When Swami Kriyananda started the first Ananda community, in the foothills of northern California, conditions were fairly primitive. We had a piece of untended land with a 100-year-old farmhouse – nothing more. Everything had to be built by hand.
Swamiji was intent that we express our ideals in architecture. He wanted us particularly to consider using a structure called a “geodesic dome” to build our houses. He felt that the rounded shape was conducive to meditation.
In the end, the “dome homes” proved somewhat impractical. Nowadays, most of the houses at the Village have a more traditional form.
In the dome that Swamiji built, the outside was made of an experimental material, a kind of foam that was inexpensive and sufficiently attractive. The problem was that it leaked badly in winter.
The dome was heated with a wood stove. The wood was stored under the house, and brought up through a trap door in the living room floor. The placement of the door proved fortunate. So much water poured into the house during the first winter that the door served as a drain. Swamiji would prop open the trap door and sweep the water out. Until a second roof could be built over the dome, it was never entirely dry inside during winter.
Swamiji was good-natured about the whole thing. With mock seriousness, he would protest to the universe. “But I am so sincere!” As if his sincerity were some kind of waterproofing.
He was, of course, joking. In fact, he was quite even-minded and detached in the face of the many leaks in his house. But his mock-serious protest reminds us of an attitude that many people take toward life.
In Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramhansa Yogananda writes that the beginning of wisdom lies in accepting the “inescapability of divine law.”
In our lives, there are facts that we simply cannot escape. For example, the scriptures tell us that true joy lies not in things, but can only be found within us.
This is a fact that was cannot change for the wanting. Outward things and experiences merely reflect the joy deep inside us. They do not create that joy. When we run after the shiny baubles of this world, it’s because project our own joy upon them.
The simple problem is that it doesn’t work. The ego can never deliver the happiness we crave. Only God can satisfy the longing of our hearts.
Finally, after much suffering, we find the humility to accept life as it is. Instead of trying to impose our theories of how life ought to be, we sincerely pray, “Lord, I am ready to learn. Now You show me!”
This is an important stage on our soul’s long journey. We may not know what divine law is, but we have begun to ask the right questions.
Joy to you,