AWAKE: the Life of Yogananda
SJ Update intern Brook Ashcraft shares her thoughts after attending Monday’s Conscientious Projector Series presentation…
On Monday the 21st, I went to the San Juan Island Library to watch the film AWAKE. Each month, Rob Simpson and the library have been having showings of different movies and documentaries, in a series called the Conscientious Projector Series.
Featured this month was a powerful documentary by Lisa Leeman and Paola di Florio, which tells the story of Paramahansa Yogananda and his journey to spread his enlightenment and spiritual practice.
Rob Simpson gave some insight on consciousness and mindfulness, both strong subjects in the film.
He also said that although Conscientious Projector will have its last showing after five years, he and the library will morph the series into a special event. For news on when these events and more are happening at the library, go to the San Juan Island Library page and sign up to become a member.
Before the film, Simpson shared a bit of information about Cleve Backster and his studies.
“Has anyone heard of the Backster effect? Cleve Backster, interesting guy. After World War II, when he was a CIA operative, he helped them develop the lie detector… so he spent ten years with the CIA and he didn’t like the direction they were taking his invention.
So he quit and offered it to law enforcement and set up a training program to teach others the proper way to use the equipment. But he just loved testing the changes in the skin response. Even though you don’t register it verbally, your body registers a change in the energy that the question [from the lie detector operator] has brought forward.
So, you may have heard this in the 70s, sometimes he started to hook it up to plants and see what happens and he was getting no results. He kept doing little tests. He would hook it up to a plant with big, large leaves. He would crinkle the leaves and nothing would happen. He would do little tests, like ‘what if I dip the leaves in hot coffee?’. Well nothing happened, the plants just being a plant, you know.
Then he says, ‘what to do? Oh, I know! I’ve got matches in the other room. I’m gonna go get some and burn this thing.’ And he looks over at his graph and its gone BOOOM crazy. He didn’t do it… he thought it. He thought it not as a concept, he thought it as I am doing this.
That really got him excited, so he spent many years testing plants for what causes a response like this? What are they tapping into, energetically, that has them responding to a very strong intention?”
After this, we began the film. AWAKE tells the story of Yogananda, an Indian man who brought yoga and meditation to America in 1920. After leaving India, where he has just formed his “How to Live” school, he travels to the United States and begins to give free lectures. He moves to Los Angeles and establishes a Self-Realization center on Mount Washington. We learn of Yogananda’s tour of America, the scandals that hurt his reputation, the falling out between Yogananda and one of this closest friends, and his return to India in 1935.
I would recommend this documentary to those who have interest in spiritual enlightenment, are on a yogi journey, or would perhaps like to learn something new and rather empowering. This film made its audience laugh, think deeply, and brought us each a bit of knowledge on self-realization.