James J. Lynn (later to be given the name Rajarsi Janakananda by Paramahansa Yogananda) was an oil man. He made millions of dollars. But all the money he made was not enough. He had it all, but perhaps his labors alone, as for many, left him feeling spiritually empty.
When he heard of Yogananda in the mid-30s, he did not hesitate to join Self-Realization Fellowship. The book “Rajarsi Janakananda: A Great Western Yogi” recounts how quickly Lynn developed spiritually, and soon, though continuing his work as an oil tycoon, he began to swim evermore in the ocean of Bliss that is Brahman, the Self.
The above-mentioned bio tells how “Saint Lynn” became evermore engrossed in his spiritual life over the years, going from worldly business man with a spiritual longing, to almost all spirit.
While he continued his worldly activities, working tirelessly to make his business successful, he always found the time to get his devotions in. He became such a Kriya master that Yogananda named him the successor to head SRF after Yogananda left his body in 1952.
Janakananda’s monastic name is a reference to King Janaka, father of Rama’s consort Sita, and a monarch who attained amazing levels of self-realization while maintaining his kindgom, performing his worldly duties immaculately.
Though we cannot all be worldly kings, and we may not all progress spiritually the same way James J. Lynn did, his story can inspire us to find a balance through meditative practices which could allow us to have both at the same time. He is the epitome of the karma yogi. He was “in the world but not of the world.”