Swami Kriyananda invited us over for tea one afternoon to discuss a change he had in mind for Ananda. When he asked our thoughts, I responded with some emotion, because I felt that a principle was at stake. Swamiji looked at me steadily and said, “You may be right, but when you speak so emotionally, it’s hard to accept what you’re saying.”

A little while later another person joined us, and Swamiji asked her to consider the same question. Though she came to the same conclusion that I’d expressed, her words were reflective and calm. To her, Swamiji said, “I accept your perspective as the right course to take.”

True principles are powerful because they are rooted in impersonal truth.

True principles are powerful because they are rooted in impersonal truth.

This was a very good lesson for me: True principles are powerful because they are rooted in impersonal truth. Defending them with an emotional reaction only clouds their essence and weakens their impact.

Recently I found these words from Kriyanandaji’s Living Wisely, Living Well: “If you feel impelled to defend a principle, never do so under the influence of anger. Defend your beliefs joyously! Dharmic—which is to say, righteous — causes should be defended righteously. And joyous non-attachment is the only way to mount that defense.”

One of my favorite stories about how to defend principles is from the life of one of the early Christian fathers, St. Anthony. He lived alone in the deserts of Egypt, praying and meditating in isolated caves for many years. At the same time, a religious controversy began to brew in the emerging Christian church, threatening to destroy it.

The schism centered around two opposing views of Jesus Christ. One side held that he was a divine incarnation, an enlightened being. The other averred that he was a wise teacher, but not of an exalted spiritual stature. Emotionally charged debates filled the big church in Alexandria, causing increasing confusion in the minds of Christ’s followers.

Finally, in desperation, some young monks sought out Anthony in the desert and begged him to settle the debate. Reluctantly he returned to be among men, and quietly entered the back of the church where the debate was raging. So great was his spiritual presence that one by one everyone turned to look at him and the angry voices became silent.

Though he was unaccustomed to speech, he uttered four words that changed the course of Christianity. Anthony simply said, “I have seen Him,” then quietly slipped away. The debate was over, and Christ was recognized as an incarnation of God Himself.

If you believe in something, whether a divine being or a principle, become one with it in your heart. When words are needed to defend it, you will have the inner power to uphold the truth.

Your friend in God,

Nayaswami Devi


  1. St. Anthony said “I have seen him”, I am not able to get how does this mean that Jesus was an incarnation of God and not an enlightened being ?

    1. Dear Dushyant,

      Yours is a very good question. Because St. Anthony had communed with the universal Christ Consciousness, his simple words transcended all the arguments of the theologians. He was able to convey with his very presence that Jesus was a divine incarnation and convince others of this truth.

      With joy,

  2. Dear Nayaswami Devi Ji,
    Thank you for this beautiful article.
    With his grace ,will follow it

    Aum.. Prem

  3. There is God’s power behind your words in this article. Thank you for penning them down and sharing .May God and Gurus always bless you with The Touch of Their Light.

  4. Yes very true! Did not know about St Anthony’s role in that history. Thank you and please explain more – as Dushyant asked! In my meditation on the examples from Jesus’ ministry I have often pondered the account of his decision to turn over the tables of the money changers in the temple. Was he angry? Righteous indignation? Either way to the money changers his emotional outburst could have been perceived as the same or different. My lesson from his example is that Jesus was an incarnation of the Divine Feminine who knew how to calm the waters (with Peter) AND defend principles with the fire of the Mother. Knowing when and where is key. How to balance the energy-in-motion is the test of Pisces – that I am. Wonderful topic for dialog!

    1. Dear Martha,

      I also answered Dushyant on this question. Because St. Anthony had become one with the Christ Consciousness, he was able to convey through his simple words and his presence Jesus’ divine stature and put to rest all the arguments. With regard to Jesus with the money changers, there is an apt quote from Sri Yukteswar. He counseled Master to be “soft as a dove” where kindness was at stake, but “fierce as a lion” where principles were involved. Of course, we must understand that Jesus was not emotionally reacting to what he saw in the temple.

      With joy,

  5. Thank you so much Niyaswami Devi..
    You have touched my soul with this rememberence. So meny times in life I have felt alone in my dessissons . There we so meny times I defended them with fury and no mater how meny facts I had in front of me I found my words useless. Years go by and it seems we finally learn the wisdom of silence. I will never for get what John Laurence explained to me before he passed…”This is not your mission, it is Gods mission”
    Thank you for this reflection.

  6. Just marvelously perfect. Perfect account on how to improve reactions emotionally guided. Thanks for bringing up such necessary stories…..

  7. This story brings me in mind how so much people think they are christians but have never ‘met” him, don’t understand his true message and don’t try to imitate him. I”m living in Brazil for a period and see many so called christians fundamentalists that are engaged in expand hate instead of love, division instead of union.

  8. Dear Devi,
    I loved what you wrote! In my life I feel like I know some deep truths that by blessing I learned by loving God and Guru. Sometimes when I try to speak of them with someone, the words come out very wrong. Your writing taught me that I should speak with silence until I can learn to speak like St. Anthony spoke.
    I believe I will have to stay silent for a long time. I will just smile with the love from my heart . . .
    it will be better than words. Sending you my love and gratitude. Mariana

  9. Speak from the inner peace, tranquil state, act from the inner peace, tranquil state. When a being is speaking and acting from strong emotions the speech and actions show an emotional state of mind, (turbulence) not calm, they are being carried away by emotion(s).

    Thank you nayaswami devi for sharing this story with all.

    1. How may I get a copy of the picture in your story?
      I would like to keep your story alive in my heart by keeping this picture of Paramhansa Yoganda looking above the summit of the mountain!

      Sonia @ AnandaSeattle

  10. Divine Blessings to you both, always. We feel your Divine Friendship, love, joy, caring and upliftment. In the Light of Christ, steve and julie.

  11. Namaste, I think only Yogis or unmarried singles can become one with a Principle/ principles they choose, and very difficult for married man/woman, as need to compromise with chosen principle comes many times suddenly , and in front without warnings.

    1. When I am with people ,especialy my parents,and my ex-wife,I feel I should just shut up about my Spirituality cause I believe they wouldn’t agree anyway,but I have the feeling also that I ‘m harming my soul aggresively by not sharing my belief. I’m the complete opposite of those who do nothing but talk about their belief.
      Please give me some wisdom about this,HOW to handle it.

  12. A beautiful lesson which touched me deeply. Thank you very much.

  13. A beautiful lesson which touched me deeply. Thank you very much.

  14. Dear Ji’s

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful Article, with your Guidance and Master’s Blessing,s shall follow the Principle.

    With Gratitude
    R Sundararajan

  15. Once again, your Touch of Light has been just what I needed to hear/learn, at just the right time for what’s going on in my life right now. I don’t know how you do it, but I’m sure glad you do!! Thank you for sharing your wisdom and experiences on the spiritual path.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *