I’m always conscious of the fact that living the teachings of Ananda – the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda, is an every day, every moment decision. But, sometimes that decision seems to stand out in bright, beautiful contrast to the way most of the rest of the world lives.
This is a long blog, but I wanted to share this story with you.
It is traditional for the Living Wisdom School intermediate class (grades 3 – 6 this year) to take one or two overnight field trips during the year, with the help of teachers and parents.
We recently set off on an overnight trip to eastern Oregon, to visit the High Desert Museum during their Pioneer Days Festival. We had many enthusiastic parents so our caravan consisted of 5 cars, loaded up with 10 kids and 7 adults. We could have squeezed into fewer vehicles, but it seemed right to do it this way. This is one example of living intuitively, from the heart and not the head.
We stopped at a scenic viewpoint and enjoyed lunch at the picnic tables. We were friendly with the other travelers there, including a young woman with a little dog who asked for directions. After lunch we put everything away, locked up the cars and went down the trail to the view.
When we came back up to the parking lot about 20 minutes later, the kids were the first to notice that one of our cars had a smashed window. The driver quickly discovered his wallet was gone and another one of our drivers reported things missing from his car, although no windows were broken. The young woman with the dog told us she heard the car alarms and there were two other cars in the lot that were also vandalized while she was in the restroom.
The kids were disturbed and upset, and we immediately reassured them and started making calls. All of our adults were calm and focused on solutions to the situation. As we worked on the best way to handle the thefts, we also were considering how to keep the children’s energies from moving into fear, anger and blame.
When the owners of the other vandalized cars arrived on the scene, one man reacted with explosive anger, frustration and agitation. Shortly after, we discovered some of the stolen items were visible in the young woman’s car. As we all realized the thief was right in front of us, our adults continued to be calm and focused on safety for all concerned. The other gentleman was beside himself with anger.
In a matter of moments, we knew the children had to be taken away from the scene and four of us loaded them in three vehicles. Three of our adults stayed to deal with the circumstances.
We took the kids to a nearby resort and tracked down a place to sit quietly and have lemonade. When everyone was calm and cool, we explained what had happened, reassured them that all the items were recovered and the police were taking the thief into custody. We also took time to send healing prayers and thoughts of light and love to everyone concerned, particularly the woman who felt so desperate and friendless that she believed preying on others was the only way to survive.
The children responded with various levels of emotion, but they all focused on positive thoughts and gratitude. They took all their emotional energy and played outside with great enthusiasm until we were able to meet up with the others of our party.
Another remarkable part of the story is that the man who was so agitated actually had a heart attack at the scene and an ambulance was called to care for him. He recovered.
The sheriff showed up at our rendezvous point and kindly gave all the children an opportunity to check out his really cool police vehicle. He patiently answered all their questions and gave us a large chunk of his valuable time.
We continued to our destination much later than planned, but everyone was relaxed and grateful for the mutual support and harmonious conclusion to the day’s drama.
As I processed the incident and looked at it from every angle I could imagine, my heart was overcome with gratitude and love. I couldn’t see any moment when the consciousness of God and guru was not present. Although three of the adults in our group are not disciples of this path, they are sensitively attuned to the Living Wisdom School philosophy, which is built on these teachings.
The situation was a complete surprise, and yet, our intuitive guidance to take an extra car meant that we were able to split up and keep the children safe. Everyone worked to keep the energy high and joyful, affirming the many positive aspects of the circumstances: the breathtaking scenery, the lovely weather, the kindness of the sheriff and others we met, the return of all the stolen items, the fact that the damaged car was still useable, the thief was caught and we didn’t spend the rest of the trip wondering who did it.
There was simple awareness and acceptance that life offers a mixture of joy and pain. The enraged man with the heart attack was a glaring example of what can happen to your inner peace if you react to life with personal outrage and blame.
Without the conscious choice to keep God and guru the center of all things, the trip may have been a long experience in suffering and loss. But we had a wonderful time!
It is a remarkable gift, to see that there are no circumstances where the highest truth is not present. Living the teachings means living from that realization.