Loving and Divine Soul,

Let the choicest blessings of God and the masters be upon you all. I pray for all of you while the entire world celebrates Christmas and prepares to welcome the 2015 New Year. Let these festive days create a spirit of joy, peace, and love, not only at this time, but during every breath, for all time to come. Remember that success in life is possible due to sincere effort and divine grace.

The grace of the Divine is more available to those who dedicate their lives to hard work with a positive and prayerful attitude. Gurudev often reminded us that life is not an empty dream.

Discipline, dutifulness, and devotion are the three determinants of our success in any field. As a regularly cleaned copper pot shines brightly, in the same way, when we work sincerely and diligently, we experience the crowning achievements.

A beautiful verse in Sanskrit says:

pathato nasti murkhatvam japato nasti patakam
jagratastu bhayam nasti kalaho nasti mauninah

"One who studies is free from ignorance. One who remembers God or chants the divine name is free from downfall. One who is always alert is free from fear. One who observes silence has no conflict with others."

In this verse, there is insistence on practice, whether it is study, japa, alertness, or even observing silence.

  1. Study is not an occasional entertainment; it is a regular habit. One who studies knows. I have seen my Gurudev with a few scriptures next to his pillow, which he could read whenever he wanted. Study also includes meditation. Study is the door to knowledge that removes ignorance from our lives. We should study every day. A good book is a good friend and gives us good company.
  2. Japa means chanting the divine name, praying, meditating, or practicing any other spiritual discipline. Japa is also observing the breath while giving thanks to God (ajapa japa). Someone who practices this will be free from downfall; the divine power will protect this person during difficulties. We should maintain our spiritual practices, especially observing the breath while giving thanks to the Lord.
  3. Alertness or Vigilance: A proverb says, "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." Constant awareness of the inner Self ("who I am") produces an inner awakening and freedom from all fear, including the fear of death.
  4. Silence is an art and a science. It is a dynamic philosophy in practice. Unknowingly, we observe silence every day during deep sleep. Knowingly, we practice it during meditation. One who is intelligent speaks less and reflects more. Too much talk breeds conflict and confusion. We should use the special art of speaking in our daily lives to live better, more peaceful lives.

New Year is coming. We make many new resolutions, but as Gurudev said, "An ounce of practice is better than tons of theories." We must be regular and diligent in our practices. Time is constantly, incessantly flowing; it never waits for anyone. When we use time well, we have more opportunity. Let us live prayerful and vigilant lives. Let us be worthy instruments in the hands of the Lord.

This year in India two special events are going to occur: the Navakalevara of Lord Jagannath, when the forms of the Lord change, which has not happened for nineteen years, and the Kumbha Mela of Nasik, which has not occurred in twelve years.

On the occasion of Christmas and the New Year, I am sending my love and best wishes to all of you, and I am praying for all those in need in this creation.

With Love,
Prajnanananda

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