We have been experiencing historic snowfalls in Northern California. Hard as it is to imagine, some areas near Lake Tahoe have gotten nearly fifty feet of snow so far, with more on the way! Much less has fallen at Ananda Village, but still we’ve gotten more than any time in recent memory. With hills, freezing temperatures, and snowy roads, many of us have been snowbound. Here is the view from our living room this morning.
For restless people, conditions like these are probably a torment. For yogis, being forced to go within is actually quite nice. The snow brings with it some wonderful lessons. Here are a few that have struck me:
Give Help, Receive Help
During times of hardship, people of goodwill rise to the occasion. At Ananda Village our maintenance crews have worked around the clock to help people cope with the icy roads; our market staff has been delivering food orders to residents; and many of us are feeding the birds and animals.
High-minded people naturally want to serve others. But the snow is bringing another lesson: to be willing and grateful to receive help when offered. Many devotees are better at giving than receiving. This is a good quality in moderation, but becomes a spiritual flaw when taken too far. We need to learn the art of receiving also. Everything in life is a gift from the Divine. It delays our spiritual progress if we ignore or reject the help that is given to us. In meditation our first act should be to open our hearts, receive God’s presence, and silently say, “Thank you, God.”
Use the Time Well
Having one’s schedule disrupted can be a good thing, if you are flexible and can shift your energies to alternative activities. It sounds like this should be easy, but restlessness is one of the great curses of our times. According to our great Masters, we live in a rajasic (restless) age on a rajasic planet in a rajasic galaxy. Is it any wonder that people are habituated, even addicted, to activity?
Mental restlessness is perhaps the greatest block to meditation. When circumstances shut down our normal schedule, let’s use the time to turn our consciousness upward. For me personally the snow gave me some time to paint for which I was joyfully grateful. The inspiration came to do a pair of paintings of the same scene at different times of the day.
Live More in God
The greatest gift of inwardness, whether forced or voluntary, is the opportunity to turn a quieted mind toward living in God’s presence. No matter the conditions or the place, we can always choose to turn our minds and hearts Godward. Yoganandaji stated it so poetically in this beautiful poem:
Wherever We Go
Whether in Himalayan caves or crowded subway;
Whether in the concrete jungle of modern life,
Or in a simple village in Hindustan:
Wherever we go, teach us to seek Thee out
In all Thy secret nooks—east, west, north, south—everywhere!
I pray that for all of us, we can see behind every circumstance, good or bad, the hidden opportunity to live more in God.
Listen to Jyotish as he reads the blog, then expands on it, often adding special behind-the-inspiration stories and answers to common spiritual questions. Subscribe to the podcast or download the audio recording by right-clicking here. Or listen to it here (8:12):