What Comes Around

DOES TALK OF DEATH MAKE YOU A LITTLE UNEASY?

Most people look for ways to change the subject.

Everyone since childhood has been aware of death, but as long as we’re alive, death is that which happens only to others. We tend to ignore its presence until, in failing health, we end up cramming for peace of mind just as we crammed for exams in our school days.

What are we afraid of, a sudden plunge into the vast unknown? No doubt about it. Catering to our anxieties, we press for material comforts, financial cushions, career titles, and countless other ego-driven rewards. What could be less prudent? Comfort and ease invite the very attachments that extend our delusions. They prevent us from dealing with why we are here and in what condition of spirit we will depart.

Death is entered in nakedness, alone. We are swept into its realm, unsupported by the props that reinforce who we think we are: our families and friends, our collected things, our self-definitions. Death reminds us abruptly that we are not, and never were, the portraits of ourselves that we project.

Our masters have counseled us that patience is the shortest route to God. In hearing this advice, however, we seem to interpret patience as procrastination. Instead of using these precious years to probe and embrace the inner, eternal wonders of our being, we are apt to spend them, in large part, chasing visions of permanence which ever and again dissolve. Until, that is, we perceive that our days are few. Until we are anxiously cramming for our final exam.

I hold in my hand the everywhere neverlasting.
I see in my head the dance of changing forms.
Now is what there is,
And then it is gone.
Now is what there is,
And then I am gone.

The trouble is, it is death instead of desire that people dread. We fail to see the connection, that dying is mostly a function of dying for more. To want is soon to need, and as need demands, one devolves from free spirit to slave. We long to be happy, yet so many of our emotions, beliefs, and behaviors lead us astray of the goal.

Thankfully, though, after lifetimes of getting it wrong, we start to get it right. We begin to look inward for answers to the meaning of life and death, and as we do, we redeem death of its dark disguise, discovering that its purpose is to show us how to live. The peace we long for comes from letting go of our worldly attachments. That is the lesson of death, and we don’t have to wait to die to gain its reward.

Jesus, in the Gospel of St. Matthew, said: “He that findeth his life shall lose it, and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” In today’s language: He who persists in his ego’s self-interest is destined to remain in delusion, losing the chance to move beyond its material limitations. Delusion dissipates only as one overcomes the pull of such desires, breaking away from his tether to selfish pursuits. Then does he reap the ultimate freedom of divine reunion with God.

In the ending lines of his beautiful prayer-poem, St. Francis of Assisi takes us back to the truths we tend to forget. He beseeches the Lord to “make me an instrument of Thy peace,” concluding:

For it is in the giving that we receive;
It is in the pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in the dying that we are born to eternal life.

What are we afraid of, a sudden plunge into the vast unknown? Not if we get to know it while we are here.

ABOUT NAYASWAMI SURENDRA

Nayaswami Surendra manages Ananda’s Temple and Teaching Center, serving the greater Portland area. As a Lightbearer and previous resident of Ananda colonies in Seattle, Palo Alto and Pune, India, he is pleased and honored to share with us his wealth of teaching, counseling and leadership experience.

Paramhansa Yogananda Shares a Christmas Message

A Christmas Message from Paramhansa Yogananda, December 1950

My Christmas wish for you this year is twofold: that the consciousness of Christ be manifest in you through deep meditation, and that your exemplary actions will persuade others to abandon their evil or worldly ways and become spiritual.

Both meditation and action are necessary or the spiritual path, for they contribute toward individual and mass evolution.

It is not God’s will to develop spiritually in a selfish way, i.e., without extending help to others who are suffering. So remember always to render service to mass evolution, while seeking the Father through regular practices of deep meditation.

The more one develops spiritually, the deeper becomes his or her love and compassion for humanity. Accompanying love and compassion is the desire to uplift humanity from the throes of ignorance and war and the consequent suffering they bring. However, you must remember to make God first in your heart always.

The Father will not be content with second place!

He must reign first and foremost in the most tender center of your being—your heart. Through His blessings and grace alone are you able to develop and help humanity emerge from its ignorance.

Meditate regularly and practice Kriya Yoga faithfully with all the concentration of your mind and the intensity of your heart. On Christmas Eve meditate for many hours in the presence of other devotees. Dedicate this extended meditation to the achievement of the love of God and the attainment of World Peace and Brotherhood among all nations.

Share your gifts (material, mental and spiritual) with the less fortunate on Christmas. This will make your holiday a real one. The gifts need not be expensive but practical ones: durable clothing (new or used) for those who need it, canned and dried foods for people who find them difficult to obtain in their countries, a friendly visit to the physically afflicted, a word of comfort to the depressed, and spiritual manna to those who are seeking the love of God. You can help distant as well as local people in these ways.

Be ambitious for God.

Keep seeking Him through meditation and keep working for Him. This will give you the spiritual emancipation you are seeking. Christ and the great ones showed through exemplary living that it can be done. So follow their footsteps quietly and humbly. God bless you always. May your every day become a Christmas of ever-new joy, love, peace, and wisdom in God and the Gurus.

With deepest blessings, Paramahansa Yogananda

And from the Ananda Portland Temple and Teaching Center, its staff and ministry: We wish you a blessed Christmas. May the blessings you receive during this sacred time of year, reach far and deep. And continue throughout the upcoming year. May the Light of the Christ-consciousness shine upon you and yours. In Joy and peace.

Christmas Miracles

What Child Is this?

Sitting at my computer, I was looking for inspiration, Christmas music (classical and peaceful!) playing and the lighted tree standing before me. What occurred to me is that there are so many blessings during this time of Christmas, it is hard not to be inspired.

I began to think back to my pilgrimage in Israel, remembering walking in the Ancient City, Bethlehem, Nazareth. Of seeing all of these sites where Jesus was; sites that I have heard about yearly during my 49 years of life.

We visited the well in the village of Nazareth, where Mary went daily to fetch the water. The Archangel Gabriel appearing to her there at the well. He appears to her again at her home. Confirming for her that she is to be the mother of the Son of God! Wow, I am humbled by this child.

For unto us a child is born…this son is given.

To think that this young woman, a girl, was worthy of birthing this Babe. She stood strong when she knew that the village would rise against her, them knowing that she could not possibly be pregnant in any proper manner. She stood strong. She stood in perfect faith.

She heard from angels.

She believed. She traveled. She believed. She was the mother of the Son of God. She believed.

There are so many blessings in this time. I try to remember that when I hear Jingle Bells again and again. I try to remember it when I get cut off driving somewhere, or I have to purchase one more thing…it’s there. The Magic, the Grace and blessings of this time. I believe.

Peace. Joy. Light. Love. May the Light of the Christ-consciousness shine upon us.