Discipleship Lecture 1.
By J. Donald Walters (Swami Kriyananda)
WE ARE LIVING IN AN AGE where the thought of discipleship is not pleasing to most people. It was my own tendency as a young man to be an intellectual rebel. When it came to religion I didn't think that anybody could teach me anything, because, first of all, I assumed that nobody knew anything. Secondly I thought that finding truth was something that demanded such integrity on one’s own part that to take answers from anyone else would not be staying true to oneself. Finally I reached the point where I saw that all my efforts to improve myself weren’t getting me anywhere. I would be working on one side of my nature trying to improve that, only to find the other side was beginning to deteriorate for lack of sufficient energy.
I recognized also how ignorant I was, and how often things that looked good to me turned out for some strange reason not to work out at all. Though I hadn’t even accepted that there was a God, I was desperate to find truth. That was why, though I thought that I'd never say these words to anyone, the first thing I uttered when I met Paramhansa Yogananda was, “I want to be your disciple.” I didn't want it in the sense of being somebody's servant, or of passively turning over the responsibility for my life to somebody else. But I understood that if you wanted to be a good painter, you eventually had to go to somebody who knew his art. If you really wanted to know God, you had to learn from someone who had found Him.
Do We Need a Guru?
Why do we need a guru? Let’s put it this way: The dynamo in a city can't be plugged directly into the light circuits of our homes. It would blow out the circuits because it's too powerful. It has to be stepped down by transformers until it's brought to a level of a hundred volts that our circuits can handle. The same thing is true of our own nervous system and consciousness. Cosmic consciousness is so incredibly beyond our human perceptions and beyond our human capacity to receive that we couldn't handle it. It must be fed to us gradually, and stepped down by transformers. The guru is that transformer for the divine consciousness of God.
Another point is that sometimes in meditation you can feel a touch of the divine power which is overwhelming. It's so immense! It's so inconceivably great that when you are in touch with that power aspect of God, you feel as if you could be snuffed out and it wouldn’t even be noticed. It isn't true, but you feel that this power is so immense that nothing you are could possibly signify anything in comparison. It's a state that the ego isn't readily prepared to accept. So it is that we need to grow gradually into this expansion of awareness. We need to realize that the Divine, out of love for us, sends us the guru to help us. God, through the guru, steps down His consciousness to the level where we can actually relate to and commune with Him.
Does everybody need a guru? That depends on what you’re looking for. The plain fact is there aren't very many people who are worthy to have a guru. You don’t have a guru merely by coming onto the spiritual path. It isn't that easy. You've got to win the right to have a guru, just as you've got to win the right to study with a great artist. He's not going to waste his time with kindergarten children because he knows it's a waste of energy.
Toward the end of his life Yogananda said, “I'm tired of dealing with old nags. I want race horses now.” On another occasion he said, “If you try to awaken some people when they‘re asleep, they’ll just roll over and say, ‘Let me sleep.’ Others will wake up for a time, but if you leave them alone, they’ll go to sleep again. Then there are some who if you just call their names, they're up, ready to go, and just keep going.” That's the kind of disciple who is really fit for the kind of discipline that a guru can give. It's not a question of the guru wanting followers, or that some people are specially chosen. It's a matter of being of a high enough caliber to be able to receive what the guru has to give.
In his book, The Holy Science, Sri Yukteswar explains that the first thing one needs to develop in order to be able to draw the blessings of a real guru is the natural love of the heart. He said it’s not possible to place one foot in front of the other on the spiritual path without this natural love of the heart being unfolded. It's only when that love does unfold that you become fit to follow one who is able to guide you on the pathway to the Infinite.
When we develop this natural love, we reach the point where we are fit to keep the company of a God-realized guru. At that time, is it necessary to have a guru? Well, is it necessary to have somebody who really can help you to paint well? Probably. But painting, at least, is something you can see physically and work on if you have a little native talent. It's a lot more difficult when we come to the level of spiritual training which is so subtle that we can’t often see the changes we’re working on. Spiritual changes are usually so slow that you can't see whether you're going in the right direction until several years have passed. The years do pass, and they implant themselves on our features and on our consciousness. It may be after many years that you suddenly wake up and say, “ Oh, I was wrong in this way.” How often have I heard that story! It's so much wiser to have somebody who has been on the path, who's followed it to the end, and who can tell you the right way to go.
Is it still necessary to have a guru? It is not necessary only if you have come into this incarnation so advanced that you are already your own guru. Remember the purpose of the guru is to make you your own guru. He's only there to help and guide you to the point where you can take over on your own. He isn't there to continue to keep you as a disciple. He's there to make you as great or even greater than he. There is no jealousy in God. A guru is trying to make you strong enough, wise enough, to be able to tread a straight path yourself, without any further help on his part.
Sometimes a disciple advances beyond the guru, but still he has that reverence for the guru, knowing that this was the channel through which God came to him. So it is that even those souls like Yogananda who are born already enlightened still play out the guru-disciple relationship to show the right example for other people. But other than such rare cases, we can only say this: No, you don't need a guru, if you don't want God. But if you really want God and you want to work at it, then you do need a guru.
How to Find a Guru
How do you find a guru? I heard a true story about a man who went up into the mountains to meditate. After many years of deep meditation, one day he was out for a walk. When he came back he found sitting in lotus pose in front of his little cottage a man who said, “I have come to help you.” They say that when the disciple is ready, the guru appears. So we find the guru by developing our own love, and by seeking God whole-heartedly. But we must remember that God is the guru—no human being can be a guru. God is the guru, and he acts through the agency of an enlightened soul. But a true guru will never take the credit to himself for being a guru.
Yogananda never accepted that he was the guru. He always said, “God is the guru.” Once at a luncheon at Hollywood Church after the service, someone said to him, “I understand Dr. Lewis was your first disciple in America.” Yogananda replied a little sternly, “That's what they say.” She was surprised at that response. Then he explained, “I never call them my disciples. They're disciples of God. ” The true guru will always give the credit where it really belongs—to God. In fact, he has no self to take credit for. He's only conscious of being an instrument for God.
So if you want to find the guru, and have a true relationship with him, remember it should be a relationship first in God. Don’t expect the intense personal relationship that people tend to get into with other human beings. A guru won't accept that.
The Guru Works Through Magnetism
Let me put it in another way. The influence of the guru is like that of a magnet. When you have a bar of steel that hasn't been magnetized, its molecules are turned randomly, cancelling each other out. When you place that bar of steel next to a magnet, the influence of the magnet gradually aligns all those molecules in a north-south direction. Thus the unmagnetized bar of steel develops it's own magnetism. It doesn't take magnetism from the original magnet. It merely is influenced to align its own molecules.
We have in our subconsciousness all kinds of desires and tendencies from many, many incarnations. These desires are lodged, like molecules, as vortices of energy in the spine. When we think of all the billions of desires that we may have, we have to consider, “How can we ever fulfill all of them?” It's like trying to turn every little one of those billions of molecules in a bar of steel to a north-south direction. You turn a few, and by the time you've gotten up to the next group, the first ones are starting to turn their own way again.
Like a magnet, the guru is trying to align the vortices of energy in our spine. He’s not trying to impose his consciousness on you. He's trying to help you develop your own inner powers so you can transmute all those energies toward the brain, all in a north-south direction. It isn't only he who does it; you have to do if for yourself. Those who think, “I'm a disciple of a guru now. He'll do it all for me,” are mistaken. In every ashram you'll find that those disciples who really get somewhere are those who do the work themselves. They take the guidance from the guru to know what to do, but they do the work themselves. The guru helps us by giving us extra strength, by reaching down and pulling us up, but still we have to do the hard job of climbing that mountain to reach the heights.
It would help your meditations to feel that your guru is sitting inside your body, that it is him doing the practices through you. Mentally ask your guru, “How should I be doing this? Show me.” If you ask questions inwardly with attunement, you’ll find that the answers will be forthcoming.
The way to relate to the guru is always inwardly, not outwardly. It's always by going into your spine and trying to bring the energy up. That's what makes Kriya Yoga such a wonderful science. It helps us to interiorize and raise the energy in the spine, and to magnetize the spine. What happens in this case is really quite literal. It's a literal fact that each little desire or tendency we’ve ever had has formed a little vortex. All that energy within you is committed to many other things.
The guru's influence is that power within us that will help to release and lift the energy within. We've also got to make the effort ourselves by Kriya Yoga, by devotion, by other kinds of yoga that raise the energy and direct it upward toward the spiritual eye. Until we achieve enlightenment, the energy of the ego is trapped at the medulla oblongata. A master has his being centered at the spiritual eye, and everything he does radiates outward from this point. The more we learn to bring all those energies upward in the spine and offer them to the point between the eyebrows, the more we will grow spiritually. The guru's only purpose is to help you do that.
Must the Guru be Present Physically?
Does the guru have to be with you physically? No, he doesn't have to be, because it's an inner relationship. I have seen in ashrams those who were only relating outwardly to the guru for years, and never getting very far. But the really serious workers were those who took it within, who didn't feel the need to be with the guru outwardly, but sought inner attunement. The guru's influence is what matters. His influence is a spiritual radiation outward to the disciple. That's what allows someone like Yogananda to be a world saviour. He has come into a body for only a few years, but his power is something that will live far longer. It's his divine mission to help people. That's why so many of his disciples who never had a chance to meet him in the flesh. feel his presence so strongly.
It's also good to get guidance from successive lines of those who are in tune, but understand that it is his power. He is the guru who will give that deeper power, but he will transmit it through those who can give his diksha, the physical touch of his blessing. He doesn't have to be living in his physical body because he has many other bodies to work through. But, finally, the goal is for you to become in tune with him inwardly, and to feel that guidance within.
I've been speaking of Yogananda particularly, but of course he's not the only messenger that God has sent. You can recognize true saints by the signs that make them masters: the presence of compassion, calmness, wisdom, joy under all circumstances, devotion to God, selflessness—to mention a few.
Do true masters try to draw people to themselves, or to God? If they‘re trying to draw people to God, then you are in the right hands. If they are trying to draw people to themselves, they'll weaken you rather than strengthen you.
A disciple once asked Yogananda, “Should I think of you or of Divine Mother?” Master said, “Think of Divine Mother.” He didn't want people thinking of him as a person. He wanted them to understand always and without fail that it was Divine Mother, it was God in other words, who was working through him and was his only authority for teaching anybody. The recognition of the guru must never be personal, but always impersonal, always grand, always vast. When thinking of a great master, whoever it might be, always think that you are seeing a window through which God is manifesting.
Recognizing Your Own Path
How can you recognize your own guru?—by the divine power that keeps growing within you. It isn't always easy to know. But if you follow one good path, as you grow spiritually, the time will come when you will know. Either you'll know that this is the right one, or you'll be led to the right one. There is no jealousy in the masters. They are only there to guide us along the path toward our own enlightenment. Many times Master himself would tell somebody that he wasn’t their guru and send them to someone else. Remember that ultimately the guru lies within your own self. He doesn't need a physical body.
We have a divine potential within us—we are the perfect soul. So it is part of the Divine Law not only to feed this human being with little inspirations, but also to show us that which we can become. That is the goal of the guru. The guru is that human being who has attained Infinite consciousness and is able to express in his own total being, his own expanded awareness, all those things that are so far above what we know in our egoic human state.
The guru’s goal is not merely to stand there like a lighthouse and show us what he has become. It is also to send down a ray of the divine energy to our human level to lift us up, to perfect us. There may be other saints who have attained perfection, but we don’t need many. We need only to go deep in one relationship. The deepest relationship possible for man is the one with that messenger that God has sent to the disciple. It is through this relationship with one saint, one master, that we are able to go much deeper than we can through the general blessings of many different saints.
When God sees the devotee striving, first of all he sends him different things that might help him, books, teachings, and so on. When the devotee really becomes sincere, then God draws him to a true guru. It isn’t enough to be with him physically—there has to be a deep spiritual bond formed inwardly. The guru’s mission is (you might say he hasn’t any choice in the matter because God sends him for this purpose) the salvation of the particular souls sent to him. For us there is no greater blessing possible in this realm of delusion.
Discipleship Lecture 2.
By J. Donald Walters (Swami Kriyananda)
The guru-disciple relationship is perhaps the most important relationship the soul can have in this world of relativity. It is also the most important relationship the ego can have in the sense that it's the one relationship that thoroughly demolishes the ego. The worldly person, however, doesn’t see the attractiveness of this relationship; he doesn't like to put himself in the position of subordination to what he considers to be just another person. He feels that his opinion is as good as anyone else’s. In the matter of seeking God, he doesn't see the need for another human being to intercede, but thinks to establish his own relationship with God directly.
It's very important to speak not only of why we need a guru, but more particularly of how we can be good disciples. This is an even more difficult question, and one that, generally speaking, people don't understand on a deep level.
A true disciple is not somebody who is always trying to proselytize others, or who goes around outwardly saying, “Oh, Master, Master, Master.” Neither is he somebody who acts as though he were a member of a special club. A true disciple, first of all, has to have the right attitudes that make him a good disciple. Increasingly he has to develop that kind of consciousness which the guru brings to him.
Discipleship to the Infinite
In the beginning it's absolutely inescapable that the disciple will see the guru only in human terms. After all, the guru has a body, a personality, an ego—all the things necessary to make a body function. But the guru sits back in his own Self and watches these things. As Master wrote in his beautiful poem, Samadhi, “I, the cosmic sea, watch the little ego floating in me.” There has to be an ego, or the body couldn’t be sustained, but it's a different kind of ego. It's not the ego of pride or of identification with an individual consciousness. In a sense you could say there is no ego, because the deeper meaning of ego is the soul identified with the body. A great master is not identified with the body at all. He merely sits back, watches, and directs it.
There was a period of time when I was out at Master’s desert retreat with him. Every evening after finishing that day’s dictation on his commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita, he used to go out for a walk with me. He would walk quite slowly because he was in a very deep state of consciousness. At this time he was manifesting the wisdom aspect of God, and was very impersonal. Sometimes he would rest his hand on my forearm for support as we walked along. Then he would stop, sway back and forth, and lean on me so he wouldn’t fall over. Once he said, “It's so difficult to know which body I'm supposed to keep moving when I feel myself equally present in all bodies.”
It took great effort on his part just to hold his mind down to that little body. You might even say that it’s as difficult for a master to keep his mind down on our level as it is for us to get up to his, except he can make it and we can't. But we must remember that we can. We must not constantly think of our limited humanity, but always inwardly think of our divinity. This is one of the attitudes that is so necessary for a true disciple.
The Need for Right Attitude
First of all, we need to develop attitudes of humility, of wanting to learn, of being willing to give up one’s own desires, of giving up one’s normal human tendency to justify oneself, to insist on being right. Unfortunately it's all too common for disciples to act as if the guru were some sort of heavenly slave, always doing them little favors. You find this sort of person saying, “Oh, Master did this for me, or, Master did that for me.” They don't understand what Master is. They reduce Master to the level of a human personality, when he is so much more.
I heard a story about a disciple of Master which was sweet in a way, but didn’t seem to me to express right understanding. This disciple was on a plane that began to have engine trouble and was forced to circle the airport several times. Fearing for the lives of all those on board, the disciple began to pray. Then he decided that he‘d better not pray to Master because he had such a sense of humor he’d probably make them circle one more time before letting them come down. So he prayed to Babaji. Well, that is a cute story, but it doesn't satisfy me.
Master did have a wonderful sense of humor, but people often treat him as though that was all he was: a wonderful person, a wonderful smile, a lovely sense of humor, a great love for people, and so on. He was all of that, but he was something so much more. Even in the midst of laughing with you, he had such depth in his eyes that it was like melting into an ocean to look into them. To say he was this, or that he was anything, is to sell him short. He was everything. He was so above it all that the only way to really be a true disciple is to try to be that, too. There was no separation between him and us, but it was much more than that—he was in our hearts already. He knew everything we thought. He knows everything you think right now. He showed this to us again and again. How one man could know every single thought of every one of his disciples was always beyond imagination to me, but he proved it to us again and again. He said, “I know every single thought every one of you is thinking.”
Letting Go of the Ego
How are you to be a true disciple of something like that? It’s a little hard to understand, isn't it? The first thing is to be a proper human being—that means relinquishing those things that prevent one from attaining the state of consciousness of the guru. What is a human being in its improper human state? First of all, it clings to that state. It says, “I am real. My body is real; my personality is real; my ego is real.” Secondly, it says, “I am more real than anyone else. If they suffer, I don't feel it. If I suffer, however, I do feel it. Therefore I am more real. When I am happy, I feel it. When other people are happy, I’m happy for them, but in a different way! "
So it is that the ego is willing to set itself in opposition to other people. It’s willing to take things from others, and to do things that may hurt them, so long as it helps itself. This kind of person gets into the competition, warfare, struggle, and suffering that is part of the ego-centered consciousness. He upholds his own desires and their fulfillment at all costs. He doesn't want to set himself into submission, into discipleship to another human being. After all, this is diminishing the very thing that is most precious to him—the sense of separate identity.
To be a true disciple, we need also to have the attitude of openness to the guru, to be willing to be corrected at any time. We have to be disciples as much at the end of the path as we were at the beginning. Once Master said to Rajarsi (his most advanced disciple), who had already attained nirbikalpa samadhi, “Don’t forget where your power comes from.” Though he was a multimillionaire as well as a highly advanced yogi, Rajarsi said, just like a little boy, “I won’t Master. It comes from you.”
The love that you find between the master and the disciple, when the disciple has gotten out of his ego and there is only God sharing with God, is so sweet and beautiful. We would see Master and Rajarsi walking around the grounds hand in hand and just gazing at everything with such wonder because they were seeing God there.
So, to be a true disciple, we must be open to life, open to truth wherever we find it. In that way, we find many opportunities for growth. In that openness which is true humility, we find that we can learn from the stones, from the clouds, from everything.
Tests for the Disciple
The way of the disciple is not easy. The guru asks things of us that are not convenient, and the ego goes through certain tests because of this. Every devotee on the path goes through the same basic tests, though each one will have his own individual challenges as well. The first is negativity. Invariably it happens when you first come onto the path that someone tries to turn you away from it. Someone will say negative things, and you start to listen. Either you are swayed towards this negativity, or you resist and say no.
Once Master's own father was starting to say certain things against Sri Yukteswar. Master cut him off, saying, “Of all things! Human birth is something, but divine birth is everything. If you ever say one more word against my guru, I will disown you as my father.” From then on his father never said a thing against Sri Yukteswar. Everybody goes through this test in one way or another. It‘s just part of the path. It’s part of delusion's effort to pull you back.
You can tell if something is the pull of delusion or not by the kind of consciousness you develop from it. Does it give you peace? Does it give you joy? Or does it undermine that peace and joy? Those things that are from God help to develop more divine states of consciousness. Those that are born of delusion take away that attunement and destroy it. People who follow the negative path don't become more peaceful or more in tune, but lose their attunement and fall back into egotism and selfishness.
The next test that comes along is a certain rebelliousness. The disciple thinks, “You are asking too much of me. I am not going to do that much. I've got my life to lead, too.“ The disciple doesn't want to be asked to give up everything because that doesn’t seem fair. So, in reaction, he rebels.
The third test is the thought, “What the guru is saying may be right for him and for a few others, but he doesn’t understand me and my needs.” Sister Gyanamata, Yogananda’s most advanced woman disciple, came to him as a very old woman, quite frail and ill. So great was her dedication that, though her body was very sick, she would unceasingly run up and down the steps of Mt. Washington serving her guru. It didn't matter to her because she never thought about herself. A couple of disciples said to her, “You've got your own will, too. You shouldn't just make yourself a slave to his will.” She replied, “Well, I‘m a little too old now to change. Furthermore, I have never known such happiness in my life as I do now being in tune with my Guru.”
Tuning into the Guru's Will
So it's inevitable that you will get some of these tests, and the way out of them is to be a good disciple. This means always trying to attune to the guru's will, always trying to do what the guru wants. The guru's will is expressed in various ways. Even while Master was with us in the body, his will was expressed more inwardly than outwardly. Very often he would express himself outwardly in a way that would completely confound your reason. An example of this was when he gave me the job of editing his Bhagavad Gita interpretations. My assigned task was to “edit” the magazine articles that appeared in the 30's and 40's. He said, “Work like lightning. There's no time to be lost, but don't change a word.” How I was to edit and not change a word, I never did figure out. He would throw you such curves that sometimes you just didn't know what he was talking about. The reason was that he wanted you to go inside and understand inwardly what he wanted. I don't mean that he never gave specific outward advice and instructions. Of course he did, but more than that he wanted you to understand with your consciousness.
There was one disciple that Master was scolding about something, and the disciple said, “Yes, Master, I know. I understand what you are saying.” Master said, “You don't understand. If you understood, you'd do what I'm saying.” The fact is that knowing the words and understanding the concepts aren't enough. Master was trying to get his consciousness into our consciousness so that we would really understand him, and then act. Until we are able to act in attunement, until that real understanding is reached, we are not obeying even when we go through the outward motions, because it's a superficial thing.
Loyalty — The First Law of God
The most important aspect of being a true disciple and overcoming the tests on the path is the commitment of loyalty—the commitment of trust. Master said that loyalty is the first law of God. Even while he was living, many disciples would go rushing from one teacher to another, but they didn’t get God. One has to be loyal to one's way, to the way God has sent. By doing this, loyalty becomes such a direct pipeline to the spirit that we’re totally absorbed in that vibration. Many disciples will think, “I'll take so much of the guru's teachings, but no more.” We have to make as our very first premise an acceptance of what he said.
This has always been my guideline since I first came onto the path. I was so new, I didn't know anything. A week before I came to Master, I had never even heard the words “guru,” or “yoga,” or “karma,” or any of the things we take so much for granted now. When I came I was in a state of mental turmoil with all the new thoughts being thrown at me right and left by disciples who took them for granted.
The only way out for me was to have absolute faith in Master's integrity. Sometimes what the other disciples said didn't make any sense, but I would ask, “Did Master say it?” If the answer was yes, then I’d accept it. If it wasn’t, then I'd battle it out. We must have this as our starting point, if we’re going to be good disciples.
There may be things that other teachers say that seem contradictory. This is part of the realm of relativity—that you cannot say anything without excluding some things that are perhaps equally as true. So it is necessary to follow one guru. They are all saying basically the same thing, but they put it in different ways, which to our limited understanding doesn't seem the same. Again this is why it is necessary to follow only one way. Otherwise you have your feet in two boats, and you fall in the middle and drown. I've seen this happen to devotees if they read too much of different spiritual teachings. There are certain things that different ones, great ones, said that to the beginner‘s understanding, seem conflicting.
I remember a beautiful thing that a great saint in India once said to me. I had questioned him about something he had said that seemed to contradict Master. He said, “If all the disciples of masters really understood their masters, there wouldn't be all the quarreling that you find in religion.” In other words, he wasn't really saying something different from Master. It merely looked that way to me because I hadn't yet understood on a deep enough level. Until there is that level of understanding, commit yourself to one way.
Discipleship Means Giving Everything to God
As well as tests, every devotee goes through ups and downs on the path. During his ups there are times when he feels as if God were practically a hair’s breadth away. He only has a bit further to go, and he'll be there. Everyone goes through such periods where he feels so in tune that he's really, as it were, just racing towards heaven. Then all of a sudden that quality is lost, and the clouds roll in again, and he wonders what ever happened.
We can understand it this way: as soon as we get a divine state of consciousness, the strength of delusion is such that we take the blessing to ourselves, and think that we‘re special or important. We get a little experience of God, and instead of expressing appreciation, we start to think, “Oh, I've got something now. I'm something special now.” The ego comes in again, and because of this we come crashing down and have to begin all over again.
The way out is for all our energies to be always directed towards God. The true disciple is always thinking only of how he can serve God and guru more, of what more he can give. If the devotee starts to think of how he can get more, get this experience, this realization, then he falls back into delusion. It has to be a constant giving, and in that giving, God can give us more. It's like a closed circuit that builds up greater and greater power.
We have to become empty vessels, to drain ourselves of that which is human in order that the Divine might fill us. So it is that we must get away from thinking of our relationship with the guru in a purely human way. The guru is omnipresent. As true disciples, we should try to become omnipresent like him. A true disciple should not be thinking of just himself and the guru, or of the guru as a human being who resides in time and space.
We should think of ourselves in a more impersonal way. We should try always to develop those inner qualities to such an impersonal degree that our love is no longer the love of a human being for another human being. It's the love of the Infinite for the Infinite, of the Unknown for the Unknown, or as one great saint said, “of the Alone for the Alone.” We are always alone in this universe. There is nothing, in the last analysis, but you and God. Everything else is only a way-station along the way. As Master used to say often, “I killed Yogananda long ago. No one dwells in this temple now but God.”
We are not just humble little devotees stumbling along and making mistakes. We are that Infinite Light. We are that Infinite Wisdom. We are that Divine Soul. Master’s mission was to show us that we are that. Until we achieve that realization, we will not have fulfilled to perfection this most wonderful of all relationships—the relationship of the guru and the disciple.
Discipleship Lecture 3.
By J. Donald Walters (Swami Kriyananda)
In the Indian language, the word “disciple” has quite a different meaning than it does in English, one that implies a much sweeter and more personal relationship. In the West, we think of a disciple as somebody who is willing to accept discipline and be molded by the teacher—which is perfectly valid, and very much a part of what discipleship to a great master means. There is, however, another connotation that is left out when we think only in terms of discipline.
In India, the difference between siksha, or student, and chela, or disciple, is the difference between somebody who is out there taking notes but not really committed, and somebody who is your child. The chela is, in fact, thought of as the child of the guru. This includes being disciplined, taught, and molded, but more importantly it means having a close, loving relationship with the guru, being a part of his family, and an heir to his spiritual wealth.
I’m reminded of a time at the Self-Realization Lake Shrine when Master was putting on musical programs for the public. Visitors would see the lovely surroundings, listen to a beautiful concert under the stars, and then they would go away. Referring to them, Master once said, “Those who are not our own come, enjoy themselves for awhile, and then they go. But those who are our own never leave.” This is, in fact, quite true. Those true disciples who leave outwardly are never really gone. They are never able to get Master out of their hearts because this connection is put there by God.
This loving soul-contact is the essence of what Master came to bring into our lives. You can get spiritual teachings from books, but what the great masters really bring is their consciousness. What we must try to do as disciples is tune in with Master’s consciousness, his loving presence and guidance, in every act of our lives.
It’s not enough to read books on how others have done it, or to push aside our inner contact with him while we try to be practical. Of course, we have to be practical, too, but we must develop that kind of faith, that kind of discipleship, that draws on the inner guidance of Master to answer all the questions in our lives.
What has made the religions of India so vital down through thousands of years? They don’t have an organized church—you might say it’s the most disorganized religion in the world. Yet the Indian culture has an innate respect for living expressions of the spiritual teachings, for the guru. They lovingly draw upon these expressions, so the Divine keeps coming into manifestation there again and again. With all the folly, superficiality, and errors that creep into religion, this single truth has kept religion alive in India throughout the ages—that through personal attunement with those who know God, others can find realization themselves.
What is the most important thing we can do as disciples? Be in tune, and when things get difficult, get more in tune. The greatest thing that Master has to give us is that attunement. His teaching, his mission—all of these things are very important, yes—but secondary to that attunement.
Silence is the Altar of God
Remember there have been great masters who never spoke a word, and yet were able to bring their disciples to God. When Master was with guests, he was the most charming host you could imagine. He would have lunch with them, share beautiful truths, and regale them with jokes or lovely stories. Often guests would say to the monks and nuns who lived in the ashram, “How lucky you are to be with that kind of energy all the time! What a blessing you have!” We would look down at the floor, because the fact was that he would encourage the disciples to keep silence around him.
Master often told us, “Silence is the altar of God.” He said only in silence can you really feel God’s presence. When you allow the mind to become restless with thoughts and desires, then you bring yourself down to a level where God can’t communicate with you.
God’s body is space. If you want to feel him, you must feel space in your body and all around it. The same is true with silence. God’s voice is silence. If you really want to commune with Him, it must be done in the silence of your own mind, and then in the silence of the Infinite. In that silence you will hear the voice of the Infinite booming with the great power of AUM all over creation. First, we must try to empty our consciousness of ego, and then to re-fill it in a divine way.
As disciples of this great master, we are naturally moved by the things he said and did. We are naturally caught up in his personality, because that’s what we can see, but we must always remember that he was so much more. It used to be difficult for me when I would meditate on Master‘s presence within, and then he would come into the room. I would be feeling him inside, and then would think, “What’s he doing out there?” It’s hard to shake that delusion.
In this respect, it’s a lot easier for those who never saw him to feel him solely within. Living with him, however, was sometimes confusing for me, because at the same time that I was trying to to feel him inside, I could hear him talking in the next room. Once he even teased me when I was trying to feel him in this way—he came up to me, looked me straight in the eyes, and handed me an apple!
Tuning into Omnipresence
A great master lives in omnipresence, and his teaching is from that level of reality. He doesn’t spell out in exact detail the whole truth that he‘s trying to convey. Each of us as disciples has to go deep into that truth, understand its essence, and from attunement with it, manifest that ray in our life.
Did Master say anything about how an accountant should conduct himself when filling up a ledger? I don’t think so. Does this mean that therefore an accountant cannot use Master’s teachings while filling up a ledger? Of course, he can.
You see, we have to apply that truth. We have to go deeply into whatever Master said. When I started Ananda I had very few guidelines, especially for all the things that have come up ever since. Many of these things have needed instant decisions, and I couldn’t go rushing off to books to read what Master said before I came back with an answer. I’ve had to tune in with him. You, too, must tune in with him as a master to realize that his reality is in you—not a reality that was born in 1893, or that died in 1952.
Master opened a particular doorway in the vast ocean of consciousness, and said, “If you come in here, you’ll be able to go deep.” What you need to do is meditate deeply on his words—on even one phrase that he uttered, choosing things that have special meaning for you. Go behind the teachings, and in silence try to perceive their heartbeat, their essence. Then try to use that essence creatively in your daily life. If you do this and spiritualize that truth, it will change your life.
What Master came to bring us was, indeed, a specific message and mission. We are fulfilling a part of that mission at Ananda. We’ve done it with his grace—and only with his grace has it been possible. That grace is a power you can tune into, if you will, just like electricity. You plug into the electric current from the city, and then you have the power to light an electric light. So tune into Master’s presence, and ask him to guide you. Be in tune—that’s what he used to say to us.
The Real Attunement
It’s one thing to read his books, yet it was another thing to have lived with him, and to have seen his example. In Autobiography of a Yogi, you read about many miracles. Indeed, many things of a miraculous nature happened around him, but he never talked about them. He talked only about devotion.
When you think of his teachings, one imagines that he would sit there and give us all sorts of instructions. He put me in charge of organizing the monks, and you’d think that he would have had long talks with me on what he wanted. Several times, in fact, he said that he wanted to talk about it, but he never did! What he really wanted me to do—what he wants us all to do—is to tune into his consciousness.
In Autobiography of a Yogi, Master says that Lahiri Mahasaya’s interpretations of the Bhagavad Gita were often done by Lahiri’s disciples tuning into him, and then writing the words. It was Lahiri Mahasaya who inspired them to write what they did, and it was completely in tune with his teaching. This is the real discipleship. This is the real attunement.
All the time when Master was with us, he would say, “Be in tune, be in tune.” He talked about it as the most important thing he could give to us, because through that attunement he is always able to inspire us with the right decisions, the right understanding, in every situation.
Developing Our Own Intuition
I’ve seen it happen so often that through attunement an answer to a question I had been seeking, sometimes even for years, will suddenly come. It’s important to try to develop our intuition, but it’s also easy to be fooled. I don’t want to kid myself, and much less you, with the thought of something being intuition when it isn’t. It’s very hard to know. Therefore, I always say tentatively, “Well, it seems so.” That seeming, however, is usually born of a real feeling inside—I never presume.
Over many years, I have found that feeling born out objectively, because when that particular intuitive sense is there, things seem to work out well. We shouldn’t depend on someone else’s attunement or intuition, however. Master came to teach us that this is something we all have to develop.
Very often Master’s reply to a very deep or important question would be only a hint—something for you to work on so that you could develop your own inner wisdom. What he passed on was not a body of specific things to be learned by rote; it was an attunement with a ray.
As you tune into that ray, you will make mistakes—I certainly have made my share. You don’t want to bring yourself to the point where you think, “I’m always right.” As soon as you have that thought, Divine Mother will say, “Aha, time for a lesson!” and you get it really hard in the head. You must have the humility before God to know that you could be mistaken. Your personality, your desires, your attachments, your likes and dislikes, your way of thinking as opposed to somebody else’s way—are all too likely to prejudice a flow which in itself is completely universal and impersonal. Truth can be just as much on the side of a drunk as on the side of a saint.
So we must move forward with tentativeness and humility—and yet, with faith. That’s why Master used to say the spiritual path is like walking a tightrope. How can you be tentative, and yet have faith? Offer everything to God and guru, and use your common sense because real faith has to be kept in a state of reason or it becomes dogmatic.
Therefore, with that degree of tentative self-offering, rely more and more on the guidance that you feel from within. You will find that in little ways, and then in big ways, you will be guided. This loving guidance will be with you in amazing ways, and constantly.
Finding the Divine Solution
I often went to Master with questions, but then I would discover, after I had left his presence, that I had not asked one of them. I’d feel frustrated with myself, until I realized that I didn’t ask the questions because he’d given me the answers. In other words, the answers to our questions often are not intellectual, verbal formulae. Our real question is, “How do I get peace? How do I get that state of consciousness where I have understanding on my own?” In his presence we had that, and we saw there was nothing to question.
Questions come when your mind is on a lower level of functioning. You don’t have anything to question when you are in superconsciousness. As Ramakrishna used to say, “The bumblebee makes a lot of noise before it enters the flower. Once inside, it’s silent because it’s sucking nectar.”
In his daily example, Master taught us how being in that state of attunement answered everything. We should make every effort to tune in more deeply with that guidance from Master. He’s the real power in whatever we try to do. He brought from God a ray of the Infinite which we can tune into. As Lahiri Mahasaya said to Master’s mother, “Your son will be mighty locomotive that will draw many, many souls to God’s kingdom.” Master said many would find God through him after his passing.
If you tune into that ray, you will recognize that Master was not a man who came to America, built an organization, wrote books, and had great depth and a wonderful sense of humor. He wasn’t any of that. He was the power of God.
Once a disciple wrote him a note, saying, “When I see you, I only see Divine Mother there.” Master didn’t giggle and blush, or make self-deprecating remarks. What he did do was tap the disciple lightly with his cane, and say, “Then behave accordingly.” That’s what he was—a window for Divine Mother to talk to us, to bring us what we need.
As it says in the Bible, “As many as received him, to them gave he the power to become the sons of God.” That power is in Master, as in Christ, and he can give it to you, but only if you tune in. How can you be in tune? By always keeping his presence in your heart, by always referring your thoughts, your needs, your questions, your quest for guidance back to that inner presence.
“To those who think me near,” Master said, “I will be near.” Think him with you now, because he is with you. He has that power to make you, his child, one with God.
Lectures on Discipleship 4.
By J. Donald Walters (Swami Kriyananda)
I first came upon Autobiography of a Yogi in a New York bookstore in September 1948. I bought it, read it non-stop in three days, then took the next bus to California to meet Yogananda. Of all the people I’ve met, and God knows I’ve met many tens of thousands, none has inspired me so much as Master. Before reading that book, I didn’t even know what a master was, nor had I ever heard the word “guru.” I had always held the opinion that I wouldn’t follow anyone in my life, but only follow my own inner light. When I read that book, however, I felt that here was somebody who could help me find what I was looking for.
After meeting Master I knew he was the one person of all I had ever met, or could even imagine meeting, that I would be willing to follow. Living with him, I came to see what spiritual greatness was, at least to the extent I was capable of understanding it at that time. Sometimes he didn’t meet my expectations of greatness; sometimes I had to think through things that he would say or do. Each time I did, however, I discovered he was greater, not lesser, than my expectations.
I was shocked very soon after coming to him, because I had assumed a master was always grave and never laughed, and that everything he said was like an oracle. I had been with him for about a month when he took some of us to the desert retreat at Twenty-Nine Palms. He called me into his room one evening, brought out a little paper bag, and then he turned out the lights. I heard a crinkling sound and a little bit of chuckling, and then suddenly I saw sparks flying across the room. He had one of those little pistols that shoot blue sparks. Next he turned on the lights and had another pistol which shot something up in the air. It became a little parachute and floated slowly down. I was stunned. He asked me, “How do you like them?” Feeling rather embarrassed, I replied, “They’re fine, sir.” Then he looked at me penetratingly, and said, “Suffer little children to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of God.” I was deeply moved by this incident.
The Guru Teaches in Varying Ways
So many times he would be in a playful mood, and yet the playing itself would be a kind of lesson. The way he taught was often indirect, as though through the back door. At the time you might only suspect that he was giving you a lesson, but somehow years later you would look back and see clearly what he had in mind. He also had an enormous sense of humor and fun. It wasn’t as if everything had to be some kind of cosmic lesson. He was the most unpretentious, humble person I ever met. He never thought to accept anybody’s devotion to himself, but always directed it toward God.
There were so many levels to his consciousness. I’ve never met a master or a saint, what to speak of an ordinary human being, who was so balanced. Some saints will be great in their love, or compassion, or wisdom, but he was great in everything. When he was in the bhav, or attitude, of wisdom, he was like a Himalayan yogi in a cave. Then everything he said was a pearl of such profundity that it was thrilling. Yet a moment later he could be laughing and playing like a child.
Once some of the children were meditating when they began to feel something hitting them on the back of the head. It turned out that Master was shooting spitballs at them. He roared with laughter, yet one moment later he could be totally detached. He had absolute control over himself from one moment to the next. I even noticed that in the midst of his laughter, you could look into his eyes, and it would be like looking into an ocean, completely untouched. His laughter was just a little ripple on the surface of his mind, for he was beyond everything.
Sometimes it was a little awkward to be around him, because in a way it wasn’t like being with a human being at all. I never could help feeling that God himself was present. Even when he was playing or laughing or talking about digging a ditch, one couldn’t help feeling his divinity.
Omniscience of the Guru
Occasionally when he was speaking, little thoughts would run through our minds relating to what he was saying. At that moment he would look at us as if he knew exactly what we were thinking. Other times, while in the midst of a group, if you thought something that showed a right attitude, he would look at you, smile, and then go on talking to other people. Even in big crowds, he would notice our little thoughts. If he would say something that was especially meaningful to you, he’d look at you at that instant, smile, then continue with his talk. He had such a marvelous consciousness that was really in tune with everybody just as if he was in them, because he was in them. He told us sometimes, “I know every single thought that every one of you is thinking.” What an incredible claim! Yet he proved it again and again.
I remember when I was new there, he said to me one day, “I have plans for you.” I knew that he meant that he wanted to send me to India because he had been talking about going there. I was very pleased because going to India was naturally very exciting to me. Suddenly, after I had left him that day, the thought occurred to me that if I went to India, I wouldn’t be near him anymore. I fell into a dark mood of rejection, thinking that I wasn’t a good enough disciple to be kept with him, that he was just getting rid of the overflow. I was in a black mood for a couple of days, but finally shook it off by thinking, “He’ll only do what‘s good for me. If he wants me to go, it’s because that’s what I need, not because he wants to get rid of me.” Soon I felt much better. When I saw him again, I was feeling fine. I had told no one about this mood, and when I had seen him last I was feeling perfectly happy. As soon as he saw me, he said, “No more moods now. How will you be able to help others?” He knew what I had been going through.
Again and again he proved this to us. Sometimes he proved it in rather funny ways. One of the disciples wasn’t able to follow the rules very well. He worked at the church in Phoenix, and was coming back to Encinitas to see Master. Late one night, as he was driving on the highway, he got hungry, and stopped at a restaurant to eat. It was the only one open, and all they had was hamburgers. Master taught us not to eat meat, especially not beef. He thought to himself, “He won’t know,” and had a couple of hamburgers. He went happily on to Encinitas, and when he arrived spoke to Master on the phone. Master didn’t make a big thing of his insight into us, but at the end of the conversation, he said, “Oh, by the way, when you’re on the highway late at night, and the only place to eat has nothing but hamburgers, better not eat.”
Divine Protection for the Disciple
So many times his disciples found a kind of protection that was amazing. This same disciple, much as he bent the rules, had great love for Master. On another occasion he was driving along and picked up a hitchhiker, though Master had told us not to do so. The hitchhiker was sitting in back as they were driving along, when suddenly the disciple heard Master’s voice say, “He has a knife.” He looked around and sure enough the hitchhiker was poised with a knife about to attack him. The disciple said strongly, ”Put that knife down.” Tremblingly, the man lowered the knife, and jumped out of the car.
Once another disciple was going down the very steep Mt. Washington hill in a large flat-bed truck. Just as he was about to make the turn, he put his foot on the brake, and his foot went all the way to the floor. There was no resistance to it at all. The brakes had failed. To go right down that slope would have meant death because he would have had to go over a steep embankment. Inwardly he asked, “Master, is this what you want?” Immediately the truck came to a stop.
Dr. Lewis had an experience of Master’s divine protection once when he was going to a center meeting in Massachusetts. His car skidded on an icy patch just as he was approaching a bridge. Ordinarily he would have slid off the bridge into the freezing water, but he said it felt as though there was a hand on the hood of the car pushing it to a stop. Miracles happened around Master all the time, but somehow they never seemed particularly important because he didn’t want to draw attention to them. He never dwelt on them, because they were not the essence of our life with him. This essence was the enormous inspiration of his consciousness.
Another thing I found in living with Master over several years was that people would sometimes say, “Well, I don’t think he really knew about this particular area. After all he didn’t have this kind of experience; or after all he was an Indian, and we’re Americans.” I heard it several times from disciples, and every time it was on that point that the disciple fell into delusion and suffered for many years because of it.
I remember a disciple who had met some other spiritual teacher who claimed that he could shut his eyes in meditation on one mountain top, and when he opened them he would be on another peak. I don’t think that anybody every saw him do it, but he made the claim, and this was enough for this disciple. She decided that anybody with all these powers must be great. So she went to Master and said, “I have found another guru that I want to follow.” She was not a close disciple, otherwise the bond would have been on a deeper level. He said to her, “Very well then, I withdraw my ray.” She had been a shining person, but when she came back a year later, the light in her eyes was gone. She hadn’t found anything. Though Master’s love was the infinite love of God, he couldn’t impose himself on anyone.
An Expression of Compassion to All
But his divine love continually reached out to others. A lovely story that another disciple told me about Master took place once when they were out for a drive. As they were traveling along, Master suddenly said, “Stop the car,” and went into a little dime store. To everyone’s amazement he busily went about buying all sorts of useless junk. Finally he brought all his selections up to the counter and gave them to the woman there. She totalled the whole thing up, and he paid for it. As soon as she took his money, she burst out crying and said, “I very, very badly need exactly this sum of money to pay my rent today. My child is in the hospital, the store was about to be closed, and I didn’t know where I was going to get the money. Now God has sent you here to buy these things so that I could have just what I needed.” Such universal compassion that can tune into the sorrow of all people gives us a glimpse of the divine.
He used to walk up and down in front of the bars in Los Angeles, just to send his vibrations to those people and lift them out of their suffering. I know what that power is. I remember once, when I was very new, being out at Twenty-Nine Palms with him. I was lying in my sleeping bag on the floor one night, when all of a sudden I woke up. I felt that God himself was in the room. It was such a powerful vibration that I couldn’t even sleep and immediately began meditating. I looked over and saw one of the other disciples was already meditating as well. Then I looked out of the window, and there was Master walking up and down outside. He was there simply in order to give us his blessings, and to help us to overcome the darkness in ourselves.
God Helping God
I often think to myself with great regret how little I understood him when I was with him. As I grow older and come to appreciate things I had taken for granted, to see his greatness in ways I had overlooked, I wish I had the chance to re-live my years with him. I wish I had a chance to be a better disciple during his lifetime. Yet I also realize that twenty years from now I’ll probably say the same thing about my present state. Until we attain the state of divine union, our ignorance is really unfathomable. The best thing we can do is to just forget ourselves. We’re not important. What we want to do is get away from the delusion of being separate from one another. We should try to be the servants of all, and yet understand that it’s just God serving God.
I remember an especially sweet episode in our life with Master. He was about to go out, when he stopped some of the monks and said to us, “It’s a hot day, isn’t it?” We knew what he meant was that he wanted to give us money to buy ice cream. We didn’t want to impose on him, so we said, “It’s not very hot, sir.” He looked at us so sweetly and said, “Are you sure it’s not very hot? Perhaps a little bit hot?” Finally we conceded, “Well, sir, if you say so.” Then he said, “I can’t keep money and I won’t. Here’s some money for ice cream.” I still have that dollar to this day.
There was a time when he was having a great deal of difficulty with his legs from taking on the karma of others. He couldn’t walk, so we were helping him into the car. Lovingly he said, “You are all so kind to me with your many attentions.“ We protested, “But, sir, it’s you who are kind to us.” He smiled at us, then replied, “God is helping God. That’s His drama.” He never accepted the thought that he was in the position that merited any special consideration. It was all God serving God. He was really the servant of all. He never wanted anything except to give and to serve.
He also saw himself as the friend of everyone—the truest friend that I have ever seen. In spite of all his responsibilities, if he said he would do something for someone, it was always done, no matter how small the request. Once my mother was coming for a visit, and I asked him if it would be possible for him to see her. I was reluctant to ask because I knew how busy he was, but he said, “Yes, of course.” I also asked, “Would you please pray that she come onto this path?” He agreed. It was quite a while before she actually did come, and I thought that he’d probably have forgotten my request with so many other things on his mind. After her visit with him, however, just as she was about to leave, he took hold of her hand and prayed aloud with great intensity that her soul be brought onto this path. I was deeply moved that he would do that for me, that he would remember. It showed me something of his greatness that he could give so much attention to all the requests brought to him.
I think part of his greatness was that he could be so totally conscious in little ways, in small attentions, small considerations. He could be so true as a human being, so loyal, and so concerned for the welfare of others. He was the friend of all, so much that you knew that no one you'd ever met was such a friend as he. He said, “When I am gone, only love can take my place.” It’s that love that resides in the hearts of his devotees. As people become more in tune with him, become better disciples, you can see his love and consciousness growing in their eyes. In a way it’s as if Master was incarnate in all his disciples here.
To Please Him — Serve All
Love and joy are the qualities that manifested most strongly in Yogananda's life. This is what we feel in our attunement with one another—the bond of God loving God, of God serving God. We don’t want people who are looking for position or power. We all want to be servants of one another. Our gratitude and fulfillment come in the opportunity to be of service to God in one another.
Master showed us the way in this. I remember one incident at Mt. Washington that took place at our Christmas dinner. We had the table all set with place cards for each person. All the places were taken, and food had been cooked for exactly that many people. Suddenly twenty-five extra people appeared unexpectedly, and twenty-five of us had to give up our seats. Normally you would find people saying, “I don’t want to give up my seat. We look forward all year long to being with Master at the Christmas banquet and hearing him talk afterward.” You’d expect people would have fought to keep their seats. At that dinner the only fighting was for the privilege of giving up our seats. When Master heard about that afterward, he said, “These are the things that please me.”
This is the way to please Master—to put yourself last, to put yourself behind others. This is the goal, and this is the way that Master taught us. I think that of all the things about him—his great wisdom, his miraculous powers, his samadhi—the thing that touches me the most is the sweetness of his humility. There is such inspiration in those things he did for others that are small and unimportant in an outward way, but are, finally, the sum of greatness.
Let us be thankful that we have the life and inspiration of such a master to draw from. He lives with us now. He is in our hearts. He’s as much with us today as he was then. All we have to do is to attune ourselves with him, to feel his guidance, to feel his blessings. Again and again since his passing he has shown how very near and very dear he really is.
For further study on discipleship we recommend the following books available through Crystal Clarity Publishers, 800-424-1055 or online at http://www.crystalclarity.com:
• Autobiography of a Yogi, 1946 first edition, by Paramhansa Yogananda
• The New Path: My Life with Paramhansa Yogananda, A Spiritual Autobiography, by Swami Kriyananda
Other Online Books: Books
• The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita by Paramhansa Yogananda (As Remembered by His Disciple, Swami Kriyananda) Excerpts from this book.
For detailed instruction on the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda:
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This course prepares the aspiring student for Kriya Yoga Meditation, the highest technique of the path of Self-realization.
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The Complete Handbook on Discipleship from Crystal Clarity Publishers. Handbook
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From The Essence of Self-Realization on Discipleship
words of Paramhansa Yogananda as quoted by Swami Kriyananda
"People who are still locked up in the cage of ego often view the prospect of having a guru as a threat to their personal freedom. They don't realize that freedom is exactly what they don't have at present!
"The guru's role is to open the door of the cage. If a disciple, finding himself still attached to limitation, cries, 'Leave me alone; I like my nice little nest of pleasures and desires!' the guru won't insist. He will say, simply, 'I came because you called me; otherwise I would not have troubled. It wasn't my need that brought me. It was your need. So, until you call me again, I will wait.'
"Accepting a guru isn't the assumption of a burden! It isn't a menace to a person's free will and happiness! It is the greatest blessing that you, or anyone, can possibly have in this world. Incarnations of good karma are required to attract the help of a true guru.
"God sends the seeker indirect guidance at first, through books and lesser teachers. Only when the desire for Him is very strong does He send help in the form of a Self-realized guru. It is no favor to the guru if the student accepts him. Rather, the student must have prayed very hard, in this lifetime and in former lives, to have earned so great a blessing.
"It isn't that you need to go out looking for the guru. The Lord will send him to you, or else draw you to him, when you are spiritually ready."
Paramhansa Yogananda said, "When I met my guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar, he said to me, 'Allow me to discipline you.'
"'Why sir?' I inquired.
"'When I encountered my guru, Lahiri Mahasaya, ' he replied, 'my will was guided by whims. But when I attuned my will to Lahiri Mahasaya's wisdom-guided will, my own will became free, because guided by wisdom.'
"In the same way," Yogananda continued, "I discovered that by attuning my will to Sri Yukteswar's wisdom-guided will, my will, too, became free.
"This is the purpose of discipleship, and of the obedience that it entails. The aim of obedience to the guru is not to enslave the disciple, but to liberate his will from that which enslaves it truly: whims, and much more—bondage to likes and dislikes, and to desires and attachments.
"Most people consider it an affirmation of freedom to indulge their desires 'freely.' They don't see that desire itself is compulsive. It blinds their discrimination. Where is the freedom in any act that leads one more deeply into delusion?
"Spiritual healing requires willing cooperation on the disciple's part. It cannot be achieved by passivity. Surrender to the divine will, as expressed through the guru, must be offered freely, willingly, and intelligently."
"Attunement to the guru means complete, heartfelt acceptance of his guidance, and also of his activities. Your acceptance must be unqualified. You mustn't say, for instance, 'I accept what the guru tells me in this situation, but not in that one.' Nor should you say, 'I accept what he tells me, but not what those tell me whom he has appointed to represent him.'
"Attunement means also listening for the guru's inner guidance, in your heart. In everything, ask him mentally what you should do; how you should behave; how you can love God more deeply. More than guidance, ask him to give you the power to develop spiritually.
"Be guided by common sense also. Never, in the name of attunement, behave in such a way as to offend against reason or against the rules of proper conduct. 'Learn to behave.' Sri Yukteswar used to say. Don't let attunement with the guru, in other words, be your excuse for an undisciplined imagination!"
"To tune in to the guru's consciousness, visualize him in the spiritual eye. Mentally call to him there. Imagine his eyes, gazing at you. Invite his consciousness to inspire your own.
"Then, after calling to him for some time, try to feel his response in your heart. The heart is the center of intuition in the body. It is your 'radio-receiver.'
"Your 'broadcasting station' is situated in the Christ center between the eyebrows. It is from this center that your will broadcasts into the universe your thoughts and ideas.
"Once you feel an answer in the heart, call to the guru deeply, 'Introduce me to God.'"
Discipleship Vow and Prayer
Prayer of Discipleship
Heavenly Father, Divine Mother, Friend Beloved God,
Jesus Christ, Babaji-Krishna, Lahiri Mahasaya, Swami Sri Yukteswar,
Paramhansa Yogananda, I bow to you all.
Divine Mother, I come before Thee today,
Having long sought Thy eternal light, long pondered the eternal truths,
Long followed the winding path that leads to Thee.
I have walked with my own strength,
All too seldom with Thine.
I have walked with the thought, "I want this from life;
These answers; that guidance; this pathway, or that,"
But I have seen that, as often as I made claims on life, it eluded me.
As often as I presumed on Thy will, it turned away from me.
Ah, too long, Mother, have I sought Thee for myself, not for Thy love.
I know now that, without Thy strength added to mine, infusing it,
I shall never find Thee.
Thine is the power, the grace, the infinite glory.
With loving faith now I seek Thee
Through the ray of Thy light that Thou hast offered me.
I will ascend to Thee
Not by my power alone, but by the power of Thy infinite love.
I am Thine, Mother; be Thou eternally mine.
Vow of Discipleship
I offer myself in service and devotion to Your cause,
And to the ray of the divine light as it is represented by Your channels,
Jesus Christ, Babaji-Krishna, Lahiri Mahasaya, Swami Sri Yuketswar, and Paramhansa Yogananda.
Accept me into this family of Self-Realization,
And make me also, through them an instrument of Thy blessings.
Thus as I receive, may others be blessed also to receive.
I will join my energies to those of my gurubhais,
My spiritual family on earth.
I will cooperate with them, and especially
With the living representatives and guides of my divine line of gurus.
Discipline me, guide me, purify me.
Teach me to attune myself to Thy ray, until at last,
Through daily meditation, service and devotion
I unite my soul with Thy Infinite Spirit.
To Become a Disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda in Michigan: E-mail
Or Phone at 810-388-0619
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