I was the General Manager of Ananda Village for many years during its early days. Sometimes, as you can imagine, I felt overwhelmed by all of the problems and challenges we faced, and would go to Swami Kriyananda for advice and solace. Often he would tell me, “Don’t think overmuch about the problems, but keep your focus on finding solutions.”
In this time of worldwide challenges, it is easy to get so caught up in the difficulties that we forget to look for the solutions. As seekers we should prioritize our efforts.
Spiritual solutions come first, because they last the longest. Only they are capable of ripping out the root causes of our difficulties. Other solutions are like mowing the grass—it will come back again and again. So the first priority is to deepen your meditations and your faith in God.
Second, strengthen your mind with positive thinking and adamant willpower. The mind is as powerful as we allow it to be. Keep your thoughts positive and uplifted, keep your resolve unbreakable, and keep your heart open through empathy for others and active service to the God in them.
Finally, take logical and practical steps on the physical plane, but realize that these steps work primarily on the symptoms, not the problem itself.
Last week a friend sent me a copy of a letter that Paramhansa Yogananda wrote to a devotee in India in 1951. It is filled with timeless advice and blessings. Imagine that Yogananda has written this to you:
I have received your letter and thank you for writing to me about your difficulties. Do not be discouraged by them, but realize that for many lives you have been used to following habits or whims of the mind and now, when you are trying to bring the mind under your control, it naturally rebels against such discipline. Most devotees undergo this experience to a lesser or greater degree, so it is nothing to worry about. The important factor is to keep on trying to better yourself. No one can do this for you. You must whip the mind into submission through the constant application of will power.
Remember that you are a child of God, created in His divine image. These weaknesses which you have put on do not belong to you. You must be strong and conquer them, one by one, if you would know God. At the same time, be not discouraged when you fall, but lift yourself again and again out of your mental lethargy by longer and deeper periods of meditation.
If you apply the teachings every day, you will see yourself change. Do not expect to change all at once, but by continuous effort and faith in God the change will take place.
Above all, love the Father, in spite of your weaknesses. Love Him unconditionally, and mentally surrender yourself to Him. In Him will you find the fulfillment of all your longings.
Start right now doing little services for others, no matter how small they may be. Feel that you are serving the God in them. And should you fall in trying to lift yourself, get up and try, try again. Never allow yourself to feel discouraged.
God bless you and your family. My prayers will be with each of you.
Remember Swami Kriyananda’s advice and don’t emphasize the challenges you are facing. Focus, rather, on solutions, such as those offered by Paramhansa Yogananda. Whatever tests come to us are meant to bring us to liberation. They are given to us with love. Yes, sometimes it is tough love, but always it is for our benefit.
With love and faith,
Download the PDF of this letter from Paramhansa Yogananda to a devotee.