When I was seven years old my parents sent me to a “sleep-away” camp. I had a great time, but some parts of the program were not designed for a child as young as I.
In arts and crafts, for example, the other children wove potholders out of cloth bands, but my fingers were too small.
On “Parents Day” I was the only child who didn’t have potholders hanging on my bunk as a gift for my mother and father. I couldn’t bear the disappointment, so I took two potholders from the bunk above mine and hung them on my hooks, as if I had made them.
Naturally my little ruse was quickly uncovered. My parents were very strict about dishonesty of any kind, so they must have scolded me. But what I remember is my mother’s compassion as I lay curled in her lap, sobbing and defending myself. “They fell! They fell!” No one was persuaded.
The transparent absurdity of my denial, and my childish but very real anguish, must have kept my poor mother between laughter and tears.
How unfazed, even amused, the Divine Mother of the Universe must feel as she watches our foibles! And how lovingly She holds us in Her lap as we sob and protest against the consequences of our own actions.
The Great Potholder Caper took place more than fifty years ago. So I was amazed, when I told the story recently, to discover how profoundly it affected me. Deep disappointment balanced by profound appreciation for my mother’s kindness brought me to the edge of tears.
It was humbling to realize how much of the past we carry with us, and how deeply we are influenced by it. And this was just one small memory from a single incarnation! Imagine the countless memories that are stored in the subtle energy in our spines, as the yogis tell us. Or perhaps better not to imagine it!
This is why Paramhansa Yogananda called Kriya Yoga the “airplane route to God.” If we were faced with the seemingly impossible task of resolving every karmic deed from distant incarnations, how would we ever find freedom? It is impossible to purify the heart “piecemeal.” Even as we work to overcome one karmic inclination, we are forming others.
Kriya Yoga, and the grace of God and Guru that comes with its devoted practice, dissolves the karma in our chakras before it can rise to the conscious level. One round of Kriya, Yogananda said, is the equivalent of an entire year of right living.
As a child I tried to get my mother to go along with my view of reality. Lucky for me, she was kind and compassionate, even though she wasn’t persuaded. Truth simply is.
A group from Ananda in America were on pilgrimage in India many years ago. At one point they were blessed to be in the presence of a very great woman saint, Anandamayi Ma. As they talked with her, someone in the group said, “There are many of us in America who love you, Ma.”
Anandamayi Ma’s reply was sweet with impersonal wisdom. “There is no love but God’s love.”
Swami Kriyananda has faced enormous challenges in his life, including betrayal by those he considered his closest friends. His response is simple. He says, “I choose to love. Why should I allow the wrong actions of others to take away my inner peace? I feel better if I love.”
These simple words imply a universe of divine understanding, an understanding that we must all eventually reach. For one reason only: We are happier when we love. When we love, it is God Who flows through us.
Blessings and love.