Life is a journey filled with highs and lows. Sometimes it feels like a roller coaster, bursting with exhilarating peaks and gloomy valleys. At other times, it feels like the repetitive routine of a Ferris wheel that simply turns in endless circles. We will continue to ride the cycle of life from one incarnation to the next until we have learned our lessons. Paramhansa Yogananda said that ultimately this cycle becomes an “anguishing monotony.”

Yogananda wrote, “When a child is sent to school and fails to make the grade, he has to go back again and again until he passes his examinations. So also, souls who fail to preserve their perfection while in the mortal school of education and entertainment have to come back for many incarnations until they completely experience their hidden Spirit nature.

When we get too engrossed in the turbulent emotions of life’s dramas, we fail to see the broader picture. Yogananda said that we should strive to be ever “even-minded and cheerful.” This is one of those deceptively simple teachings—easy to say and understand, but hard to implement. This transformation can only happen as we become more detached and less driven by the reactive nature of our likes and dislikes.

Yesterday we had tea with a cherished friend whose husband passed away a few months ago. She is still in a state of mourning, just beginning to move on to her next life chapter. When we lose something very precious, it is nearly impossible to remain even-minded and cheerful. Nor does God expect us to do so. Even a great master like Yogananda had a period of deep grief after losing his earthly mother. Yet, eventually we must move forward in spite of our loses. Or gains.

Why should we try to stay even-minded? Most teenagers would find this concept stiflingly boring. When we are eager for new experiences, we embrace the stimulation of emotional ups and downs. But as devotees who are yearning to graduate from this world of pleasure and pain, we need to see life more as a school and less as a playground.

Yesterday we had a wonderful meeting with the young leaders here in the Assisi community where we are staying. These remarkable souls are now at the forefront of many aspects of the work here. Our satsang together started out as a chance for them to give us departmental updates. But Devi turned the gathering in a much deeper direction. She said, “Don’t just tell us about your projects, but share how your work is changing you spiritually.” This was a wonderful question for them and a perfect way for us to keep our spiritual focus. No matter what is happening, it will help us stay even-minded and cheerful if we ask ourselves, “How is this experience enriching me spiritually?”

Lately the concept of spiritual specific gravity has been surfacing in my mind and talks. Our specific gravity is determined by the degree of expansion or contraction of our consciousness. A light, or sattwic, person will have an expanded awareness that naturally feels the interconnectedness of all creation. Conversely, a heavy, or tamasic person will focus mainly on his egocentric needs and desires. Each individual floats somewhere between these two extremes.

swami kriyananda in assisi looking courageous during karma

Swami Kriyananda visiting the Ananda Assisi community.

This morning it occurred to me that we actually have two specific gravities. The first is shaped by our past thoughts, desires, and actions—our accumulated karma. A second, more important, specific gravity is determined by our aspirations, by what we want to become. Our spiritual ambitions might be summed up by a humorous bumper sticker I once saw: “I wish I was the kind of person my dog thinks I am.”

The Masters see us as evolving souls, as saints in training. They are able to see the longer rhythms of life and also our deeper nature. Master once said to a group of disciples, “I see all of you as images of light. Everything—these trees, bushes, the grass you are standing on—all is made of that light. You have no idea how beautiful everything is!” Let’s strive to become the kind of person the Masters think we are.

In divine friendship,

Nayaswami Jyotish

Listen to Jyotish as he first reads the blog, then expands on its meaning and messages for readers with behind-the-blog commentary. Subscribe to the podcast or download the audio recording by right-clicking here. Or listen to it here (11:08):


  1. Thank you for helping me. This moment I am a little lighter than the previous moment before I read your wisdom.

  2. I really, really want to the be the kind of person my d—uh—my Guru thinks I am.

  3. Thank you for your guidance. I am mourning my Mother while carrying for my father and feel like I’m failing at it most days. The emotional rollercoaster makes it hard to keep on my spiritual path and treat situations with equanimity. Hearing your words about Masters mourning comforts me, knowing we all go through this, no matter how evolved we are.

  4. I know that my illnes gives me challence to grow spiritual. And I am still . I came to Ananda Assisi in 2007 and when
    I look back, many things happen to me.
    Therefore I am thankful. And like to read your blocs.
    In Joy, Gyandevi.

  5. Thank you again for the clarity, wisdom, and humor of your messages. I have trained myself to stop and read each one carefully no matter how busy I am at the moment. Your messages consistently inspire me.

  6. mm

    What a beautiful and powerful message – and very helpful question to anything and everything we do in life, “Don’t just tell us about your projects, but share how your work is changing you spiritually.” I am forever grateful to you and Devi for the wisdom, love, and guidance you share with all of us.

  7. Thank you for channeling such profound wisdom that reminds us of the
    longer rhythms of our life journey. Aum, peace…

  8. I can relate to every aspect .
    Warm Regards and good wishes

  9. Deeply refreshing, like the rains of this Sept morning here in Northern CA- with a tinge of humor and a generous dose of wisdom. Thank you, Jyotish 🙏

  10. Thank you, Jyotish!

    I have been reflecting on this concept of being “even-minded and cheerful.” No coincidences! Thank you for reminding us of this important teaching.

  11. Thank you dear Jyotish for your deeply inspiring and moving words of wisdom.

  12. Wonderful to read. Brings a lot of peace and solace. Will try to always be aware that life is a school and not be unduly perturbed. Thank you Shri
    Narayanswami Jyotish

  13. Thank you for being a servant for God. Thank you for helping humanity. Thank you for your presence. It’s a real gift.
    Aum.Shanti. Peace.

  14. Gosh that was so good and timely for me personally. Yeah, I am going to have to order that bumper sticker so other people ca have as good a laugh as you gave me!

  15. Thank you Jyotish ji for a very insightful note. I much connected with every thing shared, it is a seamless flow of all you have seen and experienced and the wisdom that came out of it. Its such a challenge to be even minded, yet one can see the necessity of arriving there, by whatever it takes. Much love & joy🌷💕🙏

  16. Don’t just tell us about your projects, but share how your work is changing you spiritually.”
    Above statement is so meaningful that I have written it on a paper and pasted on the wall of my room.
    After all our true aim is to evolve spiritually.
    Thanks for sharing.🙏

  17. I agree with ALL of the comments made above, in fact enthusiastically, because that is what is happening to me. For the past few months I have realized that whatever is going on, it is my opportunity to handle it or accept it as my God would want me to . Often I am left to submit it to prayer then wait for the answer. Before long the situation has been absolved or changed successfully and I am at ease again. Thank You for your leadership, you both are great spiritual leaders.My end goal in life is to not have to be born again, in other words LOVE ALL THERE IS.
    George E. Hutchby, D.C., MS of Ed (Retired Air Force Captain and Assistant Hospital Administrator)

  18. Thank you for these simple truth and love bearing messages. They remind me of what our true purpose is.
    In love & Gratitude.


  19. Dear Nayaswami Jyotish Ji,

    Thank you for sharing this blog. Enjoyed reading it and in particular the last lines – Let’s strive to become the kind of person the Masters think we are.-


  20. Encouraging article.
    A reminder to always be mindful of the cheerfullness and equanimity that is constantly present in every being.

  21. Oh yes, striving to be the kind of person that the Masters KNOW we are.
    Simply, perfect Souls in a succession of bodies, and if and when we choose, with our willingness, cracking open and pulling out the riddles and sign posts that
    propel us towards the only goal that really is, and wading through countless choices that lead us towards or
    away from the one goal. And having some fun along the way.

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