One day I was greeted at the front door of our India monastery by a strange sight at my feet. What appeared to be an insect was moving very strangely across the ground.
As I looked closer it seemed to be a small leaf or seed that had legs! It would move straight ahead for a bit, then turn and move sideways, like a crab, always making steady progress, but unlike any living creature I had ever seen. What was this strange thing?
I finally noticed that there were 6-7 ants working in perfect harmony to carry a seed to their home. No single ant could have possibly have done this on its own.
I marveled at the seamless cooperation they showed. How was this possible? Nobody seemed to be in charge or giving orders.
Then I reflected that our new monastery, with seven monks, demonstrates the same type of effortless harmony and cooperation.
In June of 2018 we launched a new type of monastery, based entirely on what Swami Kriyananda had long wanted for his monks. A life that was inwardly focused, with very regular group meditations every day, meals in silence, and strong support for an interior life focused on God. At the same time we have a very active life of service to others.
We might have a bit less time in the day for service, compared to a life without meditation. But I’ve seen that this same group has accomplished far more in the last year than we were able to do previously, even when we had more hours of the day dedicated to projects.
Just like with the ants, one might ask, “how was this possible?” We’ve seen that when a group of people meditates together three times a day, as we do, there develops an unusual harmony and attunement with each other. We also work on a practice that Swami Kriyananda called “ego-transcendence,” which further helps to dissolve any sense of competitiveness and separation from others.
Swami Kriyananda said about his Guru, Paramhansa Yogananda:
“He would put everything aside to chant or meditate until his mind was firmly rooted in God. Only then would he return to his work. That is how he was able to accomplish such tremendous things in his life. He never acted from ego-consciousness. Man’s power is limited, but God’s is without limitation.”
A group of people working together in seamless harmony can accomplish so much more than individuals doing their own thing. This is easier said than done! But with hundreds of hours of group meditation that we’ve had during the last year, along with the practice of ego-transcendence, it has become as easy and natural as what I observed in those ants.
You don’t have to live in a monastery to practice this. If you can meditate regularly with some of your co-workers, with your friends, or at an Ananda centre, you will find a growing harmony and friendship with them and with all souls.
People often ask what they can do to bring peace and harmony into this world. Answers are often right in front of us. Even the simple ant can do this. Can we humans not do the same?
Nayaswami Devarshi has been with Swami Kriyananda and Ananda Sangha since 1977. He is director of the Ananda Monastery in India and head of Ananda Kriya Sangha worldwide.