Recently, I finished step six of the Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) Lessons. Completion has been a long time coming. I received the last lesson three years ago. 😕 I’d let many lessons pile up, i.e. receiving them in the mail bi-weekly and setting them aside.
Around the 2017 Convocation, I first heard there would be new lessons coming out. It was revealed that part of our then-president, Sri Mrinalini Mata, had a life mission to revise the Lessons. She passed shortly after completing the revision and right before Convocation began that year.
When I heard the news, I thought to myself…I haven’t even finished the current lessons! I began the home-study lessons, which are organized into six steps, in 2009. There are 180 lessons total. So, the Lessons are definitely completable in far less than a decade.
The current Lessons are divided into six steps of thirty lessons each, with each lesson being 6–8 pages in length. Two lessons are mailed every other week, so that each can be studied for one week. It takes about 3 years to receive all of them. ~ yogananda-srf.org
To say that Guruji saved the best for last would be an understatement. As some of the material is intentionally repetitive, I expected more reiteration in the last lessons; however, there was never-before-revealed methods and explanations, complete with illustrations. I wish I’d finished sooner!
Regarding repetition, Guruji states that truths must be repeated to be grasped by matter-bound souls. Even the Bible, in Exodus 32:9, mentions a “stiff-necked people”. To me, the repetition is so subtle and eloquent, it seems fresh rather than old information stated in a different way. Once I start reading a lesson, I’m just as drawn in as I am with any of Guruji’s works. The trick is to pick it up and start.
The typical lesson consists of a poem, a prayer, the message, words to live by, a meaningful tale, and an affirmation. The main message ranges from topics and instructions regarding nutrition, career, meditation techniques, breathing & pranayama exercises to wisdom-truths as experienced by Paramahansa Yogananda. I never studied a lesson I thought was completely irrelevant, even if it didn’t seem to apply to my life at the time.
When I started the Lessons, there was a one-time enrollment fee of $8 and a cost of $14 per 20 lessons. Depending on how fast I went, I paid this amount once every year or two. I usually ordered 20 or 40 lessons at a time. Sixty lessons were the max number of lessons one could order at once. I’d heard that due to growing popularity, the price would rise to keep up with cost of printing. Current cost per SRF’s website:
The first step costs $65, including a one-time enrollment fee of $20. All subsequent steps cost $45 each. For international addresses, please add $15 per step.
Now that they are finished, what to do now?
- Start over, i.e. read previous lessons. Seriously. Guruji wants his devotees to read the Lessons daily to stay attuned to him. So, one can start with the first lesson and study them all chronologically or take out pertinent lessons to review. Some temples have reading sessions where a group of devotees get together and read lessons together once a week, starting with Step 1, Lesson 1. I loved attending such a group! But with the group being on the first lesson and I on the 140th lesson or so at the time, I felt it best to finish the Lessons before going through the earlier ones all over again.
- Order the Service Readings. Service Readings are additional lessons that Guruji wrote that are specifically read at Sunday services. Now, I’m eligible to receive these readings since I’ve finished the home-study course. Having attended an SRF Meditation Group for some years, I’ve read or listened to most, if not all, of them. SRF is organized into circles, groups, centers, and temples. A group is led primarily by lay members (kriyabans), who read the pre-prepared lecture (aka service reading) to the congregation; whereas, at a monastic-led temple, a monk gives an inspired lecture based on Guruji’s teachings, the Bible, and the Bhagavad Gita. Attending a temple, I will pass on the Service Reading Lessons for now.
- Send a report to the Mother Center/Headquarters about how the Lessons have impacted my life per their request.
- Wait on the new Lessons. SRF posted a video about the new edition recently. I received an email this weekend notifying me to make sure my info is up-to-date and to enroll to receive the new Lessons. I’m actually not anticipating the new edition. Guruji has a lot of content out there! I’m quite satisfied with the three volume collection of his talks (much of the lesson content comes from here) and the current Lessons. The Second Coming of Christ (his biblical commentary) and God Talks with Arjuna (his Gita commentary) are deeper dives into life, consciousness, and truth. Those works are my main go-to’s when I need advice, inspiration, or understanding. Though I signed up for the new edition, I can wait. I think this is the second overhaul (major re-editing) of the Lessons, and the first overhaul since Guruji left the body in 1952. I can hardly imagine what a task this must’ve been for Mrinalini Ma! And so, there are the “original” Lessons, “current” Lessons (soon-to-be “old” Lessons), and “new” Lessons. These newer lessons are supposed to be more concise, thus fewer pages, but the aforementioned video goes into greater detail.