What a fascinating illusion God has created! In our essence we already are one with Him, but we’ve accumulated mental limitations that prevent us from realizing it. This “bundle of self-definitions,” as Swami Kriyananda calls it, forms the ego and creates the delusion that we are separate from God. So it appears that we must work hard to find a unity that, in fact, already exists.
The challenge of discipleship
The world today is increasingly fractured and in turmoil. Difficult times often help people open themselves to needed changes. This gives us, as devotees, a great opportunity to help the planet by spreading Paramhansa Yogananda’s teachings. Especially important now is his vision of spiritual communities.
Our ability to get this message out will be hampered, however, if we allow contractive self-definitions to limit us. When we view ourselves affirmatively, we increase our ability to be a channel for God’s power. But, if we have the thought that we can’t do something, or that we won’t do it, the idea becomes self-fulfilling.
Our consciousness might be compared to a balloon. As a balloon expands there’s more open area inside the skin. If you were a little fly on the inside you could move around quite freely. However, when you come to the skin of the balloon, there is a barrier that you can’t pass.
It’s the same with our consciousness — our self-definitions are like the skin of the balloon. We can move around quite easily in those areas where we have expanded our awareness, but contractive self-definitions create a barrier. One great challenge of life is to rid ourselves of self-imposed limitations. In a recent talk Swami Kriyananda gave us a perfect example of how to do that.
“Master, through me, can do anything”
He spoke of an experience when he had only four days in which to write the book, Cities of Light. “I can’t do it,” was his first thought. That “I can’t do it” mindset epitomizes what I’m describing— it is a false and limiting self-definition. But then Kriyananda caught himself and said, “Maybe, I can’t do it, but Master, through me, can do anything.” With that attitude came a superconscious flow. And that thought in particular, “God can work through me,” is what we need to develop.
We will be well served by increasing our faith that the Guru acting through us makes it possible to accomplish our goals. As we strengthen that understanding, we begin to break the great delusion of separateness, and realize ever more deeply, that we are the soul, not the ego.
Deeper and deeper self-offering
Swami Kriyananda gave us a New Year’s suggestion that can help us with this. He proposed, as the theme song for the year, “Lord, I am Thine, be Thou mine.” Many of us chant it regularly, but to have real power those words must be more than just lyrics in a chant. We need to go deeply into the feeling behind the words and make them an individual dialogue with God and Guru.
The way to attunement with the Guru is through ever deeper self-offering into his vibration. By “self-offering” I mean, especially, offering up those false, limiting self-definitions in which we’ve wrapped ourselves. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to cast them into the light of the spiritual eye during meditation.
Each of us has a certain mega-issue that we’ve come into this lifetime to deal with. And for each of us there will also be something that we’re currently dealing with, some area of resistance. Until we offer that into the light, it will continue to darken our consciousness and dim the realization of who we truly are. Even if we don’t succeed completely, the very effort of daily self-offering will be transformative.
So, in particular, what I would urge for the coming year is that we each make an intense effort to offer up whatever it is within our consciousness that limits us. There will be something that’s ready and waiting to be dissolved. Find one or two things—a wrong belief, a habit, an inertia—and try diligently to release it.
That’s the individual challenge that each of us needs to take up in these times. Let’s try very hard to break the hypnosis of limitation. If we each take up this challenge individually, then the power and the magnetism of our whole group will increase dramatically. And, as a group, we can accomplish great good for the world.
The life of a disciple can be summed up as ever deeper self-giving into the vibration of God and Guru. As we offer up our limitations, we open ourselves to their influence and they can enter our heart of hearts and change us. When, finally, we offer our hearts completely, we become filled with light and pass beyond all self-definitions.
Deep, conscious sharing
The need to transform ourselves is the first and foremost thing that has to happen, but then we also must powerfully, dynamically, and consciously do whatever is in our power to share God’s love and joy with others.
Yogananda came to show us the way to Self-realization and to implant in us the desire to help others achieve that state. He said that the highest prayer is, “Lord, give me Thyself that I may give Thee to all.” These two together: the deep self-offering to the Guru and the dynamic sharing of what we’ve been given—that should be the focus of the year ahead.