An essential teaching of the spiritual path is, as Swami Kriyananda put it, “Say ‘YES’ to life!” When an opportunity to do something positive comes your way, you will always benefit if you agree. At first, however, Divine Mother may keep the benefit well disguised.

Here is an interesting story that I have rarely shared. One time, a year or so after I met Swami Kriyananda, he told me, “A student in one of my classes has asked me if I could share some of my experiences in India, and has offered to set up a hall. Would you like to come along and help?” Of course I was happy to go, always looking for ways to be in Swamiji’s company.

When we arrived at the hall, we found that it was only a large room in a run-down building deep in the Haight-Ashbury section of San Francisco. This area was well known as a center of the hippie movement, and this place lived up to that reputation. It was dirty, filled with cushions on the floor, and contained a dozen or so unkempt people, many of whom had obviously been using marijuana. A vibration more opposite to Swamiji would be hard to imagine.

But he had made a promise, and was determined to keep it. We set up our slide projector and Swami began showing slides and talking about India. After about ten minutes, Divine Mother must have decided that enough was enough: She rescued us. She cut the power and the room went dark. After a few candles were lit, Swamiji explained that he couldn’t proceed, and we beat a hasty retreat.

Was there a positive lesson here? For me, I have always seen that night as a prime example of both Swami Kriyananda’s willingness to do everything he could to spread Yogananda’s teachings, and his lifelong commitment to keeping his word. Now, I see a third benefit: You get to hear an interesting story of the days when Ananda was still in its etheric form, and as yet an unborn dream.

Often, the work of spreading the light takes one into places that are less than pleasant. Paramhansa Yogananda complained about having to come home night after night, after teaching, with his hair and clothing saturated with smoke. However, in his inimitable style, he turned it into a spiritual opportunity, saying that he’d realized that Divine Mother was also in the smoke, and that it never bothered him again after that.

A common thread here is that serving as a channel of light requires great willingness on our part. We should, like Gyanamata, Yogananda’s most advanced woman disciple, “Say yes, and make it snappy.”

until we become beings of light

Ultimately, serving the light will turn us into beings of light.

Yet we must also use discrimination. It would be foolish to say yes to the many things that lead us toward darkness. How do we tell the difference between a positive and negative influence? Here is a simple key: A positive opportunity will always bring you toward expansion, unity, and harmony, while a negative influence will generate greater conflict, disharmony, and egocentricity. Ultimately, serving the light will turn us into beings of light.

Paramhansa Yogananda gave us this beautiful prayer to help us say yes. “Let the waves of Thy power dance on the river of my activity. As Thou art intelligently busy making atoms, flowers, universes, so teach me to be cheerfully busy always.”

In His service,

Nayaswami Jyotish

P.S. You may also enjoy Jyotish’s previous blog, Say “Yes” to Life, which describes this concept in another way. 

Subscribe to the Touch of Light podcast. Download the audio recording of this week’s blog by right-clicking here. Or listen to it here (5:01):

22 Comments

  1. Thank you Jyotish, both for sharing such a precious memory of your first years with Swami and for clearing the concept of saying yes to life and service.

    Through stories like this Swami feels nearer than ever.

    In Joy

    Darshan

  2. I finally said yes to teaching law to a group of students online during the lockdown. Although it was only once a week , on Saturdays- the preparation the whole week took hours for slides, tutorial questions & reading materials. Just completed & the results released yesterday….on their end they will never know the effort I put in to make it seem fluid & simple. Strangely, towards the end everything fell into place & they all understood the law subject. As I prayed each Saturday morning for The Light to surround & guide them, we ended with a feeling of love .

  3. As a member of the Ananda online community I enjoy reading real life stories like the one described by Jyotish, where synchronicities are coming intertwined with life and spiritual teachings of Yogananda.
    Also the powerful messages that the stories contain make this teaching sink in.
    Say Yes! to opportunities and see what is born out of them.

  4. Very inspiring and moving story. Yes, it is always serving others rather than self that brings real satisfaction. At the same time our inner self or spirit will let us know if we are doing what is right or wrong.

    Quentin

  5. I consider myself lower than a blade of grass and more tolerant than the tree.I will always pay respect to others and recite Hari Hari.This is the purpose of my life and means to SERVE THE LORD.

  6. Thank you so much for this lovely message! It is so timely and what I needed to hear right now. It was a lovely surprise of support. It resonated with me and my life and work at so many levels. Plus that it brought a greeting from my dear Mother, she always used to say “make it snappy” and I have not heard this or seen this expression since she passed. Funny and beautiful and timely all at once. Thank you so much!

  7. Thanks for your words! You help me to uplift me, because I was crying to GOD for help in this difficult times.

    Best Regards

    Fabián Lozano

    PD I send you again because this automatical writter chance many words.

  8. Thank for bring so many aspect of life into spiritual focus with this story. Uplifts my everyday to remember Divine Mother is in the “smoke” of life.

  9. My very Dear, I suscribed to Ananda only a few weeks ago and started readng Ananda´s site and your posts which I am receiving by email weekly and that I very much like and do appreciate, so I want to express how thankfull I feel because it mas be that Someone wanted me to benefit with your guidance. I particularli like you (I guss more basic) meditation video. I have a Twitter box where my subtitle is” Ser bueno y positivo” that expresses my idea when I decided to join that social net. I participate in a couple of groups with friends, some that I haven´t seen for many years or that I rarely meet, with the purpose to help comunicate good and positive thoughts. I can feel the change that is going on and I find it – even quite hard for many people – tha is positive, to begin with for the planet… mother Earth needed a break from humans and so di animals and trees… Yogananda entered into my life at my age of 20… today I´m 69… Sri Swami Yukteswar this year when I read (three tines and I am needing a fourth time) his precious book The Holy Science. Me and my wife started practising Yoga – Indra Devi´s system – with a yoguina or she yogui whom we´ve learnt to love last year, this one we continue with zoom. I believe we are growing even though we are very small yet… I can feel we are receiving assistance and you are one of them. Thanks!
    best wishes for you and your wife too.
    from Roberto and Graciela in Mar del Plata, Argentina.

  10. Thank you dear Nayaswami Jyotish for this inspiring article. Thank you and Nayaswami Devi from my heart for these beautiful gems of Master’s light and wisdom that reach deep into our hearts and minds!
    Love and gratitude from Dana Point, CA,
    Vivi Bryan

  11. Thank you Jyotish for sharing the presence of Light in this experience. I hold to the belief that with effort, and the grace of God and Guru, we continue to experience and notice ‘more and better’ Divine Mother’s presence.
    I bow to the ray of the Masters flowing with you, within you and all around you,
    Kamala

  12. Thank you. I really like your concise spiritual gems. Reading how Master saw Divine Mother in the smoke and it never bothered him again, is a wonderful way to transform stressful situations we may encounter.
    “Jai Guru”

  13. Thank you for sharing–Its such a positive morale which we can apply to our daily life-Give our 100% for the responsibility committed by us irrespective of any challenges-never give up. Its so effective.

  14. I met Swami in the late 1960s in San Francisco. He was truly a beacon of light in a very dark period of Haight-Ashbury’s hippie era.

  15. Thank you. God Bless you both. Very beautifully written. Thank you for sharing!!!!

  16. Thank you.
    Without darkness and suffering, the Light of Wisdom cannot be ignited within the self.

  17. What a wonderful story! Thank you for sharing it with us! :)

  18. I love hearing stories of Swami in the early days, thank you. I copied the prayer into my journal. It makes me smile and glow!

  19. Dear Nayaswami Jyotish Ji,

    Thank you for this wonderful blog and the prayer towards the end.
    We are so blessed to have Ananda manifested as a reality and guiding us.
    The power cut story reminds of Master & Master M’s experience mentioned in AY :)

    In Master’s Love
    Prem

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