Remember to Self-Forget

I am of a “certain age,” as they say, when memory becomes less reliable. This can be hard to gracefully accept and adjust to. I can recollect as a teen having almost photo recall, when I could bring all kinds of information from storage to speech in an instant.

Not so today. I depend to a greater extent on writing notes and lists, which works fairly well when I happen to remember where I’ve put them!

I try to make light of my lapses–failing to think of a person’s name or where I left my keys–but the inconvenience at times can turn to frustration. If you’re young and not dealing with this condition yet, trust me, you’ll get your chance!

Driving around these days, we are likely to see a now familiar sign: “Road work ahead. Expect delays.” This is precisely the message I receive when slowing down to fix a cranial connection that has come apart.

Suddenly there’s a flagger in the path of my effortless mental acuity with a sign that says, “Stop,” and there I am, waiting for the signal to proceed, while the workers in my brain try to repair the link to wherever my thought was going.

Most of us view the decline of memory with a measure of distress. Although it appears to be largely a natural phenomenon, we tend to regret it, often with a sense of vexation and despair. Granted, it can be problematic and sometimes even embarrassing to be forgetful, but in the divine scheme of things, what does it really matter?

Is it important for our spiritual welfare to remember the facts, details and events of this worldly existence? Truly, it is not.

I recently returned from a month-long stay in India. I was traveling alone, this time with more than I could easily manage: two 50-lb. suitcases, a 20-lb. carry-on and a shoulder bag with wallet, money, cell phone, passport and boarding pass.

Getting from Ananda’s Gurgaon ashram at midnight, into a cab to the Delhi airport, and then to the airline counter–without forgetting or losing an essential item–became a major ordeal. Alas, though I am compulsively careful to assure that nothing is missing, something was missing when the cab was already in route, and we had to turn back. My phone had been left on a table where I’d set it while writing a note just before heading out the door.

I started to grouse about this bothersome twist, and then paused to think about where it fits in the longer rhythm of things. Essentially, it would soon disappear, having no effect whatsoever on the rest of my life.

What we really need to remember is that we need to forget about listening to the voice inside us that causes us to lose our way back to God. Serving and supporting each other in a spirit of self-offering–in self-forgetfulness, that is–is what will speed our journey to Self-realization.

Among the great blessings we have before us is Swami Kriyananda’s enormous creative output, achieved primarily by his self-forgetful attunement to Master and to God as Divine Mother. Nothing he ever did was about him. And nothing he ever accomplished was for personal gain.

Swamiji’s sole motivation was to serve God and Guru as their disciple, and by virtue of his humility and attunement, he was ever in bliss. As he wrote and sang in his song In the Spirit, “I was caught up in ecstasy. ‘Twas a day sanctified by God. There He showed me the gifts of heaven, gifts that all seeking Him could know.”

It is tempting to excuse ourselves from that level of consciousness, to say that Swamiji was simply more advanced than any of us. Maybe so. But wouldn’t we all like to have what he had: inner peace and joy? Wouldn’t we like to know what it means to be eternally free? Nobody gets there by asking, “What’s in it for me?”

Remembering to forget ourselves by giving the best that is in us is the key to the bliss we seek. Such is the yogi’s way. Such is the way to claiming heaven’s gifts right here on earth.