Highlights from a talk by Swami Kriyananda at Ananda Village on September 13, 2008 during a celebration of his 60th anniversary of discipleship to Paramhansa Yogananda. The complete talk is available at: https://www.ananda.org/40anniv/multimedia.html
I thought it might be useful to talk about things I have learned from my Guru, Paramhansa Yogananda.
True Learning Is Not Intellectual
He talked to our souls: With Master, learning was a form of recognition; it was not intellectual. He would state truths so as to reach your soul, and your soul would rise in recognition to whatever level it could. In a group, each person might understand him differently.
Those who teach on behalf of Ananda should remember this truth: People will understand according to their own maturity. Don’t feel you have to hammer your points. Touch on them lightly. Those who are ready to learn will understand, and those who aren’t will let it pass.
Always a deep message: In everything Master said or did there was a deep message. He didn’t explain himself; he expected us to intuit his meaning. Over the years, I’ve come to understand his meaning on deeper and deeper levels.
Once, for example, I asked one of the monks if Master was doing things in certain ways to teach us organization? “Organization, heck!” He replied. “All he ever does is disorganize!” Well, that attitude took him off the path. But I felt he must be teaching us something, and I later understood he was teaching us that you don’t organize things; you go by an intuitive flow. This is how I built Ananda.
One with the Infinite
The Infinite in human form: Master said, “Don’t focus on this personality.” He never would tell his age and urged us not to tell ours. He said, “I have no age; I feel timeless.”
I never focused on his personality. I would look into his eyes and there was no ego; he was the infinite consciousness in that form. But he was also a person and it’s through the guru’s humanity that we can begin to understand the different aspects of God (love, joy, peace) and what we need to become.
The highest octave of human love is the unconditional love a guru gives to a disciple, which means that he’ll hang on to you until you find God. To find God, we must learn to love Him the same way: unconditionally.
“The blueprint”: He never gave us any “blueprint.” He said again and again, “The blueprint is in the ether.” It was through my attunement with him, and having to understand his will from within, that I knew what to do. He would sometimes give little suggestions or hints, but he didn’t tell me.
When people ask, “What is the blueprint for Ananda?” I say, “God will show us.” Each step of the way he shows us what we should do. God’s will is not fixed and determined; it depends on many things. Yogananda himself would sometimes look for signs.
For example, I was to go to India with him in 1951 but he said, “Don’t tell anybody.” One of the monks tricked me into telling him and he complained to Master, who took it as Divine Mother’s sign that he shouldn’t go that year.
God through him: A monk once said to him, “Whenever I see you I see Divine Mother.” Master said, “Then behave accordingly.” He always knew it was Divine Mother working through him.
It’s important that we, too, in working with people, learn to allow the Divine to work through us. For teaching and leadership that’s very important. Be in the Self; let God do it through you.
The most important thing you can do in any work is to put your vibrations into it. Master said that when you lecture don’t think only in terms of words; put your vibrations into the words. Your vibrations will change people more than anything else.
Learning from His Example
Always positive: Through Master I learned that the answer to everything is to have a positive attitude. Some disciples have described him as a stern disciplinarian and intolerant of anything being wrong. He wasn’t that way at all. Once he entered the monks’ dining room when it was an absolute mess. He sat down and said, “Well, it might be worse.”
Whenever he encouraged us to strive to be better, it was always in a positive way. I once behaved very judgmentally toward a devotee who loved visiting Master but never kept his appointments with me to learn the meditation techniques. When he next visited Master I was present, and I wouldn’t even look at him.
Master later said, “How dry you were with him. How many people would still be here if I had been so judgmental of them?”
He taught me to be loving, forgiving, and to always look for the good in people. When you look for the good in people, you see God there. You can help them if you focus on their goodness. If you criticize them, they erect defenses.
Listen to others: He taught me to listen to others. One time he was telling me a story and I anticipated the ending and gave it. He calmly went on and stated it himself—it was a little different from what I’d said. Then he looked at me and I understood: I should not be bristling with my own opinions.
Always listen to what other people have to say before you answer. Don’t jump in there bristling with your opinions.
Humility: Master was so humble and childlike. He sometimes spoke with firmness but he never put himself above anybody. He was completely capable of saying, “Well, I was wrong then.” That was his greatness.
Credit to his gurus: Master always gave credit to his line of gurus. Somebody asked him once, “Why are you teaching the Bhagavad Gita and the Bible, especially?” He answered, “This is what Babaji wants.”
In the chapter, “The Resurrection of Sri Yukteswar” in Autobiography of a Yogi, Master describes himself as awestruck at what he was learning from his Guru in 1936. In 1932, however, Master had written an article giving those same descriptions of the astral world. He already knew it all, but he gave credit to his Guru.
The last word: I noticed many times that he would leave the last word with other people. For example, when he discussed Mahatma Gandhi and nonviolence in Autobiography of a Yogi, he left the last word with Gandhi even though he didn’t fully share his views. Master believed in nonviolence as an inward attitude, but he said there are times when you must do certain things for a higher motive.
Respect for everyone: It was wonderful how he had respect for everybody. Once there was an Indian man who was a bit drunk and being too familiar with Master. In Bengali, Debi, one of the monks, said something deprecating about the man. Master signaled to Debi to stop. Master saw the man with respect as a child of God.
Always have that little distance of respect for those closest to you. Respect will endure under all circumstances.
True to myself: He allowed me to be true to myself. Some of my fellow disciples would say to me, “Don’t you think you should be so and so?” Master never said that to me. He told me what he thought I should do, and I did it, but he allowed me to be true to myself.
It’s important for a teacher to allow each person to be himself. An institution will try to mold you into one form and make you toe that line. I don’t ever want Ananda to do that.
“A Saint Is a Sinner Who Never Gave Up”
Our highest potential: Master always saw us in our highest potential. He said, “A saint is a sinner who never gave up.” No matter how many faults a person had, he would always try to help them aim for the highest.
This was perhaps the most important thing he gave me. There were times when I felt discouraged, but I always remembered that saying, “a saint is a sinner who never gave up,” and I kept trying. We should always see ourselves as potential saints.
Attunement and right effort: What Master emphasized most with the disciples was, “to be in tune,” to open our hearts to him and ask him to take charge of our lives. We have to act, but we should always ask Master to guide our thoughts and show us what he wants.
Ask him even in little things, “What should I do?” If you make a mistake, say, “God, I want to be good, help me to be good.” His help will be there.
Unconditional love: One time he had been away and I felt a deep longing to see him. I drove down to Encinitas and he welcomed me with great love. He said, “I have missed you.”
That same night, I was with the monks and we were discussing a book one of them had read, and I lost a little of that attunement. The next day, at the San Diego church, Master blessed me and said, “I have missed you.” It was a slight reprimand. I had fallen a little in my attunement but his love was always there.
How often I have remembered that occasion to help me understand that he loves me, no matter what. He loves everyone that way.
Share with Others
How to use money: Master said if you use money for the welfare of others, then you grow spiritually and it’s a great blessing, but if you use it only for yourself, then it becomes a misfortune.
I once saw a group of gypsies begging outside Calcutta and one of them was a young girl whose look said, “What am I doing here?” She appeared to be a reincarnated queen who had lost everything through selfishness.
The truest disciples: There were two prayers Master said were the greatest. One was, “I will reason, I will will, I will act, but guide Thou my reason, will, and activity to the right path in everything.” The other was, “Give me Thyself, that I may give Thee to all.”
I believe the truest disciples of Master are those who try to share the blessings they’ve received with others. That was the essence of his life.