I find myself traveling frequently while in India, going to the cities where Ananda's work in progressing, presenting programs and helping the local leaders. Over the last two weekends I was in both Singapore and Bangalore, two vary different places, doing a program in each. One city is extremely tidy and efficient (guess which one) while the other is extremely congested and in need of a good scrub. Seemingly very different on the outside, I nevertheless felt "at home" and enjoyed my stay in each. I was thinking about why. The answer is because in both places, I found devotees and gurubhais. it is the people, not the place, that makes me want to return. Paramhansa Yogananda concluded his autobiography with the words, "God has given this monk a large family." His presence shines through his large family of disciples in a similar way everywhere, no matter the country, making us feel at home everywhere. Similarly, when we try to see God in every circumstance, we feel His joy always with us.
With that thought, I wrote the following post on the topic of "Dispassion" for our anandaindia.org website
While visiting the city of Puri many years ago, Swami Kriyananda spoke with a venerable sadhu, said to be one hundred and thirty years old. Obviously a man of spiritual accomplishment, the sadhu was an exponent of the path of extreme vairagya, the practice of stern renunciation of the material world. During their conversation, Swamiji asked, “What about a beautiful sunset? Is even that something to ignore and not enjoy?” “Yes!” replied the sadhu sternly, “Even that!”
Swami Kriyananda was much too respectful to comment. He recognized such total dispassion as a valid path for those inclined to follow it but in his own mind, he could not but think, “How dry!” His own guru, Paramhansa Yogananda, had been very different in his approach, enjoying everything as an expression of God’s beauty.
Yoganandaji saw God as manifested in all creation: the earth, stars and in other people. His disciples once discovered him in a state of blissful ecstasy on the lawn of Mt. Washington Estate, his ashram home in Los Angeles. “You don’t know how beautiful it all is,” he marveled, turning about and gesturing toward everything around him. Where the disciples saw but trees, buildings and sky, the master saw everything as brilliant, beautiful, expanding light, colorfully pulsating with Divine Mother’s bliss.
Swami Kriyananda expressed renunciation in much the same manner as his guru. His nature emphasized positive expansion of one’s sympathies, not rejection. In all of life’s experiences, he found inspiration which he expressed through music, art, writing or discourse. “See Divine Mother in everything, be Her willing instrument and share with others,” was his advice. What we need to renounce is ego, the selfish attitude that thinks first of “me and mine,” and the tendency to follow our personal likes and dislikes to the exclusion of what is right and proper.
The sadhu’s path was one of dispassion, a necessary attitude toward whatever draws us away from God. To this, add love to keep our hearts from becoming dry. An intense love for all things divine will bring, unbidden, a natural disinclination toward that which separates us from our beloved. As Master once said to Swami Kriyananda, “When ecstasy comes, all else goes.”