When I was about nine years old, my uncle and older cousin gave me a nickname. It was “UPS” which stood for “Useless Piece of (you know what four letter word).” You might think, “How horrible of them!”” They are actually both very kind and caring people. They were expressing their affection through an Italian tough guise. Okay, maybe it wasn’t the best way to encourage a youngster.

Can’t we all relate to feeling useless or even worthless at times?

I’m reminded of a story from Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning. He was a prisoner in one of the Nazi concentration camps during World War II. Although he was a prisoner, he was a psychologist and the Nazis had him act as a doctor for sick and dying prisoners.

He cared for one young woman who was near death lying in bed. She no longer could give anything outwardly which would discourage most people to the point of despair. Yet, this saintly woman found her meaning by communing with a walnut tree outside her window. She loved the walnut tree and its blossoms so much she developed a deep and living relationship with it. This loving exchange between her and the walnut tree meant the world to her. She felt God’s love through the walnut tree and in turn she loved God back through the tree.

Who are we when all the outward trappings are stripped away? 

Recently, I was faced with the feeling of worthlessness. What happened? It wasn’t from being called UPS! Dharmadevi and I have decided to take a sabbatical because she’s been experiencing some serious health challenges over the last year.

The thought of taking an extended break frightened the dickens out of me. “If I’m not serving through Ananda LA, what’s my purpose? Where is my meaning?”

My mind ruminated in a self-absorbed fashion feasting on insecurity. Fortunately, I remembered the “don’t believe everything you think” bumper sticker and dropped the inferiority complex. What replaced it was the thought: “Our self worth is in being…in who we are.”

Yes, we must learn to master activity. The spiritual path is not for the faint of heart. Yet it’s not so much what we do but how we do it.

This is why I love Dharmadevi. Her being nature is sublime. When she smiles she radiates such beauty, love, and divine contentment. The saints reflect to us our own higher nature. A line from the Christmas carol, “O Holy Night,” comes to mind:

“Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till he appeared’ and the soul felt its worth.”

Our souls are longing to feel their worth. When we attune our will to a Christ-like master they awaken our own latent divine potential. 

Yogananda once said, “The guru’s consciousness is like a flawless mirror. It reflects the disciple’s spiritual state back to him. It gives him what he needs, to escape the bondage of delusion.” 

I know that’s how I felt when I first saw Yogananda’s photograph on the cover of Autobiography of a Yogi. His photograph was like a “newly wakened memory divine” that reminded me of my higher Self.

Feel your worth in God. When you gaze into the eyes of your guru, know that he is reflecting to you exactly who and what you are at the deepest level: Your UPS—Unique Part of Spirit!