Yale University recently offered a course that’s proved to be the most popular one ever given there. The topic was “Happiness.” One-quarter of the student body—1200 undergraduates—enrolled, requiring the largest auditorium on campus for the classes.
There was a time in my life when it seemed as if circumstances were all conspiring to make me miserable. I would wake up every morning feeling pretty down, but in my mind there was still a spark of light that led me to think, “You’ve felt worse before. You can carry on today.”
My silence, like an expanding sphere, spreads everywhere.
Today, January 5, we celebrate the birthday of Paramhansa Yogananda, who brought to earth the spiritual power to uplift humanity. In one of the most amazing passages in Autobiography of a Yogi, he describes his experience of cosmic consciousness: “A swelling glory within me began to envelop towns, continents, the earth, solar and stellar systems, tenuous nebulae, and floating universes. . . . I cognized the center of the empyrean as a point of intuitive perception in my heart.”
Recently we attended a Christmas concert here at Ananda Village which was resplendent in its simplicity, with beautiful pieces by Swami Kriyananda as well as some traditional carols. I wasn’t raised a Christian, but somehow love for Christ has always been a part of me. For as long as I can remember I’ve felt special blessings at Christmastime: a unique combination of humility and gentleness, as well as infinite kindness, compassion, and love.
A few weeks ago we were having a heartwarming visit with our two younger grandchildren, whom we hadn’t seen for many months due to our travel schedule. After enjoying their favorite pastime at Ananda Village—visiting the goat dairy—we were driving back through the peaceful, forested hills to our home.
There’s a story about a young boy whose spirituality was so deep that he left his family to enter his guru’s ashram at the age of seven. After some months had passed, his guru told him to go back to his village for a short visit to see his family and friends.
The boy’s father was a harsh man. Constantly criticizing and belittling others, he was feared by everyone who knew him—but not by his son, who had a wisdom beyond his years.
Right now in India people everywhere are beginning the festivities for Diwali—a holiday celebrating the reappearance of light in the world. Diwali commemorates the return of the avatar, Rama, and his wife, Sita, to their kingdom of Ayodhya after winning the war against the evil king, Ravana, and his forces of darkness.