I am thrilled to write about this film from directors Paola di Florio and Lisa Leeman and CounterPoint Films and what it means to be AWAKE: The Life of Yogananda.
Telling of story of Paramahansa Yogananda, a Hindu Swami who, in the 1920’s, introduced the West to yoga and meditation. Speaking of his life from inside his mother’s womb, Yogananda seeks one thing, and that is his own enlightenment. To do so he shares what we all know are the struggles of life.
Using his Vedic teachings, his life brought so many to listen to him speak. From New York City to speaking with Gandhi himself, his is a life well traveled. In thirty countries around the world it is a magnificent gift he offers.
Sometimes letting go is setting free!
FINAL WORD: This truly is a moving documentary about a man I have admired for a very long time. Reading his book Autobiography of a Yogi has sold millions of copies and for good reason. Instead of preaching and chastising, Yogananda speaks from his own life struggles to inspire.
Never claiming to be a perfect human being is what brought me to read his book several years ago and remains on my bookshelf to reach from time to time. This documentary has no hesitation with speaking about Yogananda’s joys in reaching so many and his struggle reaching to find his own enlightenment.
This is clearly a man who chose a path that was important to him even though the threats on his life were clearly there. There is heart in what this film tells of this man and I’d rather hear the truth and let the message come through the muddle of those who tried to silence a simple message.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give AWAKE: The Life of Yogananda four tubs of popcorn out of five. Perhaps it is a personal like of my own but I truly believe that this would be an amazing introduction for someone who wants to know more about his life and even lead to reading his book.
The footage is just seamlessly put together in a flow that is pure joy to watch. Listening to his words from his pilgrimages in India to his talks at Harvard’s Divinity School to doing the surprising by speaking at the Center for Science and Spirituality at the University of Pennsylvania. Yogananda’s San Diego connection is having spoken at the Chopra Center in Carlsbad.
Director Paola di Florio is an Oscar-nominated filmmaker who is responsible for SPEAKING IN STRINGS and HOME OF THE BRAVE. Director Lisa Leeman, in 2011, did one of my favorite documentaries ONE LUCKY ELEPHANT which I’ve seen several times and so should you!
“By evoking the journey of the soul as it pushes its way through the oppression of the human ego and delusion of the material world, the film creates an experiential immersion into the unseen realms. AWAKE is ultimately the story of humanity itself: the universal struggle of all beings to free themselves from suffering and to seek lasting happiness”. I couldn’t have said it any better if I tried.
In the end – reveal yourself.