•by Michele Pike•Everyone we meet is defined by so much more than the role they play in their family, at work, or in their community. Nobody is just a mom, dad, sibling or friend. We are all children of God, divine aspects of Spirit. We each bring a unique and important expression of I AM to this world, one that is to be appreciated.
Most of us could use a reminder now and then that everyone we meet is Spirit. We can be grateful for each beautiful and singular soul. We can thank Spirit for all the many faces that recall the One, our universal Mother and Father.
In our reflections of gratitude, let us not forget ourselves. Remember to be accepting and loving to the irreplaceable aspect of God that you embody. No one else can bring to the world the particular combination of gifts that you do. Be thankful of your own divinity. Express it, for in expression it is given substance, fulfillment.
Beloved Spirit, I am so grateful for all my brothers and sisters. I appreciate and honor each one as a magnificent realization of you. Let me express the love I feel for them by always remembering their inherent divinity. Amen.
“Only in embracing all, can we become the arms of God.” – The Illuminated Prayer
• by Dawn King • One of the qualities that I believe is intrinsic to Capricorn and Sunburst’s virtue of Temperance (or moderation) is self-discipline. As you read this, we may not be experiencing the Sun rising in Capricorn each morning, yet mindfulness about self-discipline is part of the spiritual path.
Telecasts in February of Carnival (ending with Mardi Gras) brought this to mind for me. Mardi Gras is a festival of indulgence in excess, sometimes called “enjoying life,” because the revelers think they will soon be deprived of some enjoyment until Spring. In earlier times, the remaining winter stores of lard and butter, or meats, were consumed then. Perhaps it was just before they all went bad due to lack of refrigeration. After this consumption, “fasting” began.
We’ve heard it said: “A sad saint is a sad saint indeed.” Enjoying life is our birthright, but overindulgence in just about anything is unhealthy. Mira Alfassa tells us: “Spiritual life does not mean contempt for matter, but its divinization. We do not want to reject the body, but to transform it. For this purpose physical training is one of the means most directly effective. I invite you to train with enthusiasm and discipline.”
Physical training for any type of sport or recreation also improves our emotional and mental fortitude. Kriya Yoga is an “action” yoga (Kriya means “action”), but with the right intention and direction. “Yogic action has three components—discipline, self-study, and orientation toward the ideal of pure awareness.” – Patanjali, “Yoga Sutras,” [translation by Chip Hartranft, in “The Yoga-Sutra of Patanjali”]
Mardi Gras inspired me to choose a new action that I could mindfully engage in daily until Spring (Easter). I knew that it would help me develop self-discipline. As Norman Paulsen, Sunburst’s founder, has said: “True discipline is never a restriction; it is a liberation!”
by Norman Paulsen•[photo: Paramahansa Yogananda instructing Norman Paulsen in a yoga technique]To walk the spiritual path, the utmost discipline is required. Threefold development must be pursued: physical, mental, and spiritual. Many begin, but fail to make the continuous effort. The attainment of a virtuous life is the crowning achievement to be realized by the spiritual athlete.
Helping you to achieve this goal of virtue is Spirit, I Am That I Am, the pure Self existing within your soul. Yes, we all have this divine energy centered deep within. It has to be identified and brought forth.
If the beginning seeker or practiced adept is to make any progress at all, it is an absolute requirement to walk the paths of right living in this life while practicing virtue. By actively practicing virtue every day, and beginning to walk the path of service, you bring forth the pure Self within, Christ consciousness. This is Self-realization as described by my teacher, Paramahansa Yogananda.
Realization of the pure Self within your soul eliminates the functions of the false self, the selfish self. The awakening soul takes on its true image of discerning, joy filled Christ consciousness. The ego-centered consciousness must abdicate the throne to the Christ, the now illumined soul within you.
No matter how many times we stumble and fall, God is always there with us, and we have to get up and keep going. That’s what our Creator wants to see, the will to never give up. It takes discipline. God does require discipline from us, but discipline, we find, is salvation.
Disciplining our lives, meditating when we don’t feel like it, serving and helping others when we’re tired and worn out, we do these things because the heart of God beats within each one of us. The soul of God is in each of us right now, blessing each one of us right now. God is here with us.
Mental discipline arises from commitment to the vision you seek: knowing what you want and dedicating your life to bringing it forth into being. It is unwise for anyone to think that they can attain any true level of realization without a life of self-discipline. True discipline is never a restriction. It’s a liberation!
•by Paramahansa Yogananda•“Emphasize the light, and darkness will be no more.”[We offer these words of wisdom from Paramahansa Yogananda in honor of his birthday on January 5th.]
The initiative to undertake your most important duty in life is often buried beneath the accumulated debris of human habits. You must free yourself from their stultifying influence and start to sow the seeds of the success that you desire. Life is worthwhile when you are accomplishing the most essential work, which is to find out the meaning and true values of your existence.
Man should be instructed by this cosmic motion picture of life. It is not being shown without a reason. Each day we behold different scenes, and each day has a lesson to teach. You are meant to learn the lesson by concentrating on the supreme purpose of human existence: to know Who is behind your life.
By evading self-analysis, people go on being robots, conditioned by their environment. True self-analysis is the greatest art of progress. Everyone should learn to analyze himself dispassionately. Write down your thoughts and aspirations daily. Find out what you are—not what you imagine you are!—because you want to make yourself what you ought to be. Most people don’t change because they don’t see their own faults.
…Most of the world is like a mental hospital. Some people are sick with jealousy, others with anger, hatred, passion. They are victims of their habits and emotions. But you can make your home a place of peace. Analyze yourself. All emotions are reflected in the body and mind. Envy and fear cause the face to pale, and love makes it glow. Learn to be calm and you will always be happy. Analyze your true nature and develop its best qualities.
Learn to carry all the conditions of happiness within yourself by meditating and attuning your consciousness to the ever-existing ever-conscious, ever-new Joy which is God. Your happiness should never be subject to any outside influence.
Don’t keep your mind engaged in too many activities. Analyze what you get from them, and see if they are really important. Don’t waste your time. Always point the needle of your attention toward the North Pole of spiritual joy.
You yourself made your habits, and you can change them. Make up your mind to be with good company, and to study and meditate.
There is already too much evil in the world. Don’t talk of evil, don’t think of evil, and don’t do evil. Be like a rose, wafting to all the sweet fragrance of soul goodness. Emphasize the light, and darkness will be no more. Study, meditate, and do good to others.
There are so many inspiring things to know, and yet man spends his time foolishly. Don’t waste time, constantly seeking new excitement. [Above text excerpted from “Man’s Eternal Quest” by Paramahansa Yogananda]
• by Letha Kiddie•One night while I was meditating, I felt gratitude well up inside of me for the knowledge of prayer. I wondered how many people might not know how to pray, and what would be the way to teach them?
As an answer to my question, the “Lord’s Prayer” flashed into my mind. I began reciting the different verses to myself, and the meaning of the words became clearer than they had ever been. The first line became: “Our Father, who emanates heaven within and around us, sacred is thy name.” In other words, using the name of God when we pray is a powerful way to invoke the Divine presence within us.
“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven…” My understanding of this line came with the image of my own inner light in the form of a sun above my head. As it descends into us, this most positive and enriching “kingdom of heaven” is brought to earth.
“Give us this day our daily bread…” is not referring to physical food, but to the spiritual food we receive when we meditate daily. Meditation enriches, heals, and feeds our minds and spirits.
“Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us…” Whenever we sit before our Creator, we are asking in humility to received, regardless of any past transgressions. Likewise, we must extend that same forgiveness to others, and hold them only in the light of their pure spirits. It is only ignorance that leads us astray.
“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever…” This means “Please, help me in my humanness to find my way to You, and to find a way to my own illumination.”
As I continued on in my meditation that night, I felt I had received a true gift from Spirit. In looking back, I see that these are all things that can help us when we pray:
• Calling the name of God silently;
• Receiving God into us fully;
• Forgiving others;
• Letting Spirit guide us.
Remember, all souls have a voice in heaven. We only have to learn to use our voice!
by a first-time Visitor to Sunburst • Arriving early on Sunday morning, my son Tom ushers us into the main building, the Sunburst “Lodge”. The first thing that catches my attention is the beautiful illuminated stained glass rendering of the Sunburst mandala, standing tall in one corner of the “living room” area. I gaze at its beauty for some time, when from my peripheral vision I see a painting of a Kachina.
A ripple of awareness runs through my body as I recognize this Kachina from a dream I had some time ago. In the dream, I saw this figure just as it appears in this painting, but I was not given its name. Now below it I read: “Talavai Kachina. This painting was a gift from Hopi medicine man White Bear. The blessing of this Kachina is an appropriate one to help us grow pure food, and to purify our thoughts and actions as we walk the road of life.”
While I am still taking all this in, more people begin to arrive at the sanctuary. They bring smiles and greetings and food to share. We are embraced by many beautiful people and immediately we feel welcomed.
The stained glass image of the Sunburst mandala, the synchronistic event of the Kachina from my dream hovering in the painting behind me, and the welcome and heartfelt greetings from these wonderful people are circling about, within and around me.
We move to the temple, and the singing begins. Singing is a traditional part of the Sunday morning gathering at Sunburst. Today a song seems to be dedicated to the visiting guests, including my son, my little daughter, and myself. Everyone sings: “Hello my friend, nice to see you again. Won’t you please come walk with me until the journey’s end. Just to know you’re a friend of mine makes everything alright. Got to get you into my life! And I’m gonna love you, love you, love you till my heart can take no more, find me on your doorstep, won’t you open up your door…”
Tears are streaming down my cheeks as I feel the love and the blessing of being in the company of this group of true seekers. Sunburst’s founder, Norman Paulsen smiles at me from a photo on the wall and I realize, as the Kachina suggests, that I too have been intent on purifying my thoughts and actions.
Beautiful voices continue to sing, and the harmony of their voices, and the words they are singing, speak to my spirit as I continue to weep tears of joy. Then suddenly I am at a place of knowing. I realize that I have opened a door and crossed its threshold. I have found in the midst of this group of spiritually committed people, a clearer understanding and deeper awareness of my own spiritual walk.