A friend came to me with two questions. First, she wanted to know the right spiritual attitude toward her health.
Second, she wondered what was the best way to spend her free time.
My friend works hard to mold her life according to spiritual teachings. But she had fallen into a common mistake, thinking that spirituality is something you impose on yourself from outside, rather than growing it like a flower from inside.
Years ago, Swami Kriyananda visited a convent, and one of the nuns showed him around the facility. She had absorbed the idea that nuns are supposed to behave in a certain way. So she was dutifully “being a nun,” speaking in hushed, reverent tones.
In the middle of the tour, another nun came up with a box of chocolates. At the sight of the candy, the nun all about “being a nun” and cried with delight, “Oh – chocolates!”
Swamiji commented that there was more genuine spirituality in her joy over the candy than in her pious posing.
Our sainthood is built on the raw material of who we actually are.
Paramhansa Yogananda made the intriguing statement that whenever we experience a bubble of joy, whatever causes it, we should keep expanding that bubble.
God shapes us the way a gardener helps a tree grow into its natural shape, cutting and snipping until perfection is revealed. A peach tree will bear peaches, because that’s how it’s meant to be.
Some saints are outgoing while some live as hermits. Some express devotion through music, others through art. Some do nothing outward. We each have our way. When you become a saint, you’ll be your unique self – just more and better.
A devotee became obsessed with doing the “right thing” spiritually. He began to imagine that God was issuing prohibition after prohibition.
Finally, Swamiji warned him, “Don’t make the path so narrow that you fall off it.”
The goal of the spiritual path is to become completely yourself – to do the job that God has given you to do. The longer you stay on the path, in a sense, the more eccentric you become, because you are increasingly self-motivated instead of trying to fulfill other people’s opinion of what you ought to be.
When Swami Kriyananda was a young monk, Paramhansa Yogananda guided him toward a life of teaching, writing, and service. Yogananda didn’t impose this notion, rather he was responding to Swami Kriyananda’s own inner impulse.
Swami Kriyananda fell into a mood one day. The next time Yogananda saw him, he said, “No more moods, now. Otherwise, how will you be able to help people?”
It was exactly the right incentive for Swamiji, because he had a strong desire to help others. But someone else might have been motivated by being reminded how moods interfere with meditation.
When a young devotee came to Swami Kriyananda feeling very discouraged, he told her, “Practice devotion, service, and meditation, and everything else will follow in relatively short order.”
Devotion came naturally to her. Service came next for her, but meditation was a challenge. So he was saying, in essence, “Go with your strengths.”
Be natural in your spiritual life. Don’t try to become anything, just try to be what God has made you. Everything will follow, in relatively short order.