How to overcome struggles in life by Nayaswami Devi, A Touch of Light weekly inspirational blog

Haanel Cassidy

The gardeners at Ananda Village’s organic farm had very bad news to report that morning: “A frost has wiped out the tomato crop.” “Insects are destroying the flower beds!” “Gophers have gotten into the carrots!!”

This was 1971. Our head gardener and farming mentor, Haanel Cassidy, was a vigorous man in his early seventies, who listened patiently to their tale of woe. Haanel had a lifetime of experience both in biodynamic gardening and as a disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda. Looking at the distressed faces of the young gardeners, he smiled ironically, and emphatically said, “Well, let’s just quit!”

Of course, they knew this wasn’t an option, and slowly they began to laugh. The gardeners learned an important lesson that day: Whatever obstacles lie in your path, face them head on, and be determined to find solutions.

I worked in Ananda’s gardens for the first four years after I joined the community. Under Haanel’s tutelage I learned a wealth about working with plants and the life force within them. But more importantly, I learned about life itself, for he was also a wise and loving friend to us young disciples.

One day, when I was going through a period of discouragement, I knocked at the door of his small geodesic dome, and asked if we could talk. We sat at his kitchen table, and I opened my heart to him about all the problems I was having and how discouraged I felt. He sat erect and still, listening quietly.

Finally I looked at him with tear-filled eyes, and asked, “Why does God make life so hard?”

He looked at me with wisdom and kindness born of experience, and answered, “There must be some value in the struggle itself.” I’ve never forgotten his words—they’ve stood me in good stead through many difficult times in my life.

What is the value of the struggle? Surely it’s to test our own inner strength, to prove our ability to overcome adversity, and to help us realize that there is an unseen, divine hand always reaching out to help us.

Haanel echoed the words of our guru, Paramhansa Yogananda: “Life is a struggle for joy all along the way. May I fight to win the battle on the very spot where I now am.”

When the garden of your life becomes overrun with problems, don’t quit, but fight. In the end, you’ll discover your inner power and joy, and the presence of the Divine General who was always guiding you forward.

With joy in your victories,
Nayaswami Devi


  1. I am very happy to receive posts from you.That makes me connected to You all,and would like to continue receiving them.Thank you very much.See you soon in Assisi.
    Love from Croatia.Aum.

  2. Lovely little story Devi. How often we think we know it all when young and expect everything to go our way until we reach a wall. But with measured words of wisdom from an elder, we realise just how small we are in God’s scheme of things and that we can achieve by not giving in but being a Spiritual Warrior going forth joyfully.
    Looking forward to the next story
    Blessings of Light

  3. Very inspiring.
    Daily waiting for receiving posts from you.

  4. Thank you for this beautiful message Deviji .. Very encouraging and strengthening during difficult times :)

  5. Awesome gardening tip Deviji! Will always keep it in mind, when I see my fields infested by pests!

  6. Dear Nayaswami Devi Ji,
    Thank you for such an inspiring and encouraging article :)
    Aum ,


  8. The wise simplicity of the story resonates deep and comes at a perfect time. Thank you.

  9. Hon’ble Devi ji,
    I always feel enlighted as well inhale lots of Positive Energy from your post.
    Pramhansa Yogananda
    Yes, I am survival of the fittest ….
    Let us take Teachings of Master first around us then neigbourhood . . . . .
    Share more simile
    Brij Kul Deepak
    a toy activist

    1. Yes Devi. When I was going through a tortuous time I said the same thing to myself. This suffering must have an evolutionary value. And indeed it did.

  10. Such words of wisdom, exactly what my heart was in need of this morning.

  11. Dearest Devi,
    You must be tuned in to Yogananda Gardens. Thank you ever so much for reminding us of Haanel’s wisdom. Since we are readying this launch for funds, it is so important for us to keep realizing who is in charge of whatever it is we do. May God’s and Master’s will be done. You and Jyotish are a Center Everywhere. We thank you.

  12. Thank you
    What a wonderful story and what a wonderful wise man. I’m feeling a bit lost this morning and the thing we always have to remember is we’re not alone… even if it feels like it sometimes.

  13. Devi, while all your posts are very valuable this one may be the best in both content and delivery. So many people get discouraged every day. You expressed the point in a way everyone could understand. There is always great value in the struggle to rise above the chaos.

  14. Great quote from Master. Enjoyed reading your article and all the comments. I have found that taking time for a longer meditation with more Kriyas will help if I am feeling discouraged.

  15. Dear Devi,
    Bless your heart. Wonderfully written reminder that Life is God’s
    and it’s all The Divine Play at work.
    Struggle or Joy, it really is all the same.
    The “battle” as Master put it, and as I remind myself daily,
    is to remember and “fight” the downward directional influences
    that attempt to blind me to the Joy, Peace, Light and Wisdom that surrounds
    me everywhere; whether in the plants, animals, people, elements or Divine Inspiration within.
    Thank You.
    ~~~Peace, Josette

  16. Thank you so much for sharing those beautiful words of encouragement. They have come to me
    at a time when I needed them most. In my struggle to upkeep and maintain and share I wondered why.
    However, I will remind myself that there must be some value in my ongoing struggle.
    Thank you, again
    Brenda Telemaque

  17. Thank you so much for your words of wisdom. Just what I needed to hear right now.

  18. Dearest Devi: EXACTLY the message I needed today. A cosmic two-by-four indeed! Thankyou, Julia

  19. Thank you so much Devi. That was very helpful right now. God Bless you always.

  20. What synchronicity. I “got” a message from Master a couple of days ago, as I was questioning my ongoing health challenges. The message was from “Scientific Healing Affirmations” as I remembered it: “Never give up”.
    Thank you.

  21. Dearest Devi,
    With sword in hand………..may we continue to slay heads in the Ocean of delusion!!
    There is no Light brighter than when coming out of the darkness!
    Thank you dear friend for valuing the struggles all along the way. You have left a path for
    so many of us to follow…………..

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