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.
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.
Imagine seventeen thousand tulips in an amazing variety of shapes, colors, and sizes, all blooming amidst the vast vistas of the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. April is the time for “Springtime at Ananda,” the annual tulip festival at Crystal Hermitage Gardens, and thousands of viewers come from throughout the state to enjoy the superlative beauty.
As we entered the art room and took in the paint-splattered tables and small plastic chairs, we felt as if we were back in grade school. We took our seats, and saw at each place a row of paint jars containing a variety of colors; large, flat brushes; and a medium-sized piece of white art paper.
Early in their time together, Paramhansa Yogananda instructed his direct disciple, Swami Kriyananda, that his work in this lifetime would be lecturing, editing, and writing. When I met Swamiji in 1969, he was constantly engaged in these three activities, as well as in the Herculean task of launching the spiritual communities movement through Ananda.
Whenever we get a chance to visit Hawaii, we’re awed by the power of life force, or prana, that permeates everything here. It’s amazing to see the variety of plants that grow to a height of maybe four or five inches on the mainland, but that here in Hawaii reach six to ten feet with flowers and leaves radiant with life and color.
Yale University recently offered a course that’s proved to be the most popular one ever given there. The topic was “Happiness.” One-quarter of the student body—1200 undergraduates—enrolled, requiring the largest auditorium on campus for the classes.
There was a time in my life when it seemed as if circumstances were all conspiring to make me miserable. I would wake up every morning feeling pretty down, but in my mind there was still a spark of light that led me to think, “You’ve felt worse before. You can carry on today.”