I don’t think so. If anything, I was inspired by reading his story.

    Do you think it might be a ‘girl power’ thing? There aren’t many but have you tried reading about female sadhakas?

    Have you read Swami Rhada’s book “Radha – Diary of a Woman’s Search”, or Cave in the Snow by Tenzin Palmo? These are two books that inspired me greatly.

    I know this much – from my experiences with mu Guru, not everyone gets the same “hit” at the same time. And even those who do, don’t all get the same experience.

    So personally I wouldn’t worry and I’d find things that do work for you.

  2. Hi Svasti,

    Thank you very much for reading – and thank you … indeed- thank you so very very much for your suggestions.

    You have drawn out something else that I am currently in a quanrdy about and inspired to write about: my desire to have a female as well as a male teacher.

    So many prominant female teachers don’t do it for me. I’ve looked, I’ve listened, I’ve been to see … I’m yet to find someone who gives me the jolt of transmission. There is only one person who has ever given me that jolt … thus my teacher is a man.

    I am interested in your journey and advice on this – perhaps you could email me? amanda (dot) markham (at)

  3. Sounds like not your cherry to bite. Then, can’t say any more than that since I’ve never read it…though I’ve looked at the back cover and glanced through it in book stores and yoga studios lots of times…always deciding there’s something I don’t like…maybe my friend Savasti–with whom I respectfully and affectionately disagree on a number of matters spiritual–gives me a clue in her comment up there referring to “yogic saints”…what can I say but that “saints,” “gurus,” and anybody who goes by “His holiness”…ugh…way too much like religion for my taste….

  4. Suggestion: *listen* to the book instead of reading it then. It is available on CD. Listen as you drive to work, travel, etc. You might enjoy it more after page 200. In fact, things get really a lot more interesting later on.

  5. Suggestion: *listen* to the book instead. It is available on cds. You can listen as you drive to work, or on a trip, etc. In fact, the book becomes a lot more interesting after page 200…

  6. Pingback: Lazy Sunday Musings: Big News, Goodreads Giveaways, and Books You Just Can’t Get Into « Desert Book Chick

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