In 1996 Jyotish and I had one of the most inspiring experiences of our life: Swami Kriyananda asked us and two other friends to join him on a trip to India. This was long before Ananda had established centers there, so our journey was for personal inspiration and some relaxation as well.
Our first stop was Darjeeling, a small, quaint town nestled in the Himalayan foothills of northeastern India. Every day for the week we were there, Swamiji would enjoy strolling along the crooked little streets and stopping to browse in bookstalls, tea shops, and curio stores. From our first day there, people kept asking us, “Have you seen Kanchenjunga yet?” In my ignorance, I didn’t even know what Kanchenjunga was, but I was pretty sure I hadn’t seen it.
Then in one Tibetan souvenir shop (owned by Heinrich Harrer of Seven Years in Tibet), I saw on the wall a wide-angle photo of the northeastern Himalayan range. And there was Kanchenjunga — the most outstanding peak in the panorama! Now I knew what it was, but we still hadn’t seen it because the mountain mists and fog were limiting visibility.
A few days later we hired a guide to take us to Tiger Hill, the best vantage point from which to see the mountain. Due to the unpredictable fog, there was no guarantee that visibility would improve. We left our hotel at 4 a.m. and arrived at Tiger Hill an hour later, where we waited in the frigid air and predawn darkness.
Then, just as the sun was rising over the horizon, the fog lifted. There was Kanchenjunga in magnificent splendor as the sun’s first rays struck her snow-covered slopes with shimmering golden-pink light. It was a thrilling moment that I’ll never forget. Since I now knew what I was seeking, for the remainder of our stay in Darjeeling, everywhere I looked up I saw Kanchenjunga.
Often we go through confusing periods in our life in which we can’t clearly see what’s going on around us. Right now the coronavirus is filling the world with the fog of uncertainty. It’s hard to see what lies ahead, and the future has become obscure and somewhat frightening.
But it is also a time of spiritual opportunity. By going within now in meditation and prayer, we can lift the fog of preoccupation with daily problems that clouds our vision of deeper realities. In meditation, the light of the inner sun will reveal to us more clearly who we are and where our priorities lie. We can then ask ourselves such questions as: “What lessons have I come into this life to learn?” and “What inner qualities and tendencies do I want to develop or discard?”
Recently a friend wrote me that the Greek origin of the word “apocalypse” is “to lift the veil.” As the world goes through adjustment reactions to the changes brought about by the coronavirus, we see people blinded by clouds of confusion who are expressing things like denial, panic, and even anger. By keeping our vision focused on God, we may be able to help others to see past the uncertainty to the “Kanchenjunga” of divine truth and strength.
To close, here is a beautiful prayer that Paramhansa Yogananda wrote after a great test in his life:
“In disease or in health, in success or in failure, in poverty or in prosperity, in joy or in sorrow, in disaster or in safety, in life or in death, I stand immutably, unalterably, unshakably loyal, devoted, and firmly loving Thee, my Heavenly Father, forever, forever, and forever!”
Ever striving for clearer vision of the high mountain,