Excerpts from In Divine Friendship: Letters of Counsel and Reflection
This extraordinary book of nearly 250 letters from Swami Kriyananda, written between the mid-1970s and the present, responds to practically any concern a spiritual seeker might have.
What is true self-worth?
June 18, 1991
To define your sense of dignity and self-worth in any terms that affirm your ego is in itself, for a devotee, at least, a delusion. Let me put it this way: I'm a composer. Some people think I'm a good one. To the extent that I think I may be good, I might make this a basis for some sense of self-worth. If I did, however, I'd be like any other worldly person. My compositions would be ego-accomplishments. NO! I am not a composer! I'm a devotee. I've written music as part of my service to God.
A drama director visited Ananda recently, and told me, "You are the first playwright I've actually had a chance to talk with." I replied, "I'm not a playwright! I'm just someone who has written one or two plays." Do you see? The more we define ourselves in terms of external accomplishments, the more we limit ourselves!
Dear_____, rest your sense of self-worth on realities that are intrinsically worthwhile above all, on soul-qualities, and on your deepest reality as a child of God.
What Ananda is about is loving God, and serving Him. Our hopes should rest on absorption in Him, and on ultimate freedom from our mere humanity.
Joy to you!
Advice and Encouragement
Is abortion ever appropriate?
The taking of life is a broader issue than just the legal one. Human law may recognize a higher law, but it cannot alter it. The only mitigating factor I can think of in taking an embryo's life is if the mother's life is seriously threatened.
In the case you've described, I would think abortion was indeed possible within the divine law. But even so, it would be a difficult matter to decide.
This is, I realize, a very sensitive social issue nowadays. I am hesitant to plunge into it with seeming callousness, particularly where I myself am not at all affected. Nevertheless, conscience bids me speak truthfully when I am asked. The soul is already present in the forming fetus, and is there, Master said, from the moment of conception. Taking the life of a growing creature cannot, except in extreme circumstances to which I would be inclined to include rape be condoned, either morally or spiritually.
For those who have already had abortions, it is important not to feel a weight of guilt. There was surely not a will to kill involved, and that, certainly, is the main thing. We make many mistakes in life. Our duty is to love all the more deeply. The sins which are only errors of judgment of countless incarnations will be washed away forever by God's grace, when we find Him.
In divine friendship,
Marriage and Renunciation
Going beyond human love
January 16, 2003
God doesn't treat those who love Him in quite the same soft way He treats others more softly than many of them realize! For instance, the devotee may wonder, "Why cannot I, too, have the human love others seem to have?" But God may take that normal fulfillment away from devotees, while giving it to others. Why? Because He wants them to go deeper: to love Him alone.
Turn more to Him, _____. Don't ask for anything else. He will give you what you need, and when you need it.
Be divine warriors!
June 30, 2001
I'm writing now especially to ask all of you who are involved in [this project]: Please, don't allow yourselves to channel negative energies.
These tests aren't personal. I think they are part of an attempt to do harm on the part of conscious, negative energies. Please do your extra best to be loving and harmonious toward one another: positive and loving. I know that is how you all feel in your hearts. Give extra emphasis to that divine feeling now. Radiate love and harmony. And don't blame yourselves, nor anyone else, for anything no matter what the seeming reason.
The pains a few of you are undergoing are a passing thing. Love God. And love God in one another. The energy you radiate outward to others will determine what you become in yourself.
Negativity cannot win, in the end. Be divine warriors! Work, however, in harmony and love: together in a spirit of love. This is the only way. Don't let personal difficulties block your broader vision.
With much love in Master,
Ananda: Past, Present, Future
On not compromising values for money
February 6, 2001
Thank you for sending me the proposal. I want to say that I don't want my name, or for that matter, Ananda's name associated with worldly attitudes. Once we feel we must compromise who we are in order to make money, we have already started down the road that certain other spiritual organizations have taken: not necessarily a bad road, but a betrayal of the ideals Master brought to the world.
For myself, I am in the happy position of being able to say that every thing I've ever written is sincere. Never mind what others in the industry are doing. Let's always be ourselves.
In divine friendship,
How to delegate authority
June 27, 1998
Here is a thought you might find helpful, one that you could share also with others. In delegating authority, don't just turn a job over to others, as if "washing your hands" of it. Expand your consciousness, rather, to include them and what they are doing in that job. Make them and what they do a part of your own reality.
This doesn't mean overseeing everything they do too meticulously. It doesn't mean breathing down their necks, as it were. Simply offer them your spirit, as if to sustain them. Those who tune in to you will, in this way, do things better, will accomplish more, and will unite to create a harmonious whole in the overall work instead of becoming separate entities, each going his own direction.
Love and joy!
On responding to the terrorist attacks.
September 19, 2001
This issue wasn't easy for me to address, for of course we should look for the cause, but how much are people actually able to introspect? I got a letter from _______ saying we should "love, love, love" the terrorists. Beautiful, but do you suppose anyone really does including ______? I don't think so!
The important thing is to be real, not hypocritical. The truth is that if anyone gave that much energy to the evildoers he would not only be depriving the sufferers but also tuning in to the evil no wholesome exercise for anyone who is seeking truth and God! I get impatient with such lack of genuine sincerity.
That was a good article from the Dalai Lama. He told the truth. I'd have liked, however, for him to be more specific. I noted he fell into the trap of rhetoric and repetition that I had to try repeatedly to avoid. (And even so I find, on re-reading my article, that I've repeated myself unnecessarily.) Still, his statement is the clearest, wisest, and most genuine of those I've seen on this event so far.
Suffering and Death
Engage your mind in work
September 20, 1999
I want very deeply to see you come out of all mental anxiety. And I'm concerned about your being alone in Hawaii because I've seen you before, and see you now, tending, when you're off "vacationing," to go into a downward spiral spin of thoughts, thoughts, and more thoughts. One can't come to a resolution of one's problems in that way. Rather, they only increase in size, in number, and in the power they have over us.
Again and again I've seen in my own life that the best thing is simply to redirect my thoughts and energy, and to stop thinking about problems that don't seem to have a clear solution. They'll disappear, if you don't give them energy.
Please engage your mind in work, so it doesn't spin on while you think of all the things you must "process." The best way to process things, I've found, is to drown one's self in work for God, and in loving Him. That's what our lives are all about. Nothing else really matters.
In Master's love,
Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God
Wealth means much more than money
I was touched by your letter. Thank you for taking the trouble to write it.
Wealth means much more than money: It means abundance, which in turn means joy, love, and fulfillment on all levels. It is good also, therefore, to realize that a person can be wealthy even if he has little material abundance.
And I'd like to add, finally, something I've learned in life: When I don't seek primarily for myself, but seek to please God and to serve Him in others, I am always provided for.
I also believe in the rule, "Live comfortably within your means." For I've seen many people who somehow seem never to "get it together." No matter how much they earn, they are always in debt. A solid guideline to happiness is not to have too many desires.
I wish you every good.