“Awakening Our Divine Nature” ~ Brother Ishtananda

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On the Sunday morning before convocation, many devotees gather at the Hollywood Temple for services as a way to start the Convocation week.   Master makes this no ordinary service, but a pilgrimage – a way to set the tone for the week.  In this sacred temple, Master spoke, taught classes on Patanjali and other subjects, and gave Kriya.  Make special effort to contact Master here at this place of pilgrimage, where he was and is – where his sacred vibration resides, and stay with him throughout the week.  Pick him up here and carry him with you wherever you go.

Master stage Hollywood
Paramahansa Yogananda at SRF Hollywood Temple

In the later years of Buddha’s life, someone came to him and asked, not who are you, but “What are you?”
“Are you a god?”
“No,” Buddha answered.
“Are you an angel?”
“Are you a saint?”
“Then what are you?”
Buddha replied: “I AM AWAKE.”

Our topic for today is “Awakening our Divine Nature.”  At Mother Center, at the base of the wishing well, Master inscribed:  “Awake! Sleep no more!”  And Jesus said, “Know ye not that ye are gods?”  That divine consciousness is within us – it just needs to be awakened. What is this Divine nature?  It is the joy of God, the bliss of God, ecstasy, samadhi.  It’s not just the nature of the saints; our own divine nature is the same as the saints.  Within us is the same Bliss consciousness.  It just needs to be awakened. We may not be saints, but we can awaken that Divine nature within us.


AWAKE IN THE COSMIC DREAM, Paramahansa Yogananda, CD/mp3

“Every day is bliss”

One time I counseled a man, and he asked if he could increase his Kriyas.  Not only that, but he asked permission to perform his Kriyas more than two times a day.  I asked him why he wanted to do that, and he told me, “For twenty-three years I practiced Kriya, but only in the last two years has it become the most important thing in my life.  There is such joy!!”

He told me that he’d been able to attain the breathless state, and I asked him how long he was able to stay in that state. He said, “It’s hard to say, because there is so little awareness of time, but I would estimate about twenty or thirty minutes.”  Then I asked him, “What do you experience at those times?” and he answered, “Brother, I don’t know where you draw the line between joy and bliss.  Every day is bliss.  Some days are more intense than others, but every day is bliss.”


It’s not just the exalted saints and masters who experience this state – it’s us too.  So don’t put it off in the distance; don’t relegate it to only the saints, because it is our nature too.  That divine nature is right there within us, but in order to experience it, it takes time and commitment to the practice of the teachings and techniques.  When Master talked about contacting God, he made you feel that if you made just a little more effort, that God was just around the corner – but it may take many years of devoted practice of meditation.

See also~ Deepening Meditation and Overcoming Negativity in the News ~ Bro. Satyananda

“Absolutes light the way, though attainment be less than instant”

There was a man who lived on an island in the South Pacific.  The island had only one small store that sold only the basics, and so the man lived very simply.   One time he was invited by a friend to visit the U.S.  One day his host thought, “I’ll take him to the grocery store for a treat.”  As they walked down the many isles in the store, the man was overwhelmed at all the choices.  He pointed to a box and asked, “What’s this?”

“Oh, that’s powdered milk,” his host explained.  If you want milk you just add water and presto, you have milk.”

The man was wonderstruck.  Then he picked up another container and asked, “What’s this?”

“Oh, that’s instant coffee.  You just add hot water and presto, you have coffee.”

Again, the man was in awe.  They continued on, and the man picked up another item and asked, “What’s this?”

“Oh, that’s powdered eggs.  You just add water and presto, you have eggs.”

The man could hardly believe all these modern conveniences existed.  He picked up one more container, read the label, and exclaimed to his friend, “Oh, you Americans are too much!!! Baby powder!!”


Especially here in America, we want everything instantaneously.  Master made an important point about this in The Second Coming:  “Absolutes light the way, though attainment be less than instant.”  By setting that goal for us, he didn’t say the goal would be attained instantly.  In the Gita, Master talks about the 26 soul qualities that make man God-like, and I was glad to see that Master said this – he prefaces the list of those 26 qualities by saying, “Divine spokesmen always speak in absolutes, not to describe what is beyond the aspiring devotee, but as a measure for striving.”  In other words, it’s not something that’s beyond our attainment, but he’s not lowering the goal for us either.

26 Divine Soul Qualities 50,60

The 26 Soul Qualities that Make Men God-like

from God Talks With Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita, Ch. XVI

See also~ YAMA AND NIYAMA: Pathway to Inner Peace and Strength ~ Sw. Smarananandaji

“God…the highest necessity of life”

Always keep the goal in mind.  Master said, “You should conceive of God as the highest necessity of life.”  So make everything you do in life serve that goal.  Recently I talked with a man who was very busy pursuing his chosen career.  He said that right from the beginning he had known exactly what he wanted to do, and that everything in his life was geared toward accomplishing that goal. That’s how it should be for us as we strive toward our divine goal.  Don’t make the mistake of separating your regular life and your spiritual life into compartments.  Don’t try to live your regular life and then tack meditation onto it.  Make everything your spiritual life.  Your sadhana is your life.  Look at everything in terms of your spiritual life and the divine goal.

There was a woman who told me about one time when her husband was in excruciating pain, and how she had rushed him to the emergency room. Her husband was also a devotee, and very shortly after this happened he came to see me and asked, “What lesson are we to learn from intense physical suffering?”  Now this is a real devotee!!  The ideal is to always turn our awareness toward the spiritual,  and use everything in life toward attaining that divine goal.  Otherwise we find we have our feet in two different boats – and this leads to inevitable grief and suffering.

Milarepa, one of the great yogis of Tibet said, “All worldly pursuits have but the one unavoidable end, which is sorrow:  acquisitions end in dispersion; buildings in destruction; meetings in separation; births, in death.  Knowing this, one should, from the very first, renounce acquisition and heaping up, and building, and meeting; and set about realizing the Truth, which has no birth or death.”

See also~ Rising Above Suffering ~ Swami Smaranananda

“The Four Ashramas – A life geared to the goal”

In ancient Vedic India they knew the body is just the vehicle, and they knew the goal of life: to free the consciousness back to the Source it came from.  So they adapted a life geared to this goal, termed the “four ashrams,” or shelters.  During the course of life, an ordinary individual passed through each one of the “ashrams.”   Every child at a young age left his family and entered a hermitage of spiritual discipline under the tutelage of a guru.  As the second stage or ashram of life began, the individual married and left the hermitage to become a householder.  He begot children and carried out all the responsibilities of caring for a family.  The third ashram began at about age fifty, when he and his wife became “vanaprasthas,” or forest-dwellers.  Together they retired from society and the world to seek and concentrate more on the goal of life of full communion with God, through additional spiritual training from the guru.  In the fourth and final ashram of life, they became sannyasis, wandering mendicants.  To them it didn’t matter where they were.  Absorbing the mind in God was all that mattered to them. Thus, each person throughout the four stages lived a full life and had responsibilities, but each stage still had the focus of getting back to God as the ultimate goal.

Now, most of us can’t literally follow the four ashrams, but we can still keep that focus of attaining the divine goal of life.  Some devotees come to me and they talk about wanting to start another career, or a new relationship, or some such thing.  Now, I’m not saying this is wrong, but when we make those decisions, we need to ask ourselves a question: do we have that primary goal of finding God in mind?

See also~ Guidance from Gyanamata, “Mother of Wisdom” ~ Paramahansaji and Gyanamata

“The EYE of the bird”


There is a story in the Mahabharata about Arjuna.  His archery instructor, Drona, was very much pleased with Arjuna, and showed preferential love and favor toward him.  This caused a natural adolescent jealousy in the heart of Drona’s son.  One day he openly criticized his father for favoring Arjuna, arguing that he also was skillful in archery.  In reply, Drona arranged a test to decide the best archer amongst all his students.

A wooden bird was placed on a branch of a distant tree, and arranged to be partly hidden by foliage. A prominent artificial eye was painted on the wooden bird.  Drona called all his disciples and said to them, “Look, my children, a bird is sitting on that far off tree.  The challenge is to shoot the arrow exactly into its eye.”

All the disciples took aim at the target, their bow-strings drawn back.  Just then Drona said to his son, “Tell me, what is visible to you at this point in time, my son?” 

“I am seeing the sky, the tree, the leaves, and the bird,” replied the son.  The same question was asked of each student as they took aim at the bird, and Drona received similar answers from all of them.  Lastly, Drona came to Arjuna, his bow and arrow readied, his body in perfect stance.  Then the Guru asked him, “O Arjuna, tell me, what is being observed by you?”

“Sir, I see nothing but the center of the eye of the bird,” Arjuna replied.

Arjuna had that tremendous focus.  That’s what we need in order to see the center of the eye of God – which is our goal.  Obstacles are what we see when we take our eyes off the goal. That man in the emergency room who was in all that pain saw that experience not as an obstacle, but as a stepping stone, and he introspected about what he was to gain from the experience.

Keep the focus, even while carrying out your responsibilities.  Gyanamata once wrote a letter to Daya Ma, and she gave Ma four basic rules of spiritual life that we should live by. The first one was: “See nothing, look at nothing but your goal shining before you.”  Ma took this to heart, and that’s why Ma is who she is – always that one-pointed devotee, because she had her focus on God as her goal. ….

“Kriya ‘samadhi powder'”

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Especially the Kriya yoga that Master gave us – this is the greatest blessing, because then we feel the power of God as the prana within us, and ultimately know we are the consciousness and not the body.  Master has given us a tremendous teaching in the Kriya technique so that we can interiorize the consciousness in order to worship God on the altar of the spine and brain in divine communion.  Never let it become mechanical.  Remember and appreciate what Kriya is: think of it as your tool to get you back to God.  We want to live, move, and have our being in that Divine consciousness.

It takes time – even if it’s ten, or twenty-three, or thirty years – you can’t put a time frame on it.  Remember the man I told you about at the beginning of my talk who had meditated twenty-three years without much result? He told me, “I give no thought to those twenty-three years because it’s all been worth it.”

There’s no samadhi powder we can pull off the shelf.


Kriya is the closest thing we have to samadhi powder.  So forget the world this week.  Immerse yourself in divine love, peace and joy, and waves of bliss.  But don’t think about it.  Thinking chops up the consciousness.  Feel it.  Be it.  Be it.

(Together we performed the healing service for body, mind, and soul.)

One time after a meditation and prayer service, Daya Ma asked Master, “What do you say to Divine Mother when you pray for them?”  Master replied, “I pray to God that their heart’s desire be fulfilled by His special grace.”

Blessings to you all.

excerpts from DEVOTEE NOTES


Brother Ishtananda


See also~  Bro. Ishtananda articles