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The Journey to Godhead Starts W1th Right Conduct

The Journey to Godhead Starts W1th Right Conduct

The Yoga Sutras describe the path to God-realization as having eight phrases. The moral rules of yama-niyama are the first two step to spiritual freedom, to soul freedom; and delusion or the ego will do everything to keep you from taking those steps.

We are in a war, and the battle goes on every day. It is not a one-time accomplishment; it requires a daily renewal of our commitment, our strength, our adherence to and attunement with tho e rules. It is very interesting to observe, however, that even though maya will do everything to keep us from taking those first two steps, it seems almost willing to let us take the third or fourth steps! There has been a tremendous increase of interest over the last few decades in the advanced techniques of meditation, of pranayama and pratyahara. And yet how many of those who are taking up these studies have the attitude: "Well, I just want the techniques of going into samadhi. I don't care about those moral rules." But it is not so simple.

A psychologist who was looking at the increasing interest in Eastern religion and spirituality in the West since the 1960s observed: "

I have often been struck by the huge gap between the sophistication of their spiritual practices and the level of their personal development. Some practitioners have spent years doing what were once considered the most advanced esoteric practices, reserved only for the select few in traditional Asia, without developing the most rudimentary forms of [healthy self-respect], and interpersonal sensitivity.

It is something to introspect about, especially after reading Autobiography of a Yogi and getting that burst of initial enthusiasm: "Look what Kriya Yoga is going to do for my life! I'm going to be in bliss-consciousness!" Well, this is where it starts: with the rules of moral behaviour.

Sri Gyanamata, one of the great disciples of Paramahansa Yoganandaji, whose letters have been compiled into that wonderful "how-to" guide for spiritual living called God Alone, wrote:
The more opportunity I have to study the lives of those who are practising meditation, the more I am convinced that hand-in-hand with it should go the practice of the good old-fashioned virtues. I have been told that meditation itself is enough - but I have no evidence that this is so. And our paramguru, Swami Sri Yukteswarji, did not so hold, for to his disciples, the group of boys whom he was training in the best methods of meditation, he said, "Learn to behave."

The basic moral and spiritual principles are essential to success in meditation, in applying the Kriya Yoga science to transform our consciousness and bring us God-communion. This is certainly among the benefits we can use to convince ourselves of the value of a commitment to their practice. And I would like to go a little deeper into this, so that we can see how essential they truly are.

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* Yogoda atsangamagazine, Apr-Iun 2009.
t They are enumerated in Yoga Sutras II:29: Yama (avoidance of immoral actions);
niyama (religiou ob ervances); asana (right posture for bodily and mental control);
pranayama (control of prana or life force); pratyahara (interiorization of the mind);
dharana (concentration); dhyana (meditation); and samadhi (divine union).




About the Spiritual Author

Debolina Choudhury

Swami Chidananda Giri has been a monk of the Yogoda Satsanga/Self-Realization Fellowship for more than thirty-five years. He is a member of the SRF Board of Directors and serves as assistant to the editor-in-chief of SRF publications.


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