I’m feeling better today. I fasted yesterday, in part to help clear out some respiratory congestion I’ve had since we got back from India a few days ago. For this particular purpose, I did a fast called the “Master Cleanse,” in which you drink a “lemonade” consisting of lemon juice, Grade B maple syrup, and a little cayenne powder, diluted with water. Occasionally Devi and I will do Paramhansa Yogananda’s marvelous Nine-Day Cleansing and Vitalizing Diet, which consists of lots of citrus, raw vegetables, a daily steamed vegetable, and a special “vitality beverage.”
A friend recently sent us an article by the head of Mercedes Benz, talking about some of the disruptive changes that are coming due to the combination of AI (artificial intelligence) and robotics. For instance, we are on the cusp of self-driving vehicles, which is exciting news for most people, but an existential threat to automakers and truck drivers. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. One of the fastest-developing, and potentially most disruptive, changes is a type of artificial intelligence, called neural networks, that mimics the way the brain learns.
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.”
I am currently writing a book with the working title Ananda Seva, about the power of selfless service and how it can help dissolve the ego. Paramhansa Yogananda taught a path to liberation that combines both meditation and service. There is a wealth of resources to train and support aspirants in meditation: teachers, books, courses, meditation centers, websites, and apps. But even though most people spend much more time in outward activity than they do in meditation, very little is available that focuses on service as a spiritual practice. Even a little training in right attitudes and practices can turn our activity into a true spiritual path.
My silence, like an expanding sphere, spreads everywhere.
Cooperation, being able to work as part of a team, is an essential skill in life. While this is true in business, sports, or any other undertaking, it is also important spiritually, where aligning our individual will with God’s will is a vital step on the spiral stairway that leads to Self-realization.
Today, January 5, we celebrate the birthday of Paramhansa Yogananda, who brought to earth the spiritual power to uplift humanity. In one of the most amazing passages in Autobiography of a Yogi, he describes his experience of cosmic consciousness: “A swelling glory within me began to envelop towns, continents, the earth, solar and stellar systems, tenuous nebulae, and floating universes. . . . I cognized the center of the empyrean as a point of intuitive perception in my heart.”
The tide of the old year is ebbing, and the new one is rolling in. It is time, once again, for New Year’s resolutions: the best opportunity to rid yourself of those habits you know to be self-destructive, and to develop those that you know will improve your life.
Recently we attended a Christmas concert here at Ananda Village which was resplendent in its simplicity, with beautiful pieces by Swami Kriyananda as well as some traditional carols. I wasn’t raised a Christian, but somehow love for Christ has always been a part of me. For as long as I can remember I’ve felt special blessings at Christmastime: a unique combination of humility and gentleness, as well as infinite kindness, compassion, and love.
Next week I will celebrate two important milestones. December 22 will be the fiftieth anniversary of my first Kriya Initiation. The next day will be another fiftieth anniversary: of my first eight-hour Christmas meditation. Both of these events took place in Swami Kriyananda’s little apartment in San Francisco in 1967. I had been with him for about eight months when he told me, “I think you should take Kriya initiation.”