Little did I know, that first day I arrived at Ananda Village—July 4, 1969—that my real education and, in fact, my real life was about to begin. Twenty-two years old, I had just finished college. Up until then I had basically spent my whole life listening to teachers feed me facts, figures, theories, and formulae. Though I’d excelled in my studies, I was weary of the kind of education that was imposed from the outside, never even scratching the surface of what I really wanted to know.

This was now to change very quickly. As I listened to Swami Kriyananda impart the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda, a new understanding of life started to unfold within me. It was as though a door opened in my consciousness, and I began to realize how much there was to learn: about myself, about the nature of reality, about the true purpose of life.

It wasn’t only the subjects that Swamiji addressed, but the way he taught them: seeking always to awaken the innate understanding within each of us. Later he explained that all true wisdom is smriti, or memory, and that an enlightened teacher tries to help his students remember what they already know within themselves.

yogananda teachings on how to learn lessons of lifeI remember an early talk in which he posed the question: “What lessons are we supposed to learn in this great school of life?” What a wonderful question, and what wonderful answers he gave: “How to be happy in yourself”; “How to get along with others”; “How to be helpful and not harmful in the things you do and the way you treat others”; and “How to be calm when the world seems to be falling apart around you.”

Swamiji went on to say, “All of these will help you to attain that state of centeredness from which you will be able to rise to your highest vibration.”

So, how do we know what our particular lessons are in this lifetime? They will, of course, be different for each one of us depending on our karma. Here are some guidelines for identifying them:

1) Look at issues that come up repeatedly and that leave you unsettled or unsure of yourself. What is the common thread?

2) Find areas in yourself that tend to produce disharmony with others. In which situations are you unable to see others’ realities?

3) Be aware of the times in which you feel you are compromising your integrity. In what areas of life do you allow yourself to lower your standards of behavior?

4) With honesty, bring to the light things that you try to hide from yourself, from others, and from God. Why don’t you trust that God sees and accepts you exactly as you are?

After considering what you came to learn, here are some tips to help you handle your “lesson plan”:

1) If a problem arises repeatedly, as soon as it begins to assert itself, get centered and take control before you get caught. Be proactive, not reactive.

2) Visualize yourself handling the situation in a calm and effective way. Marathon runners often visualize themselves crossing the finish line with a specific time goal in mind. See yourself successfully passing your life tests.

3) Commit yourself to learning your lessons and to changing. It took a long time to create the problems before you. Now put out the time and energy necessary to overcome them.

4) Examine your inner strengths to see how you can use them to support the areas where you need help. Build on your successes, and you’ll gain confidence along the way. And

5) Perhaps most importantly, pray for God’s grace to help you understand your karmic lessons and to give you the inner clarity to learn them well.

Don’t feel overwhelmed by how much you may need to learn. We’ve been placed in this “great school of life” to find joy and freedom from all limitations. Know that the Divine Teacher has been silently, lovingly, unceasingly drawing out your own innate wisdom to help you pass all your tests.

Swami Kriyananda wrote: “When troubles beset you, seek both their cause and their solution in yourself. . . . Don’t upset yourself with life’s complexity, but seek the divine simplicity of oneness with God’s joy.”

At the end of the day, what are we supposed to learn? To love. To trust. To find joy in everything. Then will we be able to say with simplicity, “I have learned what I wanted to know. Now I am ready to go home.”

With God’s love and joy,

Nayaswami Devi

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28 Comments

    1. Dear Devi and Jyotish
      Thanks a lot for your blog and your inspiring writings. This, of today, was really perfect for my lifetime . Thanks to be a so clear channel of the Master teachings and for your important mission in this world.
      With love

      Giampaolo

  1. So loveable way to inspire through your own life along with Swami Ji’s soft yet convincing way to teach open the doors of our inner compartment.
    Thanks Devi, thanks a lot.

  2. Hi!

    Thank you so much for such a beautiful and much needed guidance .

  3. Dear Nayaswami Devi Ji,

    Thank you for this inspiring blog. Very helpful guidelines.
    This point is very profound and gives an understanding of perseverance. “It took a long time to create the problems before you. Now put out the time and energy necessary to overcome them.”

    Thank you again!

    Joy,
    Prem

  4. You are truly an inspiration!
    Thanks for writing and communicating much needed advice on spirituality!

  5. You are so right about repeating situations there is so valuable lesson in them only if we don’t get caught and try to be the observer a bit so that we can more calmly assess the situation later and take-in the lesson

  6. What a fantastic post today! Thank you so much for the reminders and guidance in this writing. I especially appreciate the little bit of “homework” to help clarify and sort through the rumblings of the mind in regards to our individual lessons. I am excited to get to my studies ;-) Love and light to you today!

  7. A very rich breakfast smoothie of good ideas. Thank you, Devi. At 79 I’m still discovering how wonderfully the teachings work together: meditation, service, energization, chanting, intuitive guidance from our ever-present masters.

  8. Thank you so much for this post! It was exactly what I needed to read this morning. God bless you!

  9. Dearest Devi,
    Thank you for your clear thoughts and kind heart.
    I am feeling transition is in store and so was asking this question “have I learned what I am able to from this situations yet?” There is always so much more to learn in any situation, but sometimes it is too overwhelming and I need to put it on the shelf for a while.
    What a blessing to be here, sharing life with such beautiful souls!

  10. Dear Devi
    All your messages
    are very helpful to me.
    THANK YOU.
    Rufina

  11. I’m immensely affected with this latest writing of yours. No words worthy, in my mind to Thank you.

  12. Thank you dear soul. This fits perfectly with our Patanjali Study Group of Vibhuti Pada.
    “Go to the Center of Everything and you will find the answers you seek” Namaste

  13. Dear Devi,
    This is deepling inspiring and helpful in so many ways. I will meditate on these, and journal about all of them. Thank you so much for your clarity of wisdom.

    In him
    Chandi

  14. Hello Devi,
    My friend, you were all in on this writing. This is one of the most concrete, instructive and meaningful pieces I have ever had the pleasure to read. I am copying it for devotees and friends alike. This offering should increase the self study of anyone who reads it.
    Very best to you and Jyotish, Jeff

  15. Thank you again and again for those inspiring reminders. Thank you for reminding us to be aware, for reminding us to to be proactive and not reactive. Thank you for reminding us LOVE is all. Thank you for clearing the fog in my head. LOVE : Purni

  16. AUM!
    Wonderful, precise and inspiring!
    God Bless You Deviji and Thank You.

  17. Dear Deviji, I read this wise counsel when it was first presented. I just finished reading it again. This time I felt a deeper understanding than the first cursory reading. Offering deep gratitude for smriti. As I have often experienced, Divine Mother will provide all I need at the time I am open to receive. Namaste

  18. Respected Sir&Madam.
    Mostly I get disharmony with others ,job,friends,&relatives etc.Finally I suffer a lot in life in failure inlife & not liked by others.
    I fail to find my shortcomings in inner of myself & repeat same mistakes.HOW TO FIND MY BAD HABITS TO CHANGE MY BEHAVIOR.
    Kindly help me & advise me.
    With best regards.
    PARMOD KUMAR PURI.
    M:9216877038

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