Here at Ananda Village we are in the midst of our annual Inner Renewal Week. Each year we have two weeks of classes, one held in August and the other in February, which act as anchors, keeping the ship of our lives from drifting out to sea on the tides of spiritual apathy.
Swami Kriyananda suggested that Ananda members have the goal of becoming a jivan mukta in this lifetime. This lofty ambition requires that the soul release itself from its dream of ego, and during this week we are looking at how to accomplish this through the three pillars of our path: sadhana, seva, and attunement.
We started the classes with this story: Some years ago Devi and I were with Swamiji discussing how difficult it seemed to become a jivan mukta, and how inadequate we felt toward the task. He was at breakfast and paused in the middle of a bite, the fork halfway to his mouth. He summed up the entire divine search with these few words: “The whole purpose of the spiritual path is to overcome the delusion of ego. This is done by longer, deeper meditation, and by seeing God as the Doer in everything.” Then he finished his bite. He might have added the third pillar, attunement to the guru, which at other times he said was the most important factor of all.
Sadhana helps the soul release itself from the delusion that it is merely this body and personality. Our spiritual practices help us achieve this by reversing, generally through meditation techniques, the flow of life-force from its usual downward and outward direction. When the prana flows outward through the senses, we are subject to the delusion that fulfillment can be found outside our Self. Kriya Yoga is the most effective and scientific way to withdraw the life-force back through our own central nervous system, first bringing it to the spiritual eye, and then eventually releasing our consciousness from the body altogether. In addition to deep meditation, any act, thought, desire, or habit that helps dissolve the ego can be considered as sadhana.
Seva is the way the soul expresses love, friendship, and compassion toward others. Selfless service is a true pathway to liberation if we can act with the awareness that, in essence, all activity is God serving God. When our attitudes and habits are aligned toward this end, our life becomes a beautiful expression of God’s love in action.
Attunement with the guru is the third pillar. Our main obstacle is the multitude of desires and habits that impel our consciousness outward. By attuning our mind to that of someone who is already free, we attract his consciousness and, more importantly, his blessing. Grace radiating from God and Guru does seventy-five percent of the work for us. Our twenty-five percent is accomplished mainly through willing, joyful, disciplined cooperation with that grace.
If we can get these three pillars right, we will be well on our way to becoming a jivan mukta. If you’re interested, you can find the full recordings of the classes here.
P.S.: Our latest book, Touch of Joy, a collection of these weekly blogs from the years 2015 and 2016, has just become Amazon’s #1 bestseller in yoga books. We want to sincerely thank all of you who have helped make this possible. If you are interested in ordering a copy, you can follow this link: http://a.co/4ldSUoq.