There’s a joke about a man who woke up one morning to discover that he had only three, long hairs left on his head. As he looked into the mirror, he said, “Today I think I’ll wear my hair in a braid.” The next morning he found that he had only two hairs left and thought, “Hmm . . . today I’ll part it down the middle.” On the third day there was only one hair left, so after some thought, he decided to wear it in a ponytail.
Finally on the fourth day there were no hairs left at all. He sighed with relief. “Thank goodness. Now I don’t have to worry about how to wear my hair anymore!”
I hope this story brought a smile to your face, but there’s a deeper message in it as well. Change and loss are an inevitable part of life. We can’t escape them, but we can choose how we deal with them. We can go the route of resentment, blame, and self-pity when faced with difficulties; or we can accept them willingly with openness and a positive expectation. It all depends on our level of consciousness.
In Whispers from Eternity, Paramhansa Yogananda writes: “We must prepare ourselves mentally to meet life’s inevitable trials, difficulties, and tragedies. For such preparation, the movies we see in actual theaters can be instructive. If viewed with inner calmness and detachment, they can help us to understand that nothing in life is real in itself.” “The fundamental cure for all human ills is everywhere one and the same: to raise one’s consciousness.”
Let’s look at some changes that most of us face—loss of material possessions, health challenges, the passing of loved ones—and find ways to rise above the suffering they bring.
From personal experience, I’ve learned that even in the midst of losing everything one owns, it’s still possible to find a center of peace and security within. Our drama unfolded in July 1976 when a forest fire swept through Ananda Village, destroying hundreds of wooded acres and most of the community’s buildings, including our home and everything we owned. This happened at a particularly vulnerable time for us: Our son had been born just eleven days earlier.
With nothing but the clothes on our backs, we prayed to God for the strength to face the future. In response, we felt uplifted by an understanding that the source of our security and well-being was not our possessions, but an inner connection with God. Over time we came to realize that losing everything we owned was one of the greatest inner gift we’d ever received, because on some level it permanently freed us from dependence on material things for our sense of well-being.
Another challenge that everyone deals with, especially now during the pandemic, is the loss of good health. Swami Kriyananda, who faced an almost constant series of health challenges, was a wonderful model for how to deal positively with them. We were with him before and after many surgeries, and his unwavering attitude of calm inner joy was astonishing.
How did he do this? We could see that there was never any denial of the situation, but rather complete acceptance and almost embracing of what was happening. He also maintained an inner detachment from his body, as though he were thinking, “This illness may be happening to my body, but it doesn’t touch my true reality, my soul nature.” Through all the tests and trials he confronted in his life he had unwavering trust and faith in his guru to sustain him.
Probably the hardest loss to deal with is the death of friends or loved ones. Yoganandaji faced overwhelming grief with the passing of his mother when he was a young boy. Inconsolable for many years, he was finally comforted by the voice of Divine Mother, who said: “It is I who have watched over thee, life after life, in the tenderness of many mothers! See in My gaze the two black eyes, the lost beautiful eyes, thou seekest!”
We can find comfort from such a loss by looking past the form of our loved one to the One Beloved hidden there. “It is God alone who acts through you,” Yoganandaji said. “It is Him alone you should really love—through others, when you love them. People aren’t aware of that great, ever-comforting presence. They focus all their affection on one another. When someone whom they love dies, they think, ‘Oh, how cruel!’ But it was God alone all the time, playing at hide-and-seek with them!”
Let’s embrace all the changes and losses in life with the uplifted consciousness and strength of divine warriors. Then we can stand firmly in the truth that no loss can dim the light of God that shines within us and within everything in this world.
May you find God’s peace in the midst of change.
Jyotish and Devi now offer weekly commentary on each blog, with 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 (8:01):
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Such a profound message that encourages us to always have the presence of God to strengthen us.
Jai Guru 🌺🙏
Thank you for the profound and tender words. They are meaningful. God bless x
Dear Nayaswami Devi Ji,
Thank you for this blog. Much needed during these times.
I enjoyed reading these lines. – “Through all the tests and trials he confronted in his life he had unwavering trust and faith in his guru to sustain him.”
This is a great reminder for us to follow in the footsteps of Swamiji.
Dearest Devi, You are so true. My deepest gratitude for the river of divine mothering flowing forth from the wellspring of your devotion and knowing. I surrender like a little child lost without her hand that so lovingly and selflessly offers tender guidance, that we may never stray far from his truth.
Yours always, In the dance of life, Michelle Knight
Thank you🙏 So in time for me😊
Thank you , Devi for such an uplifting message. I have suffered so much over the losses of my cats and dogs. They were babies to me. I always prayed to God to help me accept their returning to Him, their maker, and thanked Him for loaning them to me to love and be loved by them. Also I begged Him to give me the strength to deal w their loss. He never failed me. He is the Lover and the Giver.
Just what everyone needs at this point of time…. we all are going through a tremendous change in our lives, people have lost their jobs, some have lost their loved ones and others have lost health. It is knowing that divine will is supreme and one must accept whatever happens.
Thank you for reminding us: Only God and Only Love sustains us all through life experiences. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom.
So beautifully said. Thank you for the clarity of your words and dedication to the path. Resonates and helpful. Blessings.
Mahalo once again Deviji for a good story profoundly expressed through a personal experience of an inner connection with God. It makes me think that God consciousness is the only higher consciousness available, weather we know it or not.
It was very calming to read this blog as I was going under lot of relationships issues in my family. God alone stands with us in any circumstances. Everything else is not real.
It healed my inner self.
Alsways fresh, and touching deep, Master’s teaching brought forth through your service.
Thanks for this beautiful, lovely and helpful lesson , it give me peace and motivation
I found this message particularly uplifting and helpful at this time. Thank you, Devi!
Thank you Devi
What beautiful reminders of how to face challenging times and of what is most meaningful in life. You write so beautifully … with such clarity, wisdom and devotion it is easy to take these lessons in
Thank you Devi. This perfect and beautiful message is giving me strength and guidance.
Thankyou for sharing about how you dealt with losing everything 11 days after your son was born.
Thank you, Devi, for this beautiful and uplifting message, which we all need to be reminded of when life throws us the inevitable curveballs. You express it so well. I will hold this one especially close to my heart.
Thankyou for the reminder. I held my Dad’s hand as I watched him take his last breath. I had no idea just how deeply I loved him and looked to him for guidance. It would take me a couple of lifetimes to achieve all the great things he did for his life and community. I’ve never seen so many grown men cry than I did with his passing. I spoke to a catholic nun about him and his “natural spirituality “ just before he died. She organised for an Anglican priest to visit him and armed with my insight they suggested he look at the cross on the wall and pray to his mother (who as a young girl would often have dinner with Mahatma Ghandi – when Grandna prayed the earth didn’t shake but gods doorbell copped a hiding 😂) as the three of them prayed Dad saw the cross on the wall start to glow a golden colour. At the same time I was sitting on his verandah with Hank Williams tune “I saw the light” on repeat and singing along with great gutso.
After they left Dad grabbed my sisters phone and excitedly rang me to tell me about his experience. “It glowed!” He exclaimed
“….but don’t tell anyone though..” 😂
I chuckled as I hung up the phone, thinking about his nature of humility (even to his last breath) and then it occurred to me that Yoganandaji had advised the same thing…
To keep our spiritual sadhana close to ourselves and leave the “..walky talky “ to souls like himself.
It has been five years now and my tears are slowly starting to dry, it is with gratitude in my heart and salt water welling in my eye that to you I sincerely say
Thank you dear friend.
Dearest Devi, your timely message touches my heart. Change and loss always happen. Thanks for your reminder to see the timeless things they reveal, not just the temporary pain that they cause. Much love dear friend 🙏🏻
Very profound . Thanks for sharing.