Message From Encinitas Temple Minister
|A Message From Encinitas Temple Minister Dear Friends of Encinitas Temple, Several of you have asked for last Sunday’s service on “Practicing the Presence of God” to be incorporated into a “Letter From the Minister.” So here you go, the highlights from that service…. Wishing you all again an especially joyful and blessed 2022! In divine friendship, Bro. Balananda The late Brother Bhaktananda once said to us at a Hollywood Temple service: “No matter what you are doing, keep thinking of God. God reacts. If we love Him, He fills us with His love; if we ignore Him, He leaves us alone and we feel empty.” It doesn’t get much simpler than that, does it? Talk about motivation to practice the presence of God (PPG).|
And a wonderful way, a very practical way, to do this is to use our senses to remind us of God, as Master did. Guruji said: “Enjoy the smell of the flower, but see God in it. I have kept the consciousness of the senses only that in using them I may always perceive and think of God. ‘Mine eyes were made to behold Thy beauty everywhere. My ears were made to hear Thine omnipresent voice.’ That is Yoga, union with God.” –Spiritual Diary / February 7. For example, regarding the sense of sight, whenever Master saw a beautiful sunset, to him it transformed into Divine Mother painting on the canvas of the sky. And in that moment he became just engrossed with love for Her. And we can do the same thing. For example, when we see a beautiful sunset–there’s that feeling in the heart—“Oh, how beautiful, how divine! In that moment, we transfer the feeling to Her, saying inwardly: “It is You, my Divine One. You are the beauty in the sunset. You are arranging those pastel colors in such a way as to awaken this longing in my heart–this longing for union with Thee.” Then there’s the sense of hearing. The late Bro. Bimalananda and I were talking near the Lotus Tower at the Hollywood Temple, when all of a sudden we heard the sound of a siren coming down Sunset Blvd.
Brother immediately stopped talking, closed his eyes, and became very still. After a minute or so, once the noise of the siren faded away, he slowly opened his eyes. He could see I was a bit puzzled by his behavior and remarked: “Master said whenever you hear a siren, take a moment to pray for your brother or sister in God in need. Someone just had an accident, or was robbed….Someone just had a heart attack or their house burned done. So instead of being annoyed by the sound of the siren, take just a moment to pray for that person, for the God in that person.” I never forgot the lesson, and follow it to this day. One more example, the sense of smell. When we’re walking in a garden at night and, for example, smell the intoxicating aroma of the night-blooming jasmine, we can take a moment to step back and relate to the Divine: “Divine Mother, I know that you are not only in this jasmine but in every square inch of these grounds, attracting me with your fragrances and beauty, pulling on my heart. Help me to always see you hiding behind the veil of Creation, because I love You, I love You. I love You.” So now let’s look at how we can implement PPG–how we can make it a strong habit we can really depend on, not just an intermittent diversion. We can’t just tell ourselves: “Today I will PPG more than ever before–100’s of times.” As we all know, that doesn’t work. That’s just wishful thinking. And remember how in the Lessons Master defines a wish as a helpless desire of the mind–it practically never comes to fruition.
So what can we do? We need to break this big goal of making PPG a strong habit we can rely on down into smaller goals—definable, measurable and attainable goals. And then we need to schedule them. How? We can make an introspection chart just for PPG. That is what a number of the monks in the ashram have done. One I came up with to monitor my progress has the days of the month across the top of the chart. And listed in the left-hand column are various activities during the day which act like triggers for me to PPG. For example, MAKING THE BED (using the sense of sight—seeing the blue comforter on my bed), BRUSHING MY TEETH (using the sense of taste—tasting the mint flavor of the toothpaste). TAKING A SHOWER (using the sense of touch—feeling the water hit the skin), and so on. The more specific the trigger, the better. For example, instead of just having driving to work as a trigger, it’s better to narrow it down to, for example, putting the key into the ignition of the car, so that the moment the key hits the ignition, BANG, the trigger goes off–we’re talking to Master. If we forget to PPG for one of the triggers, we put an X in the box for that trigger for a given day. If we remember, we mark the box with a yellow highlighter. If we remember to PPG for each trigger for that day, when all the boxes are marked in yellow, we get out our ruler and red felt pen and draw a red line through all the boxes, giving us a perfect day, a red-letter day. Then we make it a challenge to have two perfect days in a row, then three. A perfect week. Making a game out of it, making it fun.
Challenging ourselves, that’s the key. We might think: “Well, this is too left-brain for me, too intellectual.” But it works! And remember Master also kept a record of how long he meditated and how deep he went. And he’s an Avatar! Who are we to think we don’t need a tool like this? And it doesn’t take too much of our time. Only a few seconds several times a day to make a little mark on an electronic chart or habit tracker on our smartphone, or a mark on a 3X5 card in our pocket or purse. And if it’s hard for us to do this, we can just say to Guruji: “Master, you know I don’t like this, but I’ll do it for you.” And then if we just make a little effort, he’ll quickly help us to actually enjoy it! One of the monks recently told me that last year he began using an introspection chart for PPG. And he said that for the first several weeks his chart was just covered with X’s. But after just 3 months he had his first perfect day–no X’s. And he said that it was so exhilarating for him, because he could see his spiritual progress. It’s good to build up slowly. For example, the first week we just PPG while we are making our bed; then the second week, while we are making our bed and while we are brushing our teeth. Each week adding on just one more trigger, and slowly building up like that Because, as we’ve all discovered, if we try to PPG too much in the beginning, we just get frustrated at how many times we forget. And then become discouraged and give up. But if we build up gradually, we find that after, say, 15 weeks, we have 15 triggers helping us to PPG. Divine Mother and Master see that we’re doing our part, our 25%. Then Master will put in his 25% blessings and Divine Mother Her 50% grace. In other words, They’ll help us string our 15 triggers together so that we’re PPG all the time, not just when those triggers are going off. And then the magic happens. As Daya Mata once said to us in a Satsanga, “When there is constant remembrance of God, one day He suddenly responds.” This chart I described is just an example, one possible chart.
I’m sure you can improve on it or come up with your own version, if you haven’t already. But we invariably find that if we don’t implement some way of monitoring our progress, it just won’t happen. There are too many distractions in the world, constantly taking our mind away from God. And we should remember, this chart is just a tool–a tool we use to reach a goal. And once we reach the goal, once we’ve made PPG a strong habit, we can throw the tool away. And even with a system, it’s going to take work; it’s going to take time. Guruji said in Lesson 68 of the Old Lessons: “The secret is to do these things regularly and not to give up when results are not obtained at once. It usually takes time….to develop receptivity of mind and body to the vibratory healing power of God.” And as Master says in the Lessons, it takes anywhere from 8-12 yrs. to form a new habit we can really rely on. So it takes patience. Which means there are actually three parts to PPG: recollection–or remembering God; devotion–offering Him our love; and patience–being prepared to wait for Him as long as need be until He responds, being prepared to use a chart for as long as necessary until we feel God’s overwhelming love. And once we’re jumping over fences with God’s joy as the late Bro. Bhaktananda was, then we can toss the chart. Let me close with this quote of Master’s from MEQ: “Joy lies in constantly thinking of God. The longing for Him should be constant. A time comes when your mind never wanders away, when not even the greatest affliction of body, mind and soul can take your consciousness from the living presence of God. Is that not wonderful? to live and think and feel God all the time? to remain in the castle of His presence, from where death nor anything else can take you away?”
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What does it mean when Brother Darmananda says feel the joy in the spine when you are doing Kriya Yoga During his guided meditation? Does hearing the sound of Aum (Om) mean you are feeling the presence? Do you feel anything in the spine when you are meditating, or does that escape you? For the spiritually uninformed, and those in Rio Linda the joy in the spine springs forth from the base of the spine and trickles upward to the brain when you are in tune and you are feeling the love of God. How does one arrive at this level? It’s quite simple, if all else fails follow the words of Da Ma and the Guru “love God more.”
Are You Disappointed Because You Don’t Feel the Presence Of God? Don’t think because you are feeling a dry state that one hasn’t enough devotion. Why should you bother yourself because He is not showing Himself to you? When you feel this way think how long you have ignored Him! Remember God chooses those who choose Him. You must meditate more and go much deeper. In changing your habits in the way you meditate you will consciously awaken your memory of knowing him. What does that really mean? Still, some people stop meditating because they cannot go deep enough to achieve any results and they lose interest. With them their cross is their heavy burden of bad habits. They too have been crucified, through their bad habits and ignorance.
Second, what should be your goal, to meditate? No, your goal should be to succeed in finding and loving God. There are those who refuse to meditate without proof of God. To them “God is not proved.” It is irony that a rational man will go in a vicious circle by demanding proof of God before he believes in Him and give his precious time to meditation. Therefore, the unenlightened man, dependent on his senses for all final judgments is denied for that reason proof of the existence of God and to him God must remain non-existent and unknown. The Master tells us that even though God is invisible and silent to most people, still, as we meditate, we ceaselessly knock on the gates of heaven, we will increasingly convince His silence to penetrate the haze of our unknowing.
In following the rules by meditating deeper you will then be able too recognize the response from God. God is infinite and formless and since God is spirit, He will not talk in words, but he will manifest His awareness as divine perceptions within understandable vibratory sounds and joy realized only by disciples with heightened intuition during deep meditation.
Those on the spiritual path ask. “What is the meaning of finding God?” Some uninformed eager beginners have the expectation that there will be a response from God in a great flame of breathtaking radiance or expect to be rewarded immediately with the materialization of saints, deities and heavenly lights, forget it. There is only one way to know for sure. I will explain. I know you are not expecting some white bearded illustrious historical figure, bedecking a throne in some sterile corner of the universe.
Do you think being a great yogi possessing miraculous powers means you have found God? Think again, even if you have gained the power to control the planets you may still find Him elusive. Spiritual growth does not come with phenomenal experiences as proof of advancement and don’t think that a few answered prayers is evidence of finding Him. The ultimate way to God is love. Without devotion you cannot touch God; you keep Him at a distance. Love God more each day because God chooses those who choose Him. It is not simple to cultivate real love; you must work at it.
Only after the mind has been cleansed of sensory impediments by Yoga meditation or Kriya Yoga will you find the two-fold confirmation that you have found God. The first proof is the bliss of ever new joy in meditation and the second proof is His immediate guidance in reply to every difficulty. Then you have found Him. You can classify yourself. Once you realize your separation from Him and what you are missing you will get busy with yoga meditation.
Remember the words of the prophets “The harvest is plenteous, but the laborers are few.” What does that mean? The laboring devotee must grow spiritually on the soil of his meditative life. Very few people will live a disciplined life without interruption, struggle to sit and meditate for the rewards of God-contact in this short season of life. If this is you, you must reconsider your values and realize you did not come into this world to lose yourself but to find your true self and not by blind beliefs nor an undeserved heavenly visitation or by hoping to be in His presence by the merit of death can the Lord of the harvest be attained.
At the end of life, the material man discovers he is without God-realization as well as the riches of worldly life that he sought after to protect and defend. This is my house, my children, my husband and my wife. But the instant your body drops, your money, your home, your family and everything else disappear! Why should you wait? Learn this lesson about attachment before death comes. They must be based upon the qualities of the soul not attractions of the body or worldly qualities. However, this will not come until you free yourself from the consciousness of being a man or a woman. What does that mean?
We have convinced ourselves by conceited egotistic habits into amnesia of “who” we really are and have forgotten our divine nature or soul ever since early childhood. You are not a woman or a man. Through karmic inclinations the soul is forced to incarnate not as a male or female but either with the body of a woman or a man. If you live in a boarding house you don’t call yourself a border. The body identified ego succumbs to the hypnosis of what your bodily house labels you to be. We are nothing else but pure spirit. With open eyes we identify our consciousness with our body and all its limitations and moods. We have forgotten our true self. When you leave your body, you will realize the body you were taking care of was not you. If you close your eyes and don’t see your body any longer you will feel the invisible consciousness residing in that form.
If you want happiness in your life, love God more and then you won’t have to wait for external happenings for happiness. It’s not five minutes or your money back it take time to develop real love from the heart. From the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda.