Asha Praver's Monthly Letter
June 2005

Dear Friends,Asha Praver photo

When my friend Paula was diagnosed with cancer, she took the surgery, but decided not to take chemotherapy. As she told her doctor, “I’m just not a chemo kind of gal!”

To me she said, “I’d rather change my thoughts.”

“You might as well fix the problem at the source!” I said. “The physical body is just a manifestation of far subtler energies. The only question is, do you have enough time? Chemo is a way of buying time while you get your mind organized.”

“I don’t have the luxury now to have a single negative thought,” Paula said.

Isn’t that an interesting way to put it? The dictionary defines luxury as “something adding to pleasure or comfort, but not absolutely necessary.” Who gets the pleasure from negativity? Who gets the comfort?

If we are honest, we will admit that the ego does gets pleasure from being negative, at least in the short-run. It is a relief sometimes to point out the faults of others rather than looking to our own. The karmic law is always fair, but the ego gets comfort from thinking, “I don’t deserve this!”

But the fruit of luxury, Master said, is luxury, not freedom. The more we indulge our wrong inclinations, the more habitual they become. If our goal is Self-realization, we have to travel light. We have to pare down. Luxury is not our friend. Outward simplicity helps, but the key to freedom is not what we have, but who we are inside.

In the end, everything falls away, even the body, and all we have left is our consciousness. Eventually, Paula did die of cancer, ten years after the first diagnosis. She was always a pure soul, but in the last decade, she was even more attentive to her consciousness. She died in a state of grace.

Master was not always fair in the way he treated people. Sometimes he scolded those who weren’t at fault just to see if they could take it. I have seen Swamiji do the same thing.

Once a complex misunderstanding developed among a large group of people. Swamiji got them all together and proceeded to “solve” the problem. Instead of systematically letting each one put his grievances on the table, and in that way getting the “facts” straight, Swamiji simply assigned blame according to who could take it!

Those who received the lion’s share also had the wisdom to accept it without protest. Harmony was restored, and everyone moved on.

Swamiji knew that even among devotees, sometimes you have to throw the ego a bone. Let the ego gnaw for a while, then, later, the bone can be taken away. Not your conventional method of solving a problem. Swamiji always has a long-distance view. His goal is to bring us to Self-realization.

It is up to us to decide how we want to live. Shall we gnaw on the bone of negative thinking and self-justification? Is it a luxury we can afford?

I remember a satsang Swamiji gave years ago that was particularly deep and inspiring. I was sitting close enough to see the look in his eyes. His body was right in front of me, but his consciousness embraced a far larger sphere than the living room of his dome and the fifty people sitting there.

After the closing prayer he looked around at all of us and said with such sympathy, as if from a great distance, “You are going to get it right sooner or later. Why waste a few million years?”

Joy and love from David and me.