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Many orders and organizations have operational rules, and at times they may impose rules on personal behavior. There is a point to be made if one follows the rules of another, rather than their own personal gnosis (self knowledge.) While the end result may appear to be the same, there’s a very big difference in obedience to another, and discovering one’s own spiritual needs.

My Time with Ananda

Perhaps this is best described through a story of another time in my life. I once belonged to a very wonderful group of people called Ananda. Ananda was based on the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda, and was led at the time by a man named Swami Kriyananda. One of Swami Kriyannda’s teachings was that he felt all modern music was “evil.” While they didn’t impose rules on people, they did expect followers to stop listening to secular music. I for one didn’t find the reasoning sound, and I always felt he was off on his assessment.

After leaving Ananda, I was working on my spiritual path in isolation and I began to realize that certain music lowered my mood. Some songs made me angry and others made me depressed. This isn’t an assessment of the music genre itself, but these were specific to me – these songs triggered memories from my past and I was enjoying the suffering it brought with it. In that moment of realization I determined that the best course of action was for me to sacrifice the music… and I did. In other words, I was open to spiritual guidance, it became apparent that some music was adversely affecting me, and so I let it go.

One might assume that if I listened to Ananda / Swami Kriyananda, that I would have reached the same. conclusion years prior. While it would have been the same conclusion there is a very big difference: following the orders of another (Kryiananda) would only engage my personality self. That is, I wouldn’t be engaging any spiritual effort. Obedience is the work of the human personality.

Being open to spiritual (inward) guidance, and discovering the blockages or problems that need to be dealt with, that process itself is a bridge beyond personality. This is a bridge to spiritual awareness, and in the obedience to such guidance, one solidifies the spiritual bond. Unlike obedience to a person’s rules, this builds the spiritual path itself. Even though the same choices may result, the means is entirely different: one directed to the human personality and the other directed to spiritual power.

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