As spiritual aspirants, we study the teachings of the Guru and try to apply them every day. The real test, always, is not in how well one knows the teachings by memory, but rather how well the teachings are lived in the spur of the moment. What is it that happens during a crisis, or while doing a great work that leaves very little time for inwardness or rest? Do we demonstrate the teachings in our lives, or are they put aside until a more convenient time?
The last few weeks have been very busy, and sometimes even trying, for Ananda Sangha Pune. It is in such times that God blesses us with the opportunity to see what our spirituality is worth in the cold light of day. Throughout the month, I have observed and been inspired by the devotees in the Sangha, and I take this occasion and this writing to honor them, recognize them, and thank them for their beautiful example.
“Be calmly active and actively calm”
Paramhansa Yogananda said that we must be “calmly active and actively calm.” During the last month, the Ananda devotees in Pune have, in quick succession, worked on the release of the movie The Answer, organized a huge Music Fest and fundraiser event which drew 2,500 people, hosted an art exhibition, and participated and helped bring about several events of Nayaswamis Jyotish and Devi, Ananda Sangha Worldwide’s spiritual directors.
The opportunities for stress and worry were many; and yet, the pervading feeling in the crew working on these things was one of contagious joy! When things were looking up, there was joy in the air; when things were looking down, there was also joy in the air. The level of activity was intense, and sometimes the faces reflected that intensity for a time, but it always came back to a calm center, and the sweet and easy relaxation of nishkam karma.
“People are more important than things”
Another remarkable feature of the recent weeks is that, no matter how busy things were, even the people who were into the thickest part of it all had time to dedicate to individuals, rather than the project at hand. This quality, which requires the ability to be calm in the middle of intense activity, is the one which I admire the most.
Often, Brahmachari Aditya or Brahmacharini Blezy would happen to cross paths with me. Their “Hello, Heze” was always fully present and sincere – a far cry from the hurried “hello!” one might expect under such circumstances (the kind of “hello” which is really saying “nice-to-see-you-i-have-to-run-bye.”) Often they would stop and chat for a few moments, without showing a hint of hurry or wanting to be somewhere else.
One of Swami Kriyananda’s guiding principles was: “people are more important than things.” How often, in the drive to get a project done, the opposite priorities are given! Not so with Aditya, Blezy, and the other “soldiers” working on these projects; for them, people were always first.
“The spirit of the group reflects the spirit of the leader”
Finally, I cannot end this writing without commending the leadership that made everything possible. Swami ji would say that “the spirit of the group reflects the spirit of the leader,” and that can be seen very plainly in the Pune Sangha. Brahmachari Aditya’s expansive, people-first, and full-of-joy approach was evident in every aspect of the proceedings during all of these events. His joy and enthusiasm were contagious, and their light filled the hearts of everyone involved.
Although I spoke of Aditya in particular, and I could mention others, it is also important to generalize this, and realize, by that token, that everything we do affects everyone we meet and many people we don’t meet. Our spirit, the way we face challenges and situations, are always casting an influence upon the world, whether we like it or not. It is, then, up to us to decide, in every moment, whether we want to be channels for moods and heaviness, or for light and joy. Circumstances will always go up and down; our inner weather, however, needs not change. It’s up to us! May the last month serve as an inspiration to choose the Light every time, in the future :).
I’m happy to say, for anybody reading this blog who might not know it already, that every one of those events has been a great success; in no small part, I’m certain, thanks to the spirit in which they were carried out. Thank you, Aditya ji, Blezy ji, and all of the congregation of Ananda Pune for being such shining examples on sharing God’s light, and living in Anand.