The writings of the great sages who lived and dedicated their lives to truth have long been spiritual lifelines for me. The saints and masters have endured and arisen victorious over the many hardships and temptations of life on the physical plane. They’ve left many footsteps for us to follow in their scriptures and other written experiences.
Many of the great, God-knowing saints emphasize one thing that we can offer to God that He cherishes above all else: our love. In the eyes of the enlightened we see absolute adoration of the Divine and that they behold a blissful reality. They tell us that devotional meditation is the most direct path to knowing God, though we can easily forget this most essential ingredient for our meditation.
In a recorded talk, Awake in the Cosmic Dream, Paramhansa Yogananda says that seekers often ponder questions and thoughts such as, “How do I love God? How can I love God? I sit and He does not answer!” Master, ardently states, “That is not true. You are not strong in your love! When you love something you are all the time thinking of it – day and night. Always it is in the background of your mind!”
Keeping Yogananda’s poignant response in mind, let’s explore some further common questions:
- How can I, day after day, with everything going on in my life, continue to deepen my love for God?
- How can I keep Him all the time in my heart and mind?
- How can I make my meditation an offering of love to God?
Ideas inspired by wisdom of the great masters have been very helpful to me. I quote extensively from two of my favorite books: God Alone, The Life and Letters of a Saint, by Sister Gyanamata (one of Paramhansa Yogananda’s most advanced disciples) and The Bhagavad Gita, According to Paramhansa Yogananda, edited by Swami Kriyananda.
Remember, God loves you, His child, as much as He loves Jesus-Paramhansa Yogananda
These words were often quoted by the master’s first American disciple, Dr. M.W. Lewis. Many devotees struggle with feelings of unworthiness of God’s love. The master often reminded disciples of God’s equal and unconditional love for them. We can also remember how much God loves us. Just as any devoted parent is instantly there – night or day, to fulfill needs of any one of their children – God is instantly there to receive us when we sincerely call Him with trust and love.
God yearns for us to return to Him. If we focus our efforts on purely offering love in meditation, He will be able to bring us deeply into bliss.
In giving love, we most open to receiving. By grasping at experiences and hoping for celestial visions, we only become tense and ultimately disappointed with slow and meager results.
Outstanding among the wise is he whose devotion is constant and one-pointed. I am, above all things, dear to that sage, and he, of all beings, is dearest to Me.
–The Bhagavad Gita 7:17
It’s been helpful for me to recognize I have no control over what I receive in meditation but that I do have a degree of control over what I give. It is God and our guru’s business to determine what and when I am ready to receive. My part in the divine romance is to offer my reverent, loving attention — making myself receptive to what He knows is right to send. Sister Gyanamata often prayed before meditation, “Now, Thee alone I seek. Send what is best.”
There are no obstacles. There are only opportunities-Yogananda
“There are no obstacles. There are only opportunities,” Yogananda repeatedly said. Stray thoughts and distractions that permeate our minds in meditation can be seen from one perspective as potential offerings to the Divine. In this sense, obstacles in meditation become opportunities for freedom. When the distracting influences of karma appear, we have a choice: we either give them to God with devotional surrender, thereby detaching ourselves from their influence — or we follow them around and around in circles, entranced by their attractive and entertaining force, ending up exactly where we started. Which is stronger, our desire for God’s presence or our desire for countless allurements of the world? Can we offer back to Him that which is His anyway? This attitude of self-offering can be applied to any creation attracting our interest.
Singlehearted devotion, O Arjuna! is what lifts one to that supremely unmanifested state. Only the ever-conscious, Omnipresent Spirit is the ultimate repository of all things, and all beings. –The Bhagavad Gita 8:22
Meditation without results is not a loss but potentially a great gain. It can teach us the most important of virtues: unconditional love.-St. Theresa of Avila
Sister Gyanamata liked to quote these words of St. Theresa of Avila. Learning how to give love without seeking return is a mark of deep spiritual maturity. We can put this into practice with our daily service as well.
The wise understand renunciation to be the relinquishing of any action performed with (personal) desire. They also declare that it is not action itself which should be abandoned, but only that action which desires the fruits of action. –The Bhagavad Gita 18:2
God is simple. Everything else is complex.-Swami Sri YukteswarIn order to develop wisdom that will guide us to victory on the battlefield of life, we must learn to live in love. The great guru and master of wisdom, Sri Yukteswar, taught, “God is simple. Everything else is complex.” In the simplicity of childlike love, we gain insight and attunement that enable us to walk the razor’s edge, hand in hand with our guru to complete the spiritual journey.
To those who are attached only to Me, and who worship me with love, I impart that discernment of wisdom by which they attain Me completely. –The Bhagavad Gita 10:10
Yogananda once advised a disciple, “You have to keep telling the Divine Mother that you love Her even when you do not feel like it…even when you do not feel it! “
Wanting to love God is loving God!-YoganandaTry not to feel discouraged if you don’t feel a flood of devotion filling your being in meditation. Simply think of God in the form you hold most dear and inwardly lift your heart to the spiritual eye. Toward the end of Swami Kriyananda’s life, he told us that the only affirmation he really used anymore was the simple words, “I love You.”
View the techniques, especially Kriya Yoga, as a medium for offering your love. In India, various outward ceremonies called “Yagyas” are practices offering ghee and rice into a fire while chanting mantras. This act is symbolic of what the devotee learns to do through the sacred Kriya technique. Try never to delay devotion until after your practice of the meditation techniques. Imbue the tools themselves with gratitude, self-offering and other devotional qualities.
Kriya Yoga plus devotion works like mathematics. It cannot fail!–Paramhansa Yogananda
This love of God, nurtured within our daily meditation will ultimately yield fruit of blissful freedom that we all seek. This is promised by the masters. Sister Gyanamata went through many years of intense physical suffering, all the while never straying from commitment to love God first and God alone in everything. She says:
If one can delight in God only when He comes as joy, what is he? But suppose God comes only as pain? That it takes a spiritual hero to endure. If, in the darkness, the mind never wavers, if love and longing never grow weak, it is then that you prove to yourself that you really have the love of God.
If you need help with your devotion, if your heart feels dry, then pick up devotional writings of the Kriya Masters. Yogananda’s Whispers from Eternity is a powerful prayer scripture that particularly helps guide devotion to the Divine. Here is a favorite passage of mine:
I sought to catch Thee in the deep waters of superconsciousness. Little fishes of inspiration nibbled at my bait of meditation. My concentration bobbed, but every time I pulled I missed Thee.
I baited the hook of my meditation with the tasty spice of love: the little fishes tugged, and I watched them do so with attentive zeal. Lo! my mind’s float vanished beneath Thy waves of bliss.
O Colossal Denizen of my Consciousness! I pulled at Thee, and with a bound Thou didst leap to the shores of my heart. Teach me to fish for Thee ever in the deepest waters of my soul.
Never mind if you cannot feel the flood of devotion that Yogananda so beautifully embodies. Ask him to help you love God more and you will see that his devotion can empower your own. It’s been helpful for me to know that he has been exactly where I am on the path and knows how to help me if only I remember to give him a loving invitation.
O Arjuna! I am reached easily by that yogi of single heart (the heart’s feeling focused and uplifted) who daily, continuously keeps Me in his consciousness, wholly focused on Me.
Those great souls who love Me and (out of love for Me) merge in My spirit, achieve the highest success (the only kind worth courting). They need never return again to this ephemeral, grief-stricken world.” –The Bhagavad Gita 8:14-15
The great ones deeply care for us and hold keen interest in helping us through the many conundrums of our karmic journeys. God understands how difficult this world can be, so He manifests as great Avatars who share volumes of wisdom, where we can find great comfort amidst perplexing trials. Interestingly, such wisdom may be summarized in Swami Kriyananda’s uncomplicated statement:
Ultimately everything we do on the spiritual path is bringing us to the point where we can offer more and more love.
It is up to us to put one foot in front of the other and, as often as we become distracted, to return our gaze to that polestar of His guiding force of divine love.
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