THE PRESENCE OF GOD
See & Hear God in All Things
The beauty of God is vast. To enjoy flowers for their loveliness is good, but far greater is to see behind their purity and beauty the face of God. To be carried away by music for its own sake cannot compare with hearing God's creative Voice in it. (me)
The sense-hypnotized man sees nothing but the world and is unable to perceive God. (bg p.318)
The wise man wakefully enjoys
the presence of God in all things.
Think of God
Along with periods of meditation you should think day and night of God. "Door of my heart, open wide I keep for Thee.... Night and day, night and day, I look for Thee night and day." ("Door of My Heart" from Cosmic Chants)
We must uplift our consciousness
so that even the most worldly duties are performed
with the thought of God.
Cultivate the will to think of God during activity. It is extremely important that you make this a part of your daily life. Don't follow this course a few days only and then forget all about it. Follow it as best you can every day. Even if you slip back into old habits, keep on trying. You will become spiritually strong and healthy in due time.
Of greatest help in your development is the habit of mental whispering to God. You will see a change in yourself that you will like very much. No matter what you do, God should be constantly in your mind. When you want to see a special show, or to buy a dress or a car you have admired, is it not true that no matter what else you may be doing your mind is continually thinking how you can get those things? Until you fulfill your strong desires, your mind will not rest; it ceaselessly works toward fulfilling those desires. Your mind should be on God night and day in the same way. Transmute petty desires into one great desire for Him. Your mind should continually whisper, "Night and day, night and day, I look for Thee night and day." ...
That is the philosophy of life by which we should live. Not tomorrow, but today, this minute.
There cannot be any excuse for not thinking of God.
Day and night, rolling in the background of your mind,
God! God! God!
Whether you are washing dishes or digging a ditch or working in an office or a garden
—whatever you may be doing—inwardly say,
"Lord, manifest to me!
You are right here. You are in the sun.
You are in the grass. You are in the water.
You are in this room. You are in my heart."
And when great love for God comes in your heart, you do not miss anything; no matter what you have or do not have in this world, you nevertheless feel fulfilled. Divine love transmutes all material desires—even the longing for human love, that mortal passion which so often brings pain either from its fickle nature or because it is snatched away by death. Loving the Lord, you can never turn back to being satisfied by lesser loves. In Him you will find all the love of all hearts. You will find completeness. Everything that the world gives you and then takes away, leaving you in pain or disillusionment, you will find in God in a much greater way, and with no aftermath of sorrow.
— from Realizing God In Your Daily Life (Journey to Self-Realization by Paramahasa Yogananda) (Listen to a longer version of this talk.)
God is Ever Near
He is nearer than the nearest, dearer than the dearest.
Just behind the words of your speech, just behind your thoughts, just behind the love of your heart, just behind your will, just behind your sense of I-ness,
is the great spirit of God.
For those who think Him far away, He is far away; but for those who think Him near, He is ever near.
He who perceives Me everywhere, and
beholds everything in Me,
never loses sight of Me,
nor do I ever lose sight of him.
—The Bhagavad Gita VI:30
The Inner Presence of God
The highest spiritual habit by which the devotee can retain a watchful awareness of the inner presence of God is to keep the consciousness always centered on the spiritual eye.
The ordinary person's mind is habitually restless, given primarily to worldly matters, which by their changeful kinetic nature dissipate the attention. What is necessary is to balance life's duties with meditation on God, by which one learns to focus the mind in a most wonderful way. When a spiritually equilibrated person wants to accomplish a task, he is able to concentrate the full power of his disciplined attention on it, and it is done! When the concentration is fixed on God, its outward expression is a dynamic force for accomplishment.
Earnest devotees must create the spiritual habit of thinking of God throughout the day. Even when working or talking or mixing with others, one can keep the mind resting in Him.
There is an inward stillness and peace that the world cannot ruffle. When one is cushioned in the habit of practicing the presence of God, the sharp barbs of mortal habits of body consciousness have no piercing effect. Each night in meditation, the devotee should close his eyes to the world and practice deep meditation and prayer: "Lord, I have been dragging the body all day long. Give me freedom in Thy consciousness." The mind will argue that meditation is a drudgery in darkness, but one must persevere. He who with faith and perseverance enters the silence each night, and again each morning, will find great reward of abiding peace and calmness, precursor to the unveiled manifestation of the Infinite Presence. ...
The sage-poet Tagore wrote:
"Have you not heard His silent steps?
He comes, comes, ever comes."
It is the perpetual spiritual vigil and devotional magnetic expectation of the devotee that hears these silent steps of God's presence. (sc p.1097)
The habit of being inwardly in the calm presence of God must be developed, so that day and night that consciousness will remain steadfast. It is worth the effort; for to live in the consciousness of God is to be done with enslavement to disease, suffering, and fear. just be with God; that is the be-all and end-all of life. If one resolves never to go to sleep at night without meditating and feeling the Divine Presence, into one's life will come happiness beyond all expectation. Effort is necessary, but that effort will make one a king enthroned in the kingdom of peace and joy. Time spent in the pursuit of extraneous material things is a waste of man's precious opportunities to know God. I am telling you this from my heart: Blessed is he who makes up his mind never to rest until he has found God. (sc)
Practicing the Presence of God
by Sri Daya Mata, excerpts from Love, Serve (SRF Magazine 1999)
I want to share with you some words from the Spiritual Diary. This book has not been far from my side ever since it was printed. After my meditation each morning, I pick it up and say, "What is the message for me today?" Then I read the thought for that day. Here is the one for July 29:
"Whether you are washing dishes or digging a ditch or working in an office or a garden—whatever you may be doing—inwardly say,
'Lord, manifest to me! You are right here.
You are in the sun. You are in the grass.
You are in the water. You are in this room.
You are in my heart.'"
I have lived by that, practising the presence of God. If you choose to see God, you can see Him everywhere. Even with the many responsibilities that have been laid upon my shoulders these forty-odd years, that relationship with God is my life. I try to see Him in everything. Whether I'm meeting with people, writing, or thinking about the vast concerns of Guruji's worldwide work, this is what I live by. I find that my God is always with me, no matter what I am doing.
To devotees who say it is hard to find God, I say, "It is hard only because you make it so." Realize how simple the spiritual life can be. Go outside sometimes and just look up at the stars—there He is!
Or look at a tiny flower growing out of the ground—there He is!
I talk to Him all the time. That is what creates devotion. You don't speak of it to others; but it is there, secreted in your heart. That, along with meditation, is the way you begin to feel God in your life and in your consciousness.
Do Everything with the Thought of God
The next thought from the Spiritual Diary... is also very beautiful:
"No matter which way you turn a compass, its needle points to the north. So it is with the true yogi. Immersed he may be in many activities, but his mind is always on the Lord.
His heart constantly sings:
'My God, my God, most lovable of all!'"
These are two of my favourite thoughts from the Spiritual Diary. Do everything with the thought of God, in the joy of His presence. Wherever you look, you will find Him. Whenever you think of Him, you will find Him.
"He walks with me,
He talks with me,
He tells me I am His own."
(from the hymn, "In the Garden")
He loves every one of you. He loves you. Believe it! Turn to Him! Each of us has a silent temple within where we can go, unknown to anyone around us, and talk to Him: "O my Lord, You are with me. O my Lord, I love You! I may not always understand You, but You are mine. You gave me life. I am Yours. Bless me that I can look after my family and fulfill my responsibilities. Give me the strength, wisdom, and joy with which to serve. I know, my Lord, that it is You who came with me into this world, and it is You alone who will be with me when I go; so above all, my greatest responsibility is to love You, but without forsaking the responsibilities and loved ones You have given to me." Include Him in whatever you do. That is what is important.
Let us meditate a few moments. Just forget the world. Enter that sacred temple within where only God and you exist. Pray to Him to reveal Himself, as Guruji taught us:
reveal Thyself, reveal Thyself.
Thou art mine; I am Thine.
Thou art my Love; I am Thy love.
Thou art my joy; I am Thy joy.
I love You. I love You, God."
— Excerpts from Love, Serve by Sri Daya Mata
How to Practice the Presence of God?
by Sri Daya Mata
The answer is very simple, as Guruji said to me: "When you begin your day, inwardly say, 'Lord, help me to do the right thing in my work.' Then throughout the day, hold the thought, 'Lord, I am doing this for You. I shall do the best job I can, because of the joy I find in doing it for You.'" Practicing the Presence in this way should not make you absentminded. Be alert! Like one who is in love, the devotee does his work magnificently for the Beloved.
If one is sincere in his resolve, there is nothing in his life that he cannot turn in the direction of the Divine. Those things that do not take him toward God — those contradictory desires, thoughts, and actions—he cuts out of his life by the power of discrimination. In time, all worldly tendencies fall away like dried leaves from a tree. They do not have to be forcibly plucked off, they drop naturally because they no longer have any meaning, they no longer give any pleasure. The devotee finds a transcendent joy in God.
If one meditates regularly and practices the presence of God, the thought of the Divine will begin to revolve constantly in the background of the mind.
In discussing this point, Master often used the analogy of a cow and her calf. The mother cow lets her calf gambol all over the pasture, and she appears to be oblivious of its whereabouts. But if someone goes near that calf, see how the cow reacts! She was always very much aware of the calf's presence. Guruji used to say that the devotee should be like the mother cow. We go on performing our duties in this world, but always in the background of our minds is the awareness of God. We let nothing distract our attention from Him.
When my mind is fixed upon the Divine Mother, everything runs more smoothly. My heart does not feel burdened by anything; I am carefree, peaceful, enthusiastic. No matter where I go or what I do, Divine Mother goes with me. It is so because I have trained myself in this way for many years; this consciousness comes solely through practice. It is possible for you also to develop this kind of intimate relationship with God. Think of the Divine Mother; make Her your own. I know She is there.
If you follow what I am suggesting, the time comes when your consciousness remains unbrokenly in the meditative state — always with God. The devotee eventually becomes like Brother Lawrence:
Whether he was sweeping the floors or worshiping God before the altar, his mind was constantly engrossed in Him.*
[* "The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees...." — Brother Lawrence, in The Practice of the Presence of God.]
That is the state you want to come to; but it requires effort—it does not come by imagination. Eventually, you will find that even while you are doing your work, whenever you take your mind within for a moment, you will feel an inner effervescent well of devotion, of joy, of wisdom. You will say, "Ah, He is with me!" This is the fruit of meditation that can be enjoyed at any time, in quiet communion or in the midst of activity.
— from Living a God-Cetered Life by Sri Daya Mata