Sister Jenna answers the question:
What is the nicest thing a non-family member has ever done for you?
That's such a hard question, I have to tell you, because I tend to pay attention to a lot of the small things, especially the small acts of kindness that somebody shares for me or to me, but there's one that's standing out right now.
I was very young in my spiritual journey with the Brahma Kumaris, and I was going through a hard ego crunch, you know? There I was, running my two nightclubs, and dating, and jet-setting with my luxury cars, and dressing up all fancy, and thinking that life is about just the image, the image.
I had the introduction of the Brahma Kumaris since I was 17, so I saw the transformation in my mother's life and in my stepfather's life. And when I had met the sisters, there was such an angelic presence about every single one of them that I met. So I just had this feeling that this was just a good bunch of folks, but I had no intentions that I would even try to do this path. I mean, come on. I mean, I'm a nightclub owner, right? It's just an opposite experience to the way that they were living.
I was at the meditation center in Miami, Florida, and I was sitting on the ground. And Dadi Janki, her picture's behind me actually, she's 103 today and she's still alive. Dadi had seen me in class and had invited me to come and try the path. Just openly and with complete trust, complete trust, I said, "Yes, I'm ready."
So I was shipped off to New York where I stayed in an ashram with about seven sisters for approximately three to four years — it was going on four years. But those were the most hardest years for me, not because I was not a good person. I really deeply know I am, I am a good person. But there was an ego crunching going on, and the yogi, who is stellar and just knows how to build a character in a person, held back nothing less than to break my ego in such a way that I would have to allow God's love to flow through me. But at the time, I didn't know.
About maybe seven years in the journey, there was a very deep pain that I was concealing just to myself. I hadn't told anybody about what I was going through, even though some of the things I thought weren't really right, it wasn't the point. The point was I felt hurt, I felt insulted, which meant there was ego and my personality.
I was in India and I had just gone in to say good morning to Dadi Janki, and she could sense there was something in me that was hurting. But I smiled and, "Hi, Dadi. Om shanti. Nice to see you," and all of that. But she sees beyond this mask. When I left her room, she sent her assistant to call me back. When I went back into her room to sit, she says, "Empty your heart." Just pause for a little, everyone. When somebody calls you back and just says to you with permission and in a safe space, Dadi just told me, "Empty your heart." I just busted out with all the stuff that I was holding in me, feeling like I was completely alone in whatever it was that I was going through... that I thought that her ability to see through me was the nicest thing anyone could have ever done for me. Because so many people see you at the surface, they don't always see through you. So I'd say that the fact that Dadi paused and saw through me and gave me the safety to unload what I was holding in my heart, is the nicest thing someone could've ever done for me.
Sister Jenna is the founder and director of the Brahma Kumaris Meditation Museums in Maryland and Virginia, the host of the America Meditating radio show, an author, and a renowned speaker. She serves as one of the Evolutionary Leaders in service to conscious evolution, and was selected by Empower a Billion Women 2020 as one of the 100 Most Influential Leaders of 2015.
Sister Jenna also served as a principal partner with the Oprah Winfrey Network and Values Partnerships on the Oprah Winfrey Belief Team, a community of individuals from diverse spiritual, cultural, and faith backgrounds. She was recently awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters degree by St. Thomas Aquinas College for her many years of dedication and service to humanity. She is a contributing author in the book, Mr. President: Interfaith Perspectives on the Historic Presidency of Barack H. Obama.
Sister Jenna’s compassion for humanity is expressed through the variety of initiatives she spearheads for youth, women, governments, and communities. Her mission is to decode critical current issues and offer a perspective for folks to find clarity, power, and insight. Despite the many life challenges that we face on a global scale, Sister Jenna has an uncanny ability to connect us back to where our problems originated — and to shift our awareness toward solutions. Her voice of influence is particularly needed in the wake of tragedy and increasing violence in our world.
Sister Jenna is the recipient of numerous awards, including the President’s Lifetime National Community Service Award, the Everyday Hero Award by The Foundation for A Better Life, and the Friendship Archway Awards, to name a few.
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This article appears in: 2019 Catalyst, Issue 23: Visionaries Global Summit