Excerpts from writings by Paramahansa Yogananda
First of all, there must be yearning for God. Your heart must have that desire to renounce for God instantly. The minute you understand that something is a temptation, walk away. That is real renunciation. But are you prepared to do it? When you are ready to do it, that is the beginning. Then you have truly started on the path.
Next, after making up your mind that God is the supreme goal of your life, you must have determination to seek Him with unbroken effort. That kind of determination the Buddha had, when day after day he sat in meditation. Many temptations were sent to him. One day after great struggles he saw before him dancing maidens sent by Satan to break his determination, and still his mind soared beyond all temptations. Then he said, "I have conquered maya." On that day he received illumination. He became the Buddha or enlightened one. So you too must have that dogged determination. Then if disease comes you will not say, "I am too sick, and I give up." Or if poverty comes, you will not say, "I cannot do it, God."
Then the third point is that you must have knowledge of the right method of meditation. Follow the right guide, or guru, who himself has found entry into the kingdom of God. He can help you reach that consciousness quicker than if you try to go it alone. He will hasten your evolution and assist you in avoiding those difficulties that may well confront those who think themselves spiritually self-sufficient.
When Will God Come to You?
When your desire for Him is as urgent as the drowning man's desire for breath, as strong as the miser's yearning to get back all the money he lost, and as deep as the love of the lover who is ready to die for the sake of the beloved—when you have that degree of desire in your heart for God alone, you will find Him without fail. It is the urgency of the heart, the depth of the love for God in the heart, and the continuity of your search for Him that will bring Him.
No one can give you God; He can only be had by individual seeking. It is possible for you to have Him now. But will you make the effort? Shankara says, "The child is busy with play. The youth is busy with sex. And the aged is busy with worries. How few think of the Lord." Do not forsake Him; rather forsake your desires, for they are blind alleys. Look upon this life as the cosmic movie of God; and do not identity yourself with the part you play. Otherwise, when tragedies are being enacted and when diseases and troubles try to break you, you will lose your balance of calmness. You must so strengthen your mind and soul that in the face of all crucifixions you will be able to say, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." Be so deeply immersed in the thought of God that troubles of life will not upset you. (When will God Come to You? by Paramahansa Yogananda)
The words, ‘I can, I must, and I will’ - that is the way to change yourself and achieve absolute victory. You will never win unless you make the effort. God has given you mental dynamite sufficient to destroy all your difficulties. Remember that. It is the most effective force you can use to be victorious in life, to break free of limiting weaknesses and habits into all-accomplishing expansion of your consciousness.
Are you going to remain a walking dead person, ready to be buried in the grave beneath the debris of your errors? No! Do something in this world - do something wonderful! Whatever you do will be recognised by God. And even if the world fails to recognise you, if you have done everything you can, that infused mental power will remain with your soul. Wherever you go - in this life or beyond - you will have with you that invincible spirit. As the Lord Krishna exhorted the warrior-prince Arjuna: ‘O Scorcher of Foes, forsake this small weakheartedness! Arise!’ (II:3) (Expanding Your Consciousness For All-Round Success by Paramahansa Yogananda)
Always Try Once More
Try again, no matter how many times you have failed. Always try once more. Fight when you think that you can fight no more, or when you think that you have fought your best. Every new effort after a failure must be well planned and charged with increasing intensity of attention. Begin from today to try to do—one at a time— the things you thought impossible for you to do. If you fail, while putting forth your best, your utmost cheerful effort, you have not failed. Get up and march on. You must be patient and persevering. Nothing is accomplished by those who are impatient or easily discouraged. (Success Through Superconscious Power by Paramahansa Yogananda)
God Responds When We Make the Effort
God responds when we make the effort. Then you know that He is. He will no longer be a myth. He will respond invisibly to your desires, playing hide-and-seek with you. And after that He will come to you openly. Your past mistakes do not matter. But to continue in those mistakes is the greatest sin against yourself, for when you do wrong it deprives you of true happiness. You have the power to hurt yourself or to benefit yourself. It is up to you to keep away the ants of ignorance that bite your flesh. (Realizing God In Your Daily Life by Paramahansa Yogananda)
Anyone Who Makes a Tenacious Effort Will Find God
Among thousands of men, perhaps one strives for spiritual attainment; and, among the blessed true seekers that assiduously try to reach Me, perhaps one perceives Me as I am.
—The Bhagavad Gita VII:3
The precious state of God-realization is very difficult to attain, because in the average man the searchlights of his five senses are turned toward the perception of material objects and not inward toward God. (...)
Many sincere devotees of the Lord do not force themselves to seek Him with ever-increasing intensity in meditation, nor are they persistent in their search for Him. That is why they have only meager or fleeting inspirations and do not realize Him continuously. But a persevering devotee, in spite of much bad karma and the temptations of cosmic delusion, will certainly reach God in the end. (...)
A present-day devotee, they say (great saints), who will continuously pray for God-communion for three days and nights, or even for twenty-four hours, will realize his Goal. (Chapter VII, God Talks With Arjuna by Paramahansa Yogananda)