“You have to be Tough.”


Hello dear yogis! What did Master mean when he said,"Don’t think you can reach God with just a gentle attitude; you have to be tough!" What did he mean by being gentle and being tough? Also, what should a yogi do if he wants liberation in this life, since Master said that it is possible.

—Kailash, India


Dear Kailash,

Paramhansa Yogananda always encouraged devotees to make maximum effort, for he said that’s what it takes to reach God. So “tough” means doing exactly that. For example, it means not whining about how much work it takes, or how badly the ego is being treated by life. It means not allowing discouragement to set in because your growth is not happening as quickly as you had hoped it would. As Swami Kriyananda put it in The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita, such attitudes must “be fought and conquered by the steady, indomitable pressure of resolute courage.” Lackluster “gentle” efforts—even moderate efforts—will not suffice. The highest success on the spiritual path requires everything we have.

As for your second question, liberation requires that toughness, built on a foundation of regular, ever-deeper meditation and wholehearted devotion. Nothing less will get us there.

Fortunately, it is not all about grim, unceasing determination. The path becomes more joy-filled every step of the way, provided we approach it with a joyful, willing attitude.