We had a lovely dinner on the lawn with a group of friends last week, the first in more than a year. As the conversation deepened over the evening, we asked each person to talk about what they were working on inwardly. Their answers probably resonate with you too: “I’m working on staying in the moment.” Another, “I’m working on being spiritually authentic to myself rather than doing what others might expect.” Yet another, “I’m trying to keep my mind God-centered throughout the whole day.” One said, “When I have a question, I try to remember to ask God or Master, ‘What would you do?’” Around the table it went, each sharing deeply their inner aspirations and struggles.

ashram karma yoga program spiritual community ananda villageWhat made this remarkable is that we were sitting with a group of younger people, some of whom had been here for only months. The age of our bodies doesn’t matter; what counts is the “age” of our souls. These were all old souls in young bodies.

What is an “old soul”? In one way, this is a misnomer: Our souls have been around since the beginning of time. But in another sense, an old soul is someone who has spent a number of lifetimes pursuing spiritual truths. Anyone drawn to a high and challenging spiritual path such as that given by our great line of masters has to be an old soul.

Once we were with Swami Kriyananda in, of all places, a shopping mall when he said, “I received a letter yesterday from someone expressing how unworthy he felt about himself. He compared his accomplishments to mine and felt inadequate. I wish,” Swamiji went on, “that people would understand that we are all the same. I’ve just been at it for a little longer.”

An important point here is that there are many deep aspirants who are struggling with unhelpful self-images. Many feel alone and without support from their environment. Most old souls, many in young bodies, experience feelings similar to the ones below:

  • “There is so much more to life than what I see happening around me. I’m not attracted to the things that others find so important. This world doesn’t seem to fit me.”
  • “I wish I had friends I could talk to, who feel as I do. But I feel alone. I don’t have anyone that I can share myself with, who really understands my deeper feelings.”
  • “I want to help the world.” (This may take a thousand forms: helping the homeless, or the environment, or those who are unable to defend themselves from those with more power.)
  • “I feel that I am spiritual, but not religious. I wish I could find someone who can explain the purpose of life.”

karma yoga ashram spiritual community of paramhansa yogananda autobiography of a yogiThese were some of the feelings being expressed at the table last week. What was notable was that everyone felt secure enough to bare their soul. These young people had been a part of our Internship Program at Ananda Village, and now were moving toward living here permanently. The Internship Program gives young people a chance to stay here for a period of time without any long-term commitment, to see if Ananda seems to be the right path and environment for them.

Whether young or old, it is a deep blessing to find a safe and supportive environment in which to allow one’s spiritual aspirations to unfold. Yogananda said that environment is stronger than willpower, and urged the creation of “world brotherhood colonies” based on simple living and high thinking.

The world is desperately in need of social models that help people live lives of higher meaning and purpose. What Ananda is offering globally are such examples. Master’s great mission to the world has hardly begun.

Nayaswami Jyotish

P.S.: Here are links to the Ananda Village Internship Program or to learn about our Virtual Community.

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10 Comments

  1. Nice “happening!” Wish I’d been there. Sorry who the person that took the picture but not in it. Great picture. Good topic. I just finished writing this to a friend in Nebraska before reading this beautiful experience for a few old souls……

    “It’s 2:15am. Been watching tiktok 1 hour. Took a melatonin. Window by my head open. Always is. Sound of rain on the walkway and on the leaves and plants and ground. I love this place. So many familiar places I go every day. Familiar faces everywhere. Some I say hi to. Some I’d call friends. But familiar by itself works for me too. Not easy to decide but nobody here knows me. What I’m about and all that sort of thing. They do a little better at Ananda. That matters too. When people don’t know you, you’re pretty much all alone – you pretty much on your own. Familiar places and familiar faces sometimes aren’t enough.”

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. Amazing article! It resonated with my soul and made my day even brighter!
    Namaste,

  3. Beautiful article. I sometimes wish I had found Ananda earlier in life as I certainly was not attracted to what the world around me held as important. I hope this article will reach many young people looking for meaning and purpose in life and that they will come and experience simple living and high thinking.

  4. Once again, your message fed my soul, dear Jyotish.

  5. I enjoyed reading the blog article. I would like to comment on some of things expressed:

    “There is so much more to life than what I see happening around me. I’m not attracted to the things that others find so important. This world doesn’t seem to fit me.”

    We all have different “roles” to play on Earth, but I believe what’s most important and what everyone should connect with others is what we all are as equals in every way, and that is our Soul. If one focus on the Souls of people instead of the roles people play, we would “fit” in the world a lot better. Focusing on the roles of others can be dangerous, in my opinion; it can lead to the ego taking over and feeling one is better than others, spiritually, intellectually, etc….We are all where we should be in life, going on our own journey at our own pace, in our own time, as we connect deeper to Deity whether we are conscious of that or not.

    “I wish I had friends I could talk to, who feel as I do. But I feel alone. I don’t have anyone that I can share myself with, who really understands my deeper feelings.”

    That was a nice group there and possibly everyone had a lot in common? If so, than there are your friends to talk to! :) Sometimes a person has to make that first step in talking first and see if there’s a common bond with others within the roles we have on Earth.

    “I want to help the world.” (This may take a thousand forms: helping the homeless, or the environment, or those who are unable to defend themselves from those with more power.)

    Just do it! :) There are lots of places to volunteer, but during these times, most seem to be online. Or you can start your own project in helping others. I love volunteering and have volunteered at many places pre-covid, but now, I volunteer online at two websites encouraging and inspiring girls and women in need by way of sending them typed or handwritten letters (this is a requirement from the websites) to get mailed out to them (cards are also permitted). And I have an animal rights/vegan blog with a large number of followers on Twitter. There are lots of ways to be of service on your own via computer.

    “I feel that I am spiritual, but not religious. I wish I could find someone who can explain the purpose of life.”

    I believe the purpose of life is fulfilling one’s dharma and eventually connecting to God (or Goddess, or Spirit, or Higher Source, or Universe, or Deity, etc…whatever name you want to say) as One. It’s like the ocean and we are like raindrops, eventually merging with Spirit. Finding one’s dharma (purpose in life) is by having a close relationship to Spirit, or can be found by noticing what type of service you gravitate to. Life is about LOVE. Loving others and serving others. When we do that, we love and serve ourselves as well since we are all connected as Souls as One. That is the commonality everyone has in their purpose in life, and that is: Service.

  6. Thank you so much for sharing this. Jai Guru. Yes, one of the answer definitely resonated with me I.e.”I am being spritually authentic to myself…………..”. When I read that, I realised this is how I feel these days, although I could not put it in words. Your blogs are so motivating. The words always touch a cord in my heart and I feel as if you know, what one thinks or feels as one tries to move ahead along this path.Thanks again.

  7. Thank you Jyotish ji! But please also let us know who is the blessed soul who took the picture :))

  8. I weekly read your inspiring & jouyful posts. And I often wanted to leave a comment, but never did.
    But this correspended totally with my own experiences. I could had been one of the youths at the table…
    Feeling lonely, without like-minded people. Not feeling understood at all. Feeling to make the world a better place and at the same time that I don’t belong to this world.
    After a long journey of seeking “meaning” I finally came in contact with Ananda. That changed everything. Last year I became a Chela of Master and now I am a fresh Kriyaban. Both times it felt and still feels like finally coming (back) home.

    And even though it’s hard sometimes during those days to connect personally with like-minded people, Ananda and Master gave me all I desired for, without knowing what I was looking for in the beginning.

    Now I have to do my part, trying to enjoy along the journey of life and its tests. “Patience is the fastest way to enlightment” as Master said.

    Jai Guru!

  9. Dear Nayaswami Jyotish Ji,

    Thank you for sharing the picture and the blog. Very nice to see you all :-)
    I am able to resonate with a couple of those feelings that had been mentioned by the interns. Also, I read this line a few times “challenging spiritual path”…

    Sincere gratitude to Swamiji for manifesting Master’s dream on the World brotherhood colonies and including us in the family. It is a great blessing and particularly during these times.

    Thank you!

    Joy,
    Prem

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