A friend of mine once came close to drowning and suddenly saw his whole life flash before him. He had not been interested in spiritual truths, but in that flash he saw his life in a completely different perspective. He realized that only those things that helped him to grow spiritually were important. With that realization, he changed his life completely and became dedicated to seeking God.
If we had the blessing of being suddenly drawn up into that superconscious state and seeing our lives from that perspective, we would realize how utterly trivial it is whether we sign that big contract or get a raise, whether somebody insults or praises us, whether people understand us or not. We would realize that these things just don’t matter.
In the superconscious state, we understand that this world is a delusion, a cosmic dream. We are no longer attached to the body, to the opinions of other people, or to any outward realities.
Live centered in the Self
The whole spiritual life is a process of learning to live superconsciously. To do that, we must become completely centered in our higher Self because that’s where our power and growth begin.
In human terms, you can accomplish a great deal if your will power is strong and you direct your energy with enough positive expectation. But beyond a certain point, the ego can’t accomplish very much unless it is attuned to the superconscious, and it takes a lot to tune in.
You must recognize that there is a higher aspect of consciousness, even of your own consciousness, over which you have no control. You are offering yourself up into something you can’t command, but the consciousness that comes, which is your own higher Self, doesn’t impose itself on you.
You must first be receptive. But when you have the courage, determination, and faith to accept whatever it gives, you find that life’s greatest tragedies can become doorways to the greatest joy.
Right attitude: the main requirement
Years ago there was a movie, “Brother Sun, Sister Moon,” which depicted St. Francis as a sort of glorified hippy, loping dreamily through fields of flowers—nothing at all like the life he actually led, which included many tests and trials.
Many people were inspired by the movie, but if their understanding of the spiritual path remained on that level, they wouldn’t last very long. The spiritual path is very challenging and you’ve got to approach it with the right “weapons.” Those “weapons” are the attitudes we take on when we come onto the spiritual path.
Many people think that the spiritual path is seeing visions and having all sorts of wonderful phenomena, but basically the spiritual path is right attitude.
You can’t run away from difficulties
How do you react when a test comes? I once said to a brother disciple who was going through a big test: “Well, after all, you’re young. You have at least 40 more years on the path, and you’ve got to get through this sooner or later.” That practically threw him into a pit of despair. That’s because he didn’t have much courage.
You won’t be worthy of God if you try to run away from your difficulties, if you aren’t willing to do whatever work is necessary to achieve freedom. To succeed on the spiritual path you need that level of courage that allows you to think, “No matter how long this test lasts, it will pass in time so why worry about it?”
When a nail is buried in a board, you don’t know the size of the nail, but if you keep pulling on the nail, eventually it will come out. Similarly, you may have very little bad karma left to pay off, or you may have a lot more.
What does it matter? Work at it, and sooner or later it will pass. Remember, God will never let you down if you love Him and keep seeking Him.
Love: the divine wavelength
Love is the most important quality of all. Love is what pulls us out of delusion.
In fact, we can’t put one foot in front of the other on the spiritual path until we begin to develop that devotional quality, that self-giving love—the sweetness, tenderness, and softness of feeling that come when you’re no longer protecting the ego. Ultimately, we must learn to approach God with the total trust and faith of a child.
The first duty of every devotee is to keep alive the lamp of devotion. Without love, you won’t grow spiritually because love is the wavelength on which the Divine functions.
“Maybe I can do better”
An attitude of learning is also fundamental. Always be ready to listen to what seem like silly points of view; they may have something to teach you. We need to feel there’s a great deal of truth we don’t yet know, and to be open to that truth, regardless of the source.
In fact, I’ve seen that the moment I write somebody off as too stupid to teach me anything, God uses that very person to teach me something. We need an attitude that says, “Maybe I can do better; maybe I can learn from this situation.”
Willingness is pleasing to God
Willingness is one of the most important attitudes and something Paramhansa Yogananda always emphasized. When you’re willing to give up your own desires to serve God, when you’re willing to put yourself out that extra bit, when you’re willing to say “yes” instead of “no” —that’s what pleases God.
Remember the principle: “The greater the will, or willingness, the greater the flow of energy.” The more willing you are, the more energy you have.
When you have an attitude of openness, of saying “yes,” you find that things start to go well for you spiritually because willingness gets your energy moving in a positive direction. The goal of the spiritual path is to get all of your energy moving in that direction.
Calm, cheerful acceptance
Right attitude means being able to accept everything impartially. Paramhansa Yogananda used to say, “What comes of itself, let it come.” That doesn’t mean only the good things; it means anything. And it doesn’t mean whipping yourself up into a false sense of well-being.
The basic attitude is to be “even-minded and cheerful”—an attitude of neutrality, of calmly and cheerfully accepting whatever God gives.
In the spiritual life, attitude is more important than anything else and it’s something we can keep growing in until we reach the perfection of union with God.
Seek higher guidance in daily life
How do we bring more of the superconscious into our lives? We must understand that there are two levels here: daily life and meditation. In our waking state we can lift our consciousness up and be guided by the superconscious level.
Always try, if a problem comes up in your life, to put your mind at the point between the eyebrows, the center of superconsciousness. Then withdraw a little into yourself and try to feel in your heart what the right solution is.
Let that calm, inner feeling be your guide. Otherwise all the reasoning in the world can lead you astray, no matter how right it looks. The heart and intellect need to work together. You will be surprised at how easily you can do this once you have the practice, and how much better everything flows.
Open yourself inwardly in meditation
But the other side of this is meditation. We must go deeper and deeper in meditation, because it is there, really, that we come into contact with the superconscious. The more you open yourself inwardly in meditation, the stronger that ray will be on all levels of life.
Years ago, when I was busy building Ananda, I was going through a time of great trial, giving classes in city after city, and putting out as much energy as possible just to stay afloat. The only person helping me was my secretary who answered letters, sent out book orders, and helped set up talks and advertising. One day she decided it was just too much, found another job, and quit without notice.
I felt so hurt that a friend of mine would betray me like this. I had all the tools to reason my way out of it, but my feelings kept getting in the way. I would tell myself, “Well, it’s all a dream,” but it just didn’t work. My mind was going more and more into a tailspin. So I said, “O.K, my rational mind isn’t capable of getting out of it. Let me meditate.”
I meditated and when I became very calm, I asked God to come to me. Suddenly I felt this great peace and love come over me. When I felt that presence very strongly, I said, “God, I have this problem, but I don’t want to think about it anymore. You just show me how I should feel.”
You think in a different way
All of a sudden, a wave of understanding came upon me, and I saw the situation in a completely different light. Suddenly I was concerned for her because she was a friend who had made a mistake.
I was so concerned for her that I no longer thought about myself. I even went and visited her. I discovered that she was ill in bed, and I did what I could to make her feel better.
That may seem like a preposterous way to behave when she was the one who left without notice, but God can give us these superconscious attitudes that make everything look different.
When you’re in tune with the Divine, you think in a completely different way. You look for the hardest jobs, not the easiest; you look for what you can give away, not what you can get; you look for how you can help people, not how they can help you. You don’t think in terms of, “What am I receiving?” but, “What can I do to please you more, God?”
A deep memory
You will only be happy if you live, day by day, the realities of the superconscious level of your own existence. We carry within us the deep memory of where we came from in God. It’s a quiet voice in the background, hardly to be noticed. By living in tune with it, we become that.