Friend and Guide
March 24, 1996
Since some of us are sharing our thoughts outwardly, I felt to add mine. It seems to me that even though this is an individual private process of deciding how we are going to live our spiritual life, it’s inspiring to read other devotees uplifting thoughts and realizations. I must say that I find no pleasure reading the doubting, hateful words of others, but only feel: but for the grace of God there goes me.
My spiritual life started with reading the Autobiography and joining SRF. After a time, I remember praying to Master to help me find a place where I could live with other devotees and practice living his teachings. I thought that I would end up living in Encinitas, but found Master guiding me to Swami and Ananda.
Living at Ananda has not been easy for me. There have been moments of peace and happiness, but mostly I have be in one challenging situation after another. Looking back I see how I could have avoided many of these periods of discomfort and pain by changing my thoughts and actions and becoming more loving, compassionate, forgiving, and cooperative.
Who caused my problems? While for a time, I kept saying others were the cause. After some time, I came to understand that it was me not other people that were causing my suffering, my problems. When I started to apply love and forgiveness to my problems, the problem didn’t go away, but my heart and mind became calm, peaceful, and loving and gradually my life changed.
I realized early that I needed a guide to help me understand how to live and apply Master’s teachings in my life. I have found the more I meditate on how Swami lives his life, applies Master’s teachings, and walks in his footsteps, the deeper I have understood the spiritual life.
How has Swami helped me? For the most part, Swami has let me make up my mind and has allowed me to follow my direct experience. The words of wisdom and guidance he has shared with me, have become the very stepping stones that I needed to bring myself out of my darkness and into the light. The rest of the time I have meditated on Swami’s life for guidance and asked myself—what does he do in this situation, how does he think, and how does he act? I then look at myself and see what I’m doing—usually getting myself into mischief—and then eventually change myself by following Swami’s example. This is my choice and it has always brought me love, happiness, and peace of mind.
Over the past twenty years that Swami has labored with me to help me understand how to live a better and happier life, I can’t remember once that he has ever criticized me. And the Lord knows, he could have several times due to my many misunderstandings. I have only felt his patient, loving touch in my thoughts, guiding my actions. It was only when I decided to go another way that I felt pain and discomfort.
I remember many times going through difficulties. When I felt that no one cared, I would find Swami standing there in front of me saying a kind and helpful word, and sometimes asking me to sit down with him. At these times, he spoke kindly and gently and tried to help me see the difficulty differently. Those moments with Swami helped me to change my consciousness and my life.
I can also say that every time I have prayed to Swami for help and guidance he has always been there for me. I write these words with tears of joy, tears of loving thankfulness welling up in my eyes. I have never had a friend like this before.
He has said to all of us that he is our friend and to look to him as an example on this path. I have found this to be true. When I have followed his example, I have become more loving, forgiving, happier, and peaceful. When I have chosen to walk another path, I have become upset, disappointed, unhappy, angry, and critical.
This is my reality. This is my direct experience.
In friendship and love,