These were not easy times. In the 1930’s the great depression had commenced and it would continue on for the next 15 years to become one of the largest worldwide economic meltdowns in human history. Yogananda found the going tough and he was sustained mainly by a monthly stipend coming from his father in India. Yogananda had met many wealthy patrons before but he was uncompromising that any support that they provide should come without any strings attached.
In James Lynn, however, Yogananda found a worthy disciple. James was completely receptive and a quick learner. Yogananda later said, “When students ask me why James Lynn was able to make such rapid progress, I reply: ‘He knows how to listen.’”
Within a few years of their first meeting, James Lynn had taken over the financial burden of running the Self Realization Fellowship from the shoulders of Paramahamsa Yogananda. This was a great blessing as Yogananda was able to focus exclusively on his spiritual work. Paramahamsa visited India because his guru beckoned him. He tied up loose ends there and returned back to author the bestselling “Autobiography of an Yogi” and other bestselling books. These books have gone on to become spiritual classics and have altered the course of human thought. They have accelerated the flow of yoga to the west and throughout the world.
Of course the great depression was no match to slow James Lynn down. In 1938 he expanded into the oil business. Within a few years the oil business had expanded so much that profits from the highly profitable insurance business formed just a small percentage of his total income. One would think that given the daunting economic environment it would take titanic effort to just keep afloat. Yet James Lynn’s businesses thrived and he expanded into new fields. And what is even more remarkable is that while he was doing all this he made phenomenal progress in his meditation practice under the guidance of Paramahamsa Yogananda.
How did he do this? Yogananda insisted that he set out time every day for meditation. So James would wake up early and since conditions were not conducive at home for meditation he would proceed immediately to his office. To ensure that he was not interrupted, he would leave a note on his secretary’s desk which she would see when she came to work: ‘I am in conference. Please do not disturb.” He would then meditate till 10 am putting in at least 3 hours of meditation every day. He would then work throughout the day till late evening on his business affairs.
Just like he had done with his formal education, and his business, James Lynn made unprecedented progress with his meditation. Within 5 years of their first meeting he had made such a spiritual advance that Paramahamsa Yogananda conferred upon him the title of “Saint Lynn”.
Durga Mata, one of the foremost disciple of Paramahamsa Yogananda had this to say about James Lynn: “He was both very spiritual and very methodical – he wasn’t born with material wealth; his success came because he earned it. His material environment made many demands on him, but he was very strong-willed and high-principled: He never drank, he never smoked, he never swore, he was always honest. When I first met him he was more business than spiritual – except when he was in Master’s presence. Gradually through meditation the balance came between business and spirituality. He did not have it easy. He fought for his meditations, and he won. Towards the end, he was all spiritual, and businessman nil.”
In 1951 James Lynn had made so much progress that Paramahamsa Yogananda declared that he had achieved Sabikalpa Samadhi. This is one of the highest forms of Samadhi where the individual can temporarily dissolve completely in the Universal Spirit. James Lynn was 59 years old and had by now retired from his business affairs. Paramahamsa Yogananda shortly thereafter initiated him into the monastic order. He now became a monk with the name Rajarsi Janakananda. The name Yogananda explained meant “King of saints”.
In a speech during that period James Lynn said, “When the ego steps out, God steps in. When the ego steps in, God steps out. There is not room for both.”
In 1952 Paramahamsa Yogananda passed away and James Lynn assumed the role of president of the Self Realization Fellowship. A few months after this James Lynn achieved the highest state of Samadhi, the Nirbikalpa Samadhi. He later said that for three days he had complete spiritual blackout. In his meditations he felt absolutely nothing, no matter how much he tried. Finally, after three days, he saw a tiny point of light and he was able to enter the highest state of Samadhi by expanding into it. This was a state of consciousness where the union with cosmic consciousness was unshakeable. James Lynn, now known as Rajarsi Janakananda, had achieved one of the highest state of consciousness that was possible. He had climbed that spiritual pinnacle that very few manage to achieve.
Very soon there was speculation that he would now take upon the mantle of guru but he refused to do so. In a meeting of members of Self Realization Fellowship he told, “There will be no other guru. Master will always be our guru.”
James Lynn showed why he had made such remarkable progress. It was also because of his remarkable humility and devotion to his guru. Though he was the president of the organization and attained one of the highest states of Samadhi, he refused to take on the mantle of his master. Instead he deferred to him insisting that it was his master’s presence that was leading him and guiding him.
James Lynn died, February 20th 1955 in his farmhouse in California. His life is an example how a person can shape his own destiny with unparalleled success in both material and spiritual worlds.
What was the secret of James Lynn’s success? The answer is as follows:
1. He never hesitated in putting in the required effort to achieve the result he sought.
2. He had the humility to listen and learn rather than allow his ego to interfere with his progress.
Related: The first part of this post: A Great Western Yogi: A Self-Made Millionaire