Be at Peace with God and Yourself
Every evening in India about 200 million viewers can see Swami Kriyananda as he reads from Conversations with Yogananda, and comments on how these words of wisdom can be useful in our daily lives. This is an excerpt from the first of his 365 talks.
My Guru asked me, and repeated his request many times, to write down his comments on the things he said. This book is a response to that request. I have added to it the fruits of my own nearly sixty years of reflection and meditation. A true guru expresses his wisdom not only through words, but in countless other ways: nuances in his tone of voice; his facial expressions; the way he pauses in his speech; the emphasis he gives to certain words; his gestures and “body language”; most of all, the palpable vibrations of his consciousness. All of these I have done my humble best to convey through this book. It contains the essential wisdom and insight which has guided me through the years.
I would like to read to you from Conversations with Yogananda:
“A professor from Columbia University came to lunch with the Master in his third-floor interview room at Mount Washington. I served them, and was able afterward to sit in the room and take notes while they conversed. At a certain point in their discussion, the professor asked, “Do your teachings help people to be at peace with themselves?” “They do indeed,” the Master answered, “but that is the least that they do. We teach people above all how to be at peace with their Creator.”
Most people in today’s society are trying to find out how to be at peace with themselves, and for that reason they don’t find peace. This is, in fact, the mistake I made for many years: I was trying to find peace of mind, understanding without God. I thought I would find it in perfect politics, in perfect art, in perfect science, in perfect literature, in perfect music. Nowhere did I find it, for it just didn’t exist. Until I suddenly woke up one morning and realized that without God life didn’t really have any meaning.
To be at peace with the creator is just about the last thing that most systems today try to give to us. They say that the more perfect our system, the more we will have of what we want. But you can never have a perfect system, so the only way to imagine creating that kind of perfection is to kill off everybody who disagrees.
It’s like the old Greek story of Procrustes. Procrustes was a tyrant and a villain. And he had a very special bed. If his guests were too long for the bed, then he would just bind them to the bed, lop off their legs, and let them bleed to death, and he had a great time. If they were too short, he would stretch them until they, screaming in agony, were long enough for the bed.
This is what people do with logic: If logic doesn’t apply to the facts, they bend it to fit the theories. But life goes on as it is. One of the wonderful things that I have seen in the philosophy of India is that it’s realistic. It doesn’t pose theories to life; it poses the reality. It says, “What is life? What are the realities?” and then tries to work within that framework. Logic is nice and fixed and framed, whereas reality is always flexible; it’s a living thing.
In this saying, Yogananda is teaching a basic teaching of his, which he came to the west to bring: how to be in tune, how to get peace with a much larger reality. We are all a part of that reality; we are a part of the universe, of the infinite flow of time. Our job as human beings is to understand it.
How do we get to learn how to be a part of that greater reality? How do we become a part of that infinite peace? How do we make peace with the universe and with our Creator? That’s what Yogananda came to teach. He came to teach us how to meditate. He came to teach us how to listen: how to listen, first of all, to God. The voice of God, the presence of God, is very real.
When I first sat to meditate, I didn’t know what it was all about, but I discovered in time that there is a reality inside. I wouldn’t leave meditation for anything in the world, because as you learn to be at peace with your creator, you do become at peace with your own higher Self. We were made from that Self. We are not this ego. We are not this body and this personality.
The ocean is one. The waves can be symbolic of human beings and all these little egos trying to push away from the ocean’s bosom. We can also think of them as the waves of our consciousness, our own restless thoughts. Once those waves become calm, you become aware of the great vastness of the sea beneath us. This is what God is. This is what we are if we can get away from our little preoccupations.
Meditation helps to eliminate that ego. The goal of yoga is to help you to be calm, because when the mind is calm, it begins to perceive the higher realities in the world around it, and in the universe. If you want to know what the world is, you’ve got to calm your mind. The more quiet you are, the more ready you are to listen. A true yogi calms his mind and simply perceives.
This is what I saw in my great guru. He perceived. And in that perception, he knew my every thought, my very feelings. One time he said to somebody, “You have a sour taste in your mouth, haven’t you?” She said, “Well, how did you know?” He said, “Because I’m as much in your body as I am in this body.” A great yogi isn’t limited by his ego or by any sense of separation from the rest of life.
In teaching people how to be at peace with their creator, we’re helping them to eliminate the agitation in their minds. In the calmness that ensues, you begin to perceive the reality of things as they are, the presence of God as He is. It’s not a delusion. It is a perception of reality itself.
In each of the 365 talks for the Indian cable channel, Aastha, Swami Kriyananda offers viewers a glimpse of Yogananda’s depth and warmth as he recalls stories and conversations with his Master. As you can see from the article on this page, he always finds a delightful way to share and illustrate each “Conversation.” Many of these talks are available on DVD, in English or with Italian subtitles, with four programs on each disk. For information, please write us.