We are making a very big mistake if we think that spiritual perfection is reached only through reading good books, doing good things, and practicing techniques of meditation—all self-directed, self-initiated efforts. The real power of it all is getting into a current, a divine flow that can take us far faster than we can ever move on our own.
“I don’t care if I lose everything”
Usually, when you are new on the spiritual path, it’s a bit like getting into a river. The beginner will say, “Let me stay close to the shore because I don’t want to drown.” So you stay close to the bank and it’s hard to move with the stream.
Then as you begin to deepen your consciousness of God, you go further out and the current gets stronger and finally, you have the courage, the experience and the faith to surrender yourself to that current. It takes a lot of courage to say, “If I drown in God’s love—more power to me. I’m not afraid of losing everything in my search for God.”
When a person enters the center of the stream and gets swept along in that current, he advances very quickly. He can find God in no time. As a great saint in India put it, “You just have to hoist the sail on your boat and the breeze of divine grace will take you across the waters of delusion to the divine shore.”
Kriya Yoga is a wonderful technique in that respect, because it actually helps us to get into the center, the center being the sushumna, the astral spine. You get into the sushumna and that’s where your real spiritual progress begins to take place.
The path becomes “effortlessly liberating”
Yogananda described the spiritual path as painstakingly difficult at first, but later, “effortlessly liberating.” It seems amazing because in the beginning, it’s such a big job to teeter your way across the stream and get from one little stepping stone to the next.
But suddenly you find that you’re taking one step—and it’s like the “puss ‘n boots” seven league boots. You’re taking one step and you’re going seven leagues. You’re taking one step and you’re spanning whole solar systems.
The more you surrender yourself to the Divine, the more you will advance, but not by your own power. You don’t need to be afraid of the work and the struggle involved. You will find that it becomes less work and less struggle the farther you go. And you will enjoy it more and more. Bit by bit you will begin to see that, “Of course I’m not worldly. Of course I haven’t an ego. Of course I’m a saint. Of course I’m a part of this divine flow.” It will be absolutely natural to you.
Delusion has its own power
Having spoken of one stream, we have to speak of the other. That, too, is a very powerful stream, and those who get into it will also get swept away. People who follow the way of delusion find that delusion takes over and they, too, move much faster than they realize.
Yogananda gave me this illustration when I was new on the path. He said, “What keeps the earth from shooting out into space, away from the sun?” And I said, “Well sir, it’s the power of the sun’s gravitational pull.”
And he said, “Well, what keeps the earth from being drawn back into the sun?” And I said, “That’s the earth’s centrifugal force, pulling it constantly outward.”
I realized later that he was speaking metaphorically of the relation of the soul to God. God’s love tries to pull us back, but the soul resists that pull with desires and petty self-interest—and keeps going into delusion, thinking, “Oh, just one more thing, just one more thing.”
The power that draws you into delusion is conscious. We’re not dealing with blind forces; we’re dealing with consciousness. And that power, being conscious, actually tries to draw you in, tries to confuse you. But we ourselves start the ball moving by opening ourselves to it. We invite delusion into our lives by being receptive to it.
One of Satan’s minor triumphs
It’s up to us what stream we get into. Anyone who thinks he can live both a divine and a worldly life is making a serious mistake. It’s not a worldly life if you are living in the world and meditating. But if you’re living with the desires for the world, with all the outwardness of the worldly life and with the thought—“I want all the fun that this world has to provide,” then you won’t have the momentum to get into the other stream.
Don’t think, “Well, I’ll do this for awhile but it’s not really going to hold me.” No saint who has ever lived has spoken that way. You could also call it one of Satan’s minor triumphs that he can get people to think that way.
But it’s the norm to think that you can easily return, because you don’t realize how little a part of the whole momentum is your own effort. You get into that stream and it takes you beyond your own powers. It takes you farther in whichever direction you’ve chosen. Bit-by-bit you find your consciousness changing.
I’ve seen this again and again on the path. People get out of tune and they stop meditating. The one thing they need is to meditate. They get out of tune and think that if they run fast enough they can escape themselves. And so they run by going to different places, by turning on the TV, by trying to do things that will excite them, by listening to loud rock music, by going to night clubs, etc.
It takes too much energy to stop
It’s like working very hard and reaching the point of such complete exhaustion that you can’t stop working. You don’t have the energy to stop. You get into a particular flow of delusion and it takes too much energy to stop. We’re not talking about one isolated stream of satanic power. You can go in the direction of restlessness, lust, anger, competition, greed, warfare – whatever.
There are many satanic kinds of streams and very few of the divine, simply because the closer you get to the center of it all, the more they all tend to merge and become one, until finally, they literally become one. You don’t have to think in terms of becoming a saint overnight—just put one foot in front of the other. But any effort you put out toward realizing your divine destiny will give you blessings beyond your greatest imagination.