It is good to celebrate noteworthy events, and this is one of those milestones. You are reading blog number five hundred! Writing five hundred in a row hasn’t always been easy or convenient, but sharing a Touch of Light has been one of the greatest blessings of our lives.

This week also marks another long-standing tradition. We are just finishing Inner Renewal Retreat, a decades-long annual event designed to reawaken and reenergize our spiritual commitment. This year’s theme, “Living in God’s Light,” covered four pillars of the spiritual path: sadhana, service, self-offering, and attunement. The recorded classes will be available soon, but for the thousands of you around the world who couldn’t attend, let me recap a few of the most important points from the three sessions Devi and I did during the week.

yogananda teachings on living in the lightDay 1, Sadhana: We talked about increasing the light within through sadhana, especially meditation. The conscious mind, limited by the senses, is ill equipped to recognize our hidden spiritual nature. The purpose of sadhana is to help us awaken in superconsciousness. But to accomplish this we must withdraw the life-force from the body and the senses so that we can see our true reality behind the fringes of a restless mind. “Be still and know that I am God.”

We gave a fun demonstration of magnetism, illustrating that, like our spiritual reality, many forces in nature are hidden from us.

Day 2, Seva: Paramhansa Yogananda defined his path as a combination of meditation and service. In this class we discussed thirteen different principles of service from an upcoming book of mine. Here are a few that will give you a sense of the subject, and something on which to meditate.

  • Seva is a means to dissolve the ego.
  • We are channels for the Divine to serve through us.
  • The attitude with which we serve is more important than what we do.
  • Serving with willingness, joy, and enthusiasm increases energy and magnetism.
  • Offer the fruits of service back to the Divine from whom they come.

Day 3, Self-Offering: People typically pick up this subject from the wrong end. They think about self-offering in terms of things they must give up. Seen this way, self-offering seems to be self-denial. There is a charming true story about an exchange Yogananda had with a famous Hollywood actor, Herb Jeffries, who was a follower.

The actor said, “Religion keeps telling me, ‘You shan’t do this, you shan’t do that.’ I’m not interested in what I shan’t do. I want to know what I can do.”

Yogananda replied, “Do you smoke?” “Yes,” the actor said. To his surprise, Yogananda said, “You may continue.”

Next, Master asked, “Do you drink alcohol?” “Yes, I enjoy a good drink,” was the reply. Again, Master said, “You may continue.”

Then Yogananda asked, “Do you enjoy the company of women?” “YES! Indeed I do.” And yet again, “You may continue.”

Herb, relieved but confused, looked at Yogananda curiously. Master concluded, “You may do all of these things, but I have to warn you that if you take up my teachings, the desire to do them will fall away.”

Here, then, is the essence of self-offering: All we can ever offer are limiting desires and attachments. We can no more give God our actual possessions than we can give our bank account to the sun. God will never take anything from us until we willingly offer it to Him. But He lovingly awaits the hour when we realize that all those desires, possessions, and attitudes that we cling to so fiercely are the very things that obstruct our true happiness.

The goal of life and of all spiritual practice is to dissolve the ego. All God wants from us is our love, which we offer to Him through sadhana, service, self-offering, and attunement to the guru.

As Paramhansa Yogananda puts it, “Those who are immersed in body-consciousness are like strangers in a foreign land. Our native country is Omnipresence.” And: “The purpose of human life is to find God. That is the only reason for our existence. Job, friends, material interests—these things in themselves mean nothing. They can never provide you with true happiness, for the simple reason that none of them, in itself, is complete. Only God encompasses everything.”

Each week we end our Sunday service with these words from Swami Kriyananda’s Festival of Light:

Lord, we offer up the little light that is in us
Into Thy blazing light of Infinity.
Grant us the grace to know Thee.
And make us ever-increasingly
Pure channels of Thy love to all.

May we all merge into that infinite light and bliss.

In the light,

Nayaswami Jyotish

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 (9:54):

25 Comments

  1. Jyotish, I just wish to say thank-you for this beautiful offering, which has truly uplifted and inspired me this morning.
    I have been receiving regular pieces for a time now from the Ananda organisation, and very much appreciate them.

    God’s blessings to you, Nayaswami Devi, and all the team.

  2. Grazie per la luce ,che irradia questo articolo .L’umorismo leggero e amorevole del Maestro Yogananda mi insegna che la vita va vissuta con gioia e rispetto per se stessi e per tutto il creato , con immensa gratitudine.

    1. I was so curious about what you wrote I reached out to Google for a translation. Your words are so beautiful. I feel the same way.

      “Thank you for the light that this article radiates. Master Yogananda’s light and loving humor teaches me that life must be lived with joy and respect for oneself and for all creation, with immense gratitude.”

      Joy,
      shankari

  3. Thank you for the 500 bits of inspiration. Much appreciated. Namaste
    Om namo ari hantanam, om namo siddhanam. I bow to those who have conquered their inner enemies, I bow the the realized souls.

  4. Thank you for these wonderful presentations. I sit here in anticipation of all I can glean from them.

  5. Thank you for this, Jyotish. And congratulations on #500! 🙏

  6. thank you to remind me on that. In Joy, Gyandevi.

  7. Friends,
    Charmed reading your story about Herb Jafferies and Master.
    A number of years ago I was privileged to play a few shows with him on the bill. He was in his 80’s and singing very powerfully.
    I knew he was a student of Yogananda and finally told him that I was as well. He lit up and excitedly said. “Now you’ve really said something!”.
    He then shared a few stories.
    Again thanks. Gary

    1. Thank you for sharing Gary. I enjoyed Herb Jafferies response “Now you’ve really said something.”

  8. Congratulations! On this beautiful Inner Renewal Retreat and Blog 500! In gratitude for all you do to share God’s Light.

  9. That’s a great way to sum up Inner Renewal Retreat. Thanks Jyotish. And congratulations on blog #500! The blogs have been a constant flow of inspiration and reminders for those on the spiritual path.

  10. Thank you Jyotish, and congratulations on blog #500!

    This Inner Renewal Retreat has been some of the best talks I have heard since coming to Ananda Village almost 5 years ago. Thank you Jyotish, Devi, and all the musicians and the speakers for sharing the Light and showing us how we can share God’s Light too.

  11. Respected Shri Jyotish ji,

    It is really amazing to know that we have gone through 500 blogs. It is not easy one if Almighty’s blessings are not there.

    Your teachings on Yoga and sharing your deep contemplation in the blogs are not only showing the path to the people who are really eager to know it but it helps to enlighten us from darkness of our mind. Actually the materialistic world will not give us the ultimate peace and realizing this truth should be our ultimate aim of our life. So far we will move forward towards Almighty, we will be more happier in our life.

    Thank you very much.

  12. Thanks for sharing wonderful beautiful thoughts as always.
    Om peace amen

  13. Jyotish,

    Thank you for this beautiful message. I’ve been feeling down because of a long term romantic relationship that is not working out as I hoped it would. Your words have reminded me of my divine light and the possibility of finding my way when the future looks dark.

    Peace and Joy,

    Sherry

  14. Dear Nayaswami Jyotish,
    many thanks for your message. Nowadays I am thinking about my goal in life and you beautifully describe it.
    I wish you share more about this with us.
    Whit warm regards,
    Leila

  15. Perfectly clear and as Sagar says above it has been a blessing week. Great thanks!

  16. Dear Nayaswami Jyotish Ji,

    Thank you for the blog and the video. This is very helpful to relate to
    I enjoyed the video very much

    Joy,
    Prem

  17. Dearest Jyotish Ji Devi Ji, thank you both for writing these weekly inspirations thru all these years. Often they have been timely in my life and I just re-read them again to lift me up from some difficulty – they have become my ‘go-to’ place for immediate relief !! The love, wisdom, support and encouragement you offer (in words and audio for the blogs) are precious and sacred. thank you again. Beloved Master and Swamiji ever bless you both in guiding us all to inner freedom. And what a fantastic week (RW) it has been with all the inspiring talks and jokes. Kudos and eternal gratitude to the entire team and to you both, Master and Swamiji. Jai Guru Jai Swamiji.

  18. Thank you Jyotish. It took me far too long to read this blog, I guess I wasn’t fully ready to take it all in. Now that I have opened up enough to begin to understand why I am ‘here’,now, I can make much more sense of what is in my way in “not offering the little light that is in me, into God’s Blazing Light of Infinity. Forever grateful, namaste

  19. Well Jyotish,
    500 offerings and going strong. I am so proud of you and Master and God are even more proud of all you and Devi have
    done to uplift and educate the world on the real value and purpose of human life.
    As always, I’ll be there to give you a hug at SRW .
    I have always and will always honor you and all that you do, Jeff Kundert and Kris

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