The date was March 7, 1952. Paramhansa Yogananda stood to address the large crowd gathered at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles to honor India’s Ambassador to the United States.
Swami Kriyananda, who was present at that event, described what happened next in his book, The New Path: “His [Yoganandaji’s] brief talk was so sweet, so almost tender, that I think everyone present felt embraced in the gossamer net of his love. . . . Finally he read his beautiful poem, ‘My India.’ . . . He came to the last lines: ‘Where Ganges, woods, Himalayan caves and men dream God. / I am hallowed; my body touched that sod!’ ‘Sod’ became a long-drawn-out sigh.”
Those were the last words Yoganandaji uttered in this lifetime. His body fell to the floor, and he entered mahasamadhi, a liberated soul’s conscious exit from the body.
In celebrating the anniversary of Master’s mahasamadhi, I began thinking about his words to Swamiji at their first meeting on Sept. 12, 1948: “I give you my unconditional love.” These were the same words that Master’s guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar, had said to him at their first meeting nearly forty years earlier. Perhaps these same words have been spoken by guru to disciple from time immemorial.
This gift of unconditional love is more than just a sentiment expressed by one individual to another. It imparts the power of divine love from the consciousness of the guru to that of the disciple, and with it comes the disciple’s responsibility to share it with all.
As sincere followers of a great master, it’s important to understand that this is our gift, too. Yoganandaji has given his unconditional love, not to a select few, but to all who are earnestly seeking God. We must, however, do more than just receive it—we need to share it with others. Given the tragic conditions in today’s world, what greater service can we be rendering at this time?
After the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York on Sept. 11, 2001, Swami Kriyananda wrote a letter to the Ananda communities worldwide. He said, “Though I very much wanted to pray, this drama is so vastly complex that, lacking a clear focus, no prayer of mine, surely, could be very effective. Then I thought of the prayer attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi*: ‘Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace.’ And I thought, What better prayer than this for such a time?
“Divine love is a force. . . . If we understand that by loving rightly it is God’s love we express, He will be able, through us, to uplift the world’s consciousness. For that is how He works: through instruments; very seldom directly.”
Recently Jyotish and I took part in a very moving online satsang with Ananda members from both Russia and Ukraine. As people from both countries spoke of their suffering, confusion, and anguish, many of us were weeping. One man from Russia said that his mother was Ukrainian and his father Russian, and he was filled with inner turmoil seeing what people from both countries were enduring. Another woman, a Kriyaban living in Kyiv, told of the extreme hardship and fear caused by the constant bombing of her city.
That day I began praying for the people of both countries, but I focused especially on this one Ukrainian woman as a symbol of everyone involved.
I suggest that you too, as you pray for a resolution of this conflict, also visualize one child frightened by the destruction of their home; or one mother grieving over the death of her soldier-son; or one anguished soul yearning for peace. Focus your prayers on one of them. By deeply tuning in to one individual, vibrationally you can reach the hearts of many.
The sacred gift of divine love that is given by the guru comes with the responsibility to share it with all, lest it wither and die. Part of its power is transmitted through prayer, but another part is given through the living examples of followers of our path.
Receive God’s unconditional love, share it with others as fully as you’re able, and live the teachings. In these ways, the power of divine love will expand out from you and me to reach many. Eventually it can uplift the consciousness of the whole world.
Seeking the One Heart that beats in all breasts,
* The prayer was actually written, not by St. Francis, but by William I (“the Conqueror”) of England.
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