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.
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.
We heard a good joke recently. A man and his young grandson are shopping in a supermarket. The little boy is fussing and whining, wanting to leave.
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.
We were sitting with two dear friends at a retreat house in the foothills of the Himalayas, where we take a yearly seclusion. One of them asked me if I felt a special power here and if my meditations were any deeper. I told her that for me personally, this is one of the two most sacred places on earth. The other is the Moksha Mandir at Ananda Village, where Swami Kriyananda’s body rests. Both are places wholly dedicated to prayer and meditation, with no other vibrations mixed in. As a result, each has a special purity, and great spiritual magnetism.
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.
As I write this, we’re in India for two weeks on an unexpected trip. A series of completely unforeseen events has provided the potential for a wonderful new project. Working with one of India’s premiere leaders in education, our small team is creating a vision and feasibility study for a world-class Institute of Leadership based on Paramhansa Yogananda’s principles of higher consciousness. If it comes into manifestation, it will be the fulfillment of a dream of Swamiji’s, and a vehicle for the upliftment of world consciousness. The project is in such an early phase, with clarity just starting to emerge, that it’s too early to share any more details at this time.
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.
Last week, here on the island of Hawaii, we visited an interesting historical site called “The Place of Refuge.” The old Hawaiian culture was hierarchical, with the king at the top, the warriors and artisans beneath him, and then, at the lowest level, the vast majority—those who fished and worked the land. There were many laws concerning what was “kapu,” or forbidden, and someone breaking one of these rules could easily receive a death sentence. However, one could avoid certain death by fleeing to a temple at “The Place of Refuge,” where the offender would be absolved by a priest and freed to leave.