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The ego-principle, ahamkara (lit., “I do”), is the root cause of dualism or the seeming separation between man and his Creator. Ahamkara brings human beings under the sway of maya (q.v.), by which the subject (ego) falsely appears as object; the creatures imagine themselves to be creators. By banishing ego-consciousness, man awakens to his divine identity, his oneness with the Sole Life: God.
The Cosmic Vibration, or Aum, structures all physical creation, including man’s physical body, through the manifestation of five tattvas (elements): earth, water, fire, air, and ether (q.v.). These are structural forces, intelligent and vibratory in nature. Without the earth element there would be no state of solid matter; without the water element, no liquid state; without the air element, no gaseous state; without the fire element, no heat; without the ether element, no background on which to produce the cosmic motion-picture show. In the body, prana (cosmic vibratory energy) enters the medulla and is then divided into the five elemental currents by the action of the five lower chakras (q.v.), or centers: the coccygeal (earth), sacral (water), lumbar (fire), dorsal (air), and cervical (ether). The Sanskrit terminology for these elements is prithivi, ap, tej, prana, and akasha.
Man is surrounded by cosmic energy, much as a fish is surrounded by water. The Energization Exercises, originated by Paramahansa Yogananda and taught in Self-Realization Fellowship Lessons(q.v.), enable man to recharge his body with this cosmic energy, or universal prana.
The Sanskrit word akasha, translated as both “ether” and “space,” refers specifically to the vibratory element that is the subtlest in the material world. (See elements.) It derives from â, “toward” and kasha, “to be visible, to appear.” Akasha is the subtle “background” against which everything in the material universe becomes perceptible. “Space gives dimension to objects; ether separates the images,” Paramahansa Yogananda said. “Ether-permeated space is the boundary line between heaven, or the astral world, and earth,” he explained. “All the finer forces God has created are composed of light, or thought-forms, and are merely hidden behind a particular vibration that manifests as ether.”
The satanic force that obscures God’s omnipresence in creation, manifesting as inharmonies in man and nature. Also, a broad term defining anything contrary to divine law (see dharma) that causes man to lose the consciousness of his essential unity with God, and that obstructs attainment of God-realization.
The three attributes of Nature: tamas, rajas, and sattva — obstruction, activity, and expansion; or, mass, energy, and intelligence. In man the three gunas express themselves as ignorance or inertia; activity or struggle; and wisdom.
Spiritual teacher. Though the word guru is often misused to refer simply to any teacher or instructor, a true God-illumined guru is one who, in his attainment of self-mastery, has realized his identity with the omnipresent Spirit. Such a one is uniquely qualified to lead the seeker on his or her inward journey toward divine realization.
When a devotee is ready to seek God in earnest, the Lord sends him a guru. Through the wisdom, intelligence, Self-realization, and teachings of such a master, God guides the disciple. By following the master’s teachings and discipline, the disciple is able to fulfill his soul’s desire for the manna of God-perception. A true guru, ordained by God to help sincere seekers in response to their deep soul craving, is not an ordinary teacher: he is a human vehicle whose body, speech, mind, and spirituality God uses as a channel to attract and guide lost souls back to their home of immortality. A guru is a living embodiment of scriptural truth. He is an agent of salvation appointed by God in response to a devotee’s demand for release from the bondage of matter.
“To keep company with the Guru,” wrote Swami Sri Yukteswar in The Holy Science, “is not only to be in his physical presence (as this is sometimes impossible), but mainly means to keep him in our hearts and to be one with him in principle and to attune ourselves with him.” See master.
“Divine teacher,” a customary Sanskrit term of respect that is used in addressing and referring to one’s spiritual preceptor; sometimes rendered in English as “Master.”
The Gurus of Self-Realization Fellowship (Yogoda Satsanga Society of India) are Jesus Christ, Bhagavan Krishna, and a line of exalted masters of contemporary times: Mahavatar Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya, Swami Sri Yukteswar, and Paramahansa Yogananda. To show the harmony and essential unity of the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Yoga precepts of Bhagavan Krishna is an integral part of the SRF dispensation. All of these Gurus, by their universal teachings and divine instrumentality, contribute to the fulfillment of the Self-Realization Fellowship mission of bringing to humanity a practical spiritual science of God-realization.
The passing of a guru’s spiritual mantle to a disciple designated to carry on the lineage to which that guru belongs is termed guru-parampara. Thus Paramahansa Yogananda’s direct lineage of gurus is Mahavatar Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya, and Swami Sri Yukteswar.
Before his passing Paramahansaji stated that it was God’s wish that he be the last in the Self-Realization Fellowship line of Gurus. No succeeding disciple or leader in his society will ever assume the title of guru. “When I am gone,” he said, “the teachings will be the guru....Through the teachings you will be in tune with me and the great Gurus who sent me.”
When questioned about the succession of the presidency of Self-Realization Fellowship/Yogoda Satsanga Society of India, Paramahansaji stated: “There will always be at the head of this organization men and women of realization. They are already known to God and the Gurus. They shall serve as my spiritual successor and representative in all spiritual and organizational matters.”
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