Divine Mother is a master magician. There is a trick that all magicians use: The obvious hides the hidden. A big movement attracts our attention while the real magic is happening behind the scenes. God hides His presence, entertaining us with the beauties and terrors of this world. He gives us challenges, but we rarely understand that the real test is happening behind the scene, in our consciousness.

What befalls us in life is not especially meaningful, but how we react to our challenges, and what we become because of them, is of vital importance. As Paramhansa Yogananda’s most advanced woman disciple, Sister Gyanamata, said, “Lord, change no circumstance in my life. Change me.”

In my last blog I said, “Challenges will come, must come, but only in order to give you a chance to work on your consciousness. When they come, don’t forget why you’ve drawn them. It is never about the project, but always about what you can become by facing them.”

Let us take, for example, the “Covid years,” when everyone in the world faced difficult tests. To the question, “How did you do during Covid?” a typical answer might go something like this: “I did pretty well. No one in my family died, and I was able to keep working. The isolation part was hard, and the government restrictions really got under my skin.” This is a good example of missing the point.

The devotee, who knows that this is a trick question, might answer more like this: “I did pretty well. I deepened my faith in God even though my uncle died. My heart stayed open and even expanded with compassion for those who were suffering, and I did everything I could to help others.”

Swami Kriyananda called death “the final exam.” When we leave this world, we take nothing material with us, only our consciousness with all of its qualities, tendencies, and unfulfilled desires. Think of all the tests you face in this life, even the most severe, as quizzes only, helping you prepare for your finals.

The question naturally arises, “How can we prepare now in order to pass this final exam?” In school we know the subjects, and get a grade from the teacher. But life doesn’t seem to give us clear feedback. It would help to at least know what we will be graded on.

In each life, you may have signed up for one or more special classes, which you can identify by those issues that recur again and again. But there are also “required classes” that everyone must take.

There is a danger in offering a report card. In fact many progressive schools have dispensed with them altogether, because the students focus on getting a good grade rather than on the process of learning. So, our Spiritual Report Card gives only two grades, a plus or a minus. Did we make progress in these areas or did our consciousness contract?

Here, then, are some of the test questions: Think of it as a “cheat sheet,” a way of knowing in advance what you will be asked when your “Spiritual Report Card” for this life is written.

Your connection with God: Did your desire to find God, along with your faith and devotion, grow stronger or weaker?

The Land Beyond My Dreams is a painting of Yogananda depicting his teachings on a spiritual report card for the final exam

“The Land Beyond My Dreams,” by Nayaswami Jyotish.

Attunement to guides and Gurus: Were you able to align your free will with that of the Gurus? Their only purpose in coming is to tutor us so we can live in accordance with divine law.

Qualities of the heart: Did your heart’s energy expand or contract? When life tested you, did you think of others? Did you expand your love, friendship, support, and compassion to include everyone?

Strength of mind and will: Were you able to keep your mind positive and your will strong? Master said that every test is a test of will. And also that we will never get a test that is too hard for us.

Dharma: Finally, did you stay in alignment with dharma? (You can use Patanjali’s yamas as a guide: non-violence, non-stealing, non-lying, non-sensuality, and non-greed.)

So, my friends, prepare well. See everything that comes as a loving lesson from your Divine Mother meant to help you pass your exams and merge into divine bliss. And remember that the process of learning is more important than the results. We have all the time in the world to pass our exams.

In joy,

Nayaswami Jyotish

Listen to Jyotish as he reads the blog, then expands on it, often adding special behind-the-inspiration stories and answers to common spiritual questions. Subscribe to the podcast or download the audio recording by right-clicking here. Or listen to it here (8:19):


  1. Dear Jyotish

    Many thanks for this inspiring article. So perfect for my life moment and very likely for a lot of brothers and sisters.
    Davi and you are great channel’s for Master’s teachings. As followers of this path we are really blessed.
    Thanks a lot

    Many wishes from Paris


  2. My very dears, it was exactly yesterday that I faced a test like this. I have lost my last job and I am searching to find a new one; same time i keep listening ” you take care of Me and I will take care of your needs”. I do believe this is true. Yesterday during my last interview I felt that I was being forced to lie, that the other side had egoistic intentions, forcing me basing it on my need to get a job. I did not accept but I kept honestly to what my concious dictated me. I lost the possibility but when the interview ended my heart was relaxed and my mood was fine attuned with my heart. Immediately I thought it had been a rest and my satisfaction was I did it well. This morning I was meditating and my deep insight was telling me… relax and let it go, it wasn’t real… Following to my meditation I checked my mailbox and here you were with this holy message. In full accordance. Thank you, very much. (Cc. Sagar)

  3. This was perfect, first because it reminds us and second a chance to “do it again”, .
    And Thank You for the way you did it, sometime# it doesn’t come to us like this and this makes it more “whole”.

  4. Namaste Jyothish,
    As soul travellers we are where we should be and are journeying together, here’s dinner in Now 🙏
    Have pen in my poem, inspired by my soul.

    Sagariya marm
    Personification of sea

    Tum se bhinna nahi,
    Tumhara hi marm hu mein,
    Mere me gharayi hai jitni,
    Uthani ghehanta hai tujh me bhi,
    Gaharpan hai hum me apaar,
    Aghad hai jiski pahuch samtal par.

    I (sea) am not different from you.
    I am your heart and soul.
    The depth in me is equal to the profundity in you .
    Our depth in us is unfathomable and is beyond reach.

    Tum se bhinna nahi,
    Tumhara hi marm hu mein,
    Uthathe girthe mere tarango ki avarthi,
    Girthe uthathe tere bhava vesh ki bhi pravarthi,
    Jalpratap ke yeh vrtant abhas,
    Jagaye hamame anekanek ahsas.

    I am not different from you.
    I am your heart and soul.
    The frequency of rise and fall of my waves is similar to the fall and rise of your emotions and feelings.
    This cascade of phenomena in our lives brings back many of the memories to surface.

    Tum se bhinna nahi,
    Tumhara hi marm hu mein,
    Khabi saham kar thamana chahu apna updarvi aakar,
    Tum bhi thame tivr gati ko,
    Jeevan ka rukh modana chaho.

    I am not different from you.
    I am your heart and soul.
    I get scared and control my violent form just as the way you change your course of life when it becomes out of control.

    Tum se bhinna nahi,
    Tumhara hi marm hu mein,
    Kuch kshan bulbula ban, urmika ke tarango par gota lagavu,
    Man tumhara bhi kare kuch pal,
    Umango ki rawani me kho sa javu.

    Sometimes, I become a tiny bubble and resurface on the small waves. You too would desire to float on the waters of ecstasy.

    Tum se bhinna nahi,
    Tumhara hi marm hu mein,
    Icha hai sirf itani, ban shushant Sahil ka tath chuna chahu,
    Tum bhi ban prasanth marm apna chuna chaho.

    I am not different from you,
    I am your heart and soul.
    I have only one small desire to reach the banks of the river.
    You too would like to touch the bottom of your soul like me.

    We are all Unified, the same , United into one pure, divine, pristine love.🙏

  5. Great article! And a beautiful painting! Thanks Jyotish.

  6. Thank you so much for these report card points and reminding us that the most important thing to consider, is our progress in our relationship with God and Guru.

    Below is a talk link from Treasures Along the Path, Swami Kriyananda’s Talk-of-the-Month club.

    Swami speaks about your points:
    Your connection with God
    Attunement to guides and Gurus
    Qualities of the heart
    Strength of mind and will

    How to Overcome Obstacles to Spiritual Growth

  7. The questions and inquiries shared in this article are really helpful for me to bring it all down to earth. I have turned to the Ananda website and videos throughout the pandemic searching for a deeper meaning and context to view unfolding events. I feel my connection to everyone and everything more than ever. I feel the spiritual energy that animates all of life more and more. I am learning to serve in whatever small way I can and feeling the return of energy as Love begets Love. When I feel myself moving toward overwhelm and touching into despair, I feel the support there to lift me and help me on my way. So grateful for your rapid response to the Ukranian Crisis. So grateful to get to watch Anandi’s Astral Ascension on YouTube. Her video showed me the energy created by someone living and embodying this life path. Feeling grateful for all the spiritual nourishment, comfort and inspiration you so freely share with anyone who wants to partake of it. And also love the painting of Yogananda in the shimmering trees. Thank You.

  8. Thank you for this, Jyotish. It is exactly what I needed to read today. Blessings to you and Devi….🙏🏼

  9. Dear Nayaswami Jyotish Ji,

    Thank you for this inspiring blog. Very useful points to reflect and work on.
    The perspective of a devotee (Covid’s example) is profound and something to be applied in every aspect of our life. Thanks for sharing.
    Enjoyed reading these lines “What befalls us in life is not especially meaningful, but how we react to our challenges, and what we become because of them, is of vital importance”


  10. Dearest Jyotish Ji, thank you for this most timely jewels of wisdom you have shared with us. “Challenges will come, must come, but only in order to give you a chance to work on your consciousness.”. “In each life, you may have signed up for one or more special classes, which you can identify by those issues that recur again and again. But there are also “required classes” that everyone must take”. How deep how true. and the 5 pointers you gave are very inspiring guidelines to reflect on and act/change in myself. thank you for your wisdom both of you and all the inspiration from our beloved Swamiji and thru Ananda that are preparing us to face the final exam with love and Joy.

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