Swami Kriyananda often asked Jyotish and me to accompany him to various appointments, and we always relished the chance to spend time with him. On one such occasion, we found ourselves seated in the dentist’s office waiting for Swamiji to be called. (Our dentist, a good-hearted man, confided to us that he always booked an extra thirty minutes when Swamiji had an appointment so that he had time to talk with him.)

As we waited that day, I casually picked up a women’s magazine from a pile on the table and began leafing through it. A photo display caught my eye showing new fall fashions for the office. The models looked so convincing as they portrayed highly focused women at their desk or at meetings.

Then the thought struck me, “But these models don’t actually do anything—they’re just wearing the clothes!” I happened to be sitting next to Swami, and shared this frivolous thought with him.

how we can understand one another better with compassion and respect in times of change, swami blessing guarja with jyotish and devi

Seek ways to befriend and help other people. Each person, in his own way, are a part of your own one, greater Being.

Taking my comment seriously, he replied, “Perhaps you wouldn’t want to be doing that job, but someone needs to do it.” I understood what Swami was telling me on a deeper level: Never judge anyone, but respect their reality and their right to live according to their own lights. His reply had a long-lasting effect on me.

Today we find people increasingly separated from one another by mutual judgment and misunderstanding. These barriers are only heightened by physical distancing due to Covid-19, polarized political views, and racial and religious intolerance. In the face of this profound, and growing, nonacceptance of others, the question we need to ask ourselves is: “What can I do to build bridges of understanding, acceptance, and unity?”

Swami Kriyananda wrote a beautiful essay called “Understanding People,” which is found in his book Religion in the New Age. In it he tells us how to achieve true understanding. “Go within,” he says, “if you would know the truth.” We can understand everything better, he adds, the better we understand ourselves: If we would know ourselves, however, we must go within even more especially. “If we would understand others, moreover, we should make an effort to relax, first, at our own center, and then try to relate to others each at his own center.”

Here are some thoughts to help you build bridges of understanding.

Try increasingly to relax into your own center in meditation. With this, it becomes easier to relate to others’ realities. Theirs may be very different from our own, but they have their own rationale. We may not agree with their perspective, but we should at least try to respect it.

Never judge anyone, but accept them as they are. Yoganandaji says that divine consciousness is “center everywhere, circumference nowhere.” Each one of us is unique. And a spark of divinity dwells in every aspect of God’s creation. By rejecting anyone or anything, we separate ourselves from the whole.

This doesn’t mean that we should accept injustice, bigotry, or dishonesty. We needn’t, however, judge the people who express them. See those qualities for what they are, and move on. Let’s not become intolerant of others’ intolerance.

Finally, realize that each soul is on his own journey towards greater awareness and inner awakening. It isn’t up to us to change or improve them; that’s their responsibility. Respect their process, and have faith that God is guiding each one of us in His own way—however winding the path we sometimes choose—towards the same end: Self-realization.

Swami concludes “Understanding People” with these words: “Seek ways, then, to befriend and help them [other people]. All creatures, indeed—each one in his, her, or its own way—are parts of your own one, greater Being.”

Towards a greater understanding for all,

Nayaswami Devi

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  1. Most beautiful message so relevant for today and all of us…

  2. Beautiful message, Devi. RBG was an example of someone who looked for commonality and separated the person from their opinions etc. There’s a great picture of her riding an elephant with a very conservative member of the Supreme Court. They were good friends, although their backgrounds and views were very different.

  3. These observations are just what we need right now. I plan to post an excerpt on Facebook. It made me crave more. After reading your post, I went to order the book online, but the system wouldn’t accept my payment. I’ll try Crystal Clarity later….

  4. Thank you for this wonderful reminder. as people feel accepted they become more accepting, and we can use more of that in these times.

  5. Thank you for this beautiful message Devi and so needed in this time of political and social tensions. I was thinking if I should go to visit a family member that has a political different point of view from my own. I have been judging him for his standpoint and reading this makes me realize that I was separating myself from the whole. I will go to visit him and find a point of connection between us.

  6. When people are in positions of power, they are duty-bound not to be intolerant of differences in other people. It is not “spiritual” on our parts to be tolerant of that.

  7. Devi, thank you for these sweet and timely words. The challenge is within and there the battle is won!

  8. Deviji, your telling of every story carries a healing warmth. Mahalo Nui Loa

  9. A very simple but important message. Thank you. Namaste.

  10. Thank you Devi,
    Your message is an inspiration. It reconfirms the guidance I received this morning from the Holy Spirit. It helps me KNOW I am not alone and to understand I have the strength and ability to share the JOY that I AM through these changing times.
    Willingly Learning to navigate this world in Spirit’s Footsteps 🕉🕉🕉

  11. So uplifting and helpful Devi, I take this to heart, for I too find myself judging others at times. It’s a real challenge to not compare someone far from practicing self realization with ourselves, whose goal is that. When we throw stones at another’s soul, we invite the karma that invokes. All are God’s children, no matter how lost they are. Give them a few seconds of higher thought, and ask God to awaken in them, the light they already possess.

  12. Thank you Deviji. ‘Going within’ to ‘digest’ this Divine challenge. Namaste

  13. AMEN!
    It takes Love to let go of any attachment we may have to our identity, opinions, and beliefs.
    And using that release to allow others to be the expression of the Divine that they are, regardless of whether we agree or not, takes courage too. The courage to “go within” and face yourself.
    As you stated, the important thing is respect and the focus on your own growth and evolution.
    For the more coherent we become, we then vibrate at a higher frequency that others and the field that connects all humanity will feel, for we truly are everyone – The illusion is that we are not.
    Thank you Deviji.

  14. Swamiji’s messages get better every day. And thanks go to you for sharing them again. I am thankful for Ananda’s spirit- and life-affirming work. (You look more beautiful with every year in your life, Devi :-) may i say so. May we grow bright In His Ray ~.

  15. Dear Nayaswami Devi Ji,
    Thank you for this wonderful blog!
    This is very much needed at this point in time. A beautiful statement by Swamiji asking us not to judge people. Thank you for sharing that. Something to be definitely practiced.


  16. The Bible says, “Judge not lest ye be judged.” Swamilji’s statement of not judging is very much in line with the teachings of Christ. Blessings to all!

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