Ananda Family News

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

All Who Receive Them

This Saturday evening we held our annual Guru Day celebration (photos here). This is always one of the highlights of the year, a time of deep, personal communion with each master in our spiritual lineage. Each shrine in the courtyard of our residential community is gloriously decorated by loving devotees, Asha leads the pilgrimage from each one to the next, and as night gradually falls, the devotion only grows brighter.

Sharing and chanting in front of the Lahiri and Babaji shrines.

The theme for the evening was set at the first shrine, with Jesus: “To all who received Him, to them gave He the power to become the sons of God.” It doesn’t matter who we are; our job is simply to be receptive, realizing that God and the masters want to come into our lives every bit as much as we want to have them there. And to that end, it’s worth remembering not only their greatness, power, and glory, but also the ways in which they are so completely personal, loving, and accessible to each one of us.

Babaji, the deathless master with his many miracles, seems to stand out in Autobiography of a Yogi as the epitome of an inaccessible Himalayan master and miracle worker. But think of the example we’re given there of how he cares for his disciple. He watches over Lahiri between lifetimes, and for the first decades of his life, until the time finally comes to draw him back to his guru. And then Babaji carefully orchestrates all the job transfers and chance hiking trips until Lahiri is standing before him once more, remembering, and seeing how his master had so lovingly preserved his meditation cave, his bowl and blanket, for just that moment of his return.

Lahiri Mahasaya, in his turn, kept his unassuming job as a government accountant all his life, even while training disciples and while quietly working out his wife’s karma to the point that she was able to perceive him in his true glory, with angels and devas bowing down to him. Another woman disciple of his was once late to catch the train to see him, and desperately, inwardly called out to him that she couldn’t bear to wait even a few more hours. When she reached the train, she found it held in place, wheels spinning, engineers baffled, until she boarded and it began to move. When she arrived, Lahiri teased her playfully about her impatience over such a little thing but still, he had been listening, and he did hold the train for her. 

Swami Sri Yukteswar’s stern visage in the photos we have of him reminds us of his strict training and his attitude that his tiger mat was kingdom enough for him, separate from a “vast world interested only in externals.” After looking at his picture that way, however, we would do well to reread Richard Wright’s description of him in the Autobiography, and revel in his “jovial and rollicking laugh which comes from deep in his chest, causing him to shake and quiver throughout his body—very cheerful and sincere.” And of all the gifts that Yogananda brought back to him on his return visit to India, do you remember which was his favorite? It was the umbrella, because Yukteswar knew his little chela had originally bought it for himself, but decided to give it to his guru instead, and that touched his heart. 

And then we come to Paramhansa Yogananda, our own beloved gurudeva, who promised us that he would bring us to God, coming back again and again, “crossing a million crags of suffering, with bleeding feet... if need be, a trillion times,” as long as any one of us remains in need. That is a promise for which we are grateful to him every day of our lives. And yet Swami Kriyananda has also said that Master could be completely and utterly — apparently he could only use the word — cute. He was adorable, Swamiji says, absolutely charming, and able to relate to anyone and make them feel that they had a friend in him. That is the Master we can carry with us in our hearts, even as he does his work as “God’s boatman” behind the scenes.

The evening concluded with a rendition of “O Master” from all the assembled hearts and voices, shining on both the vast and the personal in our relationship with our gurus.

Help us to find in every hour, 
In every thought, in every flower,
A joy that spans eternity,
The truth that makes us ever free.

O Master, may Thy joy fill our days.
O Master, may Thy wisdom guide our ways.

1 comment:

Dawn Reilly said...

I always look forward to receiving your email with news from Ananda Palo Alto, but the photos and stories of the Guru Day celebration deeply moved me. How blessed you are to have this amazing space to create such devotion and love for devotees! I will carry the images with me to my next meditation and puja. Peace, my friends,

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