Three Things I Learned from Swamiji

Everything I know about Paramhansa Yogananda, is a result of knowing Swami Kriyananda. I realise my own reading and practice have helped me to know Master also, but Swamiji’s life, teaching and his discipleship have profoundly informed all aspects of my spiritual life. Out of the many, many important things I have learned from Swamiji, I was asked to write about three. Not a simple thing to do, but I chose those that came to mind first.

Live from your heart

This is a very safe place to be spiritually, especially if we can maintain it. When we practice living and communicating from the heart it becomes easier to be compassionate and sensitive to the reality of others. We tend to become much less judgemental, irritated or angry with others. We begin to realise we are all here to learn and none of us is perfect.

This understanding brings empathy and kindness to the heart. If the world could live this way, how different it would be. But, we must begin with ourselves and everything will grow from there. Swamiji counselled me directly, when relating to others, always speak from the heart. This advice has served me well, I still have much to learn, but having this reminder always present is a great blessing.

Practical action: Note how much we allow the mind to dictate our decisions and actions. Begin to pay attention to how the heart feels also, as the mind goes about its’ work.

Balance in everything

Be balanced in everything. Diet, exercise, activity, rest, social time, quiet time. There is a well known quote from Ecclesiastes, in the Old Testament, that is a beautiful reminder of the natural flow of life, the flow of  the days, weeks, months and years, the flow of nature and the seasons. Here are parts of the quote, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, a time to die; …A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance., …A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Swamiji urged us to become aware of areas within us where we tend to be extreme, in thoughts, words, or actions. To move closer to a point of balance and equilibrium in all things. This brings a deep sense of peace and connection to all life.

Practical action: From your own point of view, consider the opposite point of view also. Try to see it as you see your own, see its’ validity and truth. Be objective and calm.

Be an example

Master said that if you are working to change yourself you are working to change the world. Swamiji would often observe, that there is much in life that we wish could be different, but wishing doesn’t change anything. In the end the only thing we can really do something about is ourself. Being an example of the changes we would like to see in others, in the world around us, is how we change the world. Our own world, and the greater world we live in.

If I want peace, it is not enough that I march for peace, although that’s not a bad thing to do. But, to demand something from others, from the world, that I do not practice myself is hypocritical. Peace comes from practicing peacefulness, from manifesting peace in my interactions with others, trying in all circumstances, to be a channel for peace.

Practical action: Think, what do I want more of in my life, in the world? Now think, how can I begin to manifest that in myself and in my life. Be an example of peace, or love, or joy or anything you feel you or the world, needs and/or wants.

Three Things I Learned From Swamiji

Peace comes from practicing peacefulness…


  1. Hi Uma! I think if you often and appreciate your essay.

    Would you be able to give a more concrete suggestion for getting in touch with what’s in our hearts, rather than our heads, in our interactions with others?


    1. Dear Susan,

      Lovely to hear from you. I fondly remember your visit here, when I had not been here very long. Any plans to come again?

      So, on to your question.
      When we interact with others we are typically in our heads, we are asked questions, make statements and want to be clear and coherent etc. so, it’s necessary and helpful to use our intellect. We can also be very emotional, for instance if someone said something to make us angry or afraid. Both of these reactions/responses are known to us. We are sure about what is happening, especially if we begin to take note of our internal state as much as possible as we are interacting or right after.

      Being in the heart, living from the heart and interacting from the heart, means to check in with the heart as you interact, or as you are about to interact. Don’t only think about what to say or how to say it. Ask yourself how does your heart feel about it? Literally, put your hand over your heart and try to feel what is happening there. We are trying to understand what the heart is telling us. Sometimes it is the opposite of what the head is telling us. At first this might feel cumbersome or awkward to you, but over time it becomes second nature.

      Emotional intelligence is very real and can have great value for us in all our relationships. Even western science understands this now. The great Masters of the yogic sciences have counselled these things for millennia. These teachings are still with us, alive and well, because they work. Practice makes perfect. I hope this helps you, dear Susan.

      love and blessings,

  2. Beautifully written and always such a deep teaching as we remember the essence of our dear Swamji.
    Bless you Uma.
    Thank you.

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