Dear Friends & Devotees… Jai Bhagavan!
“All victory to the sweet Lord who is so personal that He responds to the human affection of His devotees. He permeates all of creation. In fact, the entire universe is His own body –- yet He dwells in the hearts of all!”
What is this mystery? It is the purpose of life to find it out. There is so much in the quest for the Divine that is beyond our little human comprehension. Paramahansa Yogananda said, “God is both personal and impersonal. In the ultimate sense He is impersonal, yet when you realize the impersonal God you will find that He is more personal than the personal God.” What is this? Of course, what could be more personal than our own Selves? Bhagavan has become each and every one of us. There is nothing but Him everywhere and in everything. There is no question of human will. Everything is happening by the will of God. Paramahansaji encourages his devotees to affirm this truth:
“He is thinking the thoughts in my brain; He is moving my hands and feet; He is just behind my breath and heartbeat.” More and more I see that He is doing everything through me. I don’t know why I do anything. All I can answer is, “He does what He does.”
How can a saint be one with God and at the same time remain His devotee? Find it out. This is the wonder and the mystery of Spirit. There are no contradictions. Everything is possible in the realm of Divine consciousness. Listen to these words of Swami Ramdas:
“Grace alone can save you. There is no other way. Grace is so powerful that it can act on any person whether fit or unfit. If fitness is the condition for the working of grace, it cannot be all-powerful, as in that case you can say you attain God by your own merit. Grace must be so powerful that it must make the unfit fit to receive it. So you can turn your mind towards Him through His grace alone, by the contact of saints. Then God will take you up just as the mother takes a baby up. You have simply to cry, “Oh God, lead me towards You and make my mind always dwell on You.’ If you pray in this way grace is bound to come to you.”
I have been thinking about how much marriage and the spiritual path have in common. Of course, for those of us who have chosen the courageous path of spiritual marriage, they are inseparable. When the chela receives diksha from his God-ordained Guru, a relationship is established between a soul who has already achieved spiritual perfection (the guru) and a soul who has yet to realize his or her own perfection in God (the disciple). It is the role of the guru to lift the aspiring soul into a state of equality with himself.
In the case of spiritual marriage, two souls who are still individually striving for perfection make a similar commitment to assist one another toward the same goal.
The so-called “honeymoon” phase is equally applicable to both of these divine relationships. It is extremely important to realize this fact. Psychology tells us that the honeymoon phase of a marriage usually lasts two to three years. To achieve a true, deep, lasting and increasingly joyous marriage requires tremendous selflessness, sacrifice, loyalty and commitment. Taken together, these translate as “unconditional love.” And unconditional love is the love of God. This is how marriage becomes divine.
The same principle applies to the spiritual path. When we find our Guru, when we read or hear the truths he so freely expresses, our hearts and our souls are thrilled! “At last, I have come home!” is our inner response to the call of the Divine. At this stage it is relatively easy to overcome bad habits, to meditate long and enthusiastically, and to think of God most of the time. Some are blessed with spiritual experiences which confirm that we are on the right path. And yes, typically, this phase may last for two or three years.
One senior Self-Realization Fellowship minister relates that he had many wonderful spiritual experiences during this phase, yet from the day he entered the Ashram, all such experiences disappeared for many, many years. This is the test. How we deal with this period of our spiritual quest will set the tone for our ultimate success or failure in this lifetime. Some may leave the path. Paramahansaji sings, taking the role of the devotee who is longing for communion with the Beloved:
“Devotees may come, devotees may go, but I will be Thine always! My Lord, I will be Thine always,” ~ from Cosmic Chants.
“Do not demand God to appear before you just because you have meditated ten years, or whatever you think is an appropriate amount of time. He will never come. He has disappointed many saints who have for incarnations meditated on Him. But as soon as there is no demand – when you go on saying, ‘I love you, Lord, and I will go on seeking you no matter how long it takes – then He will come.” – Paramahansa Yogananda
May we never give up our search for God, no matter how we feel or what seeming obstacles may come to us. Some saints even pray for pain and difficulties, as these make us remember how much we need and depend upon our Beloved God in our lives. For most of us, though, life presents sufficient challenges without us looking for them! Let us make an irrevocable offering of ourselves to Him, knowing that He alone can fulfill the longing of our hearts.
Sundaram is the author of the book, Where Souls Dream God: Westerners’ Perceptions of Spiritual India, and publisher of Himalayan Heritage Journal, a bimonthly periodical in support of Sanatana Dharma.
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