Many years ago, I was talking with Swami Kriyananda about a person in the Ananda community whom Swamiji had described as having “dampening energy.” As in always wanting to throw a bucket of cold water over other people’s enthusiasms.
A habitual attitude of “nay-saying” simply isn’t compatible with a life of high aspiration. It was obvious that before long the man would leave the ashram.
In the meantime, he was a drag on anything he was involved with. And I was losing patience.
“I’m looking forward to the time when he has gone away,” I said frankly to Swamiji.
Always the teacher, Swamiji responded with a mild corrective.
“I am looking forward to the time,” he said, “when that dampening energy of his goes away.”
Krishna says, “Whenever virtue declines, and vice is in the ascendant, I incarnate Myself on earth. Appearing from age to age in visible form, I come to destroy evil and to re-establish virtue.”
In his commentary on this verse, Swami Kriyananda points out that some translations speak of the Lord incarnating to destroy evil-doers. In answer, Swamiji speaks strongly against the idea of a God who would be vindictive toward anyone – even those who work against the divine.
“God never destroys anyone!” Swamiji stated emphatically.
He explained, “The only thing He destroys – the only thing He can destroy, since He cannot destroy Himself – is evil itself, but never the evil-doer.”
This is the attitude that Swamiji wanted me to understand. He wanted to remind me never to forget the difference between how a person behaves, and who we are in the eyes of God.
A saint, or any highly evolved person, when he looks at others, sees the divine Self manifesting in many diverse ways. The saints don’t have to affirm the divinity of others. It is simply how they perceive the world.
We “would-be-saints” can emulate this view of the world – first as an affirmation, and then gradually as an actual perception.
A woman told Swamiji how impressed she was with another woman who had lived in the Ananda community for years. “She is so kind and compassionate!” she exclaimed.
Swamiji replied, “She has so little ego, her only concern is for the welfare of others. That is what you find attractive in her.”
Isn’t that a beautiful way to live? Through meditation, we begin to lose our sense of identity with our own ego, and learn to allow the divine to enter and flow through us.
Swamiji has often said that the only difference between a saint and a sinner is how the person behaves. At first, it seems like quite a big difference! But the point is that none of us are evil in our deepest Self. We are all equally children of God. We are all expressions of the Infinite One. We don’t have to become anything – we just have to realize, gradually, who we are.