A few years ago a friend and I were traveling around Europe. One afternoon, we found ourselves lost somewhere in the French countryside. We had taken the metro to the end of the line and started walking, searching for our accommodations but ending up in a grassy field with few cars or people in sight. It was late afternoon, and without speaking the language, having a cell phone, or knowing teleportation, we were in trouble.
Together we kept a positive, joyful spirit however and kept moving, knowing things would work out. Soon later, a man took pity on us obviously bewildered foreigners and gestured us into his car. We tried to explain where we thought we needed to go, and he took off fast. I was in the back seat, and as this man continued to accelerate and swerve along the country road, I began praying uneasily, with great fervor.
Before long however, we had reached our destination, and we gratefully bid our driver adieu. Our little French motel boasted no live staff, and the electronic check-in machine rudely discredited our reservation and credit card. The time was 4:50 PM, getting dark, and we were drained. Well, we laughed it off, and 15 minutes later, tried again – it worked!
Our one-night stay was not recognized until after 5:00 by the previously mentioned, ahem, machine. Well, we passed the night gratefully, if not comfortably, in a small and rather dirty, dark, and smoky room. Our amusement was still peaked; though we had had a rough day, we had not lost our joy.
This story illustrates a principle of yoga that underlies the natural world: our outer circumstances reflect our inner ones, and the former will ultimately adjust to accommodate our inner understanding, awareness, and attitudes. As yogis, we have control over the world around us, from within. As long as we don’t lose our positive outlook, our sense of wonder and joy, the world will be a brighter place, and accommodate our needs. The moment we slip into darkness: negativity, judgment, being a victim, our circumstances reinforces these realities too.
Like many friends of mine, I’ve always loved to travel. It’s inspiring and fun to see beautiful places, different cultures and peoples, and enjoy all that the world has to offer. The quality of “ever-new joy” comes alive to the traveler who, with appreciation, happily visits and new places, befriends new people and new circumstances around him. This is a fun practice indeed, if we can keep our center, especially when the circumstances are less than perfect.
Greater still, and more inspiring, is to travel to places of spiritual power and legacy. India and many parts of Europe offer many such places, hallowed by saints and sages through the centuries. Indeed Paramhansa Yogananda says that the “vibrations [in these places] will quicken your realization.” If you have the opportunity to explore these magnificent parts of the world, do not hesitate to do so.
The Expanding Light, Ananda Village’s retreat center offers many such spiritual travel opportunities, including the Himalayan Adventure Pilgrimage I will co-lead next year. Just one such trip will change your life forever, spiritually and with memories of friendship, joyous wonder and adventure. Ultimately whether we travel near or far in this world, it is the far more vast and worthwhile inner kingdom we must explore and conquer through daily, deep meditation, practicing the presence of God always, and directing our hearts’ love to Him.
In a hauntingly beautiful song from his Cosmic Chants book, Yogananda writes, “I will be a gypsy…I’ll roam, roam, with Aum…I’ll be the king of the land through which I roam.” This is the consciousness of a saint, and that which we can all practice and achieve. Wherever we go, whatever we do, if we keep in tune with Spirit, we will reign like kings over the world around us, from within. “Take no thought for the morrow,” Jesus says in Mathew 6:34, and in 6:33, “ But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness: and all these things shall be added unto you.” Blessings and happy travels to you.