As plants grow toward the sun’s light, so too do our souls reach up toward the light of God. At first our inner growth may seem slow and hesitant, but gradually, as the yearning in our heart grows stronger, our movement towards the light gains momentum. Eventually, and this is true for everyone, the magnetism of God’s presence within us becomes such a powerful force that we fairly rush to embrace it.

What is self-realization, 5 steps to self realization paramhansa yogananda

“To the Mountaintop,” by Nayaswami Jyotish.

Recently I began thinking about various phases on the spiritual path that, though challenging, are all necessary to reach the journey’s end: Self-realization. Here are some of the steps we take as we move from the little “self” to the big “Self.”

1. Self-Righteousness

Often when we begin our journey we can get a little full of ourselves, and entertain thoughts like: “I’m practicing yoga and meditation, so I’m different, perhaps even a bit better than most people—more insightful, more aware.” This attitude is self-defeating, because it reinforces our sense of separation from others. True spiritual growth should awaken within us a sense of kinship with others, based on the understanding that all people—from the best to the worst—are parts of our own self.

2. Self-Honesty

Eventually, as we continue on the spiritual path and are confronted with karma’s inevitable tests, awareness dawns that maybe we aren’t quite so “elevated” as we may once have thought. Gradually we awaken from complacency to the understanding that we have a lot of work to do on ourselves. We realize that our ego has misled us into imagining the source of our problems to be outside of us, rather than within our own consciousness.

And so we begin to look within and see what attitudes and behaviors need to be changed—and changed now! As we clear the field of our consciousness with the plow of self-honesty, we begin to feel a sense of purpose which leads us to the next step:

3. Self-Acceptance

In many ways this is the most important step on our journey. It’s the starting point from which we can begin to work positively with the specific karmic challenges that we face. Self-acceptance enables us to stand on the firm ground of the reality of who we are right now. From that point, we can see where we want and need to go next, and how to get there. Self-acceptance also leads to the important step of:

4. Self-Forgetfulness

Self-forgetfulness is the steppingstone to inner freedom and joy. In the grand scheme of things, none of us is really all that important. Once a college friend of Swami Kriyananda’s was complaining to his mother that no one appreciated his true worth. She gave him a good answer, though a tough one to hear: “Son, you’re actually not important enough for people to spend a lot of time considering you, one way or the other.”

This is true for all of us, and is actually cause not for lamenting but rejoicing. To lose oneself in the contemplation of the vast beauties of nature, or in the profound wisdom of a sage, or the sweetness of a mother tending her baby, or the unconditional love of God is to take a big spiritual step forward. In fact, self-forgetfulness is such an advanced stage of spiritual development that it leads us to the final step on the journey:

5. Self-Realization

Paramhansa Yogananda said, “When this ‘I’ shall die, then shall I know who am I.” Finding God is not entering uncharted territory: It is a journey that has been made by dedicated men and women down through the ages. It is your journey, it is mine. With devotion, determination, and the grace of the guru, we can ascend these five steps to find the ultimate fulfillment we are all seeking.

With joy,

Nayaswami Devi

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17 Comments

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  1. It is joy unspeakable while reading the message from the start. Thanks for your love for the humanity. Let the mankind be blessed.
    Thy Own Self.

  2. Dear Devi and Jyotish: Thank you for the inspirations you share so generously with us. I have found that facing the mirror of whatever Master and our karma is teaching me/us can stretch me in ways that are challenging and beyond my current boundaries. Everytime I give it over to God to reveal what I am currently blindsided by…. a gift of sweetness eventually comes my way. You both share such loving wisdom that reminders us that we are not alone on the road to self-realization even if we feel like that sometimes. Aum Guru… Prakriti

  3. Thank you Dear Deviji, this is most inspiring and uplifting.
    Beautiful markers on the spiritual path that guide us through to God. Jai Guru

  4. Dear Nayaswami Devi Ji,
    Thank you for this beautiful blog 🙂
    Reading the first lines gives us such a joy. “As plants grow toward the sun’s light, so too do our souls reach up toward the light of God”.
    The guidelines are very a good reminder and helpful in our Path.

    Joy..

    in Masters love
    Prem

  5. Thank you Devi ji. You have explained the steps of journey to Self Realization in a very lucid and succinct manner. But I find myself on all the steps at the same time.

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