This morning as I sat in meditation, I ignored some of the advice I am sharing here. Instead of focusing entirely on my meditation, I spent some time thinking about this blog. (Ah, how often we ignore good advice, even when it comes from ourselves!) Yet I hope some benefit will come from my well-intentioned restlessness. Anyway, here is what came to me.
As I write these words it’s March 7, the 65th anniversary of Paramhansa Yogananda’s mahasamadhi (conscious exit from the body). He left this earth in a dramatic fashion. At a banquet in Los Angeles in honor of the visiting Indian ambassador, after a short and very sweet talk, the great master recited his poem, “My India.” As he read the final lines, his body slipped to the floor, and his soul departed for higher realms. He had predicted the time of his passing and had said that he wanted to die “with his boots on” serving, as he always had, as a teacher and model to all receptive seekers. [Listen to Swami Kriyananda tell the story of Yogananda's passing.]
I am writing this from the Island of Kauai, the northernmost island of the Hawaiian chain. It’s certainly one of the most beautiful places on earth, set like a gemstone in an aqua sea. Its hills, valleys, swaying plants, and even its people have been shaped by centuries of rain, sun, and wind. It’s as if Divine Mother had said to Herself, “Here I will put on My loveliest attire. I will wear a hundred subtle shades of green, and My jewelry will be brilliant flowers and birds of every color. In the evenings, I will turn My clouds luminescent and color them orange, and red, and lavender. And I will surround Myself with crystalline blue waters, and even these I will fill with the most fantastic fish I can imagine.”
It is a little ironic for me to be writing about this subject just now. Here at Ananda Village, in Northern California, we’re in the midst of yet another major storm, experiencing the greatest rainfall in over twenty years. The rivers are roaring, the reservoirs are full, the mountain snowpack is huge, and more is on the way. Maybe, just maybe, getting soaked whenever I step outside is what got me thinking about dry spells. But let’s move on from the weather and talk about those spiritual dry spells and how to deal with them.
A dear friend, Nayaswami Devarshi, is a longtime Ananda member who is now serving in India as the head of our Monastic Order. He sent this letter to us last week.
The love and friendship of the guru are something that is hard for us to understand, much less accept. We, who are limited in time and space, naturally relate to the guru in the same way. How often I’ve thought and heard others say, “If only I had been with Master.*” This thought, sweet though it is, actually ends up distancing us from him.
In a few days it will be a new year, 2017, and it’s time to think about changes you might like to make. An artist once was asked how he could sculpt such a perfect image of an elephant. He replied, “It’s easy. I just chip away everything that doesn’t look like an elephant.” We need to chip away everything that doesn't look like the saint we want to become.
Many popular images associated with Christmas are actually rooted in inner spiritual realities. But over time the deeper meaning becomes lost, and the symbol becomes an end unto itself. Perhaps the most iconic symbols are the Christmas tree and Santa Claus.
Today was a remarkable day! We are in Puri, India, where Swami Sri Yukteswar had an ashram, and where his body is enshrined in a small samadhi mandir (shrine that holds the body of a great master). Paramhansa Yogananda used often to come here with his guru, and it was in Puri that Sri Yukteswar left his body in 1936.
Sometimes we have doubts. Does God really care about us? Does He love us or protect us when we are unable to fend for ourselves? I heard an amazing account that shows that God and Guru are there when we most need them. Here is the story, as told to our center leader from Pune, India, and relayed to Devi and me this morning. It happened in 2014 to a young man in Ahmedabad, in the Indian state of Gujarat.