Asha Praver's Monthly Letter
February 2006

Dear Friends,Asha Praver photo

One of the notable characteristics of most elderly people is the pace at which life happens for them. Responsibilities diminish, the body slows down, and life slows down with it.

Taking care of my parents at the end of their lives was often a test of patience. To walk at their pace, to speak so they could follow my thinking, to make decisions in such a way that they didn’t feel I was racing out ahead without regard for them. It wasn’t a question of intelligence. It was about rhythm.

Recently I saw a documentary about a man who had a stroke in his late 60s. He was left paralyzed on one side, and his ability to speak was greatly diminished. He could still communicate in words, but before he was a fast talker with a quick wit. Now every word had to be retrieved from a deep chasm somewhere in his mind.

As it happened, this man had been his father’s caregiver. Often he had been impatient with the snail-like pace at which his father moved in the last year of his life.

After the stroke, the man said, “I am now seeing what my father saw.” He was walking in his father’s shoes. He saw his years of taking care of his father from the other end of the telescope.

An American man, whose wife was from Thailand, asked me for advice about how to get along with her. Because she was from another culture, he found many of her responses puzzling. His situation was not that different from what many other couples face, but it had the added twist of combining cultures.

“In a sense, everyone in the world inhabits his or her own unique country,” I said to him. “Marriages often crash on the rocks of false assumptions. The cultural differences between you and your wife could work to your advantage. You won’t be able to fall into that comfortable state of assuming you know all about her. You will always have to keep an open mind.”

Every married couple has to find a way to reach across the “cultural gap” of being two separate individuals.

In the early years of our marriage, when we lived at Ananda Village, weekly “town trips” were part of the lifestyle. There were few essential services at the Village, and a long list of errands would accumulate.

Every week, just before going into town, David would say something to the effect that we have a lot of things to accomplish and need to start early to make sure we can meet the challenge.

Invariably, I would counter by saying that the trip is going to be an easy one, there is no reason to feel pressured, we can sleep in and start late.

After several years of this, I happened to read in a popular Western astrology book about our respective Sun Signs. I don’t want to make too much of it, but at the time, it was an eye-opener!

David is an Aires. According to this book, Aires delight in confronting new challenges. In fact, they often reframe ordinary life experiences to make them more challenging and therefore more fun to experience.

I am a Cancer. Cancers, by contrast the book said, like the familiar and are often intimidated by too much challenge. So Cancers tend to reframe even new experiences in terms of something familiar that is easy to deal with.

David’s enthusiasm for the difficulty of the town trip was the last thing I wanted to hear. My description of it as the same old trip we’ve taken lots of time, was equally unwelcome news to his ears!

We were both being true to our inner natures, but our respective “countries” have different cultures. That simple realization turned what had been, at times, a tense dispute, into an amusing—eventually even charming—difference between us! A great victory in marriage.

In the commentary on the Bhagavad Gita that Swamiji has just completed, he says, if you want to understand and commune with someone else:

“Withdraw deeply to your own center; then think of and focus your mind at his center. You will see that, from your center to his, there forms a connection—as if your two islands, seemingly separated by ocean water, were connected more deeply by the earth underneath. Everyone who is not you is simply your own deeper Self, manifested differently, in different forms, and even at different times.”

So many difficulties between people can be dissolved through this simple exercise. Swamiji goes on to say:

“A sense of the oneness of all life helps the meditating yogi to approach God inwardly without fear or tension: to relax completely in divine love. Whatever happens in your life, you are one with the great sea of Truth. No one, however viciously he may treat you, can take away your love for God, or God's love, in all eternity, for you. God, and God alone, is your true treasure.”

Swamiji’s commentary on the Gita is another expression of the commentary Master wrote more than half a century ago. When Master completed that manuscript he declared, “A new Scripture has been born.” Then he said, “Millions will find God through this book.”

One may naturally ask, “How can a mere book bring people to God?” The answer is: Scripture is different from ordinary writing. Most books communicate words and ideas. Scripture transfers actual states of consciousness.

All of Master’s writing, and most of Swamiji’s is, in this sense, Scripture. The ink and paper, Master said, is simply a means for transferring the consciousness behind it. That is the true message.

When you tune in, you see reality as Master, and Swamiji see it. That attunement is transforming.

The unifying culture for all of life is the divine Self within.

Blessings and joy,
Asha & David