Living by intuition deepens our spiritual life tremendously, but to do so takes more courage than one might think, due mainly to the tendency to confuse intuition, which comes from the superconscious, with the promptings of the subconscious mind. “Intuitive guidance” from the subconscious usually gives us the green light to follow our likes and dislikes, or the well-worn path of habit, neither of which requires much courage.
In his book, Intuition for Starters, Swami Kriyananda discusses a number of qualities needed to live attuned to the flow of superconsciousness — courage, determination, humility, openness, faith. But courage, he writes, is especially important:
We need to have the courage to act on the guidance we receive. As you do this, you’ll create a flow of energy that increasingly opens the doorway to superconsciousness.
In other words, the superconscious doesn’t impose its inspirations on unwilling recipients. It is through our courageous willingness to act on God’s guidance that we draw intuitions that others may never receive. An extraordinary experience of Kriyananda’s in India gives insight into what this can mean.
A daunting task
In 2004, several months after Ananda started its new center in India, Kriyananda felt the guidance to record 235 twenty-minute television shows in a single month. He received the idea to do this intuitively, from inspiration. He had already recorded 134 shows and they were doing well, but he had the inner sense that he should record enough for an entire year.
But Kriyananda didn’t just leap into this idea. Instead, he began to attune his mind and will more and more deeply to what would be required, so that he would have the energy to complete this daunting task.
In the end he was able to fulfill this project: recording at least tens shows each day, all on different topics and all done extemporaneously. These are some of the best talks Kriyananda has ever given. Shown each evening at prime time on a program known as “A Way to Awakening,” they have become the most important way Ananda’s work in India is becoming known.
Because of Kriyananda’s extraordinary courage and willingness, he was able to draw an inspiration for a project that most people would find impossible. Two other stories illustrate the same idea.
Will there be enough food?
A few years ago, two teachers in our Living Wisdom schools at Ananda Village had a special opportunity to share with their students the power of drawing on superconscious inspiration. In this instance the teachers, along with two other adults, took ten teenagers on a backpacking trip along the remote and challenging Lost Coast of California.
The teacher who had the responsibility for planning the food had no experience in this area. On a backpacking trip you don’t want to bring too much food since everything has to be carried. Wanting to make sure there would be just the right amount, she sought out the advice of another adult who had backpacked with children.
Unfortunately, this person’s experience was with seven to ten- year-olds instead of healthy, growing teens.
No real danger of starvation
From the first meal it was apparent that there would be a shortage of food. After devouring the meager portions, the students were overheard grumbling about the dangers of starvation. By the second and third meals, the students’ energy was definitely moving in a negative, self-centered direction.
Although there was no real danger of starving, the adults were concerned about the situation. The four of them met to decide what to do. In situations like this, people can become nervous and worried. Sometimes there’s finger pointing: “Why didn’t you…?” Or defeatism:” Let’s give up and go back; it’s hopeless.”
“If there’s no food left, we’ll fast.”
But one of the teachers, drawing on inner guidance, received an inspiration on how to turn the situation into a learning experience for the students by helping them become aware of the contractiveness of their attitudes.
She said, “We know we can stick with the rations and be fine, but they don’t see that. For each meal, let’s combine all the portions and serve the students first. After they have been satisfied, we will eat. If there’s no food left, we’ll fast.”
Everyone agreed. One of the adults was also chosen to hike out the 25 miles to the nearest town to get more food.
The next day the adults cooked and served the food. After setting the meal out for the teens, the adults went down to the beach and did Paramhansa Yogananda’s Energization Exercises, consciously drawing divine energy into their bodies. They were refreshed and recharged. By the time they returned, all the food had been eaten.
At first, the students only noticed that there was a little extra food. Soon, however, they noticed the adults weren’t eating and began to express concern that it would be the adults who were going to starve. A few students started to eat less, but it wasn’t enough to tip the balance, as the others ate those extra portions.
The adults’ fast continued into the second and third day as they hiked deeper into the wilderness. Meanwhile, in their concern for the adults, the students had stopped complaining.
The students take control of the “kitchen”
The teacher who received the inspiration later related: “You know, I used to believe I was hypoglycemic, and at the end of the first day I was feeling very shaky. I didn’t know if I could go on. Through God’s grace, I let go of this thought and instantly I felt stronger.”
By the fourth day, when the teacher who had hiked out returned with more food, the students’ concern was only for the adults. Taking control of the “kitchen,” they announced, “We’re cooking the meal this time, and the adults eat first!” As the adults broke their fast, the teenagers all applauded.
This experience taught the students important lessons about caring for others, cooperation, self-sacrifice, and how a superconscious attitude can produce unexpected solutions to difficult problems. The gains for the adults included deeper faith and increased courage.
Putting others first
In his book, A Place Called Ananda, Swami Kriyananda shares a poignantly striking example of the type of courage that draws superconscious inspiration. He was then part of Self-Realization Fellowship and lived alone in a little cabin at Mt. Washington. It wasn’t fancy, but it provided a small private meditation room where he meditated many hours a day.
When he was put in charge of the monks, Kriyananda saw that many of them weren’t meditating regularly. Nearly all of the monks lived in one big dormitory-like room. They were mostly young men, new to the spiritual path, and lacking in discipline. They would stay up late at night talking, laughing, and roughhousing, and would often miss morning and evening meditations. As head of the monks Kriyananda needed to find a solution. What could he do?
The right decision
He could, of course, call meetings and exhort them to meditate, but this type of thing rarely works. There was one solution that proved effective, but Kriyananda had to have necessary courage and willingness to draw that guidance. The inspiration he received was to move into the dorm with the monks.
He lived with those young men for a year and a half. Through his example, the monks gradually began to follow the prescribed practice. Were Kriyananda’s meditations as good during that time? It’s doubtful that he could meditate as long or as deeply living in that group setting.
Were his attunement and spiritual life deepened? More than likely they were very much deepened because of his selfless willingness to fulfill the demands of his role as head of the monks — a role his Guru, Paramhansa Yogananda, had given him.
Living in the divine flow
It’s very beautiful when we can say, “Who cares about me? I want to serve others. I want to do God’s will, whatever the cost.”
In one of Yogananda’s recorded talks he says, “Do you know why I serve seventeen hours a day? Do you know why I’m always trying to help other people? Because it keeps my energy in the flow of God, away from my little ego, away from thoughts about myself.”
On the spiritual path we are trying to transcend the limitations of the “little self.” This happens more and more completely as we offer ourselves courageously into the superconscious flow and try to live by the inspirations we receive.