Certain periods in history are of major importance in the growth of planetary awareness, and we’re living in such a time. We’ve moved from Kali Yuga (the age of materialism and matter consciousness) to Dwapara Yuga (the age of energy and fluidity in thinking).
But, because the change is recent, attachments to old thought-forms still haven’t completely faded. In a kind of dying gasp, the old ways of thinking are trying to block the new and inevitable changes. Much of the worldwide conflict, upheaval, and economic instability that we see in today’s headlines is due to the turbulent transition between these two ages.
What is the best way to live during such challenging times? We need a two-pronged approach, a balance between practical action and faith. We can and should take steps to prepare for the possibility of economic depression, natural disasters or warfare. God helps those who help themselves. But we must also understand that this world will always have uncertainty and its accompanying anxiety. To find true peace of mind we must learn to live more by faith.
A divine power sustains you
Faith is much more practical than most people realize. There is an infinite reservoir of divine love and support, and if you open yourself to that flow it will sustain you.
The great saints—those who know God—can live by that power alone. One time, St. Francis (whom Paramhansa Yogananda called his patron saint) called a convocation of his brother monks. About five or six thousand from around the world gathered on the plains below Assisi.
As more and more monks arrived, Brother Elias, a monk who tried to “organize” St. Francis’ work, began to get very upset because St. Francis had made no arrangements whatsoever for feeding the group. Brother Elias said to St. Francis, “This is terrible! Even though we live by begging, such a large group can’t go out begging. Think this through, Brother Francis. What you are doing is irresponsible!”
Not knowing how the group would be fed, yet filled with faith in his beloved Jesus, St. Francis ignored Elias’ concerns. Soon, without anyone asking, the townspeople, out of love for their beloved Francis, came with wagonloads of food to feed the brothers.
Having true faith, St. Francis was able to call upon God’s abundance. But Brother Elias, filled with doubts as he was, would not have been able to draw that Divine response. The point is, we must always act according to our current level of understanding, but also learn to deepen our faith in God. The more we give ourselves to Him, the more He will sustain us.
Swami Kriyananda said: “My experience is that the most practical thing of all is faith, because it works. If you really have faith, somehow things work in incredible ways—not blind faith, but faith born of the experience of God’s inner presence. That’s the real meaning of faith. The deeper the experience, the deeper the faith.”
Lack of faith creates tension
When circumstances force us to live beyond the actual level of our faith, it creates tension—the same tension Brother Elias felt. Most of us still have underdeveloped faith and anxiety. We say, “All right God, you have managed to take care of me every month for 45 years but I’m not sure you will be there this time around.”
St. Francis was above that kind of doubt and anxiety and so also was Paramhansa Yogananda. In his book, The New Path, Swami Kriyananda relates the following story as told by Yogananda: “In the early days of Mt. Washington, a visitor once inquired of me superciliously, ‘What are the assets of this organization?’
“‘None!’ I replied unhesitatingly, ‘Only God.’”
The great saint, Anandamoyee Ma, had that same deep faith. One time Swami Kriyananda asked her about world difficulties. Her reply was simple and memorable, “Don’t you think that He who created this world knows how to take care of it?”
Above all, God wants us to grow and expand. It wouldn’t help us if He resolved our fears by saying, “Oh, poor you. You’re a little worried? Let me give you whatever you think you need—money, savings, security. Then you won’t have to worry.” What He says is, “Why don’t you develop more faith so you need never worry again?”
Our true security
As devotees who are consciously seeking God, we’ve signed on for the “fast track.” Our souls have chosen this turbulent time to reincarnate because it will bring us the lessons we need to evolve spiritually. Often those lessons will push us over the edge of our self-imposed limitations. Our choice is whether to welcome our lessons with gratitude or to reject them and have them heaped upon us unwillingly. When the ego resists this process, we suffer anxiety and pain.
We’ve always appreciated something a friend said to us years ago. Talking about difficult times in the future, he said, “I don’t know what’s going to happen, and I haven’t saved much, but I’m like a cat. Drop me, and I’ll land on my feet no matter what happens.” Gaining that kind of centeredness and inner confidence is much more important than outward bulwarks.
Our true security lies in our deepening attunement with God and Guru, and the sense of God’s inner presence. That comes not only through sadhana and deep meditation, but also by living your life with the consciousness of God’s presence.
As you go about your day, feel that He is doing everything through you. Feel Him acting, not just in big ways, but also in the hundreds of little decisions that you make every day, every hour. Paramhansa Yogananda often said, “The minutes are more important that the years.” Each night before sleep, review how well you sustained this practice throughout the day.
Ultimately, when our faith is deep enough, we can say to Divine Mother, “I’m putting all my eggs in your basket. You take care of the details.” This is not irresponsible if our attunement is profound. As our faith deepens and we rely more on God, we will be guided to make the right choices outwardly. More importantly, what happens to us outwardly just doesn’t matter very much.
So, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Depend more on God than on the things of this earth. Depend more on God’s abundance and on your own inner ability to draw whatever you need.
Will God make it easy for us?
Does that mean He’s going to make it easy for us? No. Does that mean that He’s going to provide everything that we want? Absolutely not! That would destroy our chance to advance spiritually.
Just love God and let come whatever may. Don’t love God because you think it’s a sneaky way of getting all your desires fulfilled.
In the times ahead we may be riding some rough waters. Anandamayee Ma said something very important. She said, “In times of world testing, the devotee will be supported as though on the surface of the waves, like a little boat riding the waves. But those whose minds are immersed in materialism and matter-consciousness, will be drawn under as though in an undertow.”
“I will go forth in perfect faith”
Life has but one true purpose, and that’s the expansion of consciousness. We will go on and on until we achieve that state of perfect consciousness known as satchidananda—ever-new, ever-existing, ever-conscious bliss. Our soul has far greater vistas to explore than this little mud ball of a planet. We might as well get on with it.
There’s an affirmation from Scientific Healing Affirmations that’s very powerful for these times: “I will go forth in perfect faith in the power of Omnipresent Good to bring me what I need at the time I need it.”
So love God and work on deepening your attunement. Everything you are seeking flows from that attunement and the deep faith that it brings.
This article first appeared in print in Fall 2009: “Living by Faith,” Swami Kriyananda, Clarity Magazine.
Based on talks given at Ananda Village on March 25, 2005, September 11, 2005, and August 15, 1999.
Jyotish and Devi Novak are Acharyas (spiritual directors) for Ananda Sangha Worldwide. Jyotish is also Acharya for the Ananda Sevaka Order, worldwide.
Other Clarity articles by Jyotish and Devi Novak are listed under “Nayaswami Jyotish and Nayaswami Devi.”