Last week at Ananda Village I met two people who were experiencing challenging physical karma. They each had a wonderful spirit. I shared with them the following story told by Swami Sivananda, which I have rewritten. Both friends found the story extremely helpful and I thought you might, too. Swami Kriyananda called karma an expression of divine love. This story demonstrates how God lovingly guides us through every experience in life.
There was an Indian saint in Puri who completely dedicated himself to Lord Hari. One day, the saint became seriously ill with chronic dysentery and was quite helpless. Lord Hari, who greatly loved the saint, saw his plight and began caring for him through the form of the saint’s own servant.
The Lord did not want the saint to have to take another birth to work out his karma. So his devotee had to suffer from the protracted ailment. (Prarabdha is the portion of past karma that has been released and set in motion to bear fruit in one’s current life. It is like an arrow released from a bow. The archer cannot recall the arrow or change its flight. There’s nothing he can do to keep it from hitting its mark.)
Such was the saint’s karmic purgation. But think of this: throughout the intense karmic period, the Lord Himself became the slave of His devotee. Look at the unbounded mercy of the Lord. He Himself serves whoever surrenders himself completely to His wisdom and love.
Paramhansa Yogananda said when seeking a remedy for a physical complaint, we should remain mentally apart from it. Don’t let it disturb you. Accepting your karma calmly and cheerfully is the quickest way to overcome it.
God wants us to experience the omnipresence of our soul. Our sun is a tiny speck in a sky filled with over 170 billion galaxies. Comets and lights flicker around the Cosmic Mother, Yogananda said, and still we dare to think we are our little bodies. It hurts Divine Mother when we say, “I love my little body home more than anything else.”
Just as one million cubic feet of air can be compressed into one cubic foot, so Cosmic Consciousness is compressed by egoic consciousness. When the soul identifies with the body, it confines its awareness of Cosmic Consciousness to a tiny portion of matter. When compressed air escapes its container, however, it rapidly spreads to fill the surrounding space. Our consciousness expands similarly when it breaks free of body-attachment.
The practice of observing the breath during meditation brings deep spiritual benefits — one of the most important is a sense of detachment from your physical body and mental processes. Every time you observe the breath without controlling it, you are affirming the attitude, “I am not this body.” Every time your mind wanders and you bring yourself back by repeating the Hong-Sau mantra, you are saying, “I am not this personality.”
Patanjali, the great exponent of yoga, said that when we no longer identify with our one little body, we experience ourselves in all bodies. Attachment to the body is the cause of all misery. “Break this jail of flesh,” Paramhansa Yogananda said, “and get out into the infinite.” By daily, deep meditation and constantly affirming our reality as vast Spirit, we can do this.
The Mother, a great disciple of Sri Aurobindo, tells of going into her garden to pick vegetables and mentally hearing some of the plants say: “Take me… take me.” Other plants stated resolutely, “Don’t take me… don’t take me!” When we meditate, each time the mind wanders in self-involvement, we are like the plants, saying, “Don’t take me, Mother. I’m busy playing in your creation.”
During every moment of meditation and daily life, let us be like the plants that eagerly say to the Divine Gardener: “Take me… Take me. I want to go with you, and live again in my Cosmic home.”
In divine friendship,
Free MP3 Talk by Swami Kriyananda — “Meditation, What It Is and How to Do It”
Swami Kriyananda discusses the eight aspects of God: peace, calmness, light, sound wisdom, joy, love, and power at length and guides you through eight beautiful visualizations. When we meditate on these aspects, we can experience God.
This talk is made available by Treasures Along the Path, a subscription talk-of-the-month club which offers talks chosen from archives spanning more than 40 years by Swami Kriyananda, a direct disciple of Paramnansa Yogananda.
Download this free MP3 talk — 62 minutes, 71 MB