To print this page, select "Print"
A World of Yoga
How To Qualify
You can likely find many people and a number of institutions willing to tell you, for several hundred dollars and a little of your time, that you are an enlightened being. Then you can go through life behaving very strangely and irresponsibly while assuming your behavior is a genuine aspect of higher consciousness.
If you seek enlightenment and the incomparable help of a Master, you generally have to qualify. Sometimes qualification is amazingly easy. Once Sarada Devi, a Master herself, in addition to having a special role as the wife of Paramahansa Ramakrishna, was riding in a train through the Indian countryside. At one station she saw a boy who had spiritual signs. While the train paused, she compassionately went to the young fellow, accepted him as a chela, and initiated him. This kind of qualification and acceptance is rare but is possible.
More than ninety-nine percent of the time, the Master requires the candidate to prove his or her devotion and earnestness in meeting a number of well-considered qualifications. Different Masters stress different qualifications.
The goal of this chapter is a better understanding of the Master/Initiate possibility. Its purpose is not to recommend that you seek a Master. Many seekers are not so deeply interested in higher consciousness that they wish to be transformed by it. They are not sufficiently prepared — or interested — to have a relationship with a Master. Then again, you may be a suitable candidate. You may already be nearly qualified.
Whether you have a mild or intense interest in Masters, you can gain much
growth toward higher consciousness by knowing the qualifications for the
Master/Initiate relationship. To the extent you have, or develop, any of these
attributes, your life is more unified, more powerful, and sweeter.
Since different Masters focus on specific qualifications differently, you will have to ask the Master you seek what he or she feels is most important. The general qualifications for being initiated by a Master are:
1 Unconditional Love
Unless the initiate and Master have unconditional love for one another, there will not be enough love in the relationship for the achievement of the initiate’s ultimate goals. Knowing this, you have to thoroughly consider whether you can strive to commit your love, unconditionally and totally, to your Master. While only a realized person can truly give unconditional love, you, a candidate for initiation, agree to try — day in, day out — with your very utmost, to practice unconditional love. In developing unconditional love for the Master, you become so changed and so giving that you are purified enough to receive the total and awesome love God and the Master have for you. Your giving becomes a great receiving. But unless you can love, you cannot be filled.
The Master is not a god. He is a human being who has been so changed by the Lord that the Lord can use him as a servant, as your awakener. Thus, your Master, being human, will have flaws and personal likes and dislikes which an unloving initiate may condemn. Through ill will, an unloving devotee grows into an antagonist. If you wish to be a true and successful initiate, you determine, prior to initiation, that you are not going to aim any ill will at your good Master. Rather, you will be vigilant and careful that no ill will ever go out from your mind, heart, or words against your chosen source of transforming love. This yearning to be constant in love for God and the Master is the ideal of all true initiates.
But if you should nevertheless happen to fail, and you find yourself directing anger, fear, or jealousy toward your Master, never give up. Accept the deep remorse which comes from blocking such love and do everything humanly possible to right the wrong. Correct the problem: deal with the character flaw which so harshly intrudes in the grand project. For example, if you are deeply angry with your Master, devotees from all ages urge you not lash out at him or her, but proceed something like this:
"Beloved Master, I am having a problem with my anger. Will you help me with it?"
Then the Master and initiate, as an invincible team, work on the anger together. Your character flaw, through love and grace, is eradicated. Endeavoring to have unconditional love and being persistent in it is a tall order for those who have scarcely ever governed their emotions in this life. Its practice is, nevertheless, essential for a successful fulfillment in higher consciousness or God-realization. Even if it takes much extra work and extra thought and extra prayer, an attitude of unconditional love must be engendered. Your determination to persist in selfless love must be a strong passion. That is, much of your blessing on your own quest, "your twenty-five percent," involves your unconditional love — for God, the Master, and yourself.
Your endeavor to persist in unconditional love has to involve your determination to live in unconditional love even when you’re feeling lonely, depressed, frivolous, or smarting from correction. Whether you feel good or bad, happy or sad, your unconditional love must grow!
2 You Must Desire That Above All Else God Come First In Your Life
While it is impossible for an aspirant to focus perfectly on God every day, your focus must become continual. Your ego or daily circumstances cannot ever be allowed to overtake or undermine the priority that God come first. Even when you fail to do this, you must pick yourself up and direct your life Godward once again.
In entering the Master/Initiate relationship, you must fully understand that you will never give up.
Divergent desires will flood your mind. Whichever desire preoccupies you usually dictates your mood and actions toward fulfillment of that desire. Perhaps yesterday you wanted a new career. Today, you feel you need a new car or different friends, perhaps great fame, or no, a mushroom pizza will do. For now. Your desires for others, your children, your colleagues, your countrymen, flood into your thoughts and emotions, too. Most people are a mass of desires — each desire an anarchist dominating for a brief time. Because of the tremendous number of desires — and their constant conflict — you find it difficult to fulfill most of them. Possibly, you cannot accomplish even your most important desires due to the sabotage of other conflicting desires.
What is the way out? How can you make the most of your fleet years? Desire God above all else — and be constant in that one desire. In this fixity of purpose, goodness will fill your life. In becoming fulfilled in your most central desire, many other important desires are often satisfied as well. Above all, if you do not put God and higher consciousness first, you will never be able to find them.
In entering the Master/Initiate relationship, fully understand that your main desire must be God. Be so dedicated you will never divert your mind and heart until God is truly established throughout your life as the Lord of all. (It should be noted here that the word "Lord" is not meant to limit those who seek to realize the Absolute or Nirvana. In this case, the seeker agrees that the Absolute, or Nirvana, gets the most priority and this focus is discussed with the Master.)
You, as an initiate, agree to obey the Master regarding:
A) Your spiritual practices and other activities relating to your spiritual growth. (For example, your studies or your constancy in faith and good will.) Such instructions from your Master rarely intrude on your family life or career. If you have any questions about what you are expected to obey, talk with your Master before you seek initiation.
B) Your character. Your Master must have your cooperation in helping you overcome character flaws — or forget about higher consciousness. He must have the freedom to correct your inappropriate behavior if and when he sees fit. Remember, he loves you and has good will for you. The error in consciousness in back of the flaw he mentions is apparently very significant because he chooses to mention it. It’s important you be appreciative and thankful for his corrections, although your ego may rise up against the whole process. Your ego and ignorance, after all, are the villains of this teamwork.
Appreciative obedience is one of the most important qualifications.
4 Persistent Asking
Usually you have to ask to be an initiate many times before you are accepted. The practice of persistent asking gives you a chance to reconsider, to pull out, or to explore other avenues before you enter into a relationship so profoundly eternal.
That is, the Lord himself creates and sustains a Master/Initiate relationship. It’s correct to infer that if you spurn the Master, you are spurning the Lord who sustains both the Master and your own soul, the divinity abiding within you. Nothing is more serious. No cancer or broken back can ever as deeply affect the fulfillment of your whole being as much as an initiate’s spurning of the Master.
As some enlightened initiates have declared, "Beloved Master, here at your feet is my only hope." They were speaking from their higher consciousness. They knew the significance of abiding in the love and instruction of the Master.
So, persistent asking enables each candidate who is considering being initiated to think about the matter very deeply and seriously. Perhaps, at your present point of advancement, you may decide it’s best not to seek entrance into so sacred and important a relationship. Initiation may not be appropriate. You may not be able to fulfill your part of the teamwork.
On the other hand, persistently asking the Master for initiation and the Master/Initiate relationship may help make your mind and heart more certain. You can sense your soul’s wisdom as you ponder. Your frequent prayers help you weigh factors buried deep in your psyche. As weeks go by, you deal with your doubts and anxieties about initiation. During the period of asking you get to know the Master better. You can also analyze how much priority you truly place on your spiritual path — and how strong your devotion really is.
5 Readiness to Abide in the Consciousness of the Master
The Master/Initiate relationship, as we have said, is primarily a spiritual relationship. While it is desirable to be in the physical presence of your Master whenever you can, his physical presence will not replace the more important factor: living day in, day out, sensing the presence of the spirit, consciousness, love, and blessings of your Master.
In considering your qualifications for higher consciousness, the Master needs to see indications you will remain in attunement with him wherever you happen to be. Over the years it may not be possible — due to your schedule or his — for you to be physically in his presence every week. Some Masters have to do much traveling or observe long periods of solitude. Nevertheless, the Master/Initiate relationship needs to be maintained so well that it grows and grows. Your part is done primarily through keeping the Master in your thoughts, sensing his love and guidance in your heart. You must be willing and able to do this however far away you may be from him physically. Wherever you go and whatever your activities in life, you feel your Master is there beside you or within you. You live in the progressive sense of the nearness of your Master.
6 Help Your Master Enthusiastically and Competently
Since the Master gives you something so utterly precious and indispensable to your fulfillment, naturally you respond to his love.
Will you love him deeply and try to assist him in his work, or in some other service he asks of you? While he freely gives his love, and will likely accept you even if you are emotionally crippled, he hopes you can love and give of yourself in time — for your own sake.
The path of higher consciousness itself requires that you grow in love and become a joyful, prosperous giver. A profound principle on the spiritual path is involved. Truly, unless an initiate is willing to give of himself and his resources, he (or she) has a hard heart and cannot receive much of anything. Even the sweetest love and the greatest blessings from the Master will have little impact on you if you are petty or lacking in generosity. Your eagerness to share usually involves voluntary contributions, however small, but also consists of contributions from your heart, contributions of your care and love. Throughout spiritual history, service to a Master usually includes physical work, a few days of labor each year, some wood chopping perhaps, helping with administration, or cooking for retreatants.
This giving of yourself must come from your heart, through your love. If you don’t have the inspiration to serve in a helpful, attentive way, you are, without question, not ready for initiation and should wait until another time when you can see more deeply that spiritual giving is the basis of awakening and also the law of true prosperity.
However, even if you will likely gain substantial benefits through your service to the Master, your thought needs to be one of simply giving; you do not desire or require benefits or recompense in kind. The benefits you receive as you travel your road to higher consciousness will be spiritual, mental, emotional, physical, and material in nature. Of course, you should be cautious — there are self-declared "masters" who want your money. Nevertheless, if you are a sincerely loving initiate of a true Master, you will readily find the benefits you receive far exceed any contribution or service you have given — or are capable of giving.
You will find, in your love, you can never outgive God or Master. It is literally impossible.
7 Moderation in Sex Activity
What an easy life Masters would have in this sexually permissive society if spiritual awakening had no relationship with sex activity! But, most all seekers of higher consciousness today readily concur that sex activity requires the use of considerable life force.
Generally, Masters and devotees throughout the ages have not considered sex evil or vile. "Sex is holy, it’s from God," they affirm. In the past, roughly half the world’s prominent enlightened men and women were married; and half were celibate. Yet, most of these agreed that a devotee’s sexual moderation is not only vital, but also very valuable.
Achievers of higher consciousness do much more than think about superconsciousness now and then while in pleasant moods. They direct their life force, their energy, toward their ideal.
If you seek to direct your precious life force toward higher consciousness — and it takes a great deal of energy — you have to be, of necessity, sexually moderate in order to achieve higher consciousness and God-realization. Without moderation it’s unlikely your nerves will become subtle enough to maintain the awakening energy. Instead, your nerves will feel like they are burning up when your spiritual energy is awakened.
But if you merely restrain yourself and do not redirect your life force wholeheartedly toward higher consciousness, you will repress your energies. Symptoms of repression and failure in moderation are: irritability, timidity, cruelty, jealousy, anger, fear, skepticism, sarcasm, poor concentration, confusion, sickness, and intolerance. The precious benefits of moderation are: a clearer mind, serenity, improved memory, vigor, more positive emotions, sweeter disposition, better concentration, greater ease in entering higher states of awareness, and greater well being. A longer life span is also claimed where moderation is practiced.
Because of these findings throughout the ages, the physiological factors of awakening necessitate moderation. Further, the benefits are considered worthwhile by all who give themselves, and their loved ones, a chance.
If you have problems with moderation or repression, you can learn a number of marvelous transmutation practices. They will also help you overcome intense sexual desire and the debilitation from overly frequent sex.
Here are a few simple practices which may help you redirect sex energy, increasing vigor and serenity:
A) Before retiring at night, wash all your body openings with a cool, damp washcloth. Then, as you sleep, your energy will move more naturally in your spine and upper body and tend to reduce the pressure in your senses and sex nerves.
B) If a doctor has told you that your heart and lungs are definitely healthy, learn to do deep, full breathing. Whenever you are feeling sexual pressure, practice full, slow, even breathing, with emphasis on making a longer exhalation than inhalation. Don’t breathe rapidly, as this exhausts or hurts the nerves in the chest area. Through the deep, full breathing, more energy will be activated in your upper body and often the intensity in the sex nerves diminishes significantly. In this practice, as you do it well, you’ll begin to feel greater vitality and warm, radiant love universally moving out from your chest to all humanity.
C) When you are haunted by thoughts of the attractive, physical body of another, appreciate its beauty or handsomeness but strive to think of the person more deeply. Strive to sense that person is a soul or spiritual being and wish him, or her, well with his, or her, life and goals. Often this approach will give you the freedom to choose whether to become involved with that person or to go forward with other goals that you have chosen.
D) Study yoga. While not foolproof, yoga is the best method for controlling and redirecting all forms of vital life force, including sexual energy. Yoga can help you transmute sexual desire if you are determined. However, yoga can also help you improve your sexual functioning in many ways if you are suffering sexual problems.
8 Willingness to Lead a Clean and Healthy Life
A strong, healthy body and clear mind are extremely helpful. If, however, you have serious health problems while nevertheless being extremely devoted and worthy in other ways, the Master will generally accept you.
In any case, you, a prospective initiate, are required to lead a constructive life, being as positive, happy, and helpful as you can. Use of street drugs, alcohol, or practice of other dissipations which hurt your mind, body, or emotional balance are "no-nos." Higher consciousness can only be realized and maintained by those who have good will for themselves — or are willing to develop it.
Now you know the main qualifications and attitudes necessary for your acceptance as an initiate by most Masters. Your period of asking may go on for months or, in some cases, years. Sometimes the asking cannot be done in person but is done by letter. If you are particularly prepared, your Master may accept you rapidly.
In many ways, it’s up to you!