From Conversations with Yogananda,
by Swami Kriyananda

The following words were among the last advice he [Paramhansa Yogananda] gave to the monks:

“No one can give you the desire for God. You must cultivate that desire in yourselves. God Himself couldn’t give it to you. For when He created human beings, He didn’t make them puppets. You must desire Him, yourselves.

“Be wary of developing too keen an intelligence. Many people use their powers of reasoning cleverly to justify their delusions. Concentrate more, instead, on developing heart quality. Devote as much time as you can, daily, to meditation: to actually experiencing God.

“Don’t sleep too much. Sleep is the unconscious way of contacting God. Sleep is counterfeit ecstasy.

“Don’t joke too much. I myself, as you know, like a good laugh, but if I make up my mind to be serious, no one can make me even smile. Be happy and cheerful – above all inwardly. Be outwardly grave, but inwardly cheerful.

“Don’t waste the perception of God’s presence, acquired in meditation, by useless chatting. Idle words are like bullets: they riddle the milk pail of peace. In devoting time unnecessarily to conversation and exuberant laughter, you’ll find you have nothing left inside. Fill the pail of your consciousness with the milk of meditative peace, then keep it filled. Joking is false happiness. Too much laughter riddles the mind and lets the peace in the bucket flow out, wasting it.

“Wine, sex, and money: These are the three great delusions. Don’t be trapped by them. Some of you are weak, I know, but don’t be discouraged. Meditate regularly, and you will find a joy inside that is real. You will then have something you can compare to sense pleasures. That comparison will automatically make you want to forsake your sorrow-producing bad habits. The best way to overcome temptation is to have something more fulfilling to compare it with.

“Sex seems pleasant to you now, but when you discover the joy of real inner union, you will see how much more wonderful that is. This union can be achieved physically also, by what is known in yoga as kechari mudra – touching the tip of the tongue to nerves in the nasal passage, or to the uvula at the back of the mouth.

“Don’t waste time on distractions: reading too much, and so on. Reading can be good if it is instructive or inspiring, but if you let it interfere with meditation it becomes an evil. Read only a little bit, to find inspiration, but spend most of your time in meditative silence.

“Consider this: Every day one hundred books, more or less, are published. You couldn’t read them all if you wanted to! No one, no matter how brilliant, could absorb more than a tiny fraction of the knowledge available. Scientists often pride themselves on their knowledge, but can they explain how even a simple leaf was created? Why stuff your head with other people’s discoveries, anyway? That is all one accomplishes, by reading all the time! I always say, ‘If you read one hour, then write two hours, think three hours, and meditate all the time!’

“No matter how much the organization keeps me busy, I never forgo my daily tryst with God. Faithfully I practice Kriya Yoga, and meditate.

“Some of those who come here, and later return to the world, go out with a spirit of rejection. After a life of renunciation, they ‘renounce’ any further spiritual effort! They don’t know what they had here. Please, all of you, realize your good fortune. How easy the spiritual path is, if you give even a little time each day to meditation. Meditate intensely, morning and evening.

“Even fifteen minutes of meditation is better than no time at all. Better still, make it half an hour, or even one hour. Do 108 Kriyas; chant AUM at the spinal centers, then listen inwardly to the sounds. If you like, resume your practice of Hong-Sau. Or do Bhakti Yoga [devotional self-offering to God].

“Practice watching the breath with Hong-Sau in the spine, if you like. Go up and down the spine with it, instead of watching its flow in the nostrils. Tell your body: ‘If you don’t meditate regularly, I will give you a whipping!’ Meditate even one and a half hours at a time, if you can. Everything you do – even if it is only picking up a straw off the ground, like Brother Lawrence – offer it mentally to God. If only you will do that, He will reach down and help you.

“Another thing I urge all of you: Give to one another the respect you have always shown me. Be kind to one another, just as you have been kind to me. If you see evil in one another, you desecrate the image of God that is in both of you. God is in everyone. To see good in all is to see Him everywhere.”