Yogananda once wrote, “Don’t think that God is just impersonal. When you find Him, you will realize that He is a cosmic being to whom you can pray. He’s your very own—nearer than your nearest thoughts, dearer than your dearest friends.”
God has a very personal romance with each soul. He has sent us into this world with love, and with the wish that we enjoy life in remembrance of Him. Yet the play of the world is such that we don’t often remember His love, but take it for granted and lose it. Then very quickly we get caught in the pain of delusion, and must stumble in darkness until we begin to seek that lost love once more.
Why we don’t perceive God’s love
Yet God remains faithful and loves us all the time. I have found one of the sweetest mental attitudes to hold in meditation is the simple thought that throughout all the incarnations that I have wandered away from God, Divine Mother has always loved me. She has never wavered in Her love, and has only asked that I love Her in return in the same way.
The Cure d’Ars said, “If you only knew how much God loves you, you would die for joy.” That kind of love is incredible, and yet we don’t perceive it because our minds are full of attachments and desires. The more we turn our consciousness within, the more we find that God’s love has always been there waiting for us.
God’s love is impersonal
It’s a love, however, that won’t come down to our human level. I remember a couple to whom Yogananda was showing special favor in order to draw them to the spiritual path. The wife unfortunately took his attention personally and started to look proud, because he was focusing on them while seeming to ignore the rest of us. I saw Master look at her with regret, because she didn’t understand the nature of his love. He didn’t scold her, but inwardly withdrew a little. He was trying to draw them both up to a higher level of love.
This kind of impersonal love is not something that the human heart easily understands. It isn’t directed toward you as a being separate from Him, but toward your soul, which is already a part of Him. It doesn’t single out one person especially over all others, but sees every soul with the same love. If God doesn’t seem to give the same love to all, it’s because they aren’t yet ready to receive it.
Is God a “jealous God”?
God has sometimes been described as a jealous God, meaning that He is absolutely single in His love for us. He doesn’t love us for any reason except our own true happiness—not for what He can get out of us, but for ourselves alone in a way that no human being can. That kind of love is almost inconceivable, yet it demands that we love Him in the same way. Only then can we be on His wavelength and enter into communion with Him.
If you love Him, but give Him a secondary place in your heart, then He won’t be able to come to you. That’s not jealousy in the way that we commonly understand it. It’s as if God is saying, “As I give myself totally to you, so also must you give yourself totally to Me if you would enter into Me. It’s only in that kind of self-offering that we can become one.”
Yogananda said, “When after many years I found God, I cried, ‘Lord, I’ve prayed and meditated and called out to you for so long. Why didn’t you come?’ God answered, ‘Because there were still a few desires in your heart. When those desires were gone, then I could come.’”
To put it simply, it’s like trying to thread a needle before all the strands of thread have been drawn to a single point. It won’t pass through the eye. We must have all of our energy directed in a single point before we can hope to achieve that union. Until God is convinced that we really want him, that our hearts are one-pointed in our love for Him, He can’t enter our hearts. If there is still worldliness or materialism, the door is locked to Him.
Why God hides from us
In truth it’s a divine romance. If you read a love story about a man and a woman, there’s the typical plot: they meet, fall in love, then there’s some separation, and finally they’re reunited.
How many times in our incarnations have we had some closeness with God, and then presumed too much on it? We were pulled in other directions, and found that we lost that feeling of divine love. How many times does He hide from us because we haven’t yet completely worked out our desires?
Yet almost teasingly, God still shows us that He loves us, so that we don’t forget Him altogether. Whenever we give Him a little opening He comes, but with only a tiny ray of His love, not the whole amount.
God will jealously guard his total love from us until we’re ready to commit ourselves fully to Him. Once I silently prayed to Yogananda, “Help me to love you as you love me.” The next time I saw him, he said, “How can a little cup hold the whole ocean?” I realized that this was an answer to my prayer: As long our love is limited, how can we hold the ocean of divine love? We have to expand our hearts to be able to hold that love. To try to experience even a tiny bit of it with our human heart is a pain almost too great to bear, because the ego must be broken out of its confines.
It’s only when we can free ourselves from the identification of just being human and loving with a human heart that we can enter into the kind of love in which there is no pain. Until then, we feel the pain of cracking open the ego and breaking down the limitations that we place upon love by thinking of it in human ways.
A child-like trust and faith
Ultimately the path of devotion is about learning to come to God with the total trust and faith of a child. I have seen many times that if devotees put their trust in something or someone else instead of God, then in some way things go sour and they are left empty-handed. God wants us for Himself, and once you’ve started seeking Him, He’s going to see to it that other things disappoint you. God will protect you, but He may do so through the pain of disappointment with this world.
We are all insincere
Parts of us are sincere in our love for God, and other parts are not in the sense that we still have desires. The definition that Master gave for insincerity of devotion was lack of total commitment to God. By that definition, we are all insincere in one way or another, and must overcome that lack of total commitment before we can really come to Him.
If we are basically sincere with Him, however, and we make a mistake from whatever motive, good or bad, He will never let us down. He will remind us again and again of His love, though He may do so through disappointment or pain. This is a part of His romance. It may seem cruel at times, but if you take whatever God sends as coming from Him, it can be a source of great joy and freedom.
Love Him for love’s sake alone
If we truly want God, He will cauterize everything but that love. We need to understand that this is what we are really asking of Him. How many people are ready for that? In any crowd of people anywhere in the world, one hand is enough to count them. But those who have reached that point of understanding are the most blessed.
What should you love Him for? Love Him for love’s sake alone. Most people love God for what they can get out of Him, which is essentially a mercenary kind of love. Others have the thought, “I’ve meditated for so many years you jolly well ought to have come by now!” No. Love God unconditionally even if it takes lifetimes to find Him.
Try to develop the kind of love for God that says, “I want Him now, but if it be His will, I’m willing to wait forever.” Try to meditate not thinking, “What am I getting out of this, and when?” but think, “How can I please God?” It seems a bit absurd in a way to try to please God who is all bliss, but we must learn to think in different ways. When we think in childlike ways such as, “How can I please You?”, God will be much more likely to respond.
There are many ways to love God—some are so deep and inward that we don’t want to express it outwardly at all, while in others there is some expression. The important thing isn’t what it looks like, because the greatest desecration of love for God is to put on a show to impress others with what a great devotee you are. God backs off hastily from that kind of insincere devotion.
When you know that He is all you want; when every night before sleep you can take everything and everyone that is dear to you and say, “God, these are dear to me only because they are Thine, and I give them back to Thee,” then you’ll know in your heart that you are free. In that freedom, you will have established the only bond that really matters. Every other bond is temporary and born of delusion. The only thing that you were born for is to know God, and all time is wasted that is not spent seeking Him.