Asha Praver's Monthly Letter
February 2007

Dear Friends,Asha Praver photo

In 1971, Swamiji moved from the first dome he built at the Meditation Retreat, to the Ayodhya section of Ananda Village.

Now his home there is Crystal Hermitage, a spiritual center for the whole community. And the dome—which at one time was his entire house—is just the living room of the Hermitage. From the outside, you can’t even see that it is a dome, because it is inside a more conventional structure—like a big car parked inside a huge garage. (If you happen to be there, look under the roof from the deck outside the living room, and you can see the structure of it.)

To put a roof over the dome was the solution arrived at after years of trying countless other ways of solving the problem of leaks.

The original dome was an experimental building material, a kind of sprayed foam. It was quick, inexpensive, and passably attractive. The problem was, the foam expanded and contracted when the temperature changed from day to night, creating innumerable hairline fractures that were an open invitation for the rain to enter.

The dome was heated with a wood stove. The wood was stored under the house, accessed through a trap door in the middle of the living room. The placement of the door proved felicitous. So much water poured into the house those first winters that the door served as a big drain. Swamiji would prop open the trap door and sweep the water out—gallons at a time.

Fortunately, over the years, the builders found ways to mitigate the leaks. But until the roof was built over it, in the rainy season it was never entirely dry inside the dome.

Swamiji was good-natured about the whole thing. But often, with mock seriousness, he would protest to the universe. “But I am so sincere!” he would say, about his efforts to fix the leaks, as if sincerity itself was some kind of waterproof covering.

Swamiji often takes a humorous approach to teaching us, making a joke out of a wrong attitude that we might be inclined to embrace in a serious way in other circumstances.

This idea—that sincerity should give one access to short-cuts in life—is a subtle delusion, easy to fall into. “But I’m trying!” we sometimes say, in protest against difficulties life may bring us.

In Autobiography of a Yogi, Master says that the beginning of wisdom is to accept the “inescapability of divine law.”

Fire can cook our food and warm our bodies, or turn everything we own into a pile of ash. It is the nature of fire to burn.

Rain can water a field and grow the crops to feed a village, or through an open window destroy a library of rare books. As it says in the Bible, the rain falls alike on the “just and the unjust.”

In the realm of human consciousness, there are also inescapable facts. Joy is within you. Outward things and experiences merely reflect the divine joy within, they do not, in themselves, create it.

The outward direction of our senses, however, masks this simple truth. We rebel against the “inescapability of divine law” and seek happiness through pleasing the ego. This is the stage of the “soul’s long journey through time and space” which we call, in The Festival of Light, the “Revolt.”

The simple problem is it doesn’t work. The ego can’t deliver the happiness we crave. Only God can satisfy the longing of our hearts.

Finally, after much suffering, the ego is humbled. Instead of trying to impose its own theories of how life ought to be, we sincerely pray, “Lord, You show me.”

This is the next stage of the soul’s journey, which is called the “Quest.” We may not yet know what divine law is, but at least, now, we are asking the right questions.

Joy to you from

Asha