A poignant quote from Buddha came to us recently: “In the end only three things matter. How much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.”
Often we live locked up in self-focused goals and desires. Yet, as we depart from this incarnation, goals must be relinquished and desires discarded. Those desires we fail to abandon will inevitably pull us back into another incarnation, and another, and another. The solution is disarmingly simple: Expand our heart’s energy by directing it toward God and the benefit of others.
Paramhansa Yogananda explained that the heart is the center of the primordial feeling element (chitta). He added that we perceive and respond to the world primarily through feeling rather than intellect. Ultimately, to find liberation we must still the mind and, especially, neutralize the whirlpools of likes and dislikes.
The energy in the “switching station” of the heart is constantly seeking fulfillment. This quest can lead us toward worldly attachments and sensory experiences, or towards the divine joy of God. When our energy is funneled downward and outward, we set ourselves up for anxiety and disappointment. As Yogananda put it, “Delusion always breaks its promises.”
One of the best strategies to channel the energy positively is to think of the welfare of others. When we embarked on Ananda’s work in San Francisco, we started a small restaurant/bookstore. The manager, a single woman, had to close the store late at night and then take a bus through a very run-down area of town. Often sharing the bus with drunks and drug addicts, she dreaded the nightly ride home.
As she explained her dilemma to Swami Kriyananda, he first explored the standard solutions: Could she drive home? Could she take a taxi? Could someone else drive her? All of these proved either impractical or too expensive.
Swami said, “All right, then, I suggest that you do this: When you get on the bus, pick out one person who appears to need help and pray for him the whole way home. If that person gets off, choose another.”
Two weeks later she told Swamiji that the bus ride home had transformed into her favorite part of the day. Her prayers for others had shifted her heart’s energy from isolation and fear to connection and joy.
Love is fundamental, but almost as important is gratitude. By being grateful for the circumstances and people in our lives, we open a positive flow of energy from the heart up to the spiritual eye. It’s virtually impossible to harbor negativity when we’re feeling grateful. We don’t have to express it outwardly—we can just silently allow the feeling of thankfulness to reverberate in the heart. Begin by being grateful for things that are easy to accept. Then train yourself also to feel appreciation for challenging situations.
Paramhansa Yogananda wrote, “Teach me to look upon all that happens in my life with a pleased, interested attitude, that at the end of each episode, no matter how sad or difficult, I may exclaim: “Ah, that was a good show, full of thrills, suspense, and excitement! I am happy to have seen it, and I have learned much from it for my own benefit.”
If we find it challenging to hold such a high attitude, we can at least strive toward it. Some years ago, while experiencing a difficult period, I wrote an affirmation to help:
I am grateful for my life exactly as it is.
I am thankful for this day;
I welcome every hour.
Thank you, God. Thank you, God.
We have the potential to expand our heart and let it become a channel for the infinite love of God. If we do our best, we can face our final review and say, “I loved greatly, lived gently, and gracefully let go of those things that kept me from Thee, Lord.”
In love and gratitude,
You might enjoy this PDF of the gratitude affirmation with a picture of Paramhansa Yogananda to print for your home.
Listen to Jyotish as he reads the blog, then expands on it, often adding special behind-the-inspiration stories and answers to common spiritual questions. Subscribe to the podcast or download the audio recording by right-clicking here. Or listen to it here (8:47):
So touching Sir.
So beautifully written. Very inspiring. Thank you.
Always full so such great wisdom…
Thanks for sharing… 😊
Hi.Blessed be your new day hoping it will keep illuminating your spirit.
Your spirit that with a lot of grace in a simple but profound way show me a way maybe the way to start this new day .
Like you wrote “Be always Grateful” and reach out to your fellow human beings.
I am grateful to you for sharing and showing me some eternal facts and insight of pure wisdom .
Thank you for this beautiful reminder of how to face challenges. I needed to be reminded this morning!
Thank you dear Jyotish ji for this invaluable message.
Namaste Jyotish! and.. thank you for your sincere and opened hearted words. What makes them sublime is intention beyond the intelectual display. Victory to the light !!
The power of simple gratitude is an awesome force that i often overlook.
Thank you for this inspiring reminder!
Dear Nayaswami Jyotish Ji,
Thank you for this wonderful blog.
What a great suggestion by Swamiji. Thanks for sharing that and It will be useful for us to apply.
Also enjoyed reading Master’s saying. Wow :)
And Thanks for sharing the Affirmation
Thank you, Jyotish!
Such a fundamentally important reminder of what really matters. Shifting out perception and connecting our hearts with God and the God in All.
Thanks for the teachings and guidance and love
Thank you, Jyotish for the inspiration. Master and Swamiji continue to inspire us through accounts like these. Your insight and interpretation makes them come alive in the telling. 😊
Our lives are like that bus ride, prayers make the ride so much better!
This is the real goods. It is the bee’s knees. Thanks for a lovely piece of writing for a Friday morning. Blessings to you!
Thank you for the uplifting Touch of Light, Jyotish, and for the inspiring PDF. Joy to you!
I so appreciate your writing today. As we age we realize we are not taking anything with us.The things in our homes and our home. And it is time to let go right now and focus on our inner world of love and grateful. Thank you for your wisdom, your wonderful writing and your love for all of us.
Thank You Jyotishji!
Beautiful and inspiring.
May we all love greatly, live gently and let go gracefully.
Thank you dear soul. I think I “got it” or at least coming closer. Gratitude clears the air and balances the mind and opens my heart. I am deeply grateful for this loving and timely reminder. Namaste.
Thank you. Words that refresh me on my journey. Namaste.
Sending an avalanche of Thank Yous! I really liked how you included Master’s perspective on WHY it’s so important, and the 3 end of life questions about life. Love your articles.
Dear Joytish, Your blogs are always so poignant. I really enjoy your readings .
Thanks for such motivating and much needed inspiration. . Also love the wisdom given by Swami Kriyanand. I pray to God to help me to retain and remember it always when I come across challenges. It’s a beautiful way to shift energy from fear to gratitude.
Joy to you!
Perfect in every way. I’m dieing. Stage 4 cancer is slowly taking my bodies energy. This wisdom is the exact reminder I needed today. Thank you.
What a powerful moving blog dearest Jyotish Ji. Thank you for writing this and for sharing the affirmation PDF. beautiful words – the heart swells in love and gratitude to you both Ji for continuously inspiring us each week to ever reach upward and inward to God Guru and Swamiji. Thank you.
Your Posts and others are a rich read for my mind and it takes the desired feel after the Peek.
Reviving thro such My Reach for Yogananda Paramhansa which faded in 2008 but was unknowingly living in my inner vision to face up.