At one of the Kriya Yoga initiation ceremonies in the early 1950s after giving participants the sacred meditation technique, Paramhansa Yogananda emphasized in his deep, powerful voice, “Today is not the end of the journey – the Triumphant receiving of Kriya Yoga – but the beginning of your relationship with God. You must go on to the end of life…”
Receiving Kriya Yoga is like achieving what you always dreamed of by getting into the best school. It does take a lot of work to get in but getting in is only the beginning of the journey and not the end.
Some students are so elated at getting into their dream school that their journey in ‘studentship’ ends right there. The good student, however, realizes that getting into his dream school, while a cause for celebration, must not distract from his true goal. He must now work twice as hard to graduate with flying colors and thus attain the actual goal he has always envisioned for himself— being at the top of his chosen profession.
Likewise, Paramhansa Yogananda was reminding his students of the work ahead regarding Kriya Yoga. At last by receiving the technique, the student has all the tools needed to achieve complete Self-Realization: the techniques, the teachings and the blessings of a true Guru. It is not unusual at this point to feel that we have ‘arrived.’ We have our path, we have found our Guru, and we have received Kriya Yoga. A just cause for celebration! But the good student realizes that he cannot yet ‘rest on his laurels’ for the true ‘laurels’ still await him. He now needs to use those tools diligently in order to reap the rich harvest of Self-Realization.
It is a good practice to sit down and take honest stock of our spiritual progress after receiving Kriya initiation. Have we been like the first student who, on receiving these tools, feels that he has attained the goal (he now has the teachings, the techniques and the Guru) and has inadvertently slacked off? Or, have we been the model student who realizes, as Yogananda exhorted both new & old Kriya yogis – that now the once-in-several-lifetimes blessing of a complete toolkit to Self-realization is in hand, they must be determined to give their all, redouble their efforts, and keep the fires of “Deeper, Longer, Thirsty, Guru-given Meditations” going.
Kriya is a powerful tool. A grateful Pratap said to Paramhansa Yogananda (then the boy ‘Mukunda’) in Brindaban on receiving this technique:
“I am transported to find this yogic key, long sought! Its unshackling effect on my sensory bonds will free me for higher spheres.”
To this we must add Lahiri Mahasaya’s admonishment, “The power of Kriya lies in its practice.”
As you take stock, don’t be disheartened if you find that your practice has not been as wonderful as that of the model student we have talked about. This world, with its many duties and entanglements, is brilliantly designed to keep us from becoming free too easily.
A good fix might be to see what kind of environment surrounds you. Paramhansa Yogananda often said that, “Environment is stronger than will-power.” Surprising and contrary as it is to the ‘go-getter’ spirit of today’s world where everything can be achieved by the sole thrust of one’s own will, Yogananda made an even stronger statement:
“Whether one becomes a saint or a sinner is to a great extent determined by the company he keeps.” (From the book ‘The Essence of Self-Realization’)
This is a truly wonderful maxim that gives new hope to all seekers. For it says that if only we can be in the right company, we will soon be marching on the path to sainthood no matter our other failings.
Weaponize this maxim. If you live close to one of our centers, come participate in some of the many offerings, especially the meditations. If you are “inconveniently located”, consider joining our Virtual Community. Hundreds use the online support offered by this community to deepen their inspiration and keep up their diligent practice of these teachings. Though the medium of inspiration sharing is virtual, the inspiration itself is very tangible.
In closing, let us remember then, to be the ideal student who strives even more diligently to reach the goal once he has received the sacred Kriya ‘key.’ Moreover, if we have been lagging a bit in those diligent efforts never fear—through uplifting company, whether real or virtual, we can set into motion Yogananda’s favorite maxim and transform into the model student who graduates with flying colors and finally “becomes a saint.”