A Message From Brother Chidananda
President of Self-Realization Fellowship/Yogoda Satsanga Society of India
Speaking to the current situation in America and around the world, Brother Chidananda discusses the serious problem of racial injustice and divisiveness, and the way to address not only the symptoms but the cause of this disease facing humanity. He encourages those who meditate to be true peacemakers by producing peace first within themselves, through meditation, and then radiating that peace to others through spiritual actions that address the deep-rooted racial prejudices in our society.
Below is the text of Brother Chidananda’s message:
Greetings and pranams, divine friends on the spiritual path.
I know you are deeply concerned, as am I, about the storms of race-based turmoil that have arisen in many cities in America and around the world. Let me share a few thoughts about this with you.
First of all, let’s be clear about the problem. Racial prejudice and injustice are a disease in human hearts and minds — in the hearts and minds of any of us who won’t make a home for God within us. In recent days, all over America, we have seen fresh outbreaks of that disease. And not only in America: most countries around the world are infected to one degree or another with discrimination, with hatred, based on either race, color, and certainly in many places, religion.
As with any chronic disease, we can treat the symptoms — and that’s helpful, no doubt — but we also have to address the cause.
At times like this, all spiritually inclined hearts and minds ask themselves, what can I do to help? In this world we all have different roles to play, different talents and capabilities; which means there are different ways in which we are qualified to give service to others depending on what specific crisis or problem confronts our human family at any given time.
I know that among our SRF and YSS members there are many who are using their vocational and professional talents, or simply just their giving of charitable service or aid, to help others improve their lives and our society and our world. God bless them all! God bless every person around the world who is actively contributing to the eradication of poverty, racial injustice, and all the other outgrowths of human ignorance.
But there is one way in particular that all followers of Paramahansa Yogananda, all followers of meditation-based spiritual teachings, can and should serve. And that is by being a peacemaker. Produce peace within ourselves through practice of meditation, and serve everyone around us by the vibrations of peace, harmony, prayer, and God’s love that we radiate.
As our Guru again and again emphasized, the only lasting cure for the persistent social problems that bring such heartache to humanity lies in changing ourselves, making ourselves more peaceful, loving, God-centered individuals. To work on that is to address the root cause. All else, though also valuable, is still only addressing symptoms.
So, let us spend some time together, right now, cultivating peace and broadcasting it outwardly as our contribution to healing the troubled times we are passing through.
Because words alone are not enough. In times like this — times of great misunderstanding, fear, and anger — words that we say to each other have a limited effect. Often they even have a negative effect, because words we speak to other human beings are so easily misunderstood. But words that flow to God from the deepest yearnings of our hearts — in prayer, meditation, and divine communion — have a power that goes beyond all forms of merely human discourse.
So my prayer is twofold: I pray that all of us listen with respect and urgency to the words of our era’s good-hearted reformers — the social and political uniters of all races and religions. And from that profoundly spiritual act of listening to each other, then let us seek to discern the best way to translate noble ideals from words into tangible actions that promote healing.
But even more than that, I pray that our most heartfelt words in this divisive time reach out to the Divine: to the very Source and Fountainhead of all that is good, true, and ennobling in our nature.
Let us take the necessary time, and find the necessary depths within our souls, to allow the power of peace and understanding found in the interiorized silence of meditation to inform the words that we speak and those that we listen to. And along with the words we speak to each other, let our words and prayers to God be the definer and shaper of our response to the present conflicts and inharmonies that have brought us to blows with each other.
A Prayer for Healing of Racial Injustice
Heavenly Father, Mother, Friend, Beloved God,
Show us the most constructive attitude we can take in the face of the anger, fear, misunderstanding, and pain that is sweeping though America and the world along with the widespread protests against racial injustice and divisiveness.
Eternal Father-Mother of us all, teach us — as brother- and sister-souls created as divine equals by You — how to listen, feel, and take wisdom-guided action to alleviate the suffering and race-based injustice afflicting the United States and many other countries.
Most of all, O God of love, compassion, and healing, through meditation and through self-discipline of our baser instincts, may we awaken in ourselves the universal love that flows from Your presence in our souls; and awaken along with that, the determination to contribute our prayers, our efforts to change ourselves, and whatever acts of outer service are available to us, for the well-being, prosperity, and spiritual growth of each member of our world family.
Aum. Peace. Amen.
[Brother Chidananda leads a period of meditation]
Addressing the Karmic Cause of the Problem
Dear friends, let us remember: For healing to take place, we are going to have to find the spiritual maturity to acknowledge and address the cause of these problems, not only the symptoms.
It is the law of karma that turns the wheels of our individual lives and national lives. And these present upheavals are truly symptoms of a deep underlying cause. I say that so that none of us will make the mistake of minimizing or rationalizing them away. As with any deep-seated karmic condition in our personal lives or in society, they won’t go away unless we address them, work them out, and learn the spiritual lessons they are meant to teach us.
Our guru, Paramahansa Yogananda, loved America. He often spoke of its destiny. He said that the United States had a prominent role to play in the upward evolution of the family of nations, and had tremendous good karma for all the good it has done in the world. Nevertheless, he spoke plainly but with farsighted spiritual vision about the painful karmic consequences created by this nation’s history of shameful treatment toward African Americans and Native Americans. He felt a great responsibility to help his adopted country transcend this ugliness — not only because he wanted Americans to manifest their best and noblest qualities, or because of his own firsthand experience of abuse as a dark-skinned foreigner; but because of the Christlike love he had for all humanity, and because of his divine perception — his divine conviction — that the answer to these problems lies in spirituality, not just in outer secular or social reforms.
So I want to close with his supercharged words of wisdom and inspiration. Feel the spiritual power behind these words, and let that power of love infuse each of us with a new sense of hope and possibilities for ourselves, for our brothers and sisters of all races, and for our world.
“As soon as we learn in meditation to love God, we shall love all mankind as we love our own family. Those who have found God through their own Self-realization — those who have actually experienced God — they alone can love mankind; not impersonally, but as their blood brothers, children of the same one Father.”
“Realize that the same lifeblood is circulating in the veins of all races. How may anyone dare to hate any other human being, of whatever race, when God lives and breathes in all? We are Americans or Hindus or other nationalities for just a few years, but we are God’s children forever.”
“If you contact God within yourself, you will know that He is in everyone, that He has become the children of all races. Then you cannot be an enemy to anyone. If the whole world could love with that universal love, there would be no need for men to arm themselves against one another. By our own Christlike example we must bring unity among all religions, all nations, all races.”
So, friends, let’s take hope in those words, knowing that it is within our power to create a better world. As we meditate in God each day, let us radiate the actual experience of divine peace and love out to the world, in prayer and prayer-guided action.
God bless and love you all.