Over the past several years I have been fortunate to find both home and family in a most unusual setting in spiritual community at Ananda Village. We tend not to think of things as being unusual here, but in fact there are few such places on this earth dedicated to high spiritual ideals, to living practically and simply for God with one another. Moreover, as I’ve traveled I’ve found that the powerful blessings of this lifestyle stay with me. Paramhansa Yogananda called the spiritual seeker’s heart a “portable paradise,” which—no matter where one roams—contains in it divine peace, happiness, and home everywhere. Dwelling therein, one finds the tropical plants of spiritual fulfillment blossom vibrantly and fruit plentifully. Of course, on the path of spiritual ascension, these blossoms don’t always come easily or without fail.
How does it work? Daily yoga and meditation are the most powerful and transformational practices in my life to date. I’ve seen it in my own and countless lives to be the bedrock for true security, happiness, and success. Living in community with scores of other dedicated yogis enhances and supports my experience, and together it’s natural to direct our energy towards serving others also.
Of late I’ve found a role teaching yoga and meditation at The Expanding Light where many hundreds of retreat guests come year-round for spiritual renewal, community, and retreat. Serving and interacting in this environment has been another tremendous blessing to me spiritually; indeed it seems everyone visiting, teaching, or in anyway present is uplifted and renewed in mind and spirit. Challenges and trials are often witnessed with joy and great poise, and the power of community rises gracefully with the ebbs and flows of life.
There are no secrets to living happily, and with an open heart. The path of Raja Yoga clearly outlines right attitudes, spiritual (not religious) practices, service, and devotion to Truth as pillars for divine bliss, love, and peace. Most of us are just slow on the uptake; we sigh, whine, and stamp our feet when faced with the challenge of doing the work. It takes ENERGY, and it’s so much easier to sleep in, work a half day, and watch some television. Furthermore, the old cantankerous vices of judgment, guilt, and self-abasement creep in to exacerbate these symptoms.
This world is like a barren desert, supporting no lasting life and projecting only the mirage of outward reality, constantly testing our desires and attachments. Whether we reside in or flit about community, rural or urban environments, each of us is presented daily with opportunities to serve selflessly and devote ourselves to the spiritual search. If with each moment and breath, we remind ourselves and indeed one another, who we are and why we’re here, with renewed strength of heart and mind we can choose the right attitudes, energies, and disciplines. Finally, wherever life may lead us, the portable paradise of our hearts will blossom with the ripened fruits of divine love and blessings for all.