Swami Kriyananda urged members of Ananda to strive for liberation in this lifetime. One morning Devi and I were eating breakfast with him in his home in India, and the conversation turned to the question of liberation. We said, “Why is it so hard to find God? It seems to be a daunting task, and we don’t feel like we’re making enough progress.”
He replied, “The whole purpose of the spiritual path is to dissolve the ego. It is done by longer, deeper meditation, and seeing God as the Doer in everything.” His reply has become our spiritual compass, guiding us through storm-tossed seas and calm, sunny waters alike.
We’re currently leading Inner Renewal Week, an annual week of classes and activities. This year, being the one-hundredth anniversary of Paramhansa Yogananda’s arrival in America, we are exploring our Guru’s teachings, and three pathways that lead to Self-realization: the social path, the active path of service, and the inward path of meditation.
Today, on Tuesday, we discussed the social path. The essence of this way is to let go of egoic selfishness and expand our self-identity until we actually feel that everyone is a part of our own greater self. In his book of prayers, Whispers from Eternity, Yogananda wrote these beautiful words: “O Divine Mother, teach me to use the gift of Thy love, which I feel in my heart, to love the members of my family more than myself. Bless me, that I may love my neighbors more than my family. Expand my heart’s feelings, that I love my country more than my neighbors, and my world and all my human brethren more than my country, neighbors, family, and my own self. Lastly, teach me to love Thee more than anything else, for it is only Thy love that enables me to love everything. Without Thee, I could not love anything or anybody.”
How can we expand our love? Start by treating your neighbors as if they are a part of your own family. Mother Teresa tells a story of a time of famine among the very poor in Kolkata. One of her nuns was distributing rice and entered the hut of a poor woman with several children who were starving. When she handed the mother a small bag of grain, the mother quickly divided it in half saying, “My neighbor and her children are starving too.” Mother Teresa went on to say that it is common among the poor to be caring towards one another, but quite astonishing to have seen that degree of selflessness under such dire circumstances.
We’re unlikely to find ourselves in conditions as dramatic as that. But today you will meet someone in need. When you do, expand your aura to include them as part of your family. A couple of weeks ago Devi was in a café with some friends, when she noticed an older woman sitting alone at a nearby table. Excusing herself, she went over and struck up a conversation with the lonely neighbor. Within minutes they were sharing and laughing together like they, too, were old friends.
Doing small acts of kindness daily will help dissolve your ego. Miracles occur when you change your thinking from “Me” to “We.” Expanding your love and friendship is a true spiritual path. Keep it up until everyone feels precious to you. When the whole world becomes your family you will be bathed in the constant glow of Divine Mother’s love.
The full class is available online at ananda.org/video/series/inner-renewal-week/ (with the others to follow later).