“There is no love except God’s love”

by Swami Kriyananda, from In Divine Friendship

Anandamayi Ma, from http://www.anandamayi.org

If we feel God’s love in someone’s love for us, then that is right and good. I remember once in India telling the woman saint, Anandamoyi Ma, how much I and others in America loved her. Her reply was, “There is no love except God’s love.”

The worldly ego might take her reply as a put-down, but I understood it as a reminder that we can truly love others only to the degree that we do so consciously as instruments of God’s love.

It is easy to feel love for those who are kind and good, and easier still if they love us. But the test of godly love is to be able to feel it also for those who hate us. And especially for those who are determined to destroy us. God says to us, “They are My children, too.” In other words, “If you love Me, you must love them also, for they too are Mine.” We must love not only them, but all the tests that God sends us.

Ultimately, the only important thing you can do in life is love God. The only fact that truly matters in life is that God loves you.

It is a simple fact that the more we try to do good, the more enemies we will have—along with those who sincerely love, appreciate, and support us. But even were everyone to turn against us, the supremely important fact of God’s love will never change. The tests we face, therefore, are always blessings. If nothing else, they inspire us to keep that one divine priority fixed ever before our gaze. Everything else passes. Our relationship with God is eternal. He is our own, as no one else ever will or ever can be.

The solution to our worries is love, and more love—divine love, not egoic love (the ego’s love is rooted in likes and dislikes). As the Bible says, “Perfect love casteth out fear.”

“Blessed are the pure at heart, for they shall see God.” When your love for Him is effortless and complete, you will have Him.

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Paramhansa Yogananda’s Mission of Divine Love

Swami Kriyananda: “Yogananda brought to this country one of the most important gifts he could have given, the idea of worshiping the Divine Mother. I was meditating in Italy and this thought came to me: that we need to stress this aspect of his teaching, this aspect of love, and of love of the Divine Mother.”
— Swami Kriyananda

Excerpt from a talk by Swami Kriyananda

Paramhansa Yogananda

Many saints come with different missions. All of them in one way or another have love, but they don’t always show love, because that’s not their mission. It was Paramhansa Yogananda’s mission.

In that mission, he talked of God in a new way, in a way that we are not used to in this country [the U.S.]. He described God, he spoke of God, as the Divine Mother.

God is neither Mother nor Father, in a sense. He is that absolute consciousness. But God manifests Himself in different ways. You can say also that God is both Father and Mother. He is unique to each one of us, because as we visualize him, so He will come. What we hold dear, He will show to us.

The Mother aspect of God is something that satisfies a deep longing in the heart. We are not satisfied just with a judge; we are not satisfied with intellectual definitions. Without that element of intuition, without that element of feeling, of love, you can’t understand anything, really.

So to think of God as the mother aspect is a way of helping you to love from your heart and to approach God in an intimate way. Yogananda used to say, “Mother, naughty or good, I am your child.”

Yogananda brought to this country one of the most important gifts he could have given, the idea of worshiping the Divine Mother. I was meditating in Italy and this thought came to me: that we need to stress this aspect of his teaching, this aspect of love, and of love of the Divine Mother — the quality of compassion, the quality of yearning.

You could live next door to the best restaurant, you could know everything that is on their menu, and even know how to cook it. But if you aren’t hungry, you’re not going to go there to eat. The hunger is what’s needed to make you go and eat. The hunger for God is what’s needed to make you decide, “yes, I want it!”

There was a boy who came to a saint and asked to become his disciple. The saint said, “Come with me.” He took the boy down to the river and held his head under the water. The boy began kicking furiously, and the saint held him there a little longer. Finally, he let him up.

He asked the boy, “What did you want most when your head was under water?”

“Air! Air!,” the boy gasped.

The saint replied, “When you want God like that, come back.”

We have to long for God. We have to reach that point where nothing means anything except that. That’s why the best thing you can pray for is devotion, the ability to love God more and more deeply. Yogananda came to bring us that.

Remember that no matter what you do God is on your side. He is not going to judge you. He’s going to help you in any way. But you have to let Him help you. On the other hand, He’ll make you work for it.

There’s a song that Yogananda sang in Bengali:

“Mukti dete pari,
“Mukti dete pari,
“Mukti dete pari –
“Bhakti dete pari koi?”

Divine Mother is saying, “Oh devotee, I can give you salvation, but don’t ask for my love and devotion, because if I give that to you, then I’m poor. I’ve given everything away.”

What She is really meaning and saying is, “My love and devotion is what you should really ask for.”

You should ask for love. Don’t even ask for salvation, it’s nothing! So you go to another plane, where you don’t have to eat food, and you don’t have to carry a heavy body around. But they’ve got their problems. Away from God, you have problems, let’s face it. He is the only solution.

In heaven, it will get pretty boring until you know what it’s all really about. So, think of God as that who is nearest of the near, dearest of the dear.

Sing to God, talk to God, share every thought with God. Here is a very interesting experiment to try. Try it from tonight, try it for a few days, just see if it doesn’t do something:

Talk to God in the second person. Say, “You.” and “God, where do you want me to go today?” “God, what do you want me to eat today?”

The really important thing is just that you include Divine Mother in your thoughts, in your heart. Share every thought, every impression, every feeling with Her. Then you will see that in a very short time there comes into your life this sort of symphony, that everything will be floating on clouds of joy. Try it, see if it doesn’t work.

This was perhaps the main thing that Yogananda came to bring to the West, to the world.

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The Final Goal

Swami Kriyananda at Kumbha Mela

Swami Kriyananda at Kumbha Mela

Swami Kriyananda concludes his autobiography, The New Path, with a chapter titled “The Final Goal.” It is notable that the last words of the story of his life are entirely about his relationship to God as the Divine Mother. He includes two beautiful Bengali chants to Divine Mother.

*                 *                *                 *                 *

Paramhansa Yogananda taught us above all that the true goal of life is union with God. Devotion, self-offering, self-surrender, oneness in Bliss and Divine Love: these are the entire purpose of life. I lovingly remember one day when Master played a recording for a small group of us by a famous singer of Bengal, Mrinal Kanti Ghosh. It was a devotional song, “Pashan Hoye”:

How long will You remain, Mother,
A stone image before my gaze?
Set fire ablaze in Your eyes
And come to me, dancing over all Creation!
O Mother! divine energy fills the universe
With Your flowing hair!
Garlanded by thoughts in all minds—
Dancing! Dancing!
O Mother! free me this day—
This very moment—from delusion’s bonds!
Countless lives have I lived apart from You.
At last, now, bring peace into my body temple!

[Note: The exact version of this song played by Paramhansa Yogananda, as sung by Mrinal Kanti Ghosh, can be heard here on Youtube.]

I don’t remember all the words, and am not conversant enough in Bengali to understand many of them. But I remember Master telling us afterward, “As I was listening, I too was dancing over all Creation!”

Man’s relationship with God is intimate, and infinitely dear. What I’ve hoped above all in writing this book has been to convince you, dear reader, to live more deeply for God: to love Him so completely that you become wholly absorbed in Him.

God hears our every prayer. Of all aspects of the Divine, that of Mother is the sweetest. As my Guru once said, “Mother is closer than the Father.” I, too, prefer to pray to God as my Divine Mother. And I can testify to the truth of what my Guru told us: “When you pray to Her, She will answer!” How often have even my trivial requests been answered—like the so-unnecessary wish I expressed to Her many years ago (I mentioned that episode in these pages) for Swiss chocolate.

One needn’t be formal in prayer. Indeed, God should be approached as one’s own Dearest Friend and Beloved!

Many years ago—another example—I felt that Divine Mother wanted me to return to India. I had been absent from there for ten years, but now I had enough money saved to go back and stay there for about two months. Shortly before my scheduled departure, I was driving my car into San Francisco when the engine threw a rod. I realized I’d have to trade in this car for a newer one. This need, however, placed me in a dilemma. The money for my trip was all the wealth I had. Should I trade in my car and buy a new one? or should I keep my money for the trip Divine Mother wanted me to take? I’ve always tried to reconcile faith with common sense.

Ananda Village is in the mountains, far from urban conveniences. A car is, for me, a virtual necessity. I wouldn’t be able to stay long in India. Without a vehicle, I’d be virtually “stranded” upon my return.

What should I do?

I asked Divine Mother for guidance. I knew of no place in which to sit quietly and “tune in.” All I could think of was to have a quiet lunch with a few friends in a downtown restaurant. No guidance came.

Finally I said, “Divine Mother, You haven’t answered me; perhaps I haven’t been silent enough to hear You. Common sense tells me, however, that I must have a car when I return from India. I see no reasonable choice, therefore, but to buy one. If You still want me to take this journey, You’ll have to reimburse me!”

I paid $1,100 for a good second-hand car. This money, along with $700 I received for my crippled vehicle, covered the cost.

I left the car dealership on a Friday evening. The next Monday morning, at home, I received a letter from someone unknown to me. Enclosed was a check—made out to me, personally—for a thousand dollars. The letter stated, “Please use this money as Divine Mother wants you to.”

Now, please ask yourself: How many people in America pray to God as their Divine Mother? Hardly any! Every time I recall this episode, my eyes fill with tears. Many, many times in my life have I found Divine Mother’s loving assistance fulfilling my needs, answering my questions! In living for God, I have found the thrill of an unceasing, divine romance.

Let me end this book by writing out—first in Bengali, then in English—a devotional song. Thoughts from it found expression in two of my Guru’s favorite chants:

Amar shad na mithilo,
Asha na purilo,
Shakholi phuraejai Ma!
Amar shad na mithilo.
Janomer shod,
Dakhi go Ma Tore,
Kole tule nite ai Ma!
Shakholi phuraejai Ma!
Ei prithibir keu
Bhalo to bashe na;
Ei prithibi bhalo bashite jane na:
Jetai achhe shudhu bhalobashi,
Sheta jete pran chhai, Ma!
Shakoli phuraejai Ma!
Bado daga peye
Bashana twejeyechi—
Bado daga shaye
Kamona bhugeyechi.
Anek kandeyechi:
Kandite pari na.
Bhuk phete bhengejai Ma!
Shakoli phuraejai Ma!
Amar shad na mithilo. . . .

My desires have not yet been fulfilled;
My hopes, not yet realized.
O Mother! my earthly dreams have all fled away!
Once more I call out from the pain of my heart:
Mother! Take me on Your lap!
O Mother! my earthly dreams have all fled away!
In this world, Mother,
Who is there that truly loves?
In this world they do not know how to love!
There, where true love is,
There alone would my heart dwell forever.
O Mother! my earthly dreams have all fled away!
Long, long have I called You, Dearest One!
How much longer can I keep on calling?
For love of You my heart is breaking!
O Mother! my earthly dreams have all fled away!
Yet my hopes, alas, have not yet been fulfilled. . . .
And so ends my story. As Sister Gyanamata would often say:

“God alone! God alone!”

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Swami Vivekananda’s Prayers to Divine Mother

Swami Kriyananda told this story, of Swami Vivekananda’s prayers to Divine Mother, many times over the years. He held it up as an example of how to pray to Her, and how we forget all of our worldly needs when we have Her vision. Here is the story in Swami Vivekananda’s own words:

Swami Vivekananda, with his own words, ""One infinite pure and holy – beyond thought beyond qualities I bow down to thee."

Swami Vivekananda, with his own words, “”One infinite pure and holy – beyond thought beyond qualities I bow down to thee.”

“One day the idea struck me that God listened to Sri Ramakrishna’s prayers. So why should I not ask him to pray for me for the removal of my pecuniary wants, a favor the Master would never deny me. I hurried to Dakshineswar and insisted on his making an appeal on behalf of my starving family.

“He said, “My boy, I can’t make such demands. But why don’t you go and ask the Mother yourself? All your sufferings are due to your disregard of Her.”

“I said, “I do not know the Mother; you speak to Her on my behalf. You must.”

“He replied tenderly, “My dear boy, I have done so again and again. But you do not accept Her, so She does not grant my prayer. All right, it is Tuesday—go to the Kali Temple tonight, prostrate yourself before the Mother and ask Her any boon you like. It shall be granted; She is Knowledge Absolute, the Inscrutable Power of Brahman and by Her mere will She has given birth to this world. Everything is in Her power to give.” I believed every word and eagerly waited for the night.

Closeup of Kali at Dakshineswhar Temple in Kolkata

Maa Kali at Dakshineswhar Temple, Kolkata

“About nine o’clock, the Master commanded me to go to the temple. As I went I was filled with a divine intoxication. Me feet were unsteady. My heart was leaping in anticipation of the joy of beholding the living Goddess and hearing Her worlds. I was full of the idea.

“Reaching the temple, as I cast my eyes upon the image, I actually found that the Divine Mother was living and conscious, full of divine love and beauty. I was caught in a surging wave of devotion and love. In an ecstasy of joy I prostrated myself again before the Mother and prayed, “Mother, give me discrimination! Give me renunciation; give me knowledge and devotion; grant that I may have an uninterrupted vision of Thee!” A serene peace reigned in my soul. The world was forgotten. Only the Divine Mother shone within my heart.

“As soon as I returned, Sri Ramakrishna asked me if I had prayed to the Mother for the removal of my worldly wants. I was startled at this question and said, “No sir, I forgot all about it. But is there any remedy now?”

“Go again,” said he, “and tell Her about your wants.”

“I again set out for the temple, but at the sight of the Mother forgot my mission, bowed to Her repeatedly and prayed only for knowledge and devotion. The Master asked if I had done it the second time. I told him what had happened. He said, “How thoughtless! Couldn’t you restrain yourself enough to say those few words? Well, try once more and make that prayer to Her. Quick!”

“I went for the third time, but on entering the temple a terrible shame overpowered me. I thought, “What a trifle have I come to pray to the Mother for! It is like asking a gracious king for a few vegetables! What a fool I am!” In shame and remorse I bowed to Her respectfully and said, “Mother, I want nothing but knowledge and devotion!”

“Coming out of the temple I understood that all this was due to Sri Ramakrishna’s will. Otherwise how could I fail in my object three times? I came to him and said, “Sir, it is you who have cast a charm over my mind and made me forgetful. Now please grant me the boon that my people at home may no longer suffer the pinch of poverty!”

“He said, “Such a prayer never comes from my lips. I asked you to pray for yourself, but you couldn’t do it. It appears that you are not destined to enjoy worldly happiness. Well, I can’t help it.” But I wouldn’t let him go. I insisted on his granting that prayer. At last he said, “All right, your people at home will never be in want of plain food and clothing.””

—from The Life of Swami Vivekananda, pp. 94-96

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Has Come One Unto Me

by Ramprasad Sen

From the land where there is no night
Has come One unto me.
And night and day are now nothing to me,
Ritual-worship has become for ever barren.

My sleep is broken. Shall I sleep any more?
Call it what you will — I am awake —
Hush! I have given back sleep unto Him whose it was.
Sleep have I put to sleep for ever.

The music has entered the instrument,
And of that mode I have learnt a song.
Ah! that music is playing ever before me,
For concentration is the great teacher thereof.
Prasad speaks: Understand, O Soul, these words of Wisdom.

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Bengali Poet Ramprasad’s Last Words

Ramprasad Sen, Bengali bhakti poet

Ramprasad Sen

At the end of Ramprasad’s life he is reported to have sang the following song. As he finished the last lines, he said, “It is achieved,” and then left the body.

*          *          *          *          *          *          *

Tara, do you remember me any more?
Mother I have lived happy, is there happiness hereafter?

Had there been any other place, I could not have
besought you. But now, Mother, having given me hope,
you have cut my bonds, you have lifted me to the tree’s top.

Ramprasad says: My mind is firm, and my gift
to the priest well made. Mother, my Mother, my all is
finished. I have offered my gift.

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O Shyama, Thou Art Flying Kites

by Ramprasad Sen

Kali postcard

Kali

In the world’s busy market-place, O Shyama,
Thou art flying kites;
High up they soar on the wind of hope,
held fast by maya’s string.
Their frames are human skeletons,
their sails of the three gunas made;
But all their curious workmanship
is merely for ornament.

Upon the kite-strings Thou hast rubbed
the manja-paste of worldliness,
So as to make each straining strand
all the more sharp and strong.
Out of a hundred thousand kites,
at best but one or two break free;
And thou dost laugh and clap Thy hands,
O Mother, watching them!

On favoring winds, says Ramprasad,
the kites set loose will speedily
Be borne away to the Infinite,
across the sea of the world.

—from Kali: The Black Goddess of Dakshineshwar by Elizabeth U. Harding

Note: Shyama Kali is the more tender aspect of Kali. She is worshiped in many households as the dispenser of boons and dispeller of fear.

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You Haven’t Seen How Kali Is

by Ramprasad Sen

Kali

Kali

Mind, you’re still not rid of your illusions;
you haven’t seen how Kali is.
You know the Mother manifests
as the three worlds,
but you seem not to know it,
______really.

That Mother who adorns the world
with countless jewels and gold
___aren’t you ashamed to decorate Her
______with trashy tinsel?

That Mother who feeds the world
with myriad tasty treats
___aren’t you ashamed to offer Her
______rice you’ve laid out in the sun, and
______wet chick peas?

If you really knew the Mother who
protects the world with such care,
would you sacrifice
sheep, buffalos, and young goats?

Prasad says,
Devotion is the only true way to worship Her,
You may do rituals to impress other people,
______but the Mother won’t be bribed.

From Singing to the Goddess: Poems to Kali and Uma from Bengal
by Rachel Fell McDermott

 

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Ways of Approaching God

by Paramhansa Yogananda

Paramahansa Yogananda

Paramhansa Yogananda

“There are two ways of approaching God in Nature. One is to separate the Lord from all His manifestations. ‘Neti, neti,’ is the saying in India: ‘Not this, not that.’ Something of that consciousness there must always be, lest one become trapped in attachment to form.

“The other way is to behold the Lord manifested everywhere.

“The first way, by itself, may be too austere for most devotees. The second way is much sweeter. Best of all is a combination of both.

“The Divine Mother is busy with Her housework of creation. The baby devotee cries, and She gives him a toy to play with—riches, perhaps, or name, or fame. If he cries again, She gives him another toy. But if the baby throws everything away and cries for Her love alone, She picks him up at last and whispers to him lovingly, ‘If you really want only Me, and not My gifts, then come. Be with Me forever on My lap of infinity.’”

        *         *         *         *         *         *         *

A Hindu student in America once laughingly told Paramhansa Yogananda, “My grandmother in India listens to bhajans [devotional songs] on the radio. At the end of the singing, she places a flower on it as a devotional offering—as if the radio were a holy image!”

The Master smiled at this encounter between scientific materialism and traditional piety. “And yet,” he commented, “your grandmother is not so superstitious as she seems. For with the flower she is expressing her gratitude to God. It isn’t that she views the radio as a deity. She is simply seeking an external focus for her devotion.

“And isn’t it good to see God enshrined everywhere? We think of the radio as man-made, but from Whom came the intelligence that made the radio? From Whom came even the materials from which it was created?

“When we seek to remove God from our environment, it becomes all too easy for us to remove Him from our lives altogether.”

—from The Essence of Self-Realization by Swami Kriyananda

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“Why not worship the Infinite as your Divine Mother?”

Paramahansa Yogananda

Paramhansa Yogananda

“I have trouble visualizing God,” complained a student of religious New Thought. “I’ve imagined Him as Infinite Intelligence, as the I AM principle, as my God-Self within, as the Cosmic Ground of Being. It all seems so abstract! But your relationship with the Lord is so loving. How can I achieve such a relationship?”

“The first step,” replied the Master, “is not to imagine that He wants your definitions. He wants only your love.

“Why not,” Yogananda then suggested, “worship the Infinite as your Divine Mother?”

“What a lovely idea!” exclaimed the visitor. “But is it valid? Is it true?”

“Indeed, yes!” replied Sri Yogananda emphatically. “God’s love is already reflected in human relationships. His love, like the sunlight shining on countless pieces of glass, is reflected everywhere.

“The Infinite is the Mother behind all human mothers, the true Father behind all human fathers. He is the ever-loyal Friend behind all earthly friends. He is the eternal Beloved behind all human loves. He is all things to all men, because, you see, the Lord is everything.

“Through your parents He cares for you, supports you, and protects you. Through your friends He shows you that love is a free sharing, without any hint of compulsion. Through the beloved He helps one to find the selfless intensity of divine love. Through people’s children He helps them to understand love as something precious, as a thing to be protected from harmful influences and nourished with devotion.

“Countless are the forms in which God comes to man. In each, He seeks to teach man something of His infinite nature. The lessons are there, for anyone whose heart is open to receive them.

“Thus, it isn’t that the Lord wants you to deny your human nature. What He wants, rather, is for you to purify it: to expand whatever love you feel in your heart, and not to keep it locked up in ego-attachments.

“For the devotee, it is natural therefore to worship God in some human aspect: as his Divine Mother, for example, or as his Heavenly Father.

“I myself worship the Mother aspect, especially. For the Mother is closer than the Father. The Father aspect of God represents that part which is aloof from His creation. The Mother is creation itself. Even among mankind, the human father is more disposed than the mother to judge their erring children. The mother always forgives.

“Pray, then, to the Divine Mother. Talk to Her like a child: ‘Divine Mother, naughty or good, I am Your own. You must release me from this delusion.’ The Mother ever responds with compassion when the devotee prays to Her sincerely in this way.

“Of course, in the highest sense God is none of the forms in which people worship Him. But it is helpful to use human concepts as a means of deepening our devotion to Him.

“Beyond devotion comes divine love. In that perfection of love there is complete union. In that state the yogi realizes the supreme truth: ‘I am That.’”

— Paramhansa Yogananda, The Essence of Self-Realization

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