A friend who is an architect and engineer made an amusing comment about Ananda that has always stayed with me. He said, “We engineers study the effects of gravity. We need to know how to keep structures from collapsing. But at Ananda it is the opposite: You study the effects of levity.”
Levity, in this sense, is far different from the normal definition of humor or frivolity. In its deeper sense, levity is the flow of energy toward the bliss of our soul nature. Levity can even become levitation if the flow is strong enough. As Swami Kriyananda wrote in Demystifying Patanjali, Sutra 3-40, “By mastery over udana—the current within the deep spine which raises Kundalini through the sushumna to the brain—one gains the power of levitation, and of leaving the body at will.”
Few of us need to concern ourselves with levitation yet, but we all should practice levity. How can we “in-joy” ourselves? Keeping in mind that the flow of energy needs to be elevating and expanding, I thought it would be fun to share how Swami Kriyananda enjoyed himself. Since May 19 is the anniversary of his birthday, let’s start there.
Swamiji was attracted to both refinement and joy in many forms. One of these was good food. He often invited a small group of friends to breakfast on his birthday. Many times breakfast consisted of “fun foods”: pancakes, a wonderful fruit salad, fresh juice, and tea or coffee. Mainly what I remember though is the friendship, laughter, and delightful stories. Later in the day he might have a community gathering in the gardens around his home. Again, laughter and joy: the squeals of children playing in the pool, the aroma of food cooking on a grill, the murmur of small groups of people talking together. There was always music involved and often a play or skit. Occasionally, Swami would read a story from his favorite humorist, P.G. Wodehouse, sometimes laughing so hard he could barely finish a sentence. An amazing thing is that Divine Mother almost always attended these events dressed up in the form of a rainbow. On more than one occasion a rainbow appeared in a nearly cloudless sky as what is called a “glory.”
Swami was focused in whatever he did—he had to be energetic and concentrated in order to produce so many books, songs, and talks. But some of our most enchanting memories are of the trips of celebration that he would take after finishing a big project. We often accompanied him and a small group to Carmel-by-the-Sea, a charming California coastal town that started out as an artist colony.
Carmel is very refined, as close as Swami could get to the European feel of his youth. After meditation we would usually stroll along the streets visiting small shops, or art galleries, or “Conway of Asia,” a store that specialized in Asian and Indian antiques. We weren’t so much interested in buying things as in enjoying the refined ambience. The highlight of the day was lunch or dinner at one of Carmel’s many wonderful restaurants.
The main point here is that, in spite of his intense schedule, Swamiji always made time for uplifting enjoyment—for levity. And, as was his nature, he liked to share his joy with others. We would do well to take this as a model for our own lives. Set aside time for friends, for good meals, for laughter and song. It is all a part of the life of a yogi.
“Ever-new, ever-expanding joy” is the final goal of the spiritual path. It would be a shame to wait, to spend a lifetime being pulled down by the gravity of problems and world events. Let’s find ways to practice levity. Swamiji did.
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 (7:16):