We are discussing the Bhagavad Gita – the greatest scripture of the world because there’s all Truth condensed in so few pages. The Bhagavat Gita is a colloquy, a dialogue, between Krishna who is the Divine Guru and also the Representative of God and the disciple Arjuna. And how does the Guru represent God?
I needed help
I remember when I met my guru Paramahansa Yogananda, he asked me to give him my unconditional obedience. Well I was desperate to be accepted I really didn’t see anything in life. I had tried so hard to improve myself to reach perfection I found that it was like washing a dirty shirt. You try to get a bubble that’s in the shirt under water and it just moves somewhere else. So I’d concentrate on one fault and my energy being removed from another fault that fault would come up. And I realized I needed help. I think that that happens to everybody – but it must happen before they will seek a Guru, when they realize that I need help. “I can’t get it on my own” Then they understand the need for a Guru. The Guru’s purpose is not just to teach you. There are some gurus who will as “Mauni”, as they call them in India. “Mauni” is somebody who never speaks. How can he presume to be a Guru if he never speaks? The point is that truth is one.
Truth is one
There’s nothing sectarian in True Religion. And what Krishna taught, Jesus taught, what Jesus taught, Buddha taught. All truths are one – they give different emphasis to the Truth depending on the needs of the times in which they’re living. But in the Bible, in the Gospel of St. John it says, ‘to all those who received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God’. Receiving doesn’t mean most Christians think it just means – ‘Well I believe in him’. Belief has been made the essence of being a true Christian. Well people used to believe that the world is flat that didn’t make it flat did it? The beliefs that you hold are not necessarily true. I can believe in you but until you’ve proved yourself to me through testing, I can’t say that I have faith in you. And so faith comes from experience and faith is what the Bible is really talking about. It’s what Jesus was talking about and it’s what Krishna also was bringing to Arjuna and to the world
Attuning myself to the Guru’s consciousness
I can say this now – I have been a disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda for nearly 61 years now – and I can say what I have really gained from him is attuning myself to his consciousness. It’s very interesting how you don’t lose your individuality. When I met him, and he said ‘Will you give me unconditional obedience?’ I was, as I said, desperate for it, but I wanted to be honest – I said what if I think you’re wrong? And he said ‘I will never ask anything of you that God Himself doesn’t tell me to ask you’. I found that it was so and everything that he asked me – I found that if I followed my will I didn’t get anywhere but if I did what I was feeling from him and that feeling – it was a very interesting play, between the disciple and the Guru – because he would try to force me to understand him in an inward way in my consciousness.
I remember one time I was at a Bar Mitzvah. I’m not Jewish, but I was invited by this Jewish community to perform some Yoga postures in front of an audience in Beverly Hills. Jewish psychiatrists in Beverly Hills, you can more or less count on their being atheist and materialists. I hope I’m wrong, but this is the impression that I have, anyway. This Jewish psychiatrist got me in a corner afterwards and he started trying to prick holes in my curtain, you might say, in my belief and I finally, to convince him, told him of a few miracles I had seen my Guru had performed. And of course, all he thought was ‘Well I have an appointment open at 10 o’clock on Wednesday morning – maybe I can see this patient’.
“I know every thought that you think”
Then, I saw my guru two or three days later. He used to invite me to help serve lunch to guests and then perform some Yoga postures. After the guests left (we’d often sit in) and he said ‘by the way when you’re with atheistic people don’t talk about miracles’. I said ‘You knew!’ He said “I know every thought you think”.
Now, far from being embarrassed by that, I was very grateful for it because then he could correct me – and I found that happening again and again, If I had a wrong thought, or if it wasn’t an adequate thought, or if it was a thought that was directed perhaps not quite in the best way, he would remind me of it.
I remember one time somebody had told me that he had been thinking of Yogananda and suddenly his consciousness was so changed that he couldn’t even feel his body and I thought ‘That experience is for me!’ and so I began trying very hard to think of Yogananda’s presence and when I saw Yogananda next, he said ‘Are you up to some mischief Walter?’. I said ‘No, Sir’ (it didn’t seem like mischief to me). Again he asked, ‘Are you sure you’re not up to some kind of mischief?’ and then he lovingly said ‘Alright Walter, goodbye’. He was going indoors but I understood what he meant. I shouldn’t be wanting these things – wanting attunement with him – for any kind of experience.
But with attunement with a Guru you find your thoughts are guided. I have seen again and again in my life somebody will ask me a question and it’s very interesting, because sometimes I say “Well, I don’t know”. The moment I say I don’t know – I do know, and that knowledge comes from above ….. that knowledge, it comes from when I’m relaxed and I say “Well, I don’t know” So, I just offer it (the question) to Him, and then suddenly there the answer is! I’ve seen him give answers to every need, to every question that I have had.
The greatest blessing is a true Guru
The ego is the thing that we want to get out of. God made this ego. It’s a delusion it’s all God playing this show, but because we have created this bundle of self-definitions that we have that ‘I’m rich, I’m poor, I’m American, I’m Indian, I’m a man, I’m a woman, I’m old, I’m young’ – all that for different things that we have, go to make up our personalities. “I’m an artist. I’m a banker” and so on. We must get rid of that thought and realize that it’s God playing this whole show through us and the ego resists that thought.
And you can never get rid of the ego just by willpower. There’s a story Yogananda told me about a man who was being bothered by a demon and he looked in the scriptures and found that there was a mantra there to say when you’re being bothered by a demon so he took some powder and said this mantra in into the powder, you might say and then threw the powder on the demon. It’s a story, so don’t take it seriously, but the lesson is serious. The demon laughed, he said ‘before you could even say your mantra into that powder I got into the powder myself. So how could it affect me?’. So what you see is meant here is, that the ego is already infected with the very delusions that you want to get rid of. You can’t do it on your own this is why Shankaracharya the great master of India, many centuries ago, said that the greatest blessing in the three worlds (causal, astral, physical) is a true Guru one who knows the Truth one who knows God and can pass that understanding onto you.
Power of Attunement to the Guru
The Bible says – “Those who received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God”. It’s outward power – that you must keep in mind. When you are attuned with the Guru, you begin to get the power to understand that this ego is not my true self. And the worldly person will say ‘but I want to be the one doing it’. Okay, but you won’t do nearly so good a job. I’ve done many things in my life – I’ve written over a hundred books, I’ve composed over 400 pieces of music, I founded eight communities, I’ve given thousands of lectures in many languages. And many people say that they’re astounded at what I’ve done. But the truth is I haven’t done any of it. I have allowed him to do it through me. You will find that if you allow God to work through you, there isn’t any limit to what you can accomplish. Joy to you[
Excerpt from a Talk by Swami Kriyananda – from his book The Essence of the Bhagawad Gita (as explained by Paramhansa Yogananda)
You can watch the video here