Having made a very blessed journey to India in the weeks before Thanksgiving this year, my heart is filled with special gratitude for the life-transforming teachings brought from our spiritual homeland by Gurudeva Paramahansa Yogananda; and for all of you — his cherished divine family of devotees around the world who so beautifully manifest those ideals in daily living.
When Guruji first arrived in America many years ago, he rejoiced to find a national holiday set aside for the expression of gratitude to family, to friends, and — most of all — to the Divine who is the ultimate source of all good things in our lives. Our Guru’s adoption of the Thanksgiving holiday as a spiritual observance quickly became a joyous tradition in his ashrams. From the example he set, we learn how the inward practice of gratitude can become a powerful technique for uplifting and permanently transforming our consciousness.
Thanksgiving brings a divine opportunity to open our hearts and minds anew to God’s omnipresence — to see Him behind His intricate handiwork in nature, in each soul He has created as a unique reflection of Himself, and in everything that is good and beautiful. As Gurudeva has told us, “God is not remote from His creation; He is always with us….The whole universe trembles with His presence.” He reminds us, too, that the Divine is within us as well. We could not think or feel, or draw a single breath without Him. Yet amidst the pressures of daily life, how easily we can lose sight of our supreme Benefactor and take for granted His gifts. It is by cultivating a grateful heart that we are able to see beyond the veil of maya and perceive Him behind His many guises. Thoughts of thankfulness and appreciation — even for little things — lighten our hearts and uplift our consciousness, drawing us closer to Him, opening wider the channel for His blessings to flow unobstructed into our lives.
While God gives to us without expecting our thanks, when of our own free will we express our appreciation, how much sweeter and more personal our relationship with Him becomes. Our faith in Him grows, and we begin to see a different world — vibrant with the reality of His infinitely caring presence. We find joy and security not just in His gifts, but in the love of the Giver. Trusting in His wisdom and ever-present support, we are able to discover even in challenging circumstances hidden gems of deeper understanding and spiritual strength.
The ability to live in a spirit of gratitude does not necessarily depend on the fulfillment of desires. It is a choice we can make each day with the knowledge that regardless of outer circumstances we will always have one supreme blessing — God’s eternal love. That truth can be most deeply experienced when in the temple of meditation His soothing peace permeates your being, and His divine love fills your expanding heart. May your gratitude to God for the transforming power of that gift in your own life overflow into kindness and service to others, that they too may feel through you His loving care.
A blessed Thanksgiving to you and your dear ones,
Brother Chidananda, President