In the early days of Paramhansa Yogananda’s work in Los Angeles, a small group of disciples lived with him at his Mount Washington ashram. Despite this blessing, one young woman was drawn to leave the ashram and marry. After a few years, she realized marriage was not what she wanted, and she came back to live in the ashram with Yogananda.
Some other devotees criticized her, asking: “How can you dare to show your face here again after leaving the Master?” This woman answered with deep wisdom: “Do you expect me to worship my mistakes?”
Worshiping our mistakes is actually quite a common and accepted failing in our world. It is all too easy to define ourselves by past errors, bad habits, or other “mistakes.”
Each of us is always, in every moment, given a choice: Do I see myself in terms of all my shortcomings? Or do I choose to see myself as a child of God?
Since everyone has shortcomings, why should we be so surprised and alarmed to discover them in ourselves?
Yogananda said he used to argue with God, saying: “Why did You make temptations so tempting!?” God knows better than we do what a mine field of opportunities for failure He has created.
But we are created from His consciousness. Divinity is our essence. Every single person, even the worst criminal, is loved by God. Why? Because no matter what we have done, in our essence we are made of God’s love.
In his Autobiography of a Yogi, Yogananda recounted his guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar, saying “Forget the past. The vanished lives of all men are dark with many shames. Human conduct is ever unreliable until anchored in the Divine. Everything in future will improve if you are making a spiritual effort now.”
We do not serve God by counting our limitations. We only separate ourselves from the reality of God’s love. Yogananda said “Since you alone are responsible for your thoughts, only you can change them.” He repeatedly reminded his students that by being happy, we please God. By loving God, we please God. The path God offers us is much simpler than the one we create for ourselves. We can start right now to find joy in our love for God – the choice is ours.