| Dear John, |
Running through Ananda Village in Northern California are the rutted remains of an old road. A hundred and fifty years ago, during the time of the Gold Rush, when tons of ore were taken from the land around us, Wells Fargo stagecoach drivers urged their horses up and down these hills, and Pony Express riders rushed along carrying bags of mail. Interesting as history, but in current times this old road leads nowhere.
We all have the rutted remnants of old habits and attitudes that may once have served us well, but now no longer lead us toward our goal. Yet it is not always easy to know where we’re headed or how to move forward from here. We need a roadmap. In a recently published article, Yogananda gave us one, suggesting that we develop twelve Godly qualities as a means of overcoming the ego:
1. Fearlessness and non-attachment
2. Absence of self-conceit
3. Purity of heart: no malice towards others
4. Perseverance (in the acquisition of wisdom and the practice of meditation)
5. Sattwic charity (including helping others materially)
6. Self-restraint (which leads to control of the senses)
7. Freedom from anger and faultfinding
10. Forgiveness, (giving a person a chance to reform)
11. Renunciation (primarily of the heart)
12. Tranquility in the Self
It won’t help much just to read over the list. That would be like looking at the menu of a great restaurant, but never eating the food. We need to chew, swallow, and assimilate these virtues if we want to grow strong and healthy. We need a plan of action.
First, we can read the original article to more deeply grasp each of these qualities, and decide where we, personally, need to improve. This shouldn’t be an exercise in guilt—we all have some areas that are more developed, and others less so. What is important is to be clear about our goals and aware of the hidden thoughts, emotions, attitudes, and habits that keep us from achieving them. Then, we need to get to work.
Take on only one of these qualities at a time so we can stay on task, delving deeper, becoming clearer.
It is best to take on only one of these qualities at a time so we can stay on task, delving deeper, becoming clearer, until real progress has been made before moving on to the next. Each evening we can look back on the day, see how we did, and decide if more is needed. If so, we can develop a concrete plan of action for the coming day, perhaps even writing down our ideas and plans.
Fortunately, we have a model to follow. Today, as this blog comes out, is the 91st anniversary of Swami Kriyananda’s birth. For me and many of us at Ananda, he was the living example, expressing each of these Godly qualities, often in the face of significant challenges.
These virtues are a part of God, and therefore reside within us already. We have only to bring them to the surface. If we develop these qualities gradually, day by day, then they will transform us into a beautiful reflection of God and bless the world we live in.
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