Awaken Aspiration by Swami Kriyananda

It was not until rocket engines were built with a strong enough thrust to escape the Earth’s gravity that man actually landed on the moon.

In the same manner, those of us who wish to get closer to Divinity can attain our goal only when we are able to generate enough upward thrust to break free of the gravitational pull of worldly desires and attachments.

The centre point between the eyebrows known as the spiritual eye, seat of super-consciousness, may be called the inner ‘moon’ in man, the centre of his divine awareness.

But many a practising yogi finds his efforts unfruitful; his consciousness remains anchored firmly to Earth. He must deliberately generate more upward ‘thrust’ in his endeavour to transcend.

The first battle is to generate enough upward flow to break free of the downward, gravitational pull of matter. For this, three things are necessary: 1) avoidance of those actions and states of consciousness which pull the energy downward; 2) upward, devotional aspiration; 3) techniques specifically directed towards raising the energy in the body.

In the most material manifestations of spirit, rocks and minerals, consciousness is so reduced that it is latent. To free your energy from the downward pull of matter, avoid anything that dulls the mind, or increases its identification with the senses. Devotional aspiration can be awakened by chanting, service or meditation.

The purpose of practising the principles of yoga is to raise one’s consciousness to the highest state of Self-realisation.

Many Christians visualise God as the venerable old man depicted in a painting by Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican. It shows the Lord manifesting the existence of Adam, the first man, by pointing a forefinger towards him.

Christians do commonly think of God as the Heavenly Father. On the other hand, some people simply cannot bridge the gap between the obviously impersonal Creator of this vast universe and an anthropomorphic being. They try to come up with philosophical concepts that, to their understanding, are more logically satisfying.

Does love suggest a clearer meaning? Not unless we can tie it down to something we ourselves have actually experienced. The only way to get some “handle of understanding” on any concept, one must relate it to something one knows already. That is why even the description of God as Love needs to be tied down to something comprehensible in human terms.

God —as Krishna explains in the Bhagwad Gita — dreamed the universe into existence. As trees grow from seeds, and animals develop from the union of two tiny male and female cells, even so, the Infinite Spirit brought everything into existence from an infinity of individual centers —dreaming outward, so to speak, from each centre. Divine Consciousness was described by my Guru Paramhansa Yogananda as “Centre everywhere, circumference nowhere”.

It’s a great mistake to try to reduce stress and tension by avoiding challenges and difficulties. You do not attain peace merely by escaping responsibility. You attain it by discharging your responsibilities and winning on the battlefield of life, in the true sense. Success means learning an important life lesson.

True success means taking a step toward infinite freedom because we’ve learned an important life lesson that we no longer need to repeat. Only that kind of success gives true peace. As long as there’s any fear — fear of the test, of being drawn into the karma, of failure, or even fear of success, then there is still karma to be worked out.
The pull of unwillingness: Most people are pulled in two directions. While they’re doing something, they’re wishing they weren’t doing it. For your spiritual growth, don’t try to reduce stress by avoiding what you’ve been given to do. Difficulties are opportunities for growth. When we give what we’re doing to God, we find that there is a great joy and even great relaxation in the process.

Learn to act from within outward. Relax. Do not worry what other people think about what you should, or should not, be doing.
The teachings of yoga say we should be centred in ourselves. Meditation is the best method for this. If you can be centred in yourself, and act from within outward, then you will have that degree of poise and relaxation to turn left or right as the circumstances dictate.

Work on developing an attitude of non-attachment to the fruits of your actions. People with that attitude will have the degree of relaxation needed to work without tension or fear, and even if they fail, they are able to rise again.

It’s very helpful to visualise the fear actually being fulfilled, to visualise the worst possible results of whatever you’re doing, because the anticipation is almost always greater than the realisation. Once you’ve accepted a certain possibility, you can then put all of your energy into the constructive action necessary for success.
In the Bible, we read that perfect love casts out fear. When you love God deeply enough there is nothing to fear because you know He’s always with you. It’s important to work toward attaining that level of courage. If in the process you sometimes feel anxiety about something, don’t pull back. Just call on God to support you in whatever you have to do. The time will come when you will be victorious over that fear.

Remember also that our thoughts send out a kind of magnetism that draws to us whatever is expressive of that thought. People who undergo a disaster of a certain kind in some way have put out a call for that disaster.

Conditions are neutral: Paramhansa Yogananda said, “Conditions are always neutral.” They seem good or bad according to the positive or negative attitude of the mind. We can make the best of even the worst circumstances. We have to be practical, but the most important thing is to have faith in God and to live in the thought that God is with you, always. Faith in God will give you the level of relaxation you need, to face life most effectively.

Yoga gives the “how to” of the spiritual path through withdrawing one’s consciousness from the body and centering it in the spine. Many obstacles confront you as you make this inward journey.

The first is the fact that human understanding is limited to the information it receives from the senses: of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. Next, our understanding is limited by the way we use reason to process that information. We have, in fact, entered a house of mirrors. Everything we see and experience in the world is only a reflection of our own awareness.

Happiness is reflected to us from the surrounding world, what we project outwardly from our centre. Happy melodies pluck at our heartstrings, but sound faint and elusive; we can enjoy them fully only when we realise that the source of happy melodies is inside of us.

We experience happiness or sadness only in our egoistic state. Paramhansa Yogananda defined ego as the soul identified with the body. We reach out to the world through our senses trying to grasp the joy that we think is our birthright.

Expanding sympathy helps the ego to be aware of its subtle identity with other people and with the universe. One’s own happiness, in consequence, expands exponentially. With compassion, the ego relaxes and we can effortlessly become aware of the indwelling soul. Ego discovers its identity, in this case, with the Infinite Spirit.

I love the saying, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” The past isn’t important, for, from today onward, we can change. My guru, Paramhansa Yogananda, often said, “Forget the past.” The thought of past mistakes pulls us down. People also live too much in their victories. In self-pride they say, “Oh, I did this and I did that,” but that’s history.
The Bhagavad Gita tells us to give the results of our actions to God. I was surprised to hear Yogananda say, “God is pleased when you give him your mistakes.” If you dwell on the thought, “I made a mistake,” you close the door to self-improvement.
We live in an age where one could say that today’s religion is science. This is good in the sense that science says, “If it’s true, we have to prove it.” I suggest that you test religion or spirituality scientifically within your own self. As an experiment, try for one week to think of God and talk to Him. Every thought that comes to you, even an ugly thought, share it with Him. Say, “God, help me. Change this idea, because I don’t like it.”
Resolve to think of God for five minutes every day. When you can do that, do it for 10 minutes, and then longer. I have found it to be very inspiring, when slowly walking, to try to share every moment, every movement, thought and sound with God. Each one of us needs to play his own song. In this way, God can do beautiful things through us. What God wants, finally, is to enjoy Himself in you. This is God’s purpose — give Him that chance.