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Convocation 2006 Table of Contents Sunday Service at Hollywood Temple - Brother Ishtananda 2 to 6 Los Angeles Times Article about Self-Realization Fellowship 7 to 9 Sunday 10 to 19


Experiencing our Divine Potential Brother Achalananda

Monday Energy

2:30pm Recharging the Body with Cosmic 20 to 22 Brother Naradananda


Afternoon Satsanga

23 to 31 Sister Mridani

7:30pm Spiritual Goals

Balancing our Material and 32 to 40 Brother Chidananda

Tuesday 41 to 49



Tuesday Morning Satsanga Brother Sevananda

2:30pm 50 to 57

The Hong-Sau and Aum Techniques Concentration and Meditation Brother Nakulananda


7:30pm The Importance of Developing a 58 to 67 Relationship with God Brother Vishwananda

Wednesday 2:30pm 68 to 74

How to Create a Spiritual Routine Brother Pranavananda


Moral Strength: The Foundation of

75 to 82 Spiritual Freedom

Brother Atmananda

Thursday 7:30pm Unconditional Love

The Guru: A Divine Gift of 83 to 90 Sister Priya

Friday 7:30pm Experiences With

Embracing All Our Life’s 91 to 98 God Awareness Brother Anandamoy

Saturday Experience


Expanding Your Convocation 99 to 106 Brother Satyananda

Awakening our Divine Nature

Sunday Service at Hollywood Temple – Brother Ishtananda On the Sunday morning before convocation, many devotees gather at the Hollywood Temple for services as a way to start the Convocation week. Master makes this no ordinary service, but a pilgrimage - a way to set the tone for the week. In this sacred temple, Master spoke, taught classes on Patanjali and other subjects, and gave Kriya. Make special effort to contact Master here at this place of pilgrimage, where he was and is - where his sacred vibration resides, and stay with him throughout the week. Pick him up here and carry him with you wherever you go. In the later years of Buddha’s life, someone came to him and asked, not who are you, but “What are you?” “Are you a god?” “No,” Buddha answered. “Are you an angel?” “No.” “Are you a saint?” “No.” “Then what are you?” Buddha replied: “I’m awake.” Our topic for today is “Awakening our Divine Nature”. At Mother Center, at the base of the wishing well, Master inscribed: “Awake! Sleep no more!” And Jesus said, “Know ye not that ye are gods?” That divine consciousness is within us – it just needs to be awakened. What is this Divine nature? It is the joy of God, the bliss of God, ecstasy, samadhi. It’s not just the nature of the saints; our own divine nature is the same as the saints. Within us is the same Bliss consciousness. It just needs to be awakened. We may not be saints, but we can awaken that Divine nature within us. One time I counseled a man, and he asked if he could increase his Kriyas. Not

only that, but he asked permission to perform his Kriyas more than two times a day. I asked him why he wanted to do that, and he told me, “For twenty-three years I practiced Kriya, but only in the last two years has it become the most important thing in my life. There is such joy!!” He told me that he’d been able to attain the breathless state, and I asked him how long he was able to stay in that state. He said, “It’s hard to say, because there is so little awareness of time, but I would estimate about twenty or thirty minutes.” Then I asked him, “What do you experience at those times?” and he answered, “Brother, I don’t know where you draw the line between joy and bliss. Every day is bliss. Some days are more intense than others, but every day is bliss.” It’s not just the exalted saints and masters who experience this state – it’s us too. So don’t put it off in the distance; don’t relegate it to only the saints, because it is our nature too. That divine nature is right there within us, but in order to experience it, it takes time and commitment to the practice of the teachings and techniques. When Master talked about contacting God, he made you feel that if you made just a little more effort, that God was just around the corner - but it may take many years of devoted practice of meditation. There was a man who lived on an island in the South Pacific. The island had only one small store that sold only the basics, and so the man lived very simply. One time he was invited by a friend to visit the U.S. One day his host thought, “I’ll take him to the grocery store for a treat.” As they walked down the many isles in the store, the man was overwhelmed at all the choices. He pointed to a box and asked, “What’s this?” “Oh, that’s powdered milk,” his host explained. If you want milk you just add water and presto, you have milk.” The man was wonderstruck. Then he picked up another container and asked, “What’s this?” “Oh, that’s instant coffee. You just add hot water and presto, you have coffee.” Again, the man was in awe. They continued on, and the man picked up another item and asked, “What’s this?” “Oh, that’s powdered eggs. You just add water and presto, you have eggs.” The man could hardly believe all these modern conveniences existed. He picked up one more container, read the label, and exclaimed to his friend, “Oh, you Americans are too much!!! Baby powder!!” (Laughter) Especially here in America, we want everything instantaneously. Master made an important point about this in The Second Coming: “Absolutes light the way, though attainment be less than instant.” By setting that goal for us, he didn’t

say the goal would be attained instantly. In the Gita, Master talks about the 26 soul qualities that make man God-like, and I was glad to see that Master said this - he prefaces the list of those 26 qualities by saying, “Divine spokesmen always speak in absolutes, not to describe what is beyond the aspiring devotee, but as a measure for striving.” In other words, it’s not something that’s beyond our attainment, but he’s not lowering the goal for us either. Always keep the goal in mind. Master said, “You should conceive of God as the highest necessity of life.” So make everything you do in life serve that goal. Recently I talked with a man who was very busy pursuing his chosen career. He said that right from the beginning he had known exactly what he wanted to do, and that everything in his life was geared toward accomplishing that goal. That’s how it should be for us as we strive toward our divine goal. Don’t make the mistake of separating your regular life and your spiritual life into compartments. Don’t try to live your regular life and then tack meditation onto it. Make everything your spiritual life. Your sadhana is your life. Look at everything in terms of your spiritual life and the divine goal. There was a woman who told me about one time when her husband was in excruciating pain, and how she had rushed him to the emergency room. Her husband was also a devotee, and very shortly after this happened he came to see me and asked, “What lesson are we to learn from intense physical suffering?” Now this is a real devotee!! The ideal is to always turn our awareness toward the spiritual, and use everything in life toward attaining that divine goal. Otherwise we find we have our feet in two different boats – and this leads to inevitable grief and suffering. Milarepa, one of the great yogis of Tibet said, "All worldly pursuits have but the one unavoidable end, which is sorrow: acquisitions end in dispersion; buildings in destruction; meetings in separation; births, in death. Knowing this, one should, from the very first, renounce acquisition and heaping up, and building, and meeting; and set about realizing the Truth, which has no birth or death." In ancient Vedic India they knew the body is just the vehicle, and they knew the goal of life: to free the consciousness back to the Source it came from. So they adapted a life geared to this goal, termed the “four ashrams”, or shelters. During the course of life, an ordinary individual passed through each one of the “ashrams”. Every child at a young age left his family and entered a hermitage of spiritual discipline under the tutelage of a guru. As the second stage or ashram of life began, the individual married and left the hermitage to become a householder. He begot children and carried out all the responsibilities of caring for a family. The third ashram began at about age fifty, when he and his wife became “vanaprasthas”, or forest-dwellers. Together they retired from society and the world to seek and concentrate more on the goal of life of full communion with God, through additional spiritual training from the guru. In the fourth and final ashram of life, they became sannyasis, wandering mendicants. To them it didn’t matter where they were. Absorbing the mind in God was all that mattered to them. Thus, each person throughout the four stages lived a full life and had responsibilities, but each stage still had the focus of getting back to God as the ultimate goal.

Now, most of us can’t literally follow the four ashrams, but we can still keep that focus of attaining the divine goal of life. Some devotees come to me and they talk about wanting to start another career, or a new relationship, or some such thing. Now, I’m not saying this is wrong, but when we make those decisions, we need to ask ourselves a question: do we have that primary goal of finding God in mind? There is a story in the Mahabharata about Arjuna. His archery instructor, Drona, was very much pleased with Arjuna, and showed preferential love and favor toward him. This caused a natural adolescent jealousy in the heart of Drona’s son. One day he openly criticized his father for favoring Arjuna, arguing that he also was skillful in archery. In reply, Drona arranged a test to decide the best archer amongst all his students. A wooden bird was placed on a branch of a distant tree, and arranged to be partly hidden by foliage. A prominent artificial eye was painted on the wooden bird. Drona called all his disciples and said to them, "Look, my children, a bird is sitting on that far off tree. The challenge is to shoot the arrow exactly into its eye." All the disciples took aim at the target, their bow-strings drawn back. Just then Drona said to his son, "Tell me, what is visible to you at this point in time, my son?" "I am seeing the sky, the tree, the leaves, and the bird," replied the son. The same question was asked of each student as they took aim at the bird, and Drona received similar answers from all of them. Lastly, Drona came to Arjuna, his bow and arrow readied, his body in perfect stance. Then the Guru asked him, "O Arjuna, tell me, what is being observed by you?" "Sir, I see nothing but the center of the eye of the bird,” Arjuna replied. Arjuna had that tremendous focus. That’s what we need in order to see the center of the eye of God – which is our goal. Obstacles are what we see when we take our eyes off the goal. That man in the emergency room who was in all that pain saw that experience not as an obstacle, but as a stepping stone, and he introspected about what he was to gain from the experience. Keep the focus, even while carrying out your responsibilities. Gyanamata once wrote a letter to Daya Ma, and she gave Ma four basic rules of spiritual life that we should live by. The first one was: “See nothing, look at nothing but your goal shining before you.” Ma took this to heart, and that’s why Ma is who she is – always that one-pointed devotee, because she had her focus on God as her goal. But maya tries to deflect our gaze. The world constantly conspires to distract us from the goal, and it rests with us to keep our focus on that divine goal. How to do this? Brother Bhaktananda used the word “casual”. “You have to be

casual about things,” he used to say. The right attitude is not to get all excited and involved in this outer changing show of creation, which is always changing. There was a young monk who came to Brother Bhaktananda complaining about his concerns about how the SRF work was going. Brother listened and then said simply, quoting from the Bible, “Well, this too shall pass.” In his later years, when people would call him and ask how he was doing, even when he was having trouble with the body Brother would always say, “Everything is fine.” So be casual - but not with your relationship with God, and the teachings and techniques of meditation - that’s where your enthusiasm, interest, and intensity needs to be. When we do that, we will find that all other things will fall into proper place. In the Gita Krishna says, “Unattracted to the sensory world, the yogi experiences the ever new joy inherent in the Self. Engaged in divine union of the soul with Spirit, he attains bliss indestructible.” Master said of this quote: “The yogi learns to control his chitta (primordial feeling), overcoming all likes and dislikes relative to external objects. Detaching his attention from the outer world into his true inner Self, he perceives the ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new joy of the soul. When the Self is fully established in union with Spirit, his ever new joy becomes immutable.” Some people, instead of having enthusiasm for the spiritual life, are all involved in the excitement of the world – they are interested in the latest current events, the latest diets, the latest scientific theories and discoveries, and all kinds of energies are devoted there. But when you ask them about their spiritual life and their meditations they say, “Well, ya, I’m meditating,” – but it’s not with the same energy and enthusiasm that they have for those outer things. The bottom line is, we think about what we love. “This is the choice we have: do we want the Divine? Or do we want the trinkets of this world?” Daya Ma said. “The choice is ours.” That’s why meditation is so important, because only in meditation can we have a deep enough experience of God to counteract the pull of the world. If we are going deep in meditation, then that continuity of the Divine Presence will be there, and it will remain with us even when we return to our activities in the outer world. Even if we are not feeling anything, remember what Master said: “Yearning for God is being with God.” Why? Because we’re thinking of what we love. Especially the Kriya yoga that Master gave us – this is the greatest blessing, because then we feel the power of God as the prana within us, and ultimately know we are the consciousness and not the body. Master has given us a tremendous teaching in the Kriya technique so that we can interiorize the consciousness in order to worship God on the altar of the spine and brain in divine communion. Never let it become mechanical. Remember and appreciate what Kriya is: think of it as your tool to get you back to God. We

want to live, move, and have our being in that Divine consciousness. It takes time – even if it’s ten, or twenty-three, or thirty years – you can’t put a time frame on it. Remember the man I told you about at the beginning of my talk who had meditated twenty-three years without much result? He told me, “I give no thought to those twenty-three years because it’s all been worth it.” There’s no samadhi powder we can pull of the shelf. (Laughter) Kriya is the closest thing we have to samadhi powder. So forget the world this week. Immerse yourself in divine love, peace and joy, and waves of bliss. But don’t think about it. Thinking chops up the consciousness. Feel it. Be it. Be it. (Together we performed the healing service for body, mind, and soul.) One time after a meditation and prayer service, Daya Ma asked Master, “What do you say to Divine Mother when you pray for them?” Master replied, “I pray to God that their heart’s desire be fulfilled by His special grace.” Blessings to you all.

The following article from the August 6th edition of the L.A. Times was posted at various locations in the Bonaventure Hotel during the week of Convocation:

Self-Realization Fellowship Celebrates 60th Anniversary of 'Autobiography of a Yogi'

The Self-Realization Fellowship is holding its annual convocation in L.A., honoring the 60th anniversary of the yogi's Autobiography. By Louis Sahagun, Times Staff Writer August 6, 2006 Indian swami Paramahansa Yogananda strode onto the sunny canvas of Los Angeles in 1925 with tales of magic in a far-off place and a meditation technique he said could liberate the soul. The charismatic founder of the religious organization headquartered in Mount Washington went on to introduce America to yoga and, with his "Autobiography of a Yogi," become the 20th century's first superstar guru. More than 4,500 people from around the world will gather at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles today for the Self-Realization Fellowship's annual convocation, featuring a full week of group meditations and evening classes with titles that include "Balancing Our Spiritual and Material Goals." "The bliss you feel in meditation is proof of God's existence," Yogananda liked to say. It was a potent message that attracted fans, as varied as housewives and President Coolidge, who once met with him in the White House. It also spawned a global religious empire of publications, recordings and valuable real estate that has figured in recent bare-knuckles court battles. This year, the fellowship is honoring the 60th anniversary of "Autobiography" with a series of projects designed to promote the legacy of the man thousands of disciples still refer to as "master." Today, there are 639 fellowship temples and meditation centers in 62 countries. The organization recently translated the yogi's book into its 26th language, Finnish. "We hope to next translate the 'Autobiography' next into Slovenian and Russian," said Brother Chidananda, a senior manager of the fellowship, "although I hear there are already bootleg versions in those places." In addition to establishing a worldwide organization, the California guru developed lush meditation centers on prime real estate in Pacific Palisades, Hollywood, Encinitas and San Diego. "Yogananda was unique in his time; he seemed to be genuinely sincere," said J. Gordon Melton, director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion in Santa Barbara. "He also had a corner on the market. It wasn't until the Beatles hooked up with the Maharishi Yogi in the mid-1960s that Yogananda had any real competition."

The dark-skinned yogi with shoulder-length hair and flowing robes held court in almost mystic salons at his landscaped retreats. Among his close friends were

symphony conductor Leopold Stokowski, who had an active interest in mysticism; famed horticulturist Luther Burbank, who encouraged plants to grow by speaking to them in soothing tones; and Goodwin Knight, who was a California governor and lieutenant governor in the 1950s and an avid astrologer. Residents of the Mount Washington complex still talk about the time in the late 1960s when Elvis Presley showed up at their door. "Elvis looked at one of our monks and said, 'Man, you made the right choice,' " recalled Brother Paramananda, who left a promising acting career to devote his life to the fellowship. "Elvis said, 'People don't know my life or that I sometimes cry myself to sleep because I don't know God.' “Fellowship leaders encouraged him to continue singing. Yogananda's teaching blended Christianity and the 2nd century Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, a yoga school of philosophy stressing nonviolence, self-discipline, physical exercises, breath control and meditation. In a recent visit to the small study on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Encinitas where Yogananda penned "Autobiography," a monk named Brother Jayananda said, "You can feel his vibrations in here." The room — off-limits without an appointment — has been preserved as a shrine since the yogi's death in 1952. The desk is topped by a framed photograph of Yogananda at work on the book, pen in hand. A big brass Aladdin's lamp sits on a leather seat a few feet to the right. Large white spiral-shaped seashells are strewed across the floor in front of the fireplace. At Mount Washington, Yogananda's bedroom has been turned into a shrine, where his unfinished last meal of fruit and tea remains wrapped in cellophane. Just around the corner, his collection of stones and minerals sits on a wooden bench in a hallway decorated with portraits of the guru at various ages. There is hardly a patch of wall anywhere in the Mount Washington or Encinitas compounds without a prominent photograph or portrait of Yogananda, whose visage gazes out in dens and hallways, kitchens and studies, even gazebos. Critics say fellowship members go overboard in venerating their yogi as a godlike figure. They also point to a spate of recent legal problems as signs that the society Yogananda founded is all too human. In one case, DNA samples were needed to dismiss an attempt to take over the fellowship by a man who claimed he was Yogananda's illegitimate son. In 1990, the fellowship filed a lawsuit against a splinter group known as Ananda to secure exclusive rights to Yogananda's teachings, name, likeness, voice and use of the term "self-realization." That case was resolved in 2002 with a unanimous jury verdict determining that Ananda had infringed on certain copyrights. But it also said the terms "Paramahansa Yogananda" and "self-realization" could not be trademarked. These days, most people come to know him through his "Autobiography,"

which fellowship officials say sells about 50,000 copies a year. It was, as religion scholar W.Y. Evans-Wentz once noted, one of the few books about yogis by a genuine yogi.

The book chronicles Yogananda's life from his birth in northeast India through his search for a guru and ultimate bliss. Yogananda was born Mukunda Lal Ghosh in 1893 in Gorakhpur, India, into a well-to-do Bengali family. As a young man, he toured India and made pilgrimages to the Himalayas before at last finding the teacher who fulfilled his spiritual needs, Sri Yukteswar. That teacher gave him the title Paramahansa, which means "highest swan," a vehicle of the Supreme Spirit. He arrived in America from India in 1920, when he was invited to serve as a delegate to the International Congress of Religious Liberals convening in Boston. In 1925, he moved to Los Angeles and established the international headquarters of his spiritual society and a monastic order of monks and nuns who take vows of chastity, obedience and simplicity, living for the furtherance of self-realization. At Mount Washington, 66 monks and 76 nuns dedicate themselves to the fellowship. Lay members are encouraged to attend Sunday sermons, enroll in a 3 1/2 -year mail-order course and start and end their days in meditation in their homes. The monks and nuns arise to a ringing phone at 5:30 a.m. and live, work and worship in cell-like apartment rooms — also festooned with images of the guru — and surrounded by 12 acres of shady manicured gardens with a spectacular view of downtown Los Angeles. Much of their day is spent in supporting members worldwide through counseling and letter writing and in disseminating Yogananda's literature. They also practice "Kriya meditation," Yogananda's technique of breathing and concentration of the gaze to control "life energy," realize one's true self, or soul, and achieve perfect attunement with God, or samadhi. It's not easy, according to fellowship senior spiritual counselor Uma Mata, 71, who was only 9 when Yogananda invited her to join his society. "I haven't experienced samadhi," she said. "It's what I'm working toward."

Experiencing Our Divine Potential Sunday Evening – Brother Achalananda Greetings and love to all of you. It is always a joy to be with you. This evening we have a happy announcement for Convocation 2006 - an audio recording of Sri Daya Mataji. Let’s all be still and hear her words of wisdom: (paraphrased) Dear Ones, It is such a joy to welcome you. I wish I could be there with you, but know that I remember you all in my prayers. With the greatest interest I will be following you and all of your activities this week, and asking God and Master to bless you. Warm greetings to the Germany and Portugal devotees. How thrilled Master is to see so many sincere souls here seeking to realize God. May each one of you know how much you are loved by God and Guru. That is what I want all of you to experience this blessed week. The world is suffering with so much strife and uncertainty that it is hard not to become engrossed. The longing in every heart is, “How can I be happy in these circumstances and be able to help others?” The answer lies in cultivating an ever-increasing loving relationship with God. As you meditate; as you dwell deep upon Guru’s teachings, you will strengthen one another. God’s presence will become more and more real to you. Remember that no matter how busy you are, you can choose where you focus your mind and heart. Master said to just keep your mind centered in God, even in the midst of your activities. When you take a little time every day for meditation, you will find therein a peace that does not depend on outer conditions. You will be able to reach out and uplift others. That sweet relationship with God sustains me every day. Remember always that we are not the body, but the soul. How blessed we are to be drawn to a guru who can lead us to that experience of God. Sixty years have passed since Guruji’s Autobiography of a Yogi was published, and it warms my heart to know how your lives are changing. You are among those souls that Guruji saw who would come to this path when he said, “I am with them and they are with me.” May you take with you a deep assurance that he is watching over you always. God

bless you dear ones. Jai Guru I was going to ask you all a question, and our beloved Daya Mataji just gave you the answer. What was this the 60th anniversary of? Autobiography of a Yogi. It has touched the hearts and minds of so many then, and continues to do so today. The living vitality of its truth has not dimmed. There was a man and wife who traveled to Germany with their teenage son and daughter. The man wanted to discover his roots and meet his relatives who were living there. As they were on the plane, the movie which was showing was horrible - the man wasn’t interested in it, so he started looking around for something to read. He happened to look in the seat pocket in front of him and found a book entitled Autobiography of a Yogi. He picked it up and glanced at the book cover, saw Master’s picture there, and thought it was some lady. (Laughter) Then he turned the book over and read the back cover, and then he read the first few pages. There he found page after page of raving reviews from individuals all over the world. He thought, “Well this sounds interesting. I think I’ll read this.” And he did …… and he was mesmerized. He told his wife about it, but she wasn’t interested. After they arrived in Germany he and his family were invited to a gathering of seventeen of his relatives. At the gathering he asked if any of them had ever heard of the book. One of them gave him a high five. It turns out two of his relatives were already SRF members! After discovering this, his wife got curious, and his kids got curious. “Let me see the book,” they all said. “Not till I’m done,” the man told them. (Laughter) On the return flight home each one had their own copy. (Laughter) After that, the man returned to work and to life as usual. Then one day he was invited to the wedding of a friend’s daughter. Guess where the wedding was held? Lake Shrine. (Laughter) The man signed up for the Lessons, and later on he told one of the monastics, “Yoganandaji didn’t just arrange for the book, but he arranged for me to visit one of the places where he lived. In the Autobiography, Guruji tells of his spiritual journey. Now my spiritual journey begins.” That’s how it began for me, too. It was either late 1952 or early in 1953 when I first read Autobiography of a Yogi. At that time it was published by the Philosophical Library, and there was no reference made to the Lessons. I

became friends with the person who had suggested I read the book, and one day I happened to notice him putting a paper into the top drawer of his desk. “What’s that?” I asked him, and he told me, “Oh, it’s about yoga classes,” and he showed me a 1953 Convocation pamphlet. I looked it over and saw that there were six main topics to be addressed: Energization Exercises, Hon-Sau technique, Om technique, etc. The classes all sounded interesting, and when I read that there were Lessons available, I applied for them. Then one night I went to India Hall – my first time. I arrived just as they were having the opening prayer – and I noticed that everyone was standing with their hands clasped together. Now, I’d never seen this before, and my skeptical mind said, “That’s weird.” (Laughter) But at the same time came this overwhelming feeling: “I’m home. Thank God I’m home at last.” And I’m still home, meditating and studying the Guru’s teachings. It’s been a wonderful journey. Yes, I’ve had some struggles – and highs - along the way, like all of us do, but they are always opportunities to develop our divine potential. Master said, “God did not want matter to become something different from Himself, so He had imbued it with a dreaming intelligence which, by a process of evolution, would gradually awaken and realize that matter and mind (the idea vibrations of God) are one.” In material creation there is this oneness of being. Locked in the elements and minerals of inert matter, intelligence and consciousness sleeps - it can’t express. Then what had looked like inert matter begins to take living form - in plants we see a semblance of life, a hint of life. In animals we find consciousness, but not self-consciousness, or only a hint of it. In humanity we find both consciousness and self-consciousness and the potential for Godrealization. Think of what a gift we have received!! As the lower forms of life go about their drama in nature, we see the law is survival of the fittest. Everywhere you look you see that the stronger prey on the weaker. But notice how usually when a predator grasps its prey, the animal being preyed upon often gives up instantly. So often there is no struggle – so often the animal just accepts its fate. It seems to us to be a cruel and terrible law, but in the final analysis it’s not, because it’s only a dream form. When the animal dies, its soul dissolves back into God’s consciousness, and then the individualized spark of God within it comes back in a higher form. In the Autobiography, Master tells the story of his beloved baby deer, which, after being overfed by one of the young boys at the school in India, lay dying. Master prayed fervently to God to spare its life. But then the deer appeared to Master in a dream and made its plea: “You are holding me back. Please let me go!" “All right,” Master answered in the dream, and the fawn passed on quickly, because it was ready for a higher form.

Master said, “Death is the means by which dream matter changes back into the consciousness of God, releasing the soul within it for the next step in its progressive return journey to God. Thus death is a part of the process of salvation. The upward cycle of evolving intelligence in potentially more efficient instruments of expression continues until it reaches the ultimate form in man.” Death is another aspect of life. Birth and death are doors by which we pass from one dream to another dream aspect of life - the means for us to go from the gross physical dream of God to the finer, more evolved dream of God in the astral world. One time there was a woman who came to Master and asked, “Is there really such a thing as hell?” Master’s eyes were twinkling as he said, “Where do you think you are now?” (Laughter) This place is our hell. Reincarnation of these individualized bodies is a series of dreams within a dream. Reincarnation is the soul’s individualized dream within God’s greater dream. We arrive at last and become reunited with the Dreamer who has dreamed it all. A man is born in Denmark to poor parents, goes off to war and dies in battle. Next time he may be born in Italy to rich parents and become a priest or monk who spends his life in prayer. Then he takes rebirth in Asia, and after many struggles becomes a powerful king. And when he dreams death again, he is reborn a poor man in India; he finds his guru and finds God. So hate no one and be attached to no nationality, because we’ve been all of those nationalities. Sometimes we have dark skin, sometimes light skin, but in each case it’s you each time. Each race, each nationality, thinks they are correct – they think their ways are justified, its customs the best. Until one gains wisdom, reincarnation is troublesome, a painful process of events that are full of shattered hopes. Someone said, “Why is it old age comes so fast and smartness comes so slow?” (Laughter) I was fascinated by the concept of reincarnation. Then I got to thinking, “I wonder - how many human incarnations do we go through until we get freedom?” Then I thought, “Probably thousands.” As I thought about it more I upped the ante, “No, tens of thousands!” Then as I continued to observe humanity … (Laughter) I thought, “No, hundreds of thousands!!” Then I saw something in Guruji writings. He said it takes millions of incarnations for the average person to

gain freedom!! It’s shocking! But there’s a happy side – there is hope for us and that is Kriya Yoga. Master said that you do not gain a great technique such as Kriya Yoga at the beginning of your spiritual evolution; you get it at the end of your search for God. With practice of Kriya you can find God in one lifetime, or if you are a little bit lagging, a few lifetimes. Master encourages us – he’s telling us, “Hey, keep at it! You’re almost there.” Just stay with it and that divine potential will begin to express more and more in our lives. These are interesting times we live in. Suppose a man is struck by a bomb and killed instantly. On the battle field he was filled with fear; but after death he joyously realizes he is free from fear and from the tomb of the body. One need not go through some ordeal to attain this knowledge. It is better to acquire wisdom through conscious spiritual effort in your life now. You can evolve through spiritual practice rather than by having to go through every experience. But the world trains our minds in a different way. This world gets us caught up in materiality – it gets us accustomed to having too many things, and then we think we can’t be happy without them. “Make your life more simple,” Master said. “If you don’t do it, life’s experiences will teach you through bitter disillusionment.” In 2000 and 2001 Ma sent me back to India. Then when I came back from India, I found I was having a problem - it was extremely difficult adjusting to life in the U.S. I was kind of puzzled by this, because I was born and raised here, so why should I have trouble adjusting? Then it hit me: sensory overload. It’s very common in the West. Life is much simpler in India, especially in the ashram. My room with its sparse furnishings was calling me. It’s so easy to overcomplicate life here and get involved in too many things. In India it’s easier to avoid getting caught up in the things of the world, either because it doesn’t exist, or not to the same degree. When I returned to Lake Shrine, many of the devotees told me, “You’ve changed,” and I thought, “What do they notice in me that I’m not conscious of?” I started thinking back to my experiences in India, and remembered what had transpired one day in Ranchi. We had arrived at Ranchi just before Sharad Sangam, which is the Indian equivalent for Convocation. We hold classes and give counseling, and Thursday is Guru’s Day, with a special ceremony with chanting that goes on for hours. The ceremony was to begin at 9 am and go on for hours, but one of the other monks said it would be okay for me to arrive late. So I arrived around 10 am and joined the rest of the devotees who were outdoors. There was a seat for me at the side of the altar, and I was completely focused on finding my seat. As I was winding my way through the crowd, and as I saw those devotees approaching the altar and pranaming - it hit me. The love and devotion of those devotees had supercharged the atmosphere with divine vibrations during that first hour of chanting, and the feeling was overpowering. Tears began to flow from my eyes, and I cried like a baby. I couldn’t stop, and didn’t want to. I remembered the words of the great Indian saint Ramakrishna: “Tears wash

away the mud of delusion.” This state went on for a long time. Finally the tears subsided, and I sat down cross-legged. I think that was the moment when it happened – that must have been when the change took place within me. That’s what meditating together and chanting together and seeking God together can do for us. Never underestimate this. Bring up your children in this philosophy. Don’t pamper them. Give them good training. Keep their lives simple. Teach them not to cater too much to the body. Why enslave them in delusion? Give them true freedom by keeping their lives simple and cultivating in them inner peace and happiness. Do the same with your own life. Don’t be bound by anything. “That philosophy will save you,” Master said. Don’t be attached to things, because then when you can’t have it anymore that attachment will only lead to unhappiness, pain, and sorrow. When I was thirteen I had a very interesting experience. I became absolutely convinced beyond any shadow of a doubt that my parents were not my parents. I was pretty sure that my real parents lived far away, maybe on some other planet,” (Laughter) …and that some day they would come back for me. As far as I knew, those people that were supposedly my parents were just nice people taking care of me. I never said a word about that to them. Later I realized - that was God calling the soul. Who is our parent? God is our Parent! He never forsakes us. He always looks after us. Who is behind our parents? God. Master urged us not to take this life too seriously. We have to learn to accept the experiences of life that come and try to learn what they are trying to teach us. When I was in India, one time we were traveling by train – it was a 27 hour trip. The decision to travel by train was a last minute decision, and we were assigned to 2nd class seats. There were long chairs facing one another that folded down to make a bed so that four people could sleep there, though it made for only very narrow beds. But across the isle there were two unoccupied seats that would fold down to make a wider berth. At 10pm when we were retiring for the night, one of Swamis said to me, “You sleep over there, in the bigger birth.” I said, “But it’s not my birth.” But Swamiji was insistent, and he told me, “That’s okay, you sleep there. The person should trade with you.” I wasn’t so sure… (Laughter) … but then I thought, why argue? So I lay down and fell asleep. Around midnight the other passengers who had those berths came aboard, and I awoke to loud voices arguing with the conductor and with Swamiji. I decided

to feign sleep. (Laughter) Pretty soon I got a good jab in the ribs, and opened my eyes to a man who was more than a little perturbed that I was in his seat. (Laughter) Without any argument, I got up and moved across the isle to the narrow berth. The man was so surprised at this – I guess he thought he was going to have a big argument. When I gave no argument, he was so completely nonplussed, that he kept arguing and muttering to himself for three or four more minutes, even though he had the berth. The lesson is that if we let a little thing like that disturb us, how are we going to keep calm when life really deals us a big problem? Master said, “God’s dream creation was not meant to frighten you, but to prod you to realize finally that it has no reality. Refuse to be intimidated by this dream. Affirm: “I will not be frightened by ill health, poverty, and accidents. Bless me, O Lord, that when You put me through trials, I realize their delusive nature and become victorious over them by positive action and by remaining inwardly united to You.” Master said that if this creation wasn’t a dream, then you couldn’t get away from it. But in sleep you don’t remember who you are – it’s all vanishes. It’s all gone. It’s the same with this life. This life is not real. Guruji gave us an interesting technique for going into the superconsciousness. As you start to fall asleep, or just as you are beginning to wake up in the morning, your consciousness goes to a place where it touches the superconsciousness for a moment. If you think of the three states of consciousness - waking consciousness, subconsciousness, and superconsciousness - as the three lines that make a “Y”, there is a point where they touch. Your consciousness touches that connecting point for a moment whenever you are just falling asleep or just waking up. If you can lengthen that time and remain alert and calm with no thinking, you can cross over into superconsciousness. But if we start to think, we go to waking consciousness. At the Convocation last year I told you the story about my 5½ year dry spell, and how at the end I found there had been a sudden shift in my consciousness. This type of experience can come without any effort. I had found that as I was falling asleep I could get to that juncture point where the three states of consciousness met for a little while, but I couldn’t hold it very long – I would either lapse into sleep or wake up. This went on for some time. I realized that I needed to stay in that state longer, so I tried to attain that state of consciousness every time I was going to sleep. The music that comes in that state of consciousness is unbelievable. It’s so etheric - so beautiful, it’s beyond

human inspiration. There is no thought - just calmness. Finally I got there one time, and was able to hold on to it, and later I wrote down how I felt. It’s hard to remember back – it was so long ago. “I finally got into it,” I wrote. “My whole being was tingling, pulsating with life and joy.” Eventually of course I came out of it, and it never happened again, but I had drank the experience of that state, and I had realized the truth of Master’s words: “Without falling asleep or losing consciousness, keep your mind calm and peaceful in deep meditation – just as it is in dreamless subconscious sleep – and enter the finer world of the superconsciousness. There the body is forgotten, and you enjoy the peace and bliss of your soul, your true Self, and of the soul’s oneness with God.” That’s what we are all looking for. Going back to India and the trip by train, we arrived for the dedication of the new mandir for Guruji. Three of us monks lived in a devotee’s home, and a number of devotees had gathered there to walk in a one-mile procession from their homes to the new mandir where the inauguration ceremony was to be held. At the front of the procession were a few devotees carrying a large picture of Master. I guess the other monks had decided I was too old and decrepit to walk … (Laughter) and so someone drove me ahead about ¾ of the way and dropped me off. I sat down, and from this point I could still see the procession coming slowly toward me from several blocks away. I looked around and found myself before a temple that had a flat roof, on top of which were various statues representing an incident in the life of a particular saint. One of the statues portrayed the saint sitting cross-legged in a cave. There was an opening to the cave above his head, and standing over it was a cow was milking herself, sending milk to the saint who had his mouth open to receive it. This was representative of God feeding His devotee. I pranamed to the saint, and when I got up I felt higher state of consciousness stealing over me. But I fought it off, thinking, “No, it’s not supposed to happen here!” (Laughter) In a little bit the procession arrived with some musicians - I joined them, and we began chanting and walking. After about two blocks that feeling began to steal over me again - but again I thought, “No, it’s not supposed to happen here.” Luckily I was able to fight it off. (Laughter) The procession came to a pundal (a colorful open-sided Indian tent) next to the mandir, where about 600 people were assembled. I was to perform the Arati ceremony, but the moment I began, the devotion pouring out from all those devotees was so powerful that I cried the whole time. Finally the ceremony was finished. I sat down and we had a short meditation. As we began to

chant, that higher consciousness stole over me again. “Okay, this is the place,” I thought. “Let it happen here.” Some of you may know that with those who go into that state, often the head is drawn back – you have no control over it – and if you see someone like that you may wonder why they don’t fall over backwards. I found myself having the experience of being half in and half out of normal consciousness – and I found out later that it is called “bhava samadhi”. I found that in this state I could focus either on the inner world or on the outer world. After a while Sevanandaji came over and whispered in my ear, “You’ve got a talk to give now.” (Laughter)

It was exceedingly difficult. It was a real struggle to talk, but finally, slowly some words came. These are experiences of our divine potential that will come to us. Looking back, I can’t believe I fought off a higher state of consciousness! (Laughter) What happened was beyond my control. These kinds of experiences can come to us. Later on that year in February I was in Dwarahat. It’s a wonderful place, but it gets quite nippy at night. I awoke very early one morning and sat for meditation until 8:30. I had a bite to eat, then went back to my room, brushed my teeth, and then thought, “What to do now?” There was really nothing to do, so I sat to meditate some more. But my room was pretty cold, and I thought it might be nice to meditate at the mandir. The air was brisk, but the sun was warm, so I decided to meditate in the sun just outside the mandir. I sat in meditation posture, and since I had just eaten and couldn’t do Kriya, I thought, “What technique should I do?” Hong-Sau was a favorite of mine, so I began the Hong-Sau technique. I observed my first breath coming in, and half way in I was gone!! That state is hard to explain. There was not a tremor of thought in the mind – the mind was completely still. On a deeper level I was aware that the body was not moving, and this went on for some time. Finally I began to come out of it. You find that there’s no sense of time in those experiences. I wondered what time it was and looked at my watch. It was 12 noon! I’d started at 9 am, so I must have been in that state for three hours. Three hours time had flown by, just like that. Then I remembered Master’s chant: Sitting in the silence, on the sunny banks of my mind, Sitting in the silence, with the Master by my side, When the thoughts have gone to rest,

that’s the time I see him best, O ‘tis lovely sitting in the silence. I thought, “Ah, that must have been what he was talking about.” Later I tried to write something down to explain it: “The connection to the body and to this creation had vanished. Only being remained. There was complete contentment – no desires, no needs, no thoughts – it was a completely peaceful, satisfied existence.” We wonder why yogis can sit for hours in meditation, without moving. That’s why. They are completely absorbed in the silence. There were some other people working near the mandir who saw me in that state, and two of them came over to me. They were hill people who were used to seeing this kind of thing, so they don’t pay it much mind, but they must have seen me sitting without moving for so long, and they gave me deep pranams. Such experiences change us in a positive way. They leave a lasting impression - the experience doesn’t fade with time. That’s how one can tell if it’s a true experience, a genuine experience. I have shared these experiences with you with the hope that you will be inspired to keep on keeping on. Never give up! You never know from one moment to the next, when by the blessings of the Guru and the grace of God suddenly some inner door will open. Usually we don’t speak of such things in public, but because it happened in public I felt I could share this with you. Don’t seek spiritual experiences. Seek God. Seek to become spiritual, and if those spiritual experiences happen, one sees that our life changes. We become more peaceful, more calm, more resolute, more compassionate, more wise, more loving. We all want that - because that is our true nature. Master said, “Break out of the mental cell of ignorance that has you confined. Think differently. Refuse to be limited by thoughts of weakness or age. Who told you that you are old? You are not old. You, the soul, are eternally young. Impress that thought on your consciousness; “I am the soul, a reflection of ever-youthful Spirit. I am vibrant with youth, with ambition, with power to succeed. Your thoughts can limit you or they can free you. You are your worst enemy, and you are your best friend. You have all the power to accomplish what you want, if you motivate yourself, if you remove the mental kinks that are blocking the flow of conviction. “I have seen persons who, despite ill health, have made up their minds to achieve something. Their ailing body was always trying to divert their attention, but they overcame that physical barrier and undeterred went on and on, realizing their goal by sheer strength of mind. And I have seen others with wonderful health, but peanut brains. No matter how you try to convince them, they say, “I can’t do it.” They are stopped by the mental barrier of feeling inadequate. And some people have both health and intelligence but they do not succeed because they have spiritual barriers of bad habits. Whether from

physical, mental, or spiritual causes, failure starts with the avowal, “I can’t do it.” Such is the force of the mind and the vibratory power of words. When you say to yourself, “I can’t do it, no one else in the whole world can change that decree. You must destroy that paralyzing enemy, “I can’t.” “There is an antidote for “can’t consciousness”: The affirmation: “I can!” Create that antidote with your mind and administer it with your will. “If there is a devil that devil is “I can’t do it.” That is the Satan that has disconnected your dynamo of eternal power; it is the main reason you do not succeed in life. Throw that demon out of your consciousness by your indomitable conviction, “I can do it.” Mean it, and affirm it as often as you can. Mentally believe it and energize that belief by acting on it with will power. Work! And while you work, never give up the thought, “I can do it.” Even if there are a thousand obstacles, do not relent. If you have that determination, then what you go after must inevitably come to pass and when it does you will say, “Well, it was so easy!” “So why should you surrender to inertia and live in a crust of ignorance? Isn’t it better to burst that shell of “can’t” into the free air of “I can”? Then you will know that mind is all-powerful.” Anything your mind can think can be materialized. There is no obstruction but your “can’t” consciousness. See how wonderful is the way of expansion I am showing you. The words, “I can, I must, and I will”-that is the way to change yourself and achieve absolute victory.

“You will never win unless you make the effort. God has given you mental dynamite sufficient to destroy all your difficulties. Remember that. It is the most effective force you can use to be victorious in life, to break free of limiting weaknesses and habits into an all-accomplishing expansion of your consciousness. Are you going to remain a walking dead person, ready to be buried in the grave beneath the debris of your efforts? No! Do something in this world - do something wonderful! Whatever you do will be recognized by God. And even if the world fails to recognize you, if you have done everything you can, that infused mental power will remain with your soul. Wherever you go—in this life or beyond—you will have with you that invincible spirit. As the Lord Krishna exhorted the warrior-prince Arjuna: “O Scorcher of Foes, forsake this small weak-heartedness. Arise!” “I have used that power of mind throughout my life and I have seen it work. You, also, when confronted by ill-health and failure, should meditate deeply and mentally affirm: “Almighty Father, I am Thy child. I shall use my inherited divine powers of mind and will to shatter the causes of failure.” Rally those mental forces at night when the distractions of the world recede and your mind is highly focused and recharged in meditation, prayer, and God-communion. “What more shall I say to you? These thoughts are practical; they work. And if you make up your mind to use them and get busy, they will work. You can demolish your difficulties; you can break down the ramparts of ignorance that

have enclosed you for incarnations. You will know that as an immortal child of God, death cannot kill you, nor can birth in this fleshly cage completely inhibit the transcendent power within you. By the soul, you must redeem the soul; that no matter where you are, you have at your command the irresistible divine powers of mind and will to vanquish every obstacle in our path!” If you go at it, and if you refuse to give up, success must come. Sometimes you say, “I can, but I don’t want to.” So let’s not be lazy. Let’s get on with the show. Remember all those millions of incarnations? Haven’t you had enough of them? (Laughter, along with a long whispered “Yessssss!” from the audience) The world is a mess. Who made it the big mess? We did. Don’t we want to break the mold and be free from these forced incarnations? Break free. Meditate. Love God. Seek God. Find God … and you will be free. God Bless.

Recharging the Body with Cosmic Energy Monday Afternoon – Brother Naradananda How feels everyone? (From the audience: “Awake and ready!!”) No matter how often we read Master’s text about the theory and purpose of the Energization Exercises, we all interpret it differently. “Picture worth a thousand words”, as the old adage goes, so a demonstration of them, as we will have today, is extremely beneficial. Paramahansa Yogananda discovered the principles of the Energization Exercises in 1916, and began teaching them in 1918 at his boy’s school in Ranchi for overall well-being of body and mind. Master wrote in the Autobiography: “Realizing that man's body is like an electric battery, I reasoned that it could be recharged with energy through the direct agency of the human will. As no action, slight or large, is possible without willing, man can avail himself of his prime mover, will, to renew his

bodily tissues without burdensome apparatus or mechanical exercises. I therefore taught the Ranchi students my simple ‘Yogoda’ techniques by which the life force, centered in man's medulla oblongata, can be consciously and instantly recharged from the unlimited supply of cosmic energy. “The boys responded wonderfully to this training, developing extraordinary ability to shift the life energy from one part of the body to another part, and to sit in perfect poise in difficult body postures. They performed feats of strength and endurance which many powerful adults could not equal.” We’re talking here about the energy or prana that is all around us and within us that we can tap into. We have to learn to tap into it, and then we realize that we are not just flesh and bones; we are the divine Spirit. Normally we get energy from the UV rays of sunlight, oxygen which is converted into energy, and nourishing food and liquids such as water and juices. We also get energy from our thoughts. How? Have you ever been in an emergency situation where you had to do something seemingly impossible such as move something very heavy - and you found you were able to lift it? And isn’t it true that if we’re not particularly fond of doing something, we find that we don’t seem to have enough energy to do it - but if it’s something we want to do, we seem to have all the energy we need? Where does that energy come from? It comes from thought, which gives us the motivation we need. Now, all these are indirect ways of getting energy. With the Energization Exercises, we have a direct connection to the source of energy. We are surrounded by this energy at all times - we have a halo of energy around us at all times. The medulla oblongata is the antenna that receives the energy. When we learn to live more by this energy, we will begin to realize the truth of what Jesus said: “Man does not live by bread alone.” Master said that you can prove this to yourself. When you are feeling tired and are thinking that you need something to eat, practice the Energization Exercises instead. Perform them slowly, with deep concentration, and you will find that you do feel recharged. It may not happen right away - it takes time and continued practice, but eventually you will tap into that unlimited source of energy. These exercises are not just physical exercises; they are a form of pranayama, or life energy control. All the techniques Master gave us are forms of pranayama. When we master them, then we obtain the states of awareness that the saints had. Through mastery of the senses we will learn to direct the energy inward and upward to the higher centers in the spine, and awakening these centers will make us aware that we are more than just the body and mind – we will realize that we are a divine spark of God. Though we may not be aware of it, the Energization Exercises help us to spiritualize ourselves to the same degree as the Hong-Sau, Om, and Kriya techniques. Sometimes people wonder, “Well, I do them because I’m supposed to, but I don’t feel much. Do these exercises really have any spiritual benefit?” Yes! Listen to what Gyanamata wrote in her diary in 1926: “I see the little star constantly. At any moment of the day when I close my

eyes it may flash upon me. This morning while doing the Energization Exercises it came in exactly the right place.” So just by doing the Energization Exercises she was able to see the spiritual eye. I think that’s a pretty good motivation! Our bodies are made of energy, and the Energization Exercises stimulate the five currents in the body, and this keeps us healthy so that we can more easily calm the mind and concentrate within, thus facilitating our meditation. In September of 1926, Gyanamata wrote to Master after her son, Rex, had an accident: “Rex was brought home last Saturday. He is steadily improving. It is expected that in two weeks he will be able to sit up in a chair, and about the first of November commence to walk with crutches. I do not know how much muscle and tendon he has lost. The doctor says that when standing erect, with legs apart, he will not be able to draw the right leg up to the left, because the necessary muscles for that action are gone. Another doctor says that when sitting, he will not be able to cross the right leg over the left. He has suffered from nervous indigestion, and has to be very careful about his diet, but that is better now. “Rex says that he often thinks of you, and that he attributes his freedom from fever and pain to your help. He believes that without you, the history of his case would be very different. He is even now exercising the left leg, and says that he feels sure that his practice of the SRF Energization Exercises will do much to help him regain use of the right. His nurses have commented on his unusual muscular control and strength, due of course to the exercises.” The editor’s note at the bottom of the page in God Alone says that Rex eventually recovered completely from this injury. That’s what these Energization Exercises can do for us!! Full concentration on the exercises is a must. From experience, I know I haven’t always concentrated as well as I should, but if I do my best, performing them slowly and as correctly as possible, I can see that there is a benefit that comes, and that benefit carries over into the practice of the other techniques. Master used to do the Energization Exercises with the monks every day. One day as they were performing them, one monk was thinking, “Master is doing them too fast.” They finished, and as they entered the chapel for meditation, Master turned to the monk and whispered, “That’s because I have more concentration than you do.” (Laughter) Willpower is the vital mover of cosmic energy. Do the exercises with concentration and willpower. The medulla is the floodgate, the entry point for the energy. The spiritual eye is the center of willpower. When we do the Energization Exercises, we lift our gaze and focus at the spiritual eye, concentrating on the medulla and sending the energy to the particular body part. This is the switch that lets the energy come in.

Master gave a number of points: A. Perform them outside in the fresh air, or before an open window. B. Perform them slowly and with deep concentration. C. Perform them in the order given. You can see how each exercise is related to the next one. Some years ago I had the opportunity to spend two or three years with Brother Turiyananda at Lake Shrine. Perhaps many of you have heard numerous rumors and stories about Brother Turiyananda. One time he was to give a class on the Energization Exercises, and, typical of Brother T, prior to getting ready to teach this class he practiced the Energization Exercises eight times a day!! I was quite inspired by this, and so when I was asked to give this class I started practicing them three or four times a day. It was subtle, but it really did have an effect on me; I felt calmer, more clear, more awake. If for some reason you cannot do the exercises physically, then do them mentally. This has a wonderful effect. The use of our willpower is essential part of the Energization Exercises. We use the will to bring the energy in, and by doing this we strengthen the will. Using our willpower is absolutely essential in order to keep going even when we don’t feel like it. Master set an example by doing them twice every day. He didn’t need to. But no matter what time it was when he finished his work, even if it was midnight or in the early hours of the morning, he would go outside to do the Energization Exercises before meditation. Daya Ma said that she knew he didn’t need to do them, but that he was setting an example for the devotees. One time Master was on a trip to Northern California with some of the devotees. They were going up the coast, and it was late at night when they finally stopped. They pulled the house car over, and he had the devotees get out and begin the Energization Exercises right there on the sidewalk. Two policemen came by and were looking at them, wondering what in the world they were doing. Some of the devotees got embarrassed and stopped. But Master told them, “No. Continue on.” When one of the policemen asked what they were doing, Master told them, “Oh, we’re just exercising.” Embarrassment was not an excuse for not doing them! (Laughter) Master said, “The methods I teach show you how to recharge every part of your body with life energy coming direct from the omnipresent vibratory power of God that surrounds you and is within you. It is that power which has created your body and which sustains it. By practice of the Energization Exercises and especially by Kriya Yoga, you can enliven your whole being with Divine Life.”

Monday Afternoon Satsanga Sister Mridani Good afternoon! It’s wonderful to see you all. Guruji has given us a vast storehouse of knowledge and wisdom in his lessons, poems, recordings, and writings. We have an unbelievable richness of words from the Guru through which we can look to for help and guidance. An hour for this class is a very short time. Each one of us has questions, and on some days there are many questions. Ultimately we have to go within to find the answers to our questions – that is what will give us true understanding. We are all fighting the battle of Dharmakshetra Kurukshetra, trying to align ourselves with the virtues of the soul’s discriminative intelligence to win the victory on the inner field of the subtle cerebrospinal centers where the interiorization of God-communion takes place, defeating the opposition of mental restlessness and sense attractions. This inner war is the subject of the great allegory of the Bhagavad Gita – it’s a textbook for living - and it gives us supreme instruction and direction of how to interact with this material creation on the levels of body, mind, and soul, so that we can win the battle. (This paragraph is paraphrased from the Gita to approximate what Sister said) Not all of Guruji’s writings are translated into all languages, but know this: whatever writings you have available to you, the Guru will always be with you to give you all the knowledge and understanding you need. We need to learn to go inside to realize intuitively the answers to our questions. God does talk to us, as long as we are willing to listen. Guruji’s teachings are both repetitious and multifaceted in order to catch each one of us, because we all look at things differently. He said he would come again and again to help us and to teach us. Today we will touch on just a few questions, but you can find the answers to all your questions by attuning your consciousness to the Guru’s teachings with your intuition. D. I am wondering about finding God without the benefit of a meditation group. My contact with other SRF members is infrequent; the nearest meditation group is three hours away and so I am only rarely able to attend. I thought I could do it alone, but now I am wondering - is this bad karma? Can I really find God without a meditation group?

E. You have to have the very best of karma to be here today and to have

come to this path. You wouldn’t even want to come otherwise. This is Raja Yoga, the highest of all yogas. You have been led to an avatar, and an avatar can make us what he is. For some karmic reason, you are not near other devotees. Train the mind to think this way: “An avatar came for me.” Remind yourself often: “I have prayer, affirmation, meditation techniques, and a Guru ready to help me. God has given me everything I need. He has given me the power to know Him.” We are all karma yogis. We all have lots of debts to pay, and we have to

pay them. But the blessing is that it’s easier and quicker for us because we follow a spiritual path, and we have the tools that we need to mitigate our bad karma and make our good karma better. What if you don’t have Kriya? Master said that Hong-Sau is the baby Kriya. The end results are the same if it is deeply and sincerely practiced. Guruji does stress the power of group meditation. Keep your consciousness attuned to the thought that there is no time, no space, no distance between us. You are never alone, never without a group. We have a worldwide family, and those who are in group meditations, when you sit to meditate, include one another in your meditations, and especially those who might be alone. Pray for them, and include all in your meditations, especially those who don’t have a group. Master said, “In seemingly empty space, there is one Link, one Life eternal, one wave of life flowing through everything.” This is the great creative vibration of Aum that flows through and connects everything and everybody in the universe - this is the connection between us. There is no distance, no space between us and our Guru. Master gave us some practical measures, and in the first Chapter of the Autobiography he gives us an important technique. Lahiri Mahasaya had entered mahasamadhi shortly after Guruji had been born, but his picture always graced the family altar, and as a child Guruji often had his daily meditations before his picture. In the Autobiography, he wrote: His picture had a surpassing influence over my life. As I grew, the thought of the master grew with me. In meditation I would often see his photographic image emerge from its small frame and, taking a living form, sit before me. When I attempted to touch the feet of his luminous body, it would change and again become the picture. As childhood slipped into boyhood, I found Lahiri Mahasaya transformed in my mind from a little image, cribbed in a frame, to a living, enlightening presence. I frequently prayed to him in moments of trial or confusion, finding within me his solacing direction. At first I grieved because he was no longer physically living. As I began to discover his secret omnipresence, I lamented no more. He had often written to those of his disciples who were over-anxious to see him: "Why come to view my bones and flesh, when I am ever within range of your kutastha (spiritual sight)?" When you sit in meditation, look at the Guru’s picture, or one of the param-gurus, and focus on it. Master says in the Gita: “Sincere spiritual effort (regardless of inner struggle) sends forth positive spiritual vibrations. Deeply meditating disciples should concentrate on their guru, or meditate with him if possible. Those who are spiritually advanced do in fact

meditate with him, whether or not they are in his physical presence. During meditation the spiritual vibration of a great master silently works on lesser yogis who may be meditating with him or who are in tune with him, regardless of distance. It is sufficient for a disciple to think strongly of his guru before meditation. He will then find his meditation on God to be reinforced by the Lord’s power flowing through the direct tangible channel of the guru.” One time while Meera Ma was living in Encinitas, and was visiting Master at Mt. Washington for the weekend, Master asked her to make an unexpected and immediate trip to the East Coast. Meera Ma asked if she could go back home to Encinitas to get some clothing for the trip, but Master told her, “No, go to the airport now and make plans to leave in the morning.” Air flight was a little easier back then! (Laughter) Meera Ma agreed to Master’s request, but she couldn’t get her mind off her lack of clothing, as she had only a few items of clothing with her, just enough for the weekend. She decided to go back to Master’s room to ask him about it. When she went to Guruji, was another devotee, a wealthy woman, who was at that moment talking to Master and offering to pay for some of clothes for the trip. Meera Ma’s assignment was to go to the East Coast with another disciple and pick up an automobile and drive it back to California. In addition, Master told her, “Take a vacation on your way back. Your body needs rest. Don’t rush back; take your time. Be sure to enjoy all the sights see Niagara Falls, take a boat ride on Lake Erie, see the Black Forest, and the Bad Lands, and don’t miss Yellowstone Park.” Guruji planned out a nice trip for her. They visited all of those places Master mentioned, and it was wonderful in that everywhere they went all obstacles were removed – hotel accommodations at Yellowstone became available where there were none before, and when there were no available tickets for their boat ride on Lake Erie, a ticket cancellation was made right before them which enabled them to go at the last minute. But one thing wasn’t wonderful: Meera Ma was in a hurry to get home. During the entire trip, in her consciousness was an unspoken desire to get back home to Master. By the time they arrived in Salt Lake City, the urge had become so strong that they decided to undertake a rather dangerous marathon journey across the hot desert. They drove non-stop in 120 degree heat with no air-conditioning, driving on bad roads 740 miles back to L.A. to get home to see the Guru.

Finally at 10 pm they arrived back at Mt. Washington, and rushed up to Master’s rooms thinking, “He’ll be so glad to see us!” But Master was not pleased at all. “You!! What are you doing here?” he said. “I told you to take your time! How can you enjoy anything when you rush through life?” Then he sent for a postcard that Meera Ma had written while they were on the trip, and he read it aloud, reading also between the lines: “We’re on a boat crossing Lake Erie.” … I’M HOMESICK! “We’re having a wonderful time.” … I’M HOMESICK! Then he scolded them roundly, “You call yourself a disciple, yet you say ‘I’m homesick’? You wanted to get home to where my body is, but who do you think opened your way across Lake Erie? Who do you think got you the hotel room at Yellowstone? Who watched over you and helped you cross the hot desert?” Meera Ma hung her head. “Well, sir, it was you.” Then Master said, “How dare you pinpoint me to this body in this little room at Mt. Washington! Don’t ever come to me in this consciousness again!” We are always in the presence of the Guru and the Great Ones. We just have to make the effort to attune to them. Master said, “God has sent you to me and I will never fail you. All I ask of you is this: never try to deceive me, for you cannot. Always be sincere with me because I am right inside your heart, and I feel your every thought.” Please understand that in order for Guruji to be inside our hearts, we have to invite him in. Our job is to keep company with him, to open the door of our heart and invite him to come in. Guruji said, “I never enter the lives of those who do not wish it. But to those who have given me this right I am always present. My consciousness is attuned to them, and I am aware of the slightest tremor of their consciousness.” He can be nowhere but with you at all times. Our part is to cultivate the will to think of God and Guru, and to affirm and visualize their presence within us. Remember, what Master said: “He who follows a God-sent Guru walks in the path of the everlasting light of God.” F. At times when I’ve struggled with some trauma or mental distress I thought the spiritual thing to do was to take a retreat to spend time in long meditations and pound on the door of heaven to get an answer. But it never works, and so now I am wondering if it is right to do this.

G. I’ve been asked this many times. The answer is no – it’s not the right

thing to do, because meditation and retreats are meant to be silent, singular activities in order to focus our mind on God and attune more

closely with Him. When you are experiencing some great loss – death of a loved one, suicide, divorce, etc – our immediate need is to focus on the situation – not to remove ourselves from it. I am not saying that you should not meditate. Of course you should meditate, but it’s better at those times to meditate for shorter periods. Calm the body and mind, and don’t be alone - be with those who can help you, with whom you can talk. Then when you are able to focus your mind more deeply, after the grief has receded - then increase your period of meditations and take your retreat. Talk to God, pray to God. Explain to God and Guru how you are feeling. Ask for deeper understanding so that you might continue to grow spiritually. Don’t ask for circumstances to change, because they probably can’t be changed. Ask for deeper understanding. Ask God to change you. Ask for His help. Guruji said this is our divine birthright. H. Master talks about the power of our thoughts in overcoming bad habits, and how we can and must change - but my bad habits seem more powerful than my thoughts. I want freedom from my flaws. Where do I begin?

I. Just after Man’s Eternal Quest had been published, there was a time

when I found myself in a mood. Somehow I knew there was an answer to my question in Man’s Eternal Quest, but I was not willing to listen. Then there came a very strong thought: “Open the book.” My mind said, “No.” (Laughter) The thought came stronger: “Open the book.” Again, my mind said, “No.” (Laughter) This went on for a while until finally I opened the book and there was the answer to just what I needed to hear. Nevertheless, I was still in a mood. The next day I had to go to the market to buy some items. I paid for them and started to walk out the door, and I happened to look down at the grocery bag. I burst into laughter – because on the bag was written: “Change for the better.” (Laughter)

Master said, “Be active and use your will power and reason, all the time thinking that just behind your life is God's life, just behind your will is God's will. To find out what the Lord's will is, use your reason; don't just sit by and wait for things to come your way. Use your will, but ask God to guide you, and believe in His guidance.”

When you do this, all around you, you will find conscious guidance from God and Guru. Do your duty. Do your best in the role that has assigned to you in life - that is all that matters. Master said that each man is stamped with the vibratory signature of his own state of consciousness. He says in Scientific Healing Affirmations, “Man’s word is Spirit in man.” All words arise from vibrations of thought, and all thoughts are from patterns formed through all your incarnations. These are habitual patterns of habit that we have cemented into our consciousness throughout incarnations. Master said, “Every thought which enters our mind, very word we utter, puts into operation one of the three gunas.” The three gunas are: 1. rajasic – worldly, selfish interest 2. tamasic – cause misery and focus on body consciousness 3. sattvic – good qualities of the soul, leads us to thoughts of God Each day we are subject to the entire range of the gunas in our thoughts, our speech, and our actions - and it’s good to keep this in mind to remind us to turn our minds to more positive thoughts. Try to be as sattvic as possible, and strive to avoid tamasic influences. We express some of all three of the gunas in some mixture – we cannot always express just the sattvic, but we can strive for it. This is what is going on in our consciousness, so be aware of this. Gyanamata said, “Each man is his own absolute lawgiver, the dispenser of glory or gloom to himself; the decreer of his life, his reward, his punishment.” It is through the operation of the three gunas that we change, by gradually shifting our thoughts to more and more a sattvic direction, and thus change the conditions of our lives to a more positive outcome. On the physical level, each cell is a blueprint of who we are. Master said there are 27 trillion cells in body, and each one is like an intelligent being. Each cell is imprinted with our consciousness. We have to educate the dormant consciousness in each of those cells. We slough off thousands of cells each day. New thoughts create new grooves, and so through willpower we can imprint every new cell that is created with a new thought. When we cultivate new thought patterns, each new cell is formed with a new blueprint. That’s what changes us and how we interact with the world. Master said that when a thought is made dynamic by will force, it can create or rearrange the atoms into the desired pattern according to the mental blueprint you have created. Look around this room. We are all looking at the mental blueprints of each other. We have thousands of thoughts coursing through our brain every day. Our physical characteristics are a reflection of our thoughts from past incarnations. Some people have curly hair; some have

straight hair. Some are fat; some are thin. Some have dark shades of skin; some are light. All of this is a result of the various thoughts in our brains from the past which are reflecting the predominate focus in our lives. The miracle of the mind is that by using dynamic will, continually bringing one thought back to a single point, we can gradually change the grooves of the brain in the subconscious mind. You never know how close you are to changing a thought pattern forever. So when you see a habitual thought pattern you don’t like coming, stop and change your thought at that very moment. Master said, “Just one thought may redeem you.”

J. I’ve been on the path for 25 years but I’m still not attaining what I had

hoped for – the spiritual states that Master talks about. Krishna says in the Gita: “Out of a thousand that seek me, one knows me.” I feel overwhelmed when I see all that is written in the Gita and in The Second Coming, thinking that I need to do all that. What am I doing wrong?

K. Master says that those who last to the end of the path and go all the way, the door will open and they will be the first to find Him. You cannot buy God. You cannot bargain with Him. It is by the grace of God the work of the Guru for our souls that we will know God. We only have to do our part. Instead of saying, “What am I doing wrong?” - say, “What am I doing right?” We are sitting at the feet of an avatar. The Guru can bring you face to face with God. When you think about it, how much time is 25 years in the cosmic scheme of things anyway? We are just barely out of Kali Yuga, the lowest age. We are only just at the beginning of Dwapara Yuga - only 1500 years into the period of the 12,000 years of the ascending age. There are still 10,500 years to go until we reach the pinnacle of the highest age - Satya Yuga. In the Satya age, the human intellect will be able to comprehend all – we will have even the ability to comprehend God as Spirit. Keep this in mind: these are the teachings of the highest Yuga, given to us in almost the lowest Yuga while living on a planet that, though it is not the worst, is definitely not the highest. These teachings will be commonplace at the pinnacle of the highest Yugas. Think how far ahead we are! We are just at the beginning, and we are blessed to be among the first of millions to find God through these teachings. Master said, “It is the duty of the guru and the disciple to be loyal to each other, not only in one life, but for many lives if these are necessary to reach God. Those who are one hundred percent loyal to a guru can be sure of ultimate liberation and ascension. One may have many teachers, but only one guru, who remains as one's guru even in many different lives, until the disciple reaches the final goal of emancipation in God. You must remember this, once that relationship is formed.” The teachings are filled with assurances of success. Master says, “If a

person, even once, really desires salvation, that desire is firmly planted in the superconscious mind; no matter how long ignored, it will germinate when favorable opportunity arises, whether in this life or in a later incarnation.” Even a momentary entry into the kingdom of meditation ultimately means freedom from the karmic prison of birth and death. Be faithful. Develop faith. Sri Yukteswar said, “Just launch yourself with faith into His blissful Presence within.” Master said, “Faith can accomplish anything, but doubt can destroy everything.” Faith is a gift we give to God, and to yourself and others. The gift of faith will gradually break down the walls of the ego. Believe what you cannot see or feel and you shall be victorious. In Chapter XVI of God Talks with Arjuna, Master outlines the 26 ennobling soul qualities that make man God-like. The more we develop them, the closer we are to manifesting our true nature, which is the image of God. The very first soul quality is fearlessness, and Guruji defines this as: “…faith in God: faith in His protection, His justice, His wisdom, His mercy, His love, His omnipresence.” How can we cultivate this? Practice continuous positive mindedness in the face of adversity. Master says, “All men are meant to realize that soul consciousness can triumph over every external disaster.” Daya Ma has kept four watchwords before her all her life: love, service, courage, faith. As a young devotee on the path, Ma felt she lacked faith, and so she asked Guruji how to develop it. “You must work for it!” he told her. “You must practice it.” Ma had expected he might bless her with some novel technique or divine grace by which she would suddenly have faith. There was no special grace. “No, you must practice it,” Master said. Each one of us must do the same. If you turn your mind to a positive thought at a time of fear, and have trust and faith in God, He will be there - have no doubt. Develop love and devotion for God. Say, “I will wait, no matter how long it takes.” Read Guruji’s writings, even if you don’t understand them. Memorize what you can of them – memorize whatever means something to you. Somehow get his thoughts implanted into the subconscious mind - then they can come back to help you in times of need. Whatever thoughts you have cultivated in the past are recorded there forever unless they are replaced with a more powerful thought. These are the grooves that Guruji talks about that we need to change in the subconscious mind. When the more powerful thought reaches the superconscious mind, it changes the subconscious mind so that we can move upward in our spiritual growth. Master said, “Faith reveals a God who is intimately near, a God who listens to our every word of prayer. His eyes and ears are everywhere. In His good time, He will respond to every sincere entreaty. Appeals

made with love, confidence, and faith transcend law and bring results that astonish. Faith means total trust, a knowing from the soul that God is real, ever ready for His help to flow into man’s life.” L. Other devotees have expressed how they felt an instantaneous connection and attunement with the Guru, even after just seeing his photograph for the first time. This didn’t happen to me. I love the techniques of meditation, but I don’t feel a close connection to the Guru. Am I on the wrong path?

M. If you love the meditation techniques, you have the connection with

the Guru. Master said, “When I am gone, the teachings will be the guru.” As you continue to practice the techniques, that love and feeling of connection to the Guru will come. Remember, God ordains the guru. It is God who calls and ordains that sacred relationship. When a soul follows the one chosen to lead him back to God, liberation must follow. It doesn’t really matter how you feel. This is divine law that has brought you to the Guru. We don’t just stumble onto the path. Each one of us has the opportunity and the free will to cooperate with this divine law and be in tune with God’s will for us. We have to strive always to watch ourselves and correct ourselves - there is always something to learn, and you may be blessed to know it or you may not. Don’t compare yourself with others. Ask the Guru to help you find the answers to your questions. Gyanamata said, “If I could, I would like to engrave upon the heart of a disciple two basic truths: First, you can have only what is your own, and your own will surely come to you. Indeed, you cannot escape it. Second, that the Guru is always the guru … the will of God flows to the disciple through the Guru at all times.” The Guru did not come here to be nice to us in the ordinary way of thinking. But really, it’s the ultimate nicety, in that what he does for us is that he comes to take our souls back to God, once we have asked him to do so. Gyanamata said, “A master does not care whether you suffer or not, whether your feelings are hurt or not, because he knows that when his work for your soul is accomplished, all suffering will be over for you.” The Bhagavad Gita is the dialogue between Guru and disciple Krishna and Arjuna - which is taking place on the eve of the battle of Kurukshetra, which is both a historical battle and a symbolic battle between the good and evil tendencies in the plane of our consciousness. The Pandus and the Kurus – these are our good and evil tendencies – are gathered together, ready to destroy one another.

Krishna asks Arjuna to destroy the Kurus, those evil tendencies that keep him from God, but Arjuna is despondent - he doesn’t want to go to battle because they are his dear relatives. Consumed with grief, Arjuna flings down his bow and arrows, and sits down on the seat of his chariot in despair, refusing to fight. But Krishna knows what Arjuna needs to do for his spiritual sadhana. Arjuna is unwilling to take what God has laid out for him until Krishna exhorts him: “Forsake this small weakheartedness! Arise!” Then Arjuna picks up his bow and arrows again. How often we too are in despair, unwilling to take the next step necessary for our spiritual unfoldment! Gyanamata said, “We make too much of feeling, even admitting that the right kind of feeling is very enjoyable. What does it matter how you feel? Bear your lot as long as it is the will of God that you should do so. Act rightly, and in due time the right feeling of peace and joy will come.” This is the connection that you seek with your Guru. There may be times when circumstances seem unbearable, but someday you will come to see that those challenges were the right thing.

Master’s guru Sri Yukteswar said to him, "I will be your friend from now until Eternity, no matter whether you are on the lowest mental plane or on the highest plane of wisdom. I will be your friend if ever you should err, for then you will need my friendship more than at any other time." Master said, “I will be there when your greatest need comes.” We have to believe in his nearness. Ask him to help you. Gyanamata said, “Take firm hold of the Guru’s robe, and let nothing unclench your fingers.” He will help you awaken your heart. If you cannot feel his embrace, then mentally chant over and over, “Awaken my heart, awaken my heart.” This is a chant, an affirmation, and a prayer. If we are sincere, the Guru will respond. The power of these three words is something I can personally attest to. But we have to ask; we have to choose to call on him. We have to work on cultivating devotion. If we do, the relationship with the Guru will deepen on its own. So work on cultivating devotion, and don’t look for results, but leave everything in God’s hands. The scriptures of India say that when a great master comes to this world with a God-ordained mission for the upliftment of humanity, he brings with him advanced disciples from past incarnations to assist his work. The great Indian saint Ramakrishna used to cry, “O my dear ones, where are you? Wherever you are, come to me.” And one by one they came as his disciples in this life. Master said, “I looked for those who were to be with me in God’s work.” And when they came, Master knew, “Ah, there is one who has

heard my call.” We have come in answer to his call. He is nearer than the near, dearer than the dear. He is and can be with each one of us. Daya Mata told of an experience she had with Rajarsi close to the oneyear anniversary after Master’s mahasamadhi. Because of the way Guruji trained her so that she didn’t focus on his outer personality, when Master entered mahasamadhi, through his grace, she didn’t feel separated from him at all. But others didn’t have that blessing. Rajarsi related an experience he had in which Guruji asked him to convey this message to the disciples: “I could appear to them now. I have the power to do so. But they would then be content to remain as they are. Rather, they must come to where I am.” This is a beautiful reminder of what the guru wants for you — nothing less than to lift you to the same consciousness he has attained. It is your self-effort, united with his blessings that will help you to reach that Goal. At the first Convocation after Master’s mahasamadhi, many assumed that Rajarsi would take the role of the Guru, because they thought that the Guru had to be in physical form. But Rajarsi said: “There will be no other guru. Master will always be our guru. Become so attuned to him that he is ever real, ever near. He is here. Just feel and receive.” As it was then, so it is now. He is here. Just feel and receive. Jai Guru.

Balancing Our Material and Spiritual Goals Monday Evening – Brother Chidananda Do you want to know why this class is at the beginning of the week? Because by the end of the week we won’t need it anymore! We’ll be spiritually balanced. (Laughter) Welcome! It’s a joy to see you again. I would say by the smiles on your faces, the week is going pretty well. Our subject is ‘Balancing Our Material and Spiritual Goals’ – and it’s a big subject. Intellectually, most of us know what are the main elements of leading the kind of balanced life that Paramahansa Yogananda teaches. If you follow the teachings of the Guru, you know the daily program: meditation, right activity or service to others, recreation and

exercise, study of the Guru’s teachings, and time for introspection and selfanalysis. I like to think of these five elements as the spokes on a wheel, which, when they are working together, make for a well-rounded life. At the center of the wheel is the soul, which of course, is always perfectly balanced in perfect peace, perfect attunement. In meditation you learn to feel, see, and know this perfect balance. It’s when we walk out of the meditation room that the challenge comes, because then it’s often harder to see. So a wheel with five strong spokes is necessary for the proper operation of the wheel of life. Each spoke helps to keep the wheel turning. If there’s a missing or broken spoke, there will be trouble; it won’t take us through life, and it will eventually break the wheel. We’ve all heard of the statement, “God helps those who help themselves.” It comes down to actually doing it. A man once wrote a letter to Brother Premamoy, who was a spiritual mentor for the monastics. The man told Brother about his problems and difficulties, and Brother wrote back to him with a plan to help, explaining that Paramahansa Yogananda says to do steps A,B,C, etc. Another letter from the man came right back. “No, No! I don’t want to do those things. I want a miracle.” (Laughter) Frankly, most people wouldn’t know a miracle if it came up and shook their hand! (Laughter) In Autobiography of a Yogi, Master wrote a chapter entitled, “The Law of Miracles”. He explains about the working of these higher laws of God, and he says that there’s nothing mysterious about it. You are all miracle workers if you practice these teachings, because the teachings and techniques are miracles of divine transformation. With the miracles that are made manifest by the application of these divine spiritual laws, the only difference between us and someone like Jesus or Buddha is that it takes a little longer, but the result is the same: divine consciousness. Master said, “While small-minded men cry, "Impossible", the pathfinders of the world calmly pursue their goals and demonstrate that the impossible was, instead, inevitable.” You are the pathfinders. Master said, “If you practice one millionth of the things that I tell you, you will reach God.” Very enticing, isn’t it? (Laughter) Master continues, “It’s not in listening to my sermons that will give you success, but in practicing what I have told you.” The teachings are 0.001% theory and 99.999% practice. (Laughter)

There are two things to think about: First, what can we do? What are the methods for bringing about spiritual transformation? And secondly, it’s about tuning in with the vibration of the higher consciousness in Master’s writings. Study his teachings, because without a glimpse of spiritual consciousness, we can’t know what spiritual consciousness is, because maya completely drenches us with worldly vibrations. This delusive world completely hypnotizes our consciousness so that we can’t even remember why we are here. In Hindu philosophy, there are three aspects of godhead that uphold creation: Brahma as the Creator, Shiva as the Destroyer, and Vishnu as the Preserver. Vishnu is that part of God which holds the whole creation in balance and beauty and order, and symbolizes God as the spirit of a balanced life. In the Indian scriptures, in one of the Puranas, there is a story with a great symbolic moral about the great sage Narada, who was a devotee of Vishnu. Narada, because of his great spiritual striving, attracted the presence of Vishnu, who appeared before him and offered his blessing. “Child, what would you like?” Narada made a request. “Lord, show me the secret of your maya.” They happened to be together in the countryside, in the middle of the bleak desert, the sun blazing. “I’m very thirsty, Narada,” said Vishnu. “Please go to the nearby village and fetch me a glass of water.” Narada dutifully obeyed, and headed toward the village. He knocked on the door of the first house he saw, and a beautiful young woman answered the door. There was such kindness and gentleness in her face and eyes, that Narada became entranced with her, so much so that he completely forgot why he was there. It was as if he was in a dream and ………… he just stayed. (Laugher) He asked the young woman’s father for her hand in marriage. They married, had three children, and when some years later his father-in-law passed away, Narada became master of the estate. He was a success! Twelve years passed. Then one day a violent monsoon came, and the family was forced to flee the deluge of the raging river in the middle of the night. Narada tightly clutched his wife and children, but a huge wave knocked them over. The youngest child on his shoulder fell into the raging torrent, and in the frantic attempt to pull the child to safety, Narada lost hold of the other two children, and they also were swept away. Finally, the surge of another wave knocked both Narada and his wife off their feet, and they too were caught by the raging torrent. Narada lost consciousness, and when he came to, he found himself stranded on a beach on the banks of the brown and muddy river. His family was gone, and he wept in despair.

Just then he heard a voice. “……Child, what about that glass of water?” (Laughter)

“You’ve been gone half an hour!” (Laughter) “Now do you understand the secret of my maya?” The story shows that when we forget why we’re here, we lose our balance and disaster is inevitable. Now when we hear these kinds of stories, some people have the attitude, “Well, these are just legends, and besides, Narada was a great sage. He had a great protector in Vishnu who woke him up, but what about me?” Well, I’ve got some miracle stories, but I’m going to save them for a little later. To help celebrate the 60th anniversary of Master’s Autobiography of a Yogi, we invited people to share with us their story of how the Autobiography inspired or changed their life. Here is one letter we received: “In 1969 it was suggested to me that I read Autobiography of a Yogi. I was told to drive down the coast from Los Angeles to Encinitas, and stop when I encountered the lotus gate at the SRF Ashram in order to purchase the book. For some unknown reason, I agreed (funny because during the ‘60s I was quite rebellious, to put it mildly, as well as an atheist). “Once in the bookstore, I was directed to a display of copies of the Autobiography, and as I approached the display I began to say, louder and louder, “That’s the guy, that’s the guy!” I was instantly transported back in time to long-forgotten memories of sitting in my high-chair as an infant, waiting for my father to bring in the evening newspaper. My parents thought it was so cute that I paged through the paper, pretending to read it in imitation of my father. I was doing nothing of the sort. I never told them that I was looking for the picture of the man who loved me with his eyes. (Paramahansaji’s photo could be found on certain days on the religion page, with the listings for the SRF temples.) I had forgotten all about those early childhood memories until that instant on the grounds of the ashram, walking toward his picture on the cover of the Autobiography.” So it isn’t just Narada and the great saints and sages. If ever we forget - if we lose our way, God doesn’t forget us, and when the time is right He will find us, and He will reach down with both hands for us. He can reach down even through a book. That’s also the power in the Guru’s teaching. So the first step to a balanced life is to take the help of someone who has that higher consciousness, and when we do that, then he can reach down and pull us out of the stormy seas of maya. I’d like to try an experiment with you. It’s a wonderful diagnostic tool that we can use – it’s good to just stop once in a while during the day and take the pulse of our spiritual balance. Close your eyes and calmly focus at the Christ Center at the point between the eyebrows, and listen to my words, and watch carefully how you react to this very simple idea:









Watch what feelings arise within. Watch what mental reactions come up for you. You can stop during the day once in a while and put your attention at the Christ Center and mentally say, “God, God, God,” and then watch what feelings come. At any given time the reaction may vary between: N. Not now, I don’t have time for that. O. I’m not so sure I want Him to see what I’m doing! (Laughter) P. My God, thank you for being here. The interesting thing is that just by doing this we can get a sense of where we are – we can see if we are in balance or not. You will find that even the act of uttering the word “God” starts to attune your consciousness to Him. Master said, “Every good thought we think sets up mental vibration that invokes the presence of God.” And then it becomes the most beautiful perception, just as Master wrote in his poem: “In waking, eating, working, dreaming, sleeping, serving, meditating, chanting, divinely loving, my soul constantly hums, unheard by any: God! God! God!” One time our President, Sri Daya Ma, said of those words of Master’s poem, “In that is the sum total of what any devotee needs to find God and lead a spiritually balanced life.” Someone once said of the saints, “It’s not what they do that is so extraordinary; it’s that they do it all the time.” In the ashram the monastics are encouraged to use an introspection chart, a simple list that we use to mentally review every day the essential elements of a balanced life - with questions such as, “Did I practice all the techniques? How deep or restless was my meditation?” (Brother Chidananda did not elaborate further on the details of the introspection chart, but the chart below may be similar or the same as the monastics use) INTROSPECTION CHART 1. Number of hours slept. MORNING INDIVIDUAL MEDITATION 2. Length. 3. Alert? 4. Dwelling on God after techniques? 5. Techniques practiced? 6. Quality of practice? MORNING GROUP MEDITATION

7. Exercises: With concentration? 8. Meditation: Alert? With concentration? NOON MEDITATION 9. Alert? With concentration? EVENING GROUP MEDITATION 10. Exercises: With concentration? 11. Meditation: Alert? With concentration? EVENING INDIVIDUAL MEDITATION 12. Length. 13. Alert? 14. Dwelling on God after techniques? 15. Techniques practiced? 16. Quality of practice? SERVICE 17. With concentration? Efficiently? 18. With willingness? 19. With cheerfulness? 20. Thoughtful of others? ATTITUDE DURING THE DAY 21. Did I practice Energizing Exercises, Hong-Sau, Om Technique, and Kriya in both the morning and the evening? 22. How did I spend my free time? Constructively? 23. How did I spend my recreation time? Harmoniously? 24. Peaceful? 25. Positive? 26. Kind? 27. Moody? 28. Angry? 29. Critical? 30. Did I practice the Presence of God? 31. How much unprofitable talk or gossip? 32. How much unprofitable thinking? Daydreaming? 33. Did I transmute unchaste thoughts at once? 34. Did I overeat today? 35. What bad habit is troubling me most? 36. Which good habit am I trying to develop? 37. Was I on time for classes, services, work, meditation, and all other activities? 38. Am I feeling deeper love for God? 39. Am I feeling greater attunement with Master and this way of life? 40. Am I feeling greater kindness and understanding for all? 41. Are there any points that I should discuss with my counselor. 42. Was I patient? 43. Did I practice self-control?

44. Was I truthful in word and action? “It’s a miracle tool,” Brother Anandamoy said. It’s a miracle tool for creating spiritual transformation. Maybe there is a quality we need more of – willpower, patience, devotion, etc. If we see there is a quality we are missing, then once every day we can bring it back to mind, and then we remember, “Oh, this is why I’m here!” Another point about the challenge of balancing our lives: we can become confused and troubled because we tend to compartmentalize our life. We put our duties and responsibilities and material goals in one box, and our spiritual goals in another box. Yoga completely breaks down those barriers. What we are striving for as yogis is no compartmentalizing. It’s not, “This one hour of meditation is my spiritual life and the rest is my material life.” No! As a striving yogi, you gradually begin to see that all of your daily life is your spiritual life, 24/7. Everything is a part of your sadhana. We must destroy the false division between spiritual work and material work. All work is purifying if done in the right spirit and with right attitude. One devotee, a member of the NYC police who was doing undercover work, wrote a letter saying that the stress and tension in his job was terrific, but the SRF teachings and techniques allowed him to live in balance, and with courage, serenity, and mental strength to perform his service well. Many of you have seen what a little effort does. In everything you are doing, let the thoughts go back to God, and you will find that all of life becomes more harmonious, peaceful, and fulfilling. In an ashram in India there lived an elderly lady, and she was considered by many to be a saint. People called her “Gopal’s mother”, because her sadhana was to think constantly of the Lord Krishna as her child. (“Gopal” is a name for the baby Krishna.) Through her devotion, Krishna had become a living reality for her - Krishna actually appeared to her in visions - and she became a saint by this devotional practice. The other monks in the ashram debated with one another: “Okay, she worships this way, but to actually see Krishna with the physical eyes – no way! She couldn’t possibly see Krishna with her physical eyes.” The guru, overhearing their ongoing debates, finally intervened, calling out sarcastically, “So now you are omniscient, are you? You must be, to be able to judge what she is seeing.” Now the monks questioned him, “But how can she see Krishna? How can it be possible that she sees him with her physical eyes?” The guru answered, “Show me the line where matter ends and Spirit begins.” This made a real impression on me. True, the guru was saying that we shouldn’t make any differentiation, because that is to compartmentalize. But I think there’s more to it than that. When he said, “Show me the line,” I think he was saying, “Are you aware of that line? Yes, there is a line, he was saying.

Are you aware of where that line is so that you can make sure you are on the right side of it? The line is in the spine - that’s where the line is. The life force and consciousness can flow outward to the senses and into matter, or it can go inward toward Spirit. Where is the line? In the spine. On the spinal axis we have the chakras, and these are our tools – these are our instruments of divine perception and realization. As you walk through the world, keep at least a part of your consciousness, a part of your awareness on the inside, on that other side of the line in the spinal axis. Master said, “The life force in man’s body ordinarily flows outward from the brain and spine through the nerves to the senses and their external experiences. When in yoga meditation that energy is reversed to flow inward, it draws the consciousness to the subtle spiritual cerebrospinal centers of divine perception and God-realization. “The nervous system has two duties. The nerves allow you to interact with the world; and, as the yogis of ancient times discovered, the nerves also serve to connect you with God. Nervousness, the overstimulation of the nerves, ties the consciousness to the body; calmness conduces to God-communion. When you turn off external nervous energy and calm yourself in meditation, and the life force retires from the senses to the cerebrospinal centers of spiritual perception, your nervous system is then connected with superconsciousness, and you have God.” When you really get down to the question of the essence of the topic of our talk – ‘Balancing Our Material and Spiritual Goals’ - the key is in the spine. That’s where the balance takes place – in the spine. Through Kriya Yoga, we gradually gain mastery of that nervous system, and then life takes on a totally different cast. There is a story about a man who worked at home but was having a conflict because his young daughter wanted his attention and was constantly asking, “Can we do this? Can we do that?” The father was trying to attend to his work, so he thought up a game to keep his daughter busy for a while. He pulled a page out of the newspaper that had a map of the world on it, ripped it up into pieces, and challenged his daughter to see how fast she could put all the pieces back together in the right place. A few minutes later his daughter announced, “Daddy, I finished!” The man was astonished at her speed and asked her how she was able to finish so quickly. “Oh, daddy,” the little girl said, “It was easy because on the back side of the pieces of newspaper was a picture of a man. All I had to do was just put the man right, and then the world was right.” Similarly, Master would say that when we put our nervous system right, then the world will be right. Those who return here to Convocation year after year are ultimately coming with an ever deeper appreciation for and awe of the science of Kriya Yoga. Through Kriya, we put the nervous system right. Master said, “This world is not the same to all people. Each one lives in his

own little domain. One may reside in an aesthetic realm of poetry and music; another in a gross region of cries of flesh and of sighs after matter. Peace and harmony may reign in one person’s world; strife and war in another’s. But whatever be the circumstances of one’s environment, it consists of both an inner world and an outer world. The outside world is the one in which your life engages in action and interaction. The world inside of you determines your happiness or unhappiness, and also your fitness or unfitness, expressed in the world outside. “Only those who partake of the harmony within their souls know the harmony that runs through nature. Whosoever lacks this inner harmony feels also a lack of it in the world. The mind in chaos finds chaos all around. How can one know what peace is like if he has never tasted it? But he who has inner peace can abide in this state even in the midst of outer discord. Harmonize your thoughts and desires with the all-fulfilling realities you already possess in your soul. Then you will see the underlying harmony in your life and in all nature. If you harmonize your hopes and expectations with this inherent harmony, you will float through life on buoyant wings of peace. The beauty and depth of yoga lies in its bestowal of this invariable tranquility.” Divine harmony is the product of inner calmness and the degree of mastery we have over the nervous system through our spiritual practices. Divine security lies in spine – regardless of external environment. The essence of yoga and the techniques of pranayama is about becoming the master of your nervous system – in taking the consciousness within and enlivening that inner core of spiritual perception. Master said, “Whenever for a moment I felt God was away from me, I practiced a few Kriyas, and found He was with me right then and there.” Now a few miracle stories: The very first line of the Autobiography title page contains a Bible quote: “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.” And in the pages of the Autobiography Master delivers, doesn’t he? (Laughter) Master wrote of Lahiri Mahasaya: “Apart from the miracles of his own life, surely the Yogavatar reached the zenith of all wonders in reducing the ancient complexities of yoga to an effective simplicity not beyond the ordinary grasp. No prophet preceding him had accomplished, as he did, the simplification of the entire Yoga System of Patanjali (the greatest exponent of Yoga) and of Krishna’s teachings in the Bhagavad Gita into a number of the most uncomplicated and greatest Self-realization-producing techniques.” That’s the science of Kriya Yoga. That’s the “one millionth” of the things that Master spoke of. Guruji once told Daya Ma, “If you practice only Kriya in this life, you will get there.” Of course, she was pretty advanced already, so it’s good that we practice the other stuff too.

(Laughter) Ma leads a very balanced life of meditation, service, study of the teachings, recreation, and introspection, and she is able to face all external challenges with a serene and calm mind. She once told the monks, “Without that training of Master, today I’d be just another harried business woman.” Through that training, she learned to stay joyously centered and balanced, and you can feel that peace and that joy she has by just being in her presence. She’s so happy – all of the time. And yet she works many hours and does so much – I have seen how she is always directly involved in three or four projects simultaneously and is able to accomplish her goals with efficiency. She could put any CEO to shame. Talk about balance!! The real miracle is to experience the miracle of the transformation of your own life through these teachings. I want to read a story we received recently which was written in response to the 60th year anniversary of the Autobiography invitation to share your story of how the book affected your life. One woman wrote: “I clearly recall the moment in my very young childhood when, absorbed in play an insistent immediacy stilled me. I just had to run to my mother and announce, ‘Mommy, Mommy, I was born to be good!’ “Sixteen years later I found myself wondering, ‘If I was born to be good, why did I turn out so bad?’ Being wild made me feel free: free to seek thrills while abandoning any sense of responsibility. But freedom wasn't free. I had to stomach the heart-sickening undercurrent that permeated all my perceptions. “At age 19 a friend gave me Autobiography of a Yogi; I put it aside. Three years later misfortune threw me into crisis. Broken, I cried to the God I didn't believe in. ‘If there is a God, I want to know; and if there isn't, I don't want to live.’ Then came profound peace and a mental command, ‘Get that book!’ “I recognized every word in Autobiography as Truth. Shortly thereafter I gave up one addiction per week: cigarettes (2 packs per day), alcohol, and drugs. The Autobiography saved my life. “I now understand the message gifted me at age three. I was born to attain divine radiance of character, that "vibratory aura of goodness" inherent in Godconsciousness, through the blessings of God, Guru, and this path.” She was already dead inside on that day she considered suicide, but finding Master’s Autobiography lifted her from a life of unspeakable revulsion to new birth of untellable sweetness. Now, if that doesn’t qualify as a miracle, then tell me - what does? The Guru left us such wealth! There is nothing that Master’s teaching doesn’t address. In his talks and teachings we find guidance wherever we need it, plus we have great help in the examples of the ones he trained while he was in the body. Rajarsi Janakananda is a classic example. He was a very quiet man, but

even as a young man he had tremendous drive, willpower, and intelligence. Materially, he was a financial success by any standard. His inner life, however, was another matter. “My life was business,” he said, “but my soul was sick and my body was decaying and my mind was disturbed. I was so nervous I couldn’t sit still. I was a totally frustrated man,” he recounted on another occasion. “I had thought money could give me happiness, but nothing seemed to satisfy me. I lived in a state of nervousness, a state of strain, an inward state of uncertainty. Then I met Paramahansa Yogananda and started to practice yoga.” Rajarsi took his talents that he had expressed in his material life – his incredible focus, drive, and willpower – and he used those same qualities to find God. He used those same talents and applied them to Kriya Yoga to have that spiritual transformation. One of Durga Mata’s duties was to assist Rajarsi and look after him. She said of him, “When I first met him he was more business than spiritual – except when he was in Master’s presence. Gradually through meditation the balance came between business and spirituality. He did not have it easy. He fought for his meditations, and he won. Towards the end, he was all spiritual, and businessman nil. After Master left his body, I would sometimes read to Rajarsi from letters Master had written to him. Rajarsi was not an emotional person at all; but when he felt Master’s love, tears would come to his eyes – not tears of sorrow that Master was no longer in the body, but tears of love. As though experiencing for the first time the unconditional love of the Guru for his disciple, he would say, ‘I did not know he loved me so much!’ He would just become drowned in that love, inwardly dancing in that love. He would repeat over and over: ‘Joy, joy, Master’s joy! Love, love, Master’s love!’” That’s what is waiting for each one of us who make the effort to balance our life - to have the courage to drop the unnecessary fillers in our life to make room for meditation. Immerse yourself in this blessed week of Convocation and know that at the end, each one of us will be experiencing this spiritual transformation, and inwardly we will be like a little child dancing in Master’s love, in Master’s joy. Jai Guru!

Tuesday Morning Satsanga Brother Sevananda

Q. Brother Bhaktananda used to talk about having a period of stillness after performing the meditation techniques. He said that one should be still – no restlessness, not even prayer - but just be aware of the spiritual eye. Should the mind be blank? R. At no time should the mind be blank during meditation. You will find

that if the gaze is lifted to the spiritual eye it’s impossible for the mind to become blank. You will see that there is an awareness there when the mind is at the spiritual eye – a feeling of peace, space, consciousness. The point is, there’s a huge difference between having a blank mind and having your attention at the point between the eyebrows. I encourage you to get the talk on CD by Brother Bhaktananda that accompanies the current (Summer 2006) issue of Self-Realization Magazine. Anything we can do to deepen our meditation is very worthwhile. Just to review the reminders Brother Bhaktananda gave that summarize what Master taught: 1. Start with a prayer to attune to God and the Great Ones. We can ask them for help and blessings. 2. Have a period of chanting. “Chanting is half the battle,” Master said. It gets the consciousness right, helping us to get to the depth and calmness we are seeking. 3. Perform the techniques as best as you can and as deep as you can. 4. What to do after the techniques? This question often arises. Don’t get up! If you do, it’s like kicking the milk pail over that you have just filled with milk. Sit for a period of complete stillness to allow the milk of meditation to saturate us. Just become aware of whatever comes. Maybe you have no awareness of anything, but be sure to sit in the stillness for a time in meditation - otherwise you may become discouraged. Otherwise we don’t give ourselves time to feel the magic of the techniques. As the Psalm says: “Be still, and know that I am God.” This is such a yogic definition of meditation. It describes perfectly what meditation is all about. Try it this week. We’re not rushed this week. Allow time for the stillness. During this time, there is no effort, so to speak; no thinking, no praying - just be calm with the attention focused at the point between the eyebrows using only just enough will to do that. Just observe and feel … and then we will know. As the chant goes, “When the thoughts have gone to rest, that’s the time I love Him best.” That awareness in the stillness and having the mind blank are two different things. But even then, that’s not the end: 5. After this period of stillness, practice devotion. Talk to God in the language of your heart. Pray for others. Thank God – pray for what you need that day - Say, “Now as I go back to the battle din of activity, I ask for Your blessing to be able to take that peace with me into my activities.” S. If the soul is perfect, then why during the healing service do we say healing prayers for the soul? A.

Well, I don’t mind getting them.

(Laughter) Really we are praying to remove the obstacles - the ignorance that prevents us from realizing our soul nature. Normally we are bodyidentified. Our bodies are fantastic – they are tremendous - and it’s so hard not to be identified with these forms. Every morning you get it out of bed and you take it into the shower to scrub it up – and you dare not look in the mirror before that … (Laughter) and then finally you look and say, “Ughhh!” (Laughter) … better get it fixed up here. Then you put some clothes on it, and you move it to the kitchen and put some food in it. Then you take a bus or a car and go to work, and …… well, it does things. (Laughter) At the end of the workday you take it back home for some more food, and usually by then it’s feeling pretty exhausted, so you put it to bed for the night. No wonder we’re so exhausted – it’s a lot of work! This identification with the body is so hard to break. We need to realize that we are a soul and we have a body. But the identification with the body is so intense that we think that this is who we are. Master gave a definition of ego: it is the soul identified with the physical body. The body isn’t evil - it’s not inherently bad - but it’s a very demanding master. Guruji said this creation is God’s hobby, and He’s very sincere about his hobby. The purpose of meditation and the healing technique for the soul is to pray for the removal of feeling identified with the body. We are a divine spark of ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new joy. That spark of the soul enters this form in order to use it, while retaining a separate consciousness that we are not that body. We are the soul, an ever-joyous spark of the Infinite that is using this form while trying to remember Itself. There is a story of a modern-day Sufi Master who went to the bank one day to cash a check, and the teller asked him to identify himself. He whipped a mirror out of his pocket, looked at himself, and said, "Yep, that's me all right." (Laughter)

We look in the mirror and it’s so hard not to think, “That’s me.” But in meditation we have a different mirror; we see the real me as the soul in the mirror of that stillness in meditation. T. U.

Is God ever sad or in pain? Master said, “God doesn’t think much of himself. He’s very shy. God has an inferiority complex.” And it’s the same with us! We don’t think much of ourselves either …… it’s a bad combination. (Laughter) That’s where the role of the Guru comes in - he’s the divine matchmaker between God and the devotee. He pulls the two sides together. He says to us, “You know, God loves you very much.” “Really?” we say. (Laughter)

Then he says to God, “You know, she thinks of You all the time. She loves You.” And God says, “Really? …… Me?” (Laughter) Master frames the unimaginable Absolute into terms we can understand. Daya Ma tells of a story when she and a few others were with Master and he told them, “Even God craves something – your love. He craves the love of each and every one of you.” And as Master said this, he looked around at each one in the room as if to impress it upon them deeply. Spirit is not complete until He has each and every one of us back. So He would have to be miserable without our company while we are in this delusion. He shares the pain we feel. Master said, “The Lord wants us to escape this delusive world. He cries for us, for He knows how hard it is for us to gain His deliverance. But you have only to remember that you are His child.” We don’t have to beg; we don’t have to buy; we don’t have to earn our way back to Him – it’s our birthright! Master said, “Don’t pity yourself. You are loved just as much by God as are Jesus and Krishna.” Think of it – we are loved by God just as much as Jesus and Krishna. Shouldn’t this thought help us to relax on the spiritual path? Shouldn’t this thought allow us to say we’re okay because God loves us that much?

Master said, “You must seek His love, for it encompasses eternal freedom, endless joy, and immortality.” That’s what SRF is all about – to encourage us, to help us, to show us how to experience the love of God how to find that eternal freedom, endless joy, and immortality. Every word of Master is a daily, hourly, moment to moment reminder for us to wake up! Master said, “In SRF there’s no dogma except Kriya Yoga and love for God.” If we have any dogma, that is our only dogma. Q. Would you please talk about feeling love for others and by others – our relationship to others, and this thing called “love”? V.

Daya Ma boils it down perfectly when she says, “If we want love, give love. Don’t wait to be loved. Just love.” It doesn’t work as a deal you make with someone: “I’m loving you, do you love me yet?” Forget about the receiving part. Just love. Service is love in action. Master said, “Rather than be always striving for personal happiness, try to be of service to others, and you will find your own cup of happiness will be full.” How does this happen? It’s the magic of love. As we forget ourselves in service to others, our cup fills up automatically. Master said that when you give love to others, when you do something for someone else without thought of personal gain, you have momentarily stepped into Christ Consciousness. There are moments when we can slip into it, and if we could just freeze that moment and realize what we are feeling, we would know that when we love with no thought of self, we have stepped into Christ Consciousness. … Of course, we can step into many things. (Laughter) Brother Turiyananda said, “Divine Mother has many traps, and I’ve stepped into every one of them.” (Laughter) We all have. But the Guru shows us how to step out of them. Master was always so pleased when he saw a devotee perform some act of kindness for another, some little thing for another with unselfishness. He was thrilled! Some of you wonder what ashram is training like. Many people think it’s something mysterious, like we enter the ashram and we’re gone – as if, okay the curtain goes down and then the real training begins. This IS the training. If we are in a mood, go cheer someone else up. It’s magic! What mood? Then your own cup fills up. The yogis realized that when we have these attitudes that they create peace and harmony.

Mother Teresa kept a plaque on her wall of the orphanage she founded in Calcutta with the following poem: People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered; Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be Kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies; Succeed anyway. If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; Be honest and frank anyway. What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; Build anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; Be happy anyway. The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; Give the world the best you've got anyway. You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; It was never between you and them anyway. Mother Teresa was just four foot eight inches tall, and yet she was so powerful, so peaceful – because of her Christ-like attitude. “Ours is a contemplative order,” she said. Many were surprised to hear her say this – they thought of her as a karma yogi, but she practiced prayer and meditation too. She taught us how to give love, how to feel love for others. This is our hermitage life – how to feel love; how to give love. Master tells the story of when he abruptly left his Guru to run off to the Himalayas. When he came back to the ashram he expected Sri Yukteswar to be angry with him, and he was quite surprised to see that Sri Yukteswar’s manner was so casual. “Wrath springs only from thwarted desires,” Sri Yukteswar told him. “I do not expect anything from others, so their actions cannot be in opposition to wishes of mine. I would not use you for my own ends; I am happy only in your own true happiness.” Daya Ma related that at that moment Master fell at his Guru’s feet and cried, “At last there is someone who really loves me.” When we see real love modeled for us like that, it impresses it upon our consciousness. Just a few days later, Sri Yukteswar gave Master the experience of samadhi. Was there a connection? Maybe. Just when Master had developed that essential trust in his Guru, a few mornings later the Guru gave him the experience of samadhi.

Now fast forward to 1935 when Guruji returned to India. After fifteen long years, at last he was able to see his Guru again. He cornered Sri Yukteswar and said, “Guruji, I know you love me, but my mortal ears ache to hear you say so.” Sri Yukteswar tried to escape from having to verbalize it, but finally he expressed his love: “During my married life I often yearned for a son, to train in the yogic path. But when you came into my life, I was content; in you I have found my son.” Two clear teardrops stood in Sri Yukteswar’s eyes. “Yogananda, I love you always.” Now roll back 25 years earlier: Sri Yukteswar never had a son but yearned for one, and found him in Yogananda. Then the son runs away. Then he comes back. Sri Yukteswar does not complain. He doesn’t say, “How could you love me? How could you do this to me? You miserable ungrateful disciple.” (Laughter) Instead, Sri Yukteswar tells him, “Go to the Himalayas if you need to. I’m not going to hold you or use you for my own ends.” He didn’t tell the secret of his deep love for him for another 25 years. You can’t make someone love you. That’s the play. That’s the beauty of the relationship of love. He doesn’t expect anything from others so he can’t be disappointed …… but he still loves. This is true unconditional love. They let you go to Himalayas - that’s why we follow masters, because they love us like that. They’re not going to use us they only want us to be happy, and that’s what wins hearts. W. Please talk about the line between sincere friendship and wanting to help a friend, and over-familiarity. X. In getting along with others there is a challenging line between intimacy and over-familiarity. As the saying goes, “It’s easy to make friends, but difficult to keep them.” Master said, “Always maintain a little distance and reverence. Be cordial and sincere, but without over-familiarity.” As we try to practice Christ-like virtues, we find there are no books to instruct us – we just learn by practice, through trial and error. Someone said, “Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.” (Laughter) Sri Yukteswar told Master, “I do not expect anything from others, so their actions cannot be in opposition to wishes of mine.” But he doesn’t stop loving – he’s right there, still giving love. In one of Master’s letters to Rajarsi we see the intimate relationship they had. Master wrote, “Maybe once in a millennium does one find such a genuine friend as I find in you.” Master says “When you find a true friend, grow that plant.”

Y. If we meditate faithfully to the end of life, but haven’t reached Godrealization, will Master intercede for us? Will he give us illumination, even if we didn’t get it in this life?

Z. What kind of a Guru do we think we have? How do we think he is

evaluating our lives? When we’re going down that tunnel, we’re not going to add up how many Kriyas we did. Master said, “Don’t wait to be happy. Be happy now.” Master said that just when he thought he’d found the end of stillness, the end of joy, he found there was a new stillness, a new joy. Remember, it’s ever new Joy! Otherwise it would be ever old Joy. (Laughter) There’s a Zen movie entitled, “How to Be In the Moment”. And then there’s the sequel to the movie: “How to Be In the Moment After That”. (Laughter) Success and prosperity are things we carry in our astral back pocket. Master defined prosperity as: “The ability to create at will whatever we may daily need.” We have what we need. The goal is to have faith that through all the transitions we go through, Master will be there for us. When the time is right he will illuminate us. “I won’t fail you to let you know when that day comes,” Sri Yukteswar told Yogananda. (Laughter) There is a poem called “A Soldier’s Prayer”, which was found in the pocket of a fallen soldier during the Civil War:

A Soldier's Prayer I asked God for strength, that I might achieve, I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey. I asked for health, that I might do greater things, I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.... I asked for riches, that I might be happy, I was given poverty, that I might be wise.... I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men, I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.... I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life, I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.... I got nothing that I asked for - but everything that I had hoped for,

Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered. I am, among all men, most richly blessed. Isn’t that how we would like to leave this earth? Don’t we want to leave this world content? That’s what Master is trying to do for us. That’s the miracle of the transformation of our lives of which Brother Chidananda spoke last evening. Swami Vivekananda gives a different aspect of the one goal, a different view of why we do all this, why we go through all that we do. Many feel, “I can’t wait to get out of here!” Yes, it’s a rough place. But Swami Vivekananda once remarked to a disciple: “You know, I may have to reincarnate again and again, because I’ve fallen in love with mankind.” Master said, “If need be I’ll come back a trillion times.” That’s a big number! (Laughter) “If need be I’ll come back a trillion times,” he said, “so long as one stray brother is left behind.” One Christmastime when a group of us were with Daya Ma, she referenced that quote and added, “……But let’s not add to his burden and be the last one.” (Laughter) We all laughed nervously. (Laughter)

AA.In Autobiography of a Yogi it says that for one to wear the ocher robe if he is not Self-realized is misleading to society. Does this mean that all monastics are Self-realized because they wear an ocher robe?

BB.This really doesn’t require an answer, does it? You’d think it would be fairly obvious! (Laughter) At Convocation this question comes up about once every three years or so. (Laughter) People just assume we can read their minds …… (Laughter) …… or at least we levitate.

(Laughter) One time Brother Bimalananda was mopping up a big puddle of water after a pipe broke in the ashram. Brother Bhaktananda walked in, stepped in the puddle and said, “Look! I’m walking on water!” (Laughter) Brother’s humor was so interesting, and so revealing. Perhaps more than anything, it was his humor that says more about his worthiness to wear the ocher robe than any realization he has. Wearing the ocher robe doesn’t necessarily mean we are Self-realized or illuminated. What does being a devotee mean? Master said, “Develop the love of God so that I see in your eyes that you are drunk with God and not asking, ‘When will I have God?’ When you ask that, you are not a devotee.” Are we a devotee? Master goes on to say: “The devotee says: ‘I have Him. He is listening to me; my Beloved is always with me. He is moving my hands; He is digesting my food; He is gazing at me through the stars.’” The point is, one should not be hypocritical by allowing some outer symbol to make someone else think one has Self-realization; not to let some outer symbol to define the inner worth of a person. But symbols are also beautiful as reminders of what we want to be. What is God-realization? It is a sincere acknowledgement from the heart that only God exists. We couldn’t draw a single breath without His power. He is caressing you through the breeze and giving you life through the sunshine. He is in the food you eat. He is in the hearts of all the people around you. He is the only One that you can call your own. Any of us who put on these robes are humbled by what it means. We are putting on the cloak of our own Guru. Master said, “Be sincere with me.” That’s what makes us receptive to the Guru and to the realization he is trying to give us.

CC.After rereading Autobiography of a Yogi, I realize how spiritually

advanced even Master’s family was. I feel so far behind, and it’s an awesome prospect to think about how much further I have to go.

DD.It’s safe to say that we all feel this way. That’s what the ego likes to do: compare, compare, compare. It’s so easy to compare ourselves to others: “He’s more advanced than I am. It’s so easy for her.” The ego tries to make us think we can’t make it. But remember what Krishna said about delusion: “My delusion is very hard to conquer; but it is easy for those who persevere.” Notice he said very difficult. We get tricked, and it’s so easy then to become discouraged and unsure of our progress. But it’s

easy if we keep on to the end. So just keep trying, and never give up. One time in meditation Daya Ma complained to Divine Mother about all of her faults that she had not yet been able to overcome. Divine Mother simply said, “Do you love me?” and Ma replied, “Of course.” We are all the time getting rock concert decibel level pronouncements of Divine Mother’s secret: “Do you love Me?” That’s the secret. Do we really think She would ask us any other question, this shy Divine Mother? …… although, the mother never ceases to look for improvement in her middle-aged children…… (Laughter) So don’t be so hard on yourself. Go easy on yourself, and then you can be relaxed and just strive to go a little deeper in each meditation. Just try your best. If you fall, get up. Pick yourself up and try again. Someone once asked Master what he thought was the most inspiring passage in the 500 plus pages of Autobiography of a Yogi. And Master’s answer was: “These words of my Guru: ‘Forget the past. The vanished lives of all men are dark with many shames. Human conduct is ever unreliable until anchored in the Divine. Everything in future will improve if you are making a spiritual effort now.’” I like getting the magnifying glass out sometimes and putting it on myself, but remember - everything will improve if you are making a spiritual effort now. Master said, “God is Love. His plan for creation can be rooted only in love. Does not that simple thought, rather than erudite reasonings, offer solace to the human heart? Every saint who has penetrated to the core of Reality has testified that a divine universal plan exits and that it is beautiful and full of joy.” We are all destined for that same Joy. As we practice meditation this week and sit in the stillness, let us realize with ever-deeper assurance God’s love and His reflection within us.

The Hong-Sau and Aum Technique of Concentration and Meditation Tuesday Afternoon – Brother Nakulananda

Good afternoon everyone! The main purpose of this class is to renew our motivation, our determination, and our enthusiasm to put into practice these great teachings our Guru gave us. Think of it: out of all the people in the world, you are the ones who have been drawn to this holy path. You have been drawn to a true guru and to these teachings in which Master explains what the supreme purpose of life is – why we are here – and he has given us the techniques to achieve that supreme purpose: to regain our divinity, Bliss consciousness. That divinity has always been ours; we just have to reclaim it. In Master’s new CD, Removing All Sorrow and Suffering, he talks about the six principle systems of Hindu philosophy. There are three philosophies within these six systems which expound upon that which constitutes the essence of true purpose of life: 1. Shankya – why to seek God – to eliminate suffering – physical, mental and spiritual – to eliminate suffering from its roots so that it will never come back again. 2. Vedanta – what we are trying to achieve – Bliss consciousness, SatChit-Ananda, ever-conscious, ever-existing, ever-new Joy. 3. Yoga – how to achieve this. Most importantly, it is yoga that gives us the methods to eliminate suffering forever and achieve eternal Bliss, eternal oneness with God, which is the ultimate achievement and necessity of every soul. Master said, “Yoga fulfills the purpose of religion, which is the ultimate goal of every human being.” As long as we are on the physical plane and immersed in the world in body consciousness, we will suffer. So we need to learn to go within and be still - as it says in the Psalm: “Be still and know that I am God.” If we can learn to go into the deepest recesses of the soul, then we can experience God. Daya Ma said, “There you will realize the ultimate achievement that is the unconscious goal of every human being.” The disciples often saw Master in ecstasy - samadhi – and that state, no words can fully describe. Each of us will eventually achieve that same state. Master tries to tell us in his writings what it is like. In Autobiography of a Yogi he gives us a description of Cosmic Consciousness: “My body became immovably rooted; breath was drawn out of my lungs as if by some huge magnet. Soul and mind instantly lost their physical bondage and streamed out like a fluid piercing light from my every pore. The flesh was as though dead; yet in my intense awareness I knew that never before had I been fully alive. “The cosmic vision left many permanent lessons. By daily stilling my thoughts, I could win release from the delusive conviction that my body was a mass of flesh and bones, traversing the hard soil of matter. The breath and the restless mind, I saw, are like storms that lash the ocean of light into waves of material forms – earth, sky, human beings, animals, birds, trees. No perception of the Infinite as One Light can be had except by calming those storms.

“As often as I quieted the two natural tumults, I beheld the multitudinous waves of creation melt into one lucent sea; even as the waves of the ocean, when a tempest subsides, serenely dissolve into unity.” Master gives us the inspiration and the motivation to achieve the goal, but he also tells us the obstacles: the breath and the restless mind. When we learn to become calm and still, and to have no restless thoughts - that’s when we being to perceive God within us. The goal is very lofty, and we must remind ourselves what it is we want to achieve in order to motivate ourselves. One well-known pro-football player was interviewed and asked, “Why are you going to college?” He told the story of how his Dad and Uncle were human cannonballs in the carnival, and how when time came for him to decide what he would do with his life, his Dad said to him, “Son, you either go to college or become a human cannonball.” (Laughter) Soon after, his Uncle was shot out of the cannon, missed the net, and crashed into the Ferris wheel. “That’s when I decided to go to college,” he said. (Laughter) Sometimes we need that kind of motivation! Sometimes in our own position in life it may seem like we’re getting shot out of a cannon ball and missing the net and landing on that Ferris wheel. But the net is there – and we will discover that the net is the arms of Divine Mother. We can never be truly happy until we learn to control and concentrate the mind. A spiritual seeker approached his Zen master and said, "Master, please write on this scroll some maxims of the highest wisdom on how to reach the supreme goal." The master immediately took his brush and wrote, "Attention." The student was puzzled, and said, "I don't understand. Will you not add something more?" The master picked up his brush again and wrote, "Attention. Attention." The student was baffled. "But all you are doing is writing 'attention'. Isn't there anything else?" The master picked up his brush and wrote: "Attention. Attention. Attention." Attention - it all boils down to that. How are we using our attention? There are so many distractions in this world – cell phones, ipods, computers, Blackberries, Blueberries, Strawberries…… (Laughter) It all gets overwhelming. There’s so much sensory input coming in, and our attention gets distracted. We need to learn to be focused. When a lion tamer goes into the lion’s cage he takes three things with him: a pistol, a whip, and a stool. The stool is the most important of the three. He faces all four legs of the stool toward the lion. The lion tries to focus on all four legs at the same time,

but cannot do that, and so it does nothing and becomes paralyzed and tame. Sound familiar? (Laughter) Emails, voicemails, telephones – we need to learn to focus within. Master said that all great men and women, no matter what field they are in, are successful because they learned to concentrate the mind. Usually it’s because they have a deep interest in what they are doing. One very successful baseball pitcher for the Dodgers said, “I can’t think of the ball I just pitched; I can’t think of any future pitches – I have to think only of the very next pitch.” Chris Evert was a famous tennis player who was renowned for her incredible powers of concentration. One time while competing in a tennis tournament she repeatedly ran into a chair which had inadvertently been left near the back line. After the match was over someone asked, "Why didn't you move the chair back against the fence?" Chris answered, "What chair?" She was so focused that she didn’t even notice! Actor Scott Glenn tells told the following story: “I was 16 when I hitchhiked from Philadelphia to Los Angeles. Glamorous L.A. was going to be the perfect spot to spend the summer. Even though I was three thousand miles from home, didn’t know anyone and was flat broke, I was excited. I finally found a job sanding and painting rusted water tanks on top of buildings. These buildings were as high as thirty stories, and it was sometimes another fifty feet to the rust spot. On my first day, the wind was blowing, and my legs were trembling as I climbed the ladder. I was so nervous I wasn’t able to do a thorough job. “Determined to overcome my fear, I forced myself to focus completely on the rust. I fixed my attention on sanding it down to the metal surface and painting the entire area so that it blended perfectly. I concentrated harder than at any time in my life — and the results amazed me. Not only did my legs stop wobbling, but I did a truly professional job; you couldn’t tell where the rust spots had been. “I’ve tried to approach every job since — from the Marine Corps to newspaper reporter — with the same level of concentration and discipline. But it’s made the biggest difference in helping me become a better actor. In preparation for a role, I focus all my attention on that character: I try to think like him and take on his personality at all times, not just when the camera is on. “A job as basic as sanding and painting rust spots taught me that to do your best, it’s necessary to concentrate fully and avoid distraction. If you do, it’s amazing what you can accomplish.” It’s the same with the techniques that Master gave us. We must have that interest. The ancient yogis discovered psychophysical techniques by which we can consciously get a hold of concentration. Master tells us what the obstacles

are: 1. sensations 2. thoughts caused by those sensations 3. memory thoughts So we must begin by cutting off sensations. Our bodily house has two sets of telephones: sensory telephones, the five senses which are constantly being bombarded with sensations; and motor telephones. For instance, I might sit and try to meditate at the Fullerton Temple and maybe I hear some music. The other day I heard a rock and roll band playing some loud, brash music - it was terrible. Then I got to thinking about the music I liked back I my college days, and started thinking about the Beatles. Then I started thinking about all the activities I did in college …… and there it is – sensations, leading to thoughts, leading to memory thoughts. Or you might smell some curry and the thought comes, “Oh, I’m hungry.” Then you think, “Ah, that reminds me of some delicious curry I had when I was on pilgrimage in India.” And there you have it again - sensations, thoughts, memory thoughts. How to eliminate these distractions? It all boils down to control of the life force or prana – pranayama. The yogis realized that if we can cut off that flow of prana to the senses – cut off that energy coming in – then we are inside and calm. Hong-Sau is uniquely scientific – it harmonizes with breath, mind, and life force. When we sit quietly and perform Hong-Sau, the breath automatically starts to slow down. This in turn slows the motion of the inner organs. Thus, deterioration of the cells ceases, and no venous blood accrues. Then the heart slows down because it doesn’t have to pump so much blood. Thus, the lungs don’t have to expand so often to oxygenate the blood. The energy that ordinarily was engaged in keeping the heart pumping slows down and begins to flow back toward the brain, instead of outward into the five sensetelephones. Thus freed from disturbances of sensations and thoughts, the attention is ready to be focused inside and become more identified with the calm nature of the soul, which is God within. Master said, “Breath is the cord that binds the soul to the body.” We break that cord every night when we sleep, but in sleep we are peaceful, but not conscious. In meditation we are very conscious – very alert and aware. The ultimate is when the breath finally stops. “I die daily,” St. Paul said – and then we achieve the supreme interior state of samadhi and oneness with God. The attention can be focused on one thing at a time. By continued practice of Hong-Sau, eventually we become breathless. So to get away from restlessness is why we practice Hong-Sau. There is no limit on how long you can practice Hong-Sau. The more sweetener you put in the water, the sweeter it becomes. Likewise, the longer you meditate intensely, the greater will be your spiritual

advancement. Make it the most important thing in the world for you at that moment. Performing Hong-Sau with deep interest and motivation is what will lead us to God-realization. Believe that Hong-Sau is going to bring you deeper inside. Think, “This is the most important thing in the world.” Master called Hong-Sau the “silent Kriya”, or the “baby Kriya”. In Kriya the life force is being lifted to the spine and brain, and it’s the same with Hong-Sau, just not as intense as Kriya. The advantage to Hong-Sau is that you can perform it anytime – like riding in a car, but not while you are driving, or sitting in a doctor’s office – any time when you don’t have to concentrate on other things. Daya Ma said, “The value of the practice of Hong-Sau is that it produces a deep inner stillness. I worked diligently until I perfected my performance of HongSau; so must you. Then you can remain calm always.” So after we have practiced Hong-Sau for some time and have taken the consciousness inside, and become still, now what do we do with that focused mind? This is where the Aum technique comes in. We take that concentrated mind and focus it on an aspect of God – and that is the Aum. Aum is the vibration of God that permeates every atom. We are living in a sea of energy. With the Aum technique we learn to live, move, and have our being in God. The Aum technique teaches us how to attune our consciousness to that Holy Vibration of God. This is a part of the special dispensation that Babaji sent to the world. Babaji and Christ saw that there were potential saints in the West, and they wanted to bring to us a method by which we could have direct communion with God, direct experience of God in our own consciousness. “That is why Babaji and Christ sent me here,” Master said. The SRF teachings are a special dispensation for the Atomic Age, sent forth from India, ancient land of spiritual wisdom, by a line of fully enlightened Masters. The teachings fulfill Christ’s promise that he would send the “Comforter” after he departed. Jesus said, ‘But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance.’ SRF is bringing that which never before has been given in the churches. Through the meditation techniques you will be one with the Lord through the Christ Consciousness.” We are living in the presence of God all the time, but as long as we are vibrating in material creation we cannot perceive the Aum. The technique is not just a mechanical repetition of Aum verbally, or even mentally. The Aum vibration is not heard with physical ears; it is perceived with the ear of intuition. The light of the spiritual eye, the sound of Aum, the feeling of peace, etc, are all spiritually felt by the intuition. All scriptures, both Eastern and Western, talk about the three-fold aspects of God. The Christian Father, Son, Holy Ghost correspond respectively with Sat

(the Father aspect, Spirit beyond creation), Aum (the Holy Ghost, the Cosmic Vibration that structures the entire physical cosmos), and Tat (the Son, Christ Consciousness, the pure reflection of God’s intelligence in creation). God is here right now, vibrating in all creation. The Bible says: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The Word is Aum, which came out of His being and that is the whole creation; the entire universe is the body of God. Master said, “Aum is the bridge between human consciousness and Christ Consciousness.” As saltwater sealed in a bottle does not contact the ocean even though it floats in the ocean, so the soul-reflection of Spirit, sealed in the body-bottle by the cork of ignorance, cannot contact God even though it lives in the ocean of His presence. When the jar is opened, the saltwater in it becomes one with the sea; so the contact of Om pulls out the cork of ignorance from the bottle of human consciousness, releasing the body-imprisoned soul to merge in the sea of Cosmic Consciousness. We are a microcosm of the macrocosm. Our little bodies are like a miniature universe. When we pull out the cork of ignorance through the Aum technique, then we merge with the Christ Consciousness – we merge in that infinite, vast joy of God. The experience of Aum comes through intuition. Aum is a manifestation of God – appreciate that!! You must practice it assiduously, reverently, earnestly, faithfully, and continuously. As you go deeper in meditation you will gradually achieve awareness of Om, and when you do, realize that is the bridge to the Christ Consciousness! The longer you practice, the better. Listen with reverence, but not with straining. That is a vibration of God. Become one with that sound - then it becomes alive. It’s a very devotional technique, because we are calling on God - so practice with reverence. Master said, “Words cannot convey to you the wonderful realizations and intuitions that the technique of meditation (on Aum) will bring you; it would be impossible even to name them all here. If you practice regularly, faithfully, and reverently, you will get them all finally. You will be able to hear the vibrations of the astral centers of consciousness and life in the spine, and in time you will be intuitionally in tune with the Cosmic Vibration. Continued right practice of this technique will give you an unparalleled command over your mind, enabling you to focus it in the most intense way on any object of thought – intellectual, physical, or spiritual. This is as true as the statement that the sun rises in the east.” That’s the promise of the Guru, but we have to practice regularly and assiduously with faith. Remember to have right posture. “A bent spine is the enemy of Selfrealization,” Master said. The body should be like a bent bow towards the target.

Master said, “Stillness is the altar of God. Where motion ceases, Spirit begins to manifest.” Hold on to the after-effects of meditation. Whatever we do throughout the day, we learn to act from that calm state of stillness. One of the most important points is to persevere. Keep on, and never give up - this is very important. We are talking about the supreme goal of life. The supreme goal of life doesn’t come over night. It requires our dedicated effort, day by day. Practice with reverence and devotion, and make it an offering to God. Say, “This is my offering to You, Lord.” We all have dry periods, we all have our ups and downs, but never give in to discouragement. Discouragement is a tool of maya. Know that along with our efforts are the blessings and grace of God and Guru. Master said, “Even if the seeker is discouraged by lack of tangible results, with blind conviction he should keep on with his meditations and serviceful actions, out of awe and love for God.” Some day we will break through a wall, and all of a sudden we are calm. God and Master see every effort you are making, and sometimes bless us the most when we are struggling. Master tells of a time when in Calcutta there were two ignorant boys in his school. One quit, but the other kept on until the end of the year, and he passed his courses credibly. Master wrote in his interpretation of the Gita: “Similarly, the Bhagavad Gita advises even the most restless devotee – one who lacks a karmic predisposition that facilitates yoga practice – to meditate persistently anyway, out of love for God and a desire to please Him, for by that continuous spiritual activity he will ultimately succeed in God-realization.” Mrinalini Mata tells of how at the end of his life Master tried to arouse their motivation to commune with God by instilling in them a sense of urgency. “There is no security in this world,” he said. The only security is within that cathedral, that temple of stillness within. Daya Ma says, “When you sit to mediate, think: this is my last day on earth.” We never know when, but we will all face it one day. Practice what Guruji gave us. A young man who was utterly disillusioned with life arrived at a remote monastery and asked the abbot to help him learn to meditate so that he could free himself from suffering. "Everything has been handed to me," he said. "I’ve never had to work for anything. I wouldn’t know where to begin, much less how to stick with anything. And I’m desperate. Please help me." "Tell me," said the abbot, "what are you interested in? What have you studied? What have you concentrated on most in your life?" At first, the young man answered, "Nothing.” The abbot was silent. "I guess I could say chess," said the young man, finally. "I’ve played a lot of chess and enjoy it." The abbot thought for a moment, and then he said to his attendant, "Call suchand-such a monk, and tell him to bring a chessboard. And bring the other monks," he added. The monks came and gathered around the chessboard, as it was set up. The

designated monk was seated on one side, the young man on the other. The abbot then sent for a sword. "O monk," he said to his disciple, "you have vowed obedience to me as your abbot, and now I require it of you. You will play a game of chess with this youth. If you lose, I shall cut off your head with this sword. Chess is the only thing on which this young man has ever concentrated. If this young man loses, he deserves to lose his head and I shall cut it off." The two players looked at the abbot’s face and saw that he was serious. They began to play their game of chess. With the opening moves, the youth felt the sweat trickling down his neck as he played for his life. The chessboard became the whole world; he was entirely concentrated on it. At first, he had somewhat the worst of it, but then the monk made an inferior move, and he seized his chance to launch a strong attack. As the monk’s position crumbled, he looked covertly at him and saw a face of intelligence and sincerity and goodness, worn with years of austerity and devotion. Then he thought of his own worthless life, and a wave of compassion arose within him. With a steady hand, he deliberately made a blunder, and then another blunder, ruining his position and leaving himself defenseless. Suddenly, the abbot leapt to his feet and flipped the chess board up, sending all the pieces flying. The two contestants sat stupefied. The room was utterly silent. "There is no winner and no loser," the abbot said, slowly. "No head will fall here." He turned to the young man. "Only two things are required: complete concentration, and compassion. Today, you have practiced them both. You were completely concentrated on the game. Out of that concentration, compassion arose, with the willingness to sacrifice your life. "Stay here with us," he concluded, "and pursue this practice. Your enlightenment is guaranteed." Attention! Attention! Attention!! But even that is not enough. Master said, “There is a personal element in the search for God that is more important than mastery over the whole science of Yoga.” That is why the most important part of meditation is after practice of the techniques. After the techniques - then what do we do? Love God. Pray with all your heart. The depth of your meditation will usually be deepest during the last part of meditation, after stillness has been achieved. So this time should be given the most importance to make contact with God. We never know when that touch of grace will come to us. He’s just behind the darkness of closed eyes. Guruji gives us the most beautiful example in his own life, when he describes the experience in Cosmic Consciousness that Sri Yukteswar gave him: “I made my way to Master's empty sitting room. I planned to meditate, but my laudable purpose was unshared by disobedient thoughts. They scattered like birds before the hunter. "Mukunda!" Sri Yukteswar's voice sounded from a distant inner balcony.

I felt as rebellious as my thoughts. "Master always urges me to meditate," I muttered to myself. "He should not disturb me when he knows why I came to his room." He summoned me again; I remained obstinately silent. The third time his tone held rebuke. "Sir, I am meditating," I shouted protestingly. "I know how you are meditating," my guru called out, "with your mind distributed like leaves in a storm! Come here to me." Snubbed and exposed, I made my way sadly to his side. "Poor boy, the mountains couldn't give what you wanted." Master spoke caressingly, comfortingly. His calm gaze was unfathomable. "Your heart's desire shall be fulfilled." Imagine! Imagine Master having a restless mind!! I’d like to have one of his restless meditations! (Laughter) Sri Yukteswar touched him, and that is when Mukunda had the divine experience of Cosmic Consciousness. And remember, the experience came when was struggling at that moment. Master said, “The divine experience comes with a natural inevitability to the sincere devotee. His intense craving begins to pull at God with an irresistible force. The Lord, as the Cosmic Vision, is drawn by the seeker's magnetic ardor into his range of consciousness.” Always remember, we are meditating with our Guru, and our line of Gurus. Don’t look for results. Master said, “The spiritual novice, used to the entertainment of the senses, often expects similar experiences from his meditative efforts. His mind is long conditioned to considering as stupendous and desirable anything dazzling to sight, sound, or sensory feeling. But in the highest thought-realms of divine consciousness, spiritual experiences are very subtle - and therefore sometimes pass unrecognized by the devotee expecting dramatic manifestations. The greater the subtlety of one’s spiritual experience, the greater its relative physical and spiritual effect. In the words of my guru, Sri Yukteswarji: “To know God, don’t expect anything. Just launch yourself with faith into His blissful Presence within.”

The Importance of Developing a Personal Relationship with God Tuesday Evening – Brother Vishwananda I’m going slow; I hope you are too. It’s the third day of Convocation, and by now you’re probably just beginning to shake off the restlessness and thoughts and cares that come from living in today’s stressful, crazy, problematic, chaotic world. It is so wonderful and so deeply inspiring to see this many devotees here at Convocation – almost four thousand serious seekers of God who have set aside a whole week to come here. After Convocation is over, if I could I would wish to ask each one of you: “What is it you are taking away with you from Convocation?” We all have the same Guru; we all meditate; we all have the same teaching, the same meditation techniques - but I think it would be safe to say that we’d get four thousand different answers to that question. We are all a little different. Each of us is a unique creation; each of us is a unique spark of God. I think that ultimately what drew each one of us here was to get away from the restlessness of the world, to get away from our problems, and to deepen our relationship with God. Maybe you came because you have just read and were inspired by Autobiography of a Yogi. Maybe you came out of curiosity. Maybe you have some personal problem that you want answered. Maybe you came to meditate and pray with others. Whatever it was, your experience will also be unique - what you take away with you from this Convocation will be unique. Before we get into the actual talk this evening, I would like all of us to begin by closing our eyes, focusing them at the Christ Consciousness center, and thinking deeply of that aspect of God which appeals to you most. In India, there are one billion people … and one billion Gods. Why? Again, we are all unique, and each one of us has a different concept of what God is. Think of whatever aspect of God is dearest to you heart, whatever most rouses your devotion, and with that devotion repeat after me and affirm: “I set aside all thoughts and cares of the material world to be alone with Thee.” (We all repeated this affirmation three times) Our Guru, Paramahansa Yogananda said: “It isn’t only meditation I emphasize. Meditation plus keeping your mind with God during activity is what is necessary. Half the battle will be won by meditation, for the soul power that you bring out by meditation will influence your thoughts and behavior during activity. When you meditate deeply, that gives substantiation to your spiritual

thoughts. The longer and deeper you meditate on a regular basis, the more you will find there is no difference between work and meditation. That is to say, whether you are working or meditating, you remain immersed in the divine consciousness of the blissful Spirit. You no longer identify yourself with the activities and aches and pains of a mortal body; you realize you are pure Spirit.” In all the vast teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda, this is the one vital key we have to understand and deeply grasp: we are not these material bodies, we are not the restless mind, and this world is not our home. We are eternal, immortal Spirit. This is the vital message. This is what philosophers have wrestled with for centuries, and if you don’t realize this, even if you’ve been on the path a long time, it is very hard to feel connected with God. I talked to a man who had been on the path for thirty years, and though he meditated regularly, he felt there was still something missing, still something lacking in his life. “I don’t feel fulfilled,” he said. “I haven’t attained what I expected.” As I talked to him, it came down to the fact that he meditated, but he didn’t make the effort to think of God and Guru and take the results of his meditation into the rest of his day. Interesting. Very interesting. Even when you make the effort every day in mediation, it is still pretty easy to forget God. I lived in India for many years. Just about anywhere in India you can stop and look around 360 degrees and you will see some reminder of God. It may be a tilak mark on a woman’s forehead, or the spiritual eye painted on a cow – cows are considered holy and they paint them. You see it in the cab of the taxi driver who keeps a picture of a god or goddess on his dashboard; or you may walk into a shop and see a garland adorning a statue of Krishna, or inhale the fragrant incense burning. All the different religions are represented there – Buddhists, Sikhs, Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Hindus. You will see statues of Ganesh, pictures of Jesus, and quotes from the Koran. If you are in Ranchi, when you wake up early to meditate, off in the distance you hear the priests ringing bells for the Arati ceremony, and you hear the crier in the mosque calling the faithful. But most of the world isn’t like this. The world crowds in on us; it has a power that absorbs us, and it drowns out our efforts to remember God. Guruji said that the advanced attitude of the spiritual seeker is not to dwell on the idea limitation. It makes us believe in the reality of this finite world. But when we are with God, that seeming reality is gone. It is that simple. When I first heard that, I thought it wasn’t so simple, but really it is simple. We make it complicated. If we side with delusion, then the power of delusion makes it seem very complicated. We have to make up our minds and be willing to believe that yes, we are souls, and this is not our home. Yoga has become popular now in the mainstream. But remember, yoga is not just an add-on to your life. Yoga is not something that you use just to feel a little more calm, a little more peaceful. Yes, it’s good for that, but yoga is much more than that - it’s a tool to achieve oneness with God – and that’s a big difference. Yoga is not just a way of life - it’s more. The path that

Paramahansa Yogananda brought is a way to a new life – it’s a rebirth. When we take initiation, it’s a new birth - a rebirth. What changes? What’s new? Think about it: it’s your inner life that is reborn, and that’s where God is that’s what truth is. That’s what Guruji teaches. Understanding this is vital to your spiritual life. The path that Guruji brought is a new life. Guruji said, “Half the battle will be won by meditation, for the soul power that you bring out by meditation will influence your thoughts and behavior during activity. In meditation you will know God, and once we know Him we cannot help but love Him.” Meditation is vital. This new life, this rebirth – it’s a new life in God – it’s a new life in Spirit. Guruji said, “Do not take this life too seriously. It will be gone before you know it. When our childhood was there, life seemed so beautiful. There were so many things to want, so many things to enjoy with so little responsibility.” Attractive, isn’t it? (Laughter) Now see how life is. All these dreams are gone - for most of us anyway. This episode of life will pass away. But as long as it exists, just have one trend of thought on your mind: God. Just one thought: God. Say, “I just want God.” Seek Him earnestly. If you seek Him earnestly, how can He resist your love? Constantly, inwardly talk to Him. He cannot remain away from you. Earnestly. Earnestly! You have to be earnest – and it begins with meditation. The nature of God – this is what we want to get to know – Peace, Bliss, Joy – this is the nature of God. What does it mean to be earnest? It means to meditate regularly. There was a devotee who had a family - a wife and children - and he wanted to meditate for a longer three hour period every week. So he locked himself in a room … but his wife and kids had other plans for him. (Laughter) The kids pounded on the door and screamed and cried for him to come out – they didn’t understand or respect his wishes. But still he persisted. He didn’t argue with them, but he just kept on locking himself in that room every week to meditate …… and eventually they stopped bothering him. If you are sincere, you are going to find a way. Not all of you need to go to this extreme, but you get the point. I remember a little scene that occurred in the elevator of the Bonaventure after one of the first meditations I ever led at Convocation. Now don’t get me wrong - part of Convocation week is to socialize and have fellowship – you don’t need to walk around all week with a zipped lip. We had just come from the group meditation, and there were two women in the elevator with me. One started talking, saying things like, “Oh Brother, it was such a wonderful meditation and

you chanted so beautifully,” etc, etc. The other woman just pranamed. She didn’t feel obliged to talk just then. Far more important was to hold on to what she had received in meditation. She didn’t let go of the effects of her meditation. Why do we come here? It’s about God. It’s about coming together in the spiritually powerful vibrations we create here. Isn’t that why we come? Hang onto that! Be selfish! Hang onto your spiritual life. Get earnest with your spiritual life. Some years ago Daya Mata received an invitation from an organization, and during the event the Dalai Lama was going to be speaking. The theme was world peace, and there were many spiritual leaders from around the world attending. It was a big event – a big “L.A. - Hollywood type” of event … (Laughter) Two of us were asked to attend the event to represent Ma. It was held in a big hall, and after dinner was served the Dalai Lama spoke. Then at 7pm a hush fell over the crowd as someone approached the microphone and made an announcement: “His Holiness would like to be excused because it’s 7 o’clock and time for his meditation.” (Laughter) Now, mind you, there were still two more hours to go of the event! But here was a man who was earnest about his meditation! That’s what it takes. You have to make up your mind you won’t let the world crowd in on your meditations – it’s too important. Do you remember when earlier we began the affirmation I asked you to think about the concept of God that is dearest to you? Daya Ma said about this: “Most people have no concept at all of God. To many, God is just a name, for others a form, and God is formless for some. It is foolish to think that God is one or the other. God is limitless – he is all things to all men. He has both form and no form – choose whatever aspect most appeals to you. The kind of thought with which you clothe the Infinite should be that which moves your heart and arouses your devotion. If the idea of a personal relationship is not possible – if the thought of a form is not for you, then throw out all form and think of Him as Infinite Bliss, Infinite Peace, Infinite Joy, Infinite Wisdom.” It can be a personal relationship by just saying, “My peace, my peace. My joy, my joy. My wisdom, my wisdom.” Your concept of God doesn’t have to have a face. It’s Spirit - It’s beyond. One devotee lamented, “I find it impossible to think of God as Father.” Why be upset? Then he said, “I think of God as Mother.” Daya Ma told him, “Then go after God as Mother.” The concept you have of God has to move you – it has to have the power to arouse your devotion. One’s relationship with God begins when you close the door to the outer world and go within. It’s very personal - it’s very intimate. No one can share that with you. The concept you have of God has to be something that draws your

attention and draws your devotion. It has to motivate you – it has to captivate you. Remember, Guruji said it’s not only meditation, but meditation plus remembering God during your activities is what is necessary. It’s so easy to forget God. So we have to find a way not to forget God during activity as well as in meditation. I will share this with you: for many years I practiced that I was a servant of God - that was my relationship with God. I had read how Master had said, “I am a servant of all,” and I wondered why he said that. Then I thought, it’s because he saw God in everyone. So I decided to be a servant to all, and I tried to see God in every person and in every situation. Being a servant works quite well. You can always find ways to serve and help others in some way. For instance, when I was leaving a room I would think, “Now if Guruji was the next person to come into the room, how would he like to find it?” … Boy, my life changed!! (Laughter) … Especially my own room! (Laughter) See the point? It works. But it may not work for you. I can only give you thoughts from Guruji on how to cultivate and grow your own personal relationship with God. This concept may not work for you. I can tell you mine, but only you know what yours is. I practiced that for years – I gained so much from it, and was totally satisfied. “Life is chiefly service,” Master said. There was one lady who after meditation would visualize herself surrounded by a clear bubble. She surrounded herself by this bubble of God’s love. Nothing of the world could get in, and she couldn’t get out. It worked! There was a sadhu in India – now understand that most sadhus beg for food and have no possessions and wear a simple cloth - but this one wore expensive silk robes and gold rings and perfumed his beard. He was the talk of the town amongst the other sadhus! (Laughter) Someone asked him, “Why? Why do you dress like that?” “Oh, don’t you understand?” he replied, “I am on my way home to meet my Beloved. Would I wear rags? I wear my best.” It worked for him! (Laughter) That’s the point I am trying to make. What are we trying to do? You’ve been

reborn into the world of Spirit, into the life of Spirit, because of your good karma – but the will of God says, “You come back out into this world.” We’ve been asked to come out into the world every day until we work out our karma, but we don’t want to get caught up in it. For most of us, the most appealing aspect of God may be the Guru. The Guru is a messenger of God. Guruji said, “The guru is the speaking voice of silent God.” The Guru is the one who comes and gives us a teaching. He give us meditation techniques – tools so that we can find God; he inspires us, teaches us how to operate the laws of karma through right living, and helps us to understand the world around us; and he teaches us the importance of developing devotion and intuition. That’s one way to create that relationship with God - through the Guru. When we step aside from the world and step into this new world, this rebirth into the spiritual world, we will find that we have to learn a new language. Usually when we learn a language we say, “I’m learning to speak it.” But with this new language we say, “I’m learning to listen.” This new language is spoken in silence. It’s a spiritual language. It’s silence. It’s intuition. You have to listen to learn this language. You have to be very silent, very still, very quiet to learn this new language. Conversation with people requires audible voice. Conversation with God requires silence. People who talk much are not with God. You have to learn to live in that inner world. You have to find a way not to get caught up in the outer world. Someone once asked Master about why Rajarsi Janakananda seemed to progress spiritually so quickly. Master said, “He knows how to listen.” He learned to speak that inner intuitive language. Jesus said to his disciples, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” He was saying to his disciples that they hadn’t learned to listen to the inner voice of God. It’s difficult, but we need to learn to listen inside.

Think back to when you first came into the spiritual life – especially those of you who have a family. Remember – we have been reborn. We are reborn because we want a spiritual life, but it’s hard – when you step through that door into silence it can be pretty hard, even after years of practice. It’s just like the struggles of a child. We’re like a child struggling to learn how to walk. We try to meditate, day after day. But restless thoughts may come. Even after years of meditation we can still have periods of turbulence if we haven’t learned the language of silence. Think about this: anyone can have an experience of God - a personal spiritual experience. Anyone - even worldly people can have it. Sometimes the most worldly people can have a vision, or some kind of experience. But how many have a personal spiritual relationship with God? See the difference? You can be in the world and of the world and still have a spiritual experience, but to have a relationship with God you have to go within. You have to consciously cultivate a relationship with God, and ultimately oneness with God - but it takes effort.

Just like the newborn child who is completely helpless when born, in the spiritual realm we are totally dependent on Divine Mother. The concept of Mother and Father takes on a whole new dimension, doesn’t it? In the spiritual realm you’re totally dependant on Divine Mother’s help and guidance, totally reliant on Her. Just like the child who is learning to walk first holds himself up on his hands and feet, then he takes his first halting steps - you have to make the effort too. But hasn’t it fallen too? It’s part of the learning experience, so don’t be discouraged. You have to learn to take the steps and learn to walk. You have to learn the spiritual language of silence, and listen to the voice of intuition. I thought I was totally ready for my talk tonight, except I was missing one quote. Then when I was at Lake Shrine I happened to walk by a rack of the magazines, and for some reason there was one magazine that caught my attention. My intuition said, “There’s your quote.” My mind said, “No, walk on by.” I started to walk away, but then I listened to that little voice of intuition, and went back and opened the magazine – and there it was, just the right quote. Coincidence? No. It happens to us all the time …… but we have to listen. We can’t be on our cell phones. (Laughter) It’s a new life. You’ve been reborn into the world of silence, and you’ve got to be within to hear that voice. Learn to live more in silence. We meditate, we calm the restless mind, and then we can begin to know God as peace, as joy, as love. Then our meditation ends and we go back out into the world - back to our jobs, back to our responsibilities, to our families. One way to not forget God is to learn to look for Him in all circumstances and in all people. If you believe that everyone is a child of God and God created everything and that He is all, then look for it!! All of Guruji’s poems and chants point toward remembering God always, in all circumstances of life: O God beautiful, O God beautiful, In the forest, Thou art green, In the mountain, Thou art high, In the river, Thou art restless, In the ocean, Thou art grave! These are all aspects of God. Learn to intuit God. If you are always looking for Him you will learn to recognize Him by intuition everywhere. Last November I was on lecture tour in Japan, and we gave Kriya initiation to 120 devotees. Many of them probably will never be able to come to this country. At the end of the tour we met with the volunteers who had taken on the responsibility of organizing it, and one lady very sweetly said, “Today Japan is a better country because there are 120 new kriyabans.” She was thinking beyond the group. She embraced the whole country. She was not just thinking of herself and how she had just received Kriya, but was thinking of how this would benefit her whole country.

Some years ago when I was in India I was traveling by bus. I got on late and saw there was only one empty seat in the back by the window. Blocking my path was a man in the seat next to it, with his nose buried in a book. Now, I was tired, and consequently a little bit grumpy and inpatient … (Laughter) I stood there waiting for him to move, but the man didn’t see me. So I kind of shuffled around a little bit and gave a little grunt, hoping he would notice me. Oblivious, he continued reading. Then I tried giving him a little bump on his knee. But this guy was so absorbed in the book he was reading that he still didn’t notice I was there. I thought, “Oh no, we have a real case here.” (Laughter) Finally, in complete frustration, I just plowed my way through and sat down. (Laughter) I put my stuff under the seat, sat back, and then I happened to look over and saw what he was reading. It was Autobiography of a Yogi!! (Laughter) You know, God is everywhere. What is the one thing God doesn’t have? Our love. Out of the billions of people in the world who forget God, if you start thinking about God - if you want a personal relationship with God - you’d better be prepared for it, ‘cause He won’t leave you alone. If you want Him, watch out! – He’s going to come. (Laughter) Your relationship with God is subjective and personal, and these examples are given so you can understand just how personal that relationship can be. Another story: As a teenager, I used to go to Sunday School. There was a bully there - you know, the kind that snaps rubber bands at you, or steps on your toes - he was twice as big as everyone else. One day he slapped me across the face … he slapped me hard, and it hurt. Now, I had no concept of ahimsa in those days, but at that moment it came to my mind what Jesus said about turning the other cheek … and so I did. The bully promptly slapped me again on the other cheek. So, I turned the other cheek again … and he slapped me a third time. (A united sigh of distress from the audience) I just stood there. At that point I was in shock, and inside I wasn’t brave at all but the bully didn’t know this, and he broke down crying and ran out the door, and never bothered me again. I wasn’t a seeker at that time, but I think God was speaking to me, even then.

There is truth and a power in listening to Him. You’ve been reborn into a new world, and you are learning new lessons … and sometimes they will be strange and scary. It takes a lot of fortitude, a lot of determination, and a lot of courage. There was a movie star – a very well-known movie star in India - who was given the role of playing Lord Rama from the Ramayana on a television series. You know what happened? Sunday mornings everything shut down because it was such a popular show, and you’d see a TV placed in a store window with a crowd of people blocking the street as they watched the show. People began to idolize this movie star. They would come and touch his feet when they saw him, because they were identifying him with Lord Rama. Now this man had a conscience, and consequently he began to wake up – and he changed his lifestyle. There is a power in following God and listening to Him. Believe it! Consciously live in the presence of God. Cultivate devotion for God; cultivate love for God. Master said, “The one thing God doesn’t have is our love.” Say to God, “Lord, I love You. I want to know You. I’ll make the effort.” He will respond. Devotion is so vital. Think of this: If you cannot think of God all the time, then think of Him first. The first thing when you wake up in the morning, think of Him. That’s devotion. Instead of thinking about reading the morning stock pages, think of God first. Say, “Good morning, Lord. Another day to seek You, another day to love You. Thank you, Lord.” If you love someone, do you forget them? You love God, so think of Him first. Look Him in the eye, talk to Him, and give your devotion. In the ashram they gave me a car to drive. The SRF cars all have a picture of Master on the dashboard as a reminder to be thinking of Him all the time. In a recent LA Times article about SRF, the journalist commented that on almost every wall there is a photograph of Paramahansa Yogananda. During an interview for the article, one of the monastics said, “We do this because it helps remind us to stay attuned to God – it helps us to keep interiorized.” Long ago I had seen in one of the old magazines a picture of Master on a motorcycle. The motorcycle had a sidecar, and guess who was in the side car? Sri Yukteswar! I didn’t think that much of it until I got in the car and saw the picture of Master. Then I began to wonder, “What if they are jealous? All the gurus – Krishna, Christ, Lahiri Mahasaya, and Sri Yukteswar who likes sidecars …… (Laughter) What if they are jealous?” I went out and got a travel altar for the car. (Laughter) Devotion.

See what I’m trying to say? That relationship with God - it’s got to be real. You’ve got to have your mind with God all day. Make the effort with all your heart, mind and soul to have a direct personal relationship with God. Then through devotion, that relationship takes on a life of its own. Sister Gyanamata wrote to her Guru: “In my room now is the rosary from the Mount of Olives, together with Kriya beads, and the little white stone you blessed for me the last time I was ill; all were given by you, so all are sacred. It would make this letter too long to write all the things I have done that you might be a real presence with me in my room, in my mind, and in my soul. The path by which you reach me now is a well-beaten one. I no longer need external aids but I like them just the same, and add another to the list whenever one occurs to me.” Devotion. Devotion. Many years ago at Ranchi we sold Kriya beads in the gift shop. We would place the Kriya beads on Master’s cot overnight for his blessing, pick them up the next morning, and give them out to the individuals who wanted them. One time when I was there, there was a group of devotees waiting to receive their beads. One young man was standing off to the side, and after we had given the beads out to the rest, he came and pranamed and said, “Swamiji, if I leave them one more night, will I get an extra blessing?” Devotion. You’ve got to make it real. You have to keep it alive. You can’t separate it from the rest of your life. Bring it into every aspect of your life. Then it takes on a life of its own. “Be in the world but not of it,” Guruji said. I will tell you a story. Some may say it’s a sad story, but really it’s a story of ultimate and divine victory. A dear friend in India, a devotee of thirty years, contracted cancer about five years ago. Her health improved after two different chemotherapy treatments, but a couple of months ago the cancer came back with a vengeance, and it became obvious that the end was near. She was well-known to all the devotees – she had served in Guruji’s ashrams, always sacrificing her needs for the needs of the whole; always the first to arrive for a work party and the last to leave. She never complained, but was always positive. Toward the end I called her on the phone and talked with her every day to ask how she was, though the last few days she could hardly talk. A few hours before she passed I called and asked, “Is there anything we can do?” She said to me, “This body is dead, but I am with my Guru, and he is with God.” Nice story isn’t it, very touching. And when you really think about it, it’s really not sad at all. It wasn’t a tragedy at all, because through that effort she had triumphed and received oneness with God.

Brother looked at his watch and said, “Oh my gosh, I’m way over time. But talks are a part of delusion, you know.” (Laughter) If we make the effort to remember that the goal is to establish an ever-deeper, loving, trusting personal relationship with God, then everything automatically falls into its proper place – everything tends to harmonize around that goal of your search for God. Try to remain interiorized during the day’s activities. If we don’t, it’s like having our feet in two boats. Now visualize those two boats drifting apart – it’s a pretty big risk. There is only one God. There are two boats: one is delusion, maya, the world, this physical creation. The other is God, the spiritual realm. You won’t find God if you are in two boats. One foot in each boat just doesn’t work. Which do you choose? If you choose God, there’s a natural tendency for harmony, peace, joy and understanding to manifest in your everyday life. Why? Because God will start manifesting in you. You will draw everything you need to remember God in all the activities of the day. Now close your eyes and think of the aspect of God that is nearest and dearest to you - whatever aspect stirs your devotion. And, thinking of that concept of God that rouses your devotion, and all the fervor of your soul, listen to this poem of Guruji that he called “Breathe in Me”:

Breathe in Me Breathe in me the way to love You, That I may learn to faultlessly love You. Pour me the wisdom-wine, By which I become intoxicated with you. Whisper in my ears of silence, The way to be with you always. Speak to my wandering senses, And lead them back to your sanctuary within. Call the marauding mind and counsel it, How to retrace its steps to Your home. With Your silent eyes, just look at me. And I will know where to find you. You may hide behind the ocean, You may hide behind delusion, You may hide behind life, You may hide behind dualities, You may hide behind theological conundrums, You may hide behind unanswered prayers, But You cannot hide behind my love, For in the mirroring light of my love

You are revealed. (We all sat enveloped in peaceful silence with God for a few precious moments.) Silence is very beautiful. Silence is the language of God. Thank you. And thank you for that silence, most of all.

How to Create a Spiritual Routine Wednesday Afternoon - Teen/Young Adult Class Brother Pranavananda

The teen years are a very important time of life, because in these years we set the pattern of our life - whether it will be an easy life or a hard life. When Master was 13 years old and living in Chittagong, one of his schoolmates was a bully who liked beating up smaller and younger boys in the school. Master couldn’t stand to see this unfairness of the bully picking on those weaker than himself, and one day he challenged the bully, “If you have to fight somebody, then fight me!” The bully turned on Master – Mukunda - and threw him down hard. Just when it looked like the bully was winning the fight, Mukunda grabbed him around the neck and began choking him in a stranglehold. Only when the bully finally promised to stop beating up other boys did Mukunda finally release his grip around his neck. Thus, he won the fight. At first his heart was filled with the exaltation of the victory, but later he realized he had lost his temper. As it dawned upon him that his anger had been uncontrolled, he realized that anger has no place in the life of one who has faith in God, for it blots out the very thought of God. He resolved that never again would he give way to anger. And he never did. With one strong thought, one strong resolution, he made a profound change in his life. There was a time in my own life when I was in high school, and I happened to see a picture of some of the kids in my class. It was a candid picture of a group of my classmates, and there was one fellow with his back turned towards the camera. I thought, “Who is that chubby little guy?” Then I looked closer and realized, “Hey, that’s me!” (Laughter) I didn’t like that. My whole family was overweight and I didn’t want to be that way too. So I remember I grit my teeth and inwardly vowed, “I’m not going to

let that happen.” I followed that inner vow up by adjusting my diet - well sort of - instead of two desserts I reduced it to one. (Laughter) Of course there wasn’t much noticeable change, but over time I was able to loose ten pounds. This was encouraging, but gradually I returned to eating like I had before. Interestingly, the pounds continued to come off, and for the next fifteen years it was very hard for me to put on weight. I think it was that very strong thought - “I will not let this happen” - that made a difference. When we are teens, this is the time to say to yourself, “What kind of a person do I want to be? Do I want to be truthful or untruthful? Generous or stingy? Reliant or not?” If you really want it, it takes a resolution plus a follow-up with some action, and that can save us from a lot of suffering. It’s easier to establish these patterns when we are young. Football player Jim Marshall played for the Minnesota Vikings, and one time after the other team fumbled the ball he picked it up and ran and ran and ran, knocking away the other players - and with great determination he ran 66 yards into the end zone. He scored a touchdown … but it was for the other team because he had run the wrong way. (Laughter) So make sure you run in the right direction! As a teenager in high school I used to go fishing with my Dad. On one fishing trip we were out in a stream. My Dad had hip waders, but I only had rubber boots up to my knees. After fishing for some time with no luck, I went out into the stream a little further. I looked down at my boots and saw there was still room to go without getting water in them, so I went a little further. But I still wasn’t having any luck so I went in a couple of inches deeper. Finally my Dad looked over at me and said, “What are you doing? Are you gonna go out till you get water in your boots?” I looked down and saw that the water was just a half an inch below the boots and thought, “Uh-oh.” I tried to get out by walking backwards slowly and carefully, but walking backwards is hard to do in the middle of a stream. The water came over the top and my boots filled with water. Even as this was happening I knew that this applies to more than walking in water ... some people live their whole lives this way! What do many people do? They test the limits. They push the boundary, and when there is no disaster the push a little further - and then when still nothing bad happens they think, “Well, no disaster yet...” Can you think of instances where this would apply? Answers from the audience: Drug use - have a little, no problem, have a little more…

Credit spending Siblings - testing each other’s patience Driving fast and recklessly - no accidents ... “I haven’t had any yet ...” People do this with their health, with their marriages - all sorts of ways. I got my boots wet and I learned my lesson! What is the wisest thing to do with your life? Cultivate a relationship with God, because whatever else we do will not give us the satisfaction we’re looking for. Master said, “Of greatest help in your development is the habit of mentally whispering to God. You will see a change in yourself that you will like very much.” You will find that you can rely upon that relationship. We talk to God and God responds - and He responds one on one, heart to heart. Nothing else in life is half as sweet as this. But it doesn’t come quickly. Talk to Him. Meditate and talk to Him like a friend. A few weeks ago a monk spoke with a woman who was visiting the gardens in Encinitas. She said that she was hosting teens from all over around the world, and had decided to visit the gardens while they were away on a trip. The monk asked her, “How are they?” and she replied, “Oh, they’re just typical teenagers, glued to their cell phones.” Just as we talk on the cell phone, we can talk to God and be glued to God. It’s a matter of creating the habit of talking to Him. At first there is probably no response, and it seems like words lost in the air ... at first. But then you begin to see a little change. We find we are happier. Life just seems better. That’s the start of it. Master would have had so much fun with cell phones. He would have had so much fun with instant messaging. He loved to communicate across distances. In one of his talks he said, “I do walky-talky with you.” (He was speaking through a microphone to an audience in another room) And he wrote about God’s radio station, W.J.O.Y. Today he might say, “Connect with God’s Wi-Fi.” - Wireless Fidelity. “Fidelity” means truthfulness. He might say, “Connect through God’s wireless fidelity through a hot-spot.” Where’s the hot-spot? Right here, at the Christ Center. (Laughter) A couple of days ago a devotee asked me, “Did you ever meet Paramahansa Yogananda?” Quite often people ask me this question, and I used to find it hard to answer, because if I say no I feel I’m not being true to myself - because he is real to me - he’s my best friend ... and he’s certainly very patient with me. (Laughter) If I say yes, they think I knew Master in the body, which is not correct. So I’ve learned to just smile and say, “In here” (Brother pointed to his heart) ... and that’s the truth. I have met him. Master is my friend. Jesus Christ is my friend. Someone once said that inside you can feel their personality - and that is so

true. Those are not just pictures on the altar. They come to be personal friends. These are the years when it’s best, when it’s the easiest to achieve that relationship with God. It’s not impossible when you are older, but it’s just easier when you are younger. Master said, “When in the silence of the soul and in every phase of life you turn within and say, ‘Father, I have not forgotten You’ - when that kind of devotion wells up from the depths of your heart - God comes to drink from the fountain of your love.” In all phases of life - youth, old age, sickness, health, and so forth, if you say, “Lord, I love You”, then He will come, and our life is lifted to another level. God does respond to the sincere spiritual efforts of young people. Not maybe. God does respond to the sincere spiritual efforts of young people. Usually at first God responds in a hidden way ... and that’s the trap. It takes a long time for Him to respond openly. We have to work at it. There is a story from India in the Mahabharata about the five Pandava Brothers and Krishna, who was their cousin. When the Pandavas were young they lived with Drona, who was their teacher in the ashram. One of the Pandavas, Bhishma, was very big and strong, and he was always hungry. They even had a nickname for him - “Wolf Belly”. Late one night Arjuna awoke to some noise in the kitchen, and when he went to investigate he stumbled upon Bhishma. “What are you doing?” Arjuna asked. “I’m eating,” Bhishma answered. Arjuna laughed. “But it’s so dark I can’t even see my own hand.” “Neither can I,” Bhishma agreed. “Do you ever miss your mouth?” “No.” “Why not?” “Practice. Lots and lots of practice.” Arjuna got an insight from this conversation. He wanted to be the greatest and best archer, and thought, “Practice - that’s it!!” He became a fanatic. He practiced and practiced, and came to a point where he never missed the bull’s eye. If you want to be good, you have to practice. Practice is necessary for anything we want to do. When a little child wants to walk it finds it can’t; he tries over and over, and then finally learns to walk. It’s the same with baseball, dancing, etc – they all take practice. Close your eyes and say, “Are you here, Lord? I love You.” If you can’t say this, then say, “I want to love You.” Or even, “Do You exist?” Say whatever is true or sincere for you. He will respond. But you have to prove your sincerity by establishing a relationship and we do this by making meditation a habit. And do it while you are young! The 1964 Olympics were held in Tokyo, and the events were shown on TV. It was the first time that the Olympics were ever on TV, and I remember running home from school every day to watch them. I was fascinated with the athletes, especially the Japanese women’s volleyball team.

I was very impressed with their skill, precision and strength - and they won the gold medal. Years later I saw a documentary about that team. Four years before the Olympics, the team had made a resolution that they would win the gold medal. They withdrew from school and from their families; they had no social life their life was just volleyball 24 hours a day. And their coach was a fanatic - he was like a monster - he drove them so hard. The documentary showed one woman during an emotional moment from the stress, during which the coach was throwing volleyballs at her, one after the other - all to create that mental toughness it would take to win. This was an extreme case, but people in the world understand how giving up four years to win the gold is worth it - they understand that kind of goal. Or to be a millionaire - this is something people understand. But who understands making a similar sacrifice for the sake of our relationship with God - to commune with God, one on one? Only some do. But fortunately, spiritual life in SRF is a balanced approach to life, and that balance is best if you want a relationship with God. But it takes practice, and you must persist. God responds in funny ways. Master said, “God is very shy. He won’t speak up. He thinks nobody wants Him.” ... and mostly He’s right! (Laughter) You have to coax Him. It takes time. But as you keep on, you find that life just seems better. You find yourself thinking, “Why do I feel so happy?” You are going about your business and suddenly there is just a joy that comes. That is God responding. Eventually it may come in very specific ways - God taps on your shoulder as a touch of joy, spiritually speaking, and then disappears. Do you know that game you played as a kid? God loves that game! (Laughter) He gives you a little tap and you say, “God are You there? Is that you?” He is hiding, but slowly that relationship becomes more salient and more real. Do you want to have this relationship with the Divine? Ask yourself, “Is this what I want?” and “What does it take to do it?” These are big questions. It takes some thought. But just think: God is Joy Itself. God is Love Itself. So in reality, yes we do want Him. A woman came to me and asked, “How can I interest my son in SRF?” I said, “Well, what is he interested in? Is he interested in sports? Master loved sports - and the teachings cover principles about energy, health, persistence - all these have to do with sports. Is he interested in money? Master talks about real prosperity, how to become successful. Does he want to be popular? Master talks about how become more likable. He says, “Never do anything that taints your mind. Wrong actions cause negative or evil mental vibrations that are reflected in your whole appearance and personality.” And he goes on to say, “Consideration for others is a most wonderful quality. It is the greatest attractiveness you can have. Practice it! If someone is thirsty, a thoughtful

person anticipates his need and offers him a drink. Consideration means awareness of and attentiveness to others. A considerate person, when in the company of others, will have an intuitive awareness of their needs.” And isn’t this true? Haven’t you met some people who are like that? They are charming and attractive people, aren’t they? So the answer is - if you want to interest your son in the teachings, find out what he is interested in and then find that in the teachings and show him.” Whatever we do in life, we can make it part of our relationship with God. Share your whole life with God. When we do all the fun, good, wholesome, healthy things in life and share it all with God, it’s amazing how sweet life becomes. You can think of God as Jesus Christ, as Guru, as light, as love, as joy - God is all of these things. Do you like sports? This is God’s energy. Master loved sports. It’s God’s strength, His skill, His fun. If there is just one word to sum up Master, it’s “fun”. Are you interested in dancing? God is a dancer! The whole universe is His body - all the planetary cycles and all the cycles of life are a big dance - there are rhythms and joy - and this is God’s dance. With God “my” joys becomes “our” joys. My “troubles” become “our” troubles. “My” victories become “our” victories. Everything is shared. Master said, “With God life is a nest of fun. Without God life is anything but fun.” Even if you do wrong, share it with God. If you are hiding from Him or shut Him out, that is the biggest mistake one can make. Share even the blame with Him - He doesn’t mind. Daya Ma’s book, “Enter the Quiet Heart” is a magnificent book. (Brother asked the teen audience to just call out a page number, and then he read a quote from that page.) pg. 76: "Strive to feel as God does for each of His children. We can cultivate such kindness and caring if in our dealings with others we hold within our minds the silent prayer: "Lord, let me feel Your love for this soul."… All beings respond to love. Saint Francis was so steeped in divine love that even God's timid and hostile creatures lost their fear and aggression in his presence. One who is a channel of divine love becomes spiritually magnetic, radiating a power that harmonizes discordancy." pg. 50: "My Lord, I dare to ask You any question. I never feel shy or embarrassed or blasphemous, because You are my Beloved. You know the simplicity of my soul. You understand my longings for understanding and wisdom. You see me with my good qualities, and with all the dark traits I have not yet been able to throw off. You don't punish me because of the flaws that have gathered around the purity of my soul; You help me. I do not try to hide my imperfections form You, my Lord. I come to You in humility, in devotion, in simplicity, in trust like a child, asking You to help me. And I will go on asking until You respond. I will never give up." The whole book is full of short practical thoughts such as these.

We can have a deeply happy spiritual life, and it doesn’t take any extra time to do what is right - working constructively with your willpower and persistence, talking and sharing your life with God. It does take self-control and an investment of love - but we receive love too. Some young people don’t live near a temple or a meditation group, and they may have no SRF friends. But everything we have been speaking about today doesn’t just apply to those who are in SRF - it applies equally to Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, etc. All of us can talk about and share our thoughts and feelings about God. You can share your spiritual life with your friends if they are interested. Yes, it is true that we stress meditation. Meditation, prayer and spiritual study do take extra time. For many it is a challenge how to fit it into their busy schedule. It’s hard for everyone, and especially a teenager. We just learn to manage it - and really it comes down to what is most important to us. But even a little practice is good. Before I came on the path I met a woman who meditated, and she told me, “Even just 3-5 minutes a day will make a big difference in your life.” Then I asked her, “How do you meditate?” and she told me, “I just visualize something uplifting and inspiring.” So I started to meditate about five minutes each day, and found that she was right. I already had a spiritual life, but after adding this little meditation each day, it got deeper and I became more calm. If your friends are receptive, you too can meditate with them. It’s not exclusive to SRF. Try just 3-5 minutes a day with them, and then their spiritual life will blossom. I started the Lessons sometime after that woman’s advice, and then learned the techniques of meditation - and there was no comparison - my meditations became so much deeper and more powerful. So work in a little meditation each day, even if it is just five minutes. Set aside a special time. Our lives run on routine. We eat the same time every day, most days. We sleep the same time every day. So too, you can meditate the same time - and every day. If we don’t make time for it, it probably won’t happen. There was a man who left his house for work at a certain time each morning and walked down the street. One day a thief robbed him. The next morning the man left his house at the same time and walked down the same street. Again the thief robbed him at the same spot. On the third day the man again left his house at the same time and was once again robbed by the same thief at the same spot. And every day ever after that, the same thing happened. Sounds dumb, doesn’t it? But look at your own life! (Laughter) Every day we make the same mistakes, and every day those mistakes rob us of our happiness. Every day we may be late going out the door and then we hit the highway and “loose it” in the midst of the traffic jam. Or maybe every

day we encounter a certain person who is grumpy and we have the same negative reaction to them. If we just look we will see that this happens all the time! The thing to do is to introspect and ask yourself, “Why do I do this?” If I leave the house five minutes earlier, what will happen? If I speak cheerfully to the grumpy person - or perhaps go the other way - will it change things? Can I do something different? So often we make the same mistakes every day at the same time in the same place. And we don’t see it unless we look!! People often feel pressured from others to do things they know aren’t right. This is a problem with both teens and adults. We’re afraid to be criticized. We’re afraid to be left out. Most people don’t know what they want. But if you know what you want and decide to do it regardless of what other people do, you become powerful. You become strong. And others will be influenced by you. The fact is, anyone who knows where they are going is automatically a leader. Oftentimes, there are probably others who don’t want to do wrong either - and if you don’t, they won’t either. Those who go along with doing wrong are usually the most insecure - and maybe in the group no one really wants to do wrong, but people are afraid to speak up. They are afraid to stand up. There were two old high school friends who met one another later in life. The first woman said, “In high school I was so jealous of you because you were so pretty and so popular.” The other woman’s eyes popped and her mouth dropped. “I was always jealous of you! - because I was so confused and you were so strong. You seemed to know what was right and what you wanted to do.” It is true that so often those who are the most popular are often so unhappy. You may still be criticized - in fact there is no one who isn’t criticized. But why live your life trying to please people who want to hurt you? Thomas Jefferson said, “The only way not to be criticized is to say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” Remember, Divine Mother yearns for you. Not just wants ... yearns. She’s waiting moment by moment, and even if we can give Her our love just once, She responds. Master told a devotee, “Every whisper you utter to me, I answer.” A life shared with God is the happiest of lives. Even the sad times have a happiness underneath. Master said, “The greatest romance is with the Infinite. You have no idea how beautiful life can be. When you suddenly find God everywhere, when He comes and talks with you and guides you, the romance of divine love has begun.” So let’s begin it!

Moral Strength: the Foundation of Spiritual Freedom Wednesday Evening - Brother Atmananda Earlier I was visualizing the 4000 or so people here at Convocation, and thinking about how Master explained how we come to find this path. It’s not that we find it. He said that God chooses the Guru to come and find us. We have incarnated and we are in delusion, wandering down some byway of karma, and the Guru comes and finds us to remind us of our divine heritage and restore us to the sacred eternal relationship we have temporarily forgotten. The devotees here at Convocation represent only a small fraction of the number of souls that have come to our worldwide family in SRF. So the Guru has been very busy!! (Laughter) He is saying to all of us: “Come with me! Follow me!” I was thrilled and filled with enthusiasm when I first found this path. Nothing can really describe how I felt. And one time I had a dream about how the Guru finds us: I was out in the country, and there were many trees and a wide dirt road lay stretched out in front of me. All of a sudden I became aware of a great commotion, and I saw four horses harnessed to a buckboard wagon racing down the road toward me. As it got closer I realized the driver was Daya Mata! (Laughter) She looked magnificent and very powerful as she approached, and she gave a great yank on the reins to bring the horses to a halt in front of me. Then she smiled with a look of challenge in her eyes and said firmly, “Get on!” (Laughter) I climbed on next to her and the horses took off down the road - and that was the end of the dream. Master uses the analogy of the dream to give us some idea of how this creation works. And the Guru may occasionally show up in a superconscious dream to

give us a message. Remember them - especially the details. Write them down so you will remember. Hold on to the memory of them, because they are precious. The topic for our talk this evening is about moral strength, and it is a very timely and powerful subject. Beside our meditations it’s the other half of our spiritual lives - it is what we do with the choices we make in our lives - the choices we make in our activities and in our beliefs that we hold to be true. And believe me, these choices are being presented to us one after the other all the time. We are put to the test again and again. I asked a variety of people, “What does moral strength mean to you?” Many said basically the same thing: doing what you know to be right, even when it’s difficult; tuning in to and listening to and obeying or cooperating with our inner conscience; living in harmony with your deepest values. What are those values and how do we arrive at them? We are blessed with a Guru who has brought to us the teaching of the New Age, and we must internalize those principles of the teachings until they become part of us. We can build a life of moral strength with our clear teachings, principles, and Kriya Yoga until they become a pillar of our lives. It’s a lifelong process – and in fact, for me even giving a lecture on moral strength is daunting, because I am a work in progress, just like everyone else. But as we progress on the path we come more into conformity with our conscience and our deepest values. Years ago some of the monastics met with our Vice President, Mrinalini Mata. She was talking about dedication to the Guru and she said, “You must ask yourself: what are you willing to die for? And moreover, what are you willing to live for?” We see God in action at times when the flash of the soul comes out to do a selfless, courageous thing. But it takes a different kind of courage to stay by the moral values we have set in our lives and to make those difficult decisions, doing things we don’t always want to do. Our day to day willingness to engage in the daily battle of Kurukshetra, the battle between the purity of the soul versus the immediate sensual temporal experiences the world brings to us, requires real moral strength. It’s the essence of moral strength. Our souls evolve in a kind of crucible. What is a crucible? It’s a container into which metals are placed, and then the crucible is heated so high that it melts those metals. The merging of our souls with the material world is the crucible in which our souls evolve... …and it gets hot! (Laughter) Master says in Lesson 12: “There are only two ways to travel in life: one leads to happiness and the other to sorrow. There is no mystery about it; it is very simple in spite of its apparent complexities. You should look at life unmasked, in the mirror of your experiences. View time and space as they come to you in the form of problems, experiences, and relations. Look at the perpetual current of emotions and thoughts that arise within you. Go into the heart of

your aspirations, dreams, hopes, and despairs. Dive deep into the mute cravings of your inner self. Life is manifesting itself through all these channels and demanding that you seek understanding with your highest intelligence, wisdom, love, and vision.” Guruji is saying, “Look within yourself,” - because the real answers come from within yourself, from within the soul. We learn all kinds of things, but Guruji’s teachings and the science of Kriya Yoga is at the top of the list. We learn that we must go within and introspect. We have to awaken that inner strength that is where we find moral strength and courage. Everyone has the potential to manifest that moral strength and inner fortitude it takes to meet the challenges of our lives. One of those challenges is managing our sexuality. Sexuality is a very important force, but if it is not controlled and managed from the level of our souls, it can wreck our lives. If those horses are left unreined, the chariot of our life turns over when we abdicate our responsibility for our sexual feelings. Both Master and Sri Yukteswar were very clear about this. Both had a very balanced and open attitude toward sexuality; there was no overlay of guilt. Sex is a natural God-given force and part of human life. The challenge is how to control the physical aspect of our lives as souls from a standpoint of wisdom. We are not counseling hatred of the body. Hatred of the body is wrong, but be in charge of it. You be the adult, and don’t let the child run away with the cookie jar. Back in the 1970’s Daya Ma gave a talk about moral strength, which was later printed in the Summer 1992 Self-Realization Magazine. Her talk was just after the sexual freedom revolution in the 1960’s - and that period was a reaction to the repression and unhealthy attitudes toward sexuality that had gone on for decades or even centuries; but then it went off the deep end and our country was very confused. There were no rules. Our country is still confused; there is the still the struggle of sexual repression versus unfettered freedom. Ma said, “The wrong lies not in conjugal love, but in its misuse and abuse. What our Guru counseled for married people was not sexual suppression but moderation – with emphasis on the development of friendship, respect, understanding, and mutual helpfulness. When husband and wife practice this, their souls become more deeply united in the bond of real love, which is of God. In ideal marriage, the physical aspect is just one expression of the shared desire for that unity by which each uplifts the other to a greater spiritual realization of the divine love that flows from God, the Infinite Beloved.” We take vows - both married people and monastics – and those who are not married and not a monastic also need a framework of vows in the ideal of adhering to a moral standard of managing the sexual force. Ask yourself, “What are my guidelines going to be?” Make a deep promise to yourself in the privacy of your own soul about how you will behave, so that when we are faced with temptation - and it’s all around - we will find we can go back to that touchstone of the promise we made to ourselves or to our spouse and stand strong and say, “No! This is not who I am.” We draw moral strength from the

vows we make to ourselves and honor, but if we find ourselves struggling with it, go to God and Guru for help, support, and strength. Sexuality is only one part of the spectrum of moral behavior. There’s a lot more to it. We see how with the celebrities there is always lots of interest in their behaviors – it’s very public and it hits the news. But gossiping seems to happen too even in our temples, centers and meditation groups. If you see someone misbehaving morally or behaving badly, and if you are close to them, then it is okay to talk to them. Say, “I’m concerned for you” - and allow them to open up if that is what they want to do. But if it is just an acquaintance - No! Say nothing. Brother Bhaktananda said it well: “Mind your own business!” (Laughter) Other people’s behaviors are not our responsibility. Our own behavior is our responsibility. Let go of judgment. “Judge not lest ye be judged” is a spiritual law. If we go about setting ourselves up as morally superior we are setting ourselves up for a fall. If someone slips, the wise course is to refrain from judgment and send them love. Pray for them, because remember, they are struggling; they are in the middle of a moral battle; so have compassion and refrain from judgment. Our honesty and integrity is tested frequently in life. Are we honest? Even in small things? Are we honest even when it may involve only a little bit of money? In those little things there are many opportunities to cut corners. Some might say to themselves, “Oh, I won’t get caught. No one will see me.” But remember, if we deal successfully with those little things, it gives us tremendous moral strength and character. Make the determination to say, “No. I will refrain from that temptation. I’m going to refrain from short-term gain - the little dishonesties - the little stuff.” There was a talk given in the ashram about New Year’s resolutions and the message was: Keep the little resolutions, because if you let those go, the big ones will go like an avalanche. Master said, “You are the waves of the sea, so you should remember that when you are peaceful, when your conscience is satisfied, then you are in tune with God. Conscience is the voice of God. If you do wrong, something tells you. Through the voice of conscience and reason God speaks to you.” Awakening the conscience comes through meditation. It’s like having a compass out on the sea at night - we have to trust and work with our conscience and intuition. I remember when I was about twelve years old, my sister and I were on the swim team at school. I went to all the swim meets, but I wasn’t a medal winner, and I wanted a blue ribbon badly. There came a competition with another swim team from a nearby town, and I happened to be entered in a race in which I was the only entrant - I was the only one in it! (Laughter) So of course, I came in first. I was given the blue ribbon - but I immediately knew it was worthless. My teammates just sort of looked at me.

(Laughter) It was not one of my finer moments. (Laughter) What happens if we ignore God’s eternal moral laws? We will find that there are people all around us who live their lives ignoring the eternal laws of morality. It’s one of the greatest challenges that face parents who have brought a pure soul into this world and are trying to raise their children to have good moral values in this negative, toxic, murky environment. One of the greatest challenges and responsibilities of parents is to convey and instill a sense of ethics and moral integrity into their children so that they will have a rudder to steer through life. An article from the Summer 2002 Magazine reads: “By far our biggest worry is youth violence, and that alone should warrant a national declaration of emergency. But other distressing signs such as steadily increasing peer cruelty, substance abuse among younger kids, the rise of incivility, the increase of vulgarity, and widespread cheating and commonplace dishonesty have left us shaken, deeply worried, and in search of answers. “As a nation we’ve tried an endless variety of legal and educational strategies, but despite our frantic efforts, the crisis remains. That’s because we have missed one critical piece: the moral side of our children’s lives. It is moral strength that kids need most to keep their ethical bearings in this often morally toxic world. Moral issues haven’t been completely overlooked; a number of writers have made valuable contributions. But in these troubling times, parents need far more if they are to succeed in helping their kids not only think morally, but also act morally.” At the very top of the list of what parents need to understand - must understand - is that their own behavior, their own example and the decisions they make is the most important thing in raising children. Are we truthful, or do we tell lies? Do we take short-cuts? Set a spiritual and moral example for your children, whether or not the child is watching. Children have x-ray vision they drink it all in. You can’t get away with a darn thing! (Laughter) Parenting is heroic. You are not expected to be perfect. The parental experience is as much about learning from your children as it is about teaching them. Strive to do what’s right, even when your child is not there. The vibration of who you are is there. You must be sincere and have that realization within you. You can’t fake it. If we say one thing and do another, children will pick it up. They see the incongruity between what we say and what we do. We may be thinking, “I want this thing and I’ll do whatever I need to do to get it” and later we find it feels sour. It’s a spiritual law, and we can’t get around it: cutting corners won’t work.

One of the biggest steps to spiritual maturity is surrender. If we are willing to surrender to God and wait for the right time, you will feel that harmony of being in tune with God. When we cheat or cut corners, or take what is not ours, it is because we’re deathly afraid we won’t have enough, and our sense of need overrides our moral center. We need to summon our moral strength to do the right thing at all times each day. My parents were a great influence on my life. My Dad was truly a man of integrity, and his honesty you could see in his business dealings. As a kid I realized that this was not normal, not typical, but still I saw, ‘”Oh this is how a man should live in this world - as a man of integrity, honest and true.” I am grateful to have had his influence in my life. The inevitable result of continuing to violate moral or cosmic law is suffering. It’s like a boomerang – and that karmic boomerang eventually swings around back to you. Then later we ask, “Why does God make me suffer so much?” It’s not a reward and punishment system at all. It’s just the way that God set up this creation. Karmic law is very impersonal, and when we bang up against the law of karma, God says, “Well, my child, find your way back.” What we sow we reap, and we’ll have to deal with that. Daya Ma said: “People write me such pathetic letters about their own or others’ suffering, saying, ‘Please tell me why God permits this.’ And I think, ‘Oh, it isn’t God who is permitting it.’ It is unreasonable to blame God for the painful consequences of our own wrong behavior.” But on the other side is God’s love and His compassion. He is willing to forgive us over and over, if we have true sincerity to change. When you recognize that you have made a mistake, or when you are burdened by guilt over mistakes you made in years past, go to Him in meditation and say, “God, forgive me, forgive me. I’ll try not to do that again.” And then release it from your consciousness. He’ll say, “Okay, you try again, and don’t worry about it.” Jesus intervened with those who were about to stone the woman caught in adultery, to teach them that compassion is more important than punishment. “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone,” he told them. He intervened - compassion was more important than punishment. And then he said to the woman, “Go, and sin no more.” In other words, let past errors urge you to be better. Ma said, “God does forgive our errors. Many people go to a confessor, or immerse themselves in a holy river to feel relieved of the wrongs they have committed; but the simplest course is to go directly to God. He is the One from whom we can obtain true forgiveness. Do not dwell too much on your mistakes; that is more hurtful than helpful.”

I looked up the Latin root for morality, which is “moralis”, meaning rules and customs. But the deeper meaning of morality is that it is the essence of the

tremendous drama of the soul being brought into the world and duking it out with duality - it’s the battle of the Kurus and the Pandavas - and it’s all taking place within us. Reach down in meditation and ask yourself, “Who am I?” and be ready to act accordingly – be ready to meet those challenges and make those moral choices with strength, power, and direction over whim, weakness, and habit. Be armed and ready to behave according to what your conscience tells you, and don’t let yourself get swept away - otherwise we are living only half-consciously. The more we can gradually learn to exert our moral strength and make decisions based upon our deeper truths, the more our willpower increases, and the more we become free. We become less subject to temptation and the karmic forces of duality, and it happens by our sincere effort combined with regular meditation. In Chapter 12 of the Autobiography, “Years in my Master’s Hermitage”, Master tells of when visitors would come to the ashram to see Sri Yukteswar. One time a celebrated scholar came to visit: “With ostentatious zeal, the scholar shook the ashram rafters with scriptural lore. Resounding passages poured from the Mahabharata, the Upanishads, the Bhasyas (commentaries) of Shankara. "I am waiting to hear you." Sri Yukteswar's tone was inquiring, as though utter silence had reigned. The pundit was puzzled. "Quotations there have been, in superabundance." Master's words convulsed me with mirth, as I squatted in my corner, at a respectful distance from the visitor. "But what original commentary can you supply, from the uniqueness of your particular life? What holy text have you absorbed and made your own? In what ways have these timeless truths renovated your nature? Are you content to be a hollow victrola, mechanically repeating the words of other men?" "I give up!" The scholar's chagrin was comical. "I have no inner realization." We have to internalize it and make it our own. You have to be able to say, “I want this for me. I want to build my life upon these values. I want to go to that core of belief I have, and stand strong and true.” Truth is absolute, but in this world of duality, as Master says, truth is a very slippery term – it’s often hard to grasp. In The Second Coming of Christ Master said: “Absolute standards cannot always be applied in this relative world. To adhere to truth in everyday living, man must be guided by intuitive wisdom; that alone illumines unerringly what is right and virtuous in any circumstance.”

Christ himself refused to define Truth when interrogated by Pilate. So you see, darn it, God doesn’t provide us with a roadmap. He forces us to bring out the spiritual resources we have - we are forced to work it out, even though it is scary and painful - but in so doing we release tremendous strength to meet all challenges of life. Guruji’s life was full of great examples and situations. In the early years in California after founding SRF at Mt. Washington, Guruji was working so hard on the lecture tours in order to support the growing organization. It was not a smooth road, and there were tremendous financial difficulties. A very wealthy business man came and told Guruji that he would finance the whole organization if Master would turn over the marketing to him. But Master could see the questionable business practices that the man had in mind and told him, “No! I would never compromise this organization for money.” As we progress on the spiritual path we come to realize that our external life seems more and more like how Master described it in his analogy of a movie, a cinema. Circumstances come up, and here we are watching it, and more and more we come to understand what is really going on at that moment - that whenever some spiritual principle is violated, God is saying, “My child, it is not the external circumstance that is important, but to discover what strength is in your soul.” Good and evil, temptation and inner strength, are part of the inner drama within each one of us. Just before Jesus went to Jerusalem, he went to the desert for forty days to prepare himself for the tremendous challenges he was to meet in his ministry, and the devil came to tempt him. Daya Ma said of this, “My dears, he was not being tempted with lollipops!” (Laughter) The devil was hiding behind Jesus and tempted him: “All this power will I will give thee.” Satan offered him the world to rule. This is the struggle we all face - the struggle of good and evil – and the whole thing is an inner drama within each one of us. The Gita personifies and gives names and faces to all of these good and dark qualities within us. Jesus was looking ahead and he could very clearly see the tremendous ordeal that was facing him. The human part of himself didn’t want to face that ordeal. As a great avatar he had the power to rule whatever he wanted in the world. Jesus was subjected to tremendous temptation. That temptation in the desert was a very serious temptation. But he said to Satan, “Get thee behind me, Satan.” No! Get away! That’s not me! Get back! The same principles apply to us. In life our souls are being offered a choice. We need to make the right choice in order to keep advancing forward on the path to spiritual freedom. Say, “I know what I want.” We may feel the

temporary pain of the choice not taken - but it’s a small price to pay, because our soul just took another step toward freedom. We are emanating light and power into this world when we make the right choices. In Man’s Eternal Quest our Guru wrote: “The more I see of world tragedies caused by man’s ignorance, the more I realize that even if every street were paved with gold, happiness would not be lasting. Happiness lies in making others happy, in forsaking self-interest to bring joy to others. If each one would do that, then everyone would be happy; and all would be taken care of. This is what Jesus meant when he said: “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them. “A federation of all religions and all nations is necessary. But such a union will come only when every individual engages in that meditation which leads to direct contact with God. Communion with Him is the solution. When one has realized God, he no longer feels that others are different from himself. Unless such wisdom comes, not to just a few, but to all men, there will be no freedom on earth. Even here in America freedom is not total; suffering still abounds. Each one of us has a responsibility to bring peace and happiness to our country and to all men. One should care, not only for his own nation, but all countries; not only for one’s own family, but for all mankind. The ordinary man’s interest is limited to himself and his surroundings, but the man of God identifies with the whole world. Don’t think the contribution made by your spiritualized consciousness is small. Your part may mean very much.”

The Guru: A Divine Gift of Unconditional Love Thursday Evening - Sister Priya Our subject is ‘The Guru: A divine gift of unconditional love’. Unconditional love - thank God, thank Guru. Master wrote in his Autobiography, “God is Love. His plan for creation can be rooted only in love. Does not that simple thought, rather than erudite reasonings, offer solace to the human heart? Every saint who has penetrated to the core of Reality has testified that a divine universal plan exits and that it is beautiful and full of joy.” Let’s believe and live by this. The outer world will always need our love and prayers. It is so much needed. Always pray, as we do in the ashram, for world peace and harmony. But what is going on in the outer world is not the final word; what Master said is the final word. When the disciple is ready to go back to God, the Guru appears. He comes in ways unmistakable. For many of us, our first contact with the Guru was through Autobiography of a Yogi, and it changed our lives, didn’t it? – because it brought us into contact with one who is one with God and can therefore reveal God to us ... even us. He came already free. Master is the highest teacher – he is an avatar - he is beyond the limits of time and space. Master’s consciousness is omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent – meaning he is aware of everything and has the power to help us anywhere and in any situation. He has powers over the forces of this creation. Each one of us has a living guru by their side from the moment we read the Autobiography, if that is what we want. Master said, “To those who think me near I will always be near.” This is his omnipresence, and by that he meant that we will come to know he is near. Rajarsi, our second President, was the first to call Master a Premavatar. Premavatar means an incarnation of divine love. Gurudev had wisdom, compassion, understanding, and ever-new joy, but his nature is predominately

love, unconditional love - a love that never changes - a love which nothing can diminish. One quality usually predominates in each avatar. Wisdom predominated in Sri Yukteswar in the same way that love predominated in Paramahansa Yogananda, and it is his predominant quality now. All of the guru’s training is love, because it is based on unconditional love. Sometimes that love may seem disguised, but its purpose is to make the disciple strong spiritually. Avatars have a very high mission - there is none higher. In Master’s Autobiography he quotes Shankara: “A true guru creates equality with himself in the disciple who takes refuge at his feet.” When we find a true guru, the one sent by God, his work is not done for us until we are one with him in God: until we are free, liberated, Self-realized, God-realized. God is love, and the guru is God’s unconditional love for us expressed through a human personality to us, until we are that. Even in that liberated state, Master says we can still play with God. He is both with form and formless. The devotee has a choice. Master says in the Gita, “After uniting his soul to God, the yogi may still maintain the dual relation - the liberated devotee, and God as the Object of adoration ... The soul of the emancipated yogi can remain merged, if he wishes, in the Absolute, as the Absolute. Or the liberated yogi, owing to the retention of his God-created individuality (which can never be lost), may remain or reappear in the physical body in which he was liberated, in order to worship God in any personal concept (such as Father - Mother - Friend Beloved God), or in any desired materialized form (such as one of the deities, or as incarnate in one of the avatars such as Christ or Sri Krishna), or as the AllPervading Infinite.” In the Lessons, Master writes: “I can show you Spirit without fail if you will follow me unfailingly and practice what I teach you.” If we don’t practice his teachings – meaning daily meditation and study of his writings – if we don’t do that, he can’t help us very much. Then what he said just remains a beautiful dream. It rests with each one of us to make God and Guru’s dream for us a reality. And we can, but it takes our will – our willingness and determination the willpower to change ourselves. It is possible in one lifetime, but no one said it would be easy. But it is the most worthwhile challenge we will ever overcome. Of the spiritual work that has to be done, the Guru takes 25%, and 50% is the grace of God. The remaining 25% we must take, and that is what has to be worked out. By exercising our spiritual muscles we grow stronger spiritually and combined with regular meditation, we learn to hold onto the effects of meditation, even during activity. When we find the Guru, sometimes the recognition is instantaneous because we’ve been with him before. Once the Guru accepts the disciple, and we are willing, he takes over our lives and brings to us whatever experiences we need to help us overcome all obstacles that prevent us from realizing God. He takes

us on the shortest route possible back to God. One time I asked Mrinalini Mata about the training the disciples had received with Master. I had heard tell of Master’s strong training and how he could be fiery at times, and I had wondered to myself, “Could I have taken that kind of discipline? Or would I feel sensitive or hurt?” I had also heard of Master’s overwhelming love and of the complete acceptance that the early disciples felt, and so I asked Mrinalini Mata, “Did he do that only after you were convinced of his unconditional love?” Mrinalini Mata looked at me with a somewhat surprised expression on her face and said, “Of course!” Then she paused for a moment and added, “But sometimes you did wonder...” (Laughter) Yoganandaji’s mission was and is a mission of love, both on an individual basis, and globally for all children of God. Through meditation we find that we are all part of one divine family. We will find that every true religion has the same basic truth, and every child of God has the same divine birthright. Meditate regularly. Practice the science of Kriya Yoga regularly. Support the worldwide spread of these teachings, which will unite East and West. In his Autobiography, Guruji explains that Babaji and Christ together planned - and that is the greatness of it - together they send out vibrations of redemption and have planned the spiritual technique of salvation for this age. Meditate regularly. It changes us individually because it raises our consciousness, and it changes the whole world around you because of that change within. Those around Daya Mata can see that life is beautiful for her because it is filled with God - and she is certainly more aware than we are of the world’s problems. To be a true disciple of the Guru, we must get and hold onto what she has. It can only be done by giving ourselves to God in meditation, and by living our outer life according to Guruji’s teachings. So many devotees get discouraged. I think that all of us at some time have felt that we haven’t done as well as we should have. But what really matters is that we will never ever, ever, ever give up. Guruji said, “A saint is a sinner who never gave up.” And he once wrote a letter to Daya Ma’s sister, Ananda Mata but it applies just as equally to us all. Part of what Guruji wrote: “I will never give up my job about you. It is better to conquer evil and not go on living with it forever. A smooth life is not a victorious life. Never for a moment identify yourself with momentary flashes of error. Have no fear, even when I'm gone and no longer visible to your eyes, you will never be alone. I will ever lift you up no matter how many times you fall.” That is how he feels about all his chelas. “I will ever lift you up no matter how many times you fall” - it’s such a beautiful promise, because he is able and willing to fulfill it. Master said the spiritual path is not a circus. Don’t seek phenomenon. In his writings, Guruji has given us a tremendous spectrum of positive spiritual experiences. There are many ways to be aware, connect, and commune with God, both personal and impersonal.

Master says, “It is because we are divine that we are unable to find lasting satisfaction in anything material.” In his book, “How You Can Talk with God”, Master says of the divine experience, “If once you can get that response from God you will never feel separated from Him again. The divine experience will always remain with you. But that “once” is difficult because the heart and mind are not convinced; doubt creeps in because of our previous materialistic beliefs.” He understands how human we are. Master goes on to say: “It satisfies a deep need in our hearts to think that God may take a human form and come to us and talk with us.” So we have this in the Guru. Study this book - I would say live it - until it becomes your own experience in life. You have to be very honest with Master. He knows our faults anyway. Master won’t interfere if we aren’t receptive to his help. But if you want his help, tell him. There was a disciple who was new on the path; he had heard Master talk about the spiritual eye, but had never had the experience of seeing it. Finally he prayed to Guruji and said, “I just don’t get it. You’re going to have to show me!” It became an obsession with him, and then one day in meditation he suddenly saw a beautiful light in his forehead. It stayed with him all the time, even when he wasn’t meditating, and he knew it was a great blessing because it made him feel peaceful and calm ... and it stayed for three days. During this period he found that every contact he had with other people was blessed with an effortless harmony, compassion, and understanding ... and then it went away. Master said you get a taste of what you can have, and then you have to work for it to get it to stay permanently. But even a taste is worth it, isn’t it? I have been in here in the ashram for a long time and have met many people who have had a taste of what you can have. It is helpful on occasion to speak of your spiritual experiences to a spiritual counselor, but normally we don’t speak of such things to others. It’s never something to boast about to others we don’t want to make others feel less loved because they haven’t received an equivalent blessing. When we are willing to forget everything else and focus on God, beautiful and wonderful things can happen. I’ll give you an example: there was a man who attended his first all-day Christmas meditation, and during the service he heard a tape-recorded of Master talking about the Great Ones. The talk inspired him deeply and made him think of Babaji. He became fascinated with Babaji, and he remembered the story in the Autobiography about the disciple who underwent a severe test in order to be worthy of being in Babaji’s presence. He knew that Babaji had a band of disciples in the Himalayas and that Master had said there were some American disciples in that group. A deep yearning to be with Babaji’s group grew within the man, and the yearning became so great that he didn’t want to breathe. A stillness overcame him and suddenly he saw himself encompassed in a ball of light. Then he found his body in lotus position, and he seemed to be moving naturally across a vast distance, and

descending into a cave. Within the cave he saw a band of yogis in a circle, deep in meditation. There was no lighting inside the cave - and none needed because of the radiance emanating from them. They were aware of him, and a place was made for him within the group, and his body settled down directly opposite Mahavatar Babaji. He felt accepted and blessed by Babaji. After a short while he realized he wasn’t going to be able to hold onto that state. He tried, but couldn’t hold on, and suddenly found himself back in the meditation room with other devotees at the Christmas meditation. This experience convinced him that he needed to become absorbed in longer and deeper meditations in order to expand his consciousness and go beyond too much body identification. … a taste of what you can have. Sometimes the Guru gives us these kinds of experiences, and it makes him more real - you just have to work for it. Bring him into all aspects of your life, even when the going gets tough. You never know when that pesky 25% will show up. (Laughter) In my own life there was a gradual miracle. As a child I was extremely shy and that’s an English understatement. (Laughter) I never met anyone worse than I was. In second grade I was to give my first oral presentation, and the assignment was to memorize and recite a poem. When my turn came and I got to the front of the class I just froze - my mind went blank. Finally in desperation I closed my eyes and found I could recite the poem. After finishing the presentation I looked over at the teacher, and I remember she mumbled something like, “Very nice, dear” - but by the look on her face, even though I was young I knew she was thinking, “What on earth is wrong with her?” (Laughter) In the years to come I avoided anything that involved speaking before an audience. (Much laughter from the audience of 4000 devotees!) It never occurred to me to try to change myself. Then came my college graduation ceremony, and each one in my graduating class was supposed to formally thank the Dean. Everyone was expected to do this, and I had no idea what to say. The boy ahead of me spoke well, and then I was on. I received my diploma, stumbled over to the microphone, and looking down at my feet blurted out, “I second everything Michael said,” and took off for the stairs.

(Laughter) Later my friends, those who knew me well, teased me. “Nice talk, Pattie!” (Laughter) Life went on, and I found the path and entered the ashram. I thought, “How wonderful - now I can just live for God - I can withdraw completely and escape the world.” Thinking back on it, I gave Master a perfect opportunity to teach me to have faith in him - in his ability to help me overcome what I needed to overcome. We would not grow if Master took everything away. I went through the monastic training, and later was invited to give talks at the Encinitas retreat. I was hesitant, but thought I couldn’t say no, because his teaching is so great - I thought it was the least I could do. It was a good way to get started, and through these experiences I got a little less nervous. Then one day I was walking down the driveway at Encinitas - and suddenly it was like Master just lifted the nervousness. That nervousness left me and it never came back. I think I had realized that you just have to go on. Pray for his help. The Guru will help you every step of the way, but you have to go through with the experiences and trials he brings into your life. To be a true disciple you have to trust him more than your own feelings. He’s a leader. Let him lead! Have faith in his ability to help you overcome. He will help you if you let him. He will minimize your suffering, and then you conquer. Master said, “I can show you Spirit without fail if you will follow and practice what I teach you.” One time I was in training with another nun in Mexico leading a group retreat. I was to lead the group in the prayer before food, and found myself quoting the prayer from Lesson 8A, which is the prayer we use before the Energization Exercises. I stopped speaking and thought, “Master help!” - and then the second half of his prayer for food sort of floated into my consciousness. (Laughter) Later I said to the other nun who was with me, “Oh, I really goofed!” She replied, “Oh, I don’t think anyone noticed.” (Laughter) Nuns are very kind, you know. (Laughter) They get that from Master and Ma.

Then came giving talks at Convocation, and I would see all of you as family. It always feels like such a family reunion. You are not a crowd - you’re a family -

and it becomes a privilege and a pleasure to share what is most liberating - to share these beautiful teachings Master has brought to us. If you allow your thoughts to remain on yourself, you miss half the joy in life - you miss what life is all about. Whatever our need is, whatever our fears are, he will help us with it if we let him. Do this by asking him. He will minimize the problem, and you will have much less suffering. We will overcome with his help - that too, is the Guru’s love. This divine love coming through the Guru is an incredibly unselfish love by human standards. Divine love is always giving and wants only what is right and true for you from the highest perspective. Though wisdom predominated in Sri Yukteswar’s nature, being with him intensified Master’s own devotional nature. Master said of his Guru, “I had never imagined anyone could be so interested in me. He loved me for myself. He wanted perfection for me. He wanted me to be supremely happy. That was his happiness. He wanted me to know God; to be with the Divine Mother, for whom my heart longed.” When you find love at that level - that is God. That love is joyous and free, delighting in us, just as a parent does with a child taking its first step. That love never lessens, even at times when we are not admirable. If we are backsliding, or if we get caught up in the world because of our choices, then that love is a sad love, but no less ardent. It waits, because each soul has free will. It waits - it just waits until we accept help again, for that love is eternal, unfailing. This unconditional love is manifested in the divine soul we call Gurudeva. How to respond to such love? It’s a reciprocal love. Love God, love Guru, and love your neighbor as yourself. If you do that, then you cannot act harmfully to anyone. Then you are in tune with the Guru, and he will be able to take you to where he is. Rajarsi once related an experience he had in which Guruji asked him to convey this message to the disciples: “I could appear to them now. I have the power to do so. But they would then be content to remain as they are. Rather, they must come to where I am.” This is a beautiful reminder of what the guru wants for you — nothing less than to lift you to the same consciousness he has attained. It is your self-effort, united with his blessings that will help you to reach that goal. Master’s nature as an incarnation of divine love is not exclusive, but is allencompassing. Years ago there was a devotee from England who asked to receive Kriya. He was very sweet and sincere, and had been on the path for many years, but never felt worthy of receiving Kriya. Some humble souls are like that; they see the greatness of the Guru and the teachings and they hold back. This devotee explained to the Kriya counselor something that happened years before: Lahiri Mahasaya had appeared to him in a dream and told him he should be practicing Kriya. And then Lahiri Mahasaya told him how to do it! But then he became worried that perhaps it was his own desire that had

created the dream, and so he was still walled off from feeling deserving of such a tremendous technique. The man had a daughter, and she became interested in the teachings, and one year at Convocation she received Kriya Yoga. Afterwards he said to his daughter, “Tell me, is this what it is? Is this how it’s done?” She did not reveal the technique to him, but he explained to her what Lahiri Mahasaya had given him in his dream. His daughter listened and then she told him, “That’s exactly what we were taught!” You can imagine with what joy we enrolled him in the Lessons! (Laughter) The Guru has no ego. Gurudeva said, “To those who think me near I will ever be near.” I have been blessed to see that manifest in the lives of many. There was an older nun, a direct disciple - many of you have heard of her - and she was always peaceful and joyous. I once asked her, “How is it that you are always so joyous?” She looked surprised and then she answered, “I suppose we stored up so much joy being around Master that we are still living on that.” Then I asked, “What can we offer to members who want the teachings in their own language?” She replied, “Tell them they have a living Guru by their side from the moment they read Autobiography of a Yogi if that is what they want.” It was that simple for her. She lived by what the Guru taught. A few years ago, in her final illness she was very weak, and there was a nurse assigned to sit at her bedside at all times. Now this nurse knew nothing of Paramahansa Yogananda - she was not on the path - but one morning she told one of the other nuns, “Someone came last night.” And then she described the mysterious visitor: “He had long, dark, flowing hair, an orange robe, and the most beautiful eyes.” Then she described how the nun had sat upright from a reclining position and held out her arms to him. And then after a while he wasn’t there anymore. Householders, too, have the same relationship with the Guru. The Guru has power greater than life and death. She had trusted her life to him and it was that simple. She always made the best of whatever happened to her. She was quiet and humble, but also she had a certain fearlessness. In his Gita interpretation, Master describes the 26 soul qualities that make man God-like, and the first is fearlessness. He says of fearlessness, “It is developed by faith in God: faith in His protection, His justice, His wisdom, His mercy, His love, His omnipresence.” And our faith can and should be in the Guru as a manifestation of God. If you only knew how much you are loved and cherished by God. One day He will break your heart with His love for you. And you may say to Him, “You’re a fool! You’re a fool to love me this much.” But He’s not a fool. He’s your Beloved. He’s your Creator. He is your Eternal Love. He is your destiny. Master says each one is the favorite. You are cherished, each one of you, as though you are the only one. You are the reason why Mahavatar Babaji holds a

body. You are the reason why Christ and Krishna, and Paramahansa Yogananda and Lahiri Mahasaya and Sri Yukteswar came. That determination to help you find God is in all of them - that is their nature. One day we will choose to be like them, because it’s our nature too. We’ve seen that in Sri Daya Mata, and as the years go by you’ll see it in others too. To all of us who follow Paramahansa Yogananda - live his teachings. It expresses faithfulness in his love. He said he will come back. Even if we are the slowest, he’ll come back again and again - a trillion times if necessary, as long as one stray brother is left behind.

In his poem, “God’s Boatman” he says: I want to show all my brothers the way to freedom in Thee, the way to happiness forever and forever in Thee. I want to take you all there where Christ and the Master’s are. That is where you belong. He is God’s boatman. No one is excluded. It is simply unacceptable to him that any be left behind. Sister read Master’s poem, “The Unseen Church”: ”On the soil of Eternity, I built an Unseen Church where all might worship. Here, under the blue dome, illumined by sun, moon, aurora, Milky Way, and wisdom lights, are gathered the assembled star families, island universes, solar systems, and the little earth with its millions of families of many religions. Every day, during the vesper hour, the flying angels of thoughts soar over Infinity, calling mute and noisy Beings to forsake their age-long slumber and join the Cosmic Service of awakening. The altars of one rhythm, united hearts of commingled lives, of molten gold of Cosmic Union, and electrified matter, were dimly burning with His gentle, enchanting Presence. The comets arrived and shed their joyous tears of light; the stars poured their twinkles at His Feet of Eternity, and the prodigal souls shed tears of repentance for age-long forgetful wanderings. All the blossoms of the earth opened the cork of petals and loosened their liquid fragrance on His omnipresent altar. The dew of devotion from the heart of all true tears meekly, but steadily, flowed over His feet of forgiveness. Love, hate, light and gloom, wisdom and ignorance, good and bad, all thronged into the Church of all Creation. Then a silent sermon of the Infinite was heard in the Silence—a silent

song of mirth filled the chalice of all lives. A silent smile of light drove the hidden gloom away from all. Under the silent spell of His Sermon, love embraced hate, light hugged gloom, wisdom transmuted ignorance, good charmed bad, many religions embraced His one Faith of Truth, many hearts dissolved into one altar of Heart, many loves became His One Pure Love, and many souls became One Spirit. And all of them sang with one voice the chorus of one religion, one life, one truth, one goal, one devotion, one love, and One Spirit.” I’d like to leave you with one final thought of Master. He said, “Even when I am gone, my help will always be given to all devotees all over the world, if they keep in tune. Never think for a moment that when I am physically absent from you all, I am not otherwise with you. I shall be just as deeply concerned for your spiritual welfare when I am no longer in this body as I am now. I shall always be watching over each one of you, and whenever a true devotee thinks of me in the silent depths of his soul, he will know that I am near.” Jai Guru

Embracing All of Our Experiences with God Awareness Friday Evening - Brother Anandamoy As Brother Anandamoy enters the room the whole audience stands and applauds. Amused, Brother says, “You know, you never clap before a talk!” (Laughter plus more clapping) “Can I go now?” (More laughter) Do you know what I’m going to talk about? No? I’m glad, because I had a schedule, but then I thought, “I’m not gonna talk about it.” I want to review a few points from Master’s teachings with you. It is time to learn - to really learn - and the more we do, the more we get out of it: we have to have a concept of God we are comfortable with. I’ll tell you a story: A few years ago one of the monks interviewed some lay members, and they were videotaping it. One of them was a little Sunday school girl about six or seven years old. During the interview she told the monk, “God loves me.” And when the monk asked her, “How do you know?” she grimaced and answered, “God loves everybody. God loves the good guys and He loves the bad guys ... and even you!”

(Laughter) And that is how a little Sunday school girl destroys a minister! (Laughter) Now I’ll ask you; do you believe that God loves you? … because we are human, and we make mistakes. If you make a mistake, does God still love you? Quite a few years ago a gentleman called me on the phone and he told me, “I made a terrible mistake.” He didn’t say what is was, but he told me, “It’s so bad that I feel I cannot even look at the Guru’s picture.” I told him, “No, No! Now you need Master even more than ever. You look at his picture. He understands. He loves you. He will help you.” At that moment the phone was disconnected. Did he purposely hang up? I don’t know. And due to an accident I had years ago in India when I lost a good part of my hearing in one ear, I hadn’t heard what his name was, and I couldn’t call him back. And he never called me back. You have to have a concept of God that you feel comfortable with - one in which you can really feel loved. I remember when I was a boy I heard stories like souls burning in hell forever and forever. And I thought God was a monster … until I met Master, and I saw his incredible compassion, his unconditional love. I had read his talks, and he had said, “He who has seen an avatar has seen God.” And when I saw Master and his incredible love, then I thought, “That’s the God I love.” Master said of evildoers - and he was talking about the real evildoers, not the average person who makes mistakes - “Evildoers are children of God and are loved by Him as dearly as you are. They have gone astray and God wants intensely to bring them back into His fold.” This is unconditional love. Unconditional love. One time a woman came to Convocation for the first time, and afterwards she told me, “When I came into the California Ballroom and saw all the people sitting there I thought, “Here I am, the only sinner among four thousand saints.” I burst out laughing. I could see that she was obviously a very nice person, and I couldn’t imagine why she would say something like that. Never say anything like that. Master was very strict about that: no negative thoughts about yourself. Why? Because it blocks your devotion. The commandment to love God - loving God is the highest law. It’s not a command. It’s not, “You have to love Me.” It’s for our benefit, so that we can really love. You read in the Autobiography, Sri Yukteswar said, “Forget the past. The vanished lives of all men are dark with many shames. Human conduct is ever unreliable until it is anchored in the divine.” We cannot be perfect until we have Self-realization. And Sri Yukteswar continues: “Everything in future will improve if you are making a spiritual effort now.” Do

the best you can. And when you make a mistake, you learn the lesson from it and forget the unnecessary details. That’s the right attitude! Now, something else: every day you look in the mirror to see if you look presentable, don’t you? And every time you look there you think what you see is you. You think you are a man or a woman so many years old and with certain facial features and so on … but it’s not true! That isn’t you! The body I call it, pardon me, “the package”. (Laughter) That is what you see. You see the body, the package … but you are not your package. Think of it: when we die, what will people do with our package? (Laughter) Think of how many packages you’ve had! You are alive now and sitting here, and you have a new package, but you are not that package. This is the big delusion. What are we? I call it “the jewel in the package” ... and that is the soul. We are the soul. What is the soul? It’s a tiny little piece of God, a ray of God’s consciousness - that’s what we are. Master said, “Man can misuse his free will for a time and do wrong, but that temporary delusion can never erase the mark of immortality and perfection of God’s image imprinted on his soul.” The soul doesn’t act - it is the body-identified ego that acts. Do you realize what that means? It means your soul has never done anything wrong. And here they talk about hellfire and burning in it forever. Those are Dark Age religions. Of course wrong action is bad, but it cannot touch the soul. The soul is always pure. And the dark covering over the soul can be removed by right action, karma, and the grace of God. How do we get the grace of God? Devotion. That is why devotion is so important. It’s not a business deal you make with God. It’s not “God, I gave you so much love, now you give me this.” Devotion is stepping into the light and love of God. And in loving God, and that light purifies you. Now, another point regarding meditation: you had a review of the techniques this week. We have to learn to withdraw the energy from the senses in order to interiorize the consciousness. In sleep, God does it for you, but we are not conscious of it. By meditation we can attain this inward state consciously. This is necessary, because as long as the energy is in the sense organs we have the ordinary sense of body consciousness, and we cannot perceive God. We have to learn to withdraw the energy within. Krishna said the great secret is: God is within you. Sure, God is everywhere, but we find Him within ourselves. Jesus Christ said exactly the same thing:

“The kingdom of God is within you.” In the universal cycle of the Yugas, there are 12,000 years going up and 12,000 years going down. Jesus came at the darkest point, when man had lost the knowledge of electricity and the finer forces of energy that were known in the enlightened ages, and so he couldn’t teach the scientific techniques of pranayama to the masses. “Prana” means energy. “Yama” means control. Jesus could not teach the scientific techniques of pranayama in the Dark Ages because the people had no concept of energy. And so in the Dark Ages religious practice was just an outer external worship of deities or simple oral and mental prayer - that’s all they had. And St. Teresa of Avila said that even monastics could not go deep in meditation through oral and mental prayer. They didn’t know how to go within. But now we have scientific techniques of meditation that the masters have given to us. When Babaji initiated Lahiri Mahasaya in Kriya Yoga, this was a tremendous blessing for the whole world, and it coincided exactly at the time when man began to use and apply electricity in a practical way. Now, on the spiritual path there are two obstacles waiting for you, and you have to know what they are so you can handle them. One of them is having a negative attitude toward yourself. When you come on the spiritual path you begin to become more introspective, and as a result you become more aware of your bad habits that interfere with seeking God. We have to introspect in order to learn to overcome what is in the way of finding God, but many devotees identify themselves with their negative thinking to the point of thinking, “I’m not spiritual. I’m no good. God couldn’t possibly love me.” And that is the end of spiritual life. So be careful not to give in to those negative thoughts. Be careful not to become identified with negative thoughts. They come from the dark force that wants to prevent you from going back to God. Use introspection in the same way as a businessman uses accounting. If a business man sees there are certain things not quite right in his business, does he say, “God doesn’t love me”? No, of course not. He makes the necessary adjustments to put his business on the right track. It’s the same thing with us. If you see something you don’t like in yourself, don’t say, “God doesn’t love me.” Make the necessary changes, but never, never think that God doesn’t love you. There is another obstacle – more complex - and I’ll give you this visualization as an example: Visualize that somebody you know comes to see you every day, and every day that person says, “Give me this. Give me that.” How do you feel? Now visualize somebody you know and see every day, and each day they say, “I love you”, and you know he is sincere and he really means it. How do you feel then? Now these are extreme examples, but they are the two ways to approach God. One says, “God, gimmee, gimmee, gimmee … I want this and I want it now!” (Laughter)

We are living in what I call an instant-satisfaction society. So many devotees read the Autobiography, they sign up for the Lessons, and then they want instant results. Then when they don’t come, people say this teaching is no good, and they give up. This is one of the greatest tests you have to go through and accept. Gyanamata said that the ego - the body-identified ego - has the soul by the throat. The ego says, “I want this. I want this.” And so it is when you are meditating. But the soul says, “God alone can make you happy.” Sri Yukteswar said, “To know God, don’t expect anything.” That’s the first part of the quote. He didn’t mean to take it literally. What he meant is to get the ego out of the picture. The ego says, “I want results from meditation right away. Gimmee this. Gimmee this.” It doesn’t work. The second part of the quote is: “Just launch yourself with faith into His blissful Presence within.” Launch yourself with faith. God is there. Whether you have any experiences or not, God is there. He is always there. Anandamayi Ma, a great saint of India, said, “His absence too, is one of His manifestations.” Why? Because, He cannot be absent. Even if you don’t hear anything, even if you don’t see anything, He is there. Love Him. Love Him. I am talking from experience. You can have deep meditations even without any experiences if you remember, if you know that God is there, and you love Him. Get the ego out. And so now I want to give you some stories of my personal experiences with Master. Thank God I came when Master was still here, and I learned how to meditate. What I mean by that is, it’s not just the lessons and the techniques I learned, but I learned how to approach God - and what I learned by how Master taught was better than reading a thousand books on meditation. I saw Master when he gave Sunday services every week, alternating between Hollywood Temple and San Diego Temple. I attended the services at Hollywood Temple, but I didn’t get much out of it because I didn’t understand much English at the time. But I learned much after the services were over, when I saw how people approached Master after the service and how he responded to them. It was incredible. I remember the first Convocation in 1950. There weren’t many people who came. It was held at Mother Center on the tennis court, and there were about 250 people who came. After Master’s final talk ended he sat in a chair and the devotees came one by one to greet him and say good-bye to him. I stood nearby and watched. Now this was interesting - that Master allowed me to watch. He didn’t say it was private, but he let me stay, and I thought, “Master is really, really loving to help me learn,” - because he had told me I would have to teach.

What I learned was unbelievable. I saw how people came to him, and I saw how Master responded to them. At the end of Convocation of course everyone was flying high, but I could see all the different mentalities and how they approached Master. They all came with great reverence, but each had a different kind of devotion. It was an eye opener. I saw, not just with my senses, but I saw that some were grasping - they had devotion mingled with some percentage of ego – “What do I get? What do you give me?” But Master was very kind and loving with them. In other kinds of people their devotion was sometimes physical or emotional - cry, cry, cry! (Laughter) There’s nothing wrong with crying - Master didn’t say, “Don’t cry” - he was sympathetic to this too. And then there was another kind of devotion. I saw some devotees, just a few - and it was really deeply touching how they approached Master - and I thought, “This is pure love. This is pure devotion.” There was no ego - none of, “What do I get? What do you give me?” It was pure giving. It was pure love. And I tell you, it was really deeply touching. And I saw Master’s response. He very rarely touched a person - just a hand on occasion - but when those devotees came I could see he was just pouring out his blessing to those devotees, pouring out his love to them - and there is where I learned how to approach God in meditation - with pure love. And this you cannot describe; it is beyond words, this pure love. And I really learned that it is not what we achieve – it’s not, “What do I get?” or “What is God giving me?” What I learned is, what we give to God is what we get. We have no control over what we receive - what we receive is God’s business. God and the Gurus – they know when the time is right - they know when we are ready. Our part is to learn to give our love without asking, “What do I get?” It’s such a simple principle, but it’s so deep. So many people are straining for experiences. After meditation, how many times have you said to yourself, “That was a lousy meditation”? Have you ever said that? (Laughter) It’s only because we are thinking, “What do I get?” We have to turn it around and say, “What do I give? What do I give? - even if I don’t see anything or hear anything?” Give your love, and have faith that God is there. He can’t be absent. Master said that the Guru is always present at the Christ Center and in the heart of the disciple. Say, and really feel, “I love Him” - that’s all. The techniques will work automatically. The basic thing is to give your love. When I saw how Master responded to those devotees, it was incredible - it was unforgettable. Another point: Master talked to us about the different aspects of God, such as wisdom and love. What are we? The soul, isn’t it? What is the soul? The soul

is a part of God. Where does it come from? From God. We came out of the womb of Divine Mother, and Master often emphasized, “If you only knew how much God loves you!” It was deeply touching. It’s up to us to create an image of God, a concept of God that we can love, that we can trust - a concept of God where we feel like a little child going to its mother.

Master often used the word “yearning” - yearning for God. The Divine Mother yearns for Her children to come back home to Her. She is saying, “You have been playing so long in this delusion. It’s time to come Home.” But She doesn’t force us. When you see how much God wants us to come back …! After Master’s passing I read in the Gita about “shraddha”, which is a Sanskrit word. Shraddha is a quality of the soul - devotion, the heart’s natural love - but it means more than devotion. It means yearning. It is the yearning of the soul to become one again with its source, which is God. I finally understood: God put that yearning into the soul to be sure we wouldn’t be lost forever. That’s the setup of this creation. He put that yearning into the soul to be sure we would come Home. We have this vast complex creation, but really it’s a simple setup: God loves you. God yearns for you to come back. God puts that same yearning into the soul to be sure we come back. That’s the secret! Everyone is looking for something, but where? People are seeking fulfillment in the world. The last thing Master told us the day before his mahasamadhi – he was at Lake Shrine and then he came back to Mother Center, and a few of the monks were with him. We had just finished the Energization Exercises – and he talked to us for what was to be the last time, and once more he gave us a few basic points. And he especially stressed to us, “You have to cultivate the desire for God. Nobody can give it to you. You have to cultivate it yourself. Remember, nothing in this world can satisfy you - only God.” I thought to myself, “Through all those incarnations, that yearning was always there in my soul, but I didn’t understand it.” I didn’t know it was yearning for God. I had been desperately seeking fulfillment in the wrong place - in the world. And that’s the story of all of us. We are seeking fulfillment in the wrong place. One time I was in India, and I read the Gita, and there was one sentence that struck me: “Know it now or after a thousand incarnations.” That’s it! That’s the story. That’s the answer to all the problems in the world. It’s not out there. It’s inside. Do you want to come back for a thousand incarnations and look in the wrong place? Most poor souls in the world do not understand this.

If they only knew that the fulfillment they are seeking is not our there – it’s inside. Eventually they will know, but it will take a long time. Another point: some people ask, “If we are loving God with all your heart, doesn’t that take our love away from our loved ones?” No, but it changes your love, your human love. How? I have seen through the years that some potentially good marriages went to pieces because people were seeking fulfillment in the outer world or in their marriage. And when you are seeking absolute final fulfillment in the world or in another human being - which a human being cannot give - what happens? It becomes selfish, demanding, controlling - and the marriage goes. Only God can give that perfection, that perfect fulfillment we are seeking. But with someone who is loving God with all their heart, their human love changes. It becomes less demanding, less selfish, less controlling, and more giving, more understanding - and it becomes pure love. The solution is always to seek God. Do we seek God? - because then everything falls into place. (Brother asked, “Have I been talking too long?” And from the audience came a resounding “No!!”) One more thing: forget the past. Some devotees are still carrying the burden of the memory of mistakes they made. But think about it: look at this whole vast creation and all our experiences – think of all our past incarnations and the mistakes we made and the good things we did – where are they now? They have no lasting reality – it’s like a dream, and then you wake up and that dream is gone. That’s why it’s called delusion, maya. Your mistakes are part of your delusion. Master said about the mistakes you have made, “Forget them, don’t carry them with you, and try to do better next time. Mistakes you have made do not matter. If nothing can change your love for God, He will come to you.” There was a French author who wrote, “The supreme happiness in life is the conviction that we are loved.” I thought about this statement, and decided it wasn’t quite right. That author was talking about human love. What about the love of God? What about the love of the Guru? Master said, “Jesus never claimed to be the only son of God” - meaning we are all God’s children. We are all souls. We are all are a part of God. On the human plane people are playing different roles - some play big roles and some play little roles. But on the spiritual plane it’s not like that. On the spiritual plane all souls are the same. There is no such thing as big souls and little souls. (Laughter) Master said, “God loves you” … and now you take that personally! God loves each one of you! Master said, “God loves you, His child, as much as He loves Jesus.” We are all the same size soul!

(Laughter) If you think of your outer role, and if you think of the role that Jesus played you may think, “God loves me as much as Jesus?” - no way!” But if you think we are all souls – we are all children of God - eventually you will accept it - that God loves you, His child, just as much as He loves Jesus. I want you to take that home with you. Don’t forget it. When you really absorb that into your consciousness, you will never be the same again. I give you some homework so you don’t forget. Write that quote on a piece of paper: “God loves me, His child, just as much as He loves Jesus.” Then you tape that little piece of paper on a corner of your favorite mirror, and every time you look there and see your face, you say to yourself, “That’s only my package.” And then say, “I am the soul. I am a child of God.” And then next day you read that quote again, and you keep on doing that every day. It will change your life … and it will change your meditations. Your meditations will no longer be times of struggle.

Practice the techniques first to calm down. Practice the techniques to interiorize your consciousness. And then after that is when the actual meditation begins, and then you are in the presence of God. And then you love Him - He who loves you beyond your imagination. A saint said, “Abandon yourself into the arms of Love.” Remember how much God loves you. It’s beyond your imagination. Keep on doing that every day, while outwardly you keep on playing your role in Divine Mother’s Halloween show. (Laughter) But inwardly, you remember that you are a child of God. Keep on doing your homework. Don’t forget. Brother pranamed, then left the stage with support of a cane, his bodily “package” noticeably more frail. He turned for a moment and waved good-bye … and many of us were feeling that this would be his last Convocation talk.

Expanding Your Convocation Experience Saturday Afternoon Closing Class – Brother Satyananda Ten years ago at Convocation here at this hotel I looked around and thought, “Where are all the young disciples? Where is the next generation?” Now ten years later, I looked around this week and they are everywhere!! …… and they’re taking notes! (Laughter) They’re going to classes; there are a record number of them serving; they’re taking Kriya. A new generation of disciples has arrived! (Applause) There was one teen SRF member who asked me to help him with his Kriya application, which I am always delighted to do. After determining that his sadhana was in order, I asked him to tell me what the Guru meant to him. He described the Guru as “a Divine Friend guiding me to my home in God.” Then he said, “I knew Paramahansa Yogananda was my Guru when I was twelve years old … but please don’t tell my Mom and Dad.”

(Laughter) “They’d give blood to know.” (Laughter) We have a new website for our young SRF members at www.srfyouthforum.com There’s nowhere else on the planet where four thousand people get together to mediate and pray and chant. It sends out a very powerful vibration to the world. Now from Brother Anandamoy’s class you have your homework for the next twelve months, and so I would like to end this week of Convocation by telling some stories. These are not just any stories, but classic stories about the life of Krishna and Christ. The story telling format is something I love, and if this appeals to you also, you will discover that it’s something you can share with your family and friends. First select a story, perhaps from the life of Krishna. I like to draw from the Mahabharata and the Srimad Bhagavatam, or from a source such as these. Read the story carefully so that you have a personal emotional response to it make it come alive for you. Then go to the Gita and find some related words from Krishna that catch the essence of the story, and then dive into the Guru’s commentary on that passage. What you have then is a beautiful formula for finding out through these stories how they apply to your life, and how you can put what you learn to work in your own life. One of the many stories told about Bhagavan Krishna, who lived millenniums ago in India, occurred just before the war of Kurukshetra. At that time Krishna was king of the city of Dwaraka, which lay on the edge of the peninsula of Gujarat, on the west shore of India at the edge of the Arabian Sea. The time during Krishna’s rule was a period of great internal strife. India was in the process of being divided in a battle of dharma versus adharma (righteousness versus unrighteousness). The divergence was quickly escalating toward war, and the great avatar Krishna had incarnated in order to reinstate dharma to the throne. There were two prominent royal families in India who were moving toward conflict: the Kurus (representing the bad guys, the aggressors), and opposing them were the Pandavas (the good guys, representatives of righteous dharma). Krishna was both a king and an avatar. Duryodhana was the dark-minded prince and leader of the Kurus, while Arjuna was the virtuous leader of the Pandava army. Both Arjuna and Duryodhana were handsome young men, and they had known each other from early childhood. They had gone to the same school, received the same training as warriors, and both were very capable in statesmanship, diplomacy, military maneuvers, and warfare. Both were out campaigning for allies - and when war became inevitable, each sought the aid of Krishna in their cause.

You can imagine the scene that takes place: It’s a warm afternoon in India when a chariot pulls up in front of Krishna’s palace. Out steps Duryodhana, dressed in silk and light armor. He removes his weaponry, walks up the palace steps, and announces to the guards that he is seeking an audience with Krishna. Just then another chariot arrives carrying Arjuna - handsome and slim of build, a master bowman. Arjuna sees Duryodhana, and they both know why they are there – they both know it is for the same reason. Duryodhana, being the aggressor, says to Arjuna, “I’m here first. According to the rules, since I have come first I get to make my request to Krishna first.” Now, both Arjuna and Duryodhana are well-known figures in India at this time – in fact they are famous - they’re like rock stars. (Laughter) They are greeted warmly by the palace attendants, and promptly escorted into the large castle. Each one requests an audience with Krishna, and they are informed that Krishna is having his afternoon nap … a siesta. (Laughter) But because Arjuna and Duryodhana are familiar well-known faces, the guards tell them, “You may go to Krishna’s private chambers if you promise not to awaken him.” Quietly they enter Krishna’s bedroom, and after removing their footwear they walk barefooted across the marble floor, beneath the tall arch of the palace ceiling. The large room has been darkened so that Krishna may rest, but a pale light filters in through the windows of traditional Indian Jali-work, and they are able to discern in the middle of the room a large exotic carpet and a couch upon which Krishna is reclining, dressed in robes of golden silk, his long hair flowing loose, resting in omnipresence, as avatars do.

Duryodhana strides across the room and seats himself boldly at the head of the couch, while Arjuna, who is a disciple of Krishna, humbly kneels with folded hands at Krishna’s feet. Krishna, sensing the change of vibration in his bedchamber wakes up, and as he opens his eyes he is pleased to see Arjuna at his feet. “Ah, my friend, you’ve come to visit.” Then he turns and sees Duryodhana. “Well, Duryodhana, this is a surprise.” Now Duryodhana steps in to take charge. “Both of us come seeking alliance with you in the impending war, but I was the first to arrive. I came first, and according to the laws of Dharmakshetra Kurukshetra I get your first consideration.” “It is indeed true that you have come to me first,” Krishna answers, “but when I opened my eyes I saw Arjuna first, and so it is really Arjuna who was the first

to arrive in my eyes, and therefore he is given first choice. Since you have both come here, I shall lend my assistance to both causes. One of you gets my massive and well-trained army; the other gets me - but I will not fight.” Krishna then turns to Arjuna. “Arjuna, it’s your choice.” Without hesitation Arjuna says, “O Lord, I want only you. What do I care who fights for whom? I only want you by my side!” The greedy Duryodhana rejoices. “You fool!! I get the army.” He laughs, turns on his heels, and walks out. Now comes what I think is the most beautiful and intimate scene of the Mahabharata. Krishna puts his feet on the floor, and Arjuna kneels down in front of him to touch his feet - and it’s just the Guru and disciple, alone together. It is then that Krishna unexpectedly teases his disciple. “O Arjuna, that was foolish of you. Why did you choose me over my powerful army?” “O Lord,” Arjuna answers, “With you comes righteous dharma and power over all the armies of the world. Your counsel is more valuable to me than an entire army. It is with you I wish to be forever and forever.” Now we go to a corresponding passage near the end of the Gita, in Chapter XVIII, Verse 62, when Krishna says: “O Arjuna, take shelter in the Lord with all the eagerness of thy heart. By His grace thou shalt obtain the uttermost peace and the Eternal Shelter.” Master’s Gita commentary on this verse: “The significance of Bhagavan Krishna’s advice to Arjuna is that man can receive the liberating grace of God by properly using his free choice to put God first in his life. …The Lord therefore exhorts the devotee to meditate on truth and to take up dutifully those actions that bring intuitive enlightenment and that are in accord with the divine wisdom secreted in the God-united soul.” When Master said, “Man can receive the liberating grace of God by properly using his free choice to put God first in his life” – this, to me, is the theme that speaks to me in this story. Life is so complex, and so often we find ourselves in an arena of conflicting choices to be made. The right path often seems unclear, and the outcome uncertain. So often nothing seems to work out perfectly … have you noticed? (Laughter)

But what does the Gita say? There is only one safe choice, so let your choice be to take shelter in the Lord first. Take shelter in God. This is one choice we can always make. It’s so simple, but we need to make it first. We have to say, “I need you, Lord. I want You, Lord. I want You over all the armies in the world.” The message of the avatars is that making this choice first sets the stage for all other choices in life.

We can apply this in our meditations. Meditate, and then after practice of the techniques - after pranayama - we can sit quietly and feel in the vibrations of pranayama the presence of the Lord. We can feel we are alone with the Lord we can use that solitude gained in meditation to be alone with God. It’s what I call “esoteric intimacy”. This is what we are all seeking. The disciple does not have to be in some exalted superconscious state, but in the silence of meditation has only to say with the sincere eagerness of his heart, “I choose You, Lord. I simply want You, Lord.” This is true darshan. We can do this in our meditations, and we can also do this in activity. Even when all kinds of issues are raging outside, still we can stop and invoke God’s presence. There’s no need to review scenarios. Just say, “I don’t care who wins or loses. I only want You.” You will find that if you make this invocation sincerely, this sets the stage for what comes next. Now, doing God’s will doesn’t mean that everything will be smooth – it doesn’t guarantee that all will go well. It’s a fantasy to think that all will be happy and easy in life. Life is full of conflicts. Look at Arjuna’s situation: there he was, in the middle of an intense conflict - there was a lot at stake, a lot of intense pressure, and the outcome of the war of Kurukshetra was uncertain. There was a lot at stake when he made his choice, but still he had the karma that enabled him to make the choice instantaneously. Why was this so important? For one reason: choosing God first produces a powerful inner victory – and in God’s eyes, this inner victory supersedes all outer results. The mystical Persian poet, Rumi, had a guru by the name of Shamsuddin. There is a story of a time when they were together in Baghdad, engaged in a game of chess. After some clever chess moves by his master, Rumi realized he was trapped – there was no way he could win the game, and in one or two more moves he knew he would lose the game. Leaning back, he threw up his arms, and cried in mock despair, “Oh, I have lost!!” His guru nodded, but he also saw his disciple’s divine detachment and told him, “No, you’ve won.” He was appreciating the inner victory of his disciple’s realization that divine detachment was more important than the outcome of chess pieces on a board. Maya is like a thief, always spoiling our plans. Rumi wrote a poem about it:

The Thief Will Enter No matter what plans you make, no matter what you acquire, the thief will enter from the unguarded side. Be occupied, then, with what you really value, and let the thief take something less. Nothing turns out perfect in the world - nothing turns out as we plan. But ultimately it is the inner victory that is important - more important than any outer results. When you go home after Convocation you will find all the problems you left behind waiting for you like monkeys in the trees. But Master said, “Remember, I am always with you, within yourself.” So affirm

to the Guru - say to the Guru: “I want to please only you.” Ask the Guru to help you. “Guide me, bless me, protect me throughout my days. I know things are not perfect. I want only You.” This is the inner victory. Those around you may criticize you – in fact, it’s guaranteed! They may say, “Oh, you lost!” But the inner voice from the Guru will say, “No, you’ve won.” Choose a story akin to those I’ve given this evening, and then get into the story and enjoy it. Tell it to your family; tell it to your friends and to your children if they’re interested, and tell it in a way so that it’s real for you - in a way that speaks to your heart. And then have a conversation with them. Ask your children what they think and feel about it. Then select a related passage from the Gita and dive into Master’s commentary on it. A millenium or two later after the time of Krishna, on the Sea of Galilee, we go now to the life of Jesus Christ, and again to a story of the simple intimacy between the guru and his disciples. The scene takes place after Christ’s mission on earth has been completed - Jesus has passed through the terrible ordeal of his trial and crucifixion, and it follows the week of miracles wherein Jesus in his resurrected form has made appearances to many of the disciples to Mary Magdelene outside the sepelchre, to Paul on the road to Damascus, and to Thomas, who wouldn’t believe. And so these appearances have taken place, and now Jesus has disappeared. The disciples have retreated to Capernum for refuge and they are just … hanging out. (Laughter) The great drama of what happened in Jerusalem with the crucifixion is over, and now they wonder, “What comes next?” They simply don’t know. Well, as we all know, when men hang out together, what do they do? They go fishing. (Laughter) So Peter says, “I go a fishing,” to which the rest say, “We also go with thee.” (Laughter) St. John tells the story of how they fish all night on the sea of Galilee but don’t catch anything – no fish. It’s now early in the morning and they are bringing in their little boat with their empty nets. They see a stranger on shore who calls out to them, “Children, go back out and cast your nets on the other side of the boat.” So they do, and find they can’t hold all the fish that come into the nets. John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved” as he is described in the Bible, remembers that just three years earlier Jesus had performed the very same miracle - and he makes the connection and says to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Upon hearing this, an impetuous Peter throws himself into the water and swims to shore, leaving all the other disciples to haul in the fish. (Laughter) The Bible even tells us how many fish were caught – “an hundred and fifty and

three.” You can imagine the scene that follows: It’s early morning, before the sun rises. The sky is pink and blue on the horizon above the hills of Galilee, and there’s a mist rising above the calm waters of the Sea of Galilee. The disciples have brought the hundred and fifty and three fishes on shore, and are now standing on the beach with their guru. All is quiet. The drama of the trials, the politics - all the controversies of the previous three years are over – all this turmoil is past. Now the disciples are with their Master in resurrected form in this intimate setting, after having watched him be crucified with their own eyes; after having carried his dead body and laying it down in the sepelcher. John tells the story of how a fire of coals is built and they grill the fish. Together they share a meal of fish, and bread, and honeycomb – and you can just imagine how much the disciples appreciate this. Their need for intimacy with their master, their need of being alone with their guru is now being fulfilled. John 21:1-25 (paraphrased) Jesus showed himself again to the disciples and he said unto them, “Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find.” They cast their nets, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. John, the disciple whom Jesus loved said unto Peter, “It is the Lord.” Now when Peter heard that it was the Lord, he cast himself into the sea, and the other disciples came after, dragging the net with fishes. As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread, and honeycomb. Jesus said unto them, “Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.” Peter drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken. Jesus said unto them, “Come and dine.” How could we doubt? The Bible gives all the details – it’s so real! It is at this time that Jesus takes the opportunity to complete some unfinished business with Peter, who had denied him thrice before the crucifixion: “After they had dined, Jesus said to Peter, “Lovest thou me?” Peter replied, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love thee.” And Jesus said to him, “Then feedest thou my sheep.” Then Jesus said to Peter again a second time, “Lovest thou me?” And again Peter said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love thee.” And Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” Then he said to him the third time, “Lovest thou me?” And Peter was grieved because he asked a third time, and he said to him, “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.” For me, the real Last Supper was on the beach at Capernum – the Last Breakfast, you might call it. (Laughter) After his appearance on the beach, the Bible tells us that Jesus stays with the disciples for forty days in a fully resurrected body. I think this was one of the

most important parts of Jesus’ ministry. He was now free of all persecution, and could just spend time alone with those who were in attunement with him. And I think that maybe it was at this time that he gave the disciples pranayama techniques. I don’t know for sure, but I like to think that maybe it was at this time Jesus also told them of all his mystical adventures in India. We don’t really know - but at the end of the gospel, St. John gives us a hint when he wrote: “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.” In these past few weeks, Tiberias, which is just below Capernum, has been shelled with rockets of warfare, but maybe some day when there is peace I’ll go to the Holy Land. I’ll visit all the sacred places, but I will also go to Capernum, and I’ll make a pilgrimage down to the Sea of Galilee. I’ll go before dawn, before the sun comes up, and I’ll meditate, and then I’ll build a fire. I’m a monk, so I won’t eat any fish …… (Laughter) …… but I’ll eat honeycomb and bread…… …… and maybe some hot chai …… (Laughter) …… and I’ll invite Krishna and Christ and Master to join me there. Wouldn’t that make a wonderful pilgrimage? (“Yessss!” from the audience) Master said, “Jesus Christ and Bhagavan Krishna gave to the world two of the greatest books of all time. The words of Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita and of Lord Jesus in the New Testament of the Bible are sublime manifestations of truth, great models of spiritual scripture. These two bibles give essentially the same teaching. The deeper Christianity that was preached by Jesus has been lost sight of today. Christ taught devotion and yoga, as did Krishna; and it was my param-paramguru, Mahavatar Babaji, who first spoke of showing the unity of Christ’s teaching and Krishna’s Yoga philosophy. To fulfill this mission is the special dispensation given to me by Babaji.” So teach your children and your grandchildren. Tell them the stories of the prophets. Relate to them the words from the scriptures, and then bring in the Guru’s words - explain to them in simple terms the profound teachings from his Gita commentaries. Make the stories come alive for them. Children forget many things, but if you make those stories come alive, they will not forget them. You will have planted those spiritual truths like seeds, and those deeper truths will remain with them until they are ready to sprout into that personal intimate relationship with God and Guru, and ultimately into Selfrealization.

I have a message from Sri Daya Mata. She has our schedule during this week, and she follows along with us every hour of every day, and participates with her heart and with her prayers. Message from Daya Ma (paraphrased): “Dear ones, A warm thank you for your many thoughtful remembrances; my heart is deeply touched by the outpouring of your love and friendship. During this sacred time of Convocation you have been in my thoughts and prayers. As you take up your daily lives again, keep steadfast in your faith in God and His justice. These are difficult times in which we need to hold to Him and concentrate on the power of His goodness. Pray for the well-being of the world, for the wellbeing of your nation and all others, and try always to express God’s compassion and goodness in your life. Know that God and Guru are with you at every moment and are silently blessing you and your families. Remember Babaji’s promise: “Unknown I will walk by your side and guard you with invisible arms.”

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Our blessed 2006 World Convocation concluded just a few days after British authorities had thwarted a terrorist plot to blowup as many as ten airplanes over the Atlantic. Brother Satyananda led a closing prayer, and we ended by sending a prayer to all leaders – social, political, and military: “Lord, open their hearts and minds; inspire them with ideas of peace.” And then in unison, a small but ever-growing portion of humanity, gathered together in an L.A. hotel now made sacred by united meditation and prayer, chanted long drawn-out Oms over and over and over, sending out on a zephyr those sacred vibrations of Om, imbued with a divine radiance of love and goodwill for the whole world.

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