Showing posts with label mahasamadhi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mahasamadhi. Show all posts

Friday, March 9, 2018

At Thy Feet - Loving Your Own - A Holy Science Indeed

My teacher, Swami Kriyananda, said that when, in his early years, a person would try to convert him to their religion and couldn't accept his choice, he would say, "Well, maybe yours is better than mine, but, even so, mine is mine, however second best."

The diversity of opinions on everything and anything, what to mention religion, is such that absent rank injustice or the need for self-defense, what can you do but do your best to use common sense, intelligence, and goodwill and, finally, to follow what seems right for you?

It doesn't matter to me what ranking, spiritually speaking, the universe would ascribe to Paramhansa Yogananda and the line of gurus who sent him to the West. Nor, also, what others might say about my teacher, Swami Kriyananda.

I know what I have gained and learned and I am grateful. I extend my gratitude to my family, my wife, my friends and to the dedication of so many with whom I share ideals of service, sadhana and devotion. 

It doesn't matter what they may think of me, or, I of them. 

So this very day, March 9, we honor the passing in 1936 of Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri of Serampore, India (near Kolkata). His passing (in Puri, India) took place while his disciple Paramhansa Yogananda was absent yet still in India for his year long visit from America.

I am slowly re-reading Swami Sri Yukteswar's one and only book, the Holy Science. I am doing this in preparation for a class series I will co-teach this Spring and Summer. I bow at his holy feet for the wisdom I can feel and but only partially glimpse in the depth of realization implied in his words. 

Though I fare better in inspiration, wisdom and understanding through the writings of his disciple, Paramhansa Yogananda, and, in turn, Yogananda's disciple, Swami Kriyananda, I yet perceive the hidden depths of wisdom contained in that true scripture. I believe that the Holy Science will only gradually become understood (i.e. "realized") as the centuries move toward the appearance of the third age (Treta Yuga) some two thousand years hence.

I stand, then, today in awe and gratitude for the inspiration offered to us through the line of teachers of Self-Realization. I also stand in gratitude for the lives of each and every person with whom I have come into contact in my life and service to this ray of divine light.

It doesn't matter how small in numbers we may be. It doesn't matter that the world is largely indifferent, or that "devotees may come and devotees may go" (to quote a chant). It doesn't matter that with some I find favor and others not; with some I am in tune and with others not. For they are all part of the drama of my own journey.

It is not realistic to say that one loves everyone as they are. But one can love everyone as they truly are: reflections of my karma and sparks of divine grace, all doing the best they can.

For this, on this day of March 9, 2018, I bow at Thy feet, accepting my own life, my own karma, my very own as my very own: a gift of Divine Mother. To quote a friend: it is all perfect! All as it should be.

At thy Feet,

Swami Hrimananda

Monday, March 5, 2018

“Maha-Samadhi” Celebration!

Each year on March 7, we celebrate the earthly passing of two 20th century spiritual giants: Paramhansa Yogananda (March 7, 1952), and his guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar (March 9, 1936). Ours is a joyful celebration (rather than mournful) because their exit from the human body was both known beforehand and was without loss of conscious awareness. 

Maha-samadhi” (The “great” or “final” Samadhi) refers to the state of consciousness of a great saint who enters the ecstatic state of soul-bliss as a part of the process of consciously leaving their physical body. This is not a decision by the ego but a form of cooperation with the divinely guided impulses of their own soul (rather than the enforced compulsions of personal karma).

Why is this a celebration? Is it only to honor their achievement? No, not at all. We celebrate this event because their conscious and bliss-guided exit represents for us “the promise of our soul’s immortality!” Many great saints of east and west have had the blessing of mahasamadhi. While a peaceful death is a blessing and a grace experienced by many good and saintly people, it is not the same as mahasamadhi.

All life partakes in the divine essence of God’s eternal bliss: the foundation of all creation. Bliss is the vibrationless essence at the heart of all change and motion. As through (especially) meditation we grow in our identification with our eternal Self, the Atman, we too will one day pass through the portals of life and death in conscious, blissful awareness. This conscious bliss is already existent within us and all creation.

May the joy of your soul light your path to inner freedom!

Swami Hrimananda

P.S. Ananda centers around the world and centers by other organizations for whom Yogananda is their guru will celebrate the the mahasamadhis of Yogananda and Sri Yukteswar this coming week on or around March 7-9. For those in Seattle area, ours is Wednesday, March 7, meditation 5.45 and program 7 p.m.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Self-acceptance vs self-acceptance! All life is a play

Note: today, September 26, is the anniversary date in 1895 when the great yogi, Yogavatar, Lahiri Mahasaya (Shyama Charan Lahiri) left his physical body in the conscious exit known as "mahasamadhi" of a great saint. To ready about his life and service and spiritual attainments visit the newly created website:

In a few days I will have attained the ripe old age of 66! Fortunately for me, 66 is the new 56 (or younger). What I find characterizes this stage of life is the need for self-acceptance.

Actually, there is a need for both self-acceptance AND Self-acceptance.

During one's middle life, working-type years, one is constantly pushing and striving. For most people that effort is to acquire material possessions, human love, family, success, health and recognition of one sort or another. Nothing wrong with these goals up to a point, as they are both natural and necessary for the development of character and maturity for most people.

It's like walking against a strong wind in your face. You lean into the wind, head down, pushing with all your strength and effort. If, after hours of struggle, the wind were suddenly to abate, you might even fall flat on your face! Certainly you'd feel some relief but also some disorientation. 

When fighting a battle it isn't the time to assess the costs or other consequences. Only when victory or defeat becomes a fact, do we stand up, take a deep breath, and view the result.

So it often is with life itself. There comes a point where "effort ends in ease." Let me explain: first, not for everyone, of course, nor am I talking about the classic point of one's retirement from active, working life. Nowadays with 66 - 76 being the new 56-66, it is common for many to want to continue working, even if they don't need to. Why? Because being still healthy and creative, and even at the pinnacle of one's skills, there's simply no desire to step down and do what......exactly?

Nonetheless, therefore, even for those who continue an active, service-full life, there will likely be a shift in consciousness. One finds stories from one's past popping into your head and speech (only in later years do they start repeating themselves with little or no prompting or context!!!!)

One begins to reflect upon one's life and experiences naturally and spontaneously. The metabolism perhaps slows, wisdom flows naturally as do opportunities (and the need) for mentoring or guiding others, perhaps one's future successors. 

But something else is likely to happen, and, even before what I describe above is in full force: the "chickens come home to roost." This means that unfulfilled desires, perhaps shoved aside in the process of making life choices, such as marriage and family, and contending with life's middle-aged duties and obligations and intense activities, raise their flag as if to say, "Remember me? The clock of your life is ticking and little time is left to fulfill your 'bucket list'"!

This is not dissimilar to a "mid-life crises" and in fact that may even be when these chickens return to roost. That's why I say this stage is likely to happen BEFORE the reflective stage.

In this crises of self-examination and self-awareness, we may stumble a bit with moods, depression, anger, frustration and even some pretty dumb things done or said impulsively.

For those who set about emptying their bucket list, they may be simply postponing the stage of self-acceptance or perhaps their adventures in pursuing their list is an active form of self-acceptance.

Whether self-acceptance takes the form of contentment, calmness and wisdom or the somewhat more active form of pursuing one's not-yet-achieved dreams (travel, e.g., being typical), the process is more or less the same though I am speaking more of the reflective stage than the active stage (which by necessity is short-lived usually---due to health, money or a list that is finally completed). 

Reflectively, like the wake of a speed boat whose waves slow and spread out as the boat comes gradually to a stop, we now begin to see our life and our personality (habits, tendencies, and even our now aging appearance) in a clearer light and perspective (than when, during middle life, we were constantly in motion pursuing fulfillment in the future tense of life). 

No doubt we won't like everything we see. A variety of emotions will surface: denial, anger, grief....the usual litany.....all leading (one hopes) to self-acceptance. Self-acceptance leads to contentment. Contentment to reflection and reflection to wisdom. This is where most people stop.

For the yogi and the devotee who seeks Truth, who seeks to know God, joy, the light of the soul or eternal freedom in infinite bliss, self-acceptance leads to Self-acceptance.

As a grandfather I find it natural to delight in my grandchildren's innocence and childhood even as I reflect on their budding traits and their possible evolution and challenges as they grow towards adulthood. 

As a yogi, these flower-buds of traits are but a sampling of the infinite variety of traits, experiences, attitudes, and lives our souls can pursue. 

It is natural therefore to step away from identification with my own life story and personality and re-affirm more deeply and with greater interest (as the clock of life is ticking away) my soul's call to awaken in the perfect bliss of God. 

"The drama of life has for its lesson that it is but a drama," Paramhansa Yogananda stated. At this stage of life, that's all life seems to be: a drama. Whether this year's politics, last year's wars and catastrophes----all a great play wherein tears and laughter, pleasure and pain alternate like actors changing costumes and roles.

The lesson in this insight is to turn away (not in rejection but with contentment and gratitude for having been part of a good show) and climb the spiral staircase (of the spine) to the "heaven (as Jesus put it) that is within you." We must now more soberly contemplate that, for us, the play is in its final act(s). The time is coming when we must "exit, stage right."

Joy and grace upon a sun-kissed Seattle day whose hidden melancholy whispers that "winter is coming."

Swami Hrimananda

Saturday, March 7, 2015

What is "Mahasamadhi" and Are Miracles Real?

Today, Saturday March 7, is the 63rd anniversary of the day that Paramhansa Yogananda (author of the now famous life story: "Autobiography of a Yogi") "left his body" (died) at a banquet at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles in the presence of a large gathering to honor the newly appointed ambassador to the United States from India.

The term used (Sanskrit) is "mahasamadhi" - the Great Samadhi. This describes the conscious exit from the body by a saint. Samadhi is a term that refers to the ultimate state of God consciousness, a state of oneness with God (and, by extension, all creation which is a manifestation of God's consciousness).

You may rightly ask: "Many people die consciously, so how does this differ?" Yes, it's true many people die a peaceful and otherwise conscious death and they are not necessarily considered great saints. Since we are talking in terms of consciousness it is not so easy to observe by outer signs. By definition, the act of dying entails no necessary physical movements. So, to a degree the designation of an act of "mahasamadhi" is, at least to a casual observer, a statement of belief.

Since Yogananda ("PY") lived in recent times and until the death of Ananda's founder in 2013, Swami Kriyananda ("SK"), we personally knew someone who was present at PY's death in 1952, we can take his mahasamadhi as our example. At the moment PY slipped to the floor while reciting his poem, "My India," SK had his head down writing down PY's words as he addressed the gathering at the Biltmore Hotel. SK said he knew instantly however that PY had exited his body. In SK's own autobiography, "The New Path," he describes numerous instances in the preceding days, weeks, months and even years that PY dropped hints of the nature of his exit.

Among the hints that he gave was his statement that he would go by a heart attack (stopping his heart, that is; something he demonstrated repeatedly publicly, though temporarily, of course); another was that he would leave his body while reciting his poem, "My India." And on and on like that. But these are but hints. The real essence of the appellation of mahasamadhi comes not only in the striking manner of death but more importantly in the power of his life.

I occasionally come across a student at our Ananda center who, while enjoying the practice of yoga and meditation, is resistant to the idea of miracles. Such folks object to the stories in "Autobiography of a Yogi" wherein saints materialize from nowhere, or bi-locate, cure the sick or raise the dead. And, in some way, who can argue?

SK, at age 22, had similar reservations; so did I, at age 26. For many of us, we simply put such things on a mental shelf to be dealt with later as we continued to enjoy the stories, wisdom, humor and inspiration of what surely must be one of the greatest spiritual classics of the modern era.

Now, mind you: I have no intention of convincing anyone that miracles happen. In fact, I would direct your attention to that chapter in the "Autobiography" ("AY") called "The Law of Miracles." As excellent a discourse on miracles you will not find anywhere! Bar none!

It has been well said by others wiser than me that "Either everything is a miracle, or nothing is a miracle." The one defense I would offer in favor of what we call miracles is simply that: what we call miracles are phenomenon that we simply do not yet have an explanation for! Most of what passes for our daily use in technology would be shockingly miraculous in prior centuries. And, we've only just begun to explore nature and the cosmos! I am long past fussing over how it is possible for Jesus Christ to resurrect his body from the portals of death and any other similar miracle. Whether he did so as a matter of fact, is, for me, secondary, to the possibility that it can be done.

Getting back to "mahasamadhi," did PY choose that moment or was that moment chosen for him? According to the theology of oneness that he and others in the Vedantic lineages have professed, a liberated soul who returns to human form is an "avatar." Avatara is the descent into a human body of a soul that has, as Jesus said of himself, become "one with the Father." "Self-realization" is a term now used for that state of consciousness. As God can be both infinite and infinitesimal, so God-consciousness now permanently resident in the vehicle of a unique and eternal soul can incarnate into human form. Not a puppet or a divinely-created automaton, but a soul, like you and I. In such a one, however, his consciousness is united to God's infinite consciousness. Such a soul comes to play a part on earth, like you and I, but the part he plays is not compelled by ignorance and attachment, but is guided by divine impulse even as filtered through the unique qualities and past tendencies of that soul.

Thus the question of whether PY committed an act of spiritual suicide (as someone once asked me) or whether God "took him out" is a non-question. Such a one would easily have, or be given, glimpses of his final exit and, like many people on earth, might have an inkling for the timing of it. There is no separate "ego" to decide such a thing apart from the divine mind.

As all action creates reaction ("karma"), the action of a Self-realized soul accrues to the benefit of others but nonetheless follows certain patterns appropriate to itself. In PY's life work, it was entirely fitting that he leave this world speaking, as he predicted that he would, of "my India and my America" and, in the presence of the ambassador from India! Like a great story or play, his end was as fitting and appropriate as any inspired ending should have been. In God there are no coincidences, only God "choosing to remain anonymous."

PY was a public figure a part of whose public mission was to highlight and bring together the best of east and west. He taught that soon America and India would lead the world in their respective contributions to the evolution of human consciousness: the one in the discovery of natural laws, efficiency and individual liberties, and the other in the science of mind (yoga) leading to the true freedom and happiness born of direct, personal perception of our true Self.

During his life, PY demonstrated to those close to him that could enter, at will, the state of oneness (samadhi). During the last years of his life, he was in seclusion much more than before and close disciples experienced or perceived that during such times he would be in an elevated state of consciousness and oblivious to his own body and the world around him.

Adding to that his predictions of his exit from this world, it is the custom among yogis to label the death of such a one a conscious act and the final great-samadhi (for that lifetime). With the power to unite his consciousness (confined in the physical form) with the consciousness of Infinity, such a one could enter that state and permanently (rather than temporarily) exit the body. This, at least, is one way of describing what is said to have taken place.

Of course, it can't be proved in an objective sense. It is an article of faith. Faith, however, is not the same as the more tentative hypothesis inherent in mere belief. The faith of his disciples rested in their actual experience of PY as a human being in daily life. To those close to him, PY demonstrated that he knew their every thought. That proof and impact of that accrued only to those individuals. It can be described but not proven to anyone else.

The so-called miracles of saints are only rarely demonstrated on a large public scale. But even when it does happen, those people die off soon enough and nothing is left but their testimony. Whether to one or a handful of close disciples (who witness, say, the raising of a person from death), or whether a group of diners being given full glasses of carrot juice from a small half-filled pitcher, it inevitably comes down to someone's personal experience and testimony.

God, it is said, does not win devotees by performing circus stunts. God has and is everything. We have only our love to give or withhold--for eternity if we choose.

SK suggested that we, at Ananda, use the occasion of PY's mahasamadhi to honor the life, teachings and consciousness of great saints in every tradition, east and west, past and present. Self-realized saints (we use the term "masters" -- having achieved Self-mastery) are, in effect, God incarnate. They demonstrate that we, too, are God incarnate but still mostly asleep. It is the purpose of creation that we awaken. Simply to "die and go to heaven" and to turn our backs on the creation as a sham, is not the divine intention. The creation is beautiful to the extent God who is the creation awakens to become Self-aware.

It is, therefore, in the fitness of things that souls do, in fact, by self-effort and the power of grace, achieve Self-realization while in human form. In this way, then, God speaks and teaches others and gives upliftment and hope to those who "have ears to hear and eyes to see." To honor such living examples is to honor ourselves, our souls and all souls. Too many sects have abandoned the devotion to God through the saints (especially the true masters.....many others are but saints still "in-the-making"). Thus, we take this day to pay such tribute in song, prayer, chanting and inner communion (in meditation).

Blessings to all this sacred special day!

Nayaswami Hriman

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Anxiety & Despondency: Path to Enlightenment?

March 7 each year is the anniversary of the date in 1952 when Paramhansa Yogananda left his body in the presence of a large crowd gathered at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles at a banquet in honor of the newly appointed ambassador to the United States from India.

Around this time each year, we celebrate the victory of those souls who have achieved final freedom in God. Yogananda is such a one and many great saints there have been, east and west, down through the ages and yes, even in modern times!

But the path to enlightenment is no Sunday church picnic, no tiptoeing through the tulips of life. In the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna, the great warrior and one of the five Pandava brothers fighting on the side of "right" (soul aspirations), slumps in his chariot upon viewing the opposing armies in the allegorical Battle of Kurushetra.

Arjuna sees the kinsmen whom he must slay and despairs for the "sin" in killing his own kith and kin with whom he has been raised. These relatives are those qualities of ego consciousness with whom we have been "raised" in the long process of upward soul evolution. When the time comes when we must consciously confront our intention to seek enlightenment and the realization that we must outgrow material sense attachments and ego affirmations, the battle line is drawn and we experience a feinting spell, so to speak.

Trees and birds and flowers and mountains don't appear to suffer anxiety, despair, dread, shame or despondency! Hence we enjoy nature and our pets for their innocence and freedom from ego self seeking. This, for many, may represent (ok, at least in part) a subconscious desire to look backwards over the spiral staircase of soul evolution to what we imagine is a more innocent and free level of existence. (Obviously by compassion and appreciation of God's creation we can also have feelings of kindness, empathy, and love for nature.)

Even on the human level, Paramhansa Yogananda (and his disciple and founder of Ananda, Swami Kriyananda) taught, we find many gradations of consciousness. When the soul first appears in human form, it may seem more whole, happy, and free of anxiety, enjoying the blessings of a human body and its enhanced abilities and awareness. In the last one or two centuries this is sometimes sentimentalized by concepts of the "noble savage" or some other, now out of date, and somewhat "politically incorrect" stereotypes. Yet such a stage does exist, whether in blue jeans or tiger skins.

You see, the masters teach that the ego is a necessary step on the journey towards superconsciousness. On the human level, we can go up and down for what must amount to "forever" -- chasing the rainbows and will-o-the-wisps of desires, fantasies, and the healing of nursed hurts and suffering. The soul identified with the body is Yogananda's definition of the ego. All such statements are inadequate to fully explain the mystery of our delusion, but this one gives us the idea that there is a part of our "mind" that is veiled by the compulsions and concomitant desires of human existence and another part that is untouched, eternal, and blissful. It's whether we look "up" or "down", or "backwards," or "forwards" as to what we see as reality.

It should come, therefore, as no surprise that the ego experiences alternating states of inspiration and despondency on the spiritual path. When we look backwards (or down), we see what we have attempted to give up: pleasures of self-indulgence, satisfactions of ego-affirmation and the hope of recognition, and the seeming security of being surrounded by name, fame, money, and self-directed desires.

Yogananda commented that moods which come seemingly uninvited or without apparent cause are the result of past indulgences. We must, he said, accept them even-mindedly and then make the effort with will power and divine grace to be happy and cheerful under all circumstances.

Without wishing in any way to put aside chemical or organic causes, or the results of life's traumatic experiences, I believe, and so do others (there are many books on this subject) that the widespread incidence of anxiety, despondency, and fear, especially among spiritual seekers and meditators, is in part the necessary stepping stone towards enlightment.

The masters say (Ramakrishna, Yogananda, e.g.) that there does come a time when the path to soul freedom becomes "effortlessly liberating." At the same time we see in the life of Buddha and Jesus Christ the torments of maya (satan, delusion) attempting even in what seems to be the final moments before cosmic consciousness, to draw these souls back into the temptation that fulfillment can be found in the adoration and pursuit of material desires and power.

Yogananda taught that both Buddha and Jesus Christ were avatars. Hence their "temptations" could not have been "final" in the usual sense. Yet evidently even avatars enact the great dramas of the spiritual path both for the benefit of our instruction and for the fact of having taken on human form and the necessary veil that descends upon the soul even for such souls to some degree.

Do not judge yourself or your fellow devotees for the temptations they face, the temporary errors they succumb to, or the anxieties or despondencies their "enhanced" consciousness might experience. The price for growing awareness includes growing strength and energy feeding, at times, ego consciousness. This is part of the journey to liberation. Both Swami Sri Yukteswar and Lahiri Mahasaya (each considered an avatar) hesitated and experienced a wave of trepidation when informed of their imminent demise.

Yogananda experienced and expressed the fullness of his humanity in his grief for the loss of his mother and on numerous occasions in his life, including the happy and laughter-filled moments. Yet, as Swami Kriyananda observed, one could see in Yogananda's eyes the hint of dispassion, a sense of other-worldliness, or the presence of Infinity untouched by passing circumstances.

This is the great mystery of life and consciousness: how we can both be divine and human. At once untouched and yet engaged. A fully authentic life, at every stage of our soul's progress toward freedom, is one that partakes in each of these aspects, human and divine, as they appropriately manifest in our consciousness. Real progress can be made when we embark upon expressing the fullness of our Being with courage and conscious effort, offered in humility and for guidance upward to the Divine.

Happy "Mahasamadhi" for each and every one of us.

Nayaswami Hriman

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Mahasamadhi of Paramhansa Yogananda

On or around March 7 of each year and around the world, disciples of Paramhansa Yogananda commemorate his dramatic death on that day in 1952 at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles at a banquet he gave in honor of the recently appointed ambassador to the United State from India. But the commemoration is more than a remembrance: it is a celebration. For in life and in the manner and circumstances surrounding his death, Yogananda demonstrated his realization of God as the sole reality of life.

By his foreknowledge (which he communicated to numerous close disciples and friends), and by his actions that evening, and by the testimony of officials of Forest Lawn Mortuary as to the subsequent incorruptibility of his body, he taught us that death is not the final curtain of life. In the great tradition of saints and sages since time immemorial, he upheld the promise of our soul's immortality. As St. John the Apostle writes in the first chapter of his gospel, "To as many as received him, gave he the power to become the sons of God."

On the playing fields of earthly life, duality and maya (delusion) hold sway, the opposites of life and death vying alternatingly for supremcy. With our mortal eyes hypnotized by the seeming reality, though ever changing, of human life, we cannot see the unchanging Spirit hidden and eternal. Paramhansa Yogananda was sent by Jesus Christ and by Babaji (masters of west and east) to remind us that we are more than a physical form: we are children of God, made in the image of God, as light, as joy! Yogananda, as so many before him, demonstrated this power to those with eyes to see. Time and again he showed his ability to know their thoughts, the power to assist them in untying the knots of their karmic destiny, and in at least two dramatic instances, the power to bring the living back from the dead. It was not to show his power but our own potential that that God-realized souls are empowered to perform such "miracles.".

St. Francis praised God while wracked with pain; He sang with joy upon his deathbed; the Sufi mystic, Omar Khayyam, revealed the secrets of life, death, and destiny through the veiled imagery of the tavern of meditation, the bliss-intoxication of wine, and the divine romance of the soul with God; Swami Sri Yukteswar, Yogananda's guru, resurrected in flesh and blood, months after his burial; Lord Buddha achieved enlightenment under the Bodhi tree, and discovered the secret of how to overcome suffering; Moses gave his people the law that led to the Promised Land of divine attunement; Jesus proved the victory of unconditional love from the cross, the love of God appearing in human form and the victory of Spirit with his bodily resurrection. In the lives of these and many other great saints and avatars, we see the testimony of the redeeming power of God's love and the promise of our soul's immortality in God.

This is what we celebrate! And although the struggles of mortal existence will never cease upon this playing field of duality, we also celebrate the beginnings of a new age of increasing awareness of life's threads of connection and unity with an ever growing number of souls on earth. Growth in education, knowledge, life span, health, travel, communication, economic, governmental and social interdependency and cooperation and general awareness of other races, nations, and religions cannot but offer hope for a better world. This increase in awareness has its source in the divine energy being offered to souls on this planet.

But at times, and for now, contact among nations produces as much heat as light. But the devastating and mounting cost of competition, exploitation, greed, prejudice and war dictate that these trends cannot triumph (or we shall perish). A balancing is needed and a higher level of understanding is all but assured, though the cost to achieve it is most certainly going to be great for there are many, still, who resist the rising tide of harmony and connectedness.

Yogananda sometimes spoke in terms of world unity. There are those who are threatened by such concepts as an affront to national sovereignty. But his vision was of a world of united hearts, not a one-world government. He recognized that each nation had specialized in its language, customs, dress, cuisine and attitudes on behalf of other nations, and that the faith traditions of earth suited the needs and temperaments of different people. Rather, therefore, than achieving unity in an outward, organizational sense, he saw unity as flowering from within people as a sconsequence of greater awareness and understanding. Hence, cooperation would supplant competition. Peoples and nations would work together to solve mutual problems and create a better, though never a perfect, world. He forsaw no mere utopia but a higher age of awareness, suitable and necessary for the evolving circumstances of our planet.

Disciples of Paramhansa Yogananda and sincere, committed devotees everywhere are the light-bearers of this new age and level of consciousness. It is valuable and helpful that individual souls understand the nature of their discipleship to life, to God, to Guru. For we are not alone in this world or in this life. It is not a time to remain apart from others of like-mindedness. Communities, both real and virtual, must form that this light become visible to all and that it be a guide out of the labyrinth of conflict that threatends to engulf our planet.

The message of our Oneness in God and the promise of our soul's immortality is a universal and timeless message but it needs repetition and context at the dawn (and throughout) each evolving age of consciousness. In celebrating Paramhansa Yogananda's life and mission, we celebrate our own and honor that of all world teachers and of the divine love which is the source and goal of creation.

Blessings to you,