Out of the darkness, an almost pitch black backdrop, I saw a figure. He stood alone.

All of a sudden, he gripped what appeared to be a weapon preparing for battle. His face clearly strained as he stood strong upholding what I now could tell was a cross made of white light. With all his might and both hands he thrust the cross above his head like a spiritual sword. His self effort drew some greater power to his aid and in a moment the impending darkness was vanquished.

This image flashed across my mind early one morning in January when I was in between sleep and wakefulness. It wasn’t really a dream but more like an idea-tabloid. It lingered in my consciousness that day as if it was trying to convey some deeper meaning to me.

As 2020 has unfolded and our world seems to get upturned every few weeks, I’m beginning to understand the message. The darkness of delusion is trying to invade and divide the nation of our united consciousness.

United we stand. Divided we fall.

The divisive forces are what Swami Sri Yukteswar called the meanesses of the heart. They are: fear, hatred, shame, grief, condemnation, pride of pedigree, pride of nationality, and smugness. Sound familiar? Each one of these viruses (or meannesses) of the heart threatens the heart’s natural and universal love.

2020 began with battling the coronavirus and its twin virus, fear. Next we have been dealing with depression and grief related to the loss of loved ones and the economic fallout from the “Great Lockdown.” Our latest crisis is one of conscience related to racial prejudice and hatred.

Only the power of divine love can heal the pain we feel. And the saints manifest that divine love and power perfectly. For example there is a story from the life of Yogananda:

America was in the depths of the great depression. Paramhansa Yogananda lectured at Carnegie Hall, during the course of which he had exposed certain powerful, wealthy men who had been exploiting the poor. Exploitation of the poor in those days virtually meant their ruin.

After the talk a gunman came up behind the master in a darkened street. Pressing a pistol into his back, he said, “Why did you talk like that about those people?”

Yogananda turned and faced him. “All men are God’s children,” he replied. “He loves them equally. How can you expect Him to be pleased when His rich children take advantage of His poor ones?”

“Why do you live the way you do?” he asked. “You aren’t happy. It is time that you changed.” Suddenly, in tones charged with divine power, he cried: “I demand that Satan come out of you!”

The man began to tremble. “What are you doing to me?” he cried. “I was supposed to kill you!” Weeping, he continued, “I can’t – I just can’t go back to that way of living any more!” His life was completely changed.

~ The Jewel in the Lotus by Swami Kriyananda

We may not be able to change people in such a dramatic fashion, but all of us can humbly invoke divine light to transform our hearts crying, “Change my darkness to Thy Light, Lord!”

The only way to change the “system” and systemic racism is through a change of heart. No system, political party, or policy will do it for us. Yes, we must have reform on those levels too but they must be informed from the universal love that makes us all brothers.

How do we do that? 

We must raise and transform our consciousness to realize our unity with all life. As Swami Kriyananda says in a song:

One life beneath the surface
Binds everyone to me.
Who knows the truth knows all men as brothers.
Who knows the truth knows all men as—

And then we need to act. Maybe that means for you being an activist and protesting peacefully. Maybe it means sending out healing prayers. Maybe it means smiling to a stranger who walks down the street. For love makes us brothers.

Let us stand united: one world indivisible!

Nayaswami Narayan

Brothers – a poem inspired by “Black Lives Matter”

All the stars above
One world
One dome
One earth that we call
Our home

Black lives matter!
Let’s right this matter!

Right to the batter
that swings.
His heart once sank
Now it sings!

Because He unites with
Life behind all matter.

And his brethren — all the other batters
Let them swing for the fences!
Oh, no!
Grand slam it is!
God, Christ, Guru
Are His!
That swings beyond this earthly home
To roam roam in holy Aum

For black lives matter!
You cannot oppress one of these batters
They all matter.
Just like you say, “All life matters.”
Right it does!
That’s why we say:

“Black Lives Matter!”

And we all have the duty
To unite with the
Life behind all matter.

Brothers – a song composed by Swami Kriyananda

I’ve lived in many countries
And mixed with many men.
I’ve shared their days of sunshine,
Gone with them in the rain.
The fires at evening said we were brothers.
The fires at evening said we were—
A soldier I saw weeping
Beside a dying friend.
My officers had said
I must hate him till the end.
But seeing his grief, I knew we were brothers.
But seeing his grief I knew we were—
A man sat on a doorstep
To see the children play.
The gentle way he smiled there
Would charm your fears away.
A stranger, he, but love made us brothers.
A stranger, he, but love made us—
One day I climbed a mountain
With friends of other lands.
The words we used were different,
But joy one understands.
Our gladness in God’s world made us brothers.
Our gladness in God’s world made us—
Though words and customs vary
Like waves upon the sea,
One life beneath the surface
Binds everyone to me.
Who knows the truth knows all men as brothers.
Who knows the truth knows all men as—
“Then brothers, why endeavor
To set ourselves apart?
The fences we’ve been building
Squeeze tight upon our hearts!
Come sing the truth that all men are brothers!
Come sing the truth that all men are—