Asha Praver's Monthly Letter
October 2006

Dear Friends,Asha Praver photo

Years ago I was talking to Swamiji about a person in the community whom Swamiji described as having “dampening energy,” as in throwing a wet-blanket over other people’s enthusiasm.

Not surprisingly, the dampening individual was losing interest in Ananda. That kind of energy simply isn’t compatible with Ananda’s spirit. It was obvious that before too long he would leave. In the meantime, however, he was a restrictive influence on anything he was involved in. And I was losing patience.

“I am looking forward to the time when he has gone away,” I said frankly to Swamiji.

Always the teacher, Swamiji responded with a mild corrective. “I am looking forward to the time,” he said, “when that dampening energy of his goes away.”

In the Bhagavad Gita, 4:7-8, Krishna says, “...whenever virtue (dharma) declines, and vice (adharma) is in the ascendant, I incarnate Myself on earth (as an avatar). Appearing from age to age in visible form, I come to destroy evil and to re-establish virtue.”

Among many other interesting things Swamiji says in the commentary on this verse, he points out that some translations speak of the Lord incarnating to destroy evil-doers. In answer to that common misunderstanding, Swamiji first speaks strongly against the very idea of a God who would be vindictive toward anyone, even those who work against the divine cause.

“God never destroys anyone!” Swamiji states emphatically.

Then he goes on to explain, that since we are all manifestations of God, “The only thing He destroys—the only thing he can destroy, since He cannot destroy Himself—is evil itself, but never the evil-doer.”

This is the attitude Swamiji wanted me to understand—and emulate—years ago, when he responded to my impatience with that person’s behavior. He wanted me never to forget the difference between how a person behaves, and who we are in the eyes of God. Our thoughts have power.

There is an Indian saying, “One moment in the company of a saint can be your raft over the ocean of delusion.” There are many metaphysical ways to explain this, having to do with magnetism and dissolving the karma in the spine. All of these are true. My favorite aspect of that saying, though, is simpler.

Most people, when they look at someone else, look from their own egos at the egos of others. It may never occur to them to see themselves or the world in any other light.

A saint, however, or any highly evolved person, sees the world differently. Having little ego of his own, his divine sight is awakened. When he looks at others, he sees within them the divine Self, manifesting in ever-new ways.

Saints don’t have to affirm the divinity of those around them. It is simply how they perceive the world.

All of us as would-be-saints, can emulate, first as an affirmation, then gradually as an actual perception, this saint-like view of the world.

A guest once told Swamiji how impressed she was with a woman who had lived at Ananda for many years. “She is so kind and compassionate,” the guest exclaimed.

Swamiji replied simply and honestly. “She has so little ego,” he said, “her only concern is for the welfare of others. That is what you find so attractive in her.”

Isn’t that a beautiful ideal to which we can all aspire? By Kriya and other meditation practices, gradually to lose this fixed sense of identity with our own ego, to allow the divine to flow through us.

Of the many beautiful lines in The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam Explained, this one has always been one of my favorites:

“Let our fragrant and beautiful...that the memory we leave behind us be felt as a blessing on the earth.”

Swamiji has often commented that the only difference between a saint and a “sinner” is how the person behaves. Of course, at first glance, this seems like a pretty big difference! The point is, though, that no human being is inherently evil. We are all equally children of God. That is astonishing to contemplate, but is fundamental to our whole path: we are all manifestations of the infinite. We don’t have to become anything, we just have to realize who we are.

Joy and blessings,