Dear Friends,

We’ve just had an interesting experience: our first Thanksgiving in Gurgaon, India. This holiday, so well known in America, is normally not celebrated in the rest of the world. Swami Kriyananda, in fact, felt that we should mount a campaign to get all countries to set aside a day each year to thank God for all He has given us.

The celebration here was, well, let’s just say “different,” from those of my childhood in Minnesota. It was our first Thanksgiving, for instance, where we had a meal of nut loaf and palaak paneer ending with pumpkin pie and kheer. And yet, much of the evening was also very familiar—sharing a long, loving meal with dear friends, feasting not only on food but also on friendship, laughter, and delight in one another’s company.

masterThe main event of the evening was the installation of a statue, or murti, of Paramhansa Yogananda. It was placed, with a simple ceremony, in a special little shrine that had been built at the entrance to the ashram. This is the physical symbol that God dwells here, that this space is holy ground. Click here to watch the ceremony

Having the celebration here gave me a chance to see how often we miss the point of holidays that should be deeply “holy,” but have become obscured by cultural overlays. Reading news articles we would have to conclude that Thanksgiving is no longer primarily a time to express gratitude to God, but rather the frantic start of month-long shopping frenzy. Christmas is commercial and social, but far too rarely deeply spiritual. That is why Master started the tradition of having a spiritual Christmas, with an all-day meditation, as well as a social one. For all of us, who are trying to deepen our communion with God, it is important to re-spiritualize these holy times.

Patanjali listed “missing the point” as one of the obstacles in the quest for union with God. Re-spiritualizing sacred times might be a good place to start “getting the point.” We could start Swamiji’s campaign by making sure that we consciously make our holidays into holy-days.

Years ago I wrote an affirmation that I have often found very useful:

I am grateful for my life, exactly as it is.
I am thankful for this day.
I welcome every hour.
Thank you, God.
Thank you, God.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone, even if the wish is a little late and sent to you from far away.

In gratitude,Jyotish

Nayaswami Jyotish

16 Comments

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  1. Thank you..and very much agree that Thanksgiving should be a worldwide observance,and that the reason for the seasons(Holy-days), be much more emphasized,remembered.

  2. Dear Jyotish,

    At Hopkinson and Kingstown we had the opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving together with gurubays from five Ananda East states. We even had a talk skyped in from Ananda Village. It just gave us all a taste of how life is meant to be lived, and how simple and beautiful it really can be.

    I left with memories of the beginnings of the Hopkinson ashram and how those seeds are starting to flower. And dreams for the future of Ananda East.

    Thank you for your beautiful affirmation. I have used it for years.

    Jay Guru! And lots of love, Rachelle (New York City)

  3. Dearest Jyotish,
    Thank you so much for this simple and to the point, point about getting the point ;>)!
    Such wonderful blessings are being spread throughout all lands!
    You are a clear and light filled carrier of Masters work and Swamijis emphasis on all
    that He brought to us!

    Blessings to you both and to Mother India!
    Brindey

  4. Dear Jyotish
    Thank you for bringing the point home about Gratitude and “holy days”. We are fortunate indeed to have this royal Path of Spiritual Truth. Blessings to you, Devi , and the worldwide Ananda fellowship this Holyday season. Sylvia Longchamps

  5. In the late 1970’s I was president of Berkeley Area Interfaith Council, which was the first all-inclusive local religious council. The great diversity of religious practices made it hard to worship together, till we discovered that the one holiday we all acknowledged was Thanksgiving. So every Thanksgiving we had a grand celebration, with different religious organizations participating each in it’s unique way – a great festival of joy and thankfulness that spoke to the deep divinity in all of us.

  6. Thank you Jyotish.
    The Murti is beautiful and the affirmation most helpful and appropriate. I know that millions of Americans are very grateful for all of our abundance and give generously to many organizations, but it is a struggle to see sometimes. Thank you for all you do!
    Hanuman

  7. I love this affirmation. I have been using it on a daily bases since many many months. Thank you Jyotish

  8. Dear Jyotish and Devi,
    I look forward to your Touch of Light letters. They truly touch me deeply.
    Master’s blessings,
    Anandaprem

  9. Thank you for these meaningful thoughts! Also, when I have looked at your pictures, of you and your wife, I always had a sparkle of connection…I too am from Minnesota…born in Duluth but now live elsewhere.

  10. This is the first time I’ve heard of Patanjali speak of “missing the point.” In what context did he bring that up?

    1. Hi Jack,
      I happened to see your question and also happen to be teaching a class on Patanjali at the college this morning. The reference is to Chapter 1, stanza 30 (page 31 in Demystifying Patanjali). Hope this helps.
      Joy,
      Nitai

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