BANAT BANAT BANJAI – How to lighten our daily load

Experiences and reflections from a disciple

Lahiri Mahasaya

In the last blog, we explained that Lahiri Mahashaya‘s phrase: banat, banat, banjai (keep doing, doing, one day it will be done!) is his immortal promise for achieving our goals.

We have seen how the four P’s: Passion, Perseverance, Patience and Presence, can lead us to our supreme goal, the fulfilment of our soul’s desires, both material and spiritual.

But today, I’d like to talk to you about how we can use the four P’s to make us love what we don’t love: the duties, jobs, situations or relationships that we are obliged to face and carry out and that can become so burdensome that they seem like real drags on our daily lives.

BANAT BANAT BANJAI - How to lighten our daily loadHowever, our Masters teach us that we can make our lives light and that even the heaviest tasks can become a unique opportunity to learn to be truly happy, regardless of external circumstances.

Yogananda tells us in his spiritual diary, in the chapter on obedience¹:

“When you are unwilling to perform a task you are tired from the beginning, and when you are willing you are full of energy. Always work willingly and you will find that you are sustained by the indefatigable power of God”.

Why such a sentence in the chapter on obedience? It seemed strange at first, but then I asked myself: obedience to whom or to what? In my opinion, Yogananda meant that we must obey the fact that our soul has the sacred right to be in bliss, and that our “obedience” in this incarnation is manifested in the pursuit of this end, in everything we do, say and think.

If we go back to the first P, Passion, we immediately realise that if we want to change our relationship with our duties, to counteract the ‘tiredness’ we feel just thinking about them, we need to get the energy flowing! How can we do this? With our willpower.

When I was a teenager, I really liked a boy, but he didn’t seem to notice me. One afternoon, on my way home from school, I felt very tired, lacking in energy, my forehead was burning and my stomach hurt. I couldn’t wait to go to bed, which I did as soon as I got home.

I’d just dozed off when the phone rang – it was the boy of my dreams! He was calling to ask me to go dancing that evening. You can imagine what happened next: I jumped out of bed, already full of energy, took a hot shower, carefully chose my clothes, put on my make-up and was ready to go out! I had a lovely evening, completely cured, happy and full of energy, as I did for the next few days. A small miracle born of such strong motivation of my will to generate a powerful flow of healing energy. Imagine the latent power within us, ready to be used, if only we knew how to light its fuse!

BANAT BANAT BANJAI - How to lighten our daily load

Temple of Light

A young Frenchman, Yan, had come to Ananda Assisi to take part in a service programme. He was happy to do anything, but he told us that he couldn’t clean the toilets because it made him sick. One morning, most of the people who were supposed to be on duty were away, the guests were arriving and there was no one to clean the Temple toilets. Yan reluctantly agreed to do it. They told me that at one point they saw him leave the temple, tears streaming down his face, tears of emotion. I was cleaning the toilets,” he says, trying not to retch, “when I started thinking: ‘I’m cleaning God’s throne’ and the more I repeated it in my head, the more waves of happiness, lightness and joy came over me. It was an experience I’ll never forget!”

Yan had found the key, he had ignited his passion and put his energy into action, making this cleaning a service dedicated to God and this had completely transformed his perception of what he was doing.

It’s the same for us, let’s be active and try to find something inspiring in what we ‘have’ to do.

Another example: I hated doing the dishes, even filling the dishwasher seemed an insurmountable task! I came to Ananda as a favour and, of course, according to the law of magnetism (we attract what suits us), they put me in charge of the washing up… I began my service by doing what they had explained to me, but almost immediately I tried to see if I could find a quicker, more efficient and less tiring way of doing it. With passion, I applied my creativity to improve what I was doing, which made it interesting and therefore enjoyable. This way of approaching my tasks still works today!

But as we already know, we need to maintain this passion, especially when our tedious tasks require a daily commitment, a constant effort. We have to persevere, give ourselves time to experiment, adapt, learn and never lose heart!

Yogananda used to say that this life is a dream, a school where our soul comes to learn and where we return, incarnation after incarnation, until we realise that we are immortal souls, one with God. Today, Yogananda might also say that this life is like a video game!

We start the first, still unfamiliar level, joystick in hand, and almost immediately we identify with the character we are moving around the screen – we become him! We jump with fear if an enemy shoots at us, we rejoice when we manage to overcome a difficult challenge and, as we lose ourselves in the game, we forget that it’s not us!  And then, of course, every time we make a wrong move, we lose points and even our lives! And we have to start the level all over again. But we like to play and we like a challenge, so we persevere until, thanks to our mistakes, we learn how to move, what to do, and we finish the level, then move on to the next one until the end of the game.

Perseverance helps us not to give up, and Paramhansa Yogananda has given us affirmations, a marvellous tool that helps us to nurture it, making positive inroads on those made by habit. With affirmations, we can transform our “I can’t’s” into “I can’s”. Remember that perseverance, as Saint Teresa of Avila says!

St Teresa of Lisieux had a sister who was always very rude to everyone, harsh and nasty. Teresa felt guilty for judging her, and went to ask her Mother Superior for advice. The Mother Superior told her to observe her sister’s behaviour very carefully and to find a quality in her. It was the only one that would make her love her.

So Teresa observed her sister, but all she saw were attitudes that confirmed what she thought. But one day she saw her sitting on a bench, throwing crumbs to the birds. This simple gesture was the key that finally opened Teresa’s heart. She didn’t lose heart and persevered in her search, finally finding a reason to feel close to her.

We have a great ally on our journey to lighten our daily burdens, the third P: Patience.

As we have seen, external circumstances are neutral, it’s how we react to them that makes the difference! In this case, patience is more about ourselves. We need to give ourselves time to change, to love ourselves for who we are, to respect the fact that we’re on a journey and that by learning from our mistakes we can achieve happiness.

Cave with stalagmites and stalactites

A few days ago, I went to visit the Toirano caves in Liguria. They’re magnificent and imposing, carved out by rivers, they contain stalagmites and stalactites, limestone formations that have developed, drop by drop, over thousands of years – what patience nature has had to create such a marvel!

To be patient, it is important to have a calm heart, one that is not overwhelmed by anxiety or fear. Pranayama – the control of energy through the control of the breath – is an ancient technique that helps us to come back to the centre when we need to, an excellent ally that will help us to achieve our goal!

Another excellent ally is the fourth P: Presence. If we want to be happy in everything we do, we have to be channels and let God work through us. We must be filled with gratitude for this life that is a gift. If we are present here and now, not lost in a past that no longer exists or a future that does not yet exist, we will be able to welcome our daily tasks as an opportunity for our souls to place themselves at the service of creation and transform them into a joy for our hearts. Do you remember the quote at the beginning? “When you’re full of goodwill, you feel full of energy. Always work with joy and you will see that you are supported by the indefatigable power of God”. This goodwill generates energy and this energy needs to be directed; daily meditation, for example, helps us find the centring we need to be able to direct the energy inwards and upwards, without dispersing it.

Gyanamata, Paramhansa Yogananda’s most evolved disciple, left us a little phrase of inestimable value: “don’t think about changing circumstances, change yourself“. Let’s follow this simple rule and banat, banat, banjai! Keep doing and one day it will be done. And I’m not talking about our daily tasks, I’m talking about the different attitudes we slowly develop towards them. Until we’ve learned our lesson and finally see the GAME OVER, or as we used to say when playing hide and seek: everyone’s free!

¹ Spiritual Diary – An Inspirational Thought for Each Day of the Year, Sri Sri Paramhansa Yogananda and others, Yogoda Satsanga Society of India, Chapter January 19

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