It was near the end of a long race. The spectators in the stadium rose to their feet as the two leaders entered, the Kenyan slightly ahead of the young man from the Netherlands. Mistakenly thinking that he had finished, the Kenyan stopped a few yards from the finish line. Instead of racing past him, the Dutchman stopped and shouted that there were still a few more steps to go. The Kenyan was still confused, so the Hollander pushed him across the finish line.

A reporter asked him why he had done that instead of running by and winning the race. The young man replied, “But he was ahead of me. Helping him win was the right thing to do.”

“Yes,” the reporter went on, “but by doing so, you lost the gold medal.”

The young man replied simply, “How could I have explained my medal to my mother?”

For many of us, Paramhansa Yogananda is our mother/father, God. If we’re about to do something questionable, it would be wise to ask, “How can I explain this to my Guru?” Swami Kriyananda suggested that we mentally review each day’s events before going to sleep, asking, “How did I do on the field of Kurukshetra (action) today? Which battles did I win? Which ones did I lose?”

Jesus Christ says in the Bible, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

If we practice this advice, the spiritual path loses all its complexity. It becomes simple: Love God, and expand your circle of love to include everyone. The saints of all religions have followed this path. If we do the same, we will be well on our way to becoming saints ourselves.

It begins by just doing what is right. We read a beautiful example of this just a few days ago.

Xavier Jones was a ninth grade student in St. Louis, about to graduate from middle school. Unable to find a ride to his graduation, he asked his brother and a friend to accompany him on the six-mile walk there. When the president of a local college heard the story, she offered the young man a full four-year scholarship to attend college when the time was right. Furthermore, a professional football player gave Jones a new high-end electric bicycle for his future commutes. Jones, you see, has sickle cell anemia, and he and his six siblings lost their mother a few years ago.

It is stories like these that restore our faith in the goodness of people. Examples of noble actions can go viral, spreading goodness and joy from person to person. If we are inspired by the examples mentioned above, then it is time to act in a like manner. Let each of us, clinging to dharma, do something today that can inspire others. Let us behave in such a way that it will be a pleasure to explain our actions to God and Guru before we lay our heads down for sleep tonight.

do the right thing

I’ll end by quoting the inscription by Yoganandaji in a first edition of Songs of the Soul that we keep in our meditation room. It reads, “There is one breath that enlivens all strange lands and strangers. Under one sky we live watched by One Father. With my blessings, Swami Yogananda.”

In divine friendship,

Nayaswami Jyotish