There is a psychic storm throughout America and Europe of fear, confusion, and chaos triggered by the killings in Paris. It's true that acts of terrorism take place throughout the world but it's also not surprising that the attacks in Paris hit "home" in a closer and more personal way for many.
Where are we headed and how should we respond? Though our teacher, Paramhansa Yogananda, left this world in 1952, he nonetheless predicted that a time was coming when "international criminals" would cause much suffering and chaos. What he knew and "saw" we cannot say but his prediction is eerily prescient. He predicted other catastrophic events and wars as well. All this, he said, would be necessary before the world would enter a prolonged period of peace.
He advised that allied nations who shared basic human values form a kind of international police force to aid oppressed people suffering under lawless regimes. Despite the obvious risks, it seems right, also, that countries who can afford to do so, take in eligible refugees from troubled parts of the world. Who can, any longer in this increasingly small world, pretend to hide from or attempt to ignore, the woes of the innocent?
Yogananda's guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar, was the first to proclaim, in 1894, that a new age (of increased material, mental and spiritual energy) was about to dawn. And, looking back, so it has. But as humanity's consciousness awakens to a new level of awareness, it is also burdened by old ways of thinking. Thus, in the early stages of this planetary awakening, entrenched interests and prejudices of all kinds (e.g., political, cultural, and religious) are energized rather than transformed.
Those, like ourselves, who affirm individual freedoms, the rule of law, and the acceptance of all people as children of God regardless of race, gender, religion or culture, are a minority, but a rapidly growing minority.
There is no question, then, of the outcome of the planetary conflict between a new paradigm of consciousness and the old forms, narrow and prejudiced. Nor are the new and old thought forms restricted to any nation, religion or group of people. We live side-by-side with one another, even if certain groups of people epitomize or specialize in one form or the other.
The new consciousness will prevail but it is obvious that humanity will continue to go through many trials, challenges and cataclysms. Though somewhat and appropriately silent, the spread of meditation and yoga throughout the world holds the greatest promise of fostering a new consciousness. Change from within is an individual transformation, not a legislative, military, political or cultural one. Sometimes changes in consciousness are reflected in political action, but lasting and peaceful change is inevitably personal and one-by-one.
Let each and every one of us reaffirm faith in ourselves, faith in the divine in one another, and faith in the power of like-minded and high-minded souls to affect planetary consciousness for the better. Great changes in history are always initiated by a small minority! Let us be, as Mahatma Gandhi counseled us, "the change we seek."
Though Yogananda predicted that "no corner of the planet would be safe," true security lies in the fortress of God's inner presence, whether in times of war or peace.
At home, at work, let us show respect for one another; let us learn to cooperate with "what is trying to happen" for the good of others as well as ourselves; to listen to the other person and the other side to see what truth or circumstantial realities he/they perceive; let us fulfill our personal duties with care, with excellence, and with creativity guided by the spiritual power of intuition and divine attunement. Let us also pray for those who suffer and render aid how and where we can.
May the light of universal Christ-Krishna peace fill the skies of our hearts and minds, guiding our hands to serve the divine in one another.
Nayaswamis Hriman and Padma