Often I tell Kriya Yogis, particularly those who are math-challenged, that there are only two ‘mathematical equations’ one needs to memorize in order to achieve success on the path of Kriya.

The first I mentioned in my blog post “Kriya Yoga Plus Devotion Works Like Mathematics”

The other equation is this:

“Twenty-five percent of spiritual success comes by the devotee’s effort.

“Twenty-five percent comes by the Guru’s effort on his behalf.

“And fifty percent comes by the grace of God.”
—Paramhansa Yogananda

Whenever I see myself or others bogging down spiritually, this formula will invariably help me get back on track.

Keep in mind that the devotee’s 25% part means 100% of his or her effort. How we apply that effort will determine results we get from Kriya Yoga, or from any spiritual practice.

I had a very interesting experience several years ago that served as an analogy for Yogananda’s formula for spiritual success. I was on pilgrimage in India with a good friend.

One morning we went to a remote bank of the Ganges to practice Kriya Yoga. We had a wonderful meditation in a quiet setting. There wasn’t another soul around – very unusual in India!

After meditating, I slowly walked into the Ganges to bathe, remembering that it is a very sacred river with the power to wash away one’s sins.

(I also remembered Yogananda’s wry comment that, for many people, their sins are awaiting when they come out of the river, much like their clothes hanging in the trees on the river’s bank!)

I had gone about twenty feet into the water, which was flowing very calmly at that place, when suddenly I stepped into quicksand.

The reason I’m not using an exclamation point here is because these types of nature experiences seem to happen all too often to me.  I’ve been rescued by helicopter from a mountain-climbing accident, caught in a tornado, struck by lightning, etc., etc. In fact, this was the second time in my life that I’ve dealt with quicksand.

Because of that, my experience-based reaction was simply, “So, Divine Mother, what fun are you going to have with me today?

As it often happens with quicksand, my feet struck solid ground after sinking about thigh deep. The water was up to my chest, lapping gently. I was in no immediate danger, but anyone with a quicksand experience would know that I was very, very stuck.

No matter how hard I tried to move, my legs and feet refused to budge.

It’s a very good analogy as to what brings most people onto the spiritual path.

People will sometimes face impossible long-term obstacles, only to be moved to utter despair, when at the end they fail in spite of their very best efforts. Often that is what turns them toward seeking God and the help of a Guru.

Fortunately, I had a ‘guru’ in the form of my dear friend Vidura, who was standing safely on the solid bank, free from the ‘delusion’ in which I was completely stuck.

I called him over, showed him a safe spot to stand, and asked him to reach over and help me.

Even with Vidura pulling on my hand with all his might, it still took my best effort and cooperation with my ‘guru’ to get me out.

If I had casually laid out my hand for Vidura and said lazily, “I’m ready, guruji (to continue the analogy), you can now save me,”  or  if I had struggled merely on my own, I would still be stuck in that quicksand.

It is the very same for success on any spiritual path, but especially the path of Kriya Yoga.

It takes our very best effort, and the help of a Guru who is on safe ground and on very good terms with God.  And also, importantly, it takes our willing cooperation with the Guru’s efforts to get out of our delusions.

This cooperation takes the form of following the discipline and practices the Guru gives us, and doing them just as he teaches.

It also means attunement and devotion to the Guru, which make us receptive to his grace, love, and help.

And it takes our deep devotion and self-offering to God.

Any time you feel yourself bogging down spiritually, practice introspection and apply Yogananda’s mathematical equation for spiritual success.

Ask yourself:

“Am I making enough effort to get out of my trouble? Is it the right kind of effort?

“Am I following the teachings of my Guru to the best of my ability, and am I cooperating with his efforts on my behalf?

“Am I depending too much on my own efforts, and not opening myself enough to the grace of God and the help of the Guru?”

Then remember Yogananda’s other important ‘equation:’

“Kriya Yoga plus devotion works like mathematics. It cannot fail.”

Then ask yourself again:

“Am I doing everything in my life with a sense of devotion and self-offering to God?”

When you remember to apply Yogananda’s two simple equations, you will inevitably find the ultimate success: Self-realization and freedom in God.


On another subject: We are trying to help one of our Ananda members from Mexico City to visit Ananda this summer. He’s a very fine man who teaches music at a school in Mexico City, and isn’t able to afford the air fare to California. If anyone would like to donate their frequent flyer miles to help bring Allejandro to Ananda Village this summer, please contact me by clicking on the “Email Devarshi” link at the top right of this page. Thank you!

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