By Nayaswami Dharmadevi Romano
July 31, 2018

Swami Kriyananda said, “Sometimes what you want and what you really want are miles apart.” I’m extremely grateful for the times that I received direct (and I mean Direct!) guidance from Swamiji. I had lots of ideas and many of them were not quite on target. Swamiji was usually subtle and understated in the direction he gave and rarely gave it at all, but at times, he could be blunt.

When I asked for his guidance on moving to the East Coast to help start an Ananda community there, he said, “That’s a harebrained idea!” And when I thought about starting a Healing Center in Topanga Canyon based on the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda, his response was, “That might give you some good karma, but you won’t soar in bliss.”

Someone might hear these stories and think, “How oppressive! I could never have someone telling me what to do all the time. Can’t she think for herself?” But every time the guidance came, I accepted it wholeheartedly and knew it was for my greatest good – at least I did eventually. What I think Swamiji was doing more than anything was helping me develop humility, the greatest attitude of discipleship. He was also teaching me how to focus my mind and energy on what I really wanted… God. He could see that learning to work together with my gurubhais (people who share the same guru) would lead me more quickly to Self-realization.

It’s easy to think about God when things are going well. But consider when life doesn’t go according to our plans. When you’re in an argument with your spouse – are you thinking “All I want is you, Lord” or are you thinking, “All I want is some peace and quiet!”? Or maybe even, “All I want is a harmonious relationship.”

I’d like to recommend the practice of “neti, neti”, a Sanskrit phrase meaning “not this, not that.” With neti, neti we use discrimination to discover the central reality that everything is ultimately God alone. Neti, neti says, “I’m not a woman, not this body, not this personality; nothing but my innate, perfect soul nature.”

“Reason follows feeling,” Yogananda said. So, don’t wait to practice neti, neti until you’re in an argument or difficult situation. While in a positive, introspective state try to train your mind to uncover what you really want. If you can do that successfully, you’ll be more likely to succeed when an obstacle/opportunity arises.

Think about, for example, what you like about your partner – is it his beautiful smile or the sweetness you feel when you see it? Is that sweetness his or is it coming from deep inside you? Is it yours or is it Divine Mother’s sweetness manifesting through both of you? What is really happening when you argue? Is he taking away your inner peace or are you allowing anger to consume it? If you were determined to stay centered, could anyone take away your happiness?

I’m reminded of a series of dreams I’ve had over the past few years where I’m in a bomb shelter with all of my friends. We are smiling, chanting, and laughing together — in a bomb shelter! Circumstances are neutral; it is how we respond to them that makes them either good or bad. God is Omnipresent. Find Him within all of your relationships, all of your responsibilities, all of your life’s circumstances. If you can keep Him at the forefront of your mind, you will see that everything that comes to you is through His grace. And if you really want only Him, God will never let you down!