I have been a kriyaban for 15 years and feel strongly that Yogananda is my guru. Sometimes though, I find deep inspiration in writings by teachers from other paths — and then I feel guilty! I know that, on the one hand, we are the Church of All Religions. On the other, I know that Swami Kriyananda warned on occasion about spreading our attention around. How do I know when I should not read or study another spiritual writing?
Those who are new on any path need to strive to make a clear connection with the particular ray of divine light that is expressing through that path. During this stage, one’s discrimination may not yet be clear enough to discern what’s best for him or her. That’s why it’s important to focus exclusively on one’s own path, for although other teachings may be perfectly valid, they can have different vibrations, different emphases that can confuse the devotee, or take him/her off track. So for those newer on the path, definite guidelines are in order: This way only!
When one is solidly settled in a path, as you are, the guidelines are subtler, more personal, because one’s discrimination is (or should be) sharper. One can clearly answer such questions as: “Do I feel inspired to make a greater effort in my own path when I read this other teacher’s writings? Are they bringing me closer to my guru, or do they subtly distance me from my guru? Am I truly gaining from these other teachings, or am I simply casting about for something new because I am feeling spiritually restless or stale?”
One more thought: There’s a difference between finding inspiration in another teaching versus making a systematic study of it. The former is fine for seasoned devotees, but if you find yourself doing the latter, then I suggest that you ask yourself, “Why?” And again, “Is this bringing me closer to my guru?”
Answer those questions honestly, and whatever you discover about yourself in this process, don’t feel guilty. This is not about “cheating” on anyone; it is about what serves—or doesn’t serve—your own highest interests. Find the answer in you own heart, and if you are in doubt, talk with an Ananda minister.