Running through Ananda Village in Northern California are the rutted remains of an old road. A hundred and fifty years ago, during the time of the Gold Rush, when tons of ore were taken from the land around us, Wells Fargo stagecoach drivers urged their horses up and down these hills, and Pony Express riders rushed along carrying bags of mail. Interesting as history, but in current times this old road leads nowhere.
We need more global warming. No, not the kind where the average temperature rises. I mean where the average consciousness rises. The only true cure for many of the world’s problems—war, poverty, and even rising temperatures—is for mankind’s consciousness to expand.
Today is the fourth anniversary of Swami Kriyananda’s leaving his body. Ananda Worldwide celebrates this occasion with what we call “Moksha Day,” a day dedicated to Self-realization, or spiritual freedom. We start the day with a six-hour meditation at the Moksha Mandir, where Swami Kriyananda’s body is enshrined. This is an especially beautiful time of year at Ananda Village, with Swami’s beloved gardens filled by more than fifteen thousand tulips and thousands of visitors. It’s almost as if he thought, “If people are going to gather to honor this day, let them be surrounded by beauty.”
I would like to ask you to take a moment, close your eyes, and answer this question in your own words: What is happiness?
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.