Happy Birthday Swamiji!

Posted by & filed under Inspiration.

91st Anniversary of His Birthday

Swami Kriyananda, PronamSwami Kriyananda, J. Donald Walters, was born on May 19, 1926.

Swami spent more years of his life in search of God and in the development of his attunement to God and Guru. Reading The New Path is a wonderful way to get close to Swami. Or listen to the music of Ananda, to know him more deeply.

There are three occasions featuring Swami that stick out in my mind as I write this.

The first is when Swami returned from India to visit the Ananda colonies, ending up at the Village for a portion of the summer months, when it was too hot to be in the East.

During these months, Swami would host weekly barbeques at the Crystal Hermitage. We would be sitting in groups around the patio, balancing plates with veggie-dogs and chips on our laps. Toward the end of the evening, Swami would read to us.

How he loved reading PG Wodehouse. He would laugh and laugh, sometimes bringing tears to his eyes. It was a joy-filled time. A great blessing.

The second time, was during those same summer months at the Village, there would be a concert at the amphitheater. Swami loved music. Our Ananda Choir as large as possible, ready to sing.

Towards the later years, Swami would sit directly in the center of the stage, with the choir surrounding him. As they would sing out with joy, Swami sat there with his eyes closed…in pure bliss.

The third, and last, was after his passing. I think of this often during the springtime, as the heralding for the tulip weekends begin.

My daughter, then seven, was walking down the side entrance steps into the Hermitage. She stopped, looked out over the sea of tulips. She raised her arms out and encompassing the gardens whispered, “Momma, Swami is in all the tulips.”

Happy birthday Swamiji. Master’s blessings on you.

Relationships 108, and Meditation

Posted by & filed under Meditation.

Or How to Find True Love

How’re you doin’ in the relationships department? (Read through to the end, I have a point.)

Guys: Are you really listening to your partner? I mean, are you so interested in their point of view that you completely forget your own? Do you follow their advice? Can you let go of the next thing in your head that you want to say, just drop it; and be in the present moment with your partner?

Ladies: Are you walking your talk? Following up on what you promised you’d do? 100% trusting & supportive, without any need to correct or criticize? Do you embrace self-correction, rather than self-blame?

How much are you personally expressing these qualities:

  • Humility
  • Receptivity
  • Appreciation
  • Kindness
  • R-e-s-p-e-c-t

Do you share everything? Is every moment a creative delight, rather than just familiar routine?

Now, go back and re-read those questions but this time, thinking of God as your partner.

Meditation is a relationship with God, with our Higher Self.

Who’s doing the talking in our meditation? Are we really listening to God’s advice? Are we acting on that advice—applying all our focused energy?

This relationship is about connection, not ideas. It’s about devotion, keeping the home fires burning.

How do you wish with all your heart that your partner would be, for their highest good? That’s exactly how God feels about us!

Get calm enough in meditation to let the voice of God inspire you, fill you, thrill you.

“I am never really lonely for anyone. Only for God. If my consciousness is raised the tiniest bit, so that the Self-the radiant denizen of my inner being-seems so much as a hair’s breadth nearer to me, all sense of isolation leaves me.”
—Sister Gyanamata

“I take this sacred vow: Never will I lower my love’s gaze below the eyebrow-horizon of my constant thoughts of Thee! Never will I turn my uplifted inner sight away from Thee! Never will I let my mind dwell on anything that reminds me not of Thee! I will disdain the nightmare of ignorant behavior. I will court all dreams of noble achievement: those of love, kindness, and understanding, for they are Thy dreams.” —Paramhansa Yogananda

In the Sway Of Peril’s Way

Posted by & filed under Spiritual Teachings.

Do you love to shop?

It’s no wonder that so many people do. In this modern world of amazing gadgets and gizmos, of got-to-have-it doodads and devices, our eyes are assaulted daily with alluring goods to have and to hold.

Shopping today is America’s national pastime. Department stores, brand stores, and malls have become our culture’s popular destinations for their feast of tempting consumables. In our collective consciousness, needing has been overrun by the habit of wanting. “Shop ’til you drop” is the motto of some, who wear it like a badge to be admired.

Fashion, too, is sold with enormous appeal, as if it were the Holy Grail of social acceptance. We have become a nation of fashion conformists. Although our choice of furnishings, outfits, and accessories may appear to us to be unique, the greater truth is that Madison Avenue tells us what is “in”, and we choose from the choices it gives us. In total, its array of genres, colors, types, models, facsimiles, and styles is patently staggering, which enables the impression that we are not like everyone else.

Someone once noted humorously that fashion is that which “goes in one year and out the other,” but that hardly deters a great many folks from climbing aboard the train to trendy persuasion. America’s economic health is fed by and large by money spent as latest fashions prescribe.

Is this bad? Does it make us wrong?

In a deep sense, yes, it is and it does. That is not to say that a person who loves to shop is bad, but shopping just to shop, or to be on a constant lookout for the next impulsive purchase, is time spent without meaning or personal growth.

And worse, it is a misdirection of love. Energy and vitality flow out of us with every material desire we express. It is not surprising to observe that shoppers who shop to shop, spending their love like largesse in dreams or pursuit of unneeded possessions, often have less of it to give to others and to God.

Each of us likes what we like, and owning things of quality and utility is highly practical. The only question is, how often are those items put to use or properly enjoyed? Are they operated, handled, worn, driven, applied, maintained, and valued as their quality and utility would merit? Or do they live in closets, drawers, shelves, sheds, garages, or in plain sight, seldom remembered except as part of one’s cache?

I do not exclude myself from wanting things that I do not need. Things of beauty, refinement, comfort, and convenience provide a source of pleasure that does no harm. For the sake of our love, however, it is crucial that we discriminate between having enough and too much. When simplicity crosses the line to excess, our spiritual vitality suffers the effect.

Temperance is love. Prudence is love. In cultivating them, our love expands, and with it a joy that acquisitions and fashion cannot match.

In the Garden of Gethsemane

Posted by & filed under Inspiration.

A Deep Stillness in the Garden

The walls are lit up at night. They are brightly illuminated, throwing the rest of the city into relief. The gardens, dark and silent at near dawn. Such a beautiful site. It was a blessing to be a part of that pilgrimage, walking in all those places Jesus walked. Such a blessing.

Sitting in the Garden of Gethsemane, looking out onto the walls of the Ancient City of Jerusalem, I realized—a bit more deeply—why Jesus came.

On the way back to the hotel, my hubby commented on a thought/feeling he had after our meditation in those gardens. David had imagined that the gardens would hold a vibration of sadness due to the betrayal of Jesus, by Judas. Instead, it held a strong vibration of strength and clarity.

Our meditation that early morning, was deep with meaning and joy! The sacredness of that space pouring into our souls. The blessings continued.

Christ Has Risen this Easter Morning

Easter is not just a time of death, Jesus went to His crucifixion knowing. He asked His Divine Father to release Him from this karma. His release came, not from the actions that needed to take place, but entirely in His heart and soul. His blessings for all of us are so deep and pure. Filled with strength and clarity!

Joy! Yes, even in the garden of betrayal, joy.

Jesus came to this world in answer to a “call of aspiring love” and need, to show us, not how great He was, but to show us how great we can be.

Working Through the Wobblies

Posted by & filed under Inspiration.

Mark Twain once declared that he loved work so much, he could sit and watch it all day. His remark always draws a chuckle from me as I picture him in a rocking chair on the porch of a stately hotel, savoring his favorite cigar, lazily appraising the bee-like business around him. I suspect, however, the remark did not really describe him except as a wit.

Nor does it speak of me. I love work, and I cannot imagine the day that I would not. But here is the obvious disclaimer: I love the work that I love! Give me a task that appeals to me, and my energy for it will flow for as long as needed. But give me a task at the other end of the spectrum, and whether or not it falls within my range of effort and skill, I confess that I might grumble at first, if only to myself. The end may have its reward, but the journey to it will test my sense of enjoyment and good nature.

What brings this to mind is a helpful article by Gyandev McCord, written in 2005 for Clarity magazine. He offers how to revitalize our sadhanas when the well has begun to run dry. Let’s face it, striving to overcome dry or restless meditations can sometimes be the hardest of a long day’s work.

With self-honesty and humor, Gyandev highlights the subtle mental traps that seem to ensnare us all at one time or another. The question is, what do we do about them? How do we manage to pull ourselves out of falling into apathy? How do we get back on track with a greater sense of purpose and devotion?

The answer, for the most part, is to strive with a brighter attitude and a willingness to turn on the juice. But that’s the point where the petulant baby in me wants to throw a fit: “You’re doing enough already! This is too demanding. It’ll take too much time, and maybe it won’t pay off. C’mon, let’s blow it off.” And sometimes I have.

These little reactive tantrums, like sudden squalls, are not uncommon when threats to our comfort zone are proposed. I am not averse to taking risks when the odds are decidedly in my favor; when my confidence, that is, is sufficiently present. But in the absence of that, saying “Yes, I’ll do it” is a stretch. My ego hates to be at the wheel if there’s the chance of a crash.

Well, enough of that. It’s got nowhere useful to go, and useless isn’t an option. When I look at Swami Kriyananda’s life, aspiring to follow his lead, I know that I cannot afford to shrink from being a better example to myself. We’re surrounded at Ananda by other great souls as well, and I know what they had to do to reach where they are. They worked hard, took chances and pushed ahead when the noisy voice of inertia told them not to. Where would I be without them and the spiritual modeling they do for me?

Sometimes the greatest risk is not to take one, even when the outcome looks a bit murky. And if backing down would only cause your spiritual life to suffer, having farther to climb to recover would only add to the insult. Although we are not always ready to do what must be done when the doing is at hand, hoping we can do without it is folly indeed.

A good meditation starts with showing up. And showing up to do it is the one and only way to make it good.