Category: Guru-Disciple Relationship
As chelas, I know we are to be in constant attunement with & obedience to the Guru, so he can mold us God-ward. Yet I also read from Yogananda, “There is no law of God preventing you from being what you want to be and accomplishing what you want to accomplish.” It seems confusing; when I am in obedience-mode, then I feel paralyzed to take initiative in my life — when I take initiative, I feel like I don’t need Guru’s (or anyone’s) go-ahead. Personally I prefer the latter. Any thoughts?
Our habits and ingrained tendencies, which we have created through many lives, prevent us from becoming the best that we can be. This is why we need a guru.
Yogananda gave us a great affirmation: "I will reason, I will will, I will act, but guide Thou my reason, will and activity, to the right path in everything".
You are making a false dichotomy, between initiative and obedience. They go together on the spiritual path. When we do one without the other, we become either passive, or ego driven. Obedience to the guru is actively tuning in and dynamcially acting on what we percieve.
It takes time to recognize the way the guru guides you personally. You will make mistakes, but gradually you will refine your ability to recognize how the guru is guiding you individually. A helpful book to assist you is Intuition for Starters, by Swami Kriyananda. http://www.crystalclarity.com/product.php?code=BIS
I need a guru but alas I am a 19 year old with no money. I want to know God. That is slowly becoming my only desire. I want to just find a self-realized guru and learn under him/her for years at an ashram. Can anyone give me advice on how to find a true guru? And do gurus take students free of charge?
Dear Friend and Fellow Chess club member,
Perhaps you have heard the old "saw," "When the disciple is ready, the guru appears!" At age 25 I sold everything and went to India for the same purpose, but, like Dorothy and Toto in the Wizard of Oz, I, too, came up empty handed, only to find my guru upon my return.
In my case, Paramhansa Yogananda had long left this earth (1952) but I met Swami Kriyananda, a direct disciple. He wouldn't accept the role of guru, but he is a wise spiritual teacher and a true, divine friend.
So, I suggest to you that you seek a spiritual path and spiritual teacher. Let the concept of "guru" work itself out. For, after all, if you find someone, how will you know he or she is a true guru and not just a spiritual teacher who is magnetic and intelligent but still subject to human emotions etc.?
Begin with books, then to classes, and then to a spiritual family. Bit by bit as you refine your intentions and deepen your commitment by self-effort, being always open to divine grace and guidance, your true guru will appear: whether in human form or through the disciples of a true guru.
Steady, steady, soon done! Meditate daily, read truth teachings, find others of like-mind, think and act with right attitude and right action. The magnetism you develop through devotion, wisdom and spiritually centered action will draw to you the grace you need each step of the way to final freedom.
As to the subject of money, see money as energy. It takes great energy to become God-realized and free. Spiritual teachings only cost money owing to the practicality of what it takes to attract and share them with those who are sincerely interested. But for the devotee's part, we must understand that it is we who must sacrifice all for the pearl of great price. So don't judge spiritual teachings by whether they are "free." Nothing worth having is truly free in the highest and best sense. No guru is going to zap you with cosmic consciousness for the mere asking. We have to earn spiritual freedom just as we have to earn our livelihood to take care of ourselves and render grateful service to humanity.
I, of course, believe Yoganandaji to be an avatar. However, it brings up several questions in my mind.
When Yogananda met Sri Yukteswar, he made him promise that he would reach God realization within this lifetime. But if he was an avatar, did he not already reach this state?
Also, after his guru died, he said that a blackness had polluted the river of bliss that had been flowing in him. How could this be so? I do not understand, though of course I still believe it to be so.
Those are good questions, ones that thoughtful devotees tend to stumble upon. We see similar instances in the lives of many great souls, avatars. So how can we reconcile their perfection in God with their humanity?
Well, I suspect in ways not unlike our own, just a difference of degree. As you can be noble and high minded in one instance, but perhaps irritable or frustrated by circumstances in another, and yet still be the same soul, so, too, an avatar who willingly assumes the garb and limitations of human form, must deal resopnsibily with the humanity in which he participates. Yogananda could be sweet or he could be strict, neither would necessarily affects his inward state of consciousness.
This does not mean, however, that the avatar acts from ego affirming desire, but that an avatar participates in normal and appropriate human feelings and interactions. Thus, for example, Lahiri Mahasaya, or Lord Krishna, were married and had children. This did not stem from personal desire but was appropriate to their divinely appointed role.
Often an avatar acts out their role (with sincerity, of course) in a way that sets an example or gives a spiritual teaching to others. Just so, Yogananda asks his guru if he will reveal God to him. It seems that in the lives of many avatars they go through a period of searching and have, sometimes, a moment (or period) of awakening to their higher state of consciousness. This is the sacrifice some make in returning to human form.
When Yogananda lost his mother, as a child, or later, his guru (in the example you give above), he felt the human sense of loss that is normal and appropriate. Yes, he could have accessed a non-dual state of transcendence, but such a one can play the role without being touched inwardly and does so, one imagines, for the benefit of others. In the case of grief and loss, inasmuch as the emotions are very real, we must own them before we can transcend them (rather than denying or suppressing them).
Nonetheless, I'll be the first to acknowledge that the ways of God are at times mysterious but the, upon reflection, is this not so for myself? For you?
For Nayaswami Gyandev - read with interest your comments on listening to the sound of AUM from the right ear. Have you ever heard of a Guru kissing an initiate on the right ear? If so, it's meaning. Thanks.
I've never heard of a guru kissing an initiate on the right ear, although I suppose it may have happened. Perhaps it's even common in some lineages. It's not, however, a part of Paramhansa Yogananda's lineage.
So I can't speculate on the ear-specific meaning, other than the obvious thought that it would be an additional offering of the guru's spiritual vibrations to the disciple. One would hope that the disciple would receive such a gesture in a spiritually healthy way.
Did Jesus forgive Judas for Betraying him?
A disciple who was reprimanded by Paramhansa Yogananda once asked, "Will you forgive me, Sir?" The Master replied, "What else can I do?" In that loving spirit, certainly Jesus forgave Judas and included him in his statement on the cross, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."
A Master is ever kind and eager to help a disciple if the devotee is willing to receive his forgiveness. Part of the disciple's willingness is demonstrated by correcting the error in his own behavior or thoughts that invited his guru's displeasure.
In this regard, Yoganandaji told his disciples, when a similar question was posed to him, that Judas expiated his karma in the early 20th century while living in India as a disciple of Ramakrishna, to whom he had been sent for this task, and that he (Yogananda) had met him.
A true Guru is a perfect instrument of God and wants nothing less than soul freedom for his disciples. He is ever loving. Judas had to have been a very high soul from past lives to have been one of Jesus's trusted and close disciples. He opened his consciousness to evil and made a grievous error for which he no doubt suffered greatly, but such suffering was not wished upon him by Jesus. It was the karmic law.
Jesus was ever his guru and as such, continued to help him to his final liberation.
I would like to know how to invoke Babaji's blessing and presence with me to reach the level of samadhi in meditation. Can I repeat his name as a mantra to invite him?
Paramhansa Yogananda answers this very question in his Autobiography of a Yogi in the chapter, Babaji, Yogi-Christ of Modern India. He quotes Lahiri Mahasaya as saying, "Whenever anyone utters with reverence the name of Babaji, that devotee attracts an instant spritual blessing."
To use this technique to attract spiritual blessings is a good beginning. But to achieve a level of samadhi requires great self-effort on our part. We need not only the blessings of Babaji, but also our regular, ever-deepening and heartfelt effort in meditation.
Through daily meditation we can begin to attune our consciousness to Babaji's. It is also important to keep the attitude of self-offering as the goal of each meditation. In other words, it's important not to meditate to "gain" something (even the state of samadhi!) but to offer ourselves, especially our ego identification, ever more completely into the divine light.
As a great saint of the west said, "It is in giving that we receive."
I would also recommend that you read and meditate on this chapter on Babaji in the Autobiography of a Yogi. I think you will find deepening inspirations from doing so.
In divine friendship and joy,
How should I communicate with my Guru? and How can I make relationship with my Guru stronger?
When you do find your guru, this question is age-old for the disciple. The process of attuning yourself to the Guru is an ever creative adventure.
If your Guru is in his body, then the adventure is simplier. You need to be with him as much as possible. In seeing him interact with his disciples, in listening to him lecture on spiritual topics, and in just meditating in his presence, you will be blessed and changed.
If your Guru is not in his body, attuning yourself to him is more challenging. Here at Ananda we have a community of disciples of Paramhansa Yogananda, with Swami Kriyananda as a spiritual guide. Swamiji was with Yogananda for three years until Yogananda left his body. He is very clear on the master's teachings and has written many books on the spiritual path. So one way is to read these books, as they can also help you tune into your own Guru if he is not Yogananda. Another way is be with other disciples of your Guru as much as you can.
Other ways are to chant to yourself, Om Guru, as often as you can. Make an altar in your home with pictures of your Guru. If he has recorded any messages, listen to them over and over and try to glean understanding from them. Meditate on his eyes to drawn spiritual blessings from them. Look at all people as your friends and channel your guru's blessings to them.
These are just a few ways. Remember your Guru throughout the day and draw him into all your life's situations each day. Listen to him. If he knows you are listening and sincere, he will find a way to reply.
Bless you, Seva
How do I know which Guru is right for me?
From our own perspective, it looks like it is up to us to FIND our Guru. Yogananda tells us that God leads us to our true Guru. It might help you to think of your search in this way. Swami Kriyananda has encouraged people to focus on their love for God, first. As you deepen your devotion, your willingness to change yourself, and your eagerness to be free from ego limitations, God sees that you ar ready for a Guru and will guide you to him/her.
If you have found someone you think might be your guru, there are some things that can help you. As you study his/her teachings, do they seem familiar to you? Do they resonate with you on a deep level?
How do you feel about the disciples? Do they seem to be on your wavelength? Do you feel very comfortable with them? The disciples can be a good barometer in sensing if you are also a disciple of that Guru.
Yogananda said to people, If you feel drawn to this path, follow it. If it is NOT your true path, I will guide you to your true path. To some extent this is true for other paths also. Swami Kriyananda has said that if you find a spiritual path that seems wholesome and attractive to you, you should follow its techniques. By doing so, you can increase your spiritual magnetism and devotion to God. In this way, you will develop enough spiritual magnetism to attract your true Guru.
Some things to think about when looking at a path:
1. A true guru tries to help you to attune to God's presence within yourself, as opposed to worshipping a him/herself. Do you feel that this guru is trying to draw you to him/herself or to point your devotion to God?
2. The Guru should be helping you to develop your own inner strength and intuitive guidance, as opposed to making you depend weakly on him or her to tell you what to do.
3. You should feel an increasing inner peace, joy, and clarity in your life.
4. A true guru comes to help the disciple find God, not to gain anything for him/herself personally. If the energy around a "guru" feels like a "taking" energy, he/she is probably not a true guru.
These are just a few thoughts. You might enjoy reading The New Path by Swami Kriyananda. He tells of his own personal search and how it led him to Yogananda. He also tells hundreds of stories of what is was like to be a disciple of Yogananda. In reading this book, you may feel a greater clarity of what to look for, and inspiration along the way.
In divine friendship,
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