Learning To Love

by Nayasvami Seva

From a young age, I wanted to know the purpose of life. What was it all about? Why was I born? I know that many people today ask the same questions, often after seeking answers in all the wrong ways, just as I did.

A long dry period
Before I found the spiritual path my life could be described as “a long dry period.” I never understood why people were so enthusiastic about growing up, going to college, marrying, raising children, and being successful when everything ended in death and forgetfulness. It made no sense to me. Only those few individuals who had an important history-making mission seemed never to die, but lived on in history.

Since I found myself living in a world I found incomprehensible, I tried to make the best of it. I went to a junior college, got a job, and then moved to California. With a college classmate and her sister, I drove cross country from the East Coast and finally ended up in San Francisco. It was 1957. I was 23 years old.

I loved the city of San Francisco and eventually obtained a stable, well-paid position as the accountant/bookkeeper for an architectural firm. I was still looking for true, lasting happiness. For a while, since there didn’t seem to be any alternative, I thought I would find happiness through outward experiences. But I eventually saw that I wasn’t finding any answers. Life still made no sense to me, and as far as I could tell, people were going no where.

Finally I find a lifeline
One night I became so discouraged that I swallowed far too many aspirins. In the midst of sickness and numbness, I called to God to help me. This was the first time in my life I had ever called to God. I was shocked to realize that I even believed there was such a Being. But God answered my prayer. Soon after, I went with a friend to a lecture in San Francisco given by Swami Kriyananda, who introduced me to Paramhansa Yogananda’s teachings, which gave me answers that made sense. Finally, I had a lifeline.

At the time I didn’t understand that when we start on the spiritual path we don’t change overnight. We don’t suddenly become joyful, even-minded, and all-forgiving. We take all of our unresolved karma – emotions, conflicts, and blocks – with us. I now had spiritual teachings and a guru to guide me, for which I was grateful beyond words, but I had no idea how many major challenges lay ahead.

After meeting Swami Kriyananda in 1967, I visited the small Ananda community as often as possible, while continuing to live and work in San Francisco. In 1970, I quit my job and moved to the Ananda Meditation Retreat, where the Ananda community first started.

Later I became part of the monastery at Ananda Village, which grew in time to close to a 100 people. The main value of the monastery was in giving many of us the opportunity to deepen our attunement to the spiritual path before we were drawn into other aspects of life — marriage, child-raising, or very demanding jobs.

I was already in charge of Ananda’s finances when Swami Kriyananda asked that I also oversee the women’s monastery. Being in charge of the finances put me in touch with nearly every aspect of the community. I conferred regularly with Swami Kriyananda and, for a year or so, served informally as overall community manager.

Completely at loose ends
In the early 1980s my life changed completely. The monastery fell apart – nearly all the monks and nuns got married. Since I remained single, I no longer had much contact with the people I’d been close to in the monastery. Increasingly, householders or married couples began leading the community. Around this same time, two people with accounting training and experience that far exceeded mine moved to the community, and it was only natural that they would take over my job.

Without a real job, and struggling to understand what work I was supposed to do, I was completely at loose ends. My self-esteem took a nose-dive. Looking back, I can see that everything that happened was divinely orchestrated to give me the challenges I needed to grow spiritually. God had a plan for me, complete with many new, and different, experiences.

Since there was no longer any work for me at Ananda Village, I was asked to go to Italy to help with the Ananda retreat just getting underway near Lake Como in northern Italy. I was there for nine months. During the colder months there wasn’t much to do. When not working as a cook’s assistant, I knitted sweaters, scarves and gloves.

Upon returning from Italy, I was asked to become co-director of the new Ananda center in Portland, Oregon. My time in Portland was a mixed experience. My first year included teaching, working as a waitress in the Ananda restaurant, and looking for a location at which to start a church. We did find a good location and the Ananda Portland church soon got underway. After a year, however, there was a change in co-directors and, once again, I found myself having my role cut back. My role was now limited to teaching, which was never my strength; I did not do well as a teacher.

Confused about why my life had taken this new turn, and feeling somewhat depressed, I returned to Ananda Village after two years in Portland. Since no other work was available, I took a job as a medical assistant at the nearby clinic, founded by an Ananda Village resident and physician. I was also strongly encouraged to seek professional counseling. Going into counseling and working in a job I would never have chosen for myself were big tests for me. But Ananda was my whole life and I wanted to cooperate, so I decided to give both a try.

Pulling out of my slump
In counseling I realized that I had always wanted to serve — to serve people and God, and that it really didn’t matter whether my outward service was “important.” I realized that it had actually mattered to me that my service be “important.” I could now see that my deepest desire was to go beyond ego, not to get trapped in my emotions and wrong attitudes.

The other important realization was that unless I wanted to sink into bitterness and despair, I needed to love. I chose love over anger, frustration, and depression. Truly, it was the only choice possible. Since I felt no love in my heart, I prayed to my Guru, Paramhansa Yogananda, and asked him to love people through me. I hoped thereby to learn how to love. Having these goals, which were clearly God’s gifts to me, began to pull me out of my slump.

I had experienced a big breakthrough in consciousness, but it wasn’t the end of the process. Many lessons followed, some of them very painful. Changing oneself is a long-term process, but with each step I was becoming happier, the journey was getting easier, and I found it easier to meet the tests with the right attitude.

Making the commitment to serve God and Guru through the work I was doing at the clinic — work that was not overtly spiritual — helped me understand that even a leaf, as it says in the Bhagavad Gita, is pleasing to God if offered with love and devotion. In  times of upliftment and joy, I realized how important it was to make the commitment to meditate and do Kriya Yoga every day. Kriya helps to burn up the karma that draws us away from God.

Looking at the world with love
Looking at the world with love, I began to see situations differently. People no longer hated me! (They never did, but I’d thought so). I could now see why people acted the way they did, and this understanding opened my heart even more. Asking Yogananda to love people through me eventually became such a joyful experience that I was able to love those who were negative, unbalanced, or using the spiritual path for selfish ends. Perhaps most difficult of all, I even began to see and love the Divine within me.

I learned not to let anything — no judgments or negativity on my part, and no one else’s negative attitudes toward me — pull me down. I now understood that people who disliked or misjudged me had their own karma to work out. Their thoughts and actions were not my concern.

As I understood relationships more deeply, I became more joyful in my interactions with people. Joy was creeping into my being, opening doors to expansive new experiences, and helping me understand the spiritual teachings more deeply. During those years I shed a lot of old karma. And I learned not to let anything interfere with my dedication to finding God in this lifetime.

Becoming a different person
I have come to see that to take up the spiritual path in earnest is to shed everything we think of as ourselves, all our desires and plans. When we give up our plans and surrender to God’s plan for us, we find true happiness. In that state of consciousness, hatreds and judgment can’t exist, human love doesn’t exist — only God’s love and what He wants of us. God’s plan for all of us is that we learn to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. As we do that, we become the person He intended us to be.

Nayaswami Seva, a founding member of Ananda, serves as a Lightbearer at Ananda Village. Since 1995, she had been an integral part of the staff of Crystal Clarity Publishers at Ananda Village.

Taken From: http://www.anandaclaritymagazine.com/2012/06/love-meditation-yogananda-god/


Finding A Genuine Guru

Why should I accept a spiritual master?

Spiritual life is like trying to find a post office in a strange city—we can waste our time speculating, trying to follow our hearts, or we can get serious and find someone who knows what’s what.

I remember that, before I met my spiritual master eight years ago, I had always hoped I would meet someone who could guide me to a higher truth. It wasn’t a clearly formulated idea—more like a secret wish. I would read books by people I thought had some higher understanding, and I would take some ideas from this author, some from that. But there wasn’t anyone I could respect as really knowing. No doubt, they had their insights, ideas that seemed fresh and brilliant. But there wasn’t anyone about whom I could say, “This man truly has knowledge. Let me approach him and ask him to be my teacher.”

Then, in 1968, I met my spiritual master—His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. And after I had studied and tested his teachings, and after my doubts (my protectors!) were satisfied, I decided to become his disciple. Now, as a student of Srila Prabhupada, I travel to colleges throughout the central United States, speaking with people about Krishna consciousness and trying to answer their questions according to what my spiritual master has taught me. Many of the students I talk to want answers to the same questions I once struggled with—questions like, “To live a spiritual life, is it necessary to accept a spiritual master?” “Is there only one spiritual master, or can there be more than one?” “Where does the spiritual master get his knowledge?” and “How can I find my spiritual master?”

A student at a university in Michigan recently asked me, “If I’m a spiritual person, why can’t I find spiritual truth on my own? Why go to someone else? Why can’t I just reach the truth by my own experience?” The image is familiar: a sincere seeker, gleaning clues to the truth wherever he can find them, putting the pieces together by his own intuition and sensitivity until finally he solves the puzzle of life. Noble, is it not?

Yes, but how naive! When I want knowledge about any material subject (be it chemistry, physics, mathematics, geography, grammar, or even how to make a wristwatch), the quickest, surest, easiest way is simply to find someone who knows and ask him. Imagine yourself in a big city you’ve never been in before. Suppose you want to find the post office. How would you do it? Would you start walking around and try to guess which way to go? You might. But if you were really serious about mailing your package, you’d approach a policeman or postman, get yourself a clear set of directions, and then go straight to your destination.

Spiritual life is like trying to find a post office in a strange city. We can waste our time speculating, trying to follow our hearts, or we can get serious and admit that we don’t know where we’re going, and that we need to follow someone who knows what’s what. This is the first step in factual spiritual life.

Question: “But if I’m sincere, why can’t I become self-realized just on the strength of my sincerity?” You can, but only by sincerely following the right process. Suppose you sincerely want to become a doctor. That sincerity is the first thing you need. But if you’re genuinely sincere, you won’t try to become a doctor by buying some medical textbooks in the college bookstore and studying at home. No. You’ll go to medical school, study under qualified experts, and in this way gradually become a qualified doctor yourself. In the same way, if you’re sincere about becoming self-realized, you should sincerely try to find a bona fide spiritual master and study under him.

Question: “But isn’t it higher to find the truth on your own, to struggle for it and finally achieve realization?” You have to decide which you’d rather be—noble or self-realized. If you’re serious about self-realization, you should welcome all the help you can get. To put off finding the truth just to enjoy the romance of being a “perpetual seeker” would be ludicrous.

Question: “But I’ve read the Bhagavad- gita, among other spiritual books, and it seems to me that I can understand them and practice spiritual life on my own.” Then you haven’t understood the Bhagavad- gita, because near the end of the Fourth Chapter Lord Krishna clearly says, “Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth” (Bg. 4.34).

You shouldn’t accept a spiritual master merely as a matter of fashion—because all the big rock stars have spiritual masters, or because yoga and meditation are “in.” Nor should you approach a spiritual master to find out how to get better grades, how to relax, or how to improve your sex life. These things have nothing to do with self-realization, the goal of real spiritual life. Of course, if you want something else, there are many so-called yogis and gurus who, for a modest fee, will be happy to oblige you. That may be big business, but spiritual life is another thing entirely.

The age-old Vedic literature of India tells us clearly how to enter into spiritual life: “One must approach a spiritual master if he desires spiritual realization” (Mundaka Up.. 1.2.12). Also, “The aspirant should surrender to a spiritual master if he is genuinely inquisitive about the highest goal of life” (Bhag. 11.3.21). And in the Puranas, a more recent part of the Vedic literature, it is said, “There are many so-called gurus who are very expert in plundering the money of their disciples, but rarely can one find a spiritual master who can free his disciples from all material anxieties.”

The highest goal of life, self-realization, puts you beyond the happiness and distress, the pleasure and pain, of this material world. Life in this material world is full of perplexities, and a person who sincerely wants to find a solution to the perplexities of life should search out a genuine spiritual master.

In approaching the genuine spiritual master, a person should show the same submissiveness as Arjuna did in the Bhagavad-gita, where he said to Lord Krishna, “Now I am confused about my duty and have lost all composure because of weakness. In this condition I am asking You to tell me clearly what is best for me. Now I am Your disciple and a soul surrendered unto You. Please instruct me” (Bg. 2.7).

Who is the spiritual master?What are the qualifications of the spiritual master?How can I find a bona fide spiritual master?

No one can have greater knowledge than God in any subject matter—spiritual or mundane—because He knows everything. Therefore, the original spiritual master is Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But if we are seeking to revive our spiritual consciousness, or God consciousness, we must now be out of touch with God. So how can we take direction from God? The great spiritual master Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami answers this question:

“The conditioned soul [a person who is not self- realized] cannot revive his Krishna consciousness by his own effort. But out of his causeless mercy. Lord Krishna compiled the Vedic literature and its supplements, the Puranas” (Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya 20.122). Thus, by hearing the Vedic literature with great faith and attention, we can actually take spiritual direction from God.

When we talk about the Vedic literature, we’re talking about the oldest, most comprehensive, most scientific spiritual literature in the world. The Vedic literature includes the Upanishads, the Vedanta-sutra, the Mahabharata, the Puranas, and (most importantly) the Srimad-Bhagavatam and the Bhagavad-gita. Where do these great books of wisdom come from? Not from imperfect thinkers of this world. They come from the Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna; He spoke the Vedic knowledge to the first created being, lord Brahma. Lord Brahma then passed down this same knowledge to his sons and disciples, who did the same for their own followers. Then, five thousand years ago. Lord Krishna Himself again appeared in this disciplic succession as His literary incarnation, Vyasadeva, and wrote down that same Vedic knowledge.

Now, the main idea is this: to know whether someone is a bona fide spiritual master, we have to check the Vedic literature, because the characteristics of the bona fide spiritual master are specifically described there. For thousands upon thousands of years, seekers have reached perfection by following the Vedic directions on the path of perfection.

Question: “But what if I want to follow the Bible instead of the Vedic literature?” There’s no use arguing the merits of the Bible over the Vedic literature. Both the Bible and the Vedic literature are scripture, and therefore they are in agreement, not opposition. The only difference is that the Vedic literature contains much more specific information about God than you’ll find in the Bible. They’re like dictionaries. The small desk dictionary and Webster’s Third International are both valid authorities, and they are in agreement. Yet the big dictionary has more information. The Vedic literature is like the big dictionary.

Question: “What if I don’t accept the Vedic literature?” Then you’re unfortunate, because you won’t be able to take advantage of the knowledge it contains. For example, if you want to know who your father is, you have to find out from your mother. She’s the authority. If you don’t want to take her word for it, that’s your privilege. But then you’ll never know for sure. In the same way, if you don’t accept the Vedic literature, you’ll never grasp the time-tested spiritual wisdom it contains.

Question: “But can’t someone meet a genuine spiritual master without having studied anything?” Certainly. A fortunate person might meet a perfectly bona fide spiritual master just by the will of providence. But then again, that fortunate person might not be you. You might meet a cheater instead. How will you know? Suppose you’re looking for a good mechanic. Even if you don’t know anything about cars or mechanics, you still might be lucky enough to find a mechanic who’s expert and honest. But if you know the qualifications of the man you’re looking for, your chances are much better. The same goes for finding a spiritual master. Knowledge is reliable; luck isn’t. And surrendering to a spiritual master is too important a decision to leave to luck. You have to surrender to the spiritual master, but not blindly or sentimentally. First you should study him carefully to find out whether he has the qualifications spelled out in the Vedic literature.

The qualifications of the bona fide spiritual master can be summed up in two words: shrotriyam and brahma- nishtham. The word shrotriyam means that the spiritual master must have received the revealed Vedic knowledge from his spiritual master, who in turn received it from his, and so on in a line of spiritual masters extending back to the original spiritual master, Krishna Himself. This is called the disciplic succession. To be bona fide, a spiritual master has to belong to this disciplic succession coming from the Lord.

The bona fide spiritual master does not invent anything new. He’s a messenger, not an inventor. His duty is to transmit the Vedic knowledge as the Lord originally spoke it and as the disciplic succession has handed it down. Just as a postman delivers your letters without subtracting anything or adding anything of his own, so the spiritual master delivers the spiritual message of Vedic knowledge as it is, without adding or subtracting anything.

How can you tell whether the spiritual master meets this qualification? Very easily. The words of Krishna are recorded in the Bhagavad-gita, and you merely have to compare. For example, in the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krishna says, “Always think of Me and surrender to Me” (Bg. 9.34). So the bona fide spiritual master instructs his disciples to think always of Krishna and surrender to Krishna. If a so-called guru advises his disciples to think of something impersonal or void instead of Krishna, or to surrender to someone other than Krishna, how can he be bona fide? We should immediately reject him as worthless.

Nor can the spiritual master advertise that he himself is God. The bona fide spiritual master always presents himself as a humble servant of God, never as God Himself. Any so-called guru who claims to be God, or who tells his disciples that they can become God, is a charlatan. The bona fide spiritual master acts as a humble servant of the Lord and instructs his disciples to do likewise.

Now we come to the genuine spiritual master’s second qualification: brahma-nishtham. The word brahma- nishtham means that the spiritual master has full faith in the Supreme (in Krishna) and is always absorbed in Krishna consciousness. The spiritual master must be free from all material attachments. He must be the master of his senses, not their servant. For instance, if someone is addicted to liquor, women, or cigarettes, there is no question of his being a guru. There are so many examples of so-called gurus and swamis who advertise themselves as being on the platform of eternity, bliss, and knowledge, but who fall down from their yoga practice to have sex with their disciples. Thus, they fail to meet the standard of brahma-nishtham.

To be truly brahma-nishtham, the spiritual master must be a devotee of Krishna. Krishna says in the Bhagavad- gita, “Always think of Me. Become My devotee. Worship Me and offer homage to Me” (Bg. 9.34). So the bona fide spiritual master always thinks of Krishna, he is a devotee of Krishna, and he always worships and glorifies Krishna. Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita that no one is dearer to Him than one who preaches His glories. Therefore, another qualification of the bona fide spiritual master is that he glorifies Lord Krishna all over the world. Such a spiritual master is directly empowered by Lord Krishna Himself. Even other devotees and transcendentalists offer respect to such an exalted personality and honor him with the title “prabhupada,” meaning “one at whose feet sit many masters.”

First, let’s see why so many seekers fail to find a bona fide spiritual master. In the Bhagavad- gita, Krishna says, “I am in everyone’s heart, and from Me come knowledge, remembrance, and forgetfulness” (Bg. 15.15). In other words, as long as we want to forget Krishna, He will help us forget Him. We can easily see how so many imitation gurus can cheat their disciples. Because most people want material sense pleasure instead of genuine spiritual life, Krishna sends them to a cheater. But as soon as we sincerely desire to revive our eternal loving relationship with Krishna, Krishna will send us to a bona fide spiritual master.

If I find a bona fide spiritual master, what should I do?How does the spiritual master give knowledge?

Surrender to him. The Bhagavad-gita advises, “Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth” (Bg. 4.34). If you find a qualified spiritual master, in whom you have full confidence, you should surrender to him wholeheartedly and render service to him. If you approach the spiritual master with a submissive attitude and ask him sincere questions about spiritual life, he will certainly bless you with enlightenment.

Sometimes we hear folk tales in which a spiritual master enlightens his disciple by touching him, by transferring his power through some kind of electric shock. There are others who supposedly impart enlightenment by their twinkling glances, by talking in riddles, or by whispering secret mantras into the disciple’s ear. None of these methods has anything to do with the genuine Vedic process of spiritual enlightenment.

The Vedic method is simply this: The spiritual master is a self-realized soul, and by hearing and following the spiritual master’s instructions, the disciple can also become self- realized. No secret mantras. No magic mushrooms or cactus buttons. No mystical hocus-pocus. The spiritual master simply imparts to his disciple the instructions he has heard from his own spiritual master, and the disciple becomes self-realized by hearing these instructions in a humble mood.

The disciple places his sincere questions before the spiritual master, and the spiritual master answers these questions authoritatively (with reference to the authorized scriptures and his predecessors in the disciplic succession).

What does it mean to be a servant of the spiritual master?

The disciple should think of himself as a menial servant of his spiritual master. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, a great spiritual master of the late nineteenth century, prayed to his guru: “O pure devotee, O spiritual master, please accept me as your dog.”8 A dog always depends on his master’s mercy and stays ready to carry out his master’s order. In the same way, a bona fide disciple places himself in the position of a dog before his spiritual master and tries to satisfy him by carrying out his orders. In fact, the bona fide disciple respects his spiritual master as much as God Himself.

Question: “But why do I have to treat the spiritual master like God? Didn’t you say he’s a humble servant of God?” Exactly. The spiritual master is a humble servant of God, and he tries to bring everyone back to the humble service of God. But there is no way to become Krishna’s servant directly. You have to become a servant of the servant of Krishna. The guru serves Krishna by acting as His representative in this material world. Therefore, as we have said, the guru is as good as God.

The spiritual master doesn’t accept our service on his own behalf, any more than the President’s representative (such as the Secretary of State) accepts service on his own behalf. Rather, the spiritual master thinks, “Because I have accepted the responsibility of acting as Krishna’s representative, it is my duty to accept service from my disciples and to offer that service to Krishna.” In this way, through the genuine Vedic system of spiritual discipline, the spiritual master revives our natural spiritual consciousness by training us to act as eternal servants of the Supreme Lord.

Question: “Still, it all sounds so dry and austere.” Spiritual life requires a little austerity. But it’s not dry austerity. The spiritual master’s orders are called “the regulative principles of freedom.” In other words, although we may feel (especially at first) that the spiritual master’s instructions are just giving us trouble, by following these instructions we wash away material contaminations and enjoy transcendental bliss from within—and not just in some afterlife, but here and now.

In this age especially, the sacrifices that the disciple must undergo are very simple. In previous ages, the disciple had to perform rigorous physical exercises and adhere to strict vows of renunciation. But in this age the most important “austerity” is simply to chant and hear the Hare Krishna mantra: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The Puranas confirm, “Chant the holy name, chant the holy name, chant the holy name of the Lord. In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy, there is no other way, no other way, no other way to achieve self-realization” (Brihan- naradiya Purana) This chanting of Hare Krishna is easy and enjoyable, and it can make your life sublime.

The science of devotional service is full of transcendental potency, and we can realize this potency if we hear from a bona fide spiritual master and render service to him in a humble, submissive mood. Then we are sure to receive spiritual understanding and to advance on the path that leads out of material perplexity and back to home, back to Godhead.


By Jayadvaita Svami

Taken From: http://www.krishna.com/finding-genuine-guru

True Yoga – the Most Ancient Art of Self-Realisation

Basics of the Ancient Art

According to Ancient Texts and the Maharishis, there are many types of Yoga, of course, the categories are few. In the Western World, New Age Yoga has come to be known as Hatha Yoga, which, in spite of being devoid of true Hatha Philosophy,should simply be called Asana Yoga, for that is all even in meditation, that is truly done.

The main four (4) types of Yoga are: Jñana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga and Kriya Yoga or, the Yoga of Knowledge (especially that of the True Self); the Yoga of Devotion (Surrender to God in his/her Infinite Forms); the Yoga of Action (Service to All Beings); the Yoga of Technique (A myriad of techniques including Tantra, Yantra and Mantra, Kundalini Shakti, Ashtasiddhi, etc.).

These four Yogas, comprise of all the bits and pieces of the separate Yoga schools across the world. Accordingly, each type of Yoga appeals to a different type of person by varying Mental or Spiritual Constitution, called the Gunas of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas; and by varying Ayurvedic or Corporeal Constitution, called the Doshas of Vata, Pitta and Kapha. These basic Physical Constitutions have refined states in the forms of Ojas (Kapha), Tejas (Pitta) and Prana (Vata). Anyone who is serious in practising any form of Yoga, must understand these concepts well.

A Brief Look at the Doshas

The three Doshas of Kapha, Pitta and Vata have their basis in the Primal forces of this Universe: (Pure) Energy, Light and Matter. Energy is the origin of all things and therefore the source of the Life Force or Prana. In its base or gross form, therefore, Vata is the first of the biological doshas which give rise to motion in the other two Doshas. Vata governs all the spaces in our bodies, such as our joints, colon, hollow organs and on a mental level, the space in our minds that gives rise to the motion of thought. Of the elements, Vata is not simply Air but also Ether, and thus govern the organs of both: the ears, the skin, the vocal organs, the hands; it presides over our comprehension and psychological balance; bestows creativity and enthusiasm, and  propels the achievements of out life goals.

However, the Doshas are cyclical and it is the temperament  of Pitta (Fire) and the pressures inflicted by Kapha (Water and Earth) which cause Vata. Pitta, is the digestive force of the body and is responsible for intensity, concentration, motivation, the warmth of blood and bodily transformation beginning on the cellular level. Mentally, it bestows intelligence, perception, courage, vitality, allows the digestion of our sensory impressions (surroundings). Pitta exists mainly in the form of acids in the body and oily substances which entrap heat. Its organs are those of the Fire element: the eyes and the feet. Just like Vata, depends upon Pitta and Kapha, Pitta needs Kapha as the fuel upon which it may be ignited and continue to burn and Vata, as the oxygen to  allow it to combust. In Vata, there is an electric force, much like the atmospheric static that results in lightning, which is the subtle effect of Pitta within Vata.

Kapha is both the Water and Earth Elements of the body, it is the force of attraction and cohesion that exists in the forms of water as bodily composition, the plasma in the blood, mucous and phlegm in the body and is the deya in which the flame of Kapha and the movement of Vata is held and mixed. The qualities of feeling,emotion, love, adoration, devotion and faith are all Kapha qualities. Kapha rules the urino-genital (Water) and excretory (Earth) organs and their sense organs of the tongue and nose respectively. Kapha is all the tissues and liquids that lubricate the tissues of the body, as well. Without Kapha, neither Pitta nor Vata would have a medium upon which to exist.

The Gunas – Purity, Action and Stagnation

Sattva: This is the State of the Pure, the state of pure energy, of Ahimsa or non-harming, of a great lack in transgression and the state usually found in an illustrative way in highly spiritual persons.

Rajas: This is the State of Action, wherein which, things must move and transform, and so does not last for long as it is transitional unless there is continuity in action and the stimulation necessary to achieve it.

Tamas: This is the State of Stagnation – inaction, or even Rest. In many cases it is a negative quality and relates to darkness, but is not always so.

The three Gunas together are both alternating: as energy follows a sine wave-like pattern, whereby, the negative is Tamas, the Positive is Sattva, and the neutral where they cross and the very action of the crossing is called Rajas; and continual or cyclical: they are never-ending, and so long as one predominates in anything, it must continue for a period before the imminent change.

A simple illustration for the three Gunas is the cycle of the day and night. The night is Tamas, the Daylight is Sattva and the twilight times and also, the motion of the Sun in the changing of the times are Rajas.

A Rajasic nature is necessary for Yoga, so is a Sattvic one; or if not there, the Rajasic slowly turns into a Sattvic one, but that does not mean that neither Rajas nor Tamas is there. It is very rare that there is ever only one Guna present in a person, especially that of Sattva, which is found mainly in Enlightened beings, or those close to Enlightenment.

Ojas, Tejas and Prana

In refined states and on a more subtle level, Kapha becomes Ojas, whose primary supply in the body is sexual fluid and thus sexual energy. Ojas is like refined and pure oil, which allows the fire to burn ever more brightly and powerfully. This is the point Brahmacarya or control of sexual energy in Yogic Philosophy. By not over-indulging or by indulging at all in expending sexual energy, the sexual energy is cultivated and transmuted into higher forces. This is the basis of many forms of Tantra which use this sexual energy to awaken Kundalini Shakti and to bring the aspirant to a more energetically awakened state. This, however, is but a stepping stone and a very base form of Tantric practise for more Tamasic persons. Nonetheless, there is nothing shameful or demeaning about this practice as it is important to begin where we are in life. In addition, many advanced Yogis continue to use these exercises (which are Kriya Yogas), even after having surpassed this stage, for it is also important to remember your beginnings and the foundation of your Yogic practice, which indeed is your own.

Pitta becomes Tejas which is the electrical force or power and is the power of the refined mind. It gives to us higher perception and greater discernment. Tejas is used extensively in Yogic practice and is the power of motivation and also the advance digestion of Yogic study. It is therefore, the rising of the Kundalini in the aforementioned Tantric practices. Much care must be taken with overusing Tejas, however, as it causes the supply of Ojas to diminish and the result is usually exhaustion – like a flame whose oil is burnt out and the black, over-carbonated smoke remains and the vessel is scorched.

As the Ojas gives rise to Tejas, Tejas gives rise to Prana, the fortified life force and revitalised channels for its action. It is the refined flame from the refined oil that creates the refined air around it and keeps it ever in motion, that it may be applied where and when needed. Prana is the force that allows us to heal ourselves and others. While it is true that we absorb Prana in our very breaths, without having the refined Ojas and Tejas, the Prana is not as easily cultivated and stored. Prana, is also naturally created in the body as a living organism, but also as a spiritual being. Thus, the burning of the Ojas by Tejas transforms the fuel into Prana as well. However, as with the other two, overuse of Prana does not allow the flame of Tejas to properly burn. After all, it is cyclical. As Tejas burns Ojas to created Prana, Prana is the air that must allow Tejas to burn and  enhance the entire process. So in essence, the three must work together, but we must first cultivate Ojas, or the other other two of Tejas and Prana will exhaust the body and create many disease factors. This is reflected in the mind as well.  A mind without enough Ojas, cannot go very far for very long, and the thoughts of such a mind are very haphazard and non-functional.

The Three Triplicates and The Four Yogas

The three Doshas of Kapha, Pitta and Vata are refined in Ojas, Tejas and Prana. These with the three Gunas are the three Triplicates that are Fundamental to Yoga practice. Any Yoga practice that does not contain them is a far cry from completion and indeed, may even be said to be debilitated.

Jñana Yoga, the Yoga of Knowledge, is best practised in the first Rajasic period of the day – Dawn. This is basically the Yoga of self-inquiry that seeks to unite the aspirant with the true self and so leads to self-realisation. Just as the sun courses from the Darkness in the process of the Dawn into the state of illumination or proverbial Enlightenment of the day, so too does Jñana Yoga take the yogi from darkness into light. Jñana Yoga appeals mainly to Pitta types as it deals with a great deal of mental focus and illumination.

Bhakti Yoga, the Yoga of Devotion is the Yoga that most appeal to Kapha types in is often best performed in the evening time or in the Tamasic period of the day. Devotion itself increases Ojas and one-pointed concentration on a deity increases Tejas and Prana. Indeed, one-pointedness naturally causes the Kundalini Shakti to rise up the Sushumna Nadi, the subtle nerve centre of energy in the body that runs along the spine into the medulla oblongata (the part of the brain closest to the base of the skull), which is also called the Pool of Heaven in Ancient Chinese Philosophy. Bhakti Yoga may also appeal to Vatas i a more ritualistic fashion and also to Pittas who may tend to see themselves as missionaries of God.

Karma Yoga is the Yoga of Action and of Service. It arises from both Jñana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga, in that one sees the need to provide service to nature and to other human beings because, as God is in me and ultimately I am one with God, so are all things; therefore, performing service to others in any small form is nonetheless, a service to God. However, one should be careful not to be selfish in Karma Yoga and seek no reward. Kaphas gravitate to this Yoga for its devotional side,while Pittas may prefer some form of Activism in this Yoga.

Kriya Yoga is the Yoga of techniques. In its basest form, it means “Action Yoga” and refers to any action done under the broad umbrella of Yoga. Therefore, Rituals such as Havan, Yajna and Pooja; Mantra and Yantra which are technically forms of Tantra (literally, “technique”); transmutation of sexual energy and even certain aspects of Jñana Yoga are all Kriya Yoga. It can be said therefore, that Kriya Yoga, which is also the broad category under which Hatha Yoga falls, is instrumental to the other Yogas. If so much as a mantra is chanted, or a Graha Pooja to appease the planets is performed, you are partaking in Kriya Yoga. Kriya Yoga appeals mainly to Vatas who love the continuity of movement. It may also help discipline their excessive movements and create a greater stillness in them as Kriya Yoga does not act without the act being necessary – an act without purpose, is a purposeless act.

A discerning eye would realise, that ultimately, all the Yogas must intersect at one point. Verily, therefore, there is only one True Yoga that simply, all the other Yogas form in their respective components, according to the personality and sublimely, the soul of the person.

One must never forsake the self in spiritual practice, meaning: one must not forget that spiritual practice relates to the Self and to God, and that through it, other beings must benefit as well. It is also important to have a Guru in spiritual practice. A true Guru is one who has attained enlightenment, however, there is a deficit of those in the world and so, we must at least have around us, those elders, or persons well learned, who are able to guide us from time to time. In light of no Guru, one must depend on many, and that also includes the Guru within, who is the True Self and will guide you through Intuition and also, the Greatest Guru himself, God.

Blessings of Peace, Love and Light!


Qualities of A Magnetic Personality

by Paramhansa Yogananda

Each human being is a medium through which God’s magnetism flows, but humans allow many things to obstruct that magnetism, and very few people are truly magnetic. However, the right kind of magnetic power can be developed.

We may hear someone say, “Oh, I met a friend who is so magnetic; he inspired me and expanded my consciousness.” This is the kind of magnetic power that we all want – attracting, uplifting and expanding. This type of magnetic power is a quality of Spirit. It expands the consciousness but does not stupefy it, as does hypnosis or animal magnetism.

Magnetic power comes from within
Our magnetism is determined by our habitual attitudes and actions. To become magnetic to others, you must make yourself attractive from within. Sattwic actions, including meditative activities, are those that help you realize the pure image of the Self within. Someone with a sattwic personality is sincere, kind, accepting, and possessed of great self-control – qualities that are highly magnetic and produce a good effect on oneself and others. Positive behavior, control of speech, and kind words are qualities which clothe the soul in spiritual magnetism.

Ego-inspired attitudes and actions obstruct the free flow of one’s energy and are demagnetizing. The mental habit of criticizing others, regardless of whether the criticism is gentle or severe, has a darkening effect on the consciousness and drags a person down into greater delusion. When you occupy your mind with an unholy interest in the failings of others, you also rouse and stimulate your own pre-natal bad habits.

Try not to give in to moods. The darkness of moods will invariably be reflected in your facial expressions. The best cure for a bad mood is to try to do something that will raise your energy level and put you in a good mood. Always stay away from people in ugly moods, to prevent them from spreading to you their epidemic of inharmony.

Learn to behave”
I can never thank my guru enough for constantly saying to me, “Learn to behave.” Like many people, I thought I was a winged angel and that nobody could say anything to improve me. However, as wisdom grew, I found that I could see myself better in the mirrors of calm minds, especially in my Master’s unprejudiced mind, than in the little mirror of my own hazy understanding. And I discovered there was a difference between how I assumed others viewed me and how they actually viewed me.

It is easy to see the faults of others but very difficult to see your own faults and to conduct yourself properly. If you can find your own faults without developing an inferiority complex, and can keep busy correcting yourself, then you will be using your time much more profitably than wishing othersto be better. Your good example will do more to change others than your words or wishful thinking.

Like attracts like. Whatever you want others to be, first be that yourself, then you will find others responding in like manner to you. If you want to be loved, start loving others who need your love. If you expect others to be honest with you, then start being honest yourself. If you want others to sympathize with you, start showing sympathy to those around you. If you want to be respected, you must learn to be respectful to everyone, both young and old. If you want a display of peace from others, you must be peaceful yourself.

The glow of sincerity
Sincerity is a quality of all highly magnetic souls. All the great ones – Jesus, Buddha, Babaji – possess this quality. Many people, to gain fame or outward success in the world, sacrifice their sincerity and self-respect, but they never derive real satisfaction from the achievement of their longed-for goals. Man’s nature is many-sided and demands all-around development, which includes being sincere and truthful at all times.

Be sincere with all and above all, be sincere with yourself. Watch your thoughts to be sure they are right. When your thoughts are right, sincere and helpful words, and good deeds, will naturally follow. Carry the vibration of sincerity with you wherever you go. People will feel this vibration. Sincere, sweet words are nectar to thirsty souls.They contribute to the happiness of people in the home, in social outings, in churches, and in business offices.

Above all, never forget to smile, not the mask-like smile without truth and sincerity behind it, but the sincere, radiant smile that comes from a light, joyful heart, which belongs only to the “good” and cannot be worn by the wicked. Learn to emanate sincere smiles and to wear the glow of sincerity on your face.

Consideration for others
Consideration for others is a wonderful quality and gives you the greatest attractiveness. Practice it! Consideration for others means being aware of them, listening to them, and being attentive to their needs. Try to develop an intuitive awareness of the needs of others.

Let your supreme goal be to make others happy in order to gain happiness for yourself. Take a genuine interest in the problems of others. Every time you meet a receptive human being, make him feel your interest in his physical, mental, and spiritual welfare. Never neglect to do whatever you can for yourself in the forms of others. Live by the principle, “Each for all and all for each.” In getting for yourself, you must get for others too.

Remember that whatever you do attracts those same actions to yourself. If you set the example of selfishness, people will practice selfishness on you, but whatever you freely give to others with love, yields an ever-increasing harvest of happiness. Find happiness in helping whoever crosses your path.

Once a certain well-known teacher in India was invited to participate in a religious congress in Chicago. He and fifteen of his followers were coming through Los Angeles on their way to Chicago. I invited him to Mount Washington, where we prepared a great banquet for them. At the last moment, there came a telegram from him in Hawaii. He had felt the inspiration, suddenly, to return to India. No master would have behaved in such a way!

People would do well to understand that the masters do not behave erratically, even though they are guided by the flow of inspiration. In dealing with this world, they honor its ways. And they are ever true to their word. Moreover, if they are obliged to mix socially with others, they are considerate of people’s feelings.

Self-control and peace-loving behavior
Exercise extreme vigilance in maintaining your self-control at all times.You must be able to put on at will the apparel of your best disposition whenever you come across people with combative mentalities. Above all, be so peaceful that nobody can get your goat.

It is human weakness to get angry and scold, but it shows divine strength to be able to hold the reins over the wild steeds of your temper and speech. No matter what the provocation may be, behave yourself and by calm silence or genuinely kind words, show that your kindness is more powerful than the other person’s ugliness.

Civility, heartfelt courtesy, and continuous good will are the panacea for all bad behavior. You can teach your quick-tempered friends and dear ones to mend their faults through the example of your own magnetic, peace-loving behavior a million times better than by harsh words. If you remain even-minded by holding a calm disposition and, at the same time, are both forgiving and firm in your own principles, then you will inspire the wrong-doers to reform themselves.

Dissolve all inharmonious vibrations
Divine magnetism is the power of all powers. By meditating regularly, you become increasingly charged with the pure magnetism of God. Think of God so constantly that He is with you wherever you go. When you meditate and live in the consciousness that you are God’s child, you gradually dissolve all inharmonious emotions and vibrations.

Always keep in tune with the Divine Magnetic Power. When your prayer bursts from your heart and God gives up His vow of silence and speaks to you — you will have gained divine magnetism.

From lessons and articles.

From: http://www.anandaclaritymagazine.com/2012/03/magnetism-yogananda-moods-yoga/


The Missing Years of Jesus

The last Biblical account of the childhood of Jesus tells of the time when, at age twelve, he traveled with his parents to Jerusalem at the feast of the passover, and how, at the start of the return trip to Nazareth, his parents discovered he was missing. After a separation of three days, they found him in the Jerusalem temple “amidst the doctors,” who were “astonished at his understanding and answers.”

In response to his mother’s concern, Jesus replied: “How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?”* (See sidebar below for Bible account)

From then on nothing more appears in the Bible on the life of Jesus until his apparently sudden arrival on the scene at the age of thirty. Often people have asked the question: What transpired during those missing eighteen years?

Jesus had begun his mission
Assuming that what we find in the Bible is true—that Jesus returned to Nazareth with his parents, and was “subject unto them”—his “subjection” to them can hardly have lasted for eighteen years considering the “declaration of independence” he made to them at the age of twelve. Christian tradition has him working as a carpenter. Jesus, however, seems flatly to contradict that tradition, for his own words were, “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?”

After this strong statement, it is unthinkable that he would have simply gone home, remained there for eighteen years, and become a common apprentice and journeyman carpenter under Joseph until the age of thirty, and only then commenced his life’s mission. At twelve he had already told his parents he had God’s work to do. And, as he strongly implied, he had begun that mission already.

Westerners are likely to object, “But twelve is too young for any boy to begin a life mission!” His parents evidently held the same view. It is obvious, however, that Jesus did not hold it, for we find him telling them in no uncertain words—words very different, moreover, from what one would expect of any child of twelve—what he must do. In fact, he seems almost to have scolded them for finding him. Reflect that he made that statement after he had been missing for three whole days. Surely the event was extraordinary.

The tradition in India
The only episodes I know that were comparable to this story about Jesus, who was virtually renouncing every blood tie to his family, have occurred in the lives of great reincarnated masters. Paramhansa Yogananda recounted the following story to me as a historic fact: Swami Shankara told his mother at the age of six that he had decided to renounce the world for God. When she tried, quite naturally, to hold him, he jumped into a river and allowed himself—so the story goes—to be caught by a crocodile.

“Look, Mother!” he cried. “Either you give me your consent, or I will let this crocodile take me. Whatever happens, you won’t have me anymore!” Hastily she gave her permission. And the child, who had been born with divine power, made the crocodile release him, whereupon his life mission began.

Another example which occurred more recently involved Swami Pranabananda, a disciple of Lahiri Mahasaya.** Pranabananda, my Guru told me, attained full liberation and left his body. “In his next incarnation,” Yogananda said, “he left home at the age of six. His declared purpose was to join Babaji in the Himalayas.” After a brief pause, Yogananda continued with a smile, “It caused a lot of commotion in that village at the time!”

In the light of spiritual tradition—especially in India, where the lamp of spirituality has burned brightly for centuries—the declaration by Jesus at the age of twelve, that he must “be about his Father’s business,” was not unique. That he had, moreover, a karmic tie with India had already been indicated by the visit, soon after his birth, of the three wise men of the East.

Clearly then, those eighteen years must have been deliberately omitted from the official account of Christ’s life. Two vital questions forcibly intrude themselves on this picture: What was omitted? And,What was the reason for that omission?

The decision of the early Church Council 
In 1958, I had an interesting conversation with a prominent spiritual leader in India: Swami Bharati Krishna Tirtha, the Shankaracharya of Gowardhan Math. He was at that time the senior representative of the ancient Shankara Order of Swamis. Throughout the land people respected him highly as a man of truth and honor. My own experience with him, which covered many months, supports that reputation. I will quote something he told me, in his own words as exactly I can remember them, about one of the early Church Councils of Constantinople. He told me the date of that council, but I don’t recall it:

Some years ago I came into possession of one of only three copies of an ancient document which purported to be an account of the proceedings of one of the early Councils of Constantinople. In that council, the question was raised as to how the Church should deal with the record, which still existed, of the missing eighteen years of Jesus Christ’s life.

The problem raised was that the account might unsettle the faith of devout Christians. The Bible stated that Jesus had spent at least a number of those ‘lost’ years with great masters in India, to which land he had gone to study with them. The question raised in the council was whether Christians might not be shaken in their faith if they thought that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, had studied under anyone. The general feeling of the prelates was that the account should be removed in order to protect the devotion of the faithful.

At that point, someone in the audience got up and stated, ‘I am a layman, not a priest, and am aware that it is not customary for such as I to speak at these councils. However, I feel I must speak out. What I have to say is, if the apostles themselves were not shaken in their faith by this revelation, why should we who truly believe, all of us, that Jesus was the Son of God, have less trust then they? Surely the simple truth will not in any way diminish his stature in people’s eyes!’ The man’s objection was not considered, however, and the account of those eighteen years was removed forthwith from the Bible.

Testimony of a Master
Let me submit, also, what to me is the strongest testimony of all: the fact that Paramhansa Yogananda himself declared many times, as a definite fact, that Jesus Christ did visit India, and that he lived there for some years.

I had been with my Guru for just a month when he invited me to his desert retreat at Twenty-Nine Palms, California, where he was dictating his revised correspondence-course lessons. During one evening’s session he stated during dictation: “The three wise men who came to honor the Christ Child after his birth in Bethlehem were the line of gurus who later sent me to the West: Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya, and Swami Sri Yukteswar.” This was heady stuff, especially for a young neophyte!

Yogananda announced to us also, “Jesus, in his youth, paid a return visit to India to study under the ‘wise men’ who had come to honor him as a baby.” People may wonder, as those prelates did at the Council of Constantinople, why an Incarnation of God needed to learn from anybody.

A liberated master, whose mission it is to mix with the public, must comport himself in such a way as not to impose his wisdom on those who hear him. It would be no help to them were he to overwhelm them with his omniscience in everything. He must, for their sake, seem down-to-earth and, in that sense, perfectly normal. Thus, it was perfectly normal for a great master—indeed, for an avatar like Jesus, which is to say an Incarnation of God—to assume for a time the slight veil of delusion, as well as the behavior of a normal human being, in order to help others, later.

The discovery of an ancient manuscript
There are records in India which support the claim that Jesus lived in that country for several years. In 1887, the Russian writer Nicolas Notovitch discovered in the ancient Tibetan monastery of Himis, in Leh, a province of Ladakh in northern Kashmir, an ancient manuscript which detailed the life of Jesus (called Issa in that work). It recounts that Issa had traveled there as a young man, and had later “preached the holy doctrine in India and among the children of Israel.” It tells how Jesus (Issa) left home to avoid pressure from his parents, Joseph and Mary, to take a wife. Legend has it that he traveled by camel caravan over the “Silk Road,” which was the main passage between the East and the West. Notovitch published a book which became famous in his time, called The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ. In it he described Issa (Jesus) spending time in Puri, Orissa, among the priests at the famous Jagannath Temple.

A prominent disciple of the great Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Abhedananada, later (in 1922) went to Ladakh in order to verify the account by Notovitch, and actually succeeded in doing so. Later still, Nicholas Roerich, the Russian artist who was then already well known as a veritable “Renaissance Man,” wrote in 1929 of the many legends he had heard in Kashmir about the visit of Jesus Christ to that land, and about the manuscripts at Himis monastery. In 1939, Madam Elisabeth G. Caspari, a Swiss musician, and her husband visited the Himis monastery and also learned about the manuscripts, which were shown to them.

The account of Jesus leaving home as a boy to avoid marriage is very much in keeping with ancient tradition in India. Marriage in Israel, too, was arranged in those days after a boy reached the age of thirteen.  Jesus himself explained his return  to Israel, after the “lost eighteen years,” when he declared that it was his destiny to fulfill his mission in Israel. He therefore returned to Israel.

* Sidebar
Luke 2:41–52

Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem. And, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. They, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey and then sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances.

And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, and after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.

And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, “Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.” And he said unto them, “How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.

And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

** An account of his life appears in  Autobiography of a Yogi.

From Revelations of Christ, proclaimed by Paramhansa Yogananda, presented by his disciple, Swami Kriyananda, Crystal Clarity Publishers. To order click here