The Power of Community

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Nayaswami Kriyananda said, “I never let anything affect my state of consciousness.”

When I first heard that, I thought he meant he never allowed anything near him that affected his state of consciousness. Something inside me secretly hoped this was the correct interpretation, because, deep down, I wanted an excuse to avoid situations that made me uncomfortable. It’s perfect, right? I just avoid everything I don’t like or is difficult so that I can think about God all the time, then liberation will come and I won’t have anything to worry about. Bam.

But…something about that didn’t sit quite right with me. It didn’t take too much ruminating to realize what he meant was that he didn’t avoid things, he simply didn’t let them affect his consciousness when they came. I say “simply” rather loosely. It’s one of the most difficult things to do, but that is how we develop the power to awaken our true selves. How do we learn to not shrink from any confrontation, but to step boldly and lovingly into every situation that comes to us, and first and foremost, keeping our state of consciousness at its highest?

One of Paramhansa Yogananda’s disciples, when urged to do a difficult task complained, “Well, Sir, you can do it. You’re a master.”

To which Yogananda replied, “And what do you think made me a master?”

One of the most incredible tools I’ve experienced to help me make progress in not letting anything affect my consciousness is community.  As Yogananda said, “Environment is stronger than willpower.” (another fascinating phrase to ponder!)

I’ve been a part of the community at The Ananda Center at Laurelwood for almost two-and-a-half years, enrolled in the Cities of Light Residential Study Program—an intense study in the universal how-to-live teachings given by Paramhansa Yogananda and his disciple, Nayaswami Kriyananda. The opportunities to use practical yoga techniques come from working closely with others while developing a community, retreat center, and school all at once in rural Oregon.

Oh, I should add that none of us have a clue how to do this.

During the first two years, especially, we were faced regularly with stress, fatigue, and uncomfortable situations. I have no doubt that if we didn’t have these teachings, guidance, and daily meditation tying us with a common thread, we all would have left the project long ago, bitter and frustrated, so impossible were the circumstances. But we do have these teachings. We meditate together every day, coming back to our centers and to the understanding that conflict is our own invention, negativity our own reaction. We always reach for harmony, for patience and understanding.  We frequently fall short, but we always reach.

After these many months, we are so much stronger and capable, better and truer friends, clearer channels to share upliftment and to change the world for the better. There isn’t a person here I don’t love. There isn’t a person here I can’t both laugh and cry with. There isn’t a person here I don’t respect, or whom I feel doesn’t respect me.

We learn together; we grow and blossom together. I have yet to see anyone come through this program without transforming profoundly.

What would you be able to accomplish with more self-mastery, more joy, more light, and a deeper understanding of how to work in harmony with life?

Come play with us!

In Joy,


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One Response to “The Power of Community”

  1. Manisha

    This is so familiar. You’ve written exactly what so many of us travel through on our way to understanding a bit better how the world actually works, and our role in our own reality. Thank you, Jacob. I loved reading this post.


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