'The Science Of Religion' By Paramahansa Yogananda

Strictly speaking, 'The science of religion' does not deal with positive thinking. However, this book has important messages on how to attain bliss and avoid pain - which Yogananda links to the concept of God.

'The science of religion' is a lecture given by Paramahansa Yogananda in 1920, which was published some time later. 

The central idea of this book is that "[...] Religion necessarily consists in the permanent removal of pain and the realization of Bliss, or God."

Yogananda outlines four fundamental religious methods to attain bliss. As he explains:

"Therefore the fundamental methods to be considered are religious or involve religious actions, because only by means of these can the spiritual Self be freed from identification with the body and mind and thus from pain, and be able to attain permanent Bliss, or God."

The four methods are: intellectual, devotional, meditational and the scientific method or yoga, which the author practised (he refers specifically to Kriya Yoga).

Yogananda also explains that there are three instruments of knowledge: perception, inference and intuition. He discusses the appropriateness of these instruments to attain bliss and know Reality, or God.

'The science of religion' and the Law of Attraction

One of the 'branches' of positive thinking is the Law of Attraction and how to use it to our convenience to attain what we want.

While this approach works, Yogananda's book offers a different perspective on wants:

"The more wants we have, the greater the possibilities of pain; for the more wants we have, the more difficult it is to fulfill them, and the more that wants remain unfulfilled, the greater is the pain. Increase desires and wants, and pain is also increased."

Thus Yogananda explains:

"So, if we are really to lessen pain, we are, as far as possible, to free the mind gradually from all desire and sense of want. [...] The point is that the desire to create greater and greater wants is bad."

However, we may fall into having the want of not wanting - which is still a want.

More ideas

Other ideas that you will find in 'The science of religion' are:

  • On our roles in life: "As appointed by the Great Stage Manager, we should play our parts on the stage of the world with the whole mind, intellect, and body, but remain inwardly as unaffected or unruffled by pleasure and pain consciousness as are the players on an ordinary stage".

  • On bliss: "There is a positive and a negative aspect in Bliss-consciousness. The negative aspect is the absence of pleasure-pain consciousness; the positive one is the transcendental state of a superior calm [...]."

  • On our existence: "How do we know that we exist? [...] It is only by intuition that we can know this. Such knowing is one form of intuition. It is beyond sense and thought - they are made possible by it."

All in all, this spiritual book is a quick read, and gives a different perspective on the goal of religion and our wants. While it may not change your life, this book makes an interesting reading and will show you a different angle of thought.

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"Thus the sense of identification with the transitory body and restless mind is the source or root-cause of our spiritual Self's misery."

Paramahansa Yogananda

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