Asha Praver's Monthly Letter
May 2007

Dear Friends,Asha Praver photo

About fifteen years ago, on one of our trips back from India, three American women were traveling with six tiny Indian infants. The women were volunteers taking the orphan babies to their new adopted homes in America.

“How will you be able to take care of two babies for all these hours?” I asked one of the women.

“No problem,” she assured me. “People line up to help.” And they did.

A Rose by Any Other Name....
That flight was characterized by a particular sweetness, as so many of us,
watching and caring for the babies, participated in this extraordinary moment in their young lives.

Already the escorts addressed them only by their new American names. The little dark-skinned “Haridas’s” and “Prakash’s” had become “Edward James Robinson’s,” or “Henry Phillip Eddington, Jr.’s”

Who can fathom the mystery of karma?

Worries in the Night
Recently I was eavesdropping on a conversation several of my fellow “athletes” were having as we relaxed in the jacuzzi at the YMCA where I swim. The subject was crossword puzzles as an antidote to insomnia.

One woman said that most nights she wakes up after a few hours, begins to worry, and then can’t go back to sleep.

“What do you worry about?” someone asked her.

“Oh, everything,” she replied vaguely. Then she went on to tout the benefits of a midnight crossword puzzle to take your mind off your troubles.

These Uncertain Times
My heart went out to her. Doesn’t that perfectly describe the times we live in? If we are fortunate enough not to be in the midst of a personal crisis, we can always lie awake wondering if one is about to strike. Or, those with a more impersonal nature, can worry about genocide, earthquakes, or the vanishing ozone layer. Earth life provides us so many choices.

The uncertainty of our times, unpleasant though it may be to the ego, is, in fact, a divine blessing. Sometimes we joke that there are two kinds of motivation on the spiritual path. One is to be drawn forward by the blissful vision of God. The other is to catch fire from behind and run forward in the hope of staying ahead of the flames!

Either method works. The beauty of the yogic path is that “even a little practice of this inward religion will free one from dire fears and colossal suffering.”

In other words, yoga practice isn’t a calculated gamble in the hope of heavenly reward after death. It is changing our consciousness now. Once we begin to turn our attention inward, the positive result is immediate.

Meditate on a Simple Truth
“Joy Is Within You,” is Ananda’s motto. Simple words—deceptively simple you might say. That motto is the key to the spiritual path. Everything we seek is ours already. All we have to do is improve our knowing.

Even those things in life that we think of as the source of our happiness are, in fact, merely reflecting back to us the light we ourselves shine upon them.

Great souls like Swamiji never lose touch with this inward reality. That’s what makes him a great soul! Even in the transition from one life to another, the realization remains intact. In The Path, Swamiji describes his consciousness as an infant. “My earliest memories all relate to a special kind of happiness, one that seemed to have little to do with the things around me, that at best only reflected them.”

Faith Comes from Experience
These are not concepts that one can grasp only with the mind. We have to go inward, in meditation and prayer, and experience the ever-existing bliss of our own nature, and the loving presence of Divine Mother watching over us.

Just like those little babies on the plane. The circumstances of their conception must have seemed inauspicious at the time, inasmuch as they ended up in an orphanage. In the womb, did those babies rest in the knowledge that Divine Mother was in charge? Or did they have the equivalent of worry-induced “fetal insomnia” as they surveyed the questionable circumstances into which they would be born?

Did they know that Divine Mother’s loving hand was already guiding their future mothers and fathers to reach halfway around the world to find them?

God Alone
The particular myth of our culture is that the ego is in charge of its own destiny. Even those who give outward allegiance to this idea inwardly know that the ego’s power is limited. That is why so many wake up in the night and worry about, well, “everything.”

The thought of those babies has always been a deep comfort to me. See how lovingly Divine Mother provides for each one of us?

A devotee friend once put it very simply. “No matter how complex one’s destiny may appear, no matter how many “karmic bomb”s go off, or how much the plot twists and turns and surprises us with unexpected events, in the midst of it all, we have only two choices: To think of God or not to think of God. Everything else is an illusion.”

Joy to you,