In Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda recalls when, as a teenager, he followed his own whim instead of the wisdom of his guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar. An excerpt:
“Please permit me to go to the Himalayas. I hope in unbroken solitude to achieve continuous divine communion.”
I actually once addressed these ungrateful words to my Master. Seized by one of the unpredictable delusions which occasionally assail the devotee, I felt a growing impatience with hermitage duties and college studies. A feebly extenuating circumstance is that my proposal was made when I had been only six months with Sri Yukteswar. Not yet had I fully surveyed his towering stature.
“Many hillmen live in the Himalayas, yet possess no God-perception.” My guru’s answer came slowly and simply. “Wisdom is better sought from a man of realization than from an inert mountain.”
Ignoring Master’s plain hint that he, and not a hill, was my teacher, I repeated my plea. Sri Yukteswar vouchsafed no reply. I took his silence for consent, a precarious interpretation readily accepted at one’s convenience.
In the next chapter, Yogananda wrote about his guru’s reaction to his return from the Himalayas. An excerpt:
“I am here, Guruji.” My shamefacedness spoke more eloquently for me.
“Let us go to the kitchen and find something to eat.” Sri Yukteswar’s manner was as natural as if hours and not days had separated us.
“Master, I must have disappointed you by my abrupt departure from my duties here; I thought you might be angry with me.”
“No, of course not! Wrath springs only from thwarted desires. I do not expect anything from others, so their actions cannot be in opposition to wishes of mine. I would not use you for my own ends; I am happy only in your own true happiness.”
“Sir, one hears of divine love in a vague way, but for the first time I am having a concrete example in your angelic self! In the world, even a father does not easily forgive his son if he leaves his parent’s business without warning. But you show not the slightest vexation, though you must have been put to great inconvenience by the many unfinished tasks I left behind.”
We looked into each other’s eyes, where tears were shining. A blissful wave engulfed me; I was conscious that the Lord, in the form of my guru, was expanding the small ardors of my heart into the incompressible reaches of cosmic love.
What a wonderful way to be in the world! To let all expectations of others fall away and simply be happy when they are happy. Of course, this approach with loved ones may lead to all sorts of problems unless they act with integrity and pure intentions. Still, it’s an ideal worth aspiring to!
By the way, I absolutely love the way that Swami Sri Yukteswar expresses his wisdom—succinctly, precisely and with a large dollop of dry humor. Oh, to have been in his ashram for even a day!
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