There are times when life seems to bear down on us. It’s difficult then to remain positive amidst the challenges in our life, and that we see in the lives of others, and in the world at large. Yet in this world of duality, the alternating waves of joy and sorrow are a constant. It’s how we deal with them that keeps us either forever tossed on the crashing waves of maya, or resting in the unmoving peace of God.

We had a very dear friend at Ananda, Nayaswami Maria Warner, who battled cancer for many years until her passing in 2010. In the face of repeated surgeries and rounds of chemotherapy, she never lost her resilience, nor her desire to serve and seek God.

Finally, in the last months of her life it was discovered that the cancer had spread to her brain. As her husband, who was struggling with the thought of what lay ahead, pushed her in a wheelchair into the hospital, she looked up at him and calmly said: “Detach yourself. Control the reactive process. Live the teachings.” These profound words have become known as “Maria’s Mantra,” and have offered guidance and solace to many in the midst of their own struggles.

How do we find the wisdom and strength to rise above life’s challenges? Try to see the bigger picture, of which we are only an infinitesimally small part. In other words, put yourself in the context of a larger scheme of things, and live in life’s longer rhythms.

Once Swami Kriyananda needed to have some painful dental work done, and declined anesthetic because he didn’t like the feeling of dullness it caused. He later told us that during the procedure, he thought, “I’ve had a long, rewarding life filled with many happy memories. This present pain is just one moment in the whole scheme of my life’s experiences.” Everything went smoothly, and Swamiji ended up composing music in his mind as the dentist worked.

Photo taken by Nayaswami Jyotish of Nayaswami Devi while on vacation in Monterey, California.

It’s also good to take time out and absorb yourself in the vast vistas of nature. Jyotish and I just spent a week by the ocean walking along beautiful coastal trails. We were filled with joy at the power of great, crashing waves, and with wonder at the amazing diversity of life in the tide pools. It was wonderfully refreshing and uplifting.

Go into nature and gaze at scenes that expand your consciousness: mountains, the ocean, or a star-filled sky. Remember, however, that what we behold outside of us is only a reflection of what lies within.

Swami Kriyananda used to enjoy describing a cartoon that he’d once seen in The New Yorker magazine. It showed a pompous businessman with his wife gazing up at the stars. She had obviously asked him a question, and his reply in the caption was: “Make me feel small? Not at all. I was just made regional manager for my company.” Life’s wonders are lost on the self-absorbed.

To see the big picture, we must first expand our consciousness through meditation.

To see the big picture, we must first expand our consciousness through meditation. Feel joy within, and then behold it in the beauty of flowers. Feel love within, then behold it in the great diversity of life. Feel calm expansion within, then feel the peace of the infinite reach of stars. Feel unmoving stillness within, and see it reflected in the mountains. Feel God’s limitless power, and see it in the crashing waves and ocean deeps.

Ultimately, however, it’s not enough only to see the big picture—we must become it. This is the way of self-transcendence.

Master expresses this in so much of what he has given us. There’s his chant: “I am the bubble / Make me the sea. / Wave of the sea / Dissolve in the sea.” And his poem “Samadhi” concludes with the words:

A tiny bubble of laughter, I
Am become the Sea of Mirth Itself.

That is the whole journey of life in a nutshell: Find the tiny bubble of joy within you and expand it until you become the ocean of unlimited bliss. Then, whatever life brings, you know you are a part of something much greater, of something eternal.

Your friend in God,

Nayaswami Devi

Listen to Devi as she first reads the blog, then expands on its meaning and messages for readers with behind-the-blog commentary. Subscribe to the podcast or download the audio recording by right-clicking here. Or listen to it here (8:44):


  1. Thank you for this article, indeed I feel the same at this moment, a bit down although I have 100% trust in God and his guidance in my life. But sometimes I feel in my life not only me but there are many other people mainly my family members are involved and at that time I feel a deep inner pain because they are also not able to enjoy many things or somehow compromise in many. But by the way, this is an inspirational topic which again kicks me to look forward to seeing the dreams.

  2. I love your messages that I get in my email! They are little nudges of encouragement and reminders for me. Thank you so much!

  3. I understand the responsibility of wanting our family to be happy and free. You cannot control their feelings though. You can only continue to love them and be there for them, while experiencing your own joy. I wish you well in obtaining your dreams.

  4. You have really uplifted me. Thankyou for those silken words . So true. Just slow down and behold the magic . Even a tiny little weed growing in a crack can nod its head in sprightly dance while being somewhat bludgeoned by the wind 🙏🌪🪴 Thankyou for your wisdom

  5. Namaste Devi ji. You have have expressed your thoughts in a very transparent manner. We are enlightened from your words. It is very true that our existence and emotions are very meagre when compared with the universe. Hence, we should not bother much for worldly pains and sorrow.
    Your photograph on seashore taken by Jyotish ji is marvelous. You look beautiful and blissful, with a mother-universe look.
    I love it.
    May Almighty God give you strength to work more and thus help the disciples.

  6. Thank you for these messages, they mean so much to me and always come when I need to read them. They make me think and always point me in the right direction, and remind me to see the beauty. 🙏🏻

  7. “Detach. Control my reaction, live the teachings…”
    I cannot tell you how relevant this is to me right at this moment. I was just trying to connect with God and was saying to myself the beginning of the Deseterada…Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence…
    Morning becomes loud with stress and overwhelming anxiety for my son who is suffering right now. It has been difficult , but seeing these words a few minutes before his morning begins…I know the Divine Mother is with us. Thank you❤️

    1. Many times in my meditation I feel Love from the heart and hear the bells. And than sometimes also the Aum sound. By praying mostly the light appears. I am always very happy in my meditations because of my health I cannot go easy outside in Wintertime and cannot travel far away from where I live. But we have nice Woods in our environment but was born nearby the sea and miss the sea very much. Blessings to you.

  8. Dear Sister Devi
    Thankyou for your inspiring words – as often is – just what I needed to read and absorb today.
    With love Mariananda.

  9. This is so beautifully said that it just enters the mind and for sure your realisation of these Teachings inspire us to live them too 🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🌟🌟🌟🌟

  10. Just thank you. Your words touched deep today. I’m feeling so lucky to be part of Ananda, very deeply today. I need to be reminded over and over. So, very simply, thank you!

  11. Deviji, It is always uplifting and assuring to read your blogs or listening to you and Jyotishji. Feel so happy to see you having a time out in the wonder of nature it’s beauty.It isn’t easy always to see the bigger picture in the midst of our own struggles.But being a part of Ananda has been so helpful to cope with them.Thank you much for being there bringing Master’s light to numerous souls in need
    Aum Guru 🙏🙏😌🌺❤️

  12. Beautiful words and so pertinent to my life now. Thank-you for including the relevance and healing ability of nature. The article really touched me. Thank-you.

  13. Thank you Devi. I’m glad you and Jyotish had a wonderful time at the ocean. The California coastline is beautiful, isn’t it? Thank you for sharing the story about Maria’s mantra. This is what can happen when husband and wife are both devotees.

  14. Thank you for sharing these truthful insights that help to keep us aligned with the divinity within! Bless your heart my dear friend!

  15. Thank you Devi, I am going to practice Maria’s mantra! It says it all. Like Swami said at the end of his life, Love God, Love God, Love God! These doses of truth keep me faithful to what I know is True. Thank you again and many blessings to you!

  16. Namaste Devi ji!! Very well said, we are looking for joy and happiness outside but the truth is everything is inside us. We just need to go within ourselves and search and we’ll get all the answers!!
    Thank you for sharing 🙏🌹

  17. Beautiful Deviji!

    The Kingdom of God is within!!!!
    Jai Guru, Jai Ananda!!!

  18. Dearest Nayaswami Devi Ji
    Such a beautiful wisdom you have shared, very encouraging and uplifting
    Thank you very much 🙏🙏🙏🕉💖

  19. Thank you for this beautiful teaching which truly says it all. Joe and I are “stepping away” on a tropical vacation in Puerto Rico.
    Wonderful reminders to BECOME the ocean of bliss. JAI GURU! 🙏🕉️

  20. Dear Nayaswami Devi Ji,

    Thank you for sharing this blog. This point in particular struck me and to be put in to practice ~ context of a larger scheme of things, and live in life’s longer rhythms.

    Very nice photo of yours. Thank you for sharing :)


  21. Thank you, Devi, for disseminating your pearls of wisdom. God’s love is omnipresent in the elements of nature, including us, and we are a part of the whole and the whole of a part simultaneously. When the Buddha reached Nirwana, his first words were, “It’s liberated” and by “It”, he meant his ego or the ego. He didn’t say “I am liberated”. To understand our minute existence in the universe, we must realize that we are not the mind and that we aren’t even the body. To merge with divinity, or the Ocean as the Master called it, we must let go of the “I”. These are my humble thoughts for my Dhamma siblings. Om Shanti!

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