Let me set the scene: an amphitheater packed with several hundred people while, in the background, the bare wood of an emerging temple rises miraculously. People from many nations immersing themselves in the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda and Swami Kriyananda. Add stirring music, drama, friendship, joy, and light. Here, for a brief transformative week, the astral plane has touched the earth. It is Spiritual Renewal Week at Ananda Village.
What should I do? This is the question we hear most frequently. It might take the form of “What should I do about a short temper?” or “What should I do about my mind wandering during meditation?” Simply asking “What should I do?” means that you’re ready to move beyond passivity and engage your willpower. Congratulate yourself whenever you ask this question, because you are halfway to the solution.
In 1979 Ananda began a period of expansion, and Devi and I helped start a large ashram in San Francisco. An early challenge was to find ways to support ourselves, especially in a way that allowed us to serve together. One solution we found was a business with a vegetarian restaurant on the first floor and a small bookstore on the second. Vairagi was the manager, and after closing up each night she had to take a bus across town through some of the poorest parts of the city. She hated it. The late-night ride was frightening and upsetting for a single woman, especially when there were intoxicated passengers. She came to Swami Kriyananda and shared her plight.
Intuitive insights come to each of us. They are, after all, the soul’s way of perceiving. Sometimes they come as a clear knowing; at other times, as a hunch; and often as just a whisper of feeling. True intuition is God’s way of guiding us, but most of us ignore our intuitions most of the time. This last weekend we saw a remarkable validation of what happens when, in spite of all obstacles, you act on your intuition.
When I was young, one of the most important members of our family was Nipper. He was a medium-sized dog with amazingly intelligent eyes, a golden coat, and a combination of the best traits of numerous breeds. He was a faithful playmate, protector, and coconspirator during my daily adventures. Many people remember a beloved four-legged friend who shared their youth, although none (I am sad to have to break this to you) can have been quite so glorious as Nipper.
The major premise of Paramhansa Yogananda’s first book, The Science of Religion, is that everyone in the world shares the same basic motivation: to be happy and to avoid pain. I‘ve been reading a book with a similar theme, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, by a psychologist and philosopher, Jordan B. Peterson. His theme is similar to Yogananda’s, but he states it slightly differently: Life is a quest to maintain order and avoid chaos.
One of the Ananda teachers just sent me an article about the physiological link between the breath and a brain chemical, noradrenaline. Here’s a quote from the article:
We heard a good joke recently. A man and his young grandson are shopping in a supermarket. The little boy is fussing and whining, wanting to leave.
We were sitting with two dear friends at a retreat house in the foothills of the Himalayas, where we take a yearly seclusion. One of them asked me if I felt a special power here and if my meditations were any deeper. I told her that for me personally, this is one of the two most sacred places on earth. The other is the Moksha Mandir at Ananda Village, where Swami Kriyananda’s body rests. Both are places wholly dedicated to prayer and meditation, with no other vibrations mixed in. As a result, each has a special purity, and great spiritual magnetism.
As I write this, we’re in India for two weeks on an unexpected trip. A series of completely unforeseen events has provided the potential for a wonderful new project. Working with one of India’s premiere leaders in education, our small team is creating a vision and feasibility study for a world-class Institute of Leadership based on Paramhansa Yogananda’s principles of higher consciousness. If it comes into manifestation, it will be the fulfillment of a dream of Swamiji’s, and a vehicle for the upliftment of world consciousness. The project is in such an early phase, with clarity just starting to emerge, that it’s too early to share any more details at this time.