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.
The chapel was filled with family and friends who had come to be with them as they took their wedding vows. Although the couple were relatively young, they were “old souls” who had dedicated their life to the spiritual path and to serving others.
As they repeated together the “Vows to God” from the wedding ceremony written by Swami Kriyananda, I saw that many of those watching were moved to tears. The vows begin with these words:
We dedicate to Thee our lives, our service, and the love we share.
May the communion we find with one another lead us to inner communion with Thee.
May the service we render one another perfect in us our service of Thee.
May we behold Thee always enshrined in one another’s forms. . . .
The guests seated in the chapel had a variety of expressions as the ceremony drew to its conclusion. Two young girls, who probably had romantic fantasies about marriage, sat wide-eyed as they witnessed a different kind of love from what they had seen in the movies.
Young married couples looked at each other and smiled, as if to say, “Maybe we can take our love to a deeper level.” Single people with sorrow on their faces, perhaps remembering disappointment in relationships, seemed to take hope and reach out for the courage to try again. An older couple took each other’s hand and moved closer together, expressing their unspoken desire not to let their love fade over time. The beauty and inspiration found in the ideal of human love brought hope and encouragement to everyone present.
We need ideals to aspire towards in all aspects of our life—not just for our relationships, but also for our work, our mental attitudes, our physical health, our values, and our search for God. Without ideals showing the highest way forward, we can fall far short of our own potential.
As a boy, Paramhansa Yogananda had a vision of himself in a squalid marketplace in a town in the foothills of the Himalayas. Everyone there looked tired and dispirited. From time to time, someone would gaze high into the distance, then sigh deeply and mutter, “Oh, but it’s much too high for me.”
After this had happened several times, Yogananda turned to see what the others were looking at. There, towering above the town, he beheld a lofty mountain, serene and verdant. It was inexpressibly beautiful, and he longed to go there. But as he reflected on the difficulty of the climb, he began to repeat those same words, “Oh, but it’s much too high for me.”
Then he scornfully rejected this thought, and declared, “It may be too high for me to reach the top in a single leap, but at least I can put one foot in front of the other!”
Never abandon your ideals, no matter how completely they seem to be wrested from you. Your ideals are your guides to true happiness and fulfillment in all aspects of life. Take the next step before you, and the next, until you reach the mountaintop of attainment.
In divine friendship,