Category: Guru-Disciple Relationship
Living with Master
March 13, 2014
Hello and a very Happy New Year to all the 1,000 or more saints at Ananda! My question is what is the best way to offer everything I do at the feet of God and Master this year (and all years)? How can I be more devotional in thought as well as action? What should I do to stay focused on this resolution without falling into moods and tamasic character despite “the crash of the breaking worlds” and pour out the energy I need to stay closer to my Beloved Lord? A Great year to all there!
Thank you for writing — your enthusiasm and energy are evident in your question itself! The practices and attitudes you list are crucial to spiritual growth: self-offering, devotion in thought, devotion in action, focus, and energy. In a way you’ve answered the question: developing these qualities in yourself more. As Sister Gyanamata (Yogananda’s most advanced woman disciple) said, when asked what she would have done differently in her life: “More and better.”
You’ve made reference to Master (Yogananda), and I assume you are his student or disciple. You’ve asked, “What is the best way?” The best question is — as I think you understand — “What is the best way for you?” Without knowing you better, I couldn’t make any specific suggestions. But Master can! I would say the best way to accomplished your goals above is to deepen your attunement with Yogananda, so that you hear God’s voice whispering him to you, guiding you. As Master taught us to pray to God: “I will reason, I will will, I will act, but guide Thou my reason, will, and activity to the right course in everything.”
Grow in your ability to hear Master whispering to you through your thoughts and feelings. In a way this is like cheating: whenever you’re stuck on a tough question, just ask him to give you the answer! How to hear Master better? Maintain, and deepen, your meditation and devotion.
God bless you, Kailash, and good luck!
Do You Need to Surrender to a Guru?
September 21, 2013
Do you need to surrender yourself to your guru, physically also, to the living guru?
Joy to you! Swami Kriyananda was asked a similar question and his answer was quite surprising to me. He said, “NO!!!” you don’t have surrender your self to a guru, unless…you want to find God. If your goal is to merge into the Infinite then you would want to surrender your tiny ego to the Infinite Bliss of a Self-Realized Guru. Otherwise, you could spend lifetimes enjoying chasing your tail — until one day you realize that all fun and effort you would put into chasing your tail got you very little in return.
A person could teach them self to play a piano quite well. But, eventually, it would behoove them to learn from a maestro — if the goal is to play music at your highest potential. Learning from a Divine Master would be like having a map while driving in a new town. You don’t need a map if you’re in no hurry to get to wherever the wind takes you. You could quite an adventure driving around for hours, days or longer. But if you want to get to where you want to go to a specific location in a timely matter with ease and comfort, you want to use a map. A true Guru (one who lives in a God Consciousness) will get you through the ocean of life like being on a luxury cruise liner compared to being on a raft in the middle of the ocean.
It is said the soul loves being in Guru’s Grace. The soul’s wisdom recognizes it can’t do much without Guru’s Grace. The ego wants little or nothing to do with a Guru. It believes it can do it all by itself. The soul knows and understands the value of the Guru’s wisdom. So it would be extremely wise to surrender to a living Guru. To have the touch of a true Guru would mean one has must have very, very, very good karma. It would be an outstanding blessing!
Know a true Guru’s spirit has no limits. A true guru, like a Yogananda, or Jesus, passes their God-filled vibrations to anyone they choose. Most likely someone who has dedicated their life to serving a true Guru’s work would be endowed with the Guru’s grace and that person could pass that grace onto a devotee effortlessly. And if the devotee is open and willing to attune their self to the Master, the Grace would flow into the devotee like a river. And the blessings would be filled with tremendous bliss, love, and joy. One would know perfect peace. And one might experience their own Higher Divinity supremely. And there is nothing on earth that is more soothing to the soul as Guru’s Grace. The more one call surrender their ego the more grace can fill the void. And the grace is bliss beyond compare.
I pray this missive helps,
Attunement and Obedience to the Guru
July 18, 2013
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
How Do I Find a True Guru?
September 20, 2012
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.
Avatars and Their Human Roles
August 16, 2012
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?
Does the Guru Kiss the Initiate's Right Ear?
June 18, 2012
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?
October 20, 2011
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.
Invoking Babaji's Blessing
October 7, 2011
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,
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