By Brahmacharini Jayadevi Denslow
September 25, 2018

Guru + Attunement + Sincere Effort = Spiritual Progress

Sincere effort means doing your best. I believe that is all our guru expects from us.

It’s hard to remember that sometimes. Some of us are perfectionists who are hard on ourselves when we fall short. Some of us grew up in households where nothing we did or said was good enough. The good news is we don’t have to stay in that mindset. We can let go of perfectionist expectations and learn to accept ourselves as we are, because we have a guru who shows us how to do that by example. Each time we fall down, our guru is there to comfort us, show us where we went wrong, help us get up again, and show us how to do better next time. Every time we fall down, our guru lovingly forgives us and stands by us as we get back up again.

The Bible states that Jesus said “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” I’ve heard those words held up as the gold standard of behavior; that we need to be perfect. Now, I’m not a time traveller or biblical scholar. I don’t know what Jesus actually said or how it was translated (or mistranslated) over the centuries. I do know, however, that Jesus’ words on the cross, “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do” gives me goosebumps because its truth is so vibrant. When we make mistakes, it is because we are not yet able to do otherwise. Even when we know something is a mistake, there are forces of habit, compulsion and addiction in this world that can make it hard to for us to change. Again, there is good news! Meditation gives us the power of awareness over our thoughts, so that over time, we grow more able to discern problematic thoughts and nip trouble in the bud by choosing more constructive thoughts and behavior than we have in the past.

The important thing about sincere effort is to not give up, ever. No matter how many times we fail, we will eventually succeed in any dharmic pursuit by getting up and trying again. Paramhansa Yogananda said the difference between a person who succeeded and one who failed is that the successful person always tried one more time. The next time may be the turning point in a long effort to change. Success comes by always trying one more time.

Pray to Yogananda, reach out to him lovingly in meditation, offer him your best version of pure love, chant to him, repeat his name unceasingly. Attune yourself to his will – what course of action does he recommend to you? I really don’t think he cares very much what we do for a living or what type of food we eat. He wants us to uncover the divine within, to realize that we are one with God, for lasting happiness and freedom. He wants us to love God. If we can attune ourselves to him, to his will for how to best lead our lives, and if we keep doing our absolute sincere best and never give up, we will find our way home to God.