Asha Praver's Monthly Letter
April 2005

Dear Friends,Asha Praver photo

“Learn to behave.” This simple instruction from Master’s guru, Sri Yukteswar, sums up the whole of the spiritual path. But it has to be understood in the right way.

“God reads the heart,” is an important corollary. It isn’t enough to put on a good show in front of others. Sri Yukteswar didn’t say, “Be nice and polite.” “To behave” is to respond in a God-inspired way in every circumstance. To remain centered, to think of others, but also not to be afraid when circumstances require that you stand up for yourself.

Swamiji sometimes mentions the fact that he has never given in to a bully, not even when he was a child. Even when he was in fights as a boy, and was completely over-powered by a bigger boy, he still wouldn’t give in! It is a matter of principle.

In The Path, Swamiji recounts one such incident, in which he was badly beaten by a classmate, but mentally never surrendered. From that point on, though, the bully never bothered Swamiji again. Swamiji knew how to behave, and standing up for truth—in this case, the truth that to bully is wrong—proved stronger than mere physical might.

Overcome Fear
When I was 20 years old, and just one year on the path, I gained an insight that has helped me ever since. I was very harmonious in my closest relationships, but that harmony was not always sincere. Often I wanted to disagree, sometimes I desperately wanted to disagree but I was afraid if I wasn’t “nice” then the people closest to me wouldn’t like me anymore.

After a time, it occurred to me that I wasn’t nice at all. I was afraid. Big difference. The goal of the spiritual path is freedom. My fear compelled me even to violate my conscience at times. Not a good situation.

Fear is not easy to overcome. But before that, all my energy was going to suppress my desire to be disharmonious. After that, my efforts were directed to overcoming my fear.

Cultivate a Pure Heart
Master said it is not enough to be good merely because it is our habit to be good. We have to develop goodness as the spontaneous expression of a pure heart. A pure heart is free of fear.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” And isn’t “seeing God” in everyone we meet and in every circumstance the secret of learning to behave? Everything on the spiritual path always comes back to a matter of consciousness. That is what God is “reading” when He looks into our hearts.

We can’t always control how our actions are received by others. Sometimes we act with the best of intentions, but still things go awry. Conflicting cross-currents of ego sometimes create misunderstanding and hurt feelings when none was intended.

In Autobiograpy of a Yogi, Master tells how he was about to swat a mosquito but didn’t because he remembered the principle of ahimsa—harmlessnesss. Sri Yukteswar, however, suggested to Master that he might as well go ahead and swat it, since in his mind he already wished the mosquito dead.

Of course, modifying our behavior is a good first step toward learning to behave. But modifying our intentions must also be part of the project if God-realization is our goal.

Meditation is the Key
This is where meditation comes in, especially Kriya yoga. The source of all our actions and attitudes—all our karma—is the pattern of energy in chakras. All spiritual practices—affirmation, right behavior, chanting, prayer, etc.—help to resolve and harmonize this energy. But Kriya yoga is the “airplane route to God.”

In the Autobiography, Master says that one round of Kriya is like one year of right living, in terms of dissolving karma. And that assumes that in that year we don’t make more karma than we work out! If you start thinking of it like that, well, you can see why we have wandered around in delusion for such a long time!

But somewhere along the way, we have all done something right. Because now we live in a time and place where, with just a little bit of effort, we can learn techniques that will change our consciousness forever.

Kriya yoga refers to a specific method of sending energy through the chakras, but everything Master taught is part of the whole science of Kriya yoga. And whereever you are on the pathway and however far you go, from just beginning to practicing the higher Kriyas, you are walking the path of freedom. Eternal freedom. What a promise!

Joy to you from David and from me,

Asha