Saturday, July 7, 2012
For a tree to grow strong and bear good fruit, it needs sunlight, water, and good soil. No success is ever achieved in a vacuum. While success can mean achieving any goal one has chosen, true success is that which brings lasting satisfaction of body, mind, and soul. To achieve name and fame or wealth at the expense of others by greed, lies, or exploitation is a one-sided and a fragile kind of success. It is not true success and whatever satisfaction it may bring is hollow.
Success requires a sensitive balance and dance between self-will and harmonious cooperation with other people, environment and circumstances. The sapling tree can be killed by too much water or not enough water; too intense of sunlight or insufficient sunlight. Scientists opine that the chemical and other combinations of ingredients that makes planet Earth habitable for humans is both complex and very delicate. We’ve yet to find another planet such as ours.
Success comes by creating friendships. When Paramhansa Yogananda (author of Autobiography of a Yogi) came to America in 1920, he made friends everywhere he went because he was friendly. He addressed people’s needs, from cooking a meal for them to giving them wisdom and practical teachings. He never used people but saw others equally as God manifesting in specific forms. He thus served God in others and did not think of himself.
Success also requires concentration upon the goal and the means to the goal, sometimes to the exclusion of all else but always by keeping one’s priorities clearly in view. Meditation serves one superbly to open the floodgates to a flow of intuition onto a field of calm sensitive awareness guiding that rive-like flow, laser-like, in the direction of one’s goal.
I have lived in an Ananda Community for over thirty-five years and have seen the power that comes from the combination of high ideals, practicality, and “the many hands that can a miracle.” Unless you happen to be an Albert Einstein, most of us would do well to understand that success comes when we work with and through and for others. At your workplace, be helpful. Think of the needs of your co-workers, your supervisor, and the legitimate goals of the company or organization. Do your best with excellence, creativity, and enthusiasm.
After a forest fire destroyed most of the first Ananda Community (Ananda Village, near Nevada City, CA), we banded together (eschewing the opportunity to sue the local county — a faulty spark arrestor on a county vehicle caused the fire) to find new ways to raise the money we needed to rebuild. Yes, some donations came in but most of it came through old fashioned hard work. But we were relatively inexperienced and without financial resources. We studied business methods, financing, and marketing, and we encouraged one another and our businesses to tithe and to use affirmations and prayers. We started a health food store, a café, a print shop, a gift shop and a clothing store. Each of the these enterprises struggled greatly but bit by bit they came up and our member-employees found viable, if simple, means of support.
In time, the Community rose from the ashes and today when one visits you see a beautiful Village nestled in the hills, forests, and meadows of the Sierra Mountains. Homes of many types, shapes and sizes house families, monks, and singles in a charming and harmonious life of creativity, service, and devotion. A retreat center, office complex, grocery store, farm, dairy and community center serve the needs of both residents and neighbors alike.
Our local East West Bookshop in Seattle, too, is a testimony to the efforts of many individuals serving high ideals and attracting the grace to be successful. While the independent bookstore industry has been decimated this store has survived and flourished. It is the largest and most successful bookstore of its kind in Washington State. It is a resource center for new thought truth seekers and offers classes, books, gifts and, perhaps most of all, an uplifted environment staffed with devotees who see customers as their friends.
Here in the Seattle area we are engaged in purchasing a rural area farm. Some twenty individuals have pooled their resources. Small scale, organic farming is a tricky and risky business if seen from the standpoint of profits. But with the many hands and resources of a committed group of people which includes the talent and skills of a few who can guide the fledgling farm, we can create a success because we understand success is sharing and serving. In our case we are committed to principles and practices of sustainability and stewardship, serving God through our fellow man and in harmony with the earth and all creatures.
So it takes the initiative, courage and faith of individuals combined with the cooperation and support of others of like mind — God helping God — to achieve true success. This is an unbeatable combination, not only to achieve success but to achieve the success of weathering and resurrecting from in the inevitable setbacks, failures, and disasters which life can dish out.
The key, spiritually, is to offer the self to the Self of all. “I will reason, I will will, I will act, but guide Thou my reason, will and activity to the right step in all that I do.”
In the life of Ananda’s founder, Swami Kriyananda, now age 86, but still outpacing his staff and members in the worldwide network of Ananda Communities in the unceasing flow of writings, lectures, radio and TV shows, guidance, and inspiration, we see in real life the power of grace that comes from discipleship to life and to truth. “What’s trying to happen here” is the question he has taught us to ask in all things. Yet for all of his creativity, intelligence and talent, it is now primarily the outpouring of divine Bliss that one experiences in his presence. For a lifetime of living for God has brought to him the peace and lasting fulfillment that the soul was created to re-discover.
Initially the effort to view oneself as part of a greater reality and to cooperate with grace is an effort of will. As I have seen in recent Facebook postings, “Life begins outside your comfort zone!” But in time and as seen in Swami Kriyananda, that dance of Spirit and Nature becomes a powerful flow of Light and Joy.
When I first came to live at Ananda Village (just after the 1976 forest fire), it was definitely outside my comfort zone. But just having returned from over a year of travel in Europe, near East and India, I understood the value of stepping outside that zone to find the truth that “could make me free.” I never hesitated though I could not then know where it would lead.
In a more cosmic or Vedantic sense, rishis (both ancient and modern, like Paramhansa Yogananda) have taught that this universe is a manifestation of God. God is dreaming this material world and we, as sparks of His intelligence and joy, are co-creators. Yogananda used the analogy of the movies. You sit in the theatre and become engrossed in the movie, laughing and crying. You forget that the whole movie is a projection of light from the booth behind you (unseen). A beam of white light, merely, projecting the true-to- life sound and sight pictures of the movie. We need only turn our heads to the back (turn within, that is), and follow the beam of light to its source in Oneness if we would awaken from the movie-dream of life.
The other day, puttering in the kitchen at home, I suddenly had this intense feeling-experience of that flow of cosmic energy oscillating and vibrating all the objects around and I felt on the precipice of having it all disappear, just as would happen if the electricity in the movie theatre were suddenly to go out. It was both unnerving and thrilling at the same time. It was also brief!
The more we see ourselves as energy, and behind that energy, the Bliss of God oscillating all the forms and actions of life, the less we need to be always thinking about ourselves and the more we enter that flow that brings to us the true happiness (Bliss) that we seek. This, ultimately, is success and the law of success.
Bliss-ings to you,