From Shafts of Light: Selected Teachings of Swami Ashokananda for Spiritual Practice

Sister Gargi and Shelley Brown, Editors

Swami Ashokananda led the Vedanta Society of Northern California for more than 30 years, leaving behind a truly astonishing body of spiritual instruction. Using the prisms of their own internal quests, Marie Louise Burke (Sister Gargi) and Shelley Brown looked through notes taken over decades by the Swami’s disciples for particularly illuminating precepts and aphorisms.

From their Introduction: “Words that Swami Ashokananda spoke in his lectures and classes—soul-stirring, numinous insights from the wellspring of his own experience—were noted down by his close disciples for their own spiritual practice: ‘Meditation is not simply thinking about God. It is an actual perception of the presence of God,’ and ‘Meditation is not imagination; it is the anticipation of the Real.’ There are no set formulas on how… to achieve God-vision (‘It just happens,’ he said)—but Swami Ashokananda’s instructions point the way.”

Here are a few short lessons on the spiritual practice of seeing the Divine within other people:

“In criticizing a person you are shutting off the most wonderful truth: that person is God.”

“Forget that anyone is bad, that anyone is inferior. You have to go beyond the person’s behavior. The real person is God, peeping through the eyes. This is the highest ideal.”

“Never think another person to be weak or imperfect. Behind his form lies the ever effulgent Being, the Strength of all strength, the Wisdom of all wisdom.”

“Imagine God in the heart of all beings.”

“Every single being that exists is an inexhaustible mine of beauty and love.”

“Unless we see divinity in every being, we will never see unity in the world. Intelligence is that which sees unity among apparently separate things.”

“You can have a true democratic spirit if you can really persuade yourself that everyone is divine.”

“Behind what appears to you as a dull face, a bright face, or a vicious face is God alone. All these various pictures we see are but misreadings of the one truth, just tricks of the mind. Actually, everything is perfect.”

“Everything brings the message of God; from everywhere comes the touch of my Beloved.”

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