Excerpt from Raja Yoga #91

image002QUESTION #2: “Other than awareness of the following: the cosmic significance of prana as
described by Swamiji, the sublimation process of prana into shakti power, and informed control
of the breath (important sets of threes), what is required of the aspirant for obtaining or practicing pranayama?”
ANSWER: The answer is, another set of threes, and one that is greatly missing today in spiritual circles, and in the hearts and minds of aspirants. First, a good teacher; second, unswerving devotion to the teacher; and third, unflagging commitment to the spiritual path. As Sri Sarada Devi told us, in and by Her own experience, that if the aspirant does not secure an illumined teacher, and then look upon that teacher as God, and finally, follow the instructions of said teacher to the letter, then no appreciable progress along the spiritual path can ever be made. So many souls are trying to navigate the spiritual path on their own. This is usually due to either arrogance or naivete. The Vedas state, “Arise, awake, and stop not ‘til the goal is reached. Approach the wise teachers and learn from them. For, sharp as a razor’s edge is the spiritual
path, and difficult to navigate. So say the wise.”
     Then there is the case, which we see so often nowadays in the West, after several generations of gurus have come from the East. This is the case of good people following bad gurus. Many of these opportunists and spiritual marketeers have passed away, leaving some small followings here and there. Based on starts that were grounded in inferior principles such as hatha yoga, seeking occult powers, seeking fame, health and prosperity devoid of knowledge of the dharmic teachings, etc., their students are trying to make progress. But one sees them falling into pathways that are, at best, only service oriented, and otherwise, desirous of power and money. So any practice, pranayama included (and maybe most of all), must be subjected to the inspection of a spiritual master, not a pretender. How to find Them? Four criterion are given in the tradition for an authentic guru. The chart, “The Four Levels of Knowers of Brahman,” at the end of this lesson, reflects that fine teaching of the dharma. The West needs to know them.