I once said to the great Indian saint, Ananda Moyi Ma, “We would love for you to visit America.” She replied, “I’m there already. Why should I go?”
Time and space don’t really exist; they’re basically all in the mind. We think of a star as being light years away but a master is as much in the most distant galaxy as here.
Paramhansa Yogananda said in Autobiography of a Yogi, “God is center everywhere, circumference nowhere.” In your soul nature, you are the center of everything. You will find truth only by going into your center and diving deep into your soul essence.
“Even the worst of sinners”
Yogananda said we should consider it our duty in this life to become at least a jivan mukta, a soul free while still living in a body. You might think, “But I must have a load of karma the size of a planet. What about all that karma?”
It doesn’t matter. If you yearn for God deeply enough, He will come to you. As Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita, “Even the worst of sinners who steadfastly meditates on Me speedily comes to Me.”
Imagine a huge lake of ice, frozen so deeply that thousands of people standing on the surface wouldn’t be able to crack it. How do you get through to the water underneath the ice? By drilling a deep hole in the ice from where you are standing, you will be able to get through.
In other words, by meditating, we go deeply into our center, into the inner Self, and from that point we can break through the ice of delusion and merge into God. The karma from countless past lives, represented by that large sheet of ice, still remains but we don’t need to worry about it. Once you’ve dissolved the ego and merged into God, you can melt that “ice” gradually or quickly; it’s up to you.
Once I asked Yogananda, “Can’t you just say that you’re free, and you are?” He replied, “Yes, you can, but at that stage you don’t really care, because you know you’re one with everything. You may use the burden of past karma just to come back and help other people.
Once you have reached the state of jivan mukta, you can’t fall again because you’ve realized your oneness with God.
Basically, the only difference between a jivan mukta and a param mukta, one who is completely freed of all karma, past and present (fully liberated), is that God can exert much more power through a param mukta. An avatar is someone who has achieved full liberation and returns to the world for the sake of suffering humanity.
Souls go up and down
The Indian scriptures say that it takes from five to eight million lives even to reach the human level. That’s a long time, but it’s nonetheless easy to fall from that state. If you choose to act in an animalistic way, why should you be worthy of a human body? Souls go up and down from the human level constantly.
So don’t waste time—take seriously your search for God. God projected everything out of Himself and He wants to draw everything back into oneness. That’s the only purpose of this whole human drama.
But human beings are very adept at self-delusion, and we can wander a long time. Stop and watch your mind trying to justify its mistakes: “Oh yes, I drink, but at least I don’t smoke.” “Well, it’s true I smoke, but at least I don’t drink.” Rather than making excuses for yourself, why not try to achieve freedom?
Getting out of ego
It’s very difficult to get rid of the thought that “I’m me.” As you attempt to do so, you will find that the ego keeps trying to insert itself into the picture saying, “Well what about me? I had some role to play in this.” The more you think that way, the more it binds you.
Years ago at Ananda Village, I was walking in a part of the property called Ayodhya where a number of people lived. I saw trailers with lights shining and the thought arose in my mind, “Once this was all darkness, and now there are lights. I’m the one who did this.”
Then I asked myself, “Do I like this thought?” No, I didn’t like it because it was limiting. Why bring “me” into it at all? Why think, “I did this”? I found that I was much freer if I thought, “It was done.”
If you enjoy feeling free and don’t enjoy feeling bound, then what’s the point of clinging to the ego? Yogananda used to say, “If you try the cake and it tastes good—you want it.”
The most practical teaching of all
This teaching isn’t just abstract philosophy, as some people think; it’s extremely practical in two ways. One is in achieving true understanding and freedom, and the other is in dealing with situations in your life.
When you can eliminate egoic desires and stop thinking, “I want this or that,” the divine law works to bring you everything you need. As Patanjali says in the Yoga Sutras, you will attract riches. Similarly, if you always speak the truth, your very words will come into manifestation.
I have seen it happen many times in my life that when I was centered not in my ego but my higher Self, and shared everything with Divine Mother, she supplied my every need—money, possessions, guidance, inspiration. Everything always fell into place.
It’s not that I have some great power; this is an understanding we can all achieve. If you seek your center in your higher Self, the whole universe will cooperate with you in every possible way.
“With my mental power”
But always keep in mind that you can’t make these things work—you don’t control it. Once I was driving at Twenty-Nine Palms, in southern California, and I saw an old man walking by the wayside. I stopped to pick him up and learned that he was going to the convention of a New Thought group that focused heavily on “mental power.”
And it was obvious that he was thinking, “With my mental power I forced him to stop and made him offer me a ride.” I went along with the game and assumed that when he reached the convention, he would give a testimonial on what he had “made happen.”
This approach only strengthens the ego. You have to work with Divine Mother, with the understanding that it’s all Her power. And I have found that things work out marvelously when you have this attitude.
You become “solution conscious”
The closer you come to your inner center, the more clearly you can understand that center everywhere. The music I write comes to me that way.
How? Once I understand what I want, I go to my center and say, “Divine Mother I want a song that says this, this and this.” As soon as I have made very clear what I want, I am at the center of that other consciousness, and the song comes automatically.
Whatever your problem, instead of worrying about all the facts (too many facts complicate things), try to get to the essence of the problem, to its center. By approaching things in this way, you will understand the problems and also find the solutions.
The American Indians used to say that in the vicinity of a poisonous plant, there is always a healing plant that will cure that poison. I don’t know whether or not this is true, but as a principle it’s true.
Wherever there is a problem, there has to be a solution. The law of duality governs everything in creation: up and down, plus and minus, positive and negative. Wherever there is one, there has to be the opposite.
So, don’t allow your mind to spread out over the world, by reading the newspaper and finding out what’s going on here and there. You can become so concerned about the world that you forget you are the world; that you are the universe. You’re the center of everything, and from this point of reference alone can you ever understand anything.
Give up desires and attachments
You will become a jivan mukta when you have given up desires and attachments. It’s that simple. When you can say, “Divine Mother I only want you. I have no desires,” you will break through the ice of delusion.
This great universe is just a dream. As Yogananda said, “On a tiny piece of thought rests the cosmic lot. If you can rub that thought away, the universe is wiped away.” What remains then is the eternal presence of God beyond time and space, and you will feel His love radiating to you always from the heart of infinity.