Growing and Inner Knowing

There’s a topic that is fundamental to our humanity.  It’s simple; it’s the most basic understanding you have to have as a human being to have any kind of life at all.  It is this: You have to understand that every human being is in this world for one reason and one reason only, and that is to grow.  We are in this world to grow, just like every other living thing on this earth.

By now, after forty some years of practice, I have a pretty good idea about what that means.  If I were going to make it simple, I would say we are in this world to grow love. The process is actually a bit more complicated than that, but let’s just say that if we really understand about growing love, and we try to practice that, then the rest of the understanding is going to come to us. That is an understanding that allows us to make contact with and grow in the awareness of what is absolutely essential about our existence—the part that is infinite and eternal and never goes away.  In that experience of what is infinite and eternal, what never goes away, you will find such peace and such strength and such richness in your life that it will, on a regular basis, blow your mind.

Swami Chetanananda with Pat Shoemaker, his mother

That was the experience I had with my mother, who passed away a couple of years ago.  My mother was a fundamentalist Catholic, and my upbringing was all about “us” and “them.”  My mother lived the last six months of her life in my ashram, and when she passed, she was completely beyond any notion of us and them. She had come to really understand that life was very simply and essentially about one thing, and that is love.  My mother!  A Catholic!  While she held to the religious model she was operating in to the very end, she also completely transcended it by understanding that anybody who could really open their heart was going to find a complete release from tension and an endless renewal of the richness in their life. She came to understand that that kind of aliveness is what the term “saved” refers to.  That’s so amazing.  I never expected it to happen.

When you understand that you’re in this world to grow, and you’re really trying, your primary value is not to get a job, it’s not to get a relationship, it’s not to make a family, it’s not whatever it is most people do.  Also, if you do those things and you are growing, there’s something deeper than that that you have to be doing in yourself to make them rich and meaningful experiences.  Unless you are focused on growing, it’s all just a struggle. 

Sometimes people will say, “I don’t know what it means,” or  “I don’t understand how to do it, how to grow.”  All I can say in response is that there is a place inside you that knows.  There’s a place inside everybody that knows.  Just as nobody had to explain to the sperm and the egg that came together in your mother what they had to do.  Nobody had to tell them, “You’ve got to become this person.”  Nobody ever had to tell a seed, “Oh, you’ve got to become a tree and this is how you’ve got to do it.  There’s a manual over here.  How to become a tree — all seeds must read.”  Right?  I don’t think so.  Rather, there is a place in everybody, a place deep in your heart, in your real heart, that just knows.

The work we do here is the work of peeling away tensions and self-doubt. We are peeling away all of the struggle and coming into connection with that place in our heart, that place deeply inside us that knows what it needs to do.  This knowing is not an intellectual knowing.  It’s not like you’re going to suddenly have an answer—that you  open your heart and read the book in there.  This isn’t something you will ever be able to intellectualize. It is, in fact, a knowing that is energetic, and it will guide you.

You will be guided, as you do your inner work, and you open your heart and you cultivate in yourself all the qualities of a loving person, as you experience the sweetness in yourself and the joy in yourself that is there every single day. You’ll find it is dependent on nothing except you knocking and opening that door.  As that extraordinary fineness comes out of you, it will lead you into all the things you need to do to unwind your tensions, to complete yourself, and to be released from all of the tensions and all of the limitations of your family life.  You will be able to draw to yourself all the nourishment that your parents never had to give you, that their parents never had to give them, that their parents never has to give them, all the way back to the beginning of time.  You will transcend the limitations, the disappointments of your ancestors.

Your life has a life of its own that it wants to express through you.  It has nothing to do with anything that your parents ever taught you. When you make contact with your own heart and that place in you that knows what it wants to do and you have the courage to hold that space of love, then your life will become what I call an unimaginable possibility.  It will be unimaginably rich and unimaginably beautiful.