At the close of Ananda’s celebration of its fiftieth anniversary, Jyotish urged us to memorize Yoganandaji’s poem “God! God! God!”—and to so train our minds that whatever comes our way we turn within and call on God:
When boisterous storms of trials shriek,
And when worries howl at me,
I will drown their noises, loudly chanting:
God! God! God!
The soul knows where to turn, even when surface dimensions of one’s being do not. “There are no atheists in foxholes”: folk wisdom born out of the trauma of war, but masking profound truth. One night in my seventeenth year, the vehicle I was driving at 100 mph skidded on two wheels sideways off the road and down a steep embankment. My teenage passenger began crying out, “Oh God! Oh God! Oh God!” We seemed to be floating. Everything became very still. As I listened to my friend’s call for help I felt a deep calm come over me. I knew Someone was watching over us—that we had nothing to fear. The vehicle slid sideways into the guy-wire supporting a power pole, making contact at the precise point of balance so that all the vehicle’s momentum became a graceful spin around the cable. Unutterably grateful, we drove home at the sedate speed of 25 mph. It was an early experience of God’s presence—and protection.
The saints see God everywhere, in everyone: “In God all are equal: not only Jesus Christ, Lord Krishna, and great saints everywhere, but even, in essence, those on earth who have sinned most greatly.” Our beloved Swamiji one day realized in the depths of his being that all people are seeking the same one thing—bliss—however mistaken their approach may be. He saw that all people, those bright with kindness and joy and those dark with ignorance and misery, are children of the same, one God. All are equally deserving of the love and respect due God’s children. From that moment on, Swamiji felt only love for everyone he met, everyone he’d ever known, whether they had treated him with affection and respect or with cruelty and betrayal. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” Jesus cried out from the cross.
Mahatma Gandhi came to the same understanding. Though repeatedly abused, insulted, even beaten and imprisoned, Gandhiji steadfastly refused to seek redress, much less punishment in law, for he saw that every blow struck at him came from ignorance, from the attacker’s lack of awareness of his own divine essence and of the same essence in the one he was attacking. Growing up in a home where all faiths were respected, all seen as simply different paths to the one Father-Mother God, Gandhi came early to see the divine spark within all beings—all castes, all creeds, all nationalities, all races. With special compassion toward those most discriminated against, Gandhi honored the untouchables, the most marginalized group in India, with the name “Harijan”—“man of God”—the name first given them by the Gujarat saint Narasinha Mehta.
Our own master, Paramhansa Yogananda, saw even the most violent criminals as God’s children, and did so with such power that many were the deluded ones transformed by their encounter with the Master.
Gandhiji faced his own imminent death by violence many times, always with compassion for his attacker, always with an inner turning toward God. “Oh God!” he cried out as the assassin’s bullets ended his earthly life—and surely he was calling out to God hidden behind the warped façade of his killer as much as to the same God, his eternal Friend, living within his own dying form.
In waking, eating, working, dreaming, sleeping,
Serving, meditating, chanting, divinely loving,
My soul will constantly hum, unheard by any:
God! God! God!
In divine friendship,
For Ananda’s “Thank You, God” Tithing