In the old times when a person approached a yoga Guru or yoga teacher with the intention to learn about yoga and wanted to practice yoga, he would be very humble and patient to serve this Guru or teacher for many years.
It was actually a great process of purification for the mind, as well as eradicating the ego.
The Guru or the teacher didn’t teach him any so called yoga and meditation practices, not until his ego was eradicated and his mind was free from impurities. He would only be asked to observe some code of conducts (morality) and to do any works in the house or in the ashram as selfless service or Karma yoga (unattached to the action and the result of the action), to purify the mind and to eradicate the ego – This is also the practice of non-attachment.
By this stage, he had actually finished most of his yoga practice (attaining the state of selflessness), which was through purifying the mind, and be free from the ego and impurities. Naturally he would already have the wisdom and a clear mind to digest and absorb whatever the Guru or the teacher wanted to teach him.
And with a desire-less, pure and calm mind that didn’t wavering here and there, he could easily meditate in a firm and steady asana seat, his breath was naturally rendering calm, he could observe the mind and go beyond the mind effortlessly, not being disturbed by all the names and forms (sights, sounds, smells, taste, touch and thoughts), and attain the highest state of pure consciousness, pure existence, pure knowledge and pure bliss.
That’s why Sat Guru Swami Sivananda taught us to mind our own fundamental practice of purifying the mind and eradicating the ego, and everything will fall into place for us naturally when the mind is free from impurities and when the ego is eradicated.
When the mind is free from impurities and the ego is eradicated, we are our own Guru, our very own teacher… Here is where the path of Self-realization begins.
If we still need a Guru or a teacher to tell us and guide us what do we need to do or to answer the doubts in our mind due to ignorance, then we are still on the outside of the path of Self-realization.
Yoga = Selflessness = Ego-less = Unconditional and unlimited compassion and wisdom = Eternal peace = Yoga
If our “yoga and meditation practice” did not bring us towards ego-less or selflessness, compassion and wisdom, then that is because we haven’t go through the initial process of purification of the mind and eradication of the ego yet. It’s like a container without a closing bottom underneath, no matter how much water we pour into the container, the container can never hold any water in it.
If we put some very tasty food into a bowl that is full of dirts and impurities, then the food will be contaminated and doesn’t taste good anymore. Clean the bowl first, then we can put any food into it, and the food will be free from contamination of dirts and impurities, and will taste as good as it is.
Purify the mind, and all our doubts about everything will be disappearing by itself. The Truth will reveal itself to us naturally when the mind is calm and free from impurities. We will perceive everything as it is, not necessary the way that we want it to be perceived, or the way that we want it to be…
When the mind is pure, there is nothing can affect, or disturb, or influence, or determine us. We are what we are, as we are. We are not “this”, we are not “that”. We are not “happy” nor “suffering”. We are not “good” nor “bad”.