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.
“But, that’s so unfair!” How many times have you spoken these words, or at least had this thought? I know I often have. Maybe someone else got the praise for something that you did. Or maybe you got the blame for something you didn’t do. It’s hard to resist this thought when we see ruthless, selfish people gaining power over others, while honest, selfless people are left to struggle. Then it’s all too easy to lose faith and become cynical.
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.
Over ten thousand people gathered on the grounds of the iconic India Gate in Delhi, India; at the same time many thousands congregated at the United Nations Plaza in New York City. Why had they all come? Was it part of some global political protest? Yes and No.
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.
My alarm clock went off in the early hours each morning. Though it was still dark and often cold, I knew that if I didn’t get up immediately, I’d be late. My small trailer had no electricity or running water; I’d light a kerosene lamp, wash up with water from a gallon jug I carried home each day, and then sit to meditate.
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:
As plants grow toward the sun’s light, so too do our souls reach up toward the light of God. At first our inner growth may seem slow and hesitant, but gradually, as the yearning in our heart grows stronger, our movement towards the light gains momentum. Eventually, and this is true for everyone, the magnetism of God’s presence within us becomes such a powerful force that we fairly rush to embrace it.