We are now at a major turning point in our personal and planetary development. Our values are changing dramatically: many of us are moving away from our previous emphasis on mere worldly gain, toward a new embrace of our own inner spiritual development. The Light of Superconsciousness: How to Benefit from Emerging Spiritual Trends explains the emerging techniques and attitudes that will help ease the transition to a more spiritually nurturing society, and teach us to awaken the seeds of intuition, freedom, and joy that lie dormant within each of us. This is the first book to apply the teachings of the great sage Paramhansa Yogananda (1893–1952, author of Autobiography of a Yogi) to the 21st century.
This book is composed of ten lectures from Swami Kriyananda, given over a period of two and a half weeks from January 9–28, 1996. The first talk took place at Ananda Village, and the subsequent ones were given during a tour of Ananda sister communities in Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; and Sacramento and Palo Alto, California. Several talks were given at celebrations for Yogananda’s birthday, which is on January 5.
Table of Contents:
Preface . . . . 4
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
1. The Cycles of Time—Keys to Planetary Evolution . . 13
2. Worshipping God as Divine Mother . . 27
3. A Tribute to Yogananda . . 53
4. Kriya Yoga—The Universal Science . . 75
5. Paramhansa Yogananda—The Power of Divine Love . . 93
6. Ananda Village—How It Was Started, and Why . . . 114
7. How to Be a True Disciple . . 140
8. A Cosmic Vision of Unity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 160
9. Karma, Free Will, and Realization . . 176
10. The Light of Superconsciousness—
The Dawn of a New Age . 194
Glossary . . . . . . . . 217
About the Author and the Editor . 219
Other Resources . . 220
Worshipping God as Divine Mother
“Be suspicious of too much use of the intellect, because ultimately it’s your intuition that gives you the real answers.”
In our culture today we don’t have much awareness of the Mother aspect of God. I didn’t know it existed until I read Autobiography of a Yogi back in 1948. I was so moved by the book that I took the next bus from New York to Los Angeles to meet Yogananda. He was lecturing at the Hollywood Church at the time, but when I went there, they said his appointments were booked solid for the next two months.
I felt pretty bleak about this, and was standing there sadly wondering what to do next. I suppose I needed to learn humility, because until then the doors had opened easily for me in everything I’d tried to do. It was good karma, perhaps, but here was the one thing I really wanted, and the doors seemed to be closed. I thought, “Maybe I’m not ready,” which was a novel thought for me at that time!
Then I decided, “I’ll just meditate, pray, and wait until I can see him.” Just as I was about to walk out of the church, the secretary who was arranging the appointments came running up to me and said, “Since you’ve come such a long distance, I’ll ask the Master if he can fit you into his schedule.”
Yogananda agreed to see me. When I went into his interview room, he said to me, “I want you to know that I didn’t see you because you’ve come from such a long distance. There was a lady here last week who came from Sweden, and I didn’t feel to see her. I will see people only if Divine Mother tells me to, and Divine Mother told me to see you.” This was my first personal experience with the concept of God as Divine Mother.
As I think back, I wonder whether a saint would have said, “I will ask the Heavenly Father if I should see you.” Somehow the Mother aspect of God is more personal. You have confidence in the mother, whereas the father has more to do with law, justice—he’s a bit more removed. Yogananda used to say, “When you pray to God as the Mother, pray, ‘Naughty or good, I am still your child. You must receive me.’”
Someone introduced our topic today as “God in the Form of Mother,” but I would like to correct that thought. The Mother aspect of God can indeed be visualized as having a form, because we need form before we can reach the formless state. But really, God has no gender; God is not literally a mother. When people manifest any aspect of human nature, it isn’t necessarily that those people are like that. You see a girl smiling sweetly, and you think, “How sweet she is!” Two minutes later she could be in a rage. What we manifest is not our own self. It’s an aspect of a consciousness that’s there, and, just like a cloud in the sky, it passes. People can be sweet or harsh, but in every case, they manifest something that is not their own.
Yogananda made a very interesting statement in Autobiography of a Yogi that most people gloss over. He said, “Thoughts are universally, not individually, rooted.” That is to say, whatever level of consciousness you’re on, that kind of consciousness will manifest through your thoughts. You are the product of your actions, attitudes, and the things that you’ve developed during this life and many previous lifetimes. You are the product of all of that, and yet you are none of those things. You aren’t jealous and vindictive, or kind and forgiving. Those are qualities that are coming through you, perhaps, because you’ve opened yourself up to those aspects of a much greater consciousness.
It’s good to keep this in mind for the basic reason that, if we want to realize who we are, we have to go beyond the ego. The ego is our friend and our foe, depending on how we use it. It’s our friend if we say, “I want to grow spiritually. I want to get out of this ignorance and out of my human capacity for suffering. I want to find a state of divine consciousness.”
One of the great mistakes that we find in this country today is victim consciousness. This leads to the kind of thinking that says, “I am the product of my environment, a product of the way I was treated as a child, of the way my boss treats me.” The problem here is that it puts the blame on other people. We need to realize that we have a choice: We can develop the attitudes that will keep us immune to the storms of life, or the attitudes that allow us to fall subject to those storms. It’s like saying, “Here I am in a house, but there’s a storm outside. I don’t like storms because they make me unhappy, and I’ll open the windows to prove it.” The other attitude is to close the windows and make sure you’re comfortable within.
It seems quite obvious that we have control only over the way we react to circumstances. Essentially all spiritual teachings say this: You need to develop those attitudes that render you immune to adverse conditions, no matter how life treats you. There are some people who have had tremendous adversity in life, and yet somehow they come out as heroes and heroines.
For example, sometimes other people can hurt you very deeply. What will your reaction be? If you hate in return, does this make you happy? Is hatred a solution? You may get even, but I don’t think you’ll feel happy even if you do. You suffer when you hate, but you’re happy when you love. Therefore, strictly in your own self-interest, you should love. It’s the only thing that makes sense, because otherwise you lose twice—you’re hurt by others, then you hurt yourself by hating. Why not give the lie to their negative attitude and say, “I love you anyway.”
When you are in a giving mode, you grow. But when you are receiving egoically, with great concern over how people are treating you, you contract and suffer. To put it on the bluntest level possible—you aren’t that important to other people that they should think that much about you anyway. Why not just say, “I am who I am, and I choose to be happy.” Nobody can make you happy except yourself. How others treat you may feel good, but that’s not making you happy. If you can say, “I am complete in myself. It doesn’t matter how people treat me,” then you can begin to find unshakeable happiness.
One great help in doing this is to think of God as somebody to share all your thoughts with. Because we’re human, we spend a lot of time thinking about other people—what they said, how they treated us. Why not have the thought that you’re relating to someone who can’t possibly let you down? Why not relate first and foremost to God? God is your own Self, and knows and loves you better than any person possibly could.
People make a mistake in their concept of God. When I meet self-proclaimed atheists, I don’t accept that this is really what they believe. What they’re rejecting are definitions of God that have been dumped on them. They say, “I can’t believe that God is a policeman up there judging me, or that He is just a human being when I see this creation with hundreds of billions of galaxies. It just doesn’t make sense.”
But it does make sense to think of an impersonal consciousness, or, taking it down to a more personal level, of the source of those things that make you happy. You do feel better when you love, when you try to include other people’s happiness in your own. These things are fundamental to human nature. They can’t be different for one person, or even for beings on other planets, because all of creation is part of the same consciousness.
Yogananda gave us a beautiful definition of spiritual vision: “Center everywhere, circumference nowhere.” Our understanding has evolved from the time when everybody thought the Earth was the center of the universe, to now when people think the universe doesn’t have a center at all. The next point of spiritual evolution will inevitably be the realization that every atom is the center of the universe. From any perspective you take, you can understand everything. If you want to look at the universe as an artist, you can explain everything in artistic terms. If you want to think of it as a scientist would, you can explain it from that center.
You are the center of the universe—each one of you. We need to learn how to relate to that center within us, and in other people. We need to realize that each person is a center of equal importance, so that we don’t become self-centered and shrink down. You can take a period on any page, shrink it for the next thousand years, and still you won’t be able to reach the point where it has become nothing. It can’t become non-existent. It can become infinitesimal and shrink down to the size of the smallest electron, but it cannot cease to exist. You cannot cease to exist. You are a part of that eternal, omnipresent consciousness.
What happens when you limit your sensitivity and compassion? You become smaller in your own consciousness by being selfish, and you suffer. Just as people hate to go to prison, they also don’t like being in an ego because it’s confining. When the ego thinks only of its own happiness, it becomes its own enemy. But when you think expansively and realize that this little center that is your ego is the same center that is in all, in every atom, then you raise your consciousness from the human level to the divine.
In thinking of ourselves as this little dot of ego, we are taking a gyanic, or discriminative, approach. If you want to go according to the philosophy of Vedanta, you think, “I am God. I am that Infinite consciousness.” There’s also truth and inspiration in this approach, but somehow it tends to be cold. I’ve noticed from years of living in India that many swamis who go by this philosophy become egotistical. They have too much of the consciousness that says, “I am everywhere.” The ego in that way is an obstacle. If you use the ego to say, “I want to find liberation. I want to get out of this suffering,” that’s good.
This is what we have over the lower animals, who in some ways are more spiritual than we, at least in their intuitive flow. Mankind has reached the point where we begin to say, “I don’t like to suffer,” whereas animals don’t yet know that they’re suffering. We have sufficient awareness to say, “I want to know how to get out of it,” though it may take us a long time to reach that point. Most people think, “If I can only get this or change that one thing, then I’ll be happy.”
Much of modern self-help is on that level. It’s as though you’re in a little room of the mind, and you’re suffering because of some complex you’re trying to overcome. You read a book that tells you how to get out of that room, how to overcome that complex, and you feel good. You’re no longer bothered by that problem, but after a while you look around and find that you’re just in another room. You go on from room to room, but that’s not growth—it’s just change. You need to get out of that building altogether. That can only be done by divine awakening and awareness on a soul level, not by the intellect or self-help systems.
The truth is that without God’s help it’s not possible for the ego to get rid of itself. One good way to draw God’s help is to talk to Him in an “I and Thou” relationship. It’s not that God is separate from you—God is you. The only difference is, you aren’t God. Do you see the distinction? The ocean can say, “I’m the wave,” but the wave can’t say, “I’m the whole ocean.” The ocean sees that it’s all those waves, whereas the wave is still small. It can’t say, “I, as a wave, am the whole ocean.” It has to take gradual steps and say, “I am that salt water of which the whole ocean is composed.” It’s hard to affirm, “I am God,” and then go into the bathroom in the morning, look into the mirror, and say “This is God.” It doesn’t quite work somehow, though it’s true.
God is your own higher Self, but it helps us to visualize Him with a form. In a very real sense God is neither father nor mother, but in another and broader sense He is both father and mother—and beloved, and friend, and anything you want Him to be. Even if all of us here define God as mother, it still will be a different image to each person. It can’t be otherwise. There may be a particular image of that infinite consciousness that everybody worships, but even so, it will mean something different to each person according to his or her training and life experiences.
Just as a home might mean something comfortable to a person who has been brought up in a typical way, it might mean something altogether different to somebody from an orphanage. The words we use are only symbols. But behind those symbols, we can have a personal relationship with God in which we confide more, trust more, and feel unconditionally loved and accepted.
Whatever way that we try to define God will be limited. Once I met somebody who was trying to persuade me to join his church. I replied to him that there are many ways of approaching God, but this man wouldn’t buy it. So finally I said, “There’s one thing we both have to accept. However each of us defines God, we’re both wrong.” He couldn’t refute that, so he had to let it go. We are wrong. How can we be right? How can this little mind conceive of something so vast, that has created hundreds of billions of galaxies and all the little microbes and bacteria? Everything is a part of that consciousness.
There was a disciple of Yogananda who kept asking him to give him samadhi, cosmic consciousness. He kept after him until finally one day Yogananda looked at him very intently and said, “Could you take it, if I gave it to you?” The disciple stood there for a moment, then looked down and said, “No.”
Omnipresence is no joke. It takes a lot of deep meditation and great loyalty to find the path that is right for you. You won’t get it by frittering your time away and flitting from one flower to another. After reading Autobiography of a Yogi and meeting Yogananda fifty years ago, I haven’t for one moment had the question, “Is this my path?” It is. That question was settled fifty years ago, and I don’t have to ask it again. We need that kind of loyalty to what is the right thing for us.
But in our relationship with God, it’s a lot easier to love God in human terms, and especially to love God as that which is nearest and dearest—the Mother. To most human beings this mother aspect is the most precious because you feel with the Divine Mother that, no matter what you do, She still loves you. She won’t judge you. No matter who you are, She’s your friend. She’s on your side and will always forgive you.
Certainly all of us err at one time or another. You don’t want to feel guilty in the sense of guilt-ridden, but you do have to accept the fact if you’ve made a mistake. Otherwise you’re going to go out and do the same thing all over again. What makes things spiritually wrong? It’s not that society defines it as such, but because your own nature tells you it’s wrong.
Here’s a simple example: If at a party I see that there’s not enough cake for everybody, am I going to rush in there and get mine? Most people might think that way, and they may feel good in the short run. But there’s something inside that says, “It would have been nicer to share it, or let somebody else have it.” As we grow more sensitive over many incarnations, we reach the point where we find happiness comes not from getting the cake for ourselves, but from seeing that somebody else got it. As we grow spiritually we want to include the happiness of other people in our own, even to the extent of not wanting it for ourselves, but wanting it for them. You find there’s real freedom in realizing that nothing outside yourself makes you happy, but that your happiness is something that you can carry with you into sleep, into work—all the time.
All of this ties in with that expression of God that we call the Mother aspect. In human nature basically two things rule us—reason and feeling. In most of the world today there’s been altogether too much use of the reason and not much use of feeling. We think that in order to be scientific, we must exclude feeling, because it prejudices our mind. But, in truth, feeling is the only thing that gives you real understanding. People make the mistake of confusing feeling with emotion. Emotion does confuse the understanding; likes and dislikes confuse the understanding. They’re like waves on the sea. When you’ve got waves, you can’t see the moon reflected clearly in the water. But when the water is calm, then we see the undistorted reflection.
Now if it weren’t for our feeling aspect, we couldn’t achieve true understanding. Reason by itself is an inadequate tool—it can show you a hundred directions to follow, and they all make good sense. What is it that finally tells you which direction to take? Feeling. Be suspicious of too much use of the intellect, because ultimately it’s your intuition that gives you the real answers.
Those scientists who go only by reason are the lesser scientists who do minor experiments, or sweep up the pieces from the great discoveries that others have made. But great scientists go more by feeling and intuition, or as Einstein put it, “the sense of mystical awe.” For instance, Einstein perceived the Theory of Relativity in a flash, and then had to spend ten years working it out so that he could explain it to others. Many great scientists have had this experience.
I read an interesting book recently by George Abell called Talks with Great Composers. Abell lived in a time when he was able to have interviews with major composers and ask them about the creative process. Brahms, for example, said that only minor composers create out of their own minds, but that great composers receive. They hold their minds up in a state of openness to allow inspiration to come to them. We need to understand that in any area inspiration comes through receptivity and intuition. When you intuitively feel what is right, you know; you don’t have to think anymore. Of a thousand choices you simply know the right one.
But remember, intuition is not just another level of ignorance; intuition is soul knowledge. A lot of people think they have intuition, but it’s just emotions. Intuition is calm feeling. Thousands of years ago Patanjali gave the classic definition of yoga: “yogas chitta vritti nirodha,” that is, “Yoga is the neutralization of the vortices of feeling.” Chitta is the feeling aspect of consciousness. When that feeling is disturbed, as it is in most human beings, they don’t perceive things clearly, because their likes and dislikes influence them.
Women tend to go more by feeling, and men more by reason. In the last analysis, we aren’t women or men, but are influenced by the cosmic feminine or masculine principles working through our bodies. Whether man or woman, intuitive people have a strong feminine quality in them because they go more by the feeling of the heart. They consult that feeling, and then they know what to do. Usually, however, women are more intuitive than men, especially when tuning in to other people.
Many times, for example, a man will ask his wife what she thinks about a new business partner. She may say, “I don’t know, but I don’t feel good about him.” The man says, “Oh, you and your intuition.” But frequently it turns out after a few years that she was right, and the person proves untrustworthy. It’s not safe to say you’re infallible with intuition, but do listen to it. If you have an intuitive feeling about something, go more by that, and increasingly you will be guided in the right direction.
When it comes to looking at the heights to which we can aspire, I think that the Mother aspect of God is not only beautiful and inspiring, but I would go so far as to say that it is essential at this time in our evolution. Our whole society has become too bound hand and foot with reason. It needs more feeling and love. The thought that you understand a thing by not feeling, that you’re being scientific and facing the truth if you’re cold, is wrong. You don’t face truth that way because truth itself is love.
It’s only when you can develop the heart quality that you are able to perceive things as they really are. It’s only when you empathize with others and don’t judge them from afar that you can truly understand them. You don’t want to stand outside the window of life looking in and not be touched by what’s going on. You want to go into the building and find out what’s really happening there. You want to be involved, not with agitated emotions, but sensitively. Empathize with the people you meet, know them from inside, and try to feel what their aspirations are. Each one of us is unique and extraordinarily complex.
I was recently reading a book by the great English novelist, Jane Austen. I was fascinated by her analysis of human motivation because it showed that each person’s actions were driven by hidden desires, and underneath those there were still other motives. You go down this ladder, and finally you find there’s really no bottom to the basement. But the interesting thing was that in her heroes and heroines there wasn’t hidden motivation. The difference was that they were clear.
I finally got to the point where I was tired of looking at people on the basis of ego-motivation, because basically we’re united by one thing. The ego unites us on a certain level, but we’re all really united by the fact that we aspire to goodness, and to the spiritual potential we have inside.
There’s a strange but beautiful story about John Dillinger, who was called Public Enemy #1. He died in a police shoot-out, and by his body they found a note saying, “I’ve been much misunderstood. In this body beats a very loving heart.” Even Dillinger, who was full of hate and violence, believed in his own basic goodness, because it exists in everybody. The worst Mafia gangster has God inside—he just needs to work harder to uncover it. We all have that aspiration to become who we know we really are. For a time we may think we’ll get power by killing people, or get happiness by becoming rich, but bit by bit over incarnations we weed away those false goals, because we find they don’t give us what we really want.
When you can get out of the ego and out of the thoughts “I must have this, or do that, or achieve this recognition,” then you realize, “I’m complete in myself.” When you can reach that point—and it doesn’t come except by meditation—then you suddenly find, “Now I know who I really am.” It’s like peeling an onion. The onion isn’t completely peeled until there’s nothing left. Think of yourselves as an onion, if you like, because you have to peel away all those false self-definitions.
Now divine grace is very important to this process, because if you’re trying to scramble out of a well, you need somebody to help pull you out. You need somebody who is out of that confined consciousness to bring you to a sense of freedom. Otherwise you just struggle backwards and forwards, and you never get out. By loving God, you allow grace to enter into your life.
Your job is to find fulfillment in your Self in the midst of all the storms going on around you. You can do that by keeping a strong awareness of the presence of a divine friend, of Divine Mother, whose attitudes are perfect. People may not understand you, but God, especially in the aspect of Divine Mother, understands you. People may betray you, but God will never betray you. Your own higher Self couldn’t betray you because She is you. There is no way She could betray you, unless you let your ego come in and betray yourself from that level.
We need to think of God in such a way as to give us a sense of confidence that She’s on our side. We need to think of God as Mother, and to think of that Mother aspect as an ideal of feminine qualities—not the emotions, but that calm, always forgiving and accepting energy. It’s easier to define this as feminine, rather than as masculine, energy. Finally, we need to realize ourselves as both feminine and masculine.
Great saints are androgynous. Yogananda was on a train once and, as you know, he had long hair. Because his consciousness was so balanced, sometimes he looked like a mother, sometimes a father. A porter was walking up and down the aisle looking at him, and finally said, “Is yo a man, or is yo a woman?” Yogananda answered in a very deep voice, “What do you think?”
The woman saint of India, Anandamoyi Ma, was very feminine in a sense, but also very masculine. I spent a lot of time with her in India, and in the way she walked and stood, she looked like a general—very determined. When she spoke it was with great confidence. She was a balance of both, and yet she was neither.
We are like that too. We aren’t limited by our physical forms, our personalities, or even our problems. We shouldn’t take our problems all that seriously, because they aren’t who we really are. Work with them as you would with a dull saw that needs sharpening, or a dirty microscope that needs cleaning. Don’t get all upset about it, but don’t refuse to accept that it’s dirty.
There’s a story about a Catholic, a Baptist, and a Christian Scientist who all died and went to “the wrong place.” They were trying to figure out how they got there. The Catholic said, “I must have missed Mass one Sunday.” The Baptist said, “Perhaps I wasn’t fully immersed when they baptized me.” Then they asked the Christian Scientist, “Why are you here?” He replied, “Oh, but I’m not.”
You have to accept where you are, but then—and this is where confidence, love, and faith in the Divine Mother aspect of God come in—think of the love, not the judgment. That’s what uplifts you. If you can say, “I’ve made these mistakes, but naughty or good, I’m your child,” then you get the strength and the sense of perspective that gives you the power to say, “All right, I’ll try again.” Never say you’ve failed. No matter how many times you do fail, don’t accept failure as your definition. The world will try to define you by your faults. You define yourself by your aspirations.
Yogananda used to say, “If ever you say, ‘I’ve failed,’ then you’ve lost it, at least for that lifetime. But if you can hang on, and even at the moment of death, say, ‘I will succeed,’ then you can overcome.”
There’s a beautiful story from the life of St. Francis. There were three men in the area of Assisi who were criminals. They were stealing and doing all sorts of bad things, to the point where the townspeople were so angry that they went after them with pitchforks. These men sought sanctuary at one of St. Francis’s monasteries. Now, St. Francis was away at the time. The monk in charge was so scandalized that these evil men should seek protection in a house of God when they’d lived such ungodly lives that he drove them out with virtual imprecations. The men left with great anger, cursing him as they went.
When St. Francis returned later on that day, the monk told him in outrage of the audacity of these evil-doers, daring to come to a monastery for help. St. Francis was properly outraged in his turn, not with the criminals, but with this monk who had sent them away! He commanded him on his vow of obedience to go and look for them and bring them back.
When they came back, St. Francis greeted them, saying, “Brothers, why do you live the way you do? You’re not happy. It’s not only other people who are suffering from your bad deeds, but you are suffering.” He began talking to them of their own potential for goodness to the point where they became converted and ended up becoming monks. According to the chronicle of the time, they lived very holy lives and died in a state of grace.
This was possible because St. Francis helped them to see their own divinity. Who are you to doubt your divinity? You’re insulting yourself. That’s the worst kind of insult you can deliver. You must have faith in your own goodness because it’s potentially there, no matter what you’ve done. You should get rid of a guilt complex, not by sweeping it under the carpet, but by saying, “I am yours, Mother.”
When you love the Mother in that way, it’s so much easier than thinking you’re going before a judge. You know the judge is likely to punish you, but the Mother will help you. She may give you some hard lessons, but that’s Her business. You know She does it with love. No matter what tests you go through in life, know that it’s for your good, and don’t complain.
Finally, we come to what this is all about. The more you can bring yourself to that attitude where you completely trust Divine Mother, the more you will be open to God in your life. When you have that understanding, you can open yourself to the infinite compassion and forgiveness of God as Divine Mother, and you can develop those qualities in yourself. That’s why it’s necessary to forgive other people, because in that forgiveness you, too, become softer. It’s as though you’ve got this little seed that can’t grow because it’s had concrete poured on it. You have to break up that concrete so the seed can grow. You’ve got that seed of divinity within you, but all this concrete of ego, desires, self-importance, and strain to reach for things blocks its growth. In this world we’re trained to think we must fight and compete for what we get.
Yet it’s a world based in consciousness. Consciousness produced the energy that produced this world, which is seemingly made of solid matter. Yes, you can approach the solid matter with a sledge hammer, or you can get back into that flow of consciousness, and somehow matter itself adjusts to who you are.
The kind of attitudes and, above all, the kind of feelings that you radiate are sooner or later what you will become. This is a law. So think of God not as distant, but as very close. Talk to God. It’s easy to talk to the Mother, because She understands you. She doesn’t justify your mistakes. She doesn’t say, “Yes, I think you’re fine,” when you’re really not fine at all. No, She’s wise, but She’s also the friend of that seed of divinity that’s trying to come out—not of the concrete that’s keeping that seed locked in the solid wall. She wants what’s best for you.
Here’s something that I’ve experienced—because you can’t be on the spiritual path without learning a few things over the years. I’ve seen again and again that when things in life happen that seem to be the worst possible things, if you can say, “This is coming from you, Mother, and I accept it,” then suddenly it all becomes just the right thing, the only possible thing. On the other hand, the things that you thought should happen for the best outcome, in hindsight prove to be the worst. The more you give your life to God in this spirit, the more you will find that whatever She gives you, it will be right for you—for your growth, for your ultimate happiness.
There’s a story of a king who had a chief minister he was particularly fond of because of his wisdom, loyalty, and good counsel. This minister’s motto in life was, “Everything that happens is for the best.” Due to the king’s particular regard for this minister, all the other court advisors were very jealous and were always trying to undermine the king’s faith in him. He didn’t listen, but the poisoned words entered the king’s subconscious and had a little lingering power.
One day the king was out hunting in the forest, and that day the chief minister, who was usually with him, wasn’t present. The king had an accident with his bow and cut off his thumb. When word of the accident got back to the chief minister, he calmly said, “Everything that happens is for the best.” The other ministers with great vindictive glee reported to the king, “Look what he really thinks of you! He said it’s for the best that you lost your thumb.” The king allowed himself to get angry and threw the minister in prison, where he remained for many months.
The next time the king went hunting, he rode off by himself in pursuit of game and was captured by some cannibals. They were about to sacrifice him to their gods when they saw that he didn’t have a thumb. They couldn’t offer their gods an imperfect sacrifice, so they had to let the king go.
When he returned to the palace, he immediately had his chief minister released from prison, and said to him, “You were right after all. If I hadn’t lost my thumb, I would have lost my life. But what about you? You had to suffer in prison for all those months.” The minister replied, “Yes, Your Majesty, but if I hadn’t been in prison, I would have been with you. And as you know, I haven’t lost my thumb.”
So don’t doubt. Don’t you think the God who created this vast universe, who created you, knows what He’s doing? Don’t worry too much about how the world is going. Divine Mother knows what She’s doing. Maybe we have hard lessons to learn, but they’re for our good.
You will have more of that consciousness if you think of God not only in the form of Mother, but as that Infinite Mother in every atom, in every cloud, in your own heart, everywhere. Think of that motherly aspect of the Infinite Consciousness that created and loves every single being in this universe because every being is a part of the Infinite One. If you love the Mother in that way, if you love God in that way, then you will find a remarkably sweet relationship developing in which you have a real awareness, not just an imagination, that Mother is always with you. She watches over you, takes care of you, and hears the yearnings of your heart. If you hurt your thumb and say, “Mother, it’s bleeding,” you’ll feel Her response.
I had a wonderful experience this way many years ago when I was at Mt. Washington. My parents were living in France, where my father was working as the chief geologist for Esso in Europe. As a boy I’d gone to school in Switzerland, and had come to love Swiss chocolate. Since my parents were living nearby to Switzerland, I had the thought that it would be nice if they would send me some chocolate. But it was such a trivial desire that I kept forgetting to ask them about it whenever I wrote. Then one week before my birthday, I remembered it again, and thought, “Oh, Divine Mother, it’s too bad I didn’t think of it. I could have asked them to send me some for my birthday. Now it’s too late, but never mind.” I gave the desire to Her.
A day before my birthday I got a package, not from my parents, but from someone in the Hollywood church, where I was a minister. She didn’t know it was my birthday, nor that I liked Swiss chocolate. With the package was a note saying, “I saw this chocolate in a store window. I don’t know why, but I thought to send it to you.” It was a box of Swiss chocolate.
If God can take care of us in such trivial ways, won’t She take care of us in important things, in life-and-death situations? Divine Mother will be more instantly responsive if your consciousness is attuned in this way. What I’d like to do in America is try to get people to think of God more as the Divine Mother. We need God. We have gotten away from devotion. It will be easier for America as a whole, which has a natural kindness in its soul, if we love God in this personal way. Even though God is impersonal, it’s through the personal that we can reach that vastness and find oneness with the Infinite. God bless you.
Are there any questions?
Q: I feel that there is a real violation going on across the whole planet against the Mother, with violent entertainment and movies, and violence against women and children. It seems the male energy is having a hard time receiving the Mother, the female energy, to balance itself. What can we do?
A: Here’s the way I look at this sort of thing: Problem consciousness doesn’t produce solutions. Solutions come only from the superconsciousness. If I think of what’s wrong, I don’t get the answers. If I think that there must be an answer, then it comes. There’s always going to be resistance to any new wave of energy. Nobody has ever done anything really important on this planet who hasn’t had to fight a lot of resistance in this great ocean of maya.
I was touched by a response that Buckminster Fuller once gave. I happened to hear him on the radio, and the interviewer asked, “You talk all over the world, but nobody ever listens. Doesn’t this discourage you?” It was rather a cheeky question to ask someone of eightyfour who had been doing his best to spread new ideas, but I loved his answer. He said, “Not at all. Any new idea requires at least one or two generations to become recognized.”
This is true with the consciousness you’re asking about. It’s not so much the violation we need to think about—that’s to be expected. Anti-feminism is also partly a natural response to excessive feminism. Whenever one side becomes polarized, the other will resist. So I say the cure for it is not to get angry, not to fret too much about it, but to put out more positive energy. God knows what He’s doing with this universe. It’ll change in its own time. We have to love more, that’s all.
Q: Would you agree that loving yourself is one of the first steps to being able to love others?
A: I’ve heard this, and of course I agree, but I also disagree. Obviously in some sense it’s yourself you love when you love others. You don’t learn to love humanity by loving a neighbor who keeps dumping his garbage over the fence, or who keeps singing at the top of his voice. You have to love in a general way, and this comes by meditating and feeling that love in yourself. Then you can give it to everybody without needing a reason to love. If you love people because of what they are, will you dislike those people who aren’t that? Will you feel hatred for people who are selfish? You have to get deeper in your understanding of what you’re loving. Ultimately it’s a projection of the love you have in your own heart that comes through attunement with God. You don’t get it by affirmation or by changing your mind about things. It comes from a superconscious level.
The problem with this concept of loving yourself first is that I don’t want to love this ego. I want to love that which this ego can become. I don’t want to love what I am, but rather my potential. I have the potential to be kind even if I act unkind. To say, “I’m going to love my unkindness because it’s me,” is to deepen one’s delusion. So I would love that highest potential that you see in yourself, but not you as a human being with human faults. Love yourself
because you are a child of God, and because Divine Mother dwells in your heart.
Q: How do you know what’s appropriate to say to somebody who’s asking you for advice?
A: If you think of it too much in the way of rules when you’re faced with the need to give advice, then you’ve got this mental file to go through, and it doesn’t work. What you need to do is have a basic consciousness that is attuned with an intuitive flow within yourself. From that intuitive flow, sometimes even to your own surprise, you find that you’re saying, not what you intended, perhaps, but what’s appropriate and helpful.
Naturally we all come into situations where we think, “What shall I say? How shall I answer?” I’ve found that in such situations, it’s best to be in my heart. Don’t prepare an answer in advance, but prepare yourself. You do this by developing intuitive openness, and then the inspirations come. When somebody asks you something, if you’re centered in the heart, you’ll know how to respond. If you make mistakes, join the club. We all make mistakes, but this is the direction in which to go. Eventually you’ll make fewer and fewer mistakes, until finally you get it right.
There was a woman in Italy who asked me for counseling. I didn’t want to give her any advice, because I knew she would reject whatever I said. But she insisted, and finally I thought, “Okay, I’ll tell her.” So I said a few things as generously as I could, but they were a little difficult to face, and she became frozen. I said, “I hope you’re not angry.” She replied rather aloofly, “No, I’m just disappointed.” I had to leave it at that. Two years later she finally said to me, “What you told me was what I needed to hear. Thank you.”
So often even if the immediate reaction isn’t right, it will sink in. If your advice is true, it will register in their subconscious mind, and eventually they’ll understand. So don’t worry about how people respond at the moment. Very often it won’t be the response you would have liked, but if you’ve said the truth with charity and without condemnation, they’ll take it inside and dwell on it. The very fact that you didn’t hammer on it will mean that they will be more likely to look at it. If they are to change they will, but it’s between them and God.
You are the only responsibility that the universe has placed on your shoulders. You’re not responsible for others. What you can do for other people is your free gift to them. Never allow yourself to think that because you’ve given someone advice, he owes it to you to be grateful. You do it for yourself, your larger Self, and you should do it in freedom. I think possibly the thing of greatest spiritual value is that which will give you true freedom inside. If when you give advice you don’t force your thoughts, but just offer them, then you will feel freedom and God’s smile in your heart.
Q: In my prayers and meditations I ask God to help me drop the ego, but it doesn’t go. What’s your experience with this?
A: Dropping the ego is not easy, because it’s all that we know until we are in divine consciousness. Don’t get upset about your ego, because it’s such a sneaky thing. When I first came to my guru I had a lot of intellectual pride and was praying just as you do. After a time, I began to feel that I was making progress and was feeling very good. One day I woke up to find that I was becoming proud of my humility! The ego is such a subtle trickster.
I think the best thing to do is to say, “So what? What else is new?” Think more of God, and give Him everything you do. Give Him the fruits of your actions. That’s what the Bhagavad Gita says to do. You have to act and take responsibility for what you do, but give the fruits of your labor to Him.
The next thing is to think of Him or Her as the Doer. (I say “He” when I talk of God because that’s convention. I say “She” when I think of God because that’s my feeling. So I pray to God as Mother, but I talk of God as Father.) Feel that His power is working through you. This feeling won’t come quickly—it takes incarnations for most people.
Once I said to Yogananda, “Have I been your disciple for thousands of years?” I asked him this because another disciple had had a vision of being with him thousands of years ago. His answer was, “It’s been a long time. That’s all I’ll say.” I asked, “Well, Sir, does it always take so long?” He replied, “Oh, yes, desires for this thing or that take people away from the path time and again. They learn their lessons and come back.”
So, even after you come on the spiritual path, it’s a long process. Most people have no conception of how long it takes to reach the point of even being on the spiritual path, or even wanting truth. It takes, as Yogananda put it, “very, very, VERY good karma even to want to know God.” But once you’re on the path, you’re virtually liberated. Granted it can take a few incarnations, but if you have the desire for God, that desire has to be fulfilled. All desires have to be fulfilled. Once you’re consciously aware of the desire for God, the most deep-seated desire of all, it will guide you bit by bit over many detours to final realization.
But why waste all that time? When you come to the point of ecstasy and have the experience of God, then suddenly you realize all the lives you ignored the Divine. You think, “How much time I’ve wasted!” Then the tears come, but they aren’t tears of regret. They’re tears of joy, for at last you know what you’re here for. At last you know that finding God is the only thing that life is all about. All those other thoughts were just a waste of time. Your job is to know God, and your heart will never know peace until it knows Him who is your true Self.
I had an inspiring experience watching the movie, “The Sound of Music.” There was a moment in that movie when the Baron, the hero, and Maria, the heroine, suddenly realized they were in love with each other. At that moment there was absolute stillness. Then they expressed their love for each other and kissed, but the real moment of love came in silence. True love can only be experienced in absolute motionlessness, breathlessness, and ecstasy. There is no love outside of God, because there is no ecstasy outside of God. There is no breathlessness or stillness outside of God. Seek that kind of love which doesn’t send you dancing through the streets singing in the rain. Seek that kind of love that makes you absolutely still.
That point will come in your meditation when you become enrapt, and you know what you were made for. You know who you are, and nothing can shake you from it ever again. Live for that moment, because it will be yours. It has to be yours, because you are a part of that. Live in that thought, and you will know freedom sooner rather than later. There’s only one thing you were made for, and that’s divine love.
"[M]asterfully tells how to attune to emerging spiritual trends and bring forth more easily the Divine Consiousness into this world. A thrilling and enlightening book."
—Joseph Bharat Cornell, author, founder, Sharing Nature Worldwide
"A fascinating guide for living a spiritually meaningful life in tomorrow’s world. Updates Yogananda’s teachings and applies them to the coming century."
—East West Bookshop Reviews