| Dear John, |
There is a tradition among certain Native American tribes that where a poisonous plant is found, the antidote often grows nearby. It’s as if the sickness and the cure are sister plants, expressing opposite sides of the same coin.
We can apply this principle in the search for truth, be it scientific or spiritual: the solution we are seeking is often inherent in the problem itself.
Our own immune system is a wonderful example of this, having the built-in power to combat untold numbers of diseases. The cure, however, doesn’t become activated until the pathogen—the harmful bacterium or virus—is present in our body. Again, like two sides of a coin, the cure is linked with the disease.
In our practice of meditation we can draw from this same principle. Paramhansa Yogananda describes meditation as concentration on God, or on one of His eight aspects: peace, love, joy, calmness, light, sound, power, and wisdom. However, if we’re in the grip of some negative emotion— anger, despair, or loneliness, for example—it seems nearly impossible even to begin to think about these divine qualities. But there is a solution.
Some years ago I had a very powerful experience along these lines. It was at a time when I was going through a period of feeling exhausted, discouraged, and, in general, overwhelmed by life. Finally reaching a low point, one evening I went out alone on a little porch, and began to weep, inwardly praying, “Divine Mother, this is all too much for me. I can’t handle this.”
I am lonely no more.
Shortly afterwards I heard an inner voice saying, “Who do you think is doing all this? It isn’t you, it’s Me.” The deeper understanding that God is the doer, behind my problems and within my solutions, banished my sense of facing this moment of despair alone. My discouragement and tears fled in that moment, and were replaced by a vibrant sense of well-being and command over all the tasks before me. I realized that when I had offered the problem up to God, the solution quickly presented itself.
In a beautiful poem, “I Am Lonely No More,” Yoganandaji describes the divine presence awaiting within each of us:
I am not lonesome in the chamber of loneliness,
For Thou art always there.
I am lonely amidst an uproarious crowd
Where Thy silence slips away. . . .
Away from Myself I was lonely—
But since my little self met the big Self,
I am lonely no more.
Many of the difficulties that beset us are simply what expresses in the absence of some corresponding divine quality. Here is a checklist to work with. If in meditation you activate these divine qualities by offering your problems up to God, you will find that . . .
1) Loneliness is replaced by universal love.
2) Darkness is replaced by light and hope.
3) Despair is replaced by joy.
4) Restlessness is replaced by a sense of peace.
5) The barrage of external noises is replaced by the one sound of AUM.
6) Mental confusion is replaced by wisdom and understanding.
7) Weakness and limitation are replaced by power.
8) Inner turmoil is replaced by calmness.
These are the antidotes—the eight aspects of God. Like a divine immune system, they are waiting for us to activate them by releasing the distress in our own heart. Only then will we find within the answers we have been seeking.
With joy and blessings,
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