Quotes of Guidance
Senior Devotee Retreat – June 17, 2017
PRAYER: Divine Father, banish me not in silence. I stand lonely without Thee. Let me not become imprisoned in my work, so as to forget Thee. I shall go within, to bring Thee without. Where Thou hast placed me, Thou must come. Hidden in the ashes of my burnt sadness, I shall find Thy golden presence.
—SRF Lessons #41
Practice the art of living in this world without losing your inner peace of mind. Follow the path of balance to reach the inner wondrous garden of Self-realization.
—Inner Peace – Ch IV – How To Be “Calmly Active”…
“I am going to the hills to be alone with God,” a student informed the Master. “You will not advance spiritually in that way,” Paramahansaji replied.
“Your mind is not yet ready to concentrate deeply on Spirit. Your thoughts will dwell mostly on memories of people and worldly pastimes, even though you remain in a cave. Cheerful performance of your earthly duties, coupled with daily meditation, is the better path.”
—Sayings of Paramahansa Yogananda
The goal of life is to know God. And all of the struggles in this world are caused by man’s having turned away from God. Now we must turn back to Him.
Does this mean we should run away to the Himalayas, or to an ashram or monastery? Not at all. As Master expressed it in a prayer: “Where Thou hast placed me, there Thou must come.”
But it does mean that out of the twenty-four hours each day, which most human beings spend working to feed and clothe the body, reading to improve the mind, or in recreation and sleep, we ought to be able to give at least one hour to God. Can any one of us truly say this is impossible?
–Sri Daya Mata, “Yes, We Can Know God!” from Finding the Joy Within You
Excerpts from: “The Art of Living” — Man’s Eternal Quest
Every man builds his aspirations and forms his desires according to prenatal and postnatal influences. Heredity, and national, social, and family characteristics, tastes, and habits mold each human life. But in the beginning of life, children are about the same everywhere. Jesus said: “Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”
Divinity is the one nationality of all children the world over; but as they grow older, and family and social characteristics begin to exercise their influence, children begin to manifest national and racial traits.
God has expressed His truth in varying combinations within particular civilizations, nationalities, and individual mentalities. Through this diversity He has placed before us a kaleidoscopic image of man’s potential. It is man’s duty to glean from this variety the qualities that are highest and best; and to foster them within himself, his nation, and the world.
Great men and saints do this. They live several hundred years ahead of their time in exemplifying universal principles of truth that are eternal. These principles are the essence of the true art of living, and are applicable and vital to the success and happiness of all men.
The differences among peoples of the various nations, races, and creeds should create, not a division, but a basis of comparison for selection of the best qualities and methods with which to develop the ideal man and the ideal world.
Of all the nations at present, India and America represent, respectively, the acme of spiritually and materially efficient civilizations. India and other Oriental nations have produced the highest types of spiritual people, such as Jesus and Gandhi; whereas America has produced the greatest types of businessmen and practical scientists, such as Henry Ford and Thomas Edison.
A combination of spiritually efficient qualities with materially efficient qualities, as represented in the foregoing life-examples of great men, can offer us an art of living that will produce in every nationality all-round men of the highest type — physically, mentally, morally, materially, socially, and spiritually.
It is important to select, not one-sided national characteristics, but all-round universal principles of living from all nations and from all great men.
Do not take only those principles that develop the physical at the cost of the spiritual phase of man’s life, or vice versa; adopt those principles that develop equally and harmoniously the superman of balanced physical, mental, moral, and spiritual qualities.
Practical Methods for Uniform Development
Following are a few practical methods for uniformly developing body, mind, and soul:
Include in your daily diet milk and other dairy products, and a good percentage of raw food and fresh fruits; drink a large glass of orange juice with finely ground nuts mixed in. Eat less meat; avoid beef and pork entirely. Read and follow a reliable modern book on dietetics.
Fast one day a week on orange juice and use a suitable natural laxative as prescribed by your physician.
Every morning and evening, with deep attention, walk briskly, run, or take some other form of exercise — as vigorous as your constitution allows — until you perspire.
Read and meditate on some inspiring passage from the Bible and from the Bhagavad Gita.
Read Shakespeare and other classics, and suitable portions from practical books on such subjects as chemistry, physics, physiology, history of Oriental and Western philosophy, comparative religion, ethics, and psychology.
Don’t waste your time on cheap writings. Read a dependable health periodical and an inspiring spiritual magazine. Include editorials and health articles when reading newspapers, not just the comics and scandals.
Visit different temples and churches — Protestant, Catholic, Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu, and so on — to develop your appreciation and understanding of all faiths. Look upon each one as “The Temple of Our God.”
Honor God not only in man-made temples, but learn to worship and commune with Him in the inner temple of silence. Practice meditation for one hour in the morning and one hour at night, following the scientific methods taught by the great masters of Self-Realization Fellowship.
Do not be sidetracked into forests of blind, untested belief and theology; get on the one highway of Self-realization that leads quickly to God.
Do not be enslaved by the senses. They are not meant to bind you with material desires, but to serve you with perceptions of good, which reflect God.
See plays or motion pictures only occasionally, choosing those of the highest quality.
Obey God’s divine laws as applied to family, country, and all nations.
Speak truth with kindness and understanding, and respect truth wherever you perceive it.
Expand your love for family and country to include love and service to people of all nations. See God in all men of whatever race or religion.
Spend less, and have more, by doing away with luxurious habits. From your earnings put aside as much as possible, so that you can live partially on the interest from your savings, without having to dip into the capital.
See life as divided into four periods, during each of which the main focus should be on developing efficiency in the activities appropriate to that part of life.*
- From age 5 to 25 years. The child should receive concentrated character training and become instilled with spiritual ideals and habits. As he grows into adulthood, he should get a general education, learn efficiency by study and observation, and seek specialized training in some work to which he feels suited.
- From age 25 to 40 years. As an adult, one should fulfill family and other obligations to this world, while striving to keep a spiritual balance.
- From age 40 to 50 years. During this period, adults should live more quietly, studying inspirational writings and keeping abreast of progress in the arts and sciences, and spending more time in meditation.
- From age 50 on. One should spend the last part of life in meditating deeply most of the time; and, through the wisdom and spirituality thus acquired, in rendering social and spiritual service to others.
* This is a general application of the ancient Vedic ideal of dividing man’s life into four stages, known as the four ashramas.
- Physical, mental, moral, and spiritual education of the celibate student (Brahmacharya).
- Fulfillment of householder or worldly responsibilities (Grihastha).
- Retirement from the world to seclusion or an ashram to devote more time to spiritual pursuits and thinking of God (Vanaprastha).
- Complete outer as well as inner renunciation of all ties to the world (Sannyas). Though complete renunciation was generally the fourth ashrama, it was advocated earlier in life for one who felt the supreme desire for God alone.
By following the four ashramas, man was taught the art of living and right behavior; given an opportunity to fulfill his material ambitions and responsibilities; allowed a time to contemplate his spiritual life and make a greater effort for Self-realization; and then encouraged to give his life, his all, back to God.
Be Calmly Active and Actively Calm – In short, don’t think all the time of just making money. Exercise, read, meditate, love God, and act peacefully at all times. Learn to be calmly active and actively calm, carrying into your daily activities the calmness gained in the spiritual activity of meditation.