Learn to Love Heroically
Some years ago Swami Kriyananda shared with us a dream he’d had about impending world disasters. The message he received was that our answer to what lies ahead should be to “love heroically.” We should try to act as expansively and selflessly as we can, and resist the pull to think of our own needs first. In hundreds of little ways throughout the day, we should choose selflessness and kindness over self-interest and narrow-mindedness.
Even more than that, we must resist the temptation to contract our hearts, and must find within ourselves a deeper capacity to love unconditionally, with acceptance and without judgment. This is what the lives of all great spiritual teachers demonstrate for us.
As truth seekers, we need to become beacons of strength and hope, always keeping in mind that it is only from God that everything comes, and that anything we do is possible only because of His power flowing through us. As Jesus put it, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit, for without me ye can do nothing.”
Our strength comes from attunement.
It’s our attunement that gives us the faith to go forward in life with energy and commitment even if things seem to be crumbling all around us. We say to ourselves, “God’s in charge. Everything will work out.” Many times we have been involved in projects that seemed destined for disaster, but because we were doing it for God, He was always there helping us, catching us when we faltered. He was doing it through us and making it all happen.
No matter what happens, what suffering we go through, the guru’s grace is ever with us like a subterranean stream, nurturing the garden of our life, watering our roots so that we are always protected and guided. This doesn’t mean that bad things no longer happen. Bad things do happen, but through the grace of the guru we find the strength to rise above them and to understand them in the right way.
To “abide in the guru” is to tune in with his consciousness so that you are no longer a prisoner of your mind, always asking, “Well, should I do this? What about this? What might happen if my husband or my child gets sick or she dies?”—or whatever it might be. Instead you say, “Guruji, let me feel your power flowing through me no matter what happens, and let every decision I make, every thought I have, reflect your consciousness.”
The details take care of themselves.
Swami Kriyananda said toward the end of his life, “I used to pray that every one of my thoughts and every one of my actions would be in tune with Master. Eventually I came to realize that even this wasn’t enough. I wanted there not to be any part of me — thoughts, feelings, actions, ideas, breath — that wasn’t his.”
We knew Swami Kriyananda for many years: when he first founded Ananda; when he was a dynamic world lecturer and a prolific writer; during the years he founded Ananda colonies and centers throughout the world; and at the end of his life when there was nothing left but his bliss and deep love for God. And it was beautiful to behold a life so well lived in God.
The vine comes from God and manifest in this world in the form of the guru to guide the individual disciples and devotees, to answer their questions. Our challenge as devotees is more and more to feel and express in our lives that divine vibration. We will, of course, make mistakes along the way, but the mistakes in life are small. The important thing is remembering God, and when we do that to the best of our ability, the details take care of themselves.
An epic battle of light and darkness
A few years ago, when a number of us from Ananda were on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, we visited many places associated with Judaism and Christianity. It was a time of political unrest in that part of the world, and there was tension in the air. Israeli military jets were flying over our heads, and quite low. Our guide took us to a place in the desert which, according to Revelations in the New Testament, is where the last great battle on earth will begin. Today this place is a crumbling ruin, but archaeologists have found seven ancient civilizations buried below the sands, one under the other.
We stood amidst these ruins in the middle of the Sinai desert, holding hands, and we could feel great spiritual power emanating from that area. Then we chanted AUM for world peace. As we chanted, I [Devi] could perceive in my mind’s eye two great astral beings — one of light, the other of darkness, and they were in a struggle. One was trying to overpower the other, but it seemed they were balanced in strength. I felt, as we chanted AUM, that our sincere desire for the light to prevail strengthened the being of light.
Be a conscious channel of God’s light.
Often a person may think, “What good can I do? What good can my prayers do?” There are forces at play in this world that are much greater than we know. We are not insignificant little beings. Paramhansa Yogananda would say to his disciples, “I see you all as beings of light.” We all need to claim our inherent ability to be channels of the light. If we consciously put out that light, we can shift the balance in the current struggle between light and darkness. This is one of the reasons why we, as devotees, are living in this particular time. There may be worse times ahead, but we will also live to see better times.
We are all part of the tree of God’s consciousness, but we must consciously choose to be part of that wonderful tree of life that is now spreading its branches. Even if we’re the frailest little leaf at the end of one of those branches, let us share the hope and faith in our hearts. Let God’s light come in our meditation. Let it come in our prayers. Let it come through everything we do: planting a garden, cooking a meal, going to work. There’s nothing to which we cannot bring the light of God once we understand our own capacity to be channels of His love and light into this world.
Swami Kriyananda was a remarkable example of how to do this. He gave hundreds of talks all over the world in different languages, but he never felt he was the doer. He would say, “It’s all Master. Master is the only thing that’s coming through me.” Whenever someone gave him a long-winded laudatory introduction, he would say he felt like a little mouse running out on the stage when everyone was looking for a great lion. Deep humility was the secret of Kriyananda’s greatness: It’s why God could come through him. He never felt he was the doer in anything, whether in the music he composed, the books he wrote, or the communities he founded.
Give more dynamic focus to your meditation.
As global citizens we need to move into the future as positively as possible to help establish stability in these changing times. America was the first nation to be founded on higher principles of equality and human rights, and we need to uphold these ideals.
As devotees, we have a further responsibility. We must give our full strength to keeping our consciousness uplifted, holding God’s presence in our hearts and minds, and helping others to do the same. Our primary individual responsibility is to keep our consciousness attuned to God and Gurus by deepening our meditations and serving more expansively.
Make it a point to practice the techniques of our line of gurus with increased dedication and fervor. Add a longer meditation to your sadhana each week. The attunement with higher consciousness that comes through deep meditation will give you the strength, wisdom, and calmness to deal appropriately with whatever may come. Through this deepened attunement you will become a clearer channel for higher consciousness in all your activities. Be especially aware of expressing God and Guru in all your words and actions.
Deepen your connection with other devotees.
It’s important also to seek out and associate with like-minded people who like you are striving to live in the light. Avoid negative discussions or arguments about whose opinions are right or wrong. This will only keep you enmeshed in delusion.
If there is no Ananda center close by, then join our Virtual Community online. Doing so will lend tremendous support to your efforts to keep your consciousness rooted in peace, love, and joy.
Cling to what is real and eternal.
The affairs of this world, even of a great nation like America, are in the final analysis fleeting shadows on the screen of time. The only real, lasting things are God’s peace, joy, and love. When moments of uncertainty, fear, or discouragement pull at you, remember to look past the shadows to the Divine Light constantly illuminating everything.
God is calling us now to build our individual spiritual power. Let us grasp this opportunity with energy and enthusiasm, and understand that it is the dharma we chose for this incarnation.
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Nayaswamis Jyotish and Devi are Spiritual Directors of Ananda Sangha Worldwide. Swami Kriyananda, in his Last Will, Testament, and Legacy, named Nayaswami Jyotish as his “spiritual successor.”