Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. For those of you who live outside the United States of America, Thanksgiving Day started centuries ago, after the Pilgrim Fathers’ first year on this continent. Tradition sanctions this as a day when Americans everywhere thank God for all His blessings.
We too, at Ananda, have so many blessings for which to thank Him: our communities and way of life, our friends in God, the opportunity to serve God, and to serve Him in others. I know that many of us, myself included, thank Him daily for the sheer abundance of these blessings.
Yet I have often asked myself, What if He took it all away from me? What if He asked me to serve Him, not in these beautiful Sierra foothills among loving friends and peaceful vibrations, but in a slum. Would I still thank Him? And my answer to this question is, Absolutely! Would I thank Him as much? Indeed, yes!
For things pass. Circumstances pass. It isn’t things I thank Him for. It’s His love. Divine Mother – that is how I prefer to think of God – knows what my needs are. Were She to strip me of everything, She could never strip me of my love and devotion for Her, or the firmness of my commitment to serving and seeking Her. These things alone, not outward success of any kind, are my truth, my reality.
Every night when I go to bed I give back to God everything I’ve created and everything I am. Many people in this life have praised me: Shall I thank God for their praise? Praise can become a trap, unless I see clearly that nothing I do is by my power. Divine Mother alone is the doer. Again, many people in this life have heaped blame on me: Shall I curse them for it? Certainly not. Rather, I extend my heart’s feelings to them in blessing. Well then, shall I allow their criticisms to affect me? Only if I find truth in the criticisms, a truth I can change, whether in myself or in my work. In this case, I am grateful for their advice, and tell them so.
Ignominy is something I have had to bear for many years: SRF’s ouster of me in 1962, with a harshness I’d never imagined possible, and the subsequent label placed upon me of traitor, Judas, and other charges that are still being repeated to this day. Wrath against me has been like fire tempering steel – in this case, the steel of my determination to live for what I believe, and to ignore the demeaning definitions that others try to impose on me. As Paramhansa Yogananda said under the fire of similar tests, “I am what I am before God and my own conscience.”
Just imagine the test Divine Mother gave me when She led me to purchase land in California. I had sought a haven elsewhere, as far away as the Caribbean islands, Mexico, Lebanon, and India. California was where She led me – conveniently near Los Angeles for any Ananda dissident who wanted “the real story” on Kriyananda. I never discouraged them from going. Quite the opposite. After all, SRF is my Guru’s organization.
A friend of Ananda and I were discussing, in 1970, the hardships people endure in their lives. “It’s strange,” I said, “I always seem to have had it so easy.”
“Easy!” she exclaimed, clutching her brow incredulously. She then proceeded to list the tests with which she was familiar in her one-year’s acquaintance with us: having to earn the money myself to start Ananda; the threat of foreclosure; the destruction of our temple by fire; the dissidents at whom I’ve hinted above.
“Well,” I said, “now that you mention it, I guess there have been a few difficulties.”
Well, but what do such things matter?
When our temple burned down that year, I remember visiting a nearby store in the afternoon. I entered singing. The proprietress, a French lady, exclaimed, “You’re singing!” “Why not?” I asked. “I’ve lost a temple, but I haven’t lost my voice.” “Oh, my goodness!” she replied. “When our ‘ouse burn down – six months, weeping!”
But her weeping didn’t bring their house back. So why not sing? We have to live, anyway.
SRF’s lawsuit against Ananda continues. I don’t see that they stand a chance of winning anything. Rather, the longer they pursue it the more, so it appears to me, they stand to lose. I am sorry for the image it creates of our Guru’s mission, but there really is nothing I or any of us at Ananda can do about it except stand firm by what we believe, and give blessings and love in return. These blessings and this love are not posturing to impress others. They well up spontaneously in the hearts of the most generous-natured group of people it has ever been my blessing to be associated with.
I told our legal team months ago, “What can they do, in the face of their losses? My guess is, they’ll go the ‘tried and true’ route: persecution.” Of course, there is nothing true about that route, but it does seem to be the one religions have taken.
Will it really come to persecution? I’ve had my share of it already, through the years. And I take it, too, as Divine Mother’s gift to me. For She gives us not only pleasant things, but clear reminders also that this world is imperfect, that it will never give us everything we want. It is a mixture of sand and sugar, in equal proportions. Such, quite simply, is the law of maya (delusion). For every plus there must always be a minus; for every up, a down. Let us be equally grateful for both. Were it not for the darkness – here, at least, in this realm of relativity – the light would be less beautiful.
So this year at Thanksgiving, let us thank Divine Mother not for Her gifts, but for that love which gives us the strength to seek Her beyond life’s ups and downs, in eternity.
In divine friendship always,