The Spirit of Seeking God
by Sri Daya Mata
(Extracts from The Spirit of Seeking God, SRF Magazine, 2004 )
THE KEYS TO FINDING GOD
SRF Energization Exercises
Kriya Yoga Techniques
Practice the Presence of God
It is only when we regularly commune with God, diving deep in the awareness of Him, that we know what it means to truly live. Until then we are just existing, dwelling in the confining human consciousness of this physical world and mortal body. We need to realize ourselves as spiritual beings, dependent on the One who has been sustaining us since the beginning of time—God alone.
Meditation each morning, noon, and evening is part of the routine set by our guru, Paramahansa Yogananda, for residents of our ashrams. In addition, he urged us to have one day a week for a time of silence and longer meditation. On the day that I chose, I would go to my room at five o'clock, after completing my duties. I would take perhaps a small glass of milk or a piece of fruit so that the stomach would not growl during meditation. By six o'clock I would begin my meditation, and I would continue until midnight. Now, it may not be possible for everyone to meditate that long once a week—such as those who have families or those just beginning the practice of meditation. But if you make a determined resolve to set aside time for extra meditation on a regular basis—whether it is half an hour, three hours, or six hours—you will be amazed at how you can find ways to achieve that goal. When you sacrifice to know God, He responds to that; for above all, He watches the heart of the devotee. If you consistently strive for longer meditations, every week if possible, it will make a tremendous difference in your life—and it will deepen your awareness of God and your love for Him.
more important than the length of your meditation period is the depth of your concentration.
It is of little benefit to sit for long periods on one's meditation seat if that time is spent sleeping or with the mind wandering aimlessly. That merely establishes bad habits in meditation, which become difficult to overcome. Increase the intensity of your meditation as you increase the duration.
When I first began my weekly six-hour meditations, it was a battle to make my body sit still for that length of time. But I told myself: "Never mind that it is difficult. This animal is not going to control me; I am the soul." That kind of determination must be there from the beginning. Set certain goals for yourself—for example, decide that you will meditate for a specific length of time, and say to yourself, "I will meditate for this period." Eventually you will be able to forget about time and just lose yourself in the thought of the Divine.
The Routine for Longer Meditations
Assume meditation posture
Invoke the presence of God & Gurus
What is the best program for longer meditations, for sustaining many hours of communion with God?
Assume Meditation Posture &
Invoke the Presence of God & Gurus
First of all, after assuming your meditation posture, invoke the presence of God and the Gurus with a deep prayer from your heart.
Then it is helpful to have a period of chanting. You can start by chanting aloud; then gradually chant more softly, then in a whisper, and finally mentally, as Guruji tells us in his Cosmic Chants. Or you may just chant mentally. Either way, the important point in chanting is to feel and mean what you are expressing to God.
Never be concerned just with singing well, but chant with all the longing of your soul, with deeper and deeper yearning. Do not be satisfied until your whole consciousness becomes immersed in the consciousness of the Divine. Forget time, forget everything else, forget even the dryness in your heart that may be offering resistance. Just lose yourself in the thought that you are trying to express to God. For example, when you sing to Him, "My Lord, I will be Thine always," let your whole being become absorbed, intoxicated with the meaning of those words. Do not let your chanting remain on the surface; feel that you are directly communing and conversing with God—becoming absorbed in the increasing awareness of that Power, that Love, that Divine Being who loves and sustains you every moment. When you have learned to chant in that way, you will know what real chanting is. …
After you have chanted for some time, you will find that it is natural to slip into a period of meditative silence, during which you can go on mentally chanting and communing with God. Let the whole being rest in God:
"Lord, I have cast away all cravings for anything else. Do with me as You will. I live in just one thought: You."
Control Your Mind
Patient practice of the Hong-Sau Technique
Continue in that devotion and peace as long as you can, immersing yourself in the feeling of God's presence or conversing with Him in the language of your soul. When that state gradually diminishes, or restlessness of the body or mind begins to take over, practice the Hong-Sau Technique, and after that the Aum Technique.
Try to practice them for a long time. Make up your mind that you are going to be proficient in these techniques. Some people have the notion that they are not able to practice them deeply or get results because their mind wanders or they become restless or sleepy. Do not accept those limiting thoughts. You can become adept at controlling the mind because your true nature is the soul—the perfect, peaceful image of God within you—which is beyond reach of the restless body and mind. The way to learn that mental control, and to contact that soul peace, is through patient practice of the Hong-Sau Technique. As often as the mind wanders, bring it back—again and again if necessary. Keep on with determination until the mind is riveted on practicing the technique. Think of it as a challenge, and make up your mind: "I am going to prove that I am the conqueror, not the slave, of my restless mind and body."
Practice Aum Technique
When the consciousness is still and concentrated after Hong-Sau, then it is ready for the perception of the omnipresence of God, His immanence as the Holy Ghost Cosmic Vibration, the sacred Word of God that brought forth and sustains creation, the Voice of God heard as the great Aum, or Amen. It is through this Power that prayers are answered, that all manifestations of the Divine are made known to the devotee.
Practice Kriya Yoga Techniques
After you have practiced the Hong-Sau and Aum Techniques, if you have received Kriya Yoga, then do your Kriyas, as many as you have permission to practice.
Following Kriya, have a period of silence again when you are absorbed in the peace and joy and perception of the Divine it brings—or in praying to God, inwardly chanting His name or dwelling on some thought or perception of God that appeals to you at that time.
Enjoy Divine Communion
By practicing the above parts of meditation, you will find that an hour or two has already passed. At that point, if you begin to feel a little restless, do not be discouraged or think that you must end your meditation. Read a devotional passage from Guruji's writings. By this time your mind will have some steadiness and it will be easier to read with deep attention. Take a few of Master's thoughts and dwell on them and their meaning. You might spend half an hour at this, absorbing the divine consciousness that permeates our Guru's words.
Afterward, you can go back to chanting, and then to devotional communion and practice of the meditation techniques, in a similar sequence as before. But you need not be bound by a fixed pattern; follow the inspiration that flows naturally during your meditation.
Before you know it, those six hours will have gone by and you are in a totally different state of consciousness. You will think, "How wonderful this is." It is a state that cannot be reached merely by reading or listening to spiritual discourses, or in any other way except through deep meditation. …
Success in Finding God
Someone has asked me: "If one tries to follow as perfectly as possible the routine of meditation set up for the renunciants in the ashram, meditating each day for the prescribed period of time, would that be sufficient in order to find God in this life?"
No, it would not necessarily be sufficient, and I will tell you why. First, it depends on the quality of that meditation. Second, one's present state of spiritual evolution and karmic impediments must be considered. Last, but not least, I will give you an example: I remember once a devotee said to Master, "I am practicing a thousand Kriyas every day, and I am still not receiving the response from God that I am seeking." Master looked at him: "So long as you think you can force God to appear by the quantity of your meditations, making your pursuit of Him conditional on getting some expected response, He will remain aloof. You cannot barter with God like a businessman, thinking, 'I can buy the Lord with such and such amount of meditation.'"
I have heard people say, in effect, "Well, I've decided to dedicate myself to the spiritual path; I'll give myself five or ten years. If I can't make it by then, I'll give up." That is nonsense. When we are trying to achieve an infinite goal, how can we presume that it should take only a few paltry years, even many years—these are but a "blink in the eye of God," whose consciousness spans eternity. We have already kept ourselves apart from Him for thousands of years, roaming in the playgrounds of incarnations.
The important point, as scriptures teach us, is that you must give yourself to God unconditionally. Unconditionally means:
"It doesn't matter, Lord, how long it takes.
I only know that I'm on my way."
But it is not just the commitment of seeking Him as long as it takes that is required. There must also be a spirit of devotion behind your spiritual practices and routine. A devotee may sit and pray for hours, but if his mind is not wholly on God—even if only one percent of his attention is upon other things—he will not consistently feel God's response. So long as the devotee holds back anything for himself, the Lord will not completely surrender Himself. The devotee who is one hundred percent on fire for God and completely absorbed in Him will, the moment he turns to the Lord, feel His divine presence. That was what we observed in Master. When he was communing with God, we could see by the inward gaze of his eyes that he was beholding the Infinite. I remember how at times he used only one word in speaking to the Divine: "You, You, You." His intoxication with God was so uplifting that I found myself just bursting with that devotion.
It is the spirit of your sadhana, what you feel in your heart as you deepen your relationship with God, that ultimately brings divine union—as well as regular practice of the techniques. We begin by practicing the techniques, and gradually devotion grows as we start to feel God's presence within. Ultimately the feeling of love and devotion to God, born of actual perception, takes over—the techniques having prepared the consciousness for this realization. …
The Most Important Requirements for Finding God
Perfecting your practice of the techniques, plus devotion, plus the practice of the presence of God every moment, plus surrender to Him - that is sufficient. The words sound easy; and it is easy if you make up your mind to do it!
SRF Energization Exercises
Kriya Yoga Techniques
Practice the Presence of God
Devotion means putting your love for God first, so that no matter what your other duties you strive to live in that love, to remain in the consciousness of His presence as the supreme goal of your life. That is what Lord Krishna told Arjuna, to become anchored in the Divine. Cultivate devotion that is unflinching and unconditional, so that anytime you meet the temptations of this world that are contrary to your spiritual ideal, the yearning for God is greater. Life will always tempt us; to our final days we will face the battle against temptation. But the true devotee will say, "Oh, Lord, You are more tempting than temptation." Why be interested in a branch of the tree of pleasure when you can have the whole tree of true and lasting happiness? Why not go after Him who is the source of all and the Master of this universe, instead of His temporal gifts?
Along with devotion there needs to be surrender, not surrender that is done unwillingly or out of a sense of obligation, but that which comes from within—surrender of one's desires, one's ego, one's heart, one's body—leaving everything in God's hands. The more you try to practice that, the more you will understand what it means.
Surrender does not mean that we abandon our common sense. There is a story in India, which Master told us, that illustrates this point.
A simple little village man lived by the philosophy: "God is in everything. Therefore, whatever happens, I shall just surrender." One day a huge elephant came rushing into the village. The elephant driver shouted, "Get out of his way! He is on a rampage—he will destroy everything in his path." The little man said, "But God is in everything. He is in this elephant, and therefore I shall have faith."
The elephant came charging and picked up the villager on its tusks and tossed him aside; he was badly hurt. "How is this possible?" he asked. "God is in him; God is in me. Why should I suffer like this?" He went to his guru, who had taught him these truths. But the wise man was indeed wise. He said to the villager, "Yes, but you forgot that God is also in the driver! Why didn't you listen to him when he told you to get out of the way?"
Seeing God in all creation does not mean failing to recognize the presence of danger or evil, or refusing to take responsibility for your own well-being and that of others. God is the universal Divine Essence, but His creation is fabricated of maya, and requires common sense in dealing with it.
Practice the Presence of God
Then comes practice of His presence. Master describes this beautifully in his poem "God! God! God!":
"In waking, eating, working, dreaming, sleeping,
serving, meditating, chanting, divinely loving,
my soul constantly hums, unheard by any:
God! God! God!"
That is thrilling. When I awaken in the morning, my first thought is not, "I'm sleepy, I'm tired," or "Oh... another day." My first conscious thought is, "Ah, my Lord!" It is wonderful to live with that Presence always with you; but it has to be practiced. It does not come automatically.
While eating, again, you can be thinking of Him and His life energy that enables us to assimilate our food. I often marvel at this body that He has created for our use, and at the five life forces* that keep it in operation. [*The prana, or life energy, that structures and sustains the body can be classified into five different currents of life force according to the different functions it performs: circulation, metabolization, assimilation, crystallization, and elimination.] Just think, one of those forces performs the function of converting into energy the solid food that we take into this form—it is a miracle. People are always looking for some extraordinary miracle, and all the while miracles are taking place in the maintenance and functioning of this bodily form.
"In working; serving...."
Think of God while you are carrying out your daily responsibilities. Concentrate on your work, but at the same time keep some thought of Him in your consciousness. It does not matter what your duties are, you can still think of God. It can be done—I have experienced this in my own life. As one example, I never leave my room in the morning without first reading a thought from Master's writings. I pick up Whispers from Eternity or some other book of his, and I pray, "Lord, what would You say to me today?" I let the pages of the book fall open, and wherever my eyes first focus, I read what it says. It is amazing—whatever the passage is, it always applies. I take that as my message from God and Master for the day; and while I am working, every now and then my mind goes back to what I have read. I try to practice it, to live that truth throughout the day.
"In sleeping; dreaming...."
"When I sleep, I am still with Him; my sleep and dreams are filled with a sense of joy, a feeling of great exhilaration. Frequently in my dreams I am flying, soaring through space with a marvelous sense of freedom. That consciousness remains when I awaken.
"In divinely loving...."
Finally, "In divinely loving...." When you love divinely, you understand that it is God whom you love in all your loved ones, that He is the sweetness of all loving human relationships. With this realization you love unselfishly; you see that the greatest joy and the greatest satisfaction lie not in receiving love but in giving it. Your whole consciousness changes as you try to love God in others, because it is in that constant giving of love that you receive it. When you do love genuinely, then love comes back to you. So do not concern yourself with whether or not anyone loves you, but open up your own heart and give love, asking nothing in return.
The Divine is irresistibly drawn, Guruji often said, to the devotee who is always thinking of Him. If that yearning for God is there—that sincere desire and effort to be with Him in meditation and in activity—then to that devotee He will surely come.