St. Francis was the “patron saint” of Paramhansa Yogananda. There is a beautiful story of St Francis known as “The Secret of True Joy”. It goes like this:
St. Francis and his close companion, Brother Leo, were walking in the winter through a snowstorm, trying to reach a monastery before it got too late.
St. Francis called ahead to Brother Leo, “Do you know the nature of true joy?”
Leo replied, “No, Brother Francis, instruct me.”
Francis said, “If we come to this monastery, and the monks receive us with open arms, that isn’t true joy. If they bring us in from the cold and snow, and warm us by the fireplace, that isn’t true joy. And if they give us good food to eat and nice beds to sleep in, that is not joy.”
“But if when we come there and knock on the door, they open it and say, ‘Get out, you reprobates,’ and they throw us into a snowdrift, and refuse us entry, or love, or comfort, or food, note well, Brother Leo, that is true joy.”
Reflecting on this story and the life of Paramhansa Yogananda and Swami Kriyananda, I realized a common theme follows :
They were always joyful within regardless of what was going outwardly and they always were beacons of light and love to everyone even when they were facing trials.
Often we think mistakenly that Joy is a prize earned as a reward of suffering but that isn’t the case. True joy transcends suffering as it is our essential nature.
Being a “neophyte” entrant in the monastery I was surprised observing the level of Joy expressed by my fellow brothers. It was a welcome change from the traditional renunciation which involved grim determination. And make no mistake, this joy wasn’t because of renouncing worldly responsibilities but rather a celebration of living a life offered to the Divine and experiencing that unconditional love.
My own relatively small life experience of 21 years was quite opposite where Joy was a “rare gem”. But by daily dynamic meditation, chanting and joyfully serving the tide had shifted in favor of greater inner joy and happiness. This experience clarified the goal we all are seeking “Ever-Existing , Ever-Conscious, Ever-New Joy”. A joy which we can share with our fellow brothers and sisters.
Following song of St. Francis has always been a deep inspiration:
Make Us Channels of Thy Peace
Lord most high our heav’nly Father,
All our lives we dedicate to Thee:
All our labors, all our joys and woes,
All our pleasure, all our melody.
Make us each a channel of Thy peace.
When in darkness guide us from above.
Where there’s sorrow, may we sow Thy joy;
Where there’s hatred, may we share Thy love.
Let us listen to Swami Kriyananda singing it and tune in to its sacred beauty.