Thursday, August 31, 2017

We Celebrate the "Labor" of Summer!

"To draw God’s light down to earth, pure hearts are needed – devotees whose will is to live in light. Even as squalor attracts negative energies, however, so outward harmony and beauty attract Godly energies. Man cannot create heaven on this earth, for heaven is in God. But his duty is to reflect heaven in all he does, and in all that he creates."
"In everything we do, we pray to God to enlighten and inspire us. At the same time, we keep in mind that divine inspiration comes not only in silent prayer, but also in the prayer of labor that is lovingly offered up to Him. As Yogananda taught us to do, we pray, 'Lord, I will reason, I will will, I will act, but guide Thou my reason, will, and activity to the right path in everything.'"
-Swami Kriyananda, Cities of Light
This time of year one notices that the extended period of summer warmth and dryness begins to wear upon nature and perhaps even a few nerves. Trees and shrubs may be stressed. Grasses and some flowers have turned brown, dry and, well, unattractive. (Fires are especially a danger here in the western United States.)

Our lives of outward service during the "outwardness" of summer may obscure the value of making our environment clean and uplifted. Summer's outward burst of energy moreover takes us literally outside and we don't notice perhaps as much our home, our work space, and other indoor environments. 

But now, look around your home: what do you see? Clutter, uncleanliness, disorder? The energy and vibration around late August and early September is to "clean up my act" and get focused after the intense outward energy of summer. Now is the time to prepare for the inward flowing energies of Fall that are soon to come. These upcoming weeks are a period of transition.

It's appropriate, then, too that we celebrate together "Labor Day." Perhaps not quite in the way the holiday intends but in the sense that summer's energy is a kind of labor (to the extent of its intensity and outwardness). We can celebrate by reflecting gratefully on the time we've been able to "go out" into nature, to travel, and generally to enjoy even being out of doors and enjoying the sunshine, friends, family, "satsang," and the natural beauty of our planet.

As God in nature gives us four seasons in the year, so we have four seasons in our earthly bodies. The Spring time of youth; the busy-ness of the summer of adult life and responsibilities; the softer season of reflection, acceptance, and "retirement;" and the winter of nonattachment and surrender to the need to extinguish the light of this particular incarnation (to be reborn into the astral world of light for a period of rest). 

The weeks of transition between seasons always offer us an opportunity to pause and reflect. Thus the American holiday of Labor Day offers us that opportunity too.

Joy and blessings to all in the "labor" of the journey of Self-realization!

Swami Hriman