At Ananda Village, we recently celebrated our annual “World Brotherhood Day,” a tradition of nearly forty years, in which individuals offer one day’s wages to help support the spread of Master’s teachings. We hold this event at the beginning of the Christmas season as a reminder that our first gift of the holidays should be offered to God to help bring light into the world.
In 1974 I travelled around the world with Swami Kriyananda, my first experience of seeing its great variety of cultures and traditions. The first stage of our journey found us in Hawaii at the ashram of the well-known spiritual teacher, Subramuniya. As we were leaving he said something I’ve always remembered. “You’ve brought your light to us, and we have added ours. Now, as you travel around the world, continue to give and receive until you wrap the whole planet in threads of light.” The image of encircling the planet in ribbons of light has come often into my meditations. But this year more than most, light is needed in order to help alleviate the widespread suffering we see everywhere.
The problems that plague us are rooted in our minds and hearts. We can spend trillions of dollars on medical treatments and economic patches, but these alone will not cure the underlying diseases of mankind. The only lasting cure is for people to realize that we are all brothers and sisters. Let it start with you and me. Let us share, in ever expanding circles, until our kindness wraps the whole world in filaments of peace, love, and light.
Isn’t it interesting that the two sacred holidays, Christmas in the West, and Diwali in India, are filled with images of light? Paramhansa Yogananda explained that the Christmas tree, with all its lovely lights and ornaments, is symbolic of our astral spine, which should be decorated with lovely qualities and bright attitudes. The star at the top is, of course, the star of the spiritual eye.
It is good to share stories of hope and self-offering. Here are a few heartwarming true ones that exemplify the principles of world brotherhood:
- A student from a poor family had no money for lunch at his high school. One of his teachers noticed this and casually said to him, “You are showing some real talent for art. If you come by my classroom at lunchtime, I would be happy to give you some private lessons.” The teacher brought out her own lunch and divided it in half to share with the student.
- Healthcare workers around the world are risking their own lives and well-being, as well as that of their families, in order to care for the sick and dying.
- This year’s global “teacher of the year” is from a rural village in India. He has decided to share his million-dollar prize with the other nine finalists for the award. Thus thousands of students will be helped rather than hundreds.
- Mother Teresa told of an event during a time of famine in Kolkata. One of her nuns brought a bag of rice to a starving family. The mother immediately gave half of it to another starving family. Mother Teresa remarked, “The generosity didn’t surprise me, but the ability to think of others during a time of crisis in your own family is quite remarkable.”
Swami Kriyananda wrote a lovely song, “The Shawl of Gold,” which captures the true spirit of kindness and brotherhood. One line is, “For it’s kindness broadens the human heart. I know, I who died on the cross!”
May our hearts be so filled with kindness and light that they embrace the whole world during this holy season.
In divine friendship,