In 1979 Ananda began a period of expansion, and Devi and I helped start a large ashram in San Francisco. An early challenge was to find ways to support ourselves, especially in a way that allowed us to serve together. One solution we found was a business with a vegetarian restaurant on the first floor and a small bookstore on the second. Vairagi was the manager, and after closing up each night she had to take a bus across town through some of the poorest parts of the city. She hated it. The late-night ride was frightening and upsetting for a single woman, especially when there were intoxicated passengers. She came to Swami Kriyananda and shared her plight.
He asked, “Is there any other way for you to get home? Can you drive or get a ride?”
“No, I can’t drive, and there is no one I can rely on to take me.”
“Can you take a cab?” Swamiji continued.
“No, it’s too expensive,” she replied.
Then Swamiji gave her this advice. “If the bus is the only way, then when you get on, pick out the most troubled person and pray for him or her during the whole trip. If that person gets off before you are home, choose another.”
A couple of weeks later Vairagi came to Swamiji again, not with complaints this time, but to tell him that the bus ride was now her favorite part of the day. Sometimes a little piece of advice can flip a situation, or a life.
We recently had a satsang with the younger residents at Ananda Village during which we asked the group this question: “What is one thing you do regularly that you find really helpful spiritually?” Here were some of the answers:
- “During the day, especially when I’m having a challenge, I try to remember how I felt during my morning meditation.”
- “I stand up straight and constantly repeat, ‘Jai Guru.’”
- “When I am out and about I try to pray for everyone I see. It quickly brings me back to my center.” Another said something similar: “I try to give love to everyone I see.”
- “Because I struggle with low self-esteem, when I get down on myself I try to think of several things I do well or that I like about myself.”
- A musician said, “In my mind I am constantly singing a chant or one of Swami Kriyananda’s songs.”
- “Before I will leave a meditation, I always make sure to form a personal heart-connection with the guru.”
These are only a few of the many ideas that were offered that evening. Each of us has some unique habit or attitude that helps us spiritually, and it can be extremely helpful to share these with each other.
I’ll end by asking you to offer your suggestion in the “Add a comment” field. Just give a short description of the most important thing I do. It may be that your advice is exactly what someone else needs, and goes on to become the favorite part of their day.
In divine friendship,