“Never despair, joy’s everywhere…”
“…love can befriend you today.”
This lovely excerpt from Swami Kriyananda’s song, Life Is a Dream, comes to mind often in these times of difficulty. My wife lost her job this past summer, and making ends meet has become more of a struggle.
We are both faced with the daily challenge of keeping our energy high and fighting off the urge to panic. For me, the only thing that can keep me positive is constant offering of my life to God, and my own inner quest for joy.
What does that mean, though, offering ourselves to God? What does it mean to chant “I want only Thee, Lord?” After 15 years on the spiritual path, I’m finally beginning to understand, and to realize that an experience I had many years ago can truly become my reality.
In 1997, my wife Madhavi and I were part of an pilgrimage to Italy with Ananda Portland that was truly remarkable. We were able to visit many of St. Francis’ holy places, including the Basilica in Assisi, L’Ermo, and La Verna.
On one particular day, after a deep meditation, we embarked for Isola Maggiore on Lake Trasimeno where St Francis fasted for 40 days. On the boat ride out, I had a premonition of something coming. We disembarked and made our way to a very small shrine commemorating St Francis’ stay, and began to chant “Lord, I Am Thine”. It was then that my heart burst open, and energy flooded my spiritual eye. This was the closest I had ever come to experiencing a Divine presence, and I wept tears of joy, of gratitude, of shame of my doubts of years gone by.
The experience stayed with me throughout the day, but it was so new that I really didn’t know what to do with it! I tried to stay as inward with it as possible, but somehow I knew that it would soon dissipate, and indeed it did by the next morning. It was the most enjoyable day of my life, not from any outward experience, but from being filled with that connection with God.
Silly me thought my experience was simply due to luck, and even though I tried to meditate as deeply as possible, the depth of the experience eluded me.
Now we skip ahead 14 years to this past Spiritual Renewal Week. I was able to attend the 1st Kriya Initiation on Friday, and entered into Hansa Temple, which was silently buzzing with Divine energy. As I sat quietly and absorbed the vibration, my consciousness became centered in my spine, and began to rise to my spiritual eye.
During those moments I realized that throughout all these past 14 years of meditation, both deep and shallow, that I have been training my consciousness to return to that blessed state that I experienced in Italy. That deep joy could truly be mine! All those hours of offering myself completely to God are finally beginning to come to fruition, for this joy comes hand in hand with that upward offering of energy, and never without it. When I slip into worrying about myself, the joy is gone, and I’m left in the dust, doubting once again that higher realities can exist.
Now for some reason, all my life I’ve felt unworthy of joy, whether it be from guilt, or hiding in the ego, or fear of the unknown. And when you read about saints who spent their days longing for God, I always assumed that it was a purely selfless desire. But here was something that I truly WANTED! With that heightened state of consciousness, I knew that no matter what happens, I can be content with God’s presence.
All throughout the blessed Initiation I vowed deeply to hold onto this state of consciousness, for finally I had found something concrete to desire. This truly has become a quest for joy, for that is the closest description of what I experienced. A joy so complete, so enthralling, and so close that if I keep my mind on it as often as possible, I can sustain it over the worries of the day.
These certainly shall be interesting times in which we live, and no one knows what further calamities can happen (just watch the news). I’ll leave you with the complete song, in both video and audioLife Is a Dream, and the lyrics below.
Life is a dream.
Time, like a stream,
Carries our burdens away.
Love can befriend you today.
Free from all care,
Like birds on the air,
Soar above griefs and worries:
Seek Joy and be gay!
Often on earth
Things of great worth
Worldly ambitions defy.
Sometimes a friend
Helps us ascend
Up from life’s cares to the sky.
Love is a star:
Though shining afar,
It can guide us and help us
Toward light to draw nigh.