Its true origin is unclear. Some say it was from ancient Egypt, others from Greek mythology, but whatever its source, the phoenix—the immortal bird which rises anew from its own ashes—is a powerful symbol for us today. Both literally and figuratively, the world does seem to be crumbling into ashes: literally, as the cities of Ukraine are being destroyed by warfare; and figuratively, with the continuing pain and loss caused by the pandemic. People everywhere, sensing a grim future, are gripped with feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Yet, as with the rising phoenix, there is also the possibility that this is a time of rebirth and hope for a better world. The teachings of India say that all of creation is a constant cycle of death and rebirth, Samsara. Whether it be the soul’s cycle of reincarnation, or the yuga cycles of rising and falling civilizations, behind it all is a movement of renewal and growth towards higher consciousness.
Each of us can help the phoenix rise from the ashes and emerge into a future filled with peace, prosperity, and well-being for all. Yogananda gave us four Tools of Wisdom to help build this future. #1: “The season of failure is the best time for planting the seeds of success.”
Though prospects may seem bleak at present, look beneath what’s happening on the surface. The barren soil is being cleared of the dying plants of old ways of thinking so that seeds of new consciousness can take root. What are these seeds? The understanding that life is constantly reborn; that success springs from failure; and that God’s plan for all of us is rooted in love and meant to bring our highest happiness.
This is a hard concept to accept at first, but eventually it is the only thing that is true and constant. It is my personal salvation. “Its always darkest before the dawn!”Never so true.
#2: Every test we face is a test of our will power, and if we choose to use it, we always have the strength to be victorious. Once we understand that every challenge comes for the sole purpose of awakening our soul power, the path to victory becomes relatively straightforward and simple. Yogananda offered this beautiful prayer: “I will welcome all tests because I know that within me is the intelligence to understand and the power to overcome.” Don’t focus on the details of each test, but see the flow of energy that will surmount it. The ability to succeed is inherent within us, if we use our God-given intelligence and will power.
#3: “There are no obstacles, there are only opportunities.” Someone once said, “When God closes one door, He opens another, but it’s hell in the hallway.” Doors are closing behind us as old ways of living are dying, and we may feel uncertain as we stand in the hallway of the present without a clear way forward. But if we can trust that facing the obstacles confronting us is the next step in our unfoldment, then new doors of opportunities begin to open for our inner growth.
#4: “Change yourself, and you have done your part in changing the world.” Are we helpless beings in the grips of mindless aggression and devastating disease? Not at all! Using spiritual techniques, we can do our part to change ourself. As each of us faces the world with determination, courage, and hope, we can help the phoenix take birth anew, rising with strength and glory from the ashes of the old. One person, or a small group of like-minded people, seeking higher consciousness can do more good for the world than millions lost in the grip of delusion. It only takes one, will it be you?