In a previous letter, Devi has beautifully covered the subject of universal love: expanding our love to everyone and everything until it becomes unconditional. I would like to address another aspect of love: how to deepen our devotion. Devotion is love turned toward God, or, more commonly, toward one of His awakened saints.

Usually we give our love to those who are close to us: family, friends, and coworkers. But with devotion, we also turn our love inward toward God. This change from outward emotions to inward devotion is what makes the difference between an Italian opera and an Italian saint.

God, of course, knows that impersonal love is difficult—after all, He created this drama in the first place. He knows that loving the saints, His awakened sons and daughters, is the first step in devotion. Initially, the spiritual masters accept, even encourage, personal love. But, as the devotee deepens, they may become more aloof, teaching us to turn our devotion past their form to God within them and everyone. Swami Kriyananda once helped us break our attachment by telling us, “No one is special to me. I’m not even special to myself.”

Here are three things I have found that help me deepen my devotion:

Thinking of my guru as often as possible during the day. He is my closest friend. I try to talk to him and include him when facing problems and decisions. This practice is not difficult: The challenge, I find, is simply one of remembering to do it.(Ah, forgetfulness, the great enemy!) I try also to remember that it is not Yogananda I love, but God who has manifested Himself in that perfect life.

Taking one devotional chant or prayer and repeating it over and over, going into the heart of it. Staying with one chant allows it to work its way into my subconscious mind, until I can wake in the middle of the night with the chant repeating itself on its own. I also try to bring it into the superconscious, by going beyond the chant’s words to its very soul. Lately I have taken up a Bengali chant loved by Master, “Kole tule ne Ma Kali.” The English words are:

Receive me on Thy lap, O Mother! Cast me not at death’s door.

Receive me on Thy lap, O Mother! Cast me not at delusion’s door.

Giving my love and devotion is essential, but so also is feeling Divine Mother’s love and devotion in return. In his Energization Exercises, Yogananda taught us to “Tense with will, then relax and feel.” The same principle applies here: Offer devotion with deep intensity, but then relax and feel God’s love in your heart.

You may well have other ways of deepening your devotion. It would be nice to share with others what has worked for you.

In devotion,
Nayaswami Jyotish

10 Comments

  1. Very nice letter. In India – we have so many temples however I feel somehow people have lost the true meaning of temple. Indian translation of Temple is Mandir which can be further broken down to Man + andar (Mind + Inside). Mind which is focused outward all the time through sense organs; needs to turn inside toward god. Focusing on god realized masters make this easy. Here is one of the various methods, the devotion happens through my body and mind. First I use my mind’s eye to see pictures of Masters on my Physical eyes, ears, tongue, nose and skin and then travel inside with the picture and be focused. And lastly leave those pictures and just be in the experience.

  2. I use a very simple prayer to assist me with devotion, “Divine Mother teach me to love you more perfectly'”. Thank you Jyotish for these suggestions also. In the One Love,

  3. Thank you, Jyotish, for these loving words. I, too, use chants until they are playing in this mind in a continuous loop. Loving the Mother takes us to that impersonal and eternal Love.

  4. What a timely article for me personally, and the entire world! Now, more than ever, we all need help in awakening to our oneness in Divine Mother. With current world political and social strife, economic depression, crime and poverty, it is easy to have one’s attention swallowed up in material survival. Such pursuits of survival only divide humanity into more isolated hostile camps. Unfortunately, the more people concentrate on the material world, the more duality expresses itself, eluding permanent happiness.
    A wedge that has been driven between the material and spiritual world is mankind’s current belief that the material sciences, especially those of Newton and Darwin represent reality (Goswami, 2008; Sheldrake, 2009). One way to bridge our understanding between the material and spiritual worlds is to turn to the new science of quantum physics based on consciousness as the ground of all being (Goswami, 2012). Stated as simply as possible, quantum physics posits that there are no permanent manifested objects, only the potential for an infinite number of manifestations based on consciousness. Sounds like the Infinite Cosmic Consciousness to me.
    Using this material bridge of quantum physics as a path to go beyond intellectual understanding into a state of spiritual intuition, one can see the Infinite Cosmic Consciousness as our loving Divine Mother. Since we are each an inseparable part of the Infinite Cosmic Consciousness (Divine Mother), we are also inseparable parts of each other. Each one of us is always at the center of the Infinite Cosmic Consciousness (Divine Mother). As our guru Paramhansa Yogananda explained, “Center everywhere, circumference nowhere (Walters (Swami Kriyananda), 2001, p. 33).”
    Since Divine Mother keeps each of us at the center of Her attention at all times, through all eternity, would it not be wise for us to also place Divine Mother at the center of our attention throughout every moment of every day, immediately before going to sleep, and immediately upon waking up? As I look at Lahiri Mahasaya’s picture with his eyes half closed, I see him doing exactly that. During one of Swami Kriyanada’s talks I attended in 2003, he recommended a book by Brother Lawrence that captures the spirit of this discussion of Deepening Your Devotion (Brother Lawrence & Laubach, 1973)
    Psychologists and neurobiologists tell us that although we have a limited attention capacity, we can still effectively divide our attention among several activities at once (Shipstead, Lindsey, Marshall, & Engle, 2014). Let’s make one of those activities constantly be our attention on our unconditional love and gratitude to Divine Mother.
    References
    Brother Lawrence, & Laubach, F. (1973). Practicing His presence. Jacksonville, FL: The SeedSowers.
    Goswami, A. (2008). Creative evolution: a physicist’s resolution between Darwinism and intelligent design. Wheaton, IL: Quest Books.
    Goswami, A. (2012). God is not dead (paperback ed.). Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads Publishing Company. Inc.
    Sheldrake, R. (2009). A new science of life: the hypothesis of morphic resonance. (3rd ed.). Rochester, Vermont: Park Street Press.
    Shipstead, Z., Lindsey, D. R., Marshall, R. L., & Engle, R. W. (2014). The mechanisms of working memory capacity: Primary memory, secondary memory, and attention control. Journal of Memory and Language, 72, 116-141.
    Walters (Swami Kriyananda), D. (2001). The promise of immortality: The true teachings of the Bible and the Bhagavad Gita. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity.

  5. Beautiful Jyotish!
    Thank you for the very simple statement that “Devotion is Love directed toward God”. This is the key and as I was trying to pin point it recently and could not come up with what I was look for…..Master answered still another prayer.
    Often thinking of this aspect of the Path, it has helped me a great deal to think of God as my Beloved.
    And as such, I want to be with my Beloved as much as possible, I want to do anything that will let my Beloved know how very much I love Him. There is nothing that He would ask of me that would be too much. This is how most of us relate to our human beloved, especially in the beginning. With our Divine Beloved, it is in fact always new. Always new because He is also trying in every way to let us know that He loves us more than we can know.
    Going to the heart in meditation, is where I then have Him all to myself once more and know again that this is my True Beloved and the only one that fills my life with Love!

  6. Dear Nayaswami Jyotish,
    Happy Birthday to you . Blessings from God & Guru. Aum !!!
    Thank you for sharing the article. Its wonderful and thoughtful too :)
    Lets remember God and his grace all time . Aum !!!

  7. Thank you again, Jyotish. I find that doing daily kriya yoga deepens my devotion immensely!

  8. Thank you very much for your continued inspiration
    God Bless
    John

  9. Bless you Jyotish, and thank you for your inspiring words and even more inspiring actions and example as a devotee, leader, & friend.
    Looking into the “eyes” of Master helps me to attune to, express and feel devotion. Talking to Master – my dearest friend, and “bringing” him with me as I do things, travel, work etc reminds me that the closeness I feel is real, because regardless of whether or not my physical eyes can see him, or my physical senses can feel him, He is present and with me, if I chose to allow it.
    As I have read often Master said: “For those you think me near, I am near.”
    ~~~Peace, Josette

  10. Thanks Jyotish,
    Wonderfully inspiring as usual. My current practice is to remember to accept each part of my day as a gift from Master. I love the story of Brother Turiyananda who tripped once, breaking his arm. His response was to jump up and shout, “Yes, Master!”
    Joy,
    Nitai

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