(Published simultaneously on The Speaking Tree, India.)
I had an interesting experience in meditation some years ago. I was trying to offer myself into God’s light. And I realized that there was an obstructing force in my heart.
The thought came, “Why would I resist? I want to welcome God.”
I realized that before I could receive God’s love, my vibrations had to be on His wavelength, and they were not.
Reflecting on the feeling of separateness, I realized that it was due to the wrong thoughts of many past lives.
“I’m so angry with him.”
“They hurt my feelings!”
“Why did they treat me this way?”
“She owes me an apology.”
I was aware of the whirlpools of disturbed feelings that I had generated in many lives. And I realized that when we come into this world, God gives us a chance to live out our past lives. He gives us the opportunity to work out all of the anger and emotional reactions and resentments that have separated us from Him until now.
In that meditation, I could feel the effects of the lives I had lived hundreds of years ago – when, for example, someone didn’t do what I wanted, and I turned my back on them, and we both died before we could resolve it.
I had brought it all back with me in this life. And I realized that what was setting me apart from God, more than anything else, was that I had lacked compassion and open-heartedness. Because these are the qualities that God prizes above all others.
The Divine Mother wants to embrace us. She wants to help us. She wants to give us Her love and joy. But we say, “I will open my heart only so much.” It takes courage beyond the ordinary to open our hearts to the Mother and trust Her love.
And yet, this is the only thing worth doing. Instead worrying that She will reject us because of our faults, we should pray, “Lord, inspire me to love You with my whole heart!”
In Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramhansa Yogananda describes his encounters with Master Mahasaya, a great saint and a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna. In one of his talks, he told how he would roll in the dust where Master Mahasaya had walked.
Just think of it – Master Mahasaya is walking on a busy street, and the young Yogananda is so overwhelmed by the saint’s magnetism that he throws himself on the ground and rolls where his feet have passed.
There is a wonderful film of Swami Sivananda, a saint who lived in Rishikesh and was a contemporary of Yogananda’s.
The film shows a group of sadhus greeting the master. There is a scene where one of the sadhus rolls in the dust where Sivananda walked. And the only word to describe it is that it is thrilling.
It was completely spontaneous – there was nothing that said, “This will me look like a great devotee.” It was done in an irresistible flow of the heart. The guru passed, and in his great devotion the disciple rolled in the dust where his feet had trod.
Patanjali talks of three kinds of delusion: where are the things that we do occasionally, and there are things we do always, and there are things that are part of our nature. The point is that God could perform a miracle and rescue us, even from the delusions that are part of our nature. But as Swami Kriyananda said, “Usually He doesn’t.”
It’s rare for God to lift us out of our delusions with a miracle. Usually, we have to keep coming back until we can learn our lessons right down into the depth of our cells and make them part of us.
Now, imagine eating your lunch. Imagine shopping. Imagine working at the office, or balancing your bank account, always with the thought, “Can this be happening outside the will of God? And if this is God’s will, why would I not embrace it with all my heart? When do I think I will have a better chance to love God? Why am I waiting to be rescued?”
Most people give up on the spiritual path because they simply run out of steam. They run out of steam because it’s a long path. But the answer is that every day is a new beginning. As Paramhansa Yogananda said, “Always live in the now, never in the past or the future.”
It’s not enough to believe in God; we must also believe in ourselves. We must believe in our love for Him, and in His mercy for us, and we must cultivate this faith above all.
It’s wonderful if we can always do the things that bring us closer to God. But it won’t serve us unless there is complete sincerity of heart. If we find ourselves unable to do anything right, we must throw ourselves at the Divine Mother’s feet, throw ourselves at the Guru’s feet, wash the Guru’s feet with our hair while pouring out the costly perfume of our hearts.
What do we have to lose? “Am I perfectly happy?” If what we are doing is not working, let us conduct the great experiment. Let us follow the advice of Yogananda’s guru, Sri Yukteswar: “Forget the past. The past lives of all men are dark with many shames. But all things in future will improve if you are making the right spiritual effort now.”
The spiritual path is a grand experiment. What will happen if I do …? What will happen if I will sing, chant, meditate, pray, serve, remember, and believe that Divine Mother loves me?
Many saints have conducted the experiment. Their lives tell us that if we hold God in our hearts and slowly, gradually, steadily cultivate our love for Him, our happiness will increase until it merges with His boundless joy. That is what we are living for. As Swami Kriyananda said in a chant: “From joy I came, for joy I live, in sacred joy I melt again.” God bless you.
From Asha’s Sunday service on June 22, 2014.)