Dharmadevi and I were trimming trees at our Ananda Desert Seclusion retreat this past weekend. We were making kindling from some of the desert trees that needed tending for Navaratri – a nine day celebration to Divine Mother.
When it came to clipping the big branches or breaking limbs in two, I was quite energetic and enthusiastic about our project. I used clippers and bare hands to create bunches of branches together. It was satisfying to clean up the retreat and at the same time prepare kindling for special fire ceremonies dedicated to Divine Mother.
Then out of the blue the wind got knocked out of my sails.
What happened? I was defeated by a twig.
Dharmadevi started slowly and methodically to pull smaller twiglets from already tiny twigs to create a hobbit type of kindling. If you don’t know Dharmadevi, she likes small things. She is neat, tidy, and orderly.
I am too, but this was taking the twigs to a new end (literally). As the desert breeze blew, I found the wind of my willingness slowly fade away. Dharmadevi noticed my change in demeanor as I stood there speechless at her twigletting technique.
Sweetly she remarked, “You can go inside if you’re tired.”
Unable to embrace her zen/hobbit twigletting technique, I went inside to regroup with a glass of lemon water. I found another way to be of service and made a salad for our lunch. My energy level returned almost immediately. I noticed it was directly related to my level of willingness. I wanted to make lunch for Dharmadevi and was enjoying it.
Swami Kriyananda often used this story to illustrate the point of willingness. Imagine it is the end of a long work week and you come home exhausted. There are dishes in the sink that have not been cleaned. You slump onto your couch with no energy and cannot bring yourself to even think about washing the dishes.
Then the phone rings and it is one of your best friends who lives on the other side of the country. They happen to be in town for one evening. You jump up shower and go to see your friend with enthusiasm and joy.
Where did that energy come from?
Paramhansa Yogananda said “spontaneous willingness” is one of the most important qualities on the spiritual path. It is hard work to find God. But it’s the greatest joy to find His great joy. Why not enjoy it?
Experiment with the Superconscious Living Exercises upon waking in the morning. They will help you to cultivate the willingness needed to attune to His will alone.
And I promise there is no twigletting technique involved!