Early in their time together, Paramhansa Yogananda instructed his direct disciple, Swami Kriyananda, that his work in this lifetime would be lecturing, editing, and writing. When I met Swamiji in 1969, he was constantly engaged in these three activities, as well as in the Herculean task of launching the spiritual communities movement through Ananda.

His was not a typical yogi’s life of non-involvement, but one that demanded much of his physical, mental, and spiritual strength. Yet no matter how much energy traveling, lecturing, or other responsibilities required of him, he produced a steady stream of inspiring, beautifully written books.

I remember once discussing with him a writing project that he wanted me to undertake. Unsure of myself, I said to him, “Swamiji, I’m not a very good writer.” Not allowing me any room for excuses, he replied simply, “Then you’d better roll up your sleeves and get to work.”

Observing his life was always a powerful teaching. He was an accomplished writer from his early years, but nevertheless he worked incredibly hard at it. “Sometimes,” he told us, “I’ll edit a new chapter fifty times before I’m totally satisfied with it.”

Once he shared with us a story about writing that he said was a joke on him. He’d received a letter from someone who praised him for his clear, inspiring writing style. The next day, as he began working on the book at hand, he thought to himself, “I’d better do a good job today. I don’t want to disappoint my public.”

But as he tried to write, he couldn’t get into his usual creative flow. Realizing that he was writing to please “his public,” he then laughed, put this thought out of his mind, and started all over again. This time he concentrated on attunement with his guru and the points he wanted to make, and he quickly “got his groove” back.

Swamiji once said that working to win the approval or recognition of others is slavery, whereas working to please only God is freedom.

Overcoming the need for people’s praise is a big challenge for all of us. A friend of mine recently wrote for advice about how to rise above this need, and to serve more with the thought of pleasing God. Here are some suggestions I gave her:

1) If someone praises your service, remember that any good thing we do flows through us from God. Mentally thank God for helping whoever has thanked you.

2) In working with a team, make sure that everyone shares in the credit for what is done, and take as little of it for yourself as possible.

3) In meditation at night, consciously offer to God everything you’ve done that day, and then release it.

4) Repeat regularly these words of Yoganandaji: “Beloved Father, I realize that praise does not make me better, nor blame worse. I am what I am before my conscience and Thee. I shall travel on, doing good to all and seeking ever to please Thee, for thus shall I find my only true happiness.”

In all that you do—even the humblest task—consciously seek to please only our Heavenly Father/Divine Mother. Their approval earns us the lasting joy of ego-transcendence.

In loving friendship,

Nayaswami Devi

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15 Comments

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    1. Dear Sheila,

      God’s approval comes with a sense of joy, peace, and inner freedom. But remember, on a deeper level, we always have God’s love and approval. When we lovingly offer everything we do to God, however, we find freedom from seeking recognition from the ever-shifting dream of delusion.

  1. This is perfect. It feels so important to pay tribute to God in all I do. Blessings continue, and I know they have little to do with my effort and everything to do with me getting out of God’s way. I consistently find that I could never “think” of these things I am asked to do or say.

  2. Dear Jyotishji and Deviji ,

    🙏🏻🙏🏻💐 thank you for sharing. Waiting for praises, approvals from others is so much like self doubting and how is that possible that we doubt our Guru , Divine mother who works with us, who guides us.

    Your blog “ whom are we trying to please ? “ comes to me at an appropriate time and as reminder.

    Thank you .
    Love you both 🤗🙏🏻🌹🌹

    AUM Guru 🙏🏻

  3. “To win the approval or recognition of others is slavery, whereas working to please only God is freedom.”
    Swami Kriyananda

    “In all that you do—even the humblest task—consciously seek to please only our Heavenly Father/Divine Mother. Their approval earns us the lasting joy of ego-transcendence.”
    Nayaswami Devi Ji

    Tears – memories mirrors. Let us let them dry on our skin as a sign of remembrance, a reminder that the journey to bliss rides in the carriage of devotion. And every bump in the road simply lets us know that we’re approaching the mountaintop, where one day we’ll step off, and melt into the joyous divine light.

  4. People pleasing is a complicated challenge-is one seeking love,or freedom from rejection, fear of abandonment , fear of lack , needing to be perfect…, lack of self-confidence, sense of worthlessness?…all can be underlying errors of belief that mandate the lower self need for approval !

    For me ,remembering that God is Source of my love and all my needs “Our Father”in addition to my mantra of self-acceptance knowing God is my Source has strengthened me
    May we all be blessed with Resurrection Consciousness of Christ Jesus on shanti,ahmen

  5. Thank you so much for this inspiring letter, as always you trigger an important part of living the teachings.
    May God and the Masters bless you for your service and guiding,

  6. Thank you Dear Devi, this is so important and good to remember that we must seek to please only Divine Mother and God.

    Joy,
    Gaurja

  7. Dear Nayaswami Devi Ji,

    Thank you for this wonderful blog 🙂
    Just at the right time and reading this lifted some luggage off my back.

    Jai Guru

    Aum
    Prem

  8. Thank you Ma for reminding us that God and Gurus approval earns us the lasting joy of ego-transcendence.

    With Divine Mother and Christ’s blessings on this Holy day

  9. Thank you very much. I liked it. Real freedom one experiences when one works for God only, but mind needs to remind it many times .

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