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In the great epic story, The Mahabharata, each character represents a positive or negative human quality, The personified war between constructive and destructive qualities describes our own inner battle against delusion. To gain success and happiness, Paramhansa Yogananda gave us many practical and useful tools. This little story illustrates one of the most powerful war-conquering tactics that he counseled us to use.

Hi, my name is Aspiring. It’s a quiet Saturday morning. Up in my attic room I’m enjoying doing a project that I’ve longed to get to. My friends, Contentment and Happiness, are helping me. My sister, In-The-Moment, is also with us. In-The-Moment rarely visits me and I’m enjoying her company very much. My brother, Meditation, has just left. We had a good visit. He regularly comes to see me.

The four of us have been peacefully working together for quite some time when the door downstairs opens, and I hear my cousin, Restless, calling me. “Aspiring, are you home?”  I get up and go downstairs. He’s brought his friend, Fault-Finding, with him. We are talking in the sitting room when I hear people coming into the house. “I invited some of our friends and relatives over,” said Restless. He’s like that, continually wanting to get some action going, often acting on impulse.

I get up and start to enter the dining room, but, catching a glimpse of my least favorite cousins, Vices and Bad-Habits, I go into the kitchen instead. There, I see Mr. Greed rummaging through the fridge. Who does he think he is, helping himself like that without asking? Good grief! I go into the living room and immediately see Rejection by the fire. He’s often cold and trying to get warm.

Ah, there’s Aunt Desire, looking beautiful as usual, sitting with her twin daughters, False-Happiness and Sorrow. I’m rather drawn to Aunt Desire. I often have her over for tea. We have the most fun conversations about interesting places we can go, beautiful things we can buy. She has a seemingly endless amount of ideas. I chat a bit, then get up to leave the room and spot Little Miss Whiney and Self-Pity, poor things, feeling apart from life and sitting in the corner commiserating together. I’m starting to feel quite unsettled. The peaceful feeling of this morning is evaporating.

Noticing that the basement door is open I tiptoe down the stairs to the storage room. I see Nostalgia and her friend, Attachment, going through old picture albums, oohing and awing, having a great time remembering the past. My cousin Worry is down there, too, but not paying attention, she’s totally caught up in her thoughts.

What’s that commotion I hear upstairs? I go up and see Anger and Frustration having an argument in one room. They’re really going at it. Best to leave them alone. I peek into the guestroom and see a little party of three: Mr. Judgmental, Mrs. Gossip and DestructiveCriticism, animatedly talking together. They obviously think they are having a good time. As I go down the hall I see LowSelfImage hiding out in the office, playing computer games. Walking back downstairs I pass Doubt, who has a very serious look on his face.

What a strange and gloomy collection of friends and relatives I have in my house. Where did they all come from? I’m not enjoying their company. I don’t want this party!

I have to get out of here. I feel overwhelmed with all this negative energy. I rush past my Auntie TooTired. The poor woman, constantly exhausted, refuses to take action on what she needs to do to have more energy. Just as I reach the door it opens, and in walk the very good looking, but oh, so insufferable, Ego and Pride brothers. This is too much!

I burst out of the house into the warm sunshine. With surprise, I see a whole different group of friends and relatives enjoying the fresh air and sunny day. Love and Compassion are sitting under a tree, showing little Kindness how to make paper cranes. Concentration and Willpower are immersed in a game of chess. My cousins, EvenMindedness, and her sister, Cheerful, are walking in the garden. Power is energizing with great gusto, he’s so full of energy. Wisdom is sitting on the patio swing with Peace and Calmness, while Light and Joy are choreographing a new dance. My heart swells with gladness to see them.

It’s wonderful to get out of that dark house. I really would like all those characters in there to leave. They make me feel so bad. I don’t know what to do. I think I’ll ask Wisdom’s advice.

“You don’t have to let them in,” he declares to me. “You’re so nice to them. You give them energy, you talk to them, feed them, and have an open door policy to your house. Stop giving them energy. When they come to the door, ignore them or tell them to go away. Let them know they are no longer welcome in your home. You can choose who you want in your life. Do you want to feel good or continue feeling unhappy?’

“Here’s a suggestion,” says Wisdom, “Take Willpower and Concentration with you for support, go into the house, and tell them all to leave. But first, you have to decide if you really want to be happy, rather than miserable.”

“Yes,” I decide, “I want happiness.”

As Willpower, Concentration and I start toward the house, the others jump up, exclaiming, “We’ll come with you, Aspiring!” My dearest friends Love, Compassion, Kindness, Calmness, Peace, Even-Minded, Cheerful, Light, and Joy gather around me. I feel the reassuring presence of Wisdom and Power behind me.

We enter the house and, to my amazement, everyone is gone. The living room, kitchen and dining area are empty. The door to the basement is closed and it’s totally quiet upstairs. The house seems clean and bright. I can’t believe they’ve all left!

We hear voices coming from the sitting room. Entering, we see a beautiful sight. Sitting talking are Love and Joy’s parents, Aum and Divine Mother. Twin siblings, Acceptance and Detachment look up and smile happily at us. And there, on a pillow on the floor, is my most beloved sister, Devotion. And, guess who they are visiting with? My Guru, Paramhansa Yogananda!

As I lovingly gaze at Sri Yoganandaji He seems to looks different, reminding me of Jesus Christ. But now, He is looking more like a King, resembling San Fernando III. His appearance then fades into a broader image of another King, William the Conqueror. I now see that His sword is becoming a bow, and the form of Arjuna sits in His chair. His outward appearance continues to transform into people I don’t recognize. Then, gradually, He again becomes my beloved Paramhansa Yogananda, whom God has given to me as His pure channel, showing me His Celestial Self through the Divine form of my Guru.

Yoganandaji looks at me with love and says, “Come in closer, so I can bless you.” He blesses me, putting his finger on my spiritual eye. Waves of joy pulse through me. I’ve never felt such bliss before. He looks deeply into my eyes, “I now give you the new name of Bliss.” I can hardly contain my joy.

I look around the room, and know for certain, these are the friends and relatives I choose to invite to my party.

Once you succeed in bringing God’s light into the dimly lit room of your consciousness, your spiritual darkness will vanish forever.

—Paramhansa Yogananda