Thursday, March 15, 2012


"A saint is a sinner who hasn't given up."

-Unknown (quoted by Swami Radha in one of her many books)

image from here


  1. I believe Yogananda said this as well. I'm not sure if he was the first, but...

    Ralph from DeKalb

  2. Noted! And I'd add that a PhD is a grad student who didn't give up. It's obvious, however, that I will NOT be reaching sainthood any time soon, if ever. Don't mean to imply otherwise.

    I WANTED to quit grad school many times. It was a constant chore to trick myself into not quitting.

  3. Dear St. Gayle,

    Yes, we all wanted to quit at some time, but then something came along to keep us going.

    The same thing happens on the mat in yoga class. However, the same feeling comes back later, and we proceed onward.

    Always a good lesson in resilience.

    Ralph from DeKalb

  4. Dear Ralph,

    Well, there is one big difference: with yoga, there's no end in sight. It's not like I'll reach some point 5 years from now when I'll be able to write up what I learned, defend it in front of a committee that didn't read my thesis, and then let my friends take me out and buy me shots and get me good and drunk. So I'll be tricking myself into staying with it without the incentive of free alcohol.

    There, is that unsaintly enough for you?

  5. @ St. Gayle,

    Spoken like a true Zen Master.

    Humble Ralph from DeKalb

  6. @ Humble Ralph

    I'm not so good at koans. You're going to have me puzzling over that one for a while.

  7. @ Ralph

    Now my friend X, maybe he was a Zen master. He'd had lots of papers and great work on high Tc superconductivity and his thesis clocked in at under 100 pages. His thesis advisor asked him: "It's a little thin isn't it?" X replied, "I think you want to read a 300-page thesis about as much as I want to write one."


    “I once attended a service by a famous woman evangelist. During her sermon, she shouted, ‘You are all sinners! Get down on your knees!’

    “I was the only one who remained standing,” the master ended with a smile. “I would not admit that I was a sinner.

    “People sometimes offer the following challenge to the words of the Master; ‘But Jesus himself SAID that we are sinners.’

    “Yes, and Saint Francis and many other Christian saints have called THEMSELVES sinners. So also for that matter, sometimes, did Yogananda, when he wanted to emphasize his human littleness before God. Self-deprecation with the purpose of emphasizing the greatness of the Infinite is different than absorbing oneself in one’s own imperfection. To emphasize one’s own sinfulness, however, is an excuse many people use for REMAINING imperfect. We should remember that Jesus himself said, ‘Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.'

    "Thus, Yogananda often said, ‘The greatest sin of all is to call oneself a sinner. It is a way of hypnotizing oneself with one’s own weakness. Always affirm your strength in God – HIS strength, through you.’"

    -Conversations with Yogananda
    by By J. Donald Walters, Swami Kriyananda, Yogananda (Paramahansa)

  9. Well, I think I'm being scolded online! If I understand correctly, I should quit griping about my faults because doing so interferes with seeing what is divine.

  10. It's not personal.

    We in the west have a tendency to analyze and flog our shortcomings or faults to death. We tend to define ourselves by them.

    In yoga, this is considered to be an indulgence of the ego, or inverted ego. In either case, the root is ego.

    And in yoga, the goal is to wear out the ego (or the games of the mind), and remove what separates us from the big-R Reality.

    My Guru says that if we fail on the path, we should pick ourselves up and start again. And again. And again. And again.....

    He does not say we should beat ourselves up about it, but to simply try again.

    It's incredibly simple and incredibly profound.

    And it works.

  11. My goodness! I most certainly did NOT take it personally. Don't even worry about that!

    If I understand you right, the ego can be tied up in thinking one can't do something (for example after a serious illness or other event) as much or more than in what one has accomplished.

    That's rather interesting...