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Bliss for the asking

Paramhansa Yogananda's (author Autobiography of a Yogi) direct disciple is in India to spread the teachings of his guru.

india Updated: Feb 19, 2004 12:16 IST

Swami Kriyananda (born J. Donald Walters) is a direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda — of An Autobiography of a Yogi fame — and the founder of the Ananda movement in the US. After spending 50 years there, this 78-year-old yogi is in India to popularise the movement. He spoke on practical spirituality:

It is better to do something good than nothing at all! I once met a disciple of my Guru who had been an alcoholic. He loved God, but was unable to overcome his addiction. He decided, therefore, that at least he could try to practice Kriya Yoga. He had the requisite sincerity, but lacked the strength necessary for self-control.

This man would literally sit for meditation with his kriya mala (meditation beads) in one hand, and a glass of whiskey in the other! In time, however, the joy he derived from Kriya became so great that he left off drinking altogether.

As my Guruji said, “The way to overcome temptation is to have something better to compare it with.” It is difficult if not impossible to change oneself in the absence of anything better than one’s present habitual tastes.

Kriya Yoga is described by my Guru as a “psycho-physical” method of raising the consciousness. The description refers to the use of the breath in influencing the flow of energy in the spine. By concentrated application of the breathing process, the body’s energy is withdrawn into the deep spine, magnetising the spine, and directing the energy consciously to the brain.

Sri Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita says, “Out of a thousand, one seeks Me.” This is quite as true today. He also said, “Out of thousands who seek Me, one, perhaps, here and there, knows Me as I am.” In this basically materialistic age, this equation is unlikely to change very soon. Let us be grateful that a few people sincerely do want God.

One must begin somewhere! What goads us to do anything at all to improve our lot? It is always some kind of dissatisfaction with our present realities. Deal with human realities as they are, not as theory might dictate that they ought to be. Ultimately, the greatest unhappiness is the soul’s, in its realisation that it lacks the one thing it absolutely needs: Satchidanandam.

This is the true inspiration behind all spiritual seeking. Bliss is what remains when the seeker transcends the opposing pulls of joy and sorrow. When he no longer needs to overcome sorrow, or to look for happiness, he realises that bliss needs no definition: it is his very nature!

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First Published: Feb 06, 2004 17:22 IST