Is it inconsistent with the teachings of Yogananda to also study Tibetan Buddhism or shamanistic practices?
Also, I find myself having a great deal of resistance when I hear someone refer to Yoganada as "Master." To me, it implies slavery. I have far less difficuly referring to him as a guru. Will this difficulty ultimately prevent me from becoming a disciple if I find that that is really my path?
Thank you for your wonderful feedback and kindness.
—Michael Kutzin, New York
If one is at the beginning of one’s spiritual journey it can be helpful to see what the various paths have to offer. However, once you feel you have found a path that can take you to your goal of oneness in God, then it’s best to bring all your dedication and focus to that chosen path.
A helpful image that is often used is that of an icepick. If the icepick is just poking here and there at the ice it won’t have much effect. But when we continue to poke in the same spot we are able to break through the ice and get the result we desire.
Simply put, it’s best not to mix and match different spiritiual traditions so as to to avoid, “spiritual indigestion,” as Paramhansa Yogananda put it.
The issue of referring to Yogananda as “Master” does arise for some people. Indeed, Swami Kriyananda has a story regarding this in his book, The Path ( in the chapter, Attunement ). In response to his own cousin challenging him about calling Yogananda “Master”, he states, ” We call him ‘Master’ in the sense of teacher. He is a true master of the practices in which we ourselves are struggling to excel. You might say that he is our teacher in the art of achieving true freedom.”
Appreciating that it’s an endearing term from those that use it, you might be able to shift your way of relating to the use of “Master”.
Many have found it very helpful to read books by his direct disciples to feel more the ‘flavor’ of who Yogananda was. I would recommmend that you read (or perhaps re-read) books such as Swami Kriyananda’s The Path or Conversations with Yogananda to help in this way.
With that all stated, it isn’t that significant that you relate to the term, “Master”, as long as you can overcome being attached to not using it! It is indeed our attachments, as well as our resistances, that really are the challenges.
In divine friendship,