In their well documented and deeply insightful book on the yugas, Joseph Selbie and David Steinmetz list the following characteristics of the new energy age that we have been in now for 120 years or so:
- awakened intellect
- energy awareness
How do these three features fit into the new religious expression that Yogananda has introduced to the world under the name of Self-realization? Maybe a little investigation will help us to relate to this concept and make it our own.
Note the lower case s as opposed to the uppercase S in Self-realization. But still this pronoun, regardless of caps or small letters, does regard us: it’s about ourselves …
… “self” is “us” in our familiar state of consciousness: our thought patterns as modeled by heredity, upbringing and environment; our desires and attachments; our habits … our self interests.
This self is meant to expand and to mature, eventually to become Self, a much higher reality of faith, intuition, creativity and spiritual joy that, Yogananda teaches, is our ultimate destiny: once reached, prayer and further striving have become superfluous, for bliss, then, is certain. This universal Self unites us all and is, again as Yogananda teaches, our real self.
This has enabled man to make marvelous scientific discoveries, especially in the realm of energy. Applied to our spiritual efforts it may be translated as common sense, which Swami Kriyananda defines as the ability to learn from our experiences. In other words: religion is no longer confined to what we believe in, but by what we actually realize.
This verb “to realize” may have two meanings: to experiment and to experience, to feel.
The vibrations of the planet now seem to invite us to use our common sense and our openness to higher guidance to experiment, empirically, with what the scriptures and the Masters teach us and then see if it actually brings us the experience of progress and bliss, associated with “Self” or “God.”
Einstein’s discovery regarding the nature of matter, also regards our physical bodies: they, too, are manifestations of energy. Thus it is energy that can guide us to expand from self to Self: of course, to realize anything in life we need to apply will power, but as our awareness of our bodies and minds as manifestations of energy deepens, it becomes easier for us to feel our connection with Self or God. Our physical bodies can be tired, but energy, by its very nature, can’t; our physical bodies have a beginning and an end, but energy, by its very nature, never changes. It is our intimate awareness of energy that can lead us to the stillness of our own higher Self, the source of all energy.
The keys to Self-Realization that Yogananda brings are the 39 Energization Exercises, which strengthen our connection with “the life of all life,” and Kriya Yoga which, through spinal energy awareness and control, burns up the seeds of karma that keep the self from becoming Self.
Let us all take heart from Yogananda’s powerful statement: “The time to know God has come.”
As it says in the Festival of Light that we celebrate in our Ananda centers and communities on Sundays: Into our hands have been delivered the sacred keys of awakening.
We have what we need to realize our Self. All we need to do now is to stay attuned to Yogananda’s higher guidance, and to apply ourselves, with energy!