As we enter the new year, it’s traditional to use this juncture as an opportunity to make resolutions about how we’d like to improve our life. It’s a little discouraging, however, to think back on previous New Year’s resolutions and realize that we’d resolved to change the same things in years past without any discernible results.

How much exercise equipment is bought at the beginning of the new year only to be sold unused a few months later? Yet at the same time, it’s encouraging to reflect that we’ve never given up hope and are still trying. Our desire to improve remains with us, because it’s prompted from a higher level of our own consciousness.

Once I was leading a New Year’s retreat at The Expanding Light, during which we each made a list of resolutions for the coming year. During a break in the class, one of the students came up to me and said, “I find that very depressing.”

“What do you mean?” I asked him in surprise.

“You’ve been on the spiritual path for a long time now,” he replied, “and you still have things about yourself that you want to change?”

Fortunately a friend of mine, Roma, happened to be walking by at that moment and rescued me. With a twinkle in her eye, she said, “Devi is the only one in the community who isn’t perfect yet. That’s why we have her working with the guests.” We all laughed, and I hope the young man realized that the search for perfection is a long process.

There’s an aspect of personal transformation that’s often overlooked, and it’s the main thought I want to share with you today: To make lasting improvements in our life, it takes more than our own personal efforts. True inner change comes about through a combination of sincere devotion to God and the grace that it draws.

One of my favorite passages in the Bhagavad Gita is: “To those who meditate on Me as their very own, their hearts ever united to Me by incessant inward worship, I supply their deficiencies and make permanent their gains.” (9:22)

It is God who “supplies our deficiencies.” He/She alone knows our shortcomings, loves us unconditionally in spite of them, and gives us the strength and understanding to transcend them. Our minds may be clouded by past karmic tendencies, but when the light of God’s love and wisdom shines in, we gain the power and clarity to overcome them.

making permanent gains

And it is God who “makes permanent our gains.” Sometimes it’s hard to see the spiritual progress we’ve made. We can become so focused on how much farther we have still to go that we fail to appreciate how far we have already come. Remember, whatever progress we’ve made remains with us on some level, because it’s based on the truth of our own being.

Through our devotion, the sense of “I-ness” that identifies with our limitations begins to dissolve. When, time and again, we stray from the knowledge of who we really are, God is there to steer us back on course towards our own highest potential.

So as we enter the new year, remember, whatever the outer circumstances, to keep your love for God foremost in your mind. This is the most powerful and effective way to turn our resolutions into realities.

Referring to the passage quoted earlier, Swami Kriyananda writes in The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita: Explained by Paramhansa Yogananda: “Thus, the highest teaching, which Krishna expounds here, is to love God, the Infinite Spirit, above all: ‘to meditate on Him as one’s very own.’ God alone can lift us out of the relativities of karmic merits and demerits into the absolute peace and freedom of Infinite Being.”

Wishing you a blessed and joyful New Year,

Nayaswami Devi