Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ananda Palo Alto Newsletter, February 2009

Compassion Brings Understanding

February 26, 2009

Dear Friends:

When I was seven years old my parents sent me to “sleep away” camp. Mostly I had a great time, but some parts of the program weren’t designed for a child as young as I. In arts and crafts, for example, all the other children wove potholders out of elasticized bands, but my fingers were too small and I could never do it.

So on Parents Day, I was the only child who didn’t have potholders hanging on the edge of my bunk as a surprise gift to Mom and Dad. I couldn’t bear the disappointment, so I took two from the bunk above me and hung them on my hooks as if I had made them myself.

Naturally, this ruse was quickly uncovered. My parents were very strict about dishonesty of any kind, so they must have reprimanded me. But what I remember most is my mother’s compassion as I lay, curled up in her lap, sobbing and defending myself. “They fell! They fell!” I insisted. No one was persuaded.

The transparent absurdity of my denial, and my childish, but nonetheless very real anguish, must have kept my poor mother between laughter and tears herself.

The “Airplane Route to God”

Recently at Sunday Service, I told this story as the beginning of a discussion about Divine Mother’s love. How unfazed, even amused She is by our foibles. And how lovingly she holds us in Her lap as we sob and protest against the consequences of our own actions.

The Great Potholder Caper took place more than 50 years ago. So I was amazed, when I told the story recently, to find how profoundly it affected me. Deep disappointment balanced by profound appreciation for my mother’s kindness brought me to the edge of tears.

It was humbling to realize how much of the past we carry with us at all times, and how deeply influenced we are by it. And this is just one memory of one incarnation. Imagine what is stored in our chakras! (Or perhaps better not to imagine it!)

This is why Master called Kriya Yoga the “airplane route to God.” If we had to individually face and resolve every one of these karmic impressions, we would never be free. It is impossible to purify the heart that way. Even as we work conscientiously to overcome one karmic inclination, we are forming others.

Kriya, and the grace of God and Guru that comes with it, dissolves the karma in the chakras before it rises to the conscious level. One round of Kriya, Master said, is the equivalent of one year of right living. And, of course, this assumes that in that year you don’t lose more karmic ground than you gain!

Give Love

I bring all this up, not to make us feel overwhelmed by the task at hand, or to give us an excuse to wallow in emotions from the past, but to awaken within us the spiritual qualities we need. First is gratitude and devotion to God and Gurus for the gift of this spiritual path; then comes humility, kindness and compassion for others who are, after all, in the same boat we are.

Years ago, I was in the back kitchen of a motor home that David was driving up a curving mountain road. I was fixing a peanut butter sandwich when David made a sudden turn. The heavy peanut butter jar slid off the counter and fell on my foot. Fortunately, it gave me only a bruise and a very profound spiritual lesson.

The instant I felt the pain in my foot I had an almost irresistible desire to pass that pain along in the form of harsh words to David. My mind tried to persuade me that somehow that would make my foot feel better!

Of course the actual result would have been to increase pain everywhere and diminish it nowhere. What good would that do? Yet, how often, this transparent untruth deceives us and sends us off again on “Mr. Toad’s Wild Karmic Ride.”

A friend spoke to me recently about some difficult experiences imposed on her by a family friend when she was a child. Finally she had reached the point of detachment and maturity, she said, where she could think about it from his point of view.

“Terrible things must have happened to him,” she said, “for him to treat me that way. Poor fellow!” Compassion is the beginning of freedom.

“I Choose Only Thee”

Swami Kriyananda has faced enormous challenges in his life, including betrayal by those whom he thought to be his closest spiritual friends. His response is simple: “I choose to love,” he says. “Why should I allow the wrong actions of others to take away my inner peace? I feel better if I love.”

These simple words imply a universe of divine understanding, an understanding all of us must eventually reach. For one reason only: We are happier when we love.

“Blessed are the pure in heart,” Jesus said, “for they shall see God.” By “blessed” Jesus meant “blissful.” Blissful are the pure in heart.

Divine Mother is not distant from us, it is we who hold Her away because of our misunderstanding.

As a child I tried to get my earthly mother to go along with my false view of reality. Lucky for me, she was kind and compassionate, but not persuaded. Truth cannot be voted into existence, it simply is.

St. Augustine said, “Thou hast made us for Thyself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.”

Blessings and love from David and me.



Printable copy of Asha's Letter

"Going Deeper Into God" was the theme of this month's Winter Spiritual Renewal Week at Ananda Village. The talks were spectacularly inspiring! Hear, view or download them for free by clicking here.

Farewell to Raghu & Tyagini Clark (front & center), now officially Directors of Ananda Sacramento!

From the Ananda Supporting Members Candlelight Tea

Asha at the Chocolate Fountain

New staff member Nirmoha Gladen sings barbershop bass with Todd, Patrick and Dambara