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A Handbook on Discipleship

The Ananda Course in Self-Realization - Step 3
by Swami Kriyananda

Chapter 2: The Disciple's Part

When I met my guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar, he said to me, "Allow me to discipline you."

"Why sir?" I inquired.

"When I encountered my guru, Lahiri Mahasaya," he replied, "my will was guided by whims. But when I attunded my will to Lahiri Mahasaya's wisdom-quided will, my own will became free, because guided by wisdom."

In the same way, I discovered that by attuning my will to Sri Yukteswar's wisdom-guided will, my will, too, became free.

This is the purpose of discipleship, and the obedience that it entails. The aim of obedience to the guru is not to enslave the disciple, but to liberate his will from that which enslaves it truly: whims, and much more — bondage to likes and dislikes, and to desires and attachments.

Most people consider it an affirmation of freedom to indulge their desires "freely." They don't see that desire itself is compulsive. It blinds their discrimination. Where is the freedom in any act that leads one more deeply into delusion? Spiritual healing requires willing cooperation on the disciple's part. It cannot be achieved by passivity. Surrender to the divine will, as expressed through the guru, must be offered freely, willingly, and intelligently.

The Essence of Self-Realization: The Wisdom of Paramhansa Yogananda, by Swami Kriyananda. See Resources.

The Disciple's Part
Taken from Talks by Swami Kriyananda

The guru-disciple relationship is perhaps the most important relationship the soul can have in this world of relativity. It is also the most important relationship the ego can have in the sense that it's the one relationship that thoroughly demoishes the ego. The worldly person, however, doesn't see the attractiveness of this relationship; he does't like to put himself in the position of subordination to what he considers to be just another person. He feels that his opinion is as good as anyone else's. In the matter of seeking God, he doesn't see the need for another human being to intercede, but thinks to establish his own relationship with God directly.

It's very important to speak not only of why we need a guru, but more particularly of how we can be good disciples. This is an even more difficult question, and one that, generally speaking, people don't understand on a deep level.

A true disciple is not somebody who is always trying to proselytize others, or who goes around outwardly saying, "Oh, Master, Master, Master." Neither is he somebody who acts as though he were a member of a special club. A true disciple, first of all, has to have the right attitudes that make him a good disciple. Increasingly he has to develop that kind of consciouness which the guru brings to him.

Discipleship to the Inifinite

In the beginning it's absolutely inescapable that the disciple will see the guru only in human terms. After all, the guru has a body, a personality, and ego — all the things necessary to make a body function. But the guru resides in his own Self and watches these things. As Master wrote in his beautiful poem, Samadhi, "I, the cosmic sea, watch the little ego floating in me." There has to be an ego, or the body couldn't be sustained, but it's a different kind of ego. It's not the ego of pride or of identification with an individual consciousness. In a sense you could say there is no ego, because the deeper meaning of ego is the soul identified with the body. A great master is not identified with the body at all. He merely sits back, watches, and directs it.

There was a period of time when I was out at Master's desert retreat with him. Every evening after finishing that day's dictation on his commentaries of the Bhagavad Gita, he used to go out for a walk with me. He would walk quite slowly because he was in a very deep state of consciousness. At this time he was manifesting the wisdom aspect of God, and was very impersonal. Sometimes he would rest his hand on my forearm for support as we walked along. Then he would stop, sway back and forth, and lean on me so he wouldn't fall over. Once he said, "It's so difficult to know which body I'm supposed to keep moving when I feel myself equally present in all bodies."

It took great effort on his part just to hold his mind down to that little body. You might even say that it's as difficult for a master to keep his mind down on our level as it is for us to get up to his, except he can make it and we can't. But we must remember that we can. We must not constantly think of our limited humanity, but always inwardly think of our divinity. This is one of the attitudes that is so necessary for a true disciple.

The Need for Right Attitude

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See Also: Contents  Intro  

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