The Ananda communities movement was born in the living room of Swami Kriyananda’s small apartment in San Francisco. Most nights he travelled, teaching classes in various locations, but every Thursday evening he gave a satsang in his living room. Ten to twenty “regulars” formed the nucleus of what would, in time, become a worldwide movement.
A few months after I started coming to these satsangs in 1967, Swamiji offered everyone a chance to join him in his morning meditations. For one or two weeks a handful of people showed up. Then gradually the number dwindled until it was only the two of us. He eventually discontinued the meditations, but by then I was “hooked,” serving as his helper and committed to a spiritual life. I’ve never understood why more people didn’t take that opportunity.
Perhaps the most important element on the spiritual path is to accept the opportunities God offers us. So vital is this that Swami named his first album of songs Say “YES” to Life! Why should saying “yes” be so important? There are many reasons, but here are several that have been notable in my life:
- When I say “yes” I feel energetic and joyful and everything seems to go better. How could I take a single step forward without willingness?
- When I say “yes” I feel expansive, but when I begin to shut down I can get easily caught up in critical thoughts and negative emotions.
- God opens doors for us every day—watch carefully today and you’ll see that this is true. Only by going through the first door does the next one open up. Eventually a whole pathway appears. As long as I stay with the flow I feel my footsteps are being guided.
- When I say “yes” to the inner promptings of my Guru, it deepens my connection.
- A resentful “yes” is like a “no” in disguise.
- When I say “no,” it is not so much that doors shut, as that I fail to see any options, and I have a vague and foggy feeling that there should be something more to life.
- Sometimes I pull back out of the fear that if I say “yes,” I will be overwhelmed. In fact, this rarely happens. Positive attitudes bring more energy, and then my days seem easy and fun. Mental resistance is what makes me feel overwhelmed. On the whole I’ve found it better habitually to accept whatever comes, and let Divine Mother take care of the details.
- Saying “yes” to little opportunities prepares me for the important ones—the ones that have determined the course of my future. It is probable that my life would have taken a different, less expansive, turn if I had never attended those Thursday satsangs and morning meditations with Swami Kriyananda.
- I can’t always summon up the willingness to be affirmative. But as long as I do the best I can in the moment, I trust that God will bless my sincerity. As long as deep in my heart I seek Him, He reaches out His hand to help me.
When God asks something of you, the best advice I can offer is to echo the words of Sister Gyanamata, Paramhansa Yogananda’s most advanced woman disciple, who said, “Say ‘yes’, and make it snappy!”