“All I want to convert you to is who and what you really are.” Swami Kriyananda often said this to newcomers attending his classes. He was not trying to persuade people to leave their chosen religion, nor necessarily to convert them to Yoganandaji’s path and teachings. Rather, he wanted to convey to everyone that all the joy, fulfillment, strength, and understanding that we seek in outer goals is to be found within our own self.
As I write these words, it’s May 19, 2020: what would have been Kriyanandaji’s 94th birthday had he not left his body in 2013. Today there are celebrations for him all over the world, honoring his life and sharing stories of how he changed and blessed countless lives.
At the same time, the world is filled with insecurity, fear, and suffering as people face the havoc wrought by the pandemic. In the midst of these dark clouds of uncertainty, Swamiji’s life can provide us with a light to guide us forward.
Over the years, we watched him build Ananda from a mere dream into a worldwide movement. He had determination and courage that were undiminished by any obstacle that stood in his way. There were many, and he showed us how to face them.
What particular tests are people facing now? And how can we draw guidance from Swamiji’s example?
One of the tests is worry about lack of money to meet our needs. From the beginning Swamiji had very limited finances with which to build Ananda. But he knew that money was only energy in a condensed form: If he put out enough energy, then the needed money would come to him. And so it proved. With absolute faith and love for God within, he went forth with dynamic energy, and the necessary funds were always provided (sometimes, it’s true, at the very last minute). In one of his songs, he wrote:
I ask for no riches
That death can destroy:
I crave only Thee,
Your love and Your joy.
Another test many are facing is loneliness and isolation. In the beginning only a handful of sincere devotees joined Swamiji to help him build Ananda. Even though many came and went, Swamiji persisted because he had the strength within himself to continue, even if it meant doing it alone. In another song he wrote:
Let come who will, but if they all turn home,
The goal still awaits you: Go on alone!
Finally, many people are dealing with fear of disease and death. Throughout his life, Swamiji dealt with many serious, even life-threatening illnesses, but he never allowed them to stop him. He didn’t fear death, because he knew his soul was eternal. In another of his songs he sang:
The dancers will pass,
The singing must end.
I welcome the darkness
With You for my Friend.
Kriyananda faced every test with Yoganandaji’s words in his heart: “There are no obstacles, only opportunities.” He lived it, and he triumphed. Through his spiritual dedication, Swamiji had realized the truth about who and what he really was: a spark of God’s eternal power, joy, love, and strength. He showed us how we, too, can live with this same strength, courage, and joy through the challenges of these times.
In a talk he gave on facing life’s tests, he said: “We see ourselves struggling along on the spiritual path while fighting our way through tests and difficulties, but don’t let anything shake you. Every step that you take brings you more light and joy. It isn’t as if you have to walk through endless darkness so that at the end you find a little crumb. Each step brings you greater strength and ability to accept whatever comes. With these gifts we also find the certainty that there is only one thing worth living for—that which we find at the end of all tests: God’s peace.”
Wishing you inner light and strength,
P.S. We want to make sure you know about a two-part webinar that Jyotish and I will be doing called “Tools to Stand Unshaken Amidst Life’s Challenges.” It’s starting tonight, May 22, and will continue next week, May 29, at 6:00–7:30 p.m. PDT. We hope you can join us . . . and bring your questions. (You’ll need to preregister online.)