I have a confession to make. There are times when I can become stubborn. I expect this can be a little challenging for my friends, but at times it has produced some interesting results.

Here’s an example. While in college my friends and I would occasionally sign up as subjects for psychology experiments. These were harmless enough, and we got paid for our time. We actually came to enjoy them, because the psychologists never told us what they were really studying, so we had to guess the true focus of their research.

During one such experiment, the psychologist brought me into a room which was empty except for a chair placed in the middle. After I got settled on it, she shut the door, turned off the lights, and left me sitting alone in complete darkness. Then a disembodied voice from another room said, “The object of our experiment is to see if the eyes can track movement of a point of light in complete darkness.”

A point of light suddenly appeared before me. I focused on it, trying to sense any movement. To help orient my perception, I extended my arm with my thumb pointed upward and placed it next to the tiny point. Although I couldn’t see my thumb, I could sense its relation to the light. In this way I could track any movement by the distance of the light from my thumb.

Then the voice said, “Now, tell us if the light is moving to the right or left.” By keeping my arm steady, I could tell the light had remained stationary. “It’s not moving either way,” I said. The voice replied, “It is moving. Tell us in which direction.”

“Sorry,” I said, “it’s not moving.” This exchange went on several more times. Finally, with a deep sigh, the researcher said, “Okay, now tell us in which diagonal direction the light is moving.”

Still keeping my arm and thumb fixed in a position next to the light, I could tell there wasn’t any movement, and I wasn’t about to be deterred. There I was, alone in a totally dark room, but still, after each of several attempts to convince me otherwise, I replied “Sorry, but it’s not moving.”

At this point the disembodied voice became totally silent. I waited for a while and finally said, “I don’t care if you never let me out of this room: The light has not moved.” After another period of silence, the lights in the room came on, a door opened, and a very frustrated-looking psychologist entered.

Somewhat embarrassed, she confessed, “You were right. The light wasn’t moving, but the point of the experiment was to see if we could influence you to say it was. Every other person said that they saw movement, so we’re throwing out your data!” (So much for objective science!)

This experience stuck with me for a long time, and I drew an important lesson from it. I had no outer point of reference with which to judge, but I could sense my own relationship to the light, which told me it was steady.

There are times in the spiritual journey when we grow discouraged, or when doubts assail us. The path before us can become obscure: We may feel lost, with no light to guide us. Then the questions come: “Am I good enough to follow a path to God? Will these teachings really work for me?”

Before we can merge into God, each one of us will have to face a similar, final test of piercing through the darkness.

At such times, try to feel your inner relation with divine light. Though you may not be able to see it, try to sense its steady, unmoving presence within you. Those of materialistic consciousness may try to convince you that the light is no longer there where you know you saw it, or simply not there at all, but determinedly cling to its ever-present reality.

There’s a beautiful story that Swami Kriyananda told us about Rajarshi Janakananda, Paramhansa Yogananda’s most advanced disciple. Rajarshi was just at the point of attaining nirbikalpa samadhi, when suddenly everything went dark inwardly. For years during meditation he’d been seeing great light, but in an instant it all vanished.

There was a strong temptation to doubt everything he’d experienced, but he kept trying. After days of darkness, suddenly Rajarshi saw a little point of light, and gradually it came closer and closer. The light expanded until it became Master, then in turn Sri Yukteswar, Lahiri Mahasaya, and Babaji; then finally, Rajarshi merged into the Infinite.

Swamiji concluded this story by saying that before we can merge into God, each one of us will have to face a similar, final test of piercing through the darkness. And so even now, if the light seems to disappear, cling with determination and even doggedness to the truth that it is unmoving and unchanging. That light is the source of all that is. It is our truest reality, and we must eventually claim it as our own.

With joy,

Nayaswami Devi

Listen to the weekly commentary for this blog, with special behind-the-inspiration stories and answers to common spiritual questions. Subscribe to the podcast or download the audio recording by right-clicking here. Or listen to it here (3:54):

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  1. Thank you mam for sharing your beautiful thoughts with us.. it inspires us & keeps our hope alive.

  2. A beautiful and inspiring sharing, thank you Nayaswami!

  3. A beautiful and inspiring sharing. Thank you Nayaswami!

  4. Pronam Maa , thank you for this beautiful teaching when I need it most.

  5. Thoroughly enjoyed and learned a lot in today’s blog. Everything that happens is a test that we must overcome.
    Thank you!

  6. Very interesting that you could stand on your ground. I might have been swayed by the suggestions by the experimenter.

    I have often wondered if I am worthy or if the technique is correct or if I am doing it the right way, and all that. Especially there is a lot of material on why PY did not teach the correct method as LM taught, etc. in the internet. But then I feel such a strong presence of these gurus in my life, almost guided to the matter of minutes, that I feel how can I doubt? And yet I know I am not the perfect disciple, I am distracted, I have desires, I have a silly ego….

    Well, basically one has to accept yourself and surrender yourself to the larger thing, warts and all.

    1. mm

      Dear Uma,

      I am not sure I know of any disciples who consider themselves “a perfect disciple” —at least not yet. It can be helpful to remember that our spiritual progress is directional. In the practice of Kriya and through our attunement to Master, we are each gradually moving toward our eventual perfection in God. I also just wanted to address about the Kriya technique as Master taught it. Someone once asked Swami Kriyananda this same question, and this was his answer: “Did Master “dilute” Lahiri Mahasaya’s—and Babaji’s—Kriya technique? Did he teach Kriya differently in India from the way he taught it in America? No! I state this denial as an unequivocal fact. I took advantage of several opportunities to check out the differences that have been claimed between Master’s Kriya and that of other lines from Lahiri Mahasaya. Some differences do exist, but they are superficial. All of the actual differences convinced me only that Master was bringing people into Kriya more gradually. He brought them to the full technique, however, as they showed themselves ready for it.” I hope this reassures you that Master did teach Kriya in the correct and complete way. It can also be helpful to get your Kriya practice “checked” by a qualified Ananda Kriya Yoga teacher (assuming that you received Kriya through Ananda). Please let me know if I can help connect you with an Ananda Kriya Yoga teacher.

      In Master’s love,
      Director of Ananda Kriya Yoga, USA

  7. Dear Deviji,

    Very nice article. An eye opening fact.
    Thank you.

  8. It was wonderful to read this. Yes it is true that I do doubt whenever i dont get the desired result in meditation and doubt comes but by reading your story, i understand i need to tune myself into divine and work on my meditation irrespective of looking at the results

  9. It was a very inspiring story . I helped me to believe in my self and the way I pray to god . I believe hood is with in us and serving humanity is my of serving hood . Jai ma

  10. This is one of your finest teaching yet !! It’s so wonderful how you show how your quality of what the world might refer to as stubbornness was reframed as a quality of God. As a researcher I also am concerned about the ethics of our “science“ and you have just given a perfect example of how there are those in the materialistic world who will brook nothing to manipulate mass consciousness through the misuse and misrepresentation of the science of Divine mother. What a witness! I got a belly laugh from your “stubbornness”. Jai Ma!

  11. Very very wonderful 👏 post with a beautiful message , remain anchored to the light .
    Thanks for this lovely share.

  12. In the last weeks, the light has vanished from my meditations, but so have the very strong headaches that until now have come along with my practice .  “Oh well” I thought “I will not be fooled into doubt!  So what if I don’t see it, I know that it is still there”!  

    Your words make me determined and affirm my faith that when the time is right, the Great objective psychologist will come back in and turn on his all encompassing radiant light!  

    Merci beaucoup Deviji for this timely, poignant & inspiring post!    

  13. 🙏🏼 Thank you for this clear and beautiful sharing. I shall share your example with others.

  14. I have been going through a repetitive, similar situation over the past year, and for the umpteenth time in my life. Your confession was divinely timed for you to write it, and me to receive it. I know with certainty that it’s a reply to my prayers, and that the Masters led me to this post. Your words resonate in my heart as the “light unto my feet” to trust my daily walk, my intuition, and the voice of the Masters in the midst of confused, ego-driven conflicted minds and voices. Thank you so much for the courage to express this inspiring event of your personal life journey. So timely!! Namaste.

  15. Once again, thank you for sharing your spiritual path and wisdom. It is so comforting to me to hear about others’ tests along their meditation journeys. It reminds me that faith and discipline are paramount!


  16. This story is SO APT!!!!!!!!! Thank you thank you for sharing!! You remind me to keep going and not be led by unusual sights and sounds alone. I’ve been doing that.

  17. So beautiful. I know every time I see these emails come to my inbox I will receive a message that just hits home 😊

  18. Such a testament! You have helped me tremendously. Thank you!

  19. Dear Nayaswami Devi Ji, Thank you for this inspiring blog. Enjoyed reading the experiment
    And a what a beautiful account from Rajarshi’s life. Thank you for sharing the inspiration.


  20. Such a beautiful message Devi. There is so much darkness visible today it is good to be reminded that the light is always there, visible to us or not. Faith is my armor!

  21. BEAUTIFUL SHARING, DEVI — HEART-OPENING — and so wonderful to read comments from our community of gurubais

  22. Dear Nayaswami Devi,

    Your message today in this blog IS THE LIGHT! And it has transformed my darkness when I needed it most. The issues of the World have been causing me doubt and confusion and blocking me from listening to divine Intuition. Thank You for helping me to reaffirm that Maya is illusion and God Christ Guru is the Way, The Truth and the Light! Blessings to you Beautiful Soul!

    In HIS Grace,

  23. Dear Devi-
    Thank you for sharing such an encouraging story and example. Did the researcher even bother to ask you how you came to the correct conclusion? Gosh that would be the million $ question!
    Joy & Gratitude

  24. Hilarious! I thought it was Jyotish since science is more his bailiwick and psychology was his college major – and he’s not unstubborn! I enjoyed this morning’s lesson very much – thank you, Devi. I liked the message: just a wee bit of inward perception of Divinity, with a bit of calm, firm stubbornness added, can bring us into greater light.

  25. Full of gratitude Devi, beautiful truth you share. Touched my heart & spirit deeply♥️

  26. I love your article about how to remain centered when the world is sending conflicting messages.

  27. Great story! It reminds me of Masters analogy of diving for pearls, and if you don’t find them, don’t blame the pearls…just keep diving deeper. The ever-flowing inner fountain of bubbling joy is surely confirmation that we are on the right path, and under the guidance& protection of our Gurus.

  28. Beautiful Devi Ji.. loved the inspiration and teaching. Deeply grateful to beloved Swamiji and Ananda for guiding our lives ever onward to God and Guru. banat banat ban jai.

  29. Hi Devi,
    We just studied a classic experiment in our online high school that tested a similar situation. Only 25% of the participants were able to resist the pressure to conform. Maybe it’s a prerequisite for advancement on the spiritual path?

    Asch Conformity Experiments

    Groups of eight male college students participated in a simple “perceptual” task. In reality, all but one of the participants were actors, and the true focus of the study was about how the remaining participant would react to the actors’ behavior.

    In the control group, with no pressure to conform to actors, the error rate on the critical stimuli was less than 1%.[1]
    In the actor condition also, the majority of participants’ responses remained correct (63.2%), but a sizable minority of responses conformed to the actors’ (incorrect) answer (36.8 percent). The responses revealed strong individual differences: Only 5 percent of participants were always swayed by the crowd. 25 percent of the sample consistently defied majority opinion, with the rest conforming on some trials.

    Overall, 75% of participants gave at least one incorrect answer out of the 12 critical trials. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Asch_experiment.svg

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  30. Thank you for your writing on the subject of staying on the path
    with determination and staying focused on the goal,which is to
    attain liberation,which can and does at times come with the aspect
    of making one think or conclude that attaining that goal in this life
    is near impossible. We are blessed to have those such as you and
    Jotish to remind and be such great help to all.

  31. I love your analogy! In my later years of life as it is, I find myself clinging ever more fiercely to our readings, music and techniques. There is no “sleeping” on this path! I want to use every year, day and minute in the best way possible to find God! Thank you for the inspiration you always in part!

  32. A good one. With these motivating stories, though I am ignited for sometimes, it will be fading soon though I wish to continue my efforts stubbornly. But due to non availability of a real support internally I am fed-up having wasted my time,energy nd money. I lost faith. If u want to really help me, let me try one more time with this yoga. Before hand I want some internal assurance.Thanks GVS

    1. The great spiritual masters tell us that even to think of God is His grace. Pray for God’s grace to keep your mind focused on the Divine.

  33. Jai guru🙏
    Such a beautiful anecdote, thanks for sharing it,its not just motivating but keeps us from deviating from the path.

  34. Thankyou Devi, Jyotish, no words to express the feeling of gratitud with this letters.
    In Gurú’s love,

    1. Dear Anaashini,
      We are so glad to hear from you and hope that you’re keeping well. May Master’s blessings be with you.


  36. Thanks for your great support by sharing your experience.
    Thanks once again for Very good guidance.
    Many times I am unable to concentrate during meditation.
    Sometimes can see lights some time I came to know that I am sleeping or sometimes complete dark.
    But I am continuing.

  37. Thank you so much Deviji and Jyotishji.
    A very, very inspiring blog indeed! Its a joy to receive your emails.🙏🙏

  38. Namaste, message was very crystal clear, understood why we lag behind in regularity.

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