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Kerey
USA

Question

It is said that the disciple needs at least one physical contact with the Guru (or guru's earthly representative), Is it possible that one could have had this contact in a previous incarnation and would that count for the current incarnation? I ask for those that are not able to travel to Ananda centers or otherwise are unable to receive this.

Nayaswami Hriman

Nayaswami Hriman

Ananda Seattle

Answer

Yours is a most interesting question and I thank you for asking it. Swami Kriyananda has written and spoken extensively on this issue and yet I don't recall his commenting on this subject in quite the way you have done so here.

I will go out on a limb, therefore, and say that the term "physical contact" could include a "virtual" contact through the mail, telephone, email and internet. I believe that contact with other disciples in these forms would constitute "contact" for the purposes of the truth behind the teaching.

By this I mean contact that is direct and personal and not just a book or a web site. (Some disciples of Paramhansa Yogananda are said to have claimed, that his printed lessons in the teachings and techniques will "be the guru" when Yogananda is gone. But this is going too far because a book or printed thing cannot give you personal guidance.)

There have been famous saints who did not seem to have had a guru or representative in his or her life so it would seem possible for a past life connection but to be spiritually safe I would suggest that anyone who can, whether in person or vitually, have contact with living disciples should feel the spiritual duty and opportunity to seek that contact for the purposes of greater attunement with the guru.

Blessings, Nayaswami Hriman

A
India

Question

Is it necessary for a Guru to be a Jivan mukta? How can a person, who is not free himself, liberate others from bondage? How do you identify such great souls?

Nayaswami Gyandev

Nayaswami Gyandev

Ananda Village

Answer

In the broadest sense of the word, it is not necessary for a guru to be a jivan mukta (one who has overcome all ego-sense, and therefore no longer accrues personal karma). "Guru" simply means dispeller of darkness.

However, one who is not a jivan mukta will not have the same power to uplift disciples as would a jivan mukta. Such a person can certainly help others, but may not be able to lift them into final freedom. The true guru is one who knows God and has the power to help others to know God. Final freedom is beyond knowing God; it is merging into God.

Paramhansa Yogananda said that, in order to become free, one must help at least six others to become free. Swami Kriyananda has said that this applies all down the line of development: Wherever we are on the ladder of spiritual growth, in order to grow further we must help others to reach the place where we are — whether or not we are jivan muktas ourselves. It is not just "a good thing to do"; it is a requirement of divine law.

How does one identify a jivan mukta? You can't unless you have attained a certain level of spiritual attainment yourself. So just do the best you can, draw from whomever you can draw from, and give to whomever you can give to. Concern yourself more with whether your attitude is that of a true disciple than whether a teacher is a jivan mukta. That is the way to becoming free yourself.

Blessings,

Gyandev

A
India

Question

I was given kundalini diksha by the disciples of a master who has left his body many years back; I have not seen the master in person but only through videos & photos. I dont know much about him much. His disciples SOMETIMES fail to deliver what they are supposed to. So,I doubt my master;my mind starts to waver; I dont know whether I am at the guidance of the right Guru.But sometimes I feel that he's my guru.What should I do now? Why am I finding it hard to accept him as my guru?

Nayaswami Gyandev

Nayaswami Gyandev

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear A,

You are asking a very natural question, and there is much that could be said about it. Here a few thoughts:

1. If you expect perfection from any guru's disciples, you are guaranteed to be disappointed. Like you, they are "saints in training." A better measure is to look at his disciples and ask yourself, "Do they seem to be sincere? On the whole, even with their failings, do they seem to have what I'm looking for, or at least be moving clearly and steadily in that direction?" If the answer is "Yes," then it may well be that this is your guru.

2. Pray to the guru for an answer to your question. Paramhansa Yogananda used to say that you can draw the vibration of a master from a photo. Do that: Gaze deeply into his eyes and try to feel his vibration. Then offer your prayer, and feel for a response in your heart: perhaps a deep calmness or uplifting joy if he is your guru.

3. Go on a doubt fast for a time. Don't even think about your uncertainty. Simply commit yourself wholeheartedly, without holding back, to your guru, to his teachings, to cooperating with his disciples, and to practicing the techniques that he gave. Keep your eyes wide open for signs, but go for it. That is the way to generate the magnetism to know your path. Just thinking about it will never bring you to a solution. It is tempting to think, "If only I knew, then I would commit myself." But the fact is, if only you will commit yourself, then you will know.

4. Focus less on whether he is a worthy guru, and more about whether you are a worthy disciple. The attitude of discipleship will draw the guru's grace, whoever your guru may be.

I wish you all the best.

Blessings,
Gyandev

February 28
2011

Bhushan
India

Question

I have seen many times that in chruch there is one box type cabin where father listen to the confession of sin of person who wish to do so and thus he is relieved from the burden of his misdeed in this process nor father knows who came for confession nor the confessor knows who was the father.I want to know whether this custom is still there in West? Did master advocated this? As per law of cause and effect how can such person be relieved from his misdeed? Or it is assurance he wont do it again?

Nayaswami Hriman

Nayaswami Hriman

Ananda Seattle

Answer

Dear Bhushan,

My name is Nayaswami Hriman. I was born and raised a Catholic and once studied for the Catholic priesthood before coming to the path of Self-realization.

In Yoganandaji's many years in America he became familiar with the sacrament of (Catholic) confession. He asked the same questions you did. Not all priests have attained the same level of God-realization and therefore not the same level of spiritual power to help others.

If a man gets drunk and comes to confession, is his hangover suddenly gone? No! Let us just say that "confession is good for the soul!" The Catholics say something to the effect that Jesus' words to his disciples giving them "the keys to heaven" to forgive or not (and various things like that) is the source of their authority to say that the ritual of confession is endowed with the power of Christ to forgive sins.

Well, it's a happy thought, no doubt, and probably no harm in it, either. But the law of karma and the law of divine love rule the universe of duality. The drunkard must stop drinking, the liar, stop lying, and the adulterer must be faithful.

To change deeply embedded habits requires will power to change the karmic pattern but can be greatly enhanced by devotion and divine grace, especially with the help of the guru. Both are necessary.

The ego with will power and knowledge can change bad karma into good karm but it's still karma and thus the pendulum swings. Get rid of one bad habit and you find another.

Only in the transcendent presence of the soul, which is eternal, the Atman, can be begin the journey away from the bondage of duality.

Blessings,
Nayaswami Hriman

November 30
2010

daniel
usa

Question

When we pray why do we say, "divine mother, jesus christ, babaji, lahiri, yukteswarji, AND OUR BELOVED GURU Paramhansa Yogananda". If they are all masters and all one with divine mothers' infinite expression, then why are they not all our gurus? what makes yoganada the specific guru?

Thank you kindly.

Nayaswami Seva

Nayaswami Seva

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Daniel,

As you know from the Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramhansa Yogananda was sent to this country by Babaji and Jesus Christ. His was a special mission from these masters to bring back teachings of Yoga and original Christianity to uplift the consciousness of the west. His mission, therefore, was special to all of us in this century.

Also, with Swami Kriyananda being a direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda, we, of course, here at Ananda feel that Yogananda is our particular guru. I personally look to him to guide and direct my spiritual life.

But, of course, this doesn't mean that the other gurus are not special to us all. I look to them at different times for guidance and help. Some feel that one or another is their special guru and not just Yogananda.

The masters are free and don't feel anyone is their particular disciple. It's a great thought to carry as God is in all. If it is helpful to you to look to all the gurus and not feel to be guided by just one of them, then that is right for you. Bless you in your search.

Joy to you, Seva

Christina
USA

Question

When we talk about having a Guru, does the Guru need to be a living person you interact with and can talk with you, or can it be someone who has passed (ie. Paramhansa Yogananda)? I'm confused on this matter.

Nayaswami Pranaba

Nayaswami Pranaba

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Christina,

This is a very important question and the answer includes different perspectives.

First of all, any true guru (sat-guru) such as Paramhansa Yogananda, continues to help his disciples even though he is no longer in his body; indeed there is no diminishing of the blessings in the guru-disciple relationship.

When Swami Kriyananda once asked Yogananda, ' Will you be as close to us after you are gone as you are now?' His answer came unhesitatingly, ' To those who think me near, I will be near.'

The second perspective is that there does need to be physical contact between the guru and the disciple; however this contact can be made through those disciples who are in attunement with a sat-guru such as Paramhansa Yogananda. To put it simply, a true guru will continue to be the guru, through his living disciples and continue to work through all those who dedicate themselves to deepening their attunement with him.

In divine friendship,
Nayaswami Pranaba

Jason
Beverly Hills

Question

What are the key traits, tendencies, or attitudes of a true disciple towards his Guru?

Thank you. :)

Nayaswami Devarshi

Nayaswami Devarshi

Ananda Village

Answer

Entire books have been written about this subject, so it's difficult to summarize! I'll add some further resources at the end of my answer.

Paramhansa Yogananda and Swami Kriyananda have emphasized one aspect of the disciple's part in the Guru/Disciple relationship over all others: attunement. Yogananda often spoke to his close disciples about attunement to the Guru. Swami Kriyananda recently stated that meditation and yoga technique are secondary to attunement and discipleship to a true Guru.

So answering your question from the perspective of attunement is the best way to understand what are the key traits, tendencies, and attitudes of a disciple. I'll touch on a few key ones, but there are many more.

One is receptivity - to the Guru's consciousness, vibration, spiritual help, and guidance. Most important in this regard is to follow Yogananda's advice to spend time in meditation tuning in to the Guru. He gave very specific advice to Swami Kriyananda once to end one's meditation by visualizing and meditating on the Guru.

In conjunction with that is devotion - when the heart is open to the Guru, he can enter and take charge of our life. Swami Kriyananda wrote in Conversations with Yogananda that:

I had been thinking that the inner change was due primarily to the long hours I'd been spending in chanting, praying, and meditating. Then someone said to me that the Master had told a few disciples in Encinitas, "Look how I have changed Walter!" I then realized that, whereas my own efforts had been important, it is ultimately God's power alone, through the Guru, that makes any real change in the disciple. The disciple's part is determinedly to open his heart to the inner flow of divine grace.

Also important is to follow the Guru's advice. If you are a Kriya Yoga disciple of Yogananda, for example, practice his teachings just as he gave them. Do his Energization Exercises every day, and study all of the techniques so you are acting in attunement with the Guru. Lahiri Mahasaya once said that practicing the techniques of Kriya Yoga, as taught by the Guru, attracts the Guru's blessings.

Service to others is another very important trait. A disciple can't be selfish and keep the Guru's blessings and teachings just for themselves. Help to spread the Guru's teachings through service, prayer, and donations that help spread Yogananda's teachings.

A disciple of this path once had a dream where he saw a heavily burdened man trudging up a steep road on a hot, dusty day. He rushed to help the man with his weighty load, and was surprised to see as he got close that it was Yogananda! He immediately understood that the Guru needs instruments, and those who serve as an instrument are deeply blessed.

Satsang, or spiritual fellowship, with other disciples is also extremely important. We gain through vibration and magnetism by being with other longtime disciples.

We are also helped by satsang in another way. It can be very convenient to have a 'direct' relationship with the guru, and mistake our own rationalized delusions for the guru's 'advice'. Having the 'reality check' of other disciples can help us get back on track, and stay on track, when we stray from the path.

There is much more. For a disciple, this subject can and should be a lifelong study. Here are some further resources:

  • Part III of the Art and Science of Raja Yoga, The Path of Kriya Yoga, has wonderful lessons on the Guru/Disciple relationship. These lessons will be in book form in a few months. For now, you can order Part III of the Ananda Course online.
  • Here are some articles on the Guru, from the Ananda website - scroll down to the heading "How the Guru Helps Us".
  • The next time you read Autobiography of a Yogi, read it from the perspective of the Guru/Disciple relationship. You might be surprised to see that the very first sentence of the book, the very last sentence, the longest chapter, and many of the stories directly address that relationship!
  • Finally, spend some time watching the many videos of Swami Kriyananda that are on the Ananda website. My greatest understandings of the Guru/Disciple relationship have come from years of watching that direct disciple of Yogananda - one who has completely given over his life to loving and serving the Guru.

February 17
2010

RAVICHANDRAN IYER
INDIA

Question

Dear Purified Souls!

I have a pertinent and disturbing question to ask. It is always said that "One must have a Living Guru to progress in the spiritual path'. I am a great admirer of Paramhansa Yoganandji and I have just started to follow his teachings with Level I course. My question is whom should I consider as my Guru. Does this 'Living Guru' concept/requirement come in my way and rob my desire to become his disciple? Please clear my doubt. Thank you in advance.

Ravichandran Iyer

Nayaswami Anandi

Answer

Dear Ravichandran,

An avatar is not defined by the physical body. He is eternal and omnipresent. Those of us who follow Yogananda have felt him to be very much alive, responding to our needs, thoughts, and prayers.

There is a principle that one needs to have the "touch" of a living guru - that there must be some contact with the guru on the physical plane. Swami Kriyananda has given this matter much thought from his own experience of living with Yogananda.

He said that even when Yogananda was alive, he did not personally initiate every one of his disciples, but had other ministers whom he had appointed act in his stead. From this fact and other things he learned from Yogananda, Swami Kriyananda says that people do need to have contact with someone living who represents the Guru.

The more in tune that person is, the more clearly he will be able to transmit the vibration of the guru. Reading books is not enough. A disciple of Yogananda should try to seek out others who either knew Yogananda, or knew disciples of Yogananda. There is something that can be gained from that living contact that cannot be gained just by reading lessons and meditating on the guru.

Since you are in India, i recommend contacting our ministers in India. We have centers in Gurgaon and in Pune, and meditation groups in many cities. You can look on the site at http://www.anandaindia.org/. Those in Gurgaon (New Delhi) can let you know how to contact people near to you.

Many blessings for your spiritual journey,

Anandi

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