Often I tell Kriya Yogis, particularly those who are mathematically challenged, that there is a  mathematical equation to memorize in order to achieve success on the path of Kriya. The equation is this:

25% of spiritual success comes by the devotee’s effort
25% comes by the guru’s effort on his behalf
50% 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 the 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 River 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 20 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 that these types of nature experiences seem to happen all too often to me. I have 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 have dealt with quicksand.

Due to that history, 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 of the moment 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. Also importantly, it takes our willing cooperation with the guru’s efforts to get us 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 means attunement and devotion to the guru, which makes us receptive to his grace, love, and help. It also takes our deep devotion and self-offering to God.

Any time you feel yourself getting bogged 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?

There is another important equation from Yogananda for you to also remember:

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

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

When you remember to apply these two simple equations to your spiritual practices, you will inevitably find the ultimate success: Self-realization and freedom in God.

From an original post on 6/2/2010


  1. Thanks for the story you shared to illustrate this point. It certainly helps.

  2. So wonderful and timely for me, and for so many, dear Devarshi Nayaswami. Thank you for sharing your beautiful experience and the wisdom from Master for our Kriya practice, our Kriya life!
    Blessings and gratitude,
    Vivi Bryan

  3. Amazing analogy. Thank you I will remember this during my spiritual practices

  4. Thank you so much, Devarshi, for reminding us of our Guru’s mathematical promise!! I loved your stories that always include your faith in God and your devotion to Him and Guru.

  5. Always a pleasure Devarshi. Although I would like to learn more about your nature mishaps and guru’s intervention!

    1. Thank you so much Devarshiji. It will really help us in path of Kriya Yog.

  6. Thanks for sharing this Swami..though I regularly follow your writings, first time replying. Many Gurus appearing in my life and am thankful to all Gurus for showering their grace and guiding me the right path.

  7. Feel so blessed to receive these timely nuggets from our wise gurubais. How fortunate we are to share the path of Kriya yoga with like minded souls, helping each other through this Lila. Thank you Devarshi. 🙏🕉😇

  8. This is a perfect analogy, Devarshi. Thank you very much for being a living example of effort that allows Grace to flow.

    Blessings to you. 🙏🏼🕉

  9. Thankyou Devarshi ji for sharing this wonderful insight about Master’s teaching from your personal experience. I feel blessed.

  10. Thanks for this very memorable story and teaching, Devarshi.
    I’m so glad the quicksand wasn’t deeper. I’m glad you’re still with us!
    Joy joy joy

  11. Dear Nayaswami Devarshi Ji,

    Thank you for this wonderful blog. A Great reminder


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