The sun rose an unnatural shade of red-orange in the hazy early morning sky. Though the burning forests and towns were hundreds of miles from Ananda Village, the wind was blowing the smoke in our direction. The air quality was unhealthy and the temperatures were high, but still they came. They were building a temple of light.
Devotees from all the Ananda communities in America had come for a special Seva Week to help erect the new temple. Some were skilled carpenters; others were merely willing and happy to do whatever they could. Some were young; others were older. Some were people we’d known for years; others were new to Ananda. Some came alone, while others came in groups. There were even four father-son teams. Many wore face masks to filter out the smoke in the air, but the heat and the haze didn’t matter: They are building a temple of light.
As we talked with them during the morning break, I deeply felt how important this temple is—not just for those who are part of Ananda, but for the whole planet. Maybe we can’t put out forest fires, or reverse climate change, or bring dharma into government and politics, but this much we can do: We can build a temple of light.
Our guru, Paramhansa Yogananda, said, “Don’t try to banish darkness by beating at it with a stick. Turn on the light, and the darkness will vanish as though it had never been.” In other words, the darkness in the world today can’t be destroyed by a head-on attack. Our most effective weapon in this fight is consciously to draw divine light into our lives. This light itself is the only power that can dispel darkness.
Every God-attuned thought, word, feeling, and action we have illumines a small part of the world, and diminishes the darkness. Every seen or unseen act of kindness, compassion, or selflessness helps to empower this light. When collectively we lift our own consciousness and help others to do the same, we also strengthen that power. Then we, too, are building a temple of light.
Build this temple in your workplace, your home, your family, your meditation room, and most importantly in your own heart. Though there be challenges before you, forge ahead with determination until the foundation of your temple is solid. With your inner strength, erect the supporting beams and walls to give it shape. With your undying aspirations, raise the soaring roof. With garlands of loving devotion, decorate the altar. Finally, invite everyone to enter and receive the radiant light of your inner temple.
The word “guru” derives from root words meaning “dispeller of darkness.” Together, then, with God and Guru, let us build a temple of light that spans the globe.
Your friend in God,