September 12 marks the anniversary of the day when, in 1948, Swami Kriyananda met Paramhansa Yogananda and became his disciple. From then on, in spite of his amazing accomplishments, Swami Kriyananda’s self-definition was simply, “I want to be known as a good disciple.”
The essence of discipleship is the effort to align our individual will with God’s will as it is expressed through the guru. When we do, miracles begin to unfold. God guides and uses us as His instruments. He will work through each of us to the extent that we are willing to be His channel.
We need a guru because our knowledge is limited. A somewhat arrogant athlete once asked a great coach why he should bother listening to him. The answer was both amusing and deep: “Because you don’t know what you don’t know.” What is valid in an unimportant area such as athletics is even truer for the most difficult of all tasks—becoming free from delusion. We can only escape the maze of ego through the guidance of someone who is already free.
Although Swami was a volcano of creativity, he was very orthodox when it concerned Master’s teachings. Once I came up with a new way to teach a basic meditation technique. When I described it to Swami his only comment was, “That wasn’t the way Master taught it.” I knew his real message was that I should get myself out of the way, attune my mind and heart to the guru, and let him flow through me.
Throughout the years of his discipleship, and especially at the beginning before he had developed his attunement and discrimination, Swamiji would always ask, “Did Master say this?” For instance, there was a discussion about whether UFOs were real, and if life existed on other planets. The issue was settled for Swamiji when he heard that Master said, “Yes, UFOs are real, and in fact there is life everywhere throughout the universe, even in the center of stars.”
The fruit of true discipleship is freedom from ego. Two statements made by Swami Kriyananda toward the end of his life impressed me very deeply. He said, “I can no longer tell where Swami Kriyananda ends and Master begins.” And also, “Sometimes I am so full of bliss, I can hardly contain it.”
This is the fruit of a life of discipleship. For truth-seekers, it is the only fruit worth harvesting.