September 12th is the anniversary of the day in 1948 when Swami Kriyananda first met Paramhansa Yogananda. Those of us who are members of Ananda consider this day as our collective “Spiritual Birthday.” Devi and I are in Italy and will celebrate this sacred occasion by giving a talk to several hundred people at a Yoga Festival in Rome.

I won’t recount the story of how the then Donald Walters came to find himself kneeling at his guru’s feet. That is beautifully told in The New Path. On that Sunday afternoon Yogananda asked two questions of this new disciple: First, “I give you my unconditional love. Will you give me your unconditional love?” “Yes!” replied Swami.

And then, “And will you also give me your unconditional obedience?”

The young seeker wanted to be absolutely sincere in his answer, so this second question posed a greater challenge. “Suppose sometime I think you’re wrong?” he asked. Master replied, “I will never ask anything of you that God does not tell me to ask.” Then, with great determination, Swami replied, “Yes.”

Swami’s answers were on behalf of all of us. He was at that time “devotee everyman,” as he once described Arjuna’s role in the Bhagavad Gita. These two questions all disciples must answer for themselves. Until we can sincerely answer, “Yes!” we will but meander along the spiritual path.

Few of us will ever kneel in front of a Self-realized master, but each of us must kneel in front of God. He has already given us His unconditional love—we could not take a single breath nor live a single second without it. But He has given us the free will to withhold our love from Him. How many lifetimes we have wandered through the barren desert of life seeking that love from dry creeks. We have a God-shaped hole in our hearts, which can never be filled until we finally accept His love and offer ours in return.

We must also be ready to accept some form of discipline, of obedience to the will of God. We may think we have free will, but it is circumscribed by past karma. As Yogananda said on that occasion, “In the beginning of the spiritual path, one’s will is guided by whims and fancies. . . . If you attune your will to mine, you too will find freedom.” When we are truly ready to travel the path to Self-realization, we need the guidance of someone who knows its winding ways.

May I suggest that, on this sacred occasion, you meditate deeply and, before God, in the silence and sincerity of your heart, ponder these same two questions? Your answers are, perhaps, the most important ones you will ever be asked to give. Your life—or lives—depends upon your answer.

In divine love,
Nayaswami Jyotish


  1. Dear Nayaswami Jyotish Ji,
    Thank you for the Article.
    Happy Spiritual Birthday :)

  2. Thank, You, Jyotish!
    As I’ve considered Yoganandaji’s 2 questions over the years, my human mind still wonders, ‘How can I say YES and be perfect in my answers & actions?’ I hear, and continue to practice, SURRENDER via ATTUNEMENT …. Master’s words give me encouragement from your article . . . . If you attune your will to mine, you too will find freedom.”
    Blessed Spiritual Birthday, devotees!

  3. Sri Swami Jyotish,
    Thank you dear friend in God and Guru, in our Swamiji, for carrying on the message of truth!
    Happy and Joyous Spiritual Birthday!!!

  4. Thank you Jyotish! Guru’s blessings show in your smile.

  5. Thank you Jyotish for the inspirational message. Blessed Birthday to Swamiji.

  6. WOW! Right ON Jyotish!!
    Our Lives DO depend on it!!
    Everyday, we are called, as Truth seekers, to reply to those questions.
    Every breath is our opportunity to give our UNCONDITIONAL LOVE and
    OBEDIENCE to our Guru & GOD!
    Thank You…
    THANK you…

  7. My comment is in form of a question.
    How is it that we can speak of God when it seems that to speak of God, is to separate ourselves from God.
    There must be a difference between looking with the eyes and looking through them.

  8. Thanks Jyotishji for your excellent post.
    How is it possible to surrender to God unconditionally?
    How is it possible not to judge people when some of them seem to be nasty towards you?
    These are the real every day challenges we face.
    I believe we can do this by both attuning ourselves to our Guru (mentally if such a Guru is not present physically) and working with “satwic” people in a satsang.

    1. If I may offer; I seem to realize that the source of all matter is spirit or energy and that we are already surrendered unconditionally to “God. ” That only with our thinking we create conditions and separation. That when we realized what we are not, we find what we truly are. I offer that when we understand ourselves, then, we understand “the others,” we can see what and how a being is conditioned and how that life has a program within it exist. Living in the perfect prison that was design by the very being kept in it. Compassion wells up in us until we think we would burst and bathe the world. Knowing how difficult we saw our own prison and our escape from it, we understand our spiritual brothers and sisters. We understand how unfair we felt when others did not understand us and judged us, I offer that forgiveness is born of understanding ourselves. Who amounst us would cast the first stone?
      In Western society we have been told over and over again that we are incapable of finding our own way, that only someone outside of ourselves had such power. but the guru’s greatest joy is when we are truly free in our own realization. we should nor confuse the finger that points at the moon, as the moon. A teacher’s greatest moment is when the student becomes the teacher. If a son, is always a son. When will he become a father? If it were not for your fathers father having taught his son to mature and be independant, you would not have existed because there was no father birthed out of a son. /now there is a special collective energy that can only be acquired in a collective sharing.

  9. i want to be spiritualy birthize,whats the benefit of rnitiation.also how to pray with solution

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