Last week Jyotish wrote that the blog “Celebrations” marked his two hundredth offering. Well, friends, here is my two hundredth, making a grand total of four hundred blogs we’ve posted since we started writing them in 2013. Thanks to all of you for your support.
There was another much more important event that also took place last week. On March 7 we celebrated the anniversary of Yoganandaji’s mahasamadhi, his final conscious exit from the body, in 1952. The timing was perfect both to celebrate Master’s life and to reach this milestone with our blogs, since these offerings were all done in service to him.
They brought Master’s body to Mt. Washington and placed it lovingly on his bed. One by one we [the monastics] went in, weeping, and knelt by his bedside.
“Mother!” cried Joseph [one of the monks]. “Oh, Mother!” Indeed, Master had been a mother to us all—ah, and how much more than a mother!
That phrase, “how much more than a mother!” kept reverberating in my mind. I began to think about how the guru expresses the mother-child human relationship, but expands it to the limitless horizons of soul communion.
What are some of the qualities of a mother that are expressed in an exalted way by the guru?
First, there is an expansion of human love into divine love. As our soul moves from lifetime to lifetime, we have different mothers who care for us in each of our many incarnations. We form bonds of love with them which then recede at the inescapable separation of death.
But each soul has only one God-ordained guru who guides us eternally through successive incarnations. His timeless message to each one, Swamiji wrote, is this: “I love you always, through endless cycles of time, unconditionally, without any desire except for your happiness, forever, in God.” This kind of love—eternal and unchanging—is rooted in the very foundation of creation.
Another expanded quality is patience. Our human mother watches as we learn haltingly to talk, to walk, and to use our bodies. When we fall down, she picks us up and sets us back onto our feet, steadying us until we can confidently walk forward once again.
So it is with the guru, but so much more so. The guru’s patience must endure over many lifetimes, as he supports our efforts to walk on the spiritual path. When we stumble, or go off in the wrong direction (as we all inevitably do), there is no judgment on his part. Patiently and with infinite care, he helps us get back on our feet to resume our journey to God.
And the guru waits. He waits until we are ready to return his love—however long it may take. Master writes in Autobiography of a Yogi, about meeting his guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar: “‘O my own, you have come to me!’ My guru uttered the words again and again in Bengali, his voice tremulous with joy. ‘How many years I have waited for you!’”
The human mother also offers her child guidance about how to live in a way that brings happiness. Her instruction, however, is often limited by her own lack of deep understanding. Guidance rooted in the ego cannot bring us the fulfillment we’re seeking.
The guru, by contrast, offers his wisdom and teachings based on eternal universal truths, on techniques tested over time, and on his own experience. Meditation, Kriya Yoga, right attitude—all these are offered to guide our souls toward union with God.
Rather than seeking to protect us from the consequences of our actions, the guru works with an understanding of the Law of Karma. He guides us through the suffering caused by our past mistakes, and shows us how to begin freeing ourselves from old karmic patterns.
Finally, if the guru is “more than a mother” to us, how can we be “more than a child” to the guru? In India the word for disciple is “chela,” or “child”: a spiritual son or daughter of the guru. Our human mother we can love, respect, and serve, but mother and child must always remain separate beings.
In the case of our guru, however, if we offer ourselves wholeheartedly with deep trust, faith, and surrender, we find that guru and chela can become one. Then the guru, who is more than a mother—more than a father, friend, or beloved—shows us that we were always one with God’s infinite love and joy.
In reverence and gratitude,
You might enjoy watching this slideshow created in honor of Paramhansa Yogananda’s mahasamadhi, in which Swami Kriyananda shares his experience of that day.
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