I've just finished reading Yogananda's "Autobiography of a Yogi". I know this book appears in Phil's Hot Fives and has probably been reviewed extensively elsewhere on the site but permit me to say a few words.
I was taken with so much of the book, it really is a fantastic read. Amongst other things, the visitation of Yogananda's guru after death and the subsequent descriptions of astral and causal regions was fascinating. It led me to look at scriptural passsages about the afterlife. I don't know what the Vatican teaches about the nature of life after death (I would be interested in finding out) but I found a lot of what Sri Yukteswar reported to be compatible with Biblical teaching. Heaven and hell are just not that simple. The proximity of the rich man and Lazarus after death, described in Luke, with the great chasm betwen them, seems to me to fit with the book's description of lower and upper astral regions. Similarly, Paul in Ephesians says Christ is at the Father's right hand in the "heavenly realms", then later in the Epistle mentions powers of spiritual darkness in those same heavenly realms. The idea that there may be stages or zones in heaven and hell, astral, causal or otherwise appeals to me.
I didn't go along with much of the Hindu teaching on our Scripture - esoteric explanations of the trinity and the insistance on Christ consciousness rather than on the person of Christ seem rather alien, although some of it is quite insightful. Then there's reincarnation! However I did come out of the book with an renewed faith in God. It unwittingly strengthened my belief in Christ as the supreme incarnation of the deity. How he deals with our "karma" at Calvary and liberates us from the sin and desire that keep us attached to this gross earthly realm and transports us through faith and love into those "heavenly realms". Great joy
It's a brilliant book, full of miracles and wonders given quasi-scientific explanations which you are compelled to give credence to(most of the time), written in a lovely, gentle, rather quaint prose style. Read it if you haven't already!
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