Sri Yukteswar counseled his students to be living liaisons of Western and Eastern virtues. Himself an executive Occidental in outer habits, inwardly he was the spiritual Oriental. He praised the progressive, resourceful and hygienic habits of the West, and the religious ideals which give a centuried halo to the East.
“Good manners without sincerity are like a beautiful dead lady,” he remarked on suitable occasion. “Straightforwardness without civility is like a surgeon’s knife, effective but unpleasant. Candor with courtesy is helpful and admirable.”
“Those who are too good for this world are adorning some other,” Sri Yukteswar remarked. “So long as you breathe the free air of earth, you are under obligation to render grateful service. He alone who has fully mastered the breathless state is freed from cosmic imperatives. I will not fail to let you know when you have attained the final perfection.”
“If you don’t like my words, you are at liberty to leave at any time,” Master assured me. “I want nothing from you but your own improvement. Stay only if you feel benefited.”
For every humbling blow he dealt my vanity, for every tooth in my metaphorical jaw he knocked loose with stunning aim, I am grateful beyond any facility of expression. The hard core of human egotism is hardly to be dislodged except rudely. With its departure, the Divine finds at last an unobstructed channel. In vain It seeks to percolate through flinty hearts of selfishness.
Sri Yukteswar’s wisdom was so penetrating that, heedless of remarks, he often replied to one’s unspoken observation. “What a person imagines he hears, and what the speaker has really implied, may be poles apart,” he said. “Try to feel the thoughts behind the confusion of men’s verbiage.”
“I am hard on those who come for my training,” he admitted to me. “That is my way; take it or leave it. I will never compromise. But you will be much kinder to your disciples; that is your way. I try to purify only in the fires of severity, searing beyond the average toleration. The gentle approach of love is also transfiguring. The inflexible and the yielding methods are equally effective if applied with wisdom. You will go to foreign lands, where blunt assaults on the ego are not appreciated. A teacher could not spread India’s message in the West without an ample fund of accommodative patience and forbearance.” I refuse to state the amount of truth I later came to find in Master’s words!
New disciples often joined Sri Yukteswar in exhaustive criticism of others. Wise like the guru! Models of flawless discrimination! But he who takes the offensive must not be defenseless. The same carping students fled precipitately as soon as Master publicly unloosed in their direction a few shafts from his analytical quiver.
A self-realized master is fully able to guide his various disciples along natural lines of their essential bias.
“Man in his waking state puts forth innumerable efforts for experiencing sensual pleasures; when the entire group of sensory organs is fatigued, he forgets even the pleasure on hand and goes to sleep in order to enjoy rest in the soul, his own nature,” Shankara, the great Vedantist, has written. “Ultra-sensual bliss is thus extremely easy of attainment and is far superior to sense delights which always end in disgust.”
“Keen intelligence is two-edged,” Master once remarked in reference to Kumar’s brilliant mind. “It may be used constructively or destructively like a knife, either to cut the boil of ignorance, or to decapitate one’s self. Intelligence is rightly guided only after the mind has acknowledged the inescapability of spiritual law.”
Excerpts from the book by Paramhansa Yogananda “Autobiography of a Yogi”