“As above, so below.” These words from an ancient school of wisdom can be taken on different levels, and will help us understand the subtle laws of creation. On the highest level, it means that the universe is a reflection of the overarching Spirit that created it. On a lower level, it means that the consciousness of people who have authority or power in this world has an influence (for better or for worse) on others.
Fortunately — these days especially, when worldly power seems more often than not to be an influence for the worse — there is a class of people among us who exercise power in quite another way. I am referring to the saints.
Who are the saints, and how can they help us? We find them in every religion, and also belonging to no religion at all. Appearing in every generation, these men and women of God-realization show us the way to inner freedom, and help us awaken to our own highest potential.
In India, where spirituality and devotion to God are more deeply woven into the fabric of life than perhaps anywhere else, there is widespread understanding of the importance of the saints in our lives. The Indian scriptures declare that “One moment in the company of a saint will be your raft over the ocean of delusion.”
In Paramhansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi we read of his frequent trips to visit saints whenever he learned of a new one, and of the great blessings that flowed from even the mere sight of such a one.
To understand more about their power, humility, simplicity, and wisdom, I recommend that you read a newly released book by Swami Kriyananda, Visits to Saints of India: Sacred Experiences and Insights. In it, Swamiji recounts his meetings with great saints that took place from 1959 – 1973. All of them have since passed away, but the depth and vibrancy of Swamiji’s experiences, and the advice they gave him, remain a deep and still-vibrant source from which we can all continue to draw inspiration. Here are but a few examples:
From Anandamayi Ma: “Always practice japa. Keep your mind busy chanting God’s name, and you won’t have time to think of anything else. . . . Filled with His joy, you will laugh at all dangers. [Take your Guru’s name.] Everything you have attained has come to you through his blessings.”
From Sri Rama Yogi: “Doing your guru’s will is undoubtedly your highest sadhana. Even so, and above everything else, remember that his will for you is that you become immersed in the Self. All actions he has enjoined on you are only to help you to reach that state.”
From Swami Narayan, when Kriyanandaji asked him about someone who, citing scriptural authority, had contradicted Yoganandaji’s teachings: “People who don’t have an adequate knowledge of the Vedas go about creating their own misunderstandings. Whatever Guru says is higher than any scripture.” (“Because,” as Swamiji went on to explain, “it contains his power, and because it is specific to the disciple, rather than something general for all mankind.”)
In reading these few brief quotes, I felt my mind uplifted and calmed by their deep spiritual authority and wisdom.
Why do we need the saints? What they offer us is much more than mere words: It is their subtle ability to guide, uplift, and transform us. Read about their lives; reflect on their words; gaze at their image, especially their eyes; and meditate on their state of consciousness. Whether you are ever in their living presence or not is immaterial: One moment of true inward contact will change you forever.
With joy in their presence,
P.S. I should add that our publisher is offering a bonus of three free e-books to anyone who orders Visits to Saints of India now. It’s unusual as such offers often go, because each of these books is “top of the line” in its own right, most particularly the first of them, which you should be sure to read if you haven’t already:
1) Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography by Swami Kriyananda,
2) How to Have Courage, Calmness, and Confidence by Paramhansa Yogananda, and
3) The Art of Supportive Leadership by Swami Kriyananda.
Offer expires this Wednesday (February 20). Please click here to learn more.