For two years I had been living at the Ananda Meditation Retreat, happily experiencing Swami Kriyananda’s ideal of “plain living and high thinking.” Getting by on a modest stipend, all of my needs were covered except for the lingering student loan debt I had accrued in nursing school.
One evening class with Nayaswami Anandi Cornell, I was introduced to the spiritual practice of tithing. Compelled to put God in charge of my finances, and to experience firsthand how this practice could deepen my faith in Him, I went to the mailroom after class and wrote my first “Thank you, God” check. A week later I received a job offer for a nursing position in Los Angeles that came with a less-than-modest paycheck. Was it coincidence, or spiritual law in action?
A few months into my new job, I was uninspired and frustrated in the institution I worked for. My heart was drawn to serving with Ananda full time, but in doing so, I would be right back to my previous dilemma: working for a modest stipend and unsure how to pay the student loan. Offering this problem to God and Guru, I prayed for guidance.
Working merely for a paycheck felt dishonest. Following the sloka “Where there is dharma, there is victory,” I quit my job at the hospital, began serving with Ananda Los Angeles full time, and again put my finances and loan in God’s hands.
I began reading Money Magnetism by Swami Kriyananda and sought creative solutions to raise my energy. Only by putting out energy would I be able to magnetize the financial means needed. After a brainstorming lunch with Nayaswamis Narayan and Dharmadevi, and another member of the Los Angeles community, I had a list of fifteen expansive ways to serve and draw financial means.
I learned from my father, who is an accountant, the art of creating a budget. I began tracking my spending and budgeted my expenses. I sought to live simply but remain expansive in my giving. Any opportunity to give to another, I approached with an open heart and checkbook. My monthly tithe highlighted the first row of my Excel sheet. I cut back on many other expenses here and there, but never did I waiver on my tithe. I considered it a prayer demand that God would be in charge of my life and provide for all of my needs.
The “coincidences” that followed over the next few months seemed coincidences no longer, but a spiritual principle taking hold of my life. I was beginning to experience personally how prayer and the practice of tithing puts us into the current of God’s will and power. After my tithe and monthly expenses were paid, there always seemed to be extra left in my account. With this “extra” I was able to put eight thousand dollars toward my loan repayment, and a personal interest-free loan was graciously offered to pay the remainder. Free from the loan collector and his high-interest rates, I now had only a smaller principle to pay back to my generous benefactor.
One day I received a phone call from my father. “How much remains on your loans?” he inquired. I explained my current financial situation and my motivation to pay the remaining debt as soon as I could. He replied with one word: “Done.” My grandfather, who had left his body the previous year, had left funds for each of us grandchildren. The only stipulation was that those funds be applied toward our education. Unaware of these funds, but very grateful, I was able to pay back my benefactor in full. And, just like that, in six months I was free of my twenty-five thousand dollar student loan.
This grand act that God played in my life left me with full faith in His Divine Presence and protection. It also had me taking closer notice of how many little ways He offers His blessings. The more I looked in everyday life, the more I saw blessings all around me. Whether in big financial gifts, or the small little blessings that happened daily, I see His hand at work more and more in my life. And I am grateful that, as a result of His blessings, my faith is now unwavering.