Excerpts from the writings of Paramahansa Yogananda
India's rishis from time immemorial have carefully analyzed the whole of human existence and advised people how to realize life's highest potentials. Psychology teaches you what you are; ethics tells you what you should be. The sages emphasized both as part of true religious training for spiritual unfoldment in body, mind, and soul.
Every day you look into a mirror to observe your face and body, because you want to look your best before others. Is it not even more important to look daily into the inner mirror of introspection, self-analysis, to insure the proper visage of that which is behind the superficial appearance? All outer attractiveness derives from the divinity of the indwelling soul. And as even a little pimple or scar on the face spoils its beauty, so are there psychological disfigurements of anger, fear, hatred, jealousy, worry from the uncertainties of mortal existence, which mar the reflection of the soul. If every day you strive to free yourself from these defacements, the beauty of your inner being will shine forth.
By analysis we see that human troubles are threefold: those that afflict the physical body, those that attack the mind, and those that occlude the soul. Disease, old age, and death are the difficulties of the body. Psychological maladies invade through sorrow, fear, anger, unfulfilled desires, discontentment, hate, any fever of nervous excitation or mental cancer of emotional obsession. And the soul sickness of ignorance, which is the most injurious of all, is the underlying condition that makes possible all other troubles.
The only true freedom lies in the consciousness of the soul. Analyze yourself and determine to what extent your soul consciousness has been bound by the roots of ignorance. Real freedom is possible only when those roots are severed.
Think and plan your life, and see how you will change. Try constantly to improve yourself. Seek out good company, company that reminds you of God and of the noble things in life. Be conscious every day of how you are going to change your bad habits; how you are going to schedule your day; how you are going to hold your calmness. And every so often inwardly ask, “Lord, am I wasting my time? How can I get a little free time every day just to be with You?” All the time I say that. And He responds, “You are with Me, for you are thinking of Me.”
Start the morning in meditation and praying deeply to God; and after you have meditated, ask God to guide your life and all your noble efforts: “Lord, I will reason, I will will, I will act; but guide Thou my reason, will, and activity to the right thing I should do in everything.” Determine to be better in every way that day. If you start in the morning and keep on working at trying to hold on to your calmness, or trying to put into effect some good habit that you want to acquire, thinking of God all the time, then when night comes you can go to sleep knowing that you have put the day to good use. You will know you are making progress.