The Rewards of Selfless Service

The Rewards of Selfless Service

  Jake Collier    There’s a Zen saying: Before enlightenment I chopped wood and carried water. After enlightenment, I chopped wood and carried water. This quote really rings true. We’re here not to escape this world, but to be a vehicle for divine Spirit to experience all that it has created here.

When we look out at the sky at night, we notice the distances between us and other stars and planets. From astronomers’ studies, you realize the vastness of outer space. Scientists even had to formulate a different measurement called light years because the brain couldn’t comprehend how many miles it was to Jupiter, much less to the outer rim of creation.

We sit in seemingly solid chairs with a solid floor, in a solid building, and seemingly solid bodies. But within everything there’s space between the atoms, even between sub-atomic particles. Paramahansa Yogananda describes that space as divine Spirit, that energy that’s pulsating every microsecond of time, creating and continually expanding this creation.

These bodies have basic needs: shelter, clothing, water and food to sustain us. Work becomes necessary to provide these needs. When we do it selflessly, we can feel divine Spirit within us as we work. Sunburst’s founder said, “Selfless service creates spiritual evolution.”

The more we work selflessly, or self-less-ly give, the more of divine Spirit we receive—the more active Spirit is within us. And because we feel Spirit more fully, we want to do more. It’s self-perpetuating. And in the process, we inspire one another. When we see somebody else being selfless, we’re inspired to also do that.

“Whatever you do, you must do cheerfully for the service of all, and be very ambitious in well-doing,” said Yogananda. Looking back on the history of Sunburst from 1969 onward, there’s an endless list of souls who selflessly gave of themselves to make Sunburst happen. And so we continue to move it forward, to grow Sunburst and have it be a signpost, and a destination point for people to come and learn about divine Spirit and Mother Nature.

As we change our lives to live more harmoniously with the divine plan, our spirituality grows and expands, because it is part of the Creator’s imagination, for he fashioned us not to live in fear and to suffer here. God created us, that we might experience ecstasy living here—every day, and every moment of time that we’re in these bodies. Spirit flows into us and through our senses, and with that life force we create things; we help one another; we enjoy life to its fullest.

Yes, work can be a four letter word that we dread, but we each need to make it our mission to find a beneficial work that inspires us. Find a work in which you can joyously give of yourself. In doing so, you create an energy that spreads across the earth touching other souls, inspiring them to improve themselves and make the world a better place.

Through practicing meditation, reflection and contemplation, each of us can find a beneficial work we can apply ourselves to. The joy, the satisfaction, and the spiritual growth we will experience will be beyond our imagination.

Almighty Spirit, create within me a clear space, so I might see a way forward on my path. Lead me to your embrace. Let me see you as a blazing light pulsating through inner space, so I might become your joyous child, a true reflection of you. May my efforts here help Mother Earth heal herself, and inspire others to join in this mission to heal this world and create heaven on earth. Amen



•  by Craig Hanson    On life’s journey toward understanding our true nature, trials, misunderstandings and difficult times may beset us. As we weather these trials and learn many lessons, we may hope that we can help others with what we have gleaned from our experiences.

Norman Paulsen, the founder of Sunburst, wrote a book called “Love, Life, God.” In it he talks about his many experiences as he tried the best he could to live in a way that would bring him closer to the Divine Spirit whom he knew existed within himself. He stated:

      My own search for God and a face-to-face meeting did occur for me, but I had yet to live to perfect virtue, which is the very nature of God. I hope, by revealing my experiences, struggles, and revelations, that you, traveler, will be aided on your journey homeward. When trials come, embrace them as opportunities for growth. We learn compassion for others through the painful circumstances we endure ourselves.

There’s an old expression that says: Whatever pains you in others is probably within yourself. The things we find painful inside of ourselves are like the cattle prod that gets our attention and causes us to reflect, then causes us to have compassion for ourselves and others. The sanctuary of peace and perfection we long for is within. When we relax the mind through deep breathing, we relax the thoughts and come to a place of peace and calmness. This is our own sanctuary where the waters of life flow in a beautiful cascade, giving life abundantly and eternally from the fountain of life which flows through us all. As we grow closer to the Divine, as we sit in moments of silence and contemplation, as we enjoy the beauties of creation and of each other—the smiling faces before us—we come to realize that all these things are within us.

We each are placed upon the Earth to do a great work unique to our own soul. We may discover this through a lot of trial and error. Understanding and comprehension of who we are, why we were placed here, and how the creation came into being—all these profound questions, which perplexed even the greatest minds, can be known.

Albert Einstein, humbled by the magnificent order of the creation fashioned by a divine intelligence, realized that the most profound answers to the physical questions of the universe, as well as the simple questions of our hearts, were found within this quiet Self within. So it is with each one of us that Divine Spirit has created a creative genius blossoming forth like an exquisite flower. Together we can be a bouquet of souls who fully understand our infinite potential and connection to each other through our common Source.

Experience the Divine!

Experience the Divine!

by Norman Paulsen, Sunburst Founder  •  Our Divine Creator is present in every image, living in every cell of our bodies, swirling in every atom, existing around every thought. But we are given the power to think and to make our own choices. Our Divine Mother and Father will not fully reveal themselves to us until they are convinced that we really love them, that we really want to see and know them.

The Divine created this whole universe of images and all of us, each one with a different face. It will be heaven on earth when we realize what a miracle this is. From our divine center, we can project for our world those images we want to see—humankind living at one with the gardens, the flowers, the trees and their fruits, with the creatures. We take care of them, and they are helping us.

My divine playmate, God, woke me one night, and with my eyes open or closed the whole room was filled with stars—brilliant, crystal clear sub-atomic particles, like tiny suns, living beings of light. Like swarms of bees, these beings assimilate and collect life force into images that divine consciousness wants to make visible. They were moving through my body and all around me, this swarm of living light.

God said, “This is my body—inside of you, outside of you. When you leave your physical form you fly with me in this light.”

I raised my hands up over my head into the light and it sparkled, twinkled and swirled around and through my fingers. Everywhere I put my hands into the light particles it felt like an extension of my own body. It was divine ecstasy.

I said, “Oh Father, I am really touching you with my hands! This is as close as I can get to hugging you.”

This experience is for everyone, if we will just make the effort in prayer and meditation. Life is so full of interesting things coming and going, you may think, “I don’t have time to seek God. I will do it later when I am not so busy.“ But if you seek God now, you will have a divine companion as you grow older. God will be with you, helping you to become a co-creator on the stage of life within yourself. God will be walking with you, and you will be walking with God every day—oh what a wonderful thing!

My God is very near; tears of joy run from my eyes, and down upon my cheeks.
The very vital airs I breathe are saturated with the Divine Presence.

The timeless, eternal Spirit now exists between each thought attached to this moment of my comprehension.
I become speechless and transfixed, in utter astonishment of the Divine’s presence before me, and existing in every moment.

Note: Norman always said the experience of Divine love and bliss is available to any who seek it. Renew your spirit at Sunburst’s upcoming Silent Retreat November 10 – 13. Call for details: 805 736.6528. Space is limited.

Judgement & Humility

Judgement & Humility

•  Dawn King (text & illustrations)  •  It’s interesting to reflect on the judgmental biases that we each acquire from the environment in which we grow up. Today a long-forgotten memory came to mind while I was cleaning my bathroom. Many years ago when Sunburst first started, we had an office in Santa Barbara. It was on Cota Street. One of the functions of this office was to find employment for Sunburst Farm residents. 

Because everyone needed to chip in some money to help Sunburst Farm feed its residents and develop the property, each resident needed to pay “rent”. We had not developed our chain of natural foods stores yet; later working at a job there was considered as payment of rent, although no money was exchanged. 

At one point I was the volunteer who scoured local papers to find jobs for us. I sent myself on one of these because nobody else was available. This job was to spend a few hours cleaning someone’s home in an upscale neighborhood. I had grown up in an environment which saw cleaning someone else’s house as the lowest and worst job a woman could take. So I had to put that prejudice from my upbringing out of my mind. 

With an at-your-service attitude I rang the doorbell, and followed instructions for cleaning some hard to reach areas of the client’s beautiful home. I was happy that I could easily crawl behind the couch, and climb a ladder as needed. It was a successful job.

The homeowners seemed very happy with my work, and insisted I have some milk and cookies before I left. Very new to Sunburst at the time, I was 26 years old and weighed 95 pounds due to anorexia, which I suffered for a year or more before arriving. The generous homeowners most likely were concerned that I was malnourished, and after the work I appreciated their kindness.

Today, I’m very happy that I took this job and actually did it despite having grown up in an environment that said this kind of work was supposed to be “beneath my dignity.” The experience taught me many things. 

1. Honest work is never beneath one’s dignity. “Honest” means it is not stealing, lying, or involved in anything illegal.

2. We should honor and appreciate others who perform honest labor; so many menial and even “dirty” tasks are vital for the functioning of society. My humble husband never shied from dealing with the community septic system or any other task that would turn others off.

3. It’s worthwhile to reflect on and realize what prejudices we have been exposed to, and whether we’ve accepted them as part of our own belief system.

4. When we perform any honest task with a glad heart in true service to others, or an attitude of service to Spirit, no task is too far beneath us, and no task is too large or too hard. 

    Selfless service is always attended to and aided by unseen angel helpers. What a blessing! You can feel it!


Whatever I Do

Whatever I Do

“I am the owner of my actions, heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and have my actions as my arbitrator. Whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that I will fall heir.” Gautama Buddha
     These words remind us that we are each responsible for our own actions and our own karma. It fits this time of year, the fall equinox.
     In Jewish tradition Rosh Hashanah comes at the start of the fall season, and is a time of reckoning. Likewise, Hindu tradition sets two weeks aside for facing one’s own responsibility for one’s karmic lot. This time is especially aimed at overcoming victim consciousness around family issues. We need to recognize how we ourselves have been negligent in our thoughts and actions, or perhaps used bad judgement. Just as we want to be forgiven, we must forgive those we judge as having wronged us.
     Here are Paramahansa Yogananda’s words on personal karma:
     You should make a greater effort. Forget the past and trust more in God. Our fate is not predestined by Him; nor is karma the sole factor, though our lives are influenced by our past thoughts and past activities. 
     If you are not happy with the way life is turning out, change the pattern. I don’t like to hear people sigh and ascribe present failure to past-life errors: to do so is spiritual laziness.
Get busy and weed the garden of your life. 
Music & Nature

Music & Nature

Sunburst residents and visitors enjoyed a joyous, and relaxing weekend celebrating Music and Nature. It was fueled throughout by wonderful organic vegetarian meals. Events included devotional music in the Temple, a group hike through the woods to a vista, fireside sing-along, labyrinth walk, group meditation, and a Medicine Wheel ceremony. Enjoy the photos.


Wheel of Life Ceremony

Chai Toast

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