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Being a devotee on your own
June 8th, 2009

Since this is my first blog post, I guess I should start by introducing myself. My name is Gregor and I’m currently working as a researcher in the field of Artificial Intelligence at a Computer Science Faculty. I live with my wife Tina and my 2 years old son Matija in Slovenia, a small country in the central Europe. As I guess most of the people reading this blog, I’m also a disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda and a practitioner of Kriya Yoga.

The first time I heard about Ananda was in 2002. At that time I attended a beginners class on meditation that was led by Shivani and Deborah, longtime members of Ananda community in Assisi, Italy. The course left a strong impression on me and I soon started with a regular practice. In 2003 Tina and I visited Ananda Assisi twice. We both felt strongly that this is our path and at the end of the year we became disciples. We’ve visited Ananda Assisi center many times since then.

During the summer 2008 our whole family spent a month in Ananda Village. That was for us all a very unique experience. Since we were there with a baby, we stayed at the Banyan House which is a dorm during the school year. The house is placed right behind the Master’s Market which made it a perfect place for us to meet the residents of Ananda. Many of them have been practicing Kriya Yoga for decades. It was incredibly inspiring to be in their company – not only because of their wonderful personalities but even more so because of the joy and love that we felt in their presence.

It is quite easy and natural for me to be in an uplifted and devotional state of mind while staying at Ananda, being surrounded by other devotees. The difficulty is, however, how to remain in such a state when I return back home. Back to my ordinary life. Back to my job as a computer scientist. Back to the old environment.

At times like that, my old habits and attitudes usually start to come back. Maya again tightens its grip on me and it’s not very easy to remember ones own highest nature.  For me, personally,  it takes a lot of conscious effort to achieve that. I’ve been using, however, some practices and attitudes that help me a lot and I wanted to share them with you.

Chanting or listening to spiritual talks. Yes, it’s true that we cannot all live in a community where we could talk, chant and mix with other devotees every day. What we can have, however, is a kind of a virtual satsanga.

There is these days a huge amount of information available on the internet. If you just visit websites like ananda.org you’ll find not only articles but also many video and audio recordings of different talks. These recordings can come from Sunday services, Treasures along the path or other community events. Asha Praver from Palo Alto community provides besides Sunday services also recordings of many of her fabulous classes, which I really recommend listening to.

We all do many daily activities that allow us to listen to these talks. When driving a car or shopping, for example, we can listen to the radio shows, news and commercials or we can listen to something that will inspire us. It’s our choice.

I clearly remember when a few years ago me and my wife recorded the first CD with about 50 mp3s of Sunday services. We listened to it in our car each time we were driving and after some time we replayed the CD so many times that we knew by heart each of the stories and jokes that were told in all those talks.

Attunement with the Guru. It would be good for us if we could perform all our activities in attunement with the divine will and not the will of our ego. Trying to be attuned with the Guru is a great practice, but also one that I find quite challenging since it has to be consciously practiced in each moment throughout the day.

A good example of one who is versed in this is a longtime devotee whom my wife recently met. She told my wife that she practices attunement with the Guru even with the smallest things that one might not event find relevant. She said, for example, that when she wakes up, she goes to her wardrobe and asks: “Master, what would you like me to wear today?” and then tries to feel the answer in her heart.

Working with the attitude of service. We all have our daily jobs that we have to perform. Most people, however, see jobs only as means that allow them to spend the rest of their lives fulfilling their desires. This is a rather unfortunate view since our jobs take about one third of our time (if not for any better reason).

A much better approach is to try to see your job as a way of serving God. As Yogananda said, “God is the doer” so why not try to feel his energy flowing through you.

To remind me to stay in the attitude of service I found myself a simple solution. Since I mostly work with my computer I wrote a simple application that periodically shows photos of the Master on the computer screen. No matter what I’m doing, every 30 minutes a picture is shown for a few moments on top of everything, helping me to detach myself from my current job and to check my work attitude. If somebody would perhaps be interested in trying this application, you can download it from here.

Avoiding things that pull us outwards. This world is set up in such a way so that it is extremely easy and naturally for us to get pulled outwards through the senses. Just imagine how much information are we bombarded with in each moment. We are naturally inclined to somehow relate to this information. At that moment our likes and dislikes come into play and woosh … there goes our calmness and centeredness we’ve been trying so hard to cultivate.

To help myself in this regard I took some measures that might to a worldly person seem extreme and inappropriate.

I, for example, very rarely watch TV and almost never watch the news, listen to the radio or read newspapers. To be clear, I’m not ignoring the media because I would want to stay ignorant of the world. I’m ignoring them because I believe that just having an opinion on some matter won’t help anyone but will just bring me unrest.

Sending love to people whom I meet. The fact that I’m a scientist should give you an idea that it’s much more natural to me to use my mind than my heart. As a remedy, I use different techniques that help me with opening my heart.

One such technique that I love to do is to try to send love to people whom I meet. It doesn’t matter where I meet them. I might be just passing somebody on the street or I might be conversing with somebody whom I’ve known for a long time. What I first do is to try to feel a deep connection and oneness with them. I then try to feel divine love flowing from my heart center to their own center, thus bringing an even deeper sense of unity between us. I found that such a technique helps a lot to counterbalance my mind who is very proficient in dividing and finding differences among us.

Since we all have different difficulties that prevent us from being in touch with our deepest self, I guess we also use different methods to help us. If you yourself have some helpful techniques that you practice and could share with us, please leave them in the comments section.

 

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29 Responses

  1. bharvi says:

    dear ((gregor))
    thank u much for sharing ur experience and suggestions. i have attended one workshop about year ago when they were in process of closing that ananda center. internet is the only source right now for me to connect with ananda people. i will follow ur tips and try to get back on path again.
    much love and thanks to u and ur family
    may divine light be guardian

  2. neelkanth says:

    Hi Gregor, greetings from India. Though I am not a kriya initiate, I visit this site regularly to read etc. Thank you for sharing your tips, I will try to incorporate them. I agree with your views on watching tv etc. I personally find it hard to meditate, so instead I find it helpful to listen to indian classical music, especially the slower instrumental type, eg. zia mohiuddin dagar etc. it helps with concentration and to quieten the mind. perhaps one day it will lead to meditation. thanks again for your post.

  3. Tatiana says:

    Dear Gregor,

    Good morning! Thank you so much for your blessed words. I am in Brazil, also a disciple and you really helped me today.

    Loved the Master Reminder program and have just downloaded into my work computer.

    Abundance of love, joy, openmindness, prosperity, acceptance and wisdom for you and your lovely family!

    With love and gratitude,
    Tatiana

  4. Jabari says:

    Thank you for the Master Reminder app. Very nice.

    Joy to you and your family!

    Jabari

  5. Dm. says:

    Dear Gregor,

    Thanks for sharing your experience.
    Myself living in Estonia, and it is very easy for me to relate to what you say. I wish you good perseverance in your practise.
    Maybe our paths will cross, I will try to visit Assisi every year, and I will make my next trip in August.

    Dm.

  6. Karen says:

    Gregor, although I have the great blessing to live and work among devotees (I teach grades 1-3 at the Living Wisdom School in Porland, OR), it is always of benefit to be reminded of helpful attitudes and practices! Thank you for your insights. Blessings on your spiritual journey.

  7. janakidevi says:

    Dear Gregor,

    It is unusual for me to comment on a “blog”. However, I was very touched by your letter, your devotion, your clarity and your courage in sharing your inspiring practices.

    It is one thing to study the teachings in the words of Swami Kriyananda and the Masters, but quite another to hear examples of their power in the lives of their disciples.

    Thank you. You are a strong role model for us all.
    Master’s Blessings

  8. Kim says:

    Dear Gregor,
    I too am a devotee on my own, at home with my kids and loving husband in Houston, Texas. Thank you for your tips on keeping God and Guru ever present in our daily humdrum living. I keep my practice to myself, but my intent is that the fruits of my meditations (done at night after everyone sleeps) will bring benefit to my family life as well as propel me towrds the goal. Thanks so much for sharing. A little story about sending love to strangers: Once I was on a ferry from Catalina Island back to Los Angeles, and I wanted very much to see some dolphins, for I’d never seen them in the wild. Some men were standing nearby having a beer, and I decided to practice sending love, and after I did so for a few moments, two dolphins leapt out of the ocean and splashed back under the waves. I thought, Wow, Love is the vibration holding us all together! Peace and joy to you! Thanks for the post.

  9. Eva says:

    Dear Gregor,
    thank you for the great advices .
    I’m a devotee on my own. I’m an imigrant from Hungary live in Memphis Tennessee with my family. I became a disciple 3 years ago.
    I don’t know any other Ananda Sangha members here, but I do meditate with other local dharma people once a week and I find it very helpful.
    Also, I love to sing devotional songs and Swami Kriyananda’s music is the most wonderful. I have learned many of the chants .It helps me to relax,open up for meditation and feel close to my Sangha and Gurus .
    Blessings to You and All !
    Eva

  10. nirmala says:

    Dear Gregor

    I am a professor of English from, Bangalore India. Though i am not a practotioner of kriya yoga, i have read a bit on it and ofcourse i have read the great spiritual classic, The Autobiography of a Yogi, which was one of the books that propelled me towards the spiritual path.

    I can really really relate to all that you have said on your blog.When i see anything beautiful – could be a lovely home, a family or whatever, i silently send out a prayer thanking the Lord for His beautiful creations. I guess as we evolve
    we are able to see a binding between us and others who are total ‘strangers’.

    If you are interested i can suggest some great books that are spiritually delightful, simply awesome!

    Spiritually yours
    Nirmala

  11. kamarupini says:

    Dear Gregor

    I really want to thank you for creating such application. I now use it being able to in touch with GURUJI.
    Thank YOU
    At The Lotus feet of GURU
    D. Kamarupini
    Hyderabad

  12. Virginia says:

    Hello Gregor, Thank you for the Master Application. Many Blessings to you! It will also remind me to send you Blessings each time I see it!

    Namaste
    Virginia
    Florida, USA

  13. Dambara Begley says:

    Thanks so much, Gregor! Very inspiring & encouraging article. :) Blessings to you & all your wonderful efforts! (P.S. I’m a Mac user, so I eagerly look forward to when the Master Reminder might be available for Macs!)

  14. Dilip Mishra says:

    Dear one
    Your experience is great .As all souls are the part of the great soul .The attunement is one and united .My best wishes for your great feeling .
    Dillip devotee of paramahansa youganadna ji ,India

  15. Aditi says:

    Dear Gregor,

    Thanks a ton for ur tips on how to stay in touch with our divine self..Master..those tips were really great and am sure they will help me to remain attuned with our guru and his teachings..also thank you for that great application..May God and Gurus bless you.

    Joy to u,
    Aditi

  16. Manoaj says:

    Dear Gregor,

    It is amazing to know that so many people aroung the world are practicing the age old yogic method which is timeless and ageless. When I read stories of westerners practicing kriya regularly, I feel that there are so many fellow Indians who are missing so much in life by not doing any kriya at all. People like you are a great inspiration.

    In Love and Light….

    Manoaj (Dubai)

  17. Ronica says:

    I want to say thanks Gregor for this post it is so true and inspirational. I’m a follower of Christ but I love Yogananda and the whole Kriyaban family. I have learn so much from all of you devotees and I love each and everyoneof you so much. I have been reading Yogananda and Swami Kriyananda books for about 10 years and I always find such inspiration. All of the books, online sermons and different material have even bought me to a deeper understanding of my Lord and Savior. I just want to say blessings to you and your family as you follow your path.

  18. Shannon Wills says:

    Gregor, thank you for your beautiful words, the Master Reminder (ingenious idea!), and your contribution to this community. All the best to you.

  19. arni narendran says:

    dear Gregor,
    Thanks for the sharing the spirit of the masters. Me, along with my wife and daughter am a kriyaban from mumbai. right now though I work on my profession almost 1000 kilometres away and practice silencein my home in company with the masters(in fact I call it my hermitage)after my long hours of work. I enjoy at my workplace as much as my Banking job. If you are passing through southern India welcome to share my hermitage for the weekend, this goes to all kriyabans from accross the globe.
    sharing the path
    arni narendran

  20. Ramesha says:

    dear Gregor,
    thank you for sharing your experience of being in the world but not of the world. Sometimes it’s easy to take attunement with Master for granted just because you live in a place like Ananda Village. But, as Yogananda said, each one of us has to individually make love to God, it’s not enough to live in a spiritual place.
    So thank you so much for the reminder!
    Many blessings to you and your beautiful family; I hope to see you again soon…
    Ramesha

  21. Eva says:

    I love the subject you relate to – Being a devotee on your own – which can be so confusing – and your helpful tips and kind words thank you

  22. Robbie & Natasha says:

    Dear Gregor,
    We express our deepest gratitude to God for making it possible to virtually meet and correspond with people like yourself. We are relatively new to the Yogananda’s teachings, although having been on the spiritual path for nearly a decade we must say that nothing had resonated with us on such a deep level. Living in Australia we feel a little isolated not to mention having run marketing and advertising business (although we make a point of dealing within LOHAS market, being conscious, eco-friendly and sustainable) we can so profoundly relate to everything you conveyed in your blog.
    Thank you again.
    God bless you and your lovely family.
    Hope to meet you one day. Give us a Whoy if you ever decide to visit Down Under.
    Robbie, Natasha & little Noah

  23. hema says:

    Hi George,
    first i like to thankq for creating such a nice blog.
    Iam a follower of paramahamsa yogananda,i have
    experienced so many things through him.I feel like my soul is getting freed when i listen to teachings of my guruji and when anyone speaks about him ,the inner joy which i experience is boundless.I wish you the same to you and your family and all the readers and followers of yoganandaji.thankq once again for doing such a great work.

    Hemalatha
    hyderabad,India.

  24. Sonia Priya says:

    Hi Gregor,

    I read your article on the blog and felt an instant connection with your thoughts.Very beautiful.

    Can I have your program which runs guruj’s photographs on the pc. I could not download it from the site.
    Love to you and your family,
    Sonia

  25. Gregor says:

    I’m sorry that the link to Master Reminder was broken for a while. Now it should work again…

    Thank you all for your wonderful comments!
    Love,
    Gregor

  26. Catherine says:

    Hi Gregor!
    What a lovely post! Being in the west of Ireland I too am far from any centre and I too was wondering how to manage to remain a devotee. I do believe the Ananda Internet community is a life-saver for us. So I greatly appreciated your points and I just love your Master Reminder. I did have a picture of Master against the planets as my desktop but surprisingly, I found it rather austere so I love the variety of pictures you have put on. Thank you so much.
    Love,
    Catherine

  27. Kamini Bhasin says:

    Dear Gregor,
    It is so beautiful to connect with people across the world through our Master Yogananda !
    Thanks for sharing your experiences of how you keep attuned to Him even though you don’t live in the Ananda community.
    I am very lucky to be in Bangalore where we meet the Acharyas and the Monks every month since they come here to give lessons on Kriya yoga. We have also, within 4 years, managed to open a small Ananda centre in Bangalore where the Ananda members meet at least once a week and meditate even if we are only just 2 members together. The most beautiful part of these meditations is the Healing prayers we say togeher. Besides we also have our Sunday satsang where there are always 5 to 18 people( Ananda Members or others) in attendence.
    I think being able to keep company of the like minded people, even if only once a week, helps a great deal to deepen the devotion.
    I for one, many a time wake up and find myself singing chants, like you do and it feels as if I am in Masters’ company.
    I also see myself reaching out almost daily to Yoganand ji or Swami Kriyannd’s any book -instinct normally guides me – even a few lines seem to uplift the energy.
    Great connecting with you and through you with many others.
    Joy to you and your family.

    Kamini Bhasin,
    Bangalore

  28. roza d'souza says:

    fantastic
    at a time when i am unable to meet my kriyabans
    master looks
    GREAT
    thanks a ton
    will send you and your family
    LOVE
    every time i see master on the screen

  29. Janice Freebern says:

    Thank you Gregor. What a beautiful post!

    I too, have many times “felt alone” in my spiritual environment, ( I don’t live in a community nor have Ananda in my area)

    But am an active participant in all Ananda courses, via online, books, webinars, & Sunday Services. Which I am so grateful for.! So, I was perusing the blogs today & found yours!

    As I was reading the comments, had the realization that so many of us feel the same…a little isolated at times; then I really got the understanding that we are not at all alone. That there are so many truth seekers on the path worldwide, and this made my heart smile.

    The Ananda online community is amazing!!

    Blessings to you & your family:)

    p.s. I could not download the Master app; but would like to. any thoughts.??