Paramahansa Yogananda gives maiden speech in America at the International Congress of Religious Liberals, October, 1920 (see Autobiography of a Yogi, CHAPTER 37 “I Go to America”)
SRF and Other Religions
Guruji understood that, as there are millions and millions of different mentalities, so one religious form would not satisfy all. It doesn’t. If you analyze–and the Hindus have analyzed it very well–there are different paths to God. Bhakti yog for those who are very much drawn to the divine through devotion or love. Jnana Yog for those mentalities drawn to the divine through wisdom. Karma Yog for those who really want to devote their lives in this world to just doing good works, sowing the seeds of good actions, and so forth. Raja Yog, being considered the royal path which includes something of all of these.
So, he didn’t envision that the whole world would become followers of Self-Realization Fellowship, or any one religion. No, he recognized that every religion has a place. If it didn’t have followers, it wouldn’t exist, it would die out. So there are the needs. People are being satisfied by these.
But, what he did say, is that for any one of those followers to know God, to commune with God, they must follow that basic highway to God.
What is that highway? Again it’s spoken of by Patanjali.* First of all, yama niyama. No one of any religion ever found God through wrong actions. You cannot be evil and know God. It contradicts. You can’t have light and dark in the same room at the same time. You must perform those good acts which draw the consciousness of God. So there’s yama niyama. The next one is asana.
*Patanjali ~”India’s greatest exponent of Yoga”
In other words, in order to know God–we all know that the life force comes into this body through the medulla, and the spine is the tree of life. This has been depicted in ancient drawings, and in the various religions. It is the tree of life. So that life force comes into this body through the medulla, the ‘mouth of God,’ which is spoken of in the Christian Bible, into the spine. When one is deeply seeking God, one may not use these techniques but one cannot know God unless he has the power, by some technique*, to withdraw his attention from all objects of distractions and put it only on God.
That has been witnessed, for instance, in the lives of many saints, including some of the Catholic saints*, where they have been touched by, or they have had visions of the Divine, and they have been totally unconscious of the world about them.
So what I’m saying is that there is a highway that every follower of every religion must follow, whether he follows it consciously or is not conscious of it, in order to know God. But Guruji did not mean that all religions would die out and become one.
Need for SRF/YSS Organization
When I first came here, in fact, he told me this about himself–when he first went to his Guru, he didn’t want any organization and he was just a monk that wanted to roam and be free in the world. And his Guru said, ‘I am sending you to America.’ And he said, I don’t want to go to America. ‘No you will go there one day, and you will spread this teaching, and you will form an organization.’ And Master said, but I don’t want it, and he said ‘You selfish one. You want it for yourself. You don’t want to share it with anyone else.’
Well, I have to tell you that that was my concept when I came here. I didn’t have any dream of this. Frankly it’s the lazy way, but it was wonderful to be totally carefree. I liked that idea (chuckles). I didn’t want to be hitched to anything. And Guruji, again he said the same thing to me, he said ‘Selfishness that is.’ He said ‘No, how would you feel if there was no organization?’ The organization is here to serve. It’s only purpose is to give a focal point for devotees all over the world who will be looking for something.
And from that standpoint I agree, the organization is necessary. The purpose, the point is, that organization must never become ‘the’ thing. It’s only there to serve.
excerpts from Daya Mata, “Moral Courage” CD/mp3 download
“Those who have come to Self Realization Fellowship truly seeking inward spiritual help shall receive what they seek from God. Whether they come while I am in the body, or afterward, the power of God through the link of the SRF Gurus shall flow into the devotees just the same, and shall be the cause of their salvation….
“Implicit in the SRF techniques and teachings are the help and blessings of the SRF line of gurus. Devotees who conduct their lives according to SRF principles will be blessed with the hidden and open direction of the SRF line of gurus. The ever-living Babaji has promised to guard and guide the progress of all sincere SRF devotees. Lahiri Mahasaya and Sri Yukteswarji, who have left their physical forms, and I myself, even after I have left the body all will ever protect and direct the sincere members of SRF-YSS.”