Edgar Cayce, the famous American seer, said that he saw many people in his lifetime who had been with Jesus. For all of them, even those who didn’t have close contact, that single experience shaped all of their subsequent incarnations.

One contact with a master can take you over the ocean of delusion to the shores of infinity. And it is this loving soul contact that Yogananda brought.

Placed in our hearts by God

Even disciples who turn away from the guru can’t get him out of their hearts, because it was God who placed him there. Referring to a disciple who had rejected him, Yogananda said, “He will never find God except through this channel, sent to him by God.”

What the great Masters bring is a consciousness. Yogananda’s reality is not something that was born in 1893 and died in 1952— it’s within us.  As his disciples, we must try to be in tune with him in every act of our lives.

The greatest thing that Yogananda has to give us is that attunement. His teachings, his organization, his mission—these are important but secondary to that attunement.

A great master lives in omnipresence

A great master lives in omnipresence. Jesus Christ said, “Where two or more are gathered together in my name there am I.” It isn’t as if Jesus has to go rushing from church to church every Sunday morning. He’s there already because he’s omnipresent.

I’ll never forget an Indian who said to me, “Oh yes, I roomed with Yogananda once in a boarding house and he came down early every morning and cooked in the kitchen. He just loved to cook.” What a limited way to think about a great master.

What really animates a great master is not his body or personality but a spirit that’s infinite. Yogananda said, “When I see the new body and personality that I’m supposed to put on in order to come into this world, it feels like putting on an overcoat on a hot summer day—uncomfortable. I get used to it, but I’m not that.”

Who we really are

The masters come to help us see that who we really are lies behind our bodies and personalities.

There was an Italian man I knew who was very sweet and humble, but nothing out of the ordinary. When he died, I felt his spirit, and there was such sweetness, almost a saintly feeling. That’s who he really was. His old man’s body and personality had covered that up.

I had a similar experience with my father’s passing. He was a great man in some ways but not in a divine way. Toward the end of his life he became very fixed and dogmatic.  But when I tuned into him after he died, what I felt was not on the level of a body or personality. It was the strong energy he had put out to overcome the many obstacles he encountered in life, the joyful courage, the wonderful sense of humor.

We should try to live more on that level, instead of defining ourselves in terms of our personalities and little foibles.

Meditate on a single phrase

A great master comes to express a certain aspect of an infinite truth. Each disciple must go behind that truth, understand its essence, and then use it creatively in daily life.

I doubt that Yogananda said anything about how a banker should conduct himself on the job. Does this mean that a banker can’t apply Yogananda’s teachings when working? Of course not. We all have to apply that truth.

You don’t deepen your understanding of truth by reading what the masters of different paths have said. Apart from the importance of loyalty to your own path, you don’t get knowledge that way. You don’t need to read and read, and think and think.  St. Teresa of Avila said that in one instant of ecstasy the soul understands things that it would take years to learn with the intellect alone—reading, studying, thinking.

Yogananda opened up a particular part of the vast ocean of truth and said, in effect, “If you come in here, then you’ll be able to go deep.” To meditate deeply on a single phrase of his that’s meaningful to you will change your life.

Attunement is the real discipleship

When Yogananda put me in charge of the monks, he never told me what he wanted me to do. Why? Because he wanted me to tune in.

Attunement is the real discipleship. What Yogananda said to the disciples in person was very different from what you find in his writings. When he was with us he would say, “Be in tune! When things get difficult, be more in tune.”

He talked about attunement as the most important thing he could give to us, because through that attunement, he would be able to inspire us with the right understanding and the right decision in every situation.

A very hard lesson

What Yogananda passed on to us was not a body of knowledge to be learned by rote, but an attunement with a ray. And as you tune in with that ray, you will make mistakes.

You never want to think, “Well, I’m always right.” As soon as you have that thought Divine Mother will say, “Time for a lesson.” And it will be a very hard lesson.

You need to be tentative about the guidance you feel, and to have the humility to recognize that your likes and dislikes are likely to prejudice a flow that is completely impersonal. But approached tentatively, with humility, that guidance will be with you—first in little things, and eventually all the time, sometimes in amazing ways.

God is always listening

Many years ago, I had a kidney stone attack shortly before I was to give Sunday service. My body was shaking like a leaf, but I didn’t want to pray for myself. I had given this body to God, and it was God’s to take care of.

The pain became so intense, however, that I thought I might faint. Fifteen minutes before service was to start, I said, “Divine Mother, if you want me to give this service you’re going to have to take this pain away.” But I wasn’t praying for myself. I was praying for others.

Instantly the pain went away, and was replaced by a joy so intense I could barely speak. It was a wonderful experience and just one small proof of how God is always listening to our needs and prayers.

Don’t look for human solutions

We waste too much time looking for human solutions—thinking we should read books on psychology to learn how to get over our inferiority complex or how to be successful. There are thousands of books on every subject, but attunement is the answer.

Sometimes I would go to Yogananda with questions, but after leaving his presence I would realize that I hadn’t asked any of them, because I had the answer. In other words, the answer to your questions is not an intellectual verbal formula.

Often your real question is, “How do I get peace?” “How do I get that state of consciousness where I have understanding?” In his presence I experienced that state and there was nothing to question.

Questioning comes when your mind is on a lower level of functioning. When you’re in tune, suddenly you see things in a new way. You become a different person and can handle things in new and different ways.

The power of God is in him

Try to tune in deeply to guidance from Yogananda. He’s our real power. Once one of the disciples wrote him and said, “When I see you I only see Divine Mother.” Yogananda responded by tapping him lightly with his cane and saying, “Then behave accordingly!”

That power of God is in him, and he can give that to you, but only if you tune in. How can you be in tune? By always keeping his presence in your heart. By always referring your thoughts, your needs, your questions, your quest for guidance back to that inner presence.

“To those who think me near,” Yogananda said, “I will be near.” He is with you now, and he alone in our family has the power to make you one with God.

From a January 5, 1986 talk at Ananda Village

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