What Could Spirituality and Meditation Mean for an Atheist?


I am seventy year old male, highly disciplined, book lover and an atheist since my teenage. What should Spirituality and Meditation mean to me? Thanks.

—H S Singh, India


Dear HS,

A central aspect of atheism is rejecting definitions of God, especially definitions put forth by various religions and their representatives. God is beyond human definition and sectarian treatises. Yogananda said it may be a blessing to be born in a religion if that religion encourages you to seek God, but it is a curse to die in one — because God is beyond that limited understanding.

God must be experienced within, and that connection is unique for each person. God can be understood as the highest potential within you. Do you seek infinite Peace, absolute Truth, or perfect Love for example? Meditation is an effective practice to still our minds, that we might discover these higher states of awareness.

Yogananda gave a beautiful image of the individual as an expression of God. Imagine a gas burner. There are the flames emerging from the jets, seemingly separate and individual, but they are all powered by the same source of energy. In this way all elements of creation are individualized expressions of God. If the source were extinguished the flames would not exist. We as individual flames can operate from the delusion we are separate, but in meditation we to look to our Source.

Spirituality gives tools to do this. Spirituality is never dogma, accepting without question some set of beliefs. It is about experiencing Truth for yourself. A spiritual path provides a guide book, as these are deep discoveries. The seeker needs instructions and guidance in the form of enlightened teachers, and ultimately the guru to reach the goal of Self-realization, which is oneness with this Source.

Regarding age, Yogananda said that the soul is ageless. When asked his age he would say ‘I am one.’ Each life journey is unique. Spiritual teachings and practices come when we are ready to receive them. There is no ‘age limit’ to discovery of higher truth. Yogananda in his lifetime had older disciples who came late in life. Because they were deeply dedicated and disciplined, they made great spiritual progress before they passed. A deep, heartfelt longing to know God combined with spiritual tools are the keys to spiritual growth.

Would you like to explore further? I encourage you to take a look at our Ananda Course in Meditation. You will learn a simple, universal and powerful meditation technique that helps you find that inner peace.

Many blessings,
Nayaswami Mukti