As time went on, I began to feel more and more world-weary. I kept thinking, "I wish I had more time; I just wish I had more time." My schedule was so busy that I needed some time alone, some time to rest. I needed some time to contemplate and digest all the blessings I had received and generated during so many years of dedicated spiritual practice, study, and service. I needed to stop and rearrange my priorities, however, I was just too busy to do so.
I was working up to eighty or even one-hundred hours a week, putting all my precious time into projects that were somewhat fulfilling in a creative sense, but not truly where my heart's desire was leaning. I'm sure that many have felt what I was feeling -- a certain satisfaction with success, but also a deep inner questioning of whether this was all I was meant to do with my grand gift of life.
Eventually, my wish for more time came, although in a slightly unexpected way. I became physically ill, and could barely do anything for nearly seven years. I had to quit both of my jobs, and would just sit and sit and sit. I had no idea that the challenge would go on for so long, or that my life would become so simplified by the physical limitations, along with the resultant financial limitations.
Around the same time, an even more challenging scenario emerged. Someone who I'd considered the dearest of friends, and who I'd helped to clarify and achieve her greatest dreams and goals, began to spread untrue rumors about me throughout our spiritual community. We had recently grown apart, and astonishingly, instead of offering the kindness and care that I would have certainly offered to her, my dear old friend was trying to harm my reputation and spirit during my time of illness and poverty. What a surprise that was.
As my friend's untrue rumor spread through our worldwide spiritual "village," it quickly ate away at decades of spiritual friendship and community. Nearly everyone who I had considered as a friend evaporated, like dust. There I was, after ten amazing years of monastic life and seven exciting years of Hollywood life - too physically ill to work, about to enter years of financial poverty, and completely alone in this world.
In the midst of all this, came an inner experience that helped me to approach this new shift with a refreshed sense of enthusiasm and gratitude.
While sitting quietly one day, I remembered my oft-repeated wish for more time. "If I could only have more time. I just need to have some time alone." Ahh, yes. That had been my ongoing wish during all those years in Hollywood.
"I just need to have some time alone." I had been longing for a solitude away from the vibrations of thought, greed, ambition, useless speech, empty relationships, and false facades of communication and miscommunications. And that's just what God had given to me. See? We have to be careful about how we word our wishes! Be specific!
Nevertheless, this realization helped me to see the unfolding events with a dual perspective. Along with plugging away through the day-to-day challenges, I also realized that I'd been given exactly what I'd asked for. I now had day after day of precious, peaceful, quiet time for relishing the blissful comfort of being completely alone.
The recognition of this new set of life circumstances as a gift from God shifted my approach. I wanted to make good use of this gift. Instead of just wallowing in misery or self-pity, I used this time and these circumstances to reconnect with my deeper spiritual wisdom. From there, I began, once again, to arrange and rearrange my priorities.
First, I looked at my physical situation. With a growing list of troubling and painful ailments, I considered that this failing health might possibly be leading to my time of leaving this world.
I was feeling more or less at peace with that possibility, when, in the midst of this contemplation, I "heard" an inner command arising from the depths of my soul. The initial words of this inner guidance were, "First, you have to share what you've learned."
Along with this directive came a bird's eye view of all the varied experiences I'd had throughout my life, along with a glimpse of my deeper soul goals. Within this vision, all my different life scenarios and phases - from youth, to college, to a monastic life, to Hollywood, to this time of aloneness and infirmity - seemed to all fit together and make perfect sense.
That moment of seeing it all fit together and make sense was truly a great gift, which uplifted me into a whole new level of spiritual happiness. Right in the midst of those challenging times came this most precious gift - an ability to see my life from above and beyond my personal, individual self. With this vision, I entered a new level of trust in the perfect orchestration of life.
I'd also been given a clear directive from within. I now had a new guiding light for arranging my priorities into the next phase. I was to share what I learned, whenever and however I was guided to do it in each moment. I knew that if I could approach this undertaking with the right attitude and pure motivation, God, the universal Good, would also support and work together with me, protecting, empowering, and guiding my steps. I didn't feel a sense of burden in fulfilling this command to "share what you've learned." Instead, I experienced a sense of willingness, faith, and surrender - and with that, came a great flow of spiritual happiness.
While focusing on my deeper priorities to love, serve, and trust God, I also found that the right people, projects and experiences started to naturally arrive in my life at just the right time - including this book, which came about during lunch at a café next to the sacred gardens and hermitage in Encinitas, California, where the Indian sage, Paramahamsa Yogananda, wrote the spiritual classic "Autobiography of a Yogi" many decades ago.
On this day, I had been running some errands, and decided to stop and have lunch at a small outdoor restaurant, called "Swami's Café," which I hadn't been to in years. While enjoying my meal, I overheard a fellow at the table next to me asking the waitress about Yogananda and the gardens across the street. She responded that she didn't really know much about them.
Being the helpful type, I kindly piped in to tell the man what he wanted to know, and we ended up having a friendly and interesting discussion. It turns out that this fellow was Avery Cardoza, one of the publishers for Cold Spring Press, who was visiting San Diego for two days, and had somehow ended up at Swami's Café. Soon, I was writing "Secrets of Spiritual Happiness" for their new "Secrets of..." series, and here we are.
This is one example of how arranging and rearranging our priorities can help to bring us into "the flow." When our priorities are clear, the universe is better able to work with us in bringing them into form. We're not just walking recklessly through life, tossing out conflicting desires and resolutions with every step. Clearer priorities tend to bring clearer results.
When we enter that deep spiritual flow, the universe itself supports and guides our steps. For example, our inner intuition may give a thumb's up or a thumb's down regarding what we are doing in each moment. By listening to this inner guidance and approaching our lives with strength, wisdom, and surrender, we can assess what is right for us, and what is best left for someone else to do.
Consider how much time you spend on arranging your furniture, your office, your kitchen, garage, finances, and household work. Arranging your priorities deserves even more care and effort than these other tasks!
Taking time to arrange your priorities is truly a great step towards attaining spiritual happiness.
Secrets of Spiritual Happiness
Book, e-book, and audio book
The Audio Book:
Secrets of Spiritual Happiness
Table of Contents
by Sharon Janis
Section One: Exploring Happiness
Section Two: Introducing Spiritual Happiness
Section Three: 39 Secrets of Spiritual Happiness
3. Know Thyself
14. Choose Happiness
28. Be a Blessing
38. Enjoy the Trip!
39. Be Optimistic
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of Free Multimedia Spiritual Resources
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