From Asha Praver
Co-spiritual director, Ananda Palo Alto
February 5, 1998
Dear Members & Friends:
(As we write this letter, the Bertolucci trial is over, but the jury is still deliberating, although perhaps by the time you read this, the verdict will be in.)
Hate, Like Love, Draws Us Together Again & Again
After a particularly unpleasant day in court a few weeks ago, a friend spoke to me almost in tears, saying, “I wish I didn’t hate them so much,” meaning the plaintiff, her attorneys and her supporters.
I confessed that I was having similar feelings and was also deeply distressed by it. “Not only is the experience of hating them very unpleasant,” I said to my friend, “Hatred, too, is a kind of link. It draws people together as powerfully as love. The last thing we want is to meet these people again in some future incarnation!”
Loyalty is the First Law of God
Later, as I was meditating, I reflected on that conversation. Looking at myself honestly, I see that I don’t really hate our opponents. What I feel, rather, is a fierce desire to defend all that I hold dear: this teaching, Ananda, Swamiji, my own integrity as a devotee. But hatred? No. It’s not personal. Frankly, I don’t care enough about those people to hate them. Without that personal element, it is unlikely that my feelings will forge the kind of karmic link that would draw us together again and again, except insofar as it may serve some impersonal cosmic purpose, as I believe it does in the present case.
My feelings, however, do run high. It’s self-evident. To me this has been a righteous war. Our spiritual lives are at stake and it is not the time for half-measures! Loyalty, Master said, is the first law of God.
So when people try to soften my intensity, as they have often done through these years of struggle with comments such as “Our enemies, too, are children of God,” I am unresponsive. But I haven’t felt entirely at peace about it. All the elements roil around in my mind as I constantly seek to face and overcome whatever personal karma there is for me in this situation. That’s why this monthly letter so often deals with the lawsuit from one perspective or another.
Swamiji Sheds Light on a Difficult Subject
Then in Swamiji’s satsang on Monday night at our church, he greatly clarified the whole dilemma for me. Referring to the Biblical injunction, “love your enemies,” he pointed out the obvious difficulty we all face in trying to live up to this noble ideal: Our enemies, usually, are not very lovable!
“What we must do,” Swamiji said, “is love Divine Mother.”
Mentally I translated this into the thought, “We must love Divine Mother in our enemies.” Later, in meditation, as I reflected on Swamiji’s words, I tried to see Divine Mother in those who have been opposing us. But I had to admit, try as I might, I couldn’t do it. All I could see was their dishonest, abusive behavior. It just didn’t look or feel like Divine Mother to me.
Then I remembered that Swamiji had not said “Divine Mother in them,” that was my addition. Swamiji said simply, “Love Divine Mother.”
Joy Eternal, Love Divine
“What does it mean, then,” I prayed, “to love Divine Mother?”
The simplest of all possible answers came into my heart: to love Her is to be in joy. You don’t have to struggle, then, to “love your enemies” for in the presence of Divine Mother, hate is impossible, fear is impossible. As the Bible tells us, “Love casts out fear.”
I chuckled to myself. Time and again we get obsessed with the details and miss the point! Entranced by the ever-changing parade of people, places, events, thoughts and feelings we no longer remember that the test is always the same.
“Will you forget me?” Divine Mother asks, peeking out from behind whatever challenging costume She is wearing for our benefit. “Will you lose sight of your true Self, drawn away by this dream world of light and darkness, hatred and love, joy and sorrow? Or will you cling to Me heart, mind and soul, remaining always in Joy Eternal, Love Divine?”
Obviously, this is not easy. But it puts the responsibility and the control right where it needs to be: within ourselves. No matter what the world does to us, or fails to do, we have within us what Master called, “a portable paradise.” Through this great teaching we have been given the “sacred keys of awakening.” And from our masters we have received a sacred promise: Persevere courageously to the end, they tell us, and their blessings and grace will sustain us and ultimately we will succeed in our quest for Self-realization.
Joy to you,
Asha (& David)
P.S. If you missed Swamiji’s satsang at our church, call the church office to get a tape — it was a great night. Also ask for tapes of the talks he gave the day before at Ananda Village and Ananda Sacramento, each one was very different.
P.P.S. As you recall, for Christmas we bought Swamiji a beautiful print of a painting by Thomas Kincaide called “A Bridge of Faith.” After various adventures in international shipping, the painting has now arrived in Italy. Swamiji called to tell us it is “stunningly beautiful” and adds immeasurably to the beauty of his home in Assisi. To all of you who so lovingly contributed, once again he says “Thank you, and bless you for your kindness.”