Six Strategies for Challenging Times
November 16, 2017
This article is unique in that it has been drawn from Clarity articles published by several authors: Paramhansa Yogananda, Swami Kriyananda, and Nayaswamis Jyotish and Devi. Sources are listed at the end of this article.
1. Your best astrological amulet
When devotees feel overwhelmed by trials and difficulties, it’s mostly because they’ve allowed themselves to slip away from devotion. In difficult times, the most important thing is that you love God. That is your best astrological amulet, your most secure protective curtain.
It is love for God that gives you the power, as Paramhansa Yogananda put it, “to stand unshaken amidst the crash of breaking worlds.” This is something to remember, to write on your heart, because it’s the truth: Nothing will take you down if inwardly you love God.
In fact, when you’re really in love with God and in tune with the divine flow, you find that nothing else matters very much. You understand that things happen as they ought to and that, ultimately, everything works out for the best.
True devotion means to love God purely and not to think of anything except, “I long to know You. I long to serve You. I long to be one with You.” In pure love, there are no ulterior motives, no likes and dislikes, only the desire to please Him.
Pray for devotion. It’s a gift of God and by your very act of prayer you will be putting out the magnetism to draw that gift to you. Pray this simple prayer as often as you remember: “Divine Mother, awaken Your love in me, and then help me to awaken that love in all.”
2. Avoid speaking of negative situations
Paramhansa Yogananda cautioned me [Swami Kriyananda] not to speak about negative situations. He once asked me to attend an installation ceremony at the Masonic Lodge of one of our members. The ceremony ended in shambles, with half the lodge members walking out in angry protest.
When I told Yogananda what had happened, he said, “Don’t say anything about it.” At first I was surprised, since the Masons would never get wind of my remarks, but I realized that he was warning me of the power of negativity itself.
“Avoid speaking negative things,” Yogananda would tell the monks. “Why look at the drains, when there is beauty all around? When we concentrate on the good, we take on goodness. When we look at the negative side long enough, we ourselves take on negative qualities.”
Try always to keep away from negative influences. Mixing with people who are negative tends to influence one to see things in negative terms.
Therese of Avila trained her nuns always to think something positive about a person whenever they came into view. This practice would be a good one for everyone to adopt. Learn to radiate love and harmony. By loving others, you will overcome the tendency to judge them.
The more you meditate, the more you are able to direct your will in a positive way and to filter out negative thoughts — you simply don’t accept them. When your will power is strong, you can easily say “no” to whatever you want to exclude from your life.
3. God’s will is the same for everyone
God loves us dearly and wants to draw us back to His love. In a general way, His highest will is the same for everyone — that we merge back into Him. Subsidiary to that is whatever takes us in that direction.
To know God’s will, perhaps the most important things are to have a respect for your capacity for being mistaken, as well as for God’s capacity somehow to get through your ignorance. Don’t talk too much about your intuitions. When you talk about them, you tend to cut off the intuitive flow.
Follow your intuition using common sense. In evaluating guidance, always make sure that it’s in tune with what the great ones have said. Throughout history, those who have found God have never disagreed with each other.
Remember always to follow that aspect of God’s will which leads you towards freedom from ego and union with Him. What God really wants is that you know Him. The more you become centered and non-attached in the heart, the more you’ll know what to do. Attachments cloud the issue.
4. Learn to live in the “here and now.”
Most people live in the past or the future. The key to living in the here and now is non-attachment. When you are attached, you view your happiness as dependent on someone or something outside yourself. With family and children especially, this sense of dependence makes you want something from them, which causes you to look to the future.
To be non-attached to loved ones is to love them impersonally, in God, and not as your own. Impersonal love is not dependent on someone’s feelings for you. It’s something you hold in your heart at all times, regardless of circumstances.
To live fully in the present, you have to accept reality as it is. That includes being patient with people, accepting them as they are, and not wishing them to be different. You can do much more good for people if you have this attitude.
If you say, “Well, he’s doing the best he can for who he is,” and work with that reality, you will find that you can inspire that person to be better. But if you keep telling him, “You shouldn’t do this,” and “You shouldn’t do that,” he will just dig in his heels and be more that way.
This same teaching applies to yourself. Accept yourself as you are. Tell yourself, “I’m doing the best I can for who I am.” With that attitude, somehow everything works out for the best. You can make a difference once you’ve accepted reality as it is.
Paramhansa Yogananda said, “Most people live in the past or future. When you can be truly happy in the present, then you have God.”
5. Develop the right kind of magnetism
Magnetism is the power by which you draw things to you: the right husband or wife, the right business, the right friends, the right thoughts. Magnetism of every type originates in the Infinite Spirit.
Each human being is a medium through which God’s magnetism flows. Unless your magnetism is right, you will draw the wrong people or things. Fear, for example, creates a malignant magnetism by which a person attracts the very object of his fear. The magnetism of humility, on the other hand, attracts the all-protecting presence of true friends, saints, and God.
If you use your magnetism primarily to gain material things, sooner or later you will be disillusioned. But if you first develop spiritual magnetism, you will be guided in the proper ways to fulfill your material needs as well.
The right kind of magnetic power has expanding, uplifting, spiritual qualities. Some people are so magnetic that they vibrate kindness and you love them immediately. This is the kind of magnetic power you should try to develop. Try always to be dressed in the magnetic qualities of calmness, fair-mindedness, and understanding.
6. Offer up limiting self-definitions
The way to attunement with the Guru is through ever deeper self-offering into his vibration. By “self-offering” is meant, especially, offering up those limiting self-definitions in which we’ve wrapped ourselves. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to cast them into the light of the spiritual eye during meditation.
Each of us has a certain mega-issue that we’ve come into this lifetime to resolve. Until we offer that into the light, it will continue to darken our consciousness. Find one or two things — a wrong belief, a habit, an inertia — and then try to release it. Even if you don’t succeed completely, the very effort of daily self-offering will be transformative.
The life of a disciple can be summed up as ever deeper self-offering into the vibration of God and Guru. As we offer up our limitations, we open ourselves to their influence and they can enter our hearts and change us. When, finally, we offer our hearts completely, we become filled with light and pass beyond all self-definitions.
Self-transformation is the first and foremost thing that has to happen, but we must also do whatever is in our power to share God’s love and joy with others. These two taken together should be our focus: deep self-offering to the Guru and the dynamic sharing of God’s love and joy with other truth-seeking souls.
Paramhansa Yogananda came to show us the way to Self-realization and to implant in us the desire to help others achieve that state of consciousness. The highest prayer, he said, is, “Lord, give me Thyself so that I may give Thee to all.”
“Devotion: Your Protection in Difficult Times,” by Swami Kriyananda, Clarity Magazine, Winter 2008
“Overcoming Negativity,” by Paramhansa Yogananda, Clarity Magazine, Fall 2008.
“How to Know God’s Will,’ by Swami Kriyananda, Clarity Magazine, Spring, 2007.
“How to Live in the Here and Now,” by Swami Kriyananda, Clarity Magazine, Spring 2007
“Magnetism: The Power of Attraction,” by Paramhansa Yogananda, Clarity Magazine, Spring 2007
“Lord, I Am Thine,” by Jyotish and Devi Novak, Clarity Magazine, Winter 2008