“I first met Swami Kriyananda when he began teaching classes in San Francisco in the late 1960s,” David told me during one of the rare conversations we had together. An introverted, quiet man, David seldom spoke, but he needed no words to convey his deep, transparent devotion to God.
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.”
The faces of the young couple were radiant as we led them in their wedding ceremony in the chapel at Crystal Hermitage. The late-afternoon light illuminated the chapel’s stained-glass windows, but the light shining from within the bride and groom was more luminous than the sunlight.
I would like to ask you to take a moment, close your eyes, and answer this question in your own words: What is happiness?
Have you ever been awestruck by a great work of art or a scene of natural beauty? The power of Michelangelo’s “David”; the mystery of Leonardo’s “Mona Lisa”; the perfection in architecture of the Taj Mahal; or the cosmic grandeur of the Aurora Borealis: I’ve looked at all of these, and felt deeply uplifted.
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.
There is a story about two shoe salesmen who are sent by their companies to explore the possibilities for sales in a Third-World country. They arrive at the same time, check out the scene, and then both head for the telegraph office to report back.
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.]
While in Hawaii, I read a translation of an ancient Hawaiian song about mana, or “life force”:
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.”