In The New Path, Swami Kriyananda describes how Mt. Washington was like a hotel when Master lived there – how people would check in and out, and how very few of them ever stayed.
It’s hard to fathom, isn’t it, how people could have the tremendous good karma to be with Yogananda, and not to be able to appreciate it enough to stay.
As Swamiji said, it wasn’t easy to live with a master. And it wasn’t because he was harsh, but because in his love for them, he wanted to remove everything that kept them separate from God.
Swamiji said that if you didn’t want Master to change you, he wouldn’t interfere. He would be kind and sweet and supportive, but he wouldn’t discipline you unless you’d decided that he had the only answer that would satisfy your soul.
We fear that the guru will take away the things we least want to give up. But he will never do that. What good would it do? If we haven’t accepted our need to change, no one can inspire us to want it.
Swamiji said that in Master’s presence, the force of light was enormous, and in the presence of that light a great deal of your self was suddenly revealed. For many people, the revelation was too painful, and they would hastily depart.
When we discover a fault or a weakness in ourselves, how can we handle the pain? It’s useless to say “How terrible I am! How hopeless I am!” Because it doesn’t help – it just glues us more firmly to our errors.
We have to realize that everything we cling to will eventually be taken away. We won’t get to save any of the parts of us that we cling to with tender affection.
That’s for religion, written with a small “r.” Religion says, “Be a nice person. You don’t have to be perfect (never mind what Jesus said). You can just continue to measure yourself by a basic, minimal standard where you’ll still look pretty good.”
On the spiritual path, we have to measure ourselves against Infinity. We have to wake up every day and realize “I’m not there yet,” and calmly and cheerfully keep going forward, a step at a time.
There are definite stages of awareness that we all go through. And there’s a stage where we’re making a spiritual effort and moving steadfastly toward God, but there’s still a great deal of temptation to look for a safe corner where we can hang out and be comfortable, at least for a while.
Over the years, David and I have done a bit of scuba diving. And one of the things you have to learn is that when you come up from a depth, you have to stop at l5 feet and hang out there for three or four minutes. You’ve been breathing compressed air, and you have to give your body time for various chemical reactions to take place, or you’ll get the bends, a dangerous and painful condition.
So you hang there for a while, neither rising or sinking, and you try to breathe in a comfortable manner. And it’s like the stage in our spiritual life where we don’t want to sink lower, but we aren’t ready to rise. So we adjust our consciousness until we have a kind of neutral buoyancy, and we hang out there.
It’s a mystery why we would want to do that. But, really, it’s because we have a false notion of where our happiness comes from.
In Swami Kriyananda’s later years, it was very interesting to see how, as his body grew old and debilitated, he was always using it to express higher levels of consciousness. It was extraordinary to see that frail body radiate such a magnificent power of bliss.
Master defined the ego as “the soul, identified with the body.” It’s a nice, neutral way to define the ego, so that we don’t see it as either positive or negative but simply a fact. The soul becomes identified with the body, and our sense of self becomes identified with the body. And that’s the reality that we have to deal with, and that we’re working to gradually transcend.
Swamiji describes how he was walking with Yogananda, and he was holding his arm to support him, because his body was infirm. At one point Master stumbled, and he explained, “I am in so many bodies, I forget which one I’m supposed to keep moving.”
What if you were so expanded in your consciousness that everybody’s reality was equal to your own? Swamiji talked about how people who aren’t spiritually evolved misunderstand the saints. They decide that the saints must be doing it all with will power, the way an unevolved person would try to do. “Hm, the saints are able to love people because they have a lot of will power, and they can suppress their natural selfishness.”
But religion doesn’t understand that the negative qualities in us can be wholly transcended, as we discover God’s desire-quenching bliss and love and become absorbed in it.
It’s wonderful to meditate and project yourself into a completely different reality, identifying another person’s needs as your own and praying for their healing and freedom. Because that’s the standard by which we should judge our progress on the spiritual path.
How would I feel about this person with whom I’m angry, if I could know their reality as much as my own? What would it be like to have no fear? To have no fear of embarrassment, no fear of making a mistake, no fear of exposing your ignorance, no fear of physical pain, no fear of being rejected, no fear of being afraid?
It’s wonderful to meditate on how the masters have found the bliss that dispels all fear. As we pass through the stages of our long journey back to God, let us meditate on the bliss of the masters, and how that bliss and love contains all of the fulfillment we’ve ever been seeking.