Rule: It is spiritually necessary that the Self-Realization Fellowship disciple learn the art of obedience. When he is accepted into an SRF ashram it is with the understanding that he willing to be guided by SRF instructors, and that he has come to receive willingly the discipline that will hasten his progress toward the Divine Goal. There should be no other reason for entering the spiritual path as a renunciant.

Reason: When Paramahansaji first embraced the path of renunciation his guru, Sri Yukteswarji, said to him, “Allow me to discipline you.” The great Guru explained the reason behind his request. “Your will is guided by whims and habit. My will is guided by wisdom.”

Herein lies the necessity for the disciple to submit himself obediently to the guidance of those who have arrived at a deeper understanding of the SRF teachings and who have demonstrated their loyalty to God and Gurus over a long period of time. Disciples who have themselves gladly submitted to the discipline of the path can facilitate the spiritual progress of new disciples by pointing out pitfalls, by correctly interpreting Paramahansaji’s words and the rules of spiritual life, and by encouraging new disciples to form good habits of meditation, activity, and thought.

A wise disciple realizes that he is not always the best judge of what is good for him. When a devotee endeavors to reason out a course of action his mind may subtly send forth impulses that were implanted during incarnations of rule by the ego. The results of the devotee’s reasoning may seem wise to him because they agree with his innate tendencies!

It is good to consider that saints of all ages and paths have recognized the need for the guidance of others and have often permitted even those inferior to themselves in spiritual advancement to discipline them. This course served in all instances to strengthen them and to advance them in humility and love for God.

Those who have a part in your training as a disciple seek only to serve your best interests. Even as they sincerely offer you their time and their friendship, so will they appreciate your cooperation. This is the highest blessing of ashram life — that each devotee may help others as he grows in understanding; thus all benefit from divine association.

That you may better understand what is expected of you, the Self-Realization Fellowship definition of obedience follows:

1. Paramahansaji defined obedience as willingness. The devotee who does but grumbles through the doing, is not expressing true obedience. Nor can such reluctant obedience obtain for the disciple the best result. The disciple may not always enjoy carrying out certain requests of his counselor or of others in authority, and he may not always fully understand why he has been requested to perform certain actions and to refrain from others.

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