Avoiding Failure, Dealing With Failure, Rising Again

When Swami Kriyananda was a young monk in Yogananda’s ashram, one day he asked the guru, “Sir, after you are gone, will you be as near to us as you are now?”

“To those who think me near,” Yogananda replied, “I will be near.”

For the disciple, attunement with the Guru is everything. All our spiritual practices – our prayers, chanting, and meditation – are designed to open our hearts to those through whom God can lead us to His bliss.

Yogananda said, “Be in tune. Delusion can’t touch you if you will keep in tune.”

We can’t avoid the karmic bombs that explode in our lives. But our sufferings are not a sign of God’s displeasure; they are sent to help us become strong, happy and free.

We see that the greatest saints have often faced the greatest obstacles. They show us that it doesn’t matter what happens to us outwardly; what counts is what we become inside.

No matter how severe the challenges, the greatest victory is not to lose the presence of God and Guru within.

To those who think the Guru near, he is there. We should keep this extraordinary promise alive in our hearts. The Masters never turn away from us. They are always broadcasting God’s love, wisdom, and bliss. They never close their hearts.

In my time with Swami Kriyananda, I came to appreciate that he was a living example of what it means to be a disciple of a great master. For nearly sixty years, he dedicated his every thought, action, feeling, and breath to his Guru. He had the effortless attunement of one who had opened himself completely to the Guru.

For the first fifteen years of my spiritual journey, I lived at Ananda Village in California. My home was a small travel caravan in the ashram, near where Swamiji lived.

He was completely involved in building the community. For years I saw him almost every day, because I worked as his secretary and later as head of the company that published his books.

In 1986, Swamiji asked David and me to move to the San Francisco area, 150 miles away, to lead a growing Ananda community there.

I knew it was the right decision, but I was heartbroken because I would no longer be close to Swamiji.

The first years in Palo Alto were difficult – I missed him so much. Then one day I awoke with the thought: “To those who think me near, I will be near…”

For God, space and time are no obstacles. Paramhansa Yogananda remarked that many mice lived on the property of his ashram, but they weren’t making spiritual progress.

Living near the teacher is no guarantee that we will grow. We have to develop our capacity to receive what he wants to give us. This is why we meditate, pray, serve, and cultivate his presence in our hearts.

A master’s consciousness embraces infinity, but his earthly body lasts only a few years. Yogananda left his body in 1952. But the presence of the great ones is always close, as long as we “think them near.” It is a vibration that never “goes off the air.”

In time, I realized that being asked to serve away from Swamiji was not a punishment but a blessing, as it meant I had to learn to tune in to his presence inwardly.

We are blessed to have many ways to bring the masters near – we can meditate on their photographs (especially their eyes), we can listen to their voice in recordings, watch videos, and absorb their wisdom in books.

Remember Paramhansa Yogananda’s loving response to his disciple, “Am I not always with you?”

Blessings and joy,


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