As many of you know, Devi and I are working with a team of architects and designers in India to create a museum based on Paramhansa Yogananda’s explanation of the Bhagavad Gita. It will be quite different from the usual museum, where a visitor simply observes the exhibits or art works, but leaves in the end not much different than when they entered. We want our experience not only to entertain, but also to educate and inspire.
In working with the design process, we realized that there will be various types of people coming. We’ve identified three different categories of visitors which, interestingly, represent three basic approaches to life.
Each of us, too, has their own strategy for dealing with things. And in fact, because we are not equally developed in all areas, we might manage our relationships, say, quite differently than we do our finances.
Here are the three categories. See which one most closely describes how you work with your own challenges.
This approach to life is essentially passive. Observers give away their power, and feel that circumstances or other people are so strong that they can’t do much about it. They don’t, in other words, really take responsibility for their own reactions, nor for the need when appropriate to effect change in themselves. Are there areas where you feel helpless or blame others for your problems? Then you need to take charge of your life. Here are three things you can do to improve:
- Accept responsibility for your own behavior.
- Realize that you must change yourself in order to change your circumstances.
- Be willing to make changes. If you fail at something, get up and start again.
These people are willing to put out energy to improve their lives, and already know that they can improve their conditions if they work hard. They’ve probably achieved some success in the world, but recognize that they are still unfulfilled. Here are three things that will help:
- Realize that you can decide to be happy, since your happiness depends, not on circumstances, but on your reactions to them.
- Keep your mind filled with positive thoughts rather than letting worries “howl at you,” as Yogananda put it. Use affirmations and silent chanting to influence your thoughts.
- Be kind, supportive, and serviceful. When you think of others, you forget yourself.
The Spiritual Aspirant
These people are motivated to seek spiritual solutions, knowing that their fulfillment lies in transcending the limitations of this world. Some solutions for these people are:
- Develop more faith in God and Gurus, and see God as the true doer in all things.
- Strive for longer, deeper, Guru-given meditations.
- Fill your heart with love for God and Gurus, leaving no room for worldly longings.
Swami Kriyananda used the analogy of life being like a mud puddle. Each group has a different approach when finding themselves stuck in the mire. The passive person feels hopelessly stuck in the middle of the puddle. The active person works hard to make their puddle as nice as possible. The spiritual aspirant is interested not so much in fixing up their puddle as in getting out of it altogether.
We are all God’s children, learning our appropriate lessons in the school of life, and coming to know that God’s love is always with us. He won’t judge us, but He very well may nudge us.
In divine friendship,