In a vision he had as a boy, Paramhansa Yogananda found himself standing in a crowded, noisy marketplace in an Indian village. The day was hot and dusty, as people crowded into dirty stalls and elbowed out with their purchases.

From time to time, someone would pause and gaze wistfully up at something in the distance behind Master. Then they would turn away with a sad sigh, say, “It’s much too high for me,” and turn back to the press and clamor of the marketplace.

After watching this repeated several times, Yoganandaji turned to see what they’d all been looking at. He found rising behind him a beautiful mountain: tall, serene, and utterly removed from the world of the marketplace. His first thought was like all the others’: “It’s much too high for me.” But then, scorning that thought, he affirmed instead, “It may be too high to ascend with a single leap, but I can at least put one foot in front of the other!”

With great will and determination he set out, and at last he reached the heavenly heights. For Master, this vision symbolized the plight of all humanity, who catch glimpses of a higher reality, but lack the resolve to rise above the material world.

What stops us from starting the “ascent” to greater awareness? Most people are simply engrossed in the marketplace. Others often give up before they begin because they think, “I’m not good enough.” Swami Kriyananda gave us helpful advice in this regard: Anything that makes you feel spiritually inadequate is the influence of Satan, the conscious power of darkness that seeks to keep souls forever bound in delusion. Forget about what you are or aren’t, and remember Yogananda’s oft-repeated words: “A saint is a sinner who never gave up!”

We’re deterred also because we think that the climb will take more energy than we have. Basic to Yoganandaji’s teachings, as practiced in the Energization Exercises, are the concepts of will, energy, and magnetism: “The greater the will, the greater the flow of energy.” And, “The greater the flow of energy, the greater the magnetism.” By using our own willpower, we can draw on the cosmic energy all around us to enhance our own strength. With greater energy, we can magnetically draw everything we need to accomplish our goals. If we put out whatever energy we can, God will match it a hundredfold.

Another attitude that holds us back is the fear of failure. “What if I try, but don’t achieve my goal? Are all my efforts lost?” In the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna asks Krishna these very questions. The Lord’s reply brings great reassurance: “O Arjuna, My son! One who performs right actions can never be destroyed. He is reborn on earth in a good and prosperous home. He recovers the yogic discrimination he attained formerly, and sets himself with even greater zeal to achieve final spiritual liberation. The power of former yoga practice is sufficient to impel, as it were, the reborn yogi on his upward path.” (from Ch. 6, 40–44)


What are some factors that motivate us to climb the mountain to Self-realization? First, there is the inherently unfulfilling nature of the material world. Based as it is in duality, this world offers us constantly rotating cycles of pain and pleasure, success and failure, happiness and sorrow. Master spoke of the “anguishing monotony” that, after many lifetimes, comes eventually to us all.

Then we begin to think, “There must be something better that brings true, lasting fulfillment.” This is the prod from below, but there is also the pull from above.

Within each of us live deeper-than-conscious memories of higher states of awareness. We may have had touches of memories, flashes of a time when our soul was free and filled with joy. For in the words of a beautiful song of Swamiji’s, God ever calls to His children:

Listen! Listen!
Whispering within your soul:
Hints of laughter, hints of joy;
Sweet songs of sadness, of quenchless yearning
For the Light,
For My love, your true home.

The choice is before us daily: to remain in the crowded, but spiritually empty, marketplace, or to begin the climb up the mountain to God. Kriyanandaji wrote: “The spiritual path requires courage, dedication, and the absolute conviction that only God can ever satisfy the soul’s yearning for true happiness.” The choice is really not as hard as it seems.

With joy,

Nayaswami Devi