“Question Authority.” When I first saw that statement on a car’s bumper sticker back in the early 1970’s, I didn’t understand its context—but I liked it. I was young, chafing under my mother’s strict rules for behavior. The idea of being able to challenge her authority (even if it was just in my own mind) was quite appealing. No one really likes someone else telling them what to do, do they? Like many of us, I developed a conflicted view of what authority was and confusion about when it was “good” or “bad” to follow it.
Years later, I heard the assertion that, in fact, we all have an “authority issue”– except in this case, the real issue is with the authority of God Him/Her/Itself. The original authority problem then informs all of our other authority problems. Ouch! It’s pretty easy to see, though, isn’t it? In this world of delusion, we all have these egos that believe we are separate from God, that we are self-determining beings. Our delusional small self is at war with God’s genuine author-icity.
Another challenging concept for the ego is obedience— I know this! I have been reading from the Spiritual Diary, a collection of daily inspirational thoughts compiled from Paramhansa Yogananda’s writings and lectures. As it happens, this past week’s theme for the daily readings was obedience.
In each case, I was reminded of the famous statement made by Sri Yukteswar to his young disciple Mukunda: “Learn to behave.” How can I hope and aspire to return to God and become free of the ego if I don’t follow the guidance of the masters of Self-realization; if I don’t accept the discipline from my guru as he accepted it from his guru; if I don’t try to obey God’s laws instead of the ego’s laws? It’s a daily practice, with lots of stumbles along the way. What’s the alternative? More “authority issues” await my choice.