1st January 2019 — Amritapuri Ashram
Here we are again at the doorstep of a new year. Just thinking of New Year’s awakens vibrations of hope, happiness and enthusiasm. May the flowers of peace and joy blossom in my children’s hearts! May those flowers’ fragrance spread throughout the world through your good deeds.
During the past year, the world bore witness to many conflicts and natural disasters. The recent flood in Kerala left many people scarred with memories of distress and disaster. However, there is one thing we need to remember: Every difficult situation in life is providing us with the opportunity to correct some mistake. The flood was a warning—a message. For quite some time, we have been exploiting Nature for selfish and short-lived gains. What we saw was the bitter consequence of that. Hence, in this new year, let us move forward and work with greater alacrity to protect and restore Nature’s harmony. We can make our future brighter by lending an ear to Nature’s voice of wisdom. Also, let us work hard and pray deeply to increase the love and solidarity among people and nations. Both effort and prayer are needed on our side.
Without succumbing to despair, we should light up our hearts with the lamp of hope. New Year’s is a reminder of the flow of time. Like a shadow, death stands looming right behind each one of us. We could have to vacate this rented house of our body at any moment. Before death finally claims us, we have many duties to complete. On this night, looking back at our past, we should take stock of ourselves. And with an eye to the future, we should engage in positive actions. This is the time to make such determined resolutions.
During the birth of the new year, people wish each other, “Happy New Year!” The truth is that happiness does not arrive just because the dates on the calendar have changed. Only when positive change comes into our perspective and actions will we experience happiness.
In this New Year, we need to ask ourselves some important questions:
First, ask yourself, “Am I making steady progress on the spiritual path? Am I being steady in my spiritual discipline and practice? Or have I lost my way?”
Secondly, “Am I living for myself alone? Or, each day, am I able to do something—anything—selflessly for others?”
Thirdly, “Am I able to maintain self-control and maturity at all times? Or, overcome by anger, jealousy and other lower emotions, am I still hurting others?”
And, finally, “Am I able to contribute and play my part in protecting the environment?”
Depending on the answers we give to these questions, we should be ready to correct ourselves and act properly. This is the time to make firm resolutions and to begin putting forth tireless effort. Usually we make many New Year’s resolutions only to see them dissolve after a few days. We always find some reason or other to justify our lack of persistence.
All our actions should be done with the attitude that this moment alone is ours; the next moment is not in our hands. Every action should be performed with discernment, alertness, enthusiasm and a smile. The goal of human life is God-realisation, understanding that we are not separate from God. A drop of this awareness is already present in us. What we need to do is expand this awareness and strengthen it. We should not let go of our awareness of this goal. We should use our human life and this body towards that end.
It is love that makes everything new and gives it freshness and novelty. We will only be able to experience as much newness and freshness in our life as there is love within us. If the light of love is not present in us, then even in new things we will only be able to experience darkness. We should move forward lighting the lamp of faith in this candle that is the body.
You may wonder how you can transcend this immense darkness with the light of just a single candle. Just remember that as we take each step, this light will move forward along with us. In that light, other people can also walk forward in step as well. We should put forth the right effort with self-confidence. When we move forward in this way, we will ultimately be able to realise our true self. If our mind is filled with the light of God’s love, all experiences—good and bad—will be able to bring us happiness. We will be able to celebrate not only our successes but also our failures.
There are two different ways we can celebrate. We can do what most people do and celebrate the holidays marked on the calendar, setting off firecrackers, dancing, singing and fulfilling certain desires. Or we can celebrate by recognising God’s greatness and beauty in each moment of our life. The first way is purely external. It is just a short interval of joy in the midst of numerous sorrows and pain. Like a streak of lightning in the dark sky, these flashes of happiness are short-lived and, after briefly lighting up our life, they vanish. In the second way, the celebration is a continuous state of mind. True celebration is not something that can be gained by fulfilling a trivial desire. It is the final stage of a continuous preparation. When we see a blooming flower, swaying in the wind, spreading fragrance, we fail to recognise that it represents the last stage of the transition of the flower bud from darkness into light. Inside the flower bud, there was darkness. From that darkness, it slowly bloomed into the light. Similarly, this is our journey of blossoming from the darkness of lower emotions into the light of pure love. It is only when we reach that final destination that we experience real celebration and joy.
My children, don’t allow the sorrows and difficulties of 2018 to trouble you. Don’t allow them be obstacles on the onward flow of your lives. See the difficulties of 2018 as the previous chapter of the book of life. May my children be able to turn those pages and start 2019 as a new chapter. May my children be able to assimilate the teachings of 2018 with proper discernment, correct its mistakes, and move forward to make 2019 more beautiful and filled with love. May my children carry the message of love and peace to the world. May the Paramatma bless my children and fill their lives with peace, good physical health, mental strength and contentment.