What Is Self-Realization?

Self-realization is the goal of all human endeavors and of all spiritual paths. It is the merging of the ego-self (which identifies with one body, one personality, one family, one nationality) with the Universal Self. This “realization” is something akin to what we experience when awakening from a nightmare of being trapped in a small, dark place: We feel intense relief, boundless joy and gratitude for having awakened in freedom.

The practices of Self-realization are rooted in universal truths and not in religious or sectarian dogma. They were brought to the Western world by the Indian master, Paramhansa Yogananda, who established centers for Self-realization throughout the United States and in many other countries. The Ananda Community near Assisi, Italy is one such center founded by Yogananda’s direct disciple, Swami Kriyananda.

As Yogananda said:

Self-realization means realizing your true Self as the great ocean of Spirit, by breaking the delusion that you are this little ego, this little human body and personality. . . .

Self-realization is the eternal message of religion. Whatever your beliefs and practices, the essential purpose of religion is to help you to fulfill your own highest potential, as a child of God.

The wave must realize that its reality, as a mere wave, is temporary. It may appear again and again as other waves, but in the end it has to realize that its reality lies not in its separateness as a wave, but in the ocean of which the wave is a manifestation. Realization of its true identity demands merging into the ocean and becoming one with it. . . .

Your religion is not the garb you wear outwardly, but the garment of light you weave around your heart. By outward garb I don't mean your physical raiment only, but rather the thoughts and beliefs in which you enclose yourself. They are not you. Discover who you are, behind those outer trappings, and you will discover who Jesus was, and Buddha, and Krishna. For the masters come to earth for the purpose of holding up to every man a reflection of his deeper, eternal Self.

—Paramhansa Yogananda, The Essence of Self-Realization

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  • The spiritual hatha yoga based on the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda
  • "The secret of meditation is… relinquishing outward attachments and affirming divine freedom within." – The Secrets of Meditation, by Swami Kriyananda
  • Kriya Yoga is an advanced technique for spiritual evolution that comes down from higher ages of spiritual enlightenment.