Last week a dear friend of ours from India visited Ananda Village for the first time. What a wonderful experience it was showing her around and explaining to her the many aspects of this remarkable community.

Amazed by what she had experienced, our friend quietly said, “No matter how much you told me about Ananda Village, there was no way I could imagine what I saw here. The radiance and purity of the people, the spirit of service, the simplicity of life, the flow of activity in every area—I’ve never seen anything like it anywhere.”

Seeing Ananda through her eyes we saw anew how living in a spirit of cooperation and service can change your consciousness, and transform the world around you. Every area we saw had been given the same conscious thought and care to make it the best it could be.

It was raining hard for the first few days that our friend was visiting, and the unpaved areas had become wet and muddy. One afternoon I made a quick trip to the community trash/recycling/compost center to drop off our kitchen waste. Well-labeled bins and detailed instructions about what to put where had been posted there by the property services crew. As I avoided the muddy puddles, I thought to myself, “Even this inglorious part of our community is well cared for.”

Next to the compost bins is a hose for rinsing empty buckets. I added my “contribution” to our community gardens into the bin, and then saw that the hose was lying on the wet ground in a tangle. After straightening it out, I rinsed my bucket, then let the hose fall back into a muddy puddle. Then I hurried to get into my car and out of the rain.

But something stopped me. Thinking about the beautiful ideals of cooperation and service that we’d been discussing with our friend, I heard a voice within me say, “Leave it better than when you came.” I went back, lifted the hose out of the mud, and carefully coiled it on its stand. Driving home, I felt surprisingly moved by the impact of this simple act.

Saint francis of assisi lords prayer leave the earth better than when you came

St. Francis of Assisi statue at Ananda Village.

Later I shared the experience with our son, who said, “When I’m driving and see a nail on the road, I always pull over and pick it up. I’d like someone to do that for me, so I’ll do it first.”

The accumulated power of these unseen acts of service can define one’s whole life: Leave it better than when you came. Each day we can leave our home, our job, our family, our friends, our community, our consciousness, our world better than we found it.

The simple prayer commonly attributed to St. Francis of Assisiexpresses this in a beautiful and elevated way:

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury: pardon;
Where there is error: truth;
Where there is doubt: faith;
Where there is despair: hope;
Where there is darkness: light;
And where there is sadness: joy.

Each simple act of selfless giving reminds us of our purpose on earth: to be an instrument of God’s upliftment and love. At the end of our life’s journey, what a joy it will be to say to our Creator, “I left this world better than when I came.”

With loving friendship,

Nayaswami Devi

*“Interestingly, the prayer for which St. Francis is best known, ‘Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace,’ has been discovered in recent years, in the archives of a monastery in Belgium, actually to have been written by William the Great (also called ‘the Conqueror’), who Yogananda himself said he had been.” —Swami Kriyananda, in Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography

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21 Comments

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  1. Very lovely concepts in a world that often embraces harshness. Thank you I lived at Ananda in 1981. Great experience. Dave Peltier 2/8/19

  2. Thank you for bringing the teachings in a ever-new way to us Deviji. It really helps to read: “Do unto others (first) as you would have them do unto you.” It is really inspiring to live following the high-energy and selfless way that Swamiji has shown to us.

  3. Oh Devi ji what a lovable real story you scribbled for us. From to-day I promise will definitely do something consciously to make it better than I came. with lovw.
    Benoy

  4. The message “leave it better than when you came” wonderfully conveyed through this uplifting piece.

    Thanks and regards

  5. Thank you for this beautiful reminder for one of the reasons we are here in this incarnation. Those of us not living in a spiritual community can learn from this. For example, when shopping at a grocery store with a large parking lot that provides grocery carts, consider placing your cart in the collection area rather than just leaving it next to your car where it may become an obstruction to other shoppers arriving.

    This “leave it better than when you came” message reminds me of Indra’s net of jewels. We are here to polish our jewel through the thoughts and actions of unconditional love, compassion, loving-kindness, nonjudgment, forgiveness, acceptance, and eternal gratitude. As we polish our jewel, it shines Divine Mother’s eternal light on the jewels next to us, which in turn reflect that divine light onto other jewels, and so on, making for a brighter world for all.

    Namaste, Henry

  6. Reading Devi’s inspiring blog brought back happy memories from my years in summer camp, as we too were guided to leave our trails and campsites better than when we came. I couldn’t have put my finger then on exactly where I found such appeal in that guidance, but looking back I think it was mainly because of the respect and joy it awakened in me for an almost sacredness of our environment and those who share it with us as fellow travelers.

    To this day when I see litter on the ground, something within me just cringes and I feel almost a compulsion to go pick it up so others don’t have to see it and be affected by the negative vibrations quietly put out by even the tiniest scrap of trash.

    As Llango says, “leave it better than when you came” is a beautiful concept to follow in every way, however small. And what a wonderful way to contribute to beautification on all levels of life.

  7. Some great words to live by, focus on, Devi. Thank you! And I’m loving your book “Touch of Joy.” So many pearls!

  8. A very good message,well written and much needed in these times of so many who give little if any thought or heed to
    this obvious,simple yet very important wisdom. Even just a smile to someone,words of encouragement or being always
    calm,loving and patient is leaving the world better than when you came. Thank you..now,how about making very many
    Ananda t-shirts or sweat shirts with those words of wisdom on them..a great and practical way of being a reminder to others
    in community and to those outside of community to,”Leave the World Better Than When You Came.”

  9. I hope you will consider making a free PDF/HTML version of “Cities of Light” available to the world on your website. There is no point in hiding the light that radiates from that book under a bushel basket. Imagine how many people have not read Kriyananda’s template for spiritual communities. I think his divinely inspired book is an advertisement at least the equal of your excellent expensive movie, “Finding Happiness”. Imagine how many people might be attracted to visit Ananda if they first get to glance inside and then read Kriyananda’s visionary book for free.

  10. What a joy this article and all your talks are to me. To hear simple suggestions like these, make it easy for me to see all the places in my life that I may serve. I am eager to proceed today– in this glorious morning!!!! Marilyn

  11. Such a beautiful expression, dear Devi, of doing simple things with High Consciousness. Thank You!
    And we leave the world a better place than we found it.
    AND, we learn “How to Be Happy All the Time”.

  12. Thank you Deviji

    Leave it better than when you came – What a Beautiful concept to follow in every ways, however small it could be.

    Love
    Ilango

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