FOR THE NEW YEAR
this time of the New Year, most people are closing
their balance sheets, closing their accounts and their
books. However, the time of the New Year should
actually be a time of opening our accounts and opening
our balance sheets. I don�t mean our financial
balance sheets, rather I mean the balance sheets of
our lives, our inner accounts. It is a time in which
we must ask ourselves, �Where do I stand?� Is the
world a better place now because I have lived? Have I
improved the life of any creature? Have I made a
positive impact on my world? Have I grown closer and
closer to God � the ultimate destination?.
The incidents of September 11
have forever changed our perspective, forever changed our
values. I read a beautiful piece recently which someone sent to
Christmas we were thinking about all the things we didn't
this Christmas we are thinking about all the things we do
Christmas we were placing wreaths on the doors of our
this Christmas we are placing wreaths on the graves of our
Christmas we were letting our children play with toy guns;
this Christmas we are teaching them that guns are not toys.
Christmas we were lighting candles to decorate;
this Christmas we are lighting candles to commemorate.
Christmas we were trying not to let annoying relatives get
the best of us;
this Christmas we are trying to give the best of ourselves to
Christmas we thought a man who could rush down a football
field was a hero;
this Christmas we know a man who rushes into a burning
building is the real one.
Christmas we were wondering how to give our children all the
things that money can buy-the hottest toys the latest
fashions, the newest gadgets;
this Christmas we are wondering how to give them all the
things it can't-a sense of security, safety, peace.
Christmas we were singing carols;
this Christmas we are singing anthems and bhajans
Christmas we were thinking how good it would feel to be
this Christmas we are thinking how good it feels to be
Christmas "peace on earth" is something we prayed
on Sunday mornings;
now it is something we pray for every day.
above writing is beautiful and it exemplifies how people�s
lives across the world have changed. However, we must ask
ourselves if we are working to change ourselves or if we are
just hoping that the rest of the world will change.
Peace begins inside. Only when we are peaceful and calm
inside can we possibly hope for peace on the outside. The
events of September 11 have disturbed not only the peace of
our external world, but they have also severely disrupted the
peace of our own internal worlds.
then, to restore that peace? How to make a shift towards that
calmness, equanimity and serenity which we must attain �
inwardly � if we want to be part of making the world a
will give you a special spiritual �Multivitamin� which you
can take every day to create, maintain and restore your peace
of mind, body and spirit. This multivitamin is made up of
always say that meditation is the best medication for all
agitations. People have so many troubles today, mainly related
to the stress in their lives. To address this anxiety, this
sleeplessness, this inability to simply be content, they may
take pills or fill their lives with excessive material
For example, when people feel stressed they may attempt
to forget about it by going to the movies, or by getting drunk
or by indulging in simple sensual pleasures.
Yet, these are not solutions. They do not address the
underlying issues. They are simply band-aids to a wound that
runs deep beneath the surface.
Yet, meditation will truly calm the mind,
fill the heart with joy and bring peace to the soul. And the
serenity and joy lasts throughout the day and throughout your
life. Meditation is not like a simple diversion which works
only as long as you are actively engaged in it. Meditation is
not like a pill which quickly wears off and carries unpleasant
meditation brings you into contact with God; it changes the
very nature of your being. It brings you � immediately �
back to the world from which you truly come: the realm of the
As you sit in meditation you will realize the
insignificance of that which causes anxiety; you will realize
the transient nature of all your troubles. You will realize
the infinite joy and boundless peace that comes from God.
So many people avoid meditation though,
because they �don�t know how.� Sure, there are many
complex, esoteric and challenging meditation practices that
some people learn. However,
this is not what I�m talking about. Meditation can be as
simple as sitting quietly, being with God. It can be as simple
as following your breath in and out, in and out, as it enters
and leaves your body. So, please do not avoid meditation
because you have not been officially taught a fancy technique.
cross legged, spine straight and close your eyes. Relax.
Breathe deeply. Then focus all of your attention, all of your
awareness on your breath, as it travels from your navel to
your third eye (just between your eye-brows and a little
above). Watch it ascend and descend. Feel the divine energy,
the soft, peaceful vibrations entering your body, filling your
body with light and joy. Then feel
yourself be emptied of this air, let yourself surrender
all the breath in your body back to God. And let that breath,
that exhalation, carry all your worries, all your anxieties,
all your fears, with it. Then, when the new breath comes,
filled with divine serenity, there will be more room for it.
This is all
you have to do now. But, do it. Make a time that is
�meditation time.� It�s okay if it�s only 5 minutes or
3 minutes. Don�t worry. Just do it. Do not say, �Well, I
don�t have an hour to sit so I won�t bother.�
Commit 5 minutes to meditation each morning. Then you
will see the magic of it.
remember that meditation is more than just sitting in dhyan
with your eyes closed. Meditation is not only about giving
this divine �medication� to ourselves. Rather, true
meditation is also being medication for others � helping
all, serving all, healing all.
This is the type of meditation so greatly needed today
in the world. We must not just go out to retreats, do our own
private meditation or sadhana. Rather, we must become the
medication for the world. We must use that which we have to
must learn to be calmer in our lives. We must learn to remain
still and unaffected by all that happens around us. I always
say, �Be like the ocean. The waves come and go, but the
Even a large rock, thrown from great distance, with
great force, will only cause temporary ripples in a small
area. Most of the ocean will remain unaffected.
Yet, we are always jumping into the ocean,
right into the waves, letting them carry us. This is our
choice. We must learn, instead, to be like the ocean, itself,
unaffected by these small, transient things.
So many times we act as though we are the
waves of the ocean. Up one minute, down the next, changed by
every gust of wind, by every passing boat. Yet, we are not
these waves. I am
using the analogy of the waves of the ocean, but you must
realize that the waves I am really talking about are the waves
of anger, anxiety, jealousy, greed, and lust that are just as
vast, just as strong and just as restless as the waves of the
We are not waves, pulled this way and that by
every passing breeze, by the daily changes in the moon. Yet we
act like that.
We act as though we are light bulbs and
anyone who wants to can simply switch us on or off. Isn�t it
true? Can�t the slightest comment or look or action of
another change our mood 180 degrees? Isn�t it so frequent
that we are in a wonderful mood and a stupid person at the
grocery store is rude to us, or someone on the freeway passes
in front of our car, or a friend is cold and distant. Any of
these things can immediately switch our mood as though it were
a light bulb.
So many times I hear people say, �Oh, I was
in such a good mood, but then Harish called and told me what
Mina said about me,� or �Oh, that phone call just ruined
my day.� And the same works the other way. We are sad or
depressed and we get a nice phone call or letter in the mail
or we eat some good cookies. Then we feel better.
How is that? How can one phone call, or one
rude comment from a person have so much control over us? Are
we so volatile in our emotions that others have more power
over our moods than we, ourselves, do?
Aren�t we more than this? Aren�t we
bigger, more divine, deeper than this? Isn�t there more to
this human existence than the law of action and reaction? We
must learn to keep that light switch in our own hands and to
give it only to God. Otherwise we are switched on and off, on
and off, all day long and the only effect is that the light
bulb burns out!
Let us take whatever comes as prasad, as a
gift from God. Let us remain calm and steady in the face of
both prosperity and misfortune. We must not lose our vital
energy in this constant action and reaction to everyone around
But how? How to remain unaffected by the
waves of life? This is called spiritual practice! I always say
that one of the best ways to learn �no reaction� is
through silence. When we are anxious, angry, tense or
frustrated, we tend to say things which we later regret; we
tend to let our words fuel the reaction in our hearts. So, let
us learn the power of silence. Silence on the outside will
lead to silence on the inside. This is why so many saints and
other spiritual people have �silence time;� it�s a time
of remembering that we are more than our reactions, a time of
tuning in to the Divine Insurance Company, a time of charging
our inner batteries.
So, let us learn to meet life�s waves with silence � that
will make �no reaction� much easier to achieve.
was once a huge elephant crossing a wooden bridge high above a
raging river. The bridge was old and rickety and it shook
under the weight of the elephant. As the elephant was crossing
the bridge he heard a voice, �Son, Son� the voice said.
The elephant looked around him, but he
was all alone. �Son, son,� the voice continued.
When the elephant reached the other side of the river, he saw
a small ant crawl onto his nose. �Son,� the ant cried.
�We almost collapsed that bridge, didn�t we?� Our weight
was so great, so immense that the bridge almost collapsed
beneath us, didn�t it, son?� Now, of course the elephant
the ant�s weight had been completely irrelevant to whether
the bridge would have collapsed. And, of course, he knew that
the tiny ant was not his mother. However, what good would it
have done to engage in a battle of egos with the ant? Instead,
the wise, calm elephant simply said, �You are right, mother,
our weight almost broke the bridge.�
The elephant retained his serenity,
retained his peace and joy. And the ant, for what it�s
worth, was allowed to continue believing in its own greatness.
But, how many of us could be like the elephant? Aren�t we
always trying to prove ourselves to others? Aren�t we always
ready to shoot down anyone who trespasses on our egos?
We must emulate the grace and divinity of the
elephant who knew that the only harm would come with the
fight. So, we
must make �no reaction� the sutra, the mantra for our
lives. Then, and only then, will we know real peace.
in the morning we begin with meditation. All day we practice
no reaction. And at night? Introspection.
At the end of the day, a good businessman always checks
his balance sheet: how much has he made, how much has he
spent? Similarly, a good teacher reviews her students� test
scores: how many passed, how many failed?
looking at their successes and failures, they assess how well
they are doing.
Are the businessman�s profits greater than his
losses? Are most of the teacher�s
students passing the exams?
In the same way, each night, we must examine
the balance sheet of our day: what were our successes, what
were our failures. And
for all the successes, all our �plus-points� we must give
credit to God. For,
we have truly done nothing but let Him work through us.
All credit goes to Him. He is the one who saves us, who
maintains our dignity and our success.
Just imagine if God had put one television
screen on our foreheads and everything we thought was
broadcast for the whole world to see! All our reactions, all
our inner sarcastic comments, all our judgments, all our
weaknesses....just imagine. We would never succeed nor would
we have many friends! Isn�t it true?
So, it is by His grace that the world does
not see our thoughts, only He sees our thoughts. We thank Him
for His grace, for His unconditional love, for His hand
guiding our actions. We
can say, �Thank you, God, for bringing success to this
venture,� or �Thank you God for letting me truly make a
difference in someone�s life today,� or simply, �Thank
you God for all that went well today.�
Our failures, we must also give to him.
The fault is ours, definitely.
Yet, He is so forgiving and so compassionate that He
insists we turn these over to Him as well. We must say,
�God, please take these minus points.
You know that I am weak, you know that I am nothing.
See, see all my failures, all my minus points for even
just one day. I
cannot go even one day without accumulating so many minus
points. But, still you love me.
Still you protect me from having the world see all my
minus points. I
am so weak, but you protect me.�
In this way, each night we check our balance sheet, and
we pray to God to help us have fewer minus points, to make us
stronger, to make us better hands doing his work, to give us
more faith, more devotion.
Let us begin this introspection with the New
Year. As we
introspect on our last year, we must give our failures to God.
Then we close that account. We close the book on bitterness,
anger, grudges and pains, and we must begin the New Year with
a fresh page of hope, faith, love and forgiveness.
So many people wait for an �ideal�
opportunity to forgive another or to do good work in their
lives. But, our lives are so short. Why not live them in love,
in goodness, in giving?
Alexander the Great was nearing death, he made one strange
request. He said, �When I die and when there is the large
procession with my casket through the town, I want you to
place my hands, palms up, outside the coffin.�
His attendees were shocked. The entire body was
supposed to be inside the coffin, safely sealed. But Alexander
the Great insisted. When they pressed him for the reason, he
replied, �I have conquered the world. I have attained more
than any man before me. There is nothing I lack, nothing I
covet, nothing I cannot buy or own. Yet, as I die from this
terrible illness, no amount of money can save me, and when I
leave this world I must leave it empty handed. I want my hands
� empty as the day of my birth � to serve as a symbol to
the world that no matter what you accomplish, what
you achieve, what you earn, on the final day you leave
it all behind.�
then, vow to live the next year (and then every year of our
lives) in peace, in love, in serving others.
Let us vow that we, in whatever way we can, will help
to make January 1, 2003 a much safer, healthier, more peaceful
world than January 1, 2002. Let each one of us take on the
responsibility as ours. Each
day as we sit in our introspection we must ask, �Am I
fulfilling my vow to do whatever I can to bring about peace,
love and safety in the world?�
these vows � not simply vows to lose weight or make more
money � to which we must pledge ourselves this year.
bless you all with health, happiness, peace and prosperity in
your bodies, hearts, minds and souls.
and blessings today and forever.
service of God and humanity,
Swami Chidanand Saraswati
Note: There is a beautiful piece written by John Robbins about
the way we must respond to the atrocities of September 11 and
how our world must change accordingly. It is a piece filled
not only with great clarity of vision, but it is a piece
filled with great wisdom, deep insight and profound love for
all of God�s creatures. It�s message is perfect for the
New Year � for it contains new vision, new hope and new
understanding of the interconnectedness between us all. I
strongly recommend that everyone read it and share it as much
as possible. CLICK
HERE TO READ IT