New Year’s Blessings from Pujya Swamiji

Dear Divine Souls,

Happy New Year! I hope that — by God’s grace — this finds you all in the best of health and happiness.
As a new year dawns upon us, as the morn of 2012 brings the eve of 2011 to an end, it is a good time to reflect upon our lives, our paths and our progress toward the ultimate destination of divine awakening and realization. So much in our lives, at times, feels overwhelming, frustrating, unmanageable….but at these times it is most important to remember that we are not alone. God is always with us. There is a beautiful story of a young toddler playing in a sandbox. As the young boy shoveled and dug and built in the box, he came upon a large rock in the sand. No matter how much he tried to dig around it, the rock would not dislodge. Thus, he began to try push it with all his might, trying to move it at least to the edge of the sandbox. Yet still the rock was too heavy for his small body and undeveloped muscles. Finally his eyes became red, and he began to cry out of frustration. A large shadow suddenly appeared across the sandbox and the little boy looked up at his father. “I can’t move the rock,” the boy exclaimed. “And it’s right in the middle of my hole.” The boy’s father replied, “My child, you have not yet used all your strength.” “Oh yes, Papa, I have. I have tried and tried to move it but it is too heavy. I cannot do it.”

The father leaned down into the sandbox and easily removed the large rock, laying it carefully on the ground outside the box. “My child, you may have used all the strength in your arms, but I am also your strength. You just had to ask for help and I would have come immediately to remove the rock from your hole.”
In our lives also, we forget that we have another source of strength, outside of our own bodies. We feel the weight of all problems upon our own shoulders and imagine that they are up to us to solve. We feel alone, tired, frustrated and helpless, for the rocks are sometimes too heavy for us to lift out of the way.
Yet, we must never forget our other source of strength – God. No rock is too big or heavy for Him. No hurdle or challenge or obstacle is insurmountable by Him. We must simply ask Him, with sincerity, purity and love, to come and help us remove the obstacles on our path. God has not created us to suffer. Rather He has given us intellect, intuition, purity, piety and faith that we may overcome suffering. He is here, at every moment of every day, to help us along the path, to relieve us of our burdens no matter how heavy they may seem.

We must never give up, we must never lose hope and we must never fear from forging a new, righteous, divine path in life. Those paths will, of course, be difficult at times. However, by maintaining our deep connection to God (by whatever name, whatever form, whatever religion you may be) we become able to tap into the boundless well of courage, fearlessness, steadfastness and creativity. A mobile phone, or any electronic device, loses its power and charge after some time. However, simply by plugging it back into the socket, all of the power is recharged. Similarly, when we reconnect with God it is like plugging ourselves into the Divine Powerhouse….all of the energy and strength of the universe becomes available to us.

In this world, it is easy to lose hope, easy to lose faith, easy to look around at the desperation and to conclude that God does not exist. However, there is a wonderful story of a man who is sitting in the barber’s chair one day for a haircut. The barber begins to say, “I do not believe God exists. There is too much evil in the world, too much is negative and bad. If there were a God, then evil would not exist.” The man, although a great believer, remained quiet, so as not to cause a fight with the barber who had scissors in his hand. Yet, as he walked out of the barber shop, he turned around to the barber and said, “I do not believe that barbers exist. I see all these men with long, untamed, straggly hair and unruly beards. If there were barbers, all men would be neatly groomed.” The barber replied: “Of course barbers exist. I am one. However, I can only groom those who come to me. The straggly, unruly hair and beards you see are on those who have not come to me.” The man looked gently at the barber and said, “Yes, it is the same with God. Evil exists because people do not go to Him. If everyone surrendered to Him there would not be evil and wrongdoing. These things stem from ignorance and illusion. When we connect with Him our ignorance and illusion are dispelled.”

However, we must realize that God will do whatever is best for us and the world, not necessarily whatever we want. If the young boy in my story at the beginning had been trying unsuccessfully to light his sandbox on fire, or to bury his younger sister in the sand, his father certainly would not have assisted in the task. So, we must realize that all which we strive for is not necessarily in our own or in the planet’s best interest, and the lack of Divine assistance does not mean that God is not there or doesn’t care or has abandoned us. It simply means He is giving us what we need, rather than what we think we want. It means there is a bigger picture which we are not able to see clearly.

When we feel like we are rowing our boat uphill, against a raging current….when it feels that no matter how hard we row, the boat goes nowhere….when we have prayed and prayed, tried and tried, persevered and persevered all to no avail, it means that it is time to reevaluate the path and direction. Is uphill really the direction we need to go? Are we sure that this path or project or goal is truly God’s will? Might there not be another direction in which we could row the boat where the current helps us rather than hinders us? Is there another path we could take which is not so completely overgrown with thorns? Mahatma Gandhiji said it beautifully, “What is the point of trying to increase our speed when we are moving in the wrong direction?”
So, in this new year, let us take a two-fold path to our spiritual development and life fulfillment. Path one is faith – let us realize that God is always there for us, always ready to remove the heavy and stuck rocks on our path. Let us never despair or become overwhelmed by frustration or tension. Let us live with the mantra which we sing every morning in our morning prayers at Parmarth Niketan, “Tu akele nahiy pyare. Rama tere saath mein.” It means, “Never despair, my child. God is always with you.” And secondly, let us pray not that our will may be fulfilled, but that our will may be in alignment with the divine will, that we may be able to align our lives with the flow of the universe, such that the flow of the current helps rather than hinders us. Despite the prevalence of violence, crime, illusions and ignorance in the world, the actual universal and divine flow is toward goodness, toward light, toward peace, toward equality and toward enlightenment. Hence, let us align our lives and our work with that universal, divine flow so that our lives and our work may be fulfilling, successful, peaceful and joyful.

We will say special prayers here on the banks of Mother Ganga for a year filled with health, happiness, peace, prosperity and spiritual upliftment for you all.

With love and blessings to you all and all your loved ones.
In the service of God and humanity,

Swami Chidanand Saraswati