If you want to deepen your spiritual life, one of the most important things is to make God your partner in every undertaking. You need to get away from the thought that “I am doing it,” and into the thought that “He is doing it through me, and we are doing it together.”
Dissolving the ego
This is not easy. The ego is the soul identified with the body, and a very subtle instrument. But that’s all it is—an instrument for the soul to be able to function in the body. Our job is to break that identification and bring ourselves to the realization that we are that which is in all bodies.
Some people think of getting rid of the ego by suppressing it. They say, “I mustn’t accept this job or that job because it might feed my ego.” On the other hand, not accepting the job might be going against something in your nature that needs to be expressed, so that it can expand outward.
How are you to decide? The answer is to do everything not only for God but with God, and to offer everything that you do up to Him. When you act in this way, bit by bit you begin to dissolve any thought of separateness from God, any thought of ego.
The right way to act
When Yogananda spoke about healing, getting answers to prayers, and other types of actions, he always emphasized a very delicate line between you doing it and just letting God do it. Neither way works of itself.
I’ve often mentioned the time when, in the middle of a sermon, I stopped talking and stood there, waiting for God to continue. And I waited a good two minutes to see what He would say. I found that He didn’t say anything.
To do things with God doesn’t mean being passive. You must be wholly engaged, and act with great enthusiasm and love for Him—but without the thought that you are doing it. There’s a sense of, “Okay so I did it but that’s not me.”
It’s only when we act to the best of our ability, and also ask God to act through us, that we draw His power. That’s why Yogananda said, “My own but God-given power.” The way out of ego-affirming action is always to feel that you are using God’s power. Yogananda taught us to pray, “I will reason, I will will, I will act, but guide Thou my reason, will, and activity to the right path in everything.”
The egoic approach doesn’t work
On the other hand, there’s the opposite approach that says, “I’m doing it all.” A lot of New Thought people have this idea. They think in terms of manifesting, often a parking space for some reason, but whatever it is—they think, “If I have the right positive thoughts, I will make it happen.”
The ego can make a lot of things happen but somehow in the end things don’t happen in the right way. What you achieve is always just a little bit short of what you wanted. Or you end up getting what you worked for, but it wasn’t good for you because it wasn’t in the flow, and it blows up in your face.
Ultimately the egoic approach binds you because you are left with the thought that, “I did that, I made that parking space happen.” You then think, “Maybe I can make two parking spaces happen.” And you go on and on and you forget that there’s sweetness and truth in letting God into the picture. But the ego doesn’t like that. The ego wants to claim credit for everything.
But if you can say no, God really is the Doer and give it to Him—suddenly you find an extraordinary freedom and happiness in that relinquishment. There’s joy in knowing that you’re a part of something much bigger than your little self. The soul wants to be a part of the universe.
Don’t box yourself in
Many highly creative people rise to certain heights and then find it impossible to rise any farther. Many actually begin to lose their creativity. Why? The loss always seems to follow an increase of egotism. Their thought “I’m doing it all myself” blocks the energy at the seat of ego in the medulla and prevents it from flowing upward to the seat of superconsciousness at the spiritual eye, whence comes the highest inspiration.
When you say, “I did this. I made this happen,” even if you’ve done a good thing, you gradually box yourself into a corner where you are just that. Why go to your grave thinking of yourself as an artist or banker? Why go to your grave thinking of yourself as anything?
God wants us to become the universe, and to know that we are in everything and a part of everything. You’re not bound when you can say, “Yes, it was done through me but I’m not that.”
Remarkable things happen
The ego thinks, “Well, I’ve got to be responsible for myself. I’ve got to think about how am I going to get ahead. I can’t expect God to pay my grocery bills.” And of course you can’t, in one way.
And yet, if you will make Him your partner and draw on His energy in everything you do, you will find, to an amazing degree, that He does pay your grocery bills. He does take care of you. When you do things with Him, the flow is right and remarkable things happen. You will find, also, that you can do a great deal more.
Make God your partner in every undertaking, and offer the fruits of your self-effort up to Him, seeking to please only Him, and acting above all out of love for Him. In this way you will soon learn that you are in truth a child of the Infinite, and that dominion—not egoic, but in the form of soul-mastery—over all things is your divine birthright.