Our goal as devotees is to get out of this little ego, which is not easy. It’s the biggest thing we have to fight.
The battle of Kurukshetra in the Bhagavad Gita is an allegory of the war we fight within ourselves between the upward moving current of devotion and desire for God, and the downward moving pull of those things that are familiar and comfortable and draw us away.
God became everything
I have often said to people when they praise something of mine, “Well, God is the Doer,” and frequently the answer is, “Yes, but you have to do something too.” Well I don’t, and I refuse to let people hypnotize me with that thought. God does everything.
How did God manifest this universe? Out of Himself. How did God manifest you and me? Out of Himself: He became everything. He did not make things the way you or I might make a table, because He had nothing to make anything out of—only His consciousness existed.
You are not your body or personality. You are that Infinite One who is acting for a short time in a particular body. He does everything through you.
Don’t take credit for anything
As you look back at your life, at all the things that have happened, don’t let yourself say, “Oh, I did that very well,” or “I was very successful in that field.” Try to see God acting through you in all those experiences. Give Him the credit.
Similarly, if in the past you’ve made mistakes or done something poorly, don’t be angry or sad. We all make mistakes but Yogananda said, “God loves it when you give Him your mistakes.”
Learn to say, “I am a child of God and even if I have made mistakes, I give them to Him as He is the Doer of everything.” Whenever you’re tempted to feel personal about anything, take that as an opportunity to practice giving it to God, to say, “God did it, not I.” The more you do this, the freer you will feel. Nothing will touch you except as you take it personally.
A play between you and God
Some years ago, I was part of a conference on communities and one evening, I invited a number of the speakers out to dinner at a restaurant. Although I was their host, and the only one at the conference who had actually started a community, they talked only to each other. They thought they were the important ones, and I didn’t push myself.
I was delighted. I didn’t feel insulted or belittled. I saw it as a wonderful opportunity to practice what I believe in, which is to be humble and a non-entity.
I offer this as an example because every one, at different times, goes through similar experiences. Perhaps people don’t give you the recognition you deserve, or perhaps they try to insult you. The normal reaction is not to like it.
Instead, try to see it as an opportunity to say: “It doesn’t matter.” Treat it as something between you and God—as a play between you and Him. Say to Him: “God, that was a pretty good insult!” You will find that the less you think, “I matter,” the happier you will be.
We are not in control
Always keep in mind that you can’t do anything in this world that’s really important. Man is not important. We need to do everything with the understanding that it passes. We must do our best, but then leave the results in God’s hands.
Years ago, I was with a group of friends in Disneyland, and we went on a boat ride where the boats move on underwater rails. The boats have a freewheeling steering wheel that gives the impression that you can steer, but you can’t.
As we were moving along, we saw our friends, a man and his wife, and waved to them. The woman said, “Johnny, look. They’re waving.” And he said, “Don’t bother me. I have to steer!” He couldn’t steer anything!
That’s how our lives are. We think we have control, but we don’t. You have to do your best—nothing will come to you if you don’t. But in the end, even our thoughts are not our own. They come from a universal source. As Yogananda put it, “Thoughts are universally, not individually rooted.”
There are all these influences acting upon us, determining our thought to be good, bad, indifferent, active, meditative, and so on. We have to initiate the action, but we attract those qualities—sattwic, rajasic or tamasic—from the infinite according to our openness to them.
That’s why it’s very important to always ask Him to guide you. Yogananda said we should pray: “I will reason, I will will, I will act, but guide Thou my reason, will and activity in everything I do.” The more you do that, the more He guides your thoughts and you know what to do.
Learn to see God in others
It’s very difficult to know when you’re expressing ego. One of the most important things is to stop thinking that you are separate from life, from everyone else, and above all, from God. Learn to see God in others but first you have to see God in yourself.
Then, as you walk in the streets and see people, say to yourself: “They want what I want; each one of them is seeking joy.” If their faces don’t show joy, pray for them mentally. It’s wonderful when you find strangers responding because they feel your joy.
Meditate on Master’s poem, Samadhi; repeat it frequently: “I the cosmic sea watch the little ego floating in me.” You are that cosmic sea. Don’t limit yourself to this little body. What freedom there is when you think, “He does it all. His joy is the only reality.”
Talk to Him all the time
The more you put your mind on God, the more He becomes your sole reality. Try to do everything with Him—eat with Him, walk with Him, feel Him in your heart, talk to Him all the time.
When walking alone, try to feel God’s energy making your limbs move. Feel that it’s God’s energy in the wind, the breeze, the flickering leaves. When a dog barks, feel that God is talking to you. In time, you will begin to feel that God is talking to you through all of your experiences.
Everything becomes delightful
Jesus said, “Seek and you shall find.” God doesn’t often come through great visions; usually He comes in the back door. Suddenly He is in the house.
You feel better, happier. People do things that used to rile you and you no longer feel riled. People take things from you and you think, “What does it matter?” More and more, life becomes delightful because you’ve understood why you are here, and what you must seek.