The disciples said to him, Your brothers and your mother are standing outside.
He said to them, Those here who do the will of my father are my brothers and my mother. It is they who will enter the kingdom of my father. (99)
Before beginning an analysis of this verse I would like to point out that “brothers” do not necessarily mean children of one’s mother, but also cousins. This is still the situation in India. Having met the only brother of a good friend of mine, I was bewildered when my friend kept introducing me to men, saying: “This is my brother.” When after about half a dozen of these introductions I said that I thought he had only one brother, he answered: “Yes. But these are my cousin-brothers!” Then I got the idea. Actually, I have been amazed at how much a few visits to India can clarify many aspects of Jesus’ life of two thousand years ago.
“If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Corinthians 5:17). “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea” (Revelation 21:1). “And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new” (Revelation 21:5). When someone begins living an authentic spiritual life, everything begins to change. Even while in this world, the sea of samsara begins to evaporate for him. If this does not happen, then the new life in the spirit has not begun and something is seriously wrong.
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2). Part of the renewing process is the acquisition of a spiritual family, of spiritual friends. This is a very important part of spiritual life, and frankly if you live in an area where you cannot find such new relations, then please seriously consider moving to another place altogether.
Yogananda often said: “Company is stronger than will power.” Satsanga, company with seekers of God, is an essential factor in spiritual life, and often means the difference between perseverance and failure. This I have seen throughout the more than fifty years of being a yogi. In fact, as soon as I learned about yoga I began making arrangements to move halfway across the country so I could be with other yogis and learn from them. That was one of the most sensible things I have ever done. Every day I lived in close personal contact with yogis who meant business, many of whom had lived for years with Paramhansa Yogananda. Those years were truly the happiest and most blessed of my life.
We have a close relation with our parents and family and often owe them a great deal, but when the path of light opens before us we should realize that there is a much more significant family for us to join: the company of devotees of God. Those who live for God and seek to enter the kingdom of his boundless light and life are our real family. Hopefully we will no longer be coming back to this world and earthly birth and family, but will step up to the next rung on the ladder and live with those who have sought and found, knocked and opened. They are those that will be with us all the way to liberation in Spirit. Jesus knew this, and so should we.
Read the next article in the Gospel of Thomas for Yogis: Three Debts