When Negative Influences Surround Us, How Can We Protect Ourselves?

Someone wrote to me in a letter:

“While reading Swami Kriyananda’s book The New Path: My life With Paramhansa Yogananda, I noticed that my personality is similar to Swamiji’s in his youth. I have an intense longing for truth, and I try to live by the principles of the masters. However, in modern western society, idealists like me are perceived as mentally abnormal. It is hard to live each day being bombarded by images of sex and violence, and the general lack of empathy in people here in the West. What can I do to be at peace? I meditate daily.”

I answered:

Swamiji was pleased to hear that many who read his autobiography felt that they were reading their own story. The circumstances of his life were unique, but the longing for God is universal.

The story of how Swamiji found his Guru and achieved moksha by serving the Guru’s work gives us hope that our own heart’s longing, too, can be fulfilled.

Western society is less supportive of the search for Self-realization. But whether we live in East or West, there will always be difficulties. We are seeking a “pearl of great price,” and we must expect that there will be obstacles.

Fortunately, although we can’t completely control our outer circumstances, we can adjust our inner experience of life.

Try to create an uplifting environment to protect your spiritual aspirations. With a bit of creativity and effort, you can create a way of life that will be more helpful to your spiritual growth. Try to bring harmony and beauty into your home, through the music you listen to, the art you hang on the walls, perhaps by creating a little shrine where you can spend time worshipping, and in choosing the friends you spend time with. As Yogananda said, “Environment is stronger than will power.”

Do you live near a spiritual community? The Ananda India website has information about meditation groups and communities around the world. For example, there is a meditation center and community in Pune, as well as meditation centers in Delhi (Gurgaon) and elsewhere.

Above all, pray continually to God and Guru. Ask them to give you their inspiration, guidance, and friendship, and that they contribute their divine uplifting power to your own efforts to live by your highest aspirations.

Nowadays, through the Internet you can “keep the company of the saints” no matter where you live!

God bless you and guide you in your search. May He bring you quickly back to your home in Him.






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