Asha Praver's Monthly Letter
August 2005

Dear Friends,Asha Praver photo

Several years ago, on one of our plane flights back from India, there were three women, each traveling with two infants, orphan babies from India on their way to their adoptive parents in America. The women were volunteers who made this same trip several times a year.

The babies were already sporting their new names. Thus the tiny dark skinned bundles in the row behind me were lovingly addressed as Michael James Milligan and Edward Henry Smith, or something of a similar nature. It was remarkable to contemplate where these children had been, where they were going, and what they would become.

The delusion of culture and nationality for these children could easily be pierced. Their bodies are from India; their upbringing will be American, genetics from one side of the world, environment from the other. For them, there will be no simple answer to the question, “Where do you come from?” An ideal situation for a devotee! We, too, should answer the question thoughtfully. Not to turn every casual conversation into an existential debate, but to remain, as Master says, “inwardly free.”

Swamiji's life is uniquely suited to the role he has played as a Spiritual Ambassador to the World. His parents are from Oklahoma, but Swamiji was born in Rumania, where his father worked as an oil geologist for Esso. As a young child, Swamiji visited America several times, but it wasn't until World War II broke out, and his father was reassigned to New York City, that Swamiji came to live in his own country. By then he was thirteen years old, spoke four languages—English, German, French, and Rumanian—had visited a dozen countries, and been to school in three of them—Rumania, Switzerland, and England. The voyage to New York was the ninth time he had crossed the Atlantic.

Just before Master left India for America in 1920, his guru, Sri Yukteswar, gave him this advice, “Forget you were born a Hindu, and don't be an American. Take the best of them both. Be your true self, a child of God. Seek and incorporate into your being the best qualities of all your brothers, scattered over the earth in various races.”This is the attitude we all should adopt, to live lightly in our own bodies with all the “identities” of culture, nationality, age and gender that come with it. Even this planet is just a temporary dwelling place. Swamiji once asked Master, “Do souls that have been born on this earth keep reincarnating here?”

“No, there are innumerable planets to go to,” Master said. “If they returned always to the same one, they might find out too quickly!”

Swamiji explains, “Divine perception, in other words, must be earned. It is not the 'plot' of this cosmic drama for wisdom to be thrust upon man uninvited; he must employ the sword of discrimination himself. The house of mirrors must lose its fascination for him because he has seen through its tricks, and not merely because, by constant repetition, the reflections have ceased to interest him.”

On another occasion, Swamiji asked Master, “If the thing that keeps us bound to this world is our desire for it, why aren't those people liberated who commit suicide? Surely they, at least, have no desire to remain here. Just look at the extreme measures they employ to get away?”

Swamiji said, “Master chuckled at this absurdity, as he replied, 'But there must also be a positive desire for God!'”

The answer is not to disdain the culture into which we are born, or in which we live, but to concentrate on developing our love for God. To see the Divine everywhere, this is what it means to be a citizen of the world.

Years ago, when Ronald Reagan was in the White House, his daughter attended the Self-Realization Church in Southern California where Brother Turiyananda was the minister. She introduced herself to him then said, “My father is President of the United States.”

“My Father is Lord of the Universe,” Turiyananda replied.

Children of God, this is who we are.

Blessings and joy from David and me,

Asha