By Nandini Sarkar July 2011 A seeker recounts her journey on the path of discipleship to Paramahansa Yogananda from open-hearted seeking, and love for the master to a steadfast devotion that asks no questions MESSAGES FROM THE MASTERThose who have come to Yogoda Satsanga Society truly seeking inward spiritual help shall receive what they seek from God. Whether they come while I am in the body, or afterward, the power of God through the link of the YSS gurus shall flow into the devotees just the same, and shall be the cause of their salvation. If you can just once “break bread” with the Lord, break His silence, He will talk often with you. But in the beginning it is very difficult; it is not easy to become acquainted with God, because He wants to be sure that you really desire to know Him. He gives tests to see if the devotee wants Him or something else. He will not talk with you until you have convinced Him that no other desire is hiding in your heart. Why should He reveal Himself to you if your heart is filled only with longings for His gifts? Achieving your goals As a mortal being you are limited, but as a child of God you are unlimited… Focus your attention on God, and you shall have all the power you want, to use in any direction. If you continuously use your will power, no matter what reverses come, it will produce success and health and power to help people and above all, it will produce communion with God. Happiness One must never give up hope of becoming better. A person is old only when he refuses to make the effort to change. That stagnant state is the only ‘old age’ I recognise. When a person says again and again, “I can’t change; this is the way I am,” then I have to say, “All right, stay that way, since you have made up your mind to be like that.” The spiritual man conquers wrath by calmness, stops quarrels by keeping silence, dispels disharmony by being sweet of speech and shames discourtesy by being thoughtful of others. There is no more liberating action than sincerely to give people kindness in return for unkindness. Source: www.yssof india.org As a young child, I often had the eerie feeling of being watched over by someone I could not see. It made me feel special, but I did not have the maturity or the interest to explore further. But there would always be questions: Who am I? Why am I here? Who made God? I could also never relate to my name – I felt I was not Nandini, but someone else. I had read The Life of Sri Ramakrishna, and wanted very much to have a thriving relationship with God, like he had. I started praying to Thakur for a path that would take me to self-realisation with lightning speed. I was very impatient and did not want to wait lifetimes for enlightenment. Surely, enlightenment was our birthright, ours for the asking! In my school leaving year, a beloved teacher at school, Mrs Ganzu, gifted me Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi. Great read, I thought and put the autobiography aside. An inner urge literally pushed me into a second reading of the book and I remember thinking – “Yes! Exactly what I wanted – the airplane route to God!” Everyday wisdom Paramahansa Yogananda de-mystified religion and broke it down to everyday living. In appearance he was androgynous: his face shone with the sweet tenderness of a mother, and his powerful voice resonated in the minds of his listeners, awakening many from a lifelong stupor. When he addressed gatherings, he would come bounding on the stage, demanding of his listeners: “Are we awake and ready?” He refused to address inattentive gatherings, and such was his spiritual charisma, that audiences would always shout back: “Awake and ready!” I gave up an 18-year-old addiction after reading his lecture, Developing dynamic will. Such was his power to root out deeply embedded habits in people. Paramahansaji would sometimes challenge a team from his audience to a show of strength and often a group of strong young men pulling at him found themselves unable to dislodge him from his seat, much to their surprise. Yoganandaji was the first master to address questions that concern us in our everyday battles. How can we balance spiritual interests with worldly living? How should we choose our marriage partner? Business partner? Job? Vocation? Rear children? Attain samadhi? His answers, which he left behind for posterity in the form of self-study lessons and books, are powerful. His unique interpretations, direct and hard hitting, and tantalising wit are a revelation for the seeker, gingerly stepping out into the unknown. In Yoganandaji’s way, there is no esoteric thought or astral flight to daze the novice. He taught us to plant our feet firmly on the ground and our head among the stars. Pioneer of peace Many of Paramahansa Yogananda’s teachings, propagated in the 1920s and 1930s, are now being taught at various New Age schools. The power of visualisation to crystalise dreams, the power of affirmation to heal, the power of dynamic will, the efficacy of energisation exercises, balanced diet, were all path-breaking ideas that he taught at the beginning of the 20th century. Paramahansaji introduced seekers to God – he taught them to “talk” to God using the Om technique. Let there be light He taught people to live longer and look younger, giving rest to their vital organs, using the Hong Sau technique. Christians said that his interpretation of the Bible brought them back to the Church. He interpreted the Bhagavad Gita in a manner that makes it a handbook for everyday living. According to Paramahansaji, when we go to sleep, we do not know whether we are men or women. Just as we can conjure entire worlds in our dreams, so too, this world is a powerful dream play of a brilliant director – God – being beamed on a screen of light. One of the most remarkable instances of a life transformed by Yoganandaji was that of the western seeker, James Lynn. The head of a vast business empire, this American businessman could never sit still, he was so nervous, and he led an unhappy personal life. From Paramahansaji, he learnt to balance the temporal with the spiritual. His business grew from strength to strength and he attained samadhi too! Personally speaking While not having the audacity to compare myself with James Lynn, I can truthfully say that I was inspired to start my own consulting business in 2001 and I consider Paramahansa Yogananda to be my company’s guardian angel. I started with a capital of only Rs 50,000 and 10 years down the line, to my own surprise, I am still in business, and we have a pan-India footprint. I feel he is involved in every part of my business. The business leads we get, the employees we have attracted and retained, the unexpected help we get from different quarters, the disasters that have stared at us in the face every now and then and the way we have emerged unscathed, are inexplicable. Recently, a colleague of mine, who is not a devotee, was helped. His wife had suffered three miscarriages. I took him to Yoganandaji’s Garpar Road home in Kolkata and we both meditated in the attic where Paramahansaji had received the vision of the Divine Mother. I reminded Master of the help that Lahiri Mahasay had given Abhoya and hoped he would help my colleague too. It delights me to report that my colleague and his wife are now the proud parents of a beautiful baby daughter. Since then both have started kriya practice. I admire the masters for their consistent helpfulness. They seem to really care. Yoganandaji, in fact, said that he would keep coming back till the last soul had safely reached the shore.
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