Things in life have come to me quite easily. Seldom have I had to fight against all odds for them to work out. When I came onto the spiritual path there were advantages and disadvantages to this because, as we know, the spiritual path is a long-distance marathon with lots of ups and downs; it is not a short sunny hike where we reach our destination with great ease. I found that an easy-going spirit certainly helps, but when times get tough you have to develop the determination to stay with the longer rhythms of certain situations instead of expecting things to be easy.
An incident from when I was relatively new to the spiritual path recently came to my mind. Swami Kriyananda was coming back to spend time in India. I had only been a part of Ananda for a few months, freshly out of college and then serving in our center in Gurgaon. I had been taking the meditation classes and building up my own practices, but I was now going through a confusing phase and wanted to give myself a chance at the corporate career I always thought I needed. When Swamiji arrived in India, I had the blessing to have a brief meeting with him. A friend introduced me and essentially told him my situation: that I had been helping in Ananda but was now moving into a corporate job. Swamiji looked at me deeply and with a gentle smile said “But I like what you are doing in Ananda”. Out poured what ended up being a series of excuses from me (which need not be mentioned here) and, needless to say, they seemed very logical to me. Gently, Swamiji kept countering each excuse with positive reason. Until I finally said “Oh! also we are now moving our base to Delhi and my home is all the way on the other side of Gurgaon. It would take me 1 ½ hours just to get to Delhi every day from my house”. To that he quickly replied, “But, you can take the metro!” And that was it, everyone present, including myself smiled.
Knowing in my heart that this answer resonated with the depths of my soul, and filled with gratitude to Swamiji, I did take his guidance after all and moved to the Ananda community outside of Pune. Interestingly, a few years later I moved back to serve in Ananda Delhi… and I took the metro every day! (for a few months before I ended up staying there during the week) Looking back, I now feel that, somehow, that experience helped me give myself completely to this journey and to say “yes” to all that lies ahead. In a peculiar way, I feel that taking the metro every day helped me develop a deeper commitment to the spiritual path. In fact, those rides became very enjoyable, as I would spend that time listening to something uplifting and it was a nice reality check to observe all the people around me and the different realities they came from.
I have thought about these simple words many times with heartfelt gratitude and how they changed the course of my life! Recently, while going through another challenging phase and making the firm resolution to stick with the process, this incident came to my mind again and I could feel Swamiji saying those same words with his sweet smile. I realized that perhaps every time things don’t go as planned or become confusing, all we need to do is say I am not going to quit, I am willing to try again and take one more step forward, to take the metro again! And then once again the path forward becomes clear.