This morning Devi and I spoke with someone who was feeling overwhelmed and a little guilty because he couldn’t keep up with all the “should do’s” on the spiritual path. I doubt if there is a devotee alive who hasn’t had these same thoughts. On the one hand, there are hundreds of techniques, habits, and attitudes that could be helpful. On the other hand, we have to face the reality of living in this world with multiple responsibilities and limited time.
Aloha! We’re currently relaxing on Kauai, one of the beautiful Hawaiian Islands, on a two-week vacation that was gifted to us by many friends from Ananda. One hears “Aloha” everywhere here, because it’s a word with multiple meanings: “hello,” “good-bye,” “love,” “compassion,” and “welcome.”
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.
Once Paramhansa Yogananda was attending a wedding with some of his disciples, and at a certain point he began handing out different-colored roses to the women devotees. After receiving her rose from the Guru, one woman expressed disappointedly, “But I wanted a pink rose, not a red one.”
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.
Historians tell us that medieval alchemists were continually in search of the elusive “philosophers’ stone,” that mythical substance which could turn base metals into gold. As far as we know, they never succeeded in their quest, but there is a different kind of philosophers’ stone which we have already discovered.
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.
In this Christmas season, it’s important to reflect on the deeper message of Christ’s life and birth. Paramhansa Yogananda told his disciples that it was Jesus himself who appeared to Babaji in the Himalayas, and asked him to send these teachings to the West in order to reveal the deeper meaning of Christianity. Through people’s practice of meditation, they could experience Jesus as a living reality—a being with whom they can commune, rather than merely read about in the Bible.