Recently in Mumbai, India, we were asked the question: “What are some of the lessons you’ve learned on your spiritual journey, especially those involving Swami Kriyananda?” I’d like to share some of my responses with you, because they touch on issues that each of us faces as a devotee.
Lesson #1: Does God Really Know That I’m Making a Spiritual Effort?
When we’re new at meditation and not sure of what we’re doing, it’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling inadequate yet unsupported in our efforts. We may ask ourselves, “Does God even know I’m here, or that I’m trying?”
I want to assure you that at many points along my journey, I’ve been shown that no spiritual effort goes unnoticed, and that God has been cheering us on all along the way. For example, in the second year that I was at Ananda, I was living at the Meditation Retreat in a small trailer that was nestled in a quiet wooded glen. I was doing my best to meditate regularly, but often my meditations were, let’s say, less than stellar.
One morning, however, I had a breakthrough and enjoyed a deep, still period of meditation. Afterwards, as I was walking along the forest path to the dining room for breakfast, I saw Swami Kriyananda talking with a group of people some distance away. Although his back was towards me, and he was about one hundred yards away, as I drew closer, he abruptly turned, left the group, and walked over to me.
Taking my hands in his and looking deeply into my eyes, Swamiji quietly said, “Very good.” That was all.
Stunned, I thought, “He knew!” This experience, and others like it, gave me assurance that the Divine Eye is watching. God, through wise teachers, is cheering us on in our achievements, and encouraging us despite our failures.
Lesson #2: Am I Making Any Spiritual Progress?
Once Jyotish and I were riding in a car with Swamiji, and he was discussing how well some Ananda members were doing spiritually. I wasn’t trying to focus the discussion on my own life, but almost inadvertently I said, “I don’t know that I’ve really changed all that much in the years I’ve been on the path.”
With a great deal of energy, he responded, “How can you say that? You’re an entirely different person than when you came.” Swamiji went on to say that it’s very difficult to see changes in ourselves, because what falls away isn’t who we ever were anyway. Rather, as we progress spiritually we come to dwell more in our own soul nature, which is so familiar that we often aren’t aware of it. The ability to remain calm and joyful in all of life’s circumstances is often a truer sign of spiritual progress than even experiences or visions in meditation.
Lesson #3: What Is the Best Way to Make a Life Commitment to Your Spiritual Goals?The example of Swami Kriyananda’s own life was the best teacher for this lesson. As the years went by, he gave more and more of himself until there wasn’t a drop of blood, a breath, a spoken or written word, a musical note, or an act of service to others that hadn’t been offered. To stay the course and remain on the spiritual path for a lifetime means increased self-offering every step of the way.
At first, we’re asked to give very little. But as time goes by, we’re asked to give more and more of ourselves — of our service, our time and energy, our thoughts, and our love. Eventually we realize that the more we give, the more strength we have to continue the journey to the end.
These are some lessons that I’ve learned on my journey. Would you like to share some of yours?
With love in God and Guru,