Well here we are, the best part of a year gone since coming to live on the land, here at Ananda Kriya Yogashram in Pune, India. It is now Monsoon, and no better time is there to reflect on the tests and trials that have passed and to wonder at those still yet to come. The beauty of this land is breath-taking now that the hills are even more verdant and lush, yet we pay a high price for living in a place of such peace and beauty.

I think my husband would agree that life here has been the toughest we have ever experienced for any length of time. We have faced many hardships with no power, sometimes no water, no funds to carry out the jobs that are needed, no home as such, as building work has been heavily delayed …all sorts of things that one would expect in such pioneering conditions, and plenty more besides. Great tests we have overcome before, but they have been of short duration. Here they seem to merge continuously one after the other, or even piled on top of each other. Guru is sending them thick and fast. This is good! For through our service the blessings, too, are coming thick and fast. Life balances out, and the harder the tests that come, so the greater the blessings that follow.

Through tempest, through snows, through turbulent tide, the touch of Your hand is my friend and my guide…

These words from Swami Kriyananda’s song, ‘I live without Fear’, have saved me many a time. In my fellow gurubhais that I have been living in close association with these past months, I have found that the touch of God’s hand is always there when it is needed, and even when it is not! It may just be a warm smile, or loving eyes, a hearty laugh, or a motherly hug, a shoulder to cry on, or an ear borrowed, or even some good old plain speaking, but whatever is needed to spur us on, temper us down, or to inspire is at hand always.

I said to someone only the other day, “Where else in the world could I have learned so much, so quickly, and received such blessings as I have in this Mother of all Nations, India?” I have very quickly come to love this place. Not in an attached way, but if I was to leave tomorrow I would always feel a connection to the wonderful souls here.

The other day I was doing healing work in the city. I had an errand to do. As I left the car I walked past a veritable throng of people gathered at a bus stop. ‘Surely they are not all expecting to get on one bus?’ I thought to myself. Then, as I began to weave through them, I saw before me an old man shuffling along on his behind going away from me into the crowd. He was probably begging, and was being ignored by all around him. I assumed he would show up daily and people had desensitized to his presence. I quickly overtook him, not glancing back, but I made a mental note that I would give him some rupees on the way back; I was only going to be a couple of minutes in a store.

So on the way back I had a folded note ready. He was still shuffling, and this time toward me. He was fairly old, I would say, with long grey hair and a thick, long beard. He spotted me (I was hardly inconspicuous in nayaswami blue) and did not once take his eyes from me as I approached him. I was taken aback by what I saw in them. The power he conveyed was totally unexpected. He was disheveled and dirty. I would have expected his eyes to be reddened and dull, as is so often seen in India’s poor, yet this man’s eyes were on fire. I could not even distinguish his actual eyes, just the brilliance radiating from them. I didn’t fully stop walking, but as we passed each other I deftly slid the note into his hand, which was not held out begging, oddly enough, as is usual. He only raised it because I was lowering mine. In my previous experiences a beggar just takes and moves on. I respectfully gestured my hands in Namaste. Without hesitation this crippled old man, once he had the note in his grasp, held it up to his spiritual eye, acknowledging God as the giver. I shivered. In that moment I had the realization that I just passed a test…!

Joy to you

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