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