Today, January 5, we celebrate the birthday of Paramhansa Yogananda, who brought to earth the spiritual power to uplift humanity. In one of the most amazing passages in Autobiography of a Yogi, he describes his experience of cosmic consciousness: “A swelling glory within me began to envelop towns, continents, the earth, solar and stellar systems, tenuous nebulae, and floating universes. . . . I cognized the center of the empyrean as a point of intuitive perception in my heart.”
Spiritual power is not ours to grasp or own, but will flow through us if we act in accordance with God’s will. It isn’t about controlling others, or defeating and destroying them—that is the realm of worldly power.If the center of the universe lies within us, then there is a reservoir of strength we can draw on! We can access it by developing, through deep meditation, our inner connection with God—the source of all power. The stronger this connection grows, the more our fears and anxieties melt away.
When Jesus Christ was taken by the Roman soldiers to be tried and crucified, his disciples drew their swords to defend him. He stayed their hands, saying, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” Certainly he had the power to destroy his attackers, but he chose to use his strength to do the will of God.
Yoganandaji said that every test we face in life is a test of our will power, and that we are never given a test that we don’t have the ability to overcome. Once we understand these two points, we are armed with powerful weapons to lead us to victory.
Spiritual power also enables us to become a source of strength and hope for others. In his life Swami Kriyananda was faced with test after test, but with a strength drawn from his faith in God and attunement with his guru, he was able to overcome every obstacle in his path. The creation of Ananda, and the hundreds of thousands brought to Yogananda’s path through it, are ample testament to what spiritual power can accomplish.
Once, after Swamiji had gone through a particularly difficult period, I said to him, “I don’t know if I have the strength to endure what you’ve had to go through in this lifetime.”
“I didn’t know that I had the strength,” he replied, “but faith is my armor.” So powerful was this statement that I used it as the title for a biography of his life—Faith Is My Armor—that he asked me several years later to write.
Recently I read an essay called, “We Were Made for These Times.” It concluded with the words: “When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.”
So as you embark on the voyage of 2018, whatever obstacles may lie before you, remember to draw on the examples of the great spiritual warriors. Like them, develop your own spiritual power so that you can sail safely through all of life’s storms, and steer your soul ship to the shores of God-consciousness.