Have you ever failed at something and Divine Mother later gave you a second chance? Recently, an Ananda devotee told me an inspiring story of having a second chance, but only after she had worked very hard to go deeper in meditation.
This woman (whom I’ll call Nancy) was at her bank, waiting to make a deposit when suddenly, she found herself right in the middle of a bank robbery. Nancy became very fearful and “lost it” emotionally. At the time, her basic response when something challenging moved into her life was to take two steps back.
Afterwards, Nancy was very disappointed in her response and thought, “I’ve got to do better.” To change this fearful tendency in herself, she put a great deal of time and energy into practicing the AUM technique* in meditation.
A way to overcome all fear
Communing with the sound of AUM in meditation is one of the easiest ways to become completely absorbed in the Divine. By regular communion with AUM, we overcome all fear, including the fear of death. Swami Kriyananda said when he first heard AUM in a dynamic way, the whole world could have gone up in flames and it just wouldn’t have mattered.
In addition to meditating on AUM, Nancy also did other things to attune her consciousness to the sound of AUM. She went through her day chanting “AUM Guru,” thereby seeking the Guru’s help in attuning to AUM. She reminded herself that everything she saw—the sun, flowers, birds, plants, people—was a solidified manifestation of AUM. Whenever a tense situation arose, she would silently and lovingly call on the power of AUM to calm herself and others.
A second bank robbery
Three years later almost to the day, Nancy was again at her bank when another robbery occurred. This time it was much more violent, and she was knocked to the ground. But from her three years of practicing the consciousness of AUM, she remained very calm despite all the commotion around her.
The tension was especially high in the area where the robbers were standing with their guns. Nancy decided to begin crawling “discreetly” toward the file cabinets where she would be farther away from the robbers. She said, “I wanted to be part of the solution, not the problem.” A terrified woman on the floor, sensing Nancy’s calmness, began scooting towards her. Nancy grabbed the woman’s hand and guided her around a file cabinet where they were both out of the way.
Later, during an interview with the FBI, Nancy was the only witness who could give an accurate description of the robbers. She was told that the odds of being involved in two bank robberies were incredibly low.
Nancy attributed her calmness to having attuned her consciousness to AUM. She said, “My response to life has become totally different. Now, like my husband, who always takes two steps towards everything that comes his way, I do that too.”
A loving unity with all life
Nancy’s story shows the inner strength and transcendence that come from communing with AUM. Paramhansa Yogananda tells us that by listening to the omnipresent sound of AUM, our consciousness gradually expands from the limitations of the body into the freedom of omnipresence where all life is one.
AUM is the cosmic vibration by which God created and sustains the universe. When we commune with AUM in meditation, we experience the divine unity and harmony underlying all creation—and we know without a shadow of doubt that the universe is not against us, but with us in loving unity. By communing with AUM, we enter into, and flow with, the stream of God’s love and bliss.
We tend to think, “Gosh, there’s so much in life that’s unpredictable.” But we know of other devotees who have been in life-threatening situations and have felt only calmness and a sense of harmony. Like Nancy, whenever a devotee makes a sincere effort in meditation to know God as Spirit and to live in His reality, God, seeing our sincerity, protects us when we’re in danger.
Like so many others, I too have had this experience. After some years of meditating and attuning to AUM, I came very close to drowning.
Trapped under a waterfall
It happened a number of years ago when I gave a week-long nature program at the Expanding Light Guest Retreat at Ananda Village. One day I took the people in the program to the river for a swim. It was June and the water was a little high. All of us were swimming near a beautiful waterfall about five or six feet high.
I swam a bit too close to the edge of the waterfall where the water was churning and I was pulled underwater. Somehow my leg got stuck under the rocks. I tried to free my leg but couldn’t.
Surprisingly, I was very calm. I remember thinking, “Is this how I’m to go, Master?” It was as though I was watching myself going through the experience. I was running out of breath, but I didn’t become nervous. I simply continued trying to free my leg.
Finally the leg pulled loose and I was able to rise to the surface of the water and get a mouthful of air. But I was immediately thrown right back down under the water. Moments later I was again able to rise to the surface. I managed to get another quick mouthful of air before again being pulled under the water.
One of the men in the group noticed what was happening and he and two other men formed a chain. With the chain supporting him, one of the men reached down into the water, grabbed my arm, and pulled me to safety.
Reflecting on the experience afterwards, I was happy to realize that I’d remained calm the entire time. Many of us have had similar experiences where God has stepped in and protected us. From the deep calmness that we feel, we know that He is with us. Whether we live or die, we know we are safely in His hands.
The blueprint of AUM
A scientist at Yale University in the 1940s was studying salamanders and discovered something very interesting that also applies to us. A salamander egg contains an electrical field with the blueprint of the adult salamander. As the salamander starts to grow, the force field of that blueprint guides it to maturity. The same thing is true of plants. Every seed has the blueprint of the mature plant.
This is even more true of us. God has stamped our souls with His image of perfection. As Swami Kriyananda has said, “We aren’t physical bodies; we’re blissful manifestations of AUM.” As we enter into the consciousness of AUM, that image of perfection becomes more and more our reality.
Join the cosmic choir
Try to live more in the consciousness of AUM. Remember that every sound you hear, even the honking of a horn, is an expression of the cosmic sound of AUM. Listen to sounds in nature as if they were the AUM vibration—the ocean surf, the wind in the trees, the singing of birds. This practice will help you hear the AUM sound in meditation.
The following meditation by Swami Kriyananda will also help attune you to the Infinite Sound:
Imagine a choir composed of every atom in the universe, each one an individual, but all of them singing together in blissful harmony.
In your own mind, join that mighty choir, composed of all life.
Determine from today on to sing in harmony with the universe. Don’t impose on the great anthem of life your little wishes for how you want the music to sound.
Unite your notes to that Infinite Sound.
The more you do so, the more deeply you will know yourself to be an expression of the soaring anthem of Infinity.**
Whenever you feel anxious or inharmonious, use this meditation to attune yourself with God and all creation. Live more in the consciousness of AUM. One who constantly sings AUM during his activities, and with his whole being, makes his life a continuous song of joy.
From an August 12, 2009 talk and other articles.
Bharat Cornell is a Lightbearer and longtime Ananda member. He works in the Sangha Office at Ananda Village as Meditation Support Coordinator. He is also the author of Sharing Nature Book Series.
*One of the meditation techniques introduced by Paramhansa Yogananda and taught by Ananda Sangha.
** From Awaken to Superconsciousness, Crystal Clarity Publishers.