There was once a man of such holiness and humility that he attracted the interest of the Heavenly Father. A messenger from God was sent to him to offer him any boon that he requested.
At first the saint could think of nothing to ask for, but then he said, “In my travels as a wandering monk, many people’s paths cross my own. Grant me the gift that wherever I go, when my shadow falls on someone, that he or she be healed or blessed. But, grant me a further gift: may I never know.”
I’m reading a remarkable book now, Threads of Fate, written by a friend of mine in Boston, Anna Shapiro. She tells the story of five generations of her family of Russian Jews: of the hardship, deprivation, and anti-Semitism they faced for more than a century in Russia.
But her story is remarkable not only for the difficulties they faced, but for its depiction of the indomitable strength, courage, tenacity, and deep spirituality of the human spirit.
In 1978, Anna and her family requested exit visas to come to America, knowing that it was unlikely that would receive them and that they would be fired from their jobs as a result. For ten years their visas were denied, and, though highly educated, they survived only on subsistence work. Finally in 1988, due to international pressure on behalf of Soviet Jews, the visas were granted, and they able to immigrate to America.
Along her journey in Russia, Anna began studying and then teaching yoga, though at the time this was punishable by imprisonment. She also found a spiritual teacher, Joseph, who was a disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda. Then in the mid-1980’s Anna made an important connection.
She writes: “Joseph told me that in America, in California, there was a center called Ananda, which in Sanskrit means, ‘bliss.’ This was a community of people living in the spirit of cooperation. One day Joseph showed me Ananda’s magazine in English. I asked him where he had gotten it from, and he said: ‘I cannot tell you.’ He had translated all the articles word by word into Russian by himself, using a dictionary. Joseph also told me: ‘You cannot imagine how much joy fills my heart when I read the Ananda Master’s articles about spiritual yoga.’ And he added that this internal spiritual connection with Ananda gave him the strength to live, maintained his belief in God, and kept him consciously aware of the need for devotion to the chosen path—spiritual yoga.
“For me it was just an unbelievable dream to visit Ananda and meet with such spiritual people. I couldn’t even imagine at that time that 14 years later I would be able to go there and enjoy meeting these wonderful people, some of whom became my friends.”
In the mid-1980’s I was part of the team that put together Ananda’s quarterly magazine. Little did we know the blessings that were received where its shadow fell in distant Moscow, or that Anna would find her way to her spiritual family. God is the Doer.
Anna’s book is in the pre-publication stage. If you would like to receive information about it, please contact Ananda Sangha Worldwide