The group of thirty people broke up into pairs, laughing as they began to play “Camera,” one of Joseph Bharat Cornell’s Sharing Nature games. It was the last afternoon of a three-day course we’re developing, “Living the Gita,” which will be the basis for the new Yogananda Institute to be established in Delhi.

After two and a half days of learning about Yogananda’s explanation of the Gita and how it can be applied to daily life, the group needed a little relaxation and fun. Our co-teacher, Dr. Aditya, took everyone outside to a lovely garden area in front of the Ananda Gurgaon center, where the program was being held.

There he explained the game to them: One person of the pair would be the “camera,” and the other the “cameraman.” The cameraman would cover the eyes of the camera and lead him or her with “closed shutters” to an image to be photographed. It could be a pretty flower, a dead branch, swarming insects, sunlight on dew—whatever the cameraman chose.

The Sharing Nature Activity called "Camera" is part of the Living the Gita course of Yogananda Institute.

“Camera” is a Sharing Nature activity.

When the camera was in position, the cameraman would uncover the camera’s eyes for five seconds, and let him or her focus on the image before them. After several different “photos” were taken in this way, the pair would switch roles, and the “camera” become the “cameraman.” A seemingly simple game for children, but what people shared afterward about their experience was extraordinary.

Virtually everyone talked about the initial challenge of being led with their eyes covered by someone they didn’t know. At first they were apprehensive, but gradually they began to trust that they were safe, and to enjoy being led around over unfamiliar ground. When their eyes were uncovered and they saw the image before them, they said it was as though they were viewing a common sight for the first time, but with more clarity and awareness.

One woman’s sharing was especially beautiful. We’ll call her “Meera” to maintain her privacy. For most of the first morning of the course, she had sat in the front row looking quite closed, with arms crossed and a skeptical expression on her face.

During the tea break on the first afternoon, we chatted a bit, and she started to relax. Meera was a software engineer and ran her own successful business. Admitting that when the course first started she had had barriers up, she now was starting to enjoy herself and the interactions with others. Increasingly for the next two days, she opened up and was clearly getting a lot from the experience.

Then we played the camera game. When we asked afterwards for people to share their reactions, she was the first to stand up. “I felt very uncomfortable at first, not being able to see or know where I was going,” Meera shared excitedly. “Then I began to relax, and enjoy the process. I started to feel like a child again, and that my mother was taking care of me. I felt so loved and protected, caressed by gentle hands. When my partner opened my eyes, what I saw was a flower—a kind that I had played with as a child. We used to fold the petals back and make buttons out of them. For me the game returned me to the openness and trust I knew as a child, but that I’ve lost along the way. I hope I never forget it.”

Meera looked quite different at the end of the three days: She was more relaxed, open, warm, and joyful.

Jesus Christ said, “Suffer little children to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” The more we bring the openness, faith, and trust of a child into our relationship with God, the closer we will feel to Him.

Our beloved guru, Paramhansa Yogananda, said, “Don’t be formal with God. Play with Him. Tease Him if you like. Scold Him if you feel to—though always with love. Remember, He is your very own. He is the Nearest of the near, the Dearest of the dear. He is closer to you than the very thoughts with which you pray to Him.”

With love to the child in each of us,
Nayaswami Devi

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  1. This was a beautiful blog post. I felt my heart opening up. Joy!

  2. Wow! What a beautiful story about Meera. Thank you Devi, for this gift.

  3. Will someone please explain to me why PY said not to be formal with God, such as “No hothouse prayers to God,” yet the Community has so formalized prayer to always or nearly always say things in a rote way, like the opening prayer at Sunday Service? I once sang the meal blessing with a Village member at lunch and I ended the song with “Your love divine.” I was quickly and sharply criticized, “THY love divine!” Also, why do we speak in old English (Thee, Thy, Thou) when PY and Swamiji said to speak to God as if you were speaking to your best friend? We don’t speak that way to our friends and loved ones. For those who don’t know, the old English pronouns were the only way people in America addressed God respectfully in the 1920’s, and PY adjusted to that. We aren’t in the 1920’s any more and our language has taken on other meanings. Seems to me, genuine expressions of devotion are being squelched. Time for a readjustment? -at least in tolerance and appreciation for individual expression. I feel high expressing uniquely, and feel the energy fall when I am up against ritual or criticism.

  4. Lovely beautiful and amazing lady,truly novel way of telling, experience must have been great and unexpected

  5. Beautiful post.I try to talk to God during my silent prayers.

  6. Is so Wonderful to let go into the arms of the Heavenly Wisdom of Paramahansa Yogananda! The Master of Love!!!

  7. Dear Nayaswami Devi Ji,
    Wow! This was my expression after reading this blog :) I feel so light…
    Thank you for sharing this blog and the quotes by Jesus and Master
    Master’s Kid

  8. Thank you dear Jyotish and Devi Ji…what a wonderful concept…living the Gita…..we often become uptight and rigid when we reach adulthood…what a nice game camera is???

  9. Such a beautiful statement. I love it and will practise it. Thank you so much for this .?

  10. Thank you for reminding me of the Nearness of God. Closer than one’s thoughts. This is indeed comforting.
    Love and Light,
    Truly calming, deep Peace to Meditate and “Be” outside of the constant, frenetic manipulations of the physical world.
    Intelligence is often used simply to manipulate:
    Manipulate thoughts, actions, feelings, situations, power and so on……
    And to manipulate other people.
    How good to Meditate. To step aside of the worry and manipulations to simply “Be.”

  11. Thank you Deviji for the sweet, uplifting reminder. We are Her children…naughty or good. Better to be good and have fun with Her and each other. Namaste

  12. Dearest Deviji,
    I appreciate your sharing of insights to us. The camera game sounds like fun and learning to trust with child like eyes. The story about Meera is beautiful.

    In joy,

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