As I entered the chemistry lab on the basement floor of the hospital, no one was there to greet me, only racks of dirty test tubes. My part-time job during my last semester in college was to clean the vials after the chemists had left for the day.

It wasn’t very interesting work. I usually found myself alone in a lifeless room lit by flickering fluorescent lights.

And unfortunately, the lab environment was pretty toxic: All the racks of test tubes had to be lowered into a large acid vat before they were washed. The fumes from the acid were mostly drawn off by a ventilating hood, but I didn’t feel I was adding years to my life by working around it.

To make matters worse, when I went into the hallway to find a restroom, I saw a hospital orderly pushing a large cart. In the dim light, at first I couldn’t tell what was on it, but then as he drew nearer, I realized that the cart held a corpse covered with a sheet. Taken aback, I stepped aside to watch him enter the morgue right across the hall from the lab.

The whole experience was about as devoid of life as you could get, but there was one consolation. At this time a wonderful audio cassette had been released: West Meets East, improvisation sessions between the great Indian sitarist, Ravi Shankar, and the violin virtuoso, Yehudi Menuhin. I’d bring a cassette player with me to the lab, play that tape for hours, and revel in the rich, soulful music.

The contrast between the sterile, lifeless lab and the transcendent, joy-filled music awakened within me a great longing to feel such inspiration all the time. I began to realize that life, even at its best, was like a morgue compared to the inner world of the soul.

A month later a friend handed me a copy of Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda and told me about Ananda, which was based on his teachings. Thus, almost fifty years ago, I began my spiritual journey.

For each of us the way is different, yet it’s basically the same. Here are some stages of the journey that may help guide you.

journey to self discovery teachings of paramhansa yogananda

To begin a journey, you must want to move forward from where you presently are.

To begin a journey, you must want to move forward from where you presently are. As long as you’re content with your circumstances, you’ll never be motivated to get started. What motivates us? It differs from person to person: perhaps it’s unhappiness; or longing for truth; or seeking to know who we really are. In any case, the longing for something more is the impetus that spurs us onward. Remember what has motivated you, and keep seeking it until you reach your goal.

To move away from the familiar, you need a map or guide. It’s very difficult to find our way forward without someone who knows the terrain. For this we need a guru and his teachings to guide us. Maybe you’ll ask: But what if I don’t have a guru? When the seeker is ready, the guru will come. So it’s important to know our own limitations in directing our steps, and sincerely to ask for personal, divine guidance to show us the way. Once you’ve found your guide, continue to follow his directions.

As you continue your journey, try to lighten your load. You can’t move forward with lots of unneeded baggage, such as old habits, ways of thinking, and self-definitions. Leave behind anything you don’t need, and simplify your life to what you really want to bring with you into the future.

Remember, this journey is one of self-discovery. You’re not actually moving through time and space, but traveling within to reconnect with your true Self. As far as the journey may seem to take you, you’ll always return to the point from which you started—your inner home in God. So this journey isn’t really about traveling at all, but simply remembering what we’ve always known: who and what we really are.

Once we make this discovery, our real life begins: one of such inner richness, beauty, freedom, and joy that nothing, not even death, can ever destroy it. We thrill, then, to the music of our soul, which was playing all the time.

With joy,

Nayaswami Devi

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  1. Thank you Devi, Your writing took me back to nearly 37 years before and reminded me of the time when I used to work alone at night in a big engine room of a big ship somewhere in the oceans as junior engineer and started thinking about life because of such environment around me for nearly 3 years, and started thinking different way 6 years latter when the then relieving Bengali engineer Mr. Dey gave me The book ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’ when I was signing off from another ship.

  2. Thank You Deviji.
    May we all listen to and even better DANCE to the music of our soul!
    Living Life Joyfully detached and free!
    ~~~Peace, Josette

  3. Thank you for the reminder: “You’re not actually moving through time and space, but traveling within to reconnect with your true Self. As far as the journey may seem to take you, you’ll always return to the point from which you started—your inner home in God. So this journey isn’t really about traveling at all, but simply remembering what we’ve always known: who and what we really are.”
    Love this paragraph, it is what the spiritual path is all about! In Master’s Ray, Gitabai

  4. HAVING BEEN AN ENTREPRENEUR OR ACTUALLY A SELF-PROCLAIMED ONE, IT IS BUT A JOURNEY THAT SEEMS LONELY MOST OF THE TIME, JUST AS THEY SAID…..BUT I THINK THE SPIRITUAL JOURNEY THAT ATTEMPTS TO GO WITHIN AND TO FIND THE ANSWERS FOR THE QUESTIONS THAT LINGERS ON ONE’S MIND, IS SO MUCH MORE UNIQUE, A TERRIBLY LONELY ROAD AND WHAT ONE EXPERIENCES IS FOR ONE TO KEEP!! IT IS CERTAINLY AN EXPERIENCIAL ‘REALITY’ AND EACH IS ON HIS OWN…..THIS WHATEVER ONE FINDS ON THE PATH CANNOT BE LOANED, SHARED OR STOLEN BY ANOTHER…………….AND SOMETIMES IT DOES FEEL THAT ONE SIMPLY HAS TO BURN ONE’S OWN SEEDS OF KARMA!!:)

  5. The title reminds of what Jesus had said,”Let the dead bury their dead.” And of what Swami said as well as all true saints,masters..that we are
    not a man or a woman,or an American or Indian..but we are immortal souls..a part of Spirit,God,on the journey of that discovery and joyful experience and ultimately to unite with our Source..ever existing,ever conscious,in ever new joy..eternal Spirit.Therefore,the most important thing or things one can do are those things which help break that powerful delusion of being a mortal being in a body with habits,self definitions and attachments.Consistent deep meditation,love of God,devotion to,following the path as outlined by master & Patanjali and help of a true guru are needed to attain freedom from soul bondage. Thank you,Devi..thank you for prayer & all you are doing.

  6. This is a valuable message for me which made me think over the shared content based on personal experiences in depth. My deep regards for Devi Ji. Thanks.

  7. Dear Devi
    Thank you for all you do, all you write, all that you are. I am so lucky to have your posts flow in daily.

  8. Wow, thank you, Devi. What an inspiring read. Reading the last paragraph nearly brought me to tears. Your words have moved me a little closer to remembering that endless thrill of our Soul-nature. Thank you so much.

  9. Your words of wisdom are so inspiring.. I always learn something new or am reminded of something I need to pay more attention to.. thank you, Aum Yoganandaji
    In Joy, Liesje

  10. “Once we make this discovery, (remembering what we’ve always known: who and what we really are,) our real life begins: one of such inner richness, beauty, freedom, and joy that nothing, not even death, can ever destroy it. We thrill, then, to the music of our soul, which was playing all the time.”

    Oh, Our God – thy song sings throughout the Universe, the ever resounding OM. It’s power spinning the atomic chain reaction that lit the stars and fostered life. That – is the joy we can touch, for it dances to the cosmic beat within us. I feel it, and as I type this, tears glisten in my eyes. WE are THAT! Not this boney post of flesh.

    Om Guru Om Guru Ommm Guru Om. The song fills the inner space, and the joy it brings reminds me of how grateful I am for the Grace you and Jyotish provide us as our wise and loving guides. I shall close my eyes now, and let the tears release themselves to travel on their journey, from my eyes to the vast ocean of spirit.

    In that Light – I am, and shall ever be, whispering within: Thank YOU God!

  11. Dear Devi, Thank you for sharing your experience that guided you onto the path of spiritual journey. I find myself reflecting on the “push” that brought me onto the path. And the joy of being in the company of saints, as Master identified all of us.

    L

  12. Thank you so much Devi, just what I needed to hear this morning. “You must want to move forward from where you are” is applicable to so many areas of our lives!
    With joy,
    Rose

  13. These guiding points are illuminated for each one of us by ever deepening attunement to our Guru and his channels. I seek to pass this loving wisdom of Love from our wayshowers, like Deviji, to all path-seekers. At Ananda I have found each brother and sister not only receptive shareholders in that Love, but equally joy filled participants in paying it forward to all newcomers and eventual playmates along the path. Thank you Devi for freely giving of yourself to all of us.

  14. Dear Deviji, beautiful post! Especially the expression that “this journey is one of self-discovery. You’re not actually moving through time and space, but traveling within to reconnect with your true Self” It is so true that all who are on this path are doing that only”. Thank you for giving clarity!!

    In Masters love,

  15. Dear Nayaswami Devi Ji,
    Thank you for this lovely blog 🙂
    “To move away from the familiar, you need a map or guide” – How blessed are we to be part of Master’s family and Master guiding us 🙂
    “Remember what has motivated you, and keep seeking it until you reach your goal.” – This is very good inspiration when we are having dry periods.
    Many Thanks for these reminders and guidance, Devi Ji

    in Master’s Love
    Prem

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