In many ways my entire life feels blessed. I’ve practiced meditation daily for three years,
Desires are dropping away, and those that remain are often fulfilled in a sweet way by the Divine Mother. Every day I feel inspiration and Love.
Still I have no visions or other unusual experiences. I’ve witnessed no miracles. In some ways, I feel I am spiritually “blind and deaf.”
I feel that a little bit of experience would tip me from belief to faith. Lacking that experience, it is hard to develop devotion. Because of this lack, I feel wobbly even about the positive things. I’m already middle-aged. How long will I have to wait?
Doubt can steal the sunlight from even the brightest day. So many wonderful things are happening in your life. And yet….
In his autobiography, The New Path: My Life With Paramhansa Yogananda, Swami Kriyananda described his battle with doubt as a young disciple. [The link is to the free online version of the book.] The solution he discovered was love. Alas, you are in “double trouble.” Because of your doubts, you hesitate to love.
I don’t know if I can say anything that will help you break this unfortunate situation. But let me try. I ask your forgiveness if what I say feels harsh. I sympathize with your troubles and hope that by speaking plainly I can show you a way out of this self-created limitation.
Let me start by rewriting your letter as a note from your son to you.
Thanks so much for raising me thus far. We have a great home. I love my room. The meals are fabulous, and I always find something good to eat. My clothes are super. I love my bicycle. You picked a good school for me, and you are always there to help with homework. However, two of my friends now have motorcycles. It seems I ought to have one, too. I’ve told you this several times. You say you love me, but how can I believe you since you know how much I want a motorcycle and you don’t give it to me? I’m already fourteen years old. How long must I wait before the motorcycle comes?
Am I misrepresenting your situation with this semi-humorous story? Surely there are similarities.
Here is another way to look at it.
God’s love is omnipresent, unconditional, eternal. Every breath you take, your very existence, is an expression of His commitment to you.
How have you responded? I am not singling you out as worse than the rest of us. But, let’s face it! For more incarnations than we can imagine, we have turned our backs on the only One who truly loves us. Madly we have pursued every possible dead-end, “looking for love in all the wrong places.”
Finally it has occurred to you that maybe God is the solution. So for three years you have given him your meditations. And still – no miracles! No crashing waves of AUM! How inconsiderate of Him!
Of course I am joking. But, not really.
I am reminded of an interview I heard on the radio. Two men in their early twenties had just become multimillionaires when the company they started went public.
The interviewer said, “Already you have earned fifty times more than your fathers earned in their lives. How do you feel?”
The young multimillionaires were surprised by the question. “After all,” one of them said, “we devoted two years of our lives to building this company!”
It is not up to God to woo us. He is faithful. It is we who have strayed. Now we have to prove to Him that our love is sincere and unwavering.
We are in no position to demand – or expect – tokens of His commitment to us. Still, you have been showered with them. Ah, but there are still “a few other items” on your list that haven’t come. Like a child, you are comparing your gifts with those of God’s other children, and you feel you have been shortchanged.
Am I being unfair? The point is that being a devotee is not a business transaction. It is a relationship of love.
How endearing would it be if your son made his faith in your love dependent on the next expensive gift? How likely is it that you would give him a motorcycle? Not very likely! Because you know that it wouldn’t be good for him, not with his present attitude. You love him too much to want to feed the delusion that material things are the proof of your love, and that blackmail is the way to get what he wants from you.
There is no “proof” of His love that God is obligated to give you. You say that you trust your intuition – maybe enough to put your mind behind your beliefs, but not enough to risk your heart.
Again, perhaps I am being unfair, but that is how your letter sounds. “Without these experiences, I can’t develop devotion.” Which is to say, “Unless God meets my standard of proof, I’m going to keep my love locked inside.” Who do you think will suffer from that decision? You? Or the God who is all Love Itself?
Let’s put it another way: What are you afraid of?
Despite all you’ve given to your son, he declares that unless you come through with a motorcycle, it is all over between you. When you think of it that way, it’s silly, isn’t it?
I am not trying to mock you. I am only trying, in this extreme way, to help you understand the implications of what you are feeling. Your inclination to weigh and measure sometimes serves the cause of truth, and sometimes it blocks it completely. In a love relationship, there comes a point when you just have to go with your heart.
Swami Kriyananda tells the story of a brother monk in Paramhansa Yogananda’s ashram. This man had many miraculous experiences and deep meditations. Yet in the end he left the ashram and the spiritual path, whereas Swamiji never wavered in his whole-hearted self-offering to God and Guru, even though he didn’t have such high experiences.
Later, he realized that Yogananda gave the man those experiences to try to save him from being swept away by delusion.
Do you think that God would hold back those experiences if they would truly help you spiritually? Can you imagine another reason why He refuses to give them to you? For example, could it be your need to develop the courage to open your heart in trust to Him, without the kind of “proof” you are demanding?
To call yourself “spiritually blind and deaf” is an insult to yourself and to God. Also, you are holding a mistaken idea – a dangerous idea – that the experiences your friends are having mean that they are more favored by God. “All my friends have motorcycles. Obviously, their fathers love them and mine does not.”
Such an attitude won’t help you develop devotion. Nor will it draw God’s love to you. He has showered you with many blessings. You describe your life as “charmed.” Still – well, no motorcycle!
And if you do give your son the motorcycle, will it secure his love forever? Or will he doubt again and demand more proof? And if God gives you lights in meditation, will you also need an miracle? And once you have a miracle, will you need another to ensure that the first one wasn’t a lucky coincidence?
Once you start down the road of weighing, measuring, and loving conditionally, there is no end!
Relationships do not succeed that way. You have to love God because it is your nature to love and God’s nature to love you.
How can you know where true freedom lies? God has showered you with His blessings. God knows the road ahead better than you do. Accept what He gives you with gratitude, and in return, give Him your heart.
If you feel you can’t, don’t try to solve the problem with reason. Above all, don’t presume to tell God what He needs to do to win your love! Seek devotion with devotion. Don’t pray for lights and sounds, which in themselves mean nothing, and are not, in fact, what will fulfill you. Pray for His grace – above all, the grace to love Him ever more deeply.