The Game of Minutes: A Dialogue with My Self
Tyagini Maitreyi, a disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda, received the inner guidance to attempt to practice the presence of God moment by moment. Describing her approach, she writes: “Yogananda urged us to talk to God every second, in activity and in silence, with the unceasing desire of our hearts.”
Maitreyi found inspiration and guidance in two other sources: Practicing the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence (1634-1691), and Letters by a Modern Mystic, by Frank Laubach (1884-1970). Laubach’s “Game with Minutes,”* [see sidebar below] in which one tries to think of God for at least one second every minute, gave Maitreyi a way to assess her daily progress.
After several weeks of her dedicated efforts, God, whom Maitreyi refers to as “The Presence,” and whom she considers her higher Self, began to speak to her; she in turn recorded His words. God instilled in Maitreyi an overwhelming desire to share His messages, which were not only for her but for all who aspire to know Him in this lifetime. Presented here are selected, edited excerpts from a longer, more complete journal.
Sunday, 17th October, 2010
Today I have come to a decision. If I am serious in my quest to practice the presence of God in every minute, as did my spiritual forebears, then I, too, should chronicle my journey of this practice of child-like simplicity, but so difficult a one to master. Yet I am spurred on by the anticipation of great rewards for the good of all.
I began an attempt some weeks ago, by keeping my attention at the brow (the point between the eyebrows) as long as I could, going back to it as soon as I realized I had drifted. Trying to do this for one second of every minute is a lot more difficult than it sounds. I do find, however, that the practice of japa helps me here a little.
It is easy to hold this awareness when I can maintain silence, but when outward speech is necessary, this is when I lose Him. At my place of work I struggle: a busy Intensive Care Unit. I know this to be a great test.
Creating a habit of continually being aware of God has been sporadically successful to date. Being one of the hardest things I have ever set out to do, I know that the secret of success lies in the fact that I must not become upset when I forget my quest. On realizing I have let God slip my mind I am wretched, knowing that I have lost precious moments never to be returned. But as soon as I realize I have erred, God is still there, waiting patiently for me as the loving parent He is.
It is becoming more commonplace, during my periods of lapse, that Guru – unprompted by me in my state of oblivion — sends a strong rapturous wave to waken me from my delusional slumbers. That is unconditional love!
The reason I begin my chronicle today is that today, for the first time ever, I have been sensible of my conscious awareness at the brow for the whole day, unceasingly, and without effort. It can only be that Grace is giving me a taste of what can be attained. The bliss that has accompanied this Presence, too, has continued without break – undulating in intensity, but consistently present!
The chronicling of my efforts has sprung to mind before; however today the idea has been a constant and almost carping companion in my mind. I am taking it thus: that it is Guru’s will that I begin to record my experience of God’s Presence.
I trust, Guruji, I am interpreting Your will as You would have it.
Saturday, 23rd October, 2010
What is this physical pain in my heart centre? In my meditations, in my practice of Kriya, and when my daily thoughts are in God, therein comes a sharp physical pain. Saint Teresa of Avila describes her own experience of a vision in which an angel pierced her heart with a javelin three times, which brought her to the highest state of ecstasy. Frank Laubach writes, “…I wish I could keep this lovely ache in my heart forever…”
This “pain” seems to open wide to God; a pain of yearning, that if I concentrate upon it grows into a force that joins with the already stupendous force of my upper chakras. I do not know quite how to handle this yet.
Guruji, I pray that you grace me with courage, endurance, and readiness to allow myself to surrender utterly to this awesome Power.
Today, reading the life of St. John of the Cross makes me realize how pathetic my attempts at my devotions have been in comparison to those of this holiest of men. It inspires me to continue my own experiment of Frank Laubach’s “Game with Minutes” with a determination thus far unseen in my efforts. It is true that each week I do see growth and an increase in my devotions; however, reading the lives of these great exemplars humbles me. Any effort I think is enough is not nearly enough. Although it is not an effort, in truth. It is a privilege and a joy.
Thursday, 28th October, 2010
I have just finished two night shifts at the hospital. Night duty is certainly not conducive to keeping my energy level raised. As the night wears on, my energy is significantly lower; hence it is increasingly difficult to hold my awareness in God’s Presence. Rather than living with Him in each moment, I begin to wish the hours away and my focus hones more and more to the thought of bed and the sleep my mind craves.
The “Game with Minutes” didn’t go too badly at the beginning of these two shifts, however. I am finding that at the start of any shift, whether day or night, the bliss of The Presence is quite overwhelming. This must be due to the fact that I have usually just meditated before going to work and I am holding on to that raised vibration.
On waking this morning, reassured that my concentration was firmly ensconced in the forehead before I put a foot out of bed – I took Frank Laubach’s direction in this — there It was again: The Presence.
Beloved, I felt Your communication this morning:
Why, child, do you write of me in the third person? When you read a book you have begun the practice of reading it to me. If you are truly practicing my presence why, then, not write to me also? To whom are you writing anyway, but to me?
From this moment on, and by Your own instruction as I interpret it, I am inspired to change the format of this writing and will record Your wisdom as I receive it. In my conversation with You I will address you as “Beloved.”
The more into the chronicling of my experience of You, Beloved, the more I am of the awareness that this is somehow an important undertaking. The reason, known only to You, to me has yet to unfold.
Monday, 1st November, 2010
The last couple of days I have experienced just a hint of melancholy. I put it down to the recent night shifts that still take their toll on my physical body. I attempted to trace the melancholic feeling back to its source – never being one disposed to moods particularly, it was unusual for me not to feel joyful. I came to the conclusion that I was homesick for You, Beloved! I think this is in no way a bad thing. It is serving to keep my heart yearning for an ever more perfect union in You.
Kriya is taking on a new dimension. The further into the astral spine I am taken, the more I realize I know nothing of yoga at all, as You grace me with the merest glimpse of the infinitude of Your realm.
I have given you the key, dear child, into my kingdom. Behold, as it unfurls before you the magnitude of my blessing. One day, you will be sent forth into the world to divest your brethren of their cloak of illusion. You will show these people your way to me by example of my pleasure in one who loves me, my own.
You are thinking these thoughts are your imaginings. But what are you feeling in your heart as I give these thoughts to you? There! You have dispelled that notion instantly for you know my presence within you. Do I need convince you any more than this? You think yourself unworthy of a conversation with me. That is the illusion of ego. Rejoice in the power of my glory that can do great works through my devoted servants. You are such a one, yet you attempt to block me with false notions. Trust, little one, and come unto me, for I will give you my kingdom in Heaven.
This “Game with Minutes” is extremely effective. On a very good day, my awareness can be in You for about sixty percent of the day; on not so good a day, possibly thirty percent at best. Never mind. I strive ever toward perfection.
O hold my desire in Thee, Beloved…
Wednesday, 3rd November, 2010
You gave me two valuable pieces of wisdom in my meditation this morning. The first of this wisdom came as three words. Less is more! These words are already familiar to me as great wisdom. I must needs look to myself and sift out any unnecessaries from my life.
The second, You gave me in the form of the briefest of visions and an instantaneous knowing of the lesson it held. I saw a little black dog with adorable spaniel ears. It was sitting with its back to me in the middle of a dusty dirt track road that I knew led away from a rural homestead. It had been left alone and was looking down the track in anticipation of the return of its beloved master. Utterly devoted, this little dog would not be moved and sat there every day for the rest of its life, patiently waiting on its beloved master’s return. The little dog died, still waiting for its master.
My interpretation of this vision, is this: You are telling me that we, humanity, should be like this little dog, who desires nothing other than to wait patiently and devotedly for its beloved master.
Unerring in our faith that one day You will come for each of us, we must be as focused and faithful as this little dog. If we imitate the devotion of this little dog in all our meditations and worldly activity, keeping our minds in You, and giving You everything in the knowing that You do everything through us, only then will we keep You in continuous vigil in our hearts. We must keep the candle burning for You in the inner sanctum of our devotions, even if it means our bodies die waiting.
Isn’t this the message of just about every saint that walked this earth? This is just how Brother Lawrence lived his life. Frank Laubach achieved this constant vigil through his “Game with Minutes.” It is no coincidence to read these words of Master’s just now as I leave my writing to take some breakfast. They fit perfectly with all that has just been relayed:
“Make your life more simple and put your whole mind in the Lord.”
Thursday, 4th November
Do You suppose that all these plants have any idea of the travail that lies before them? Do they have any inkling of the millions of lives they have yet to experience before they even reach human level, and only then does the trouble begin? No, of course they cannot…. I wonder how many immature souls there are within the blades of grass that carpet the grounds of that building over there.
This, I put to You, Beloved, as I looked out of my kitchen window yesterday. You answered me in meditation last night, which I record as well as my memory serves me:
Save your pity child, not for the plants, but for humanity. Immature souls they may be, but they are as close to me as any. In their dimly lit innocence they display an attunement to Nature that man does rarely. Not yet introduced to the Lords of Discontent, they are free of the ruinations of false desires and temptations that delude my human children into bondage and away from the harmonies of creation. Man could learn much by contemplating the life of the humble plant.
Accepting of its lot, the plant instinctively acknowledges its source of nurturing power by growing upward to face the Sun. Vigilant to the last, its leaves and flowers scarce leave the Sun’s beaming rays for all the daylight hours, content in following the daily ritual of birth and death in its traverse across the heavens. The plant raises its head with glee at the site of its Benefactor each morning and bows its head in silent reverence as it sets, each night. Never does it turn its back on the Source. It does not bite the hand that feeds it.
Natural evolution slowly, but inevitably, matures these souls to the human level. Many of the divine attributes they have stoically borne for aeons, such as purity, patience, serenity, acceptance, and endurance, are cloaked from view and replaced with lesser qualities. For the human, it takes great pains to reclaim this guileless innocence. Pity, then, your fellow man for choosing unwisely, for unless all choose me, no rest can be had!
Wednesday, 10th November, 2010
In meditation the other day my mind was wandering – as is its unfortunate wont – when a tune came to me, as clear as crystal. It would not cease until spent. I recognized it instantly as the famous Tudor folk song, Greensleeves.
A song of lightness of love? Did You really mean to convey something to me through this tune? You prompt me to take a closer look at the words and the meaning now jumps out at me. The first verse is all I needed to see:
Alas, my love, you do me wrong,
To cast me off discourteously.
For I have loved you well and long,
Delighting in your company.
You have given me a reprimand, Beloved, for my errant ways in meditation and in my daily life. Of course I do You wrong when I forget You.
You demonstrate such patience with me. I am grateful, truly. I am reminded of another message You gave me in meditation a couple of years ago. Again, my mind was not where it should have been. I am ashamed that I did not apply myself better then. Your message at that time was clearly placed in my mind:
There is One Who is better deserving of your attention!
Friday, 12th November
In my daily activity I am establishing my practice of Your Presence through the “Game with Minutes.” For me, this constitutes thinking of You as my nearest and dearest beloved friend as often as I can, with the aim of joining up all those times into continuous communion. I am beginning to talk to You in a way I have never talked to anyone, and I feel Your Presence very strongly at my brow and in my heart.
Over the last few days I have been taken deeper into AUM than ever before. Bit by bit the “sense telephones” – as Master used to call the external sense receptors – are starting to shut down: destination, “the Silence.” Although I know I have a way to go, I am losing the fear of letting go of the body which has hampered my efforts in meditation for years. Slowly the realization is dawning that the sphere I am fast approaching is a far more natural place to be than is body consciousness. Having once been graced with a breathless experience in “the Silence,” I know I am moving closer to this state in meditation. I now understand that for me, perceiving You as a personal figure just does not work. You are very “fluid,” Beloved, yet paradoxically immutable in Your fluidness. I am aware of your Presence strongly since yesterday evening.
Child, I must needs be fluid. I have created you all with imagination. In whatever aspect I am perceived I must, by my own law, oblige all my children. The Infinite is inconceivable to most as a focal point of devotion. It matters not upon which aspect of creation you may choose to fix your gaze as long as it is in remembrance of me. There is no hidden benefit in praying to me as any particular aspect over another. I am equal in all, but it must be remembered that I am not contained by form. Do not fall into this delusion. When you are comfortable with me in a particular form look beyond all you perceive. I am form yet I am not form. I am real as I am unreal. That I am and am not.
Wednesday, 17th November, 2010
Your way of communicating to me lately, through song and verse, is extremely effective. Praying to You for deeper attunement You hit me with, You Can’t Hurry Love, by Phil Collins. At least, Beloved, You are beginning to get a little bit more modern in Your choice of verse. The melody came to me so clearly and, as experienced before, would not cease until spent. I looked up the words. The chorus says all, and it was the chorus that You sent me:
My mama said
You can’t hurry love
No, you’ll just have to wait
She said love don’t come easy
But it’s a game of give and take
You can’t hurry love
No, you’ll just have to wait
Just trust in a good time
No matter how long it takes
All comes in good time to those who diligently wait. I am not deaf to your pleas, child. Think on me, every moment, and every second in that moment. This is the level you must attain to reach me. I will step down to meet you, but you must also rise to me. I give you my hand and I will soon give you my heart. You please me, child, but you must be more astute as to where you place your attention. Clear your mind of the dross that plagues it. I have given you the tools to achieve this. One mind in me! It is so simple, yet a child is better equipped to realize me, than the most intelligent of men. A child is absorbed in the moment. That is where I am to be found. A child is not concerned with time outside of that moment. When you realize there is naught else but me upon which to fix your gaze, then shall you be mine.
Sat, Tat, Aum
Saturday, 20th November, 2010
If there was one sure way for You to help us realize the impermanence of physical life, Beloved, it is to take our loved ones from us. Only twelve weeks ago You called time on my dear earthly sister, with a brain tumor. Now I hear of a dear friend and spiritual sister whom You are calling with the same disease.
I learned a hard, but valuable lesson through the trial of my earthly sister’s suffering insofar as realizing that it is all right to weep for the pain of those suffering, as if it were my own. Yet I am now of the consciousness that I would not weep for my own pain. I would gladly bear any trial You saw fit to send me; noble words, I know, but I would give it all to You, as indeed I did the suffering over my sister. It is the ones left behind in this world that need the pity. The departed ones have attained freedom from the infirmities of the flesh. I would rather follow the example my spiritual sister. As an advanced yogi, she is fully accepting and joyous in her final days on the physical plane, and is much comfort to her husband and friends around her. That is the way forward.
Witnessing the death process of loved ones enables those left behind to choose to move closer to You or further away.
Life is not real, no matter which way one looks at it. All is my dream; my imagination if you like. It is unfortunate that the best method to awaken my children to truth is through the experience of sorrow. The greater the sorrow, the greater the lesson that can be learned, if only one has eyes to see.
Man must learn that all worldly goods will be taken from him. Nothing can be held by a departing soul, save what he has become over the accumulation of many lives. I am the only reality. Realize this truth and you have found me.
That I will soon realize this truth is my fervent prayer. Help me, Beloved, in my meditation which, of late, is not faring so well as practicing Your Presence in my daily activity.
Monday, 22nd November, 2010
The change in my meditation over the last couple of days is notable; and not only meditation, but Kriya also. I am seeing marked improvement since I began this conversation with You and, moreover, since my prayer to You.
I notice at work, even during the busiest and most critical times, there is peace infused throughout the ICU and the staff. Maybe this is just my perception, but I am receiving comments from colleagues which support this. When I remember to bless all those around me I am reminded of You.
Monday, 29th November, 2010
I feel I must report my shortcomings over this past week. My attempts at keeping You in mind for one second of each minute have fallen far short of the mark. Why, I am not sure, but maybe night duties at the hospital have taken their toll once again. But then I do not need to lay blame elsewhere. I was not very attentive. Simple as that!
Determined to make up for my slackness, I vowed to make my work day a living meditation in Your Sweet Presence. I think my desire to please – rather than the stingy offerings I actually managed – stirred Your compassion for a pathetic soul this day. Late last night, Your Presence beheld a strength of power thus far unknown, and was again felt in meditation this morning.
Child, you are right. I see one of my own with good intentions. As long as I see you striving harder each day for my company, no matter how successful or nay, then do I extend my hand.
Friday, December 3rd, 2010
Walking to work this morning, the street dimly lit by the feeble light of the new moon, my feet crunched on the crispness of new-laid snow. In pondering mood, I analysed why, this year, I am full of the Christmas spirit; far more than usual, and far earlier than ever I can remember. But then of course; I am full with Your Presence! Christ lives in me all the while I am aware of You. When I feel You in me I cannot think a wrong thought, say a wrong word, or do a deed that You would not deem worthy.
Everything I seem to read, or hear just lately seems to talk to me of practicing Your Presence. Everywhere I look, You remind me You are here, behind the cloud, in the tree, in the melody of the tuneful song thrush, in the face I see before me, the barking of a dog. Reminders all, how is it possible to ever forget You? But forget You we do!
Monday, 13th December, 2010
Another tune in my head, the first line of the famous song, Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree, came to mind as I was chattering away, on my way to work the other morning:
I’m coming Home, I’ve done my time….
This is exactly how it is. I am coming Home. I am through with delusion and have certainly “done my time” in it. I am Your child, made in Your image. You have given me the keys to Heaven, and it is up to me to use them to open my door to Infinity. I know, beyond question, that You are with me always; that it is I who moves away from You, not You from me.
When I focus my attention upward, there and without fail, manifest in the Presence of Bliss, are You. It is such a wonderfully satisfying and secure feeling. Why is it, then, that You are so hard to hold? Can the temptations of this world ever compare to the delight of Your Holy Self? Not a chance, yet here I wander, away from you; a regular truant from the Sacred University of the Sacrament. The human mind is truly insane, before it becomes enlightened.
Vague fancies come and go, but my attention ever holds you near. There is naught else could take my awareness from my own, my charges. I am in all. I work through all, so how could my attention possibly be anywhere but focused upon myself? Once my children realize they, too, are truly made in my image, then will the illusion of separateness be dispelled. They will understand I am in them, as in all things: that everywhere am I present; that there is nothing to gaze upon that is not I. One mind, one heart in all.
Saturday, 22nd January 2011
I have not recorded anything of late as I have nothing to report of significance but dismal failure. I cannot believe how weak-willed I have been these last weeks. When I say weak-willed, the determination and desire for You are as fervent as ever, but remembering to hold my attention in You, Beloved, at the forefront of my mind is so difficult.
You have been so kind and loving, showing me visible and tangible signs of Your Presence, that I love You and despair of my predicament all the more for it, feeling I am constantly letting you down. My temporary setback only fuels my desire to succeed, as the ache for You intensifies daily, so it would seem my failure foreshadows a victory.
If I could only hold You as I have You now. Now, in this moment, I know You are walking with me; breathing, eating, laughing, crying, thinking, acting out Your play through my every movement and perception of consciousness. I cannot think a wrong thought or act out a wrong deed as I am now, Beloved. Hold me in this state and make this moment eternal. By Your grace alone will I attain the most coveted end.
Tyagini Maitreyi has been an Ananda member for three years. She currently serves as a nurse and leads a small Ananda meditation group from her home on the Isle of Man, UK. Soon to leave that home for the new Kriya community in Pune, India, she devotes much of her time to inspirational writing.
*The Game with Minutes
At first, practice for no more than an hour. Begin the experiment by recording each time you think of God. Aim for one second in each minute. It is amazing how difficult this is. Mark on a piece of paper each time you think of Him and see your score at the end of the hour. This experiment may be practiced anywhere, but until you begin to form a habit, a quiet environment is best. After forming the habit of thinking of God, let go of the paper exercise and gradually increase the time you think of Him each day, taking the practice into all aspects of daily living.
To learn more about Frank Laubach’s “Game with Minutes” click here