Prayer and meditation
When asked to define prayer and meditation, one child from one SRF Sunday school answered very simply, “Prayer is talking to God. Meditation is listening to God.”
Benefits of a spiritual retreat
In defining the benefits of a spiritual retreat, Brother said that observing silence during a retreat relieves one of the ego’s need to spend the great amount of energy it usually does in thinking how to present ourselves to others. In silence, one can let go of the ego. It is good to practice looking at each individual as a soul. In silence there are no egos there to get in the way. He encouraged us all to “make your life a retreat.”
Also a retreat helps us learn to live more in the present moment.
Master said, “Understand the present moment, and you understand eternity.” (Lesson 108)
Reading Master’s writings
Brother said that Master’s thoughts have a vibration. His consciousness is behind his words. Strive to attune ourselves to his words, for they resonate on a soul level. Mrinalini Mata says she has read‘Autobiography of a Yogi over 100 times, and each time she receives something new, some fresh inspiration from Master. So it is with all of Master’s writings.
Don’t try to judge where we are in our spiritual life
Master said, “God has not to be earned. He has only to be sought.” Remember, He is already within us. It is important that we don’t try to judge where we are in our spiritual life; how far we have advanced. Whether we think we are doing well or not does not matter. Our judgment is part of the delusion of maya. We are not in a position to judge where we are. If we are making effort then we are making progress even though we may not see it. But Master sees it and he sees the process. One cannot be drawn to this path unless one is advanced to a certain point in evolution. Even the avatars, when they come back to the physical, have to take on some of the delusion and then work their way out again.
Sometimes apparent low points are actually times of great growth. Master, in the midst of a very low point in his life when he was having much trouble with restlessness during meditation, received an experience in cosmic consciousness after a touch from his guru (see the Autobiography, “An Experience in Cosmic Consciousness”) And then, after this supreme experience, Sri Yukteswar had him sweep the ashram balcony! As the saying goes, “After ecstasy, the laundry.” (Zen saying)
Love – this cosmic force
Love is not just an emotion. It is a cosmic force. The magnetic pull of God’s Love is what pulls us back to Him. The more we tune in to this stream of Love – this cosmic force – the more we are drawn back.
Learn to see yourself as God and Guru see you – as a divine soul – despite the flaws and being covered in delusion. God and Guru don’t care what delusion we are immersed in because they know that is what it is – delusion! When we will wake up, all delusion will be gone. It is delusion to think we are inherently flawed. In reality we are perfect. So drop the baggage of that kind of thinking so you can progress.
Write a letter to God or Master. Then put it aside and write back how you think they would respond. This helps greatly to open up the heart.
When doubts come:
Master said “Truth is not afraid of inquiry.” It is good to ask questions. Even Master had doubts and left his guru for a while to go to the Himalayas. Doubts are an important stage – questioning if our previous beliefs are valid – questioning that what we are experiencing now is the ultimate reality. Thinking that way opens up one to seeking Truth. Don’t shy away from doubt. Pursue it. Ask Guru to help you understand. You will get a response. The response may not come right away, maybe not even in meditation. But experiences and circumstances will come to guide you. Wait for them, be patient for them and most importantly, be receptive to them when they come.
The relationship with Guru takes work
We are in a relationship with Guru and relationships take work. The guru-disciple relationship is no different. Human relationships go all around, up and down. So does the spiritual path. After a few years of being on the path, it is not uncommon to suddenly enter a period of dry times, doubts, and lack of the spiritual experiences that came before. There may come a huge shift. For example, one may suddenly swing from being very technique oriented, to being very focused on the heart and devotion. This is natural. It is part of the balance. It’s all part of our spiritual unfoldment and is perfectly okay.
“One millionth of the things I teach you…”
Master said, “If you practice one millionth of the things I teach you, you will find God.” He was not exaggerating. Your regular and continued practice will dig a little hole in the dam of your consciousness and that little hole will get bigger and bigger until the Truth pours in.
In ‘Man’s Eternal Quest’, Master talks about “thought tabloids”, which are like blocks of thought, a big chunk of thought like a package beneath a few words. That’s why he could make this statement about finding God with only the practice of one millionth of the things he teaches. It’s like that one thing, practiced diligently, will act to open up all the rest.
Law of the mind. Law of attraction
The mind is always working. We have no control over this. But we do have control over how it works. Mind is the creator. We do not realize the subtlety of it. Do not feed a bad habit with thoughts about it. Think about the opposite good habit. Whatever you focus on, you will get more of. If you aren’t happy about conditions in your life, examine your thoughts. If you are focusing on the negative, then that is what you will get more of. It is very insidious.
What to do instead:
Be aware of your thoughts
Ask, “Do I want more of this?”
Focus your mind on what you want.
The Star Technique
(so named because it has 5 points)
This is good when trying to introspect about big/important issues. The technique may take about one hour. It gives an amazing sense of clarity to one’s thinking. It gets one down to the basics and it is very powerful. Be very honest with yourself. Write it down. No one else will see it, so you can afford to be very honest.
1. Identify the issue.
2. What are my thoughts/perceptions about this?
3. What are my feelings/emotions about this?
4. What are my wants/needs in this situation? (internal and external)
5. What action can I take to fulfill my wants/needs?
How to deal with others who are upset or angry with you:
If you can’t bring love into your dealings with others, you are out of attunement. See them as souls. When they “push your buttons”, inwardly say, “Thank you Master for this gift – this opportunity to see that because this person has been able to “push my buttons”, there must be something I need to change in myself. This experience has come to me so that I can see myself.”
You need to act from Love. The other person may have a problem – you may have a problem. But no matter what, you act from Love. You be the spiritual one. If the issue is too hot, then tell the other person you would like to think about it and talk to them about it later. (buy some space and time) Use the star technique. The real issue may turn out to have nothing to do with the other person. We cannot control what other people do. But we must learn to take responsibility for ourselves…for how we are feeling and how we are reacting. Don’t allow yourself to be pushed around by the impulses of life.
“I love you, Lord”
Daya Mata often begs people to “just give five minutes to God to tell Him you love Him. Just five minutes!” See how it works. You will get more of what you dwell on. Affirm that. Tell God, “I love you, Lord” and you will get it!
Master said, “There is a personal element in one’s relationship with God that is more important than the whole of Yoga.”
Master also said, “Every noble thought in your mind brings you closer to God.”
The goal of the techniques
Don’t worry about the routine of practice of the techniques if you find you are in a deep place in meditation. If you are feeling/experiencing the presence of God, you have reached the goal of the techniques. Don’t worry then, if you haven’t gotten to them all. Stay with it – absorb that – and allow that consciousness to fully absorb you.
Having visions, hearing voices, feeling Bliss…. these are gifts….. they are a come-on from God. It is not the final contact. These gifts from Him are a part of the Divine Romance. We may have contact and then loose it. Then we wonder what happened (Br. Simon says, humorously, we may wonder “Who changed the phone number here?”) But then, often when we least expect it, Divine Grace finally comes.
To find God; service to others
Our number one purpose is to find God. But we also have another purpose in life….our desires will lead us to it….our karma places us where our talents/abilities/ambitions can contribute a service to others so that we can be a channel for the Divine to flow to others. Learn to always ask yourself, “What is life asking of me this moment?”
Swami Vivekananda once remarked, “I may have to reincarnate again and again because I’ve fallen in love with mankind.”
If I have to be reborn again, how will I find this path?
A. How did you find the path in the first place this time? Did you find it or did it find you?
Footnote: “If a person, even once, really desires salvation, that desire is firmly planted in the superconscious mind; no matter how long ignored, it will germinate when favorable opportunity arises, whether in this life or in a later incarnation…. Even the mere desire for liberation ultimately leads one to liberation.” Paramahansa Yogananda
Prayer for others sends them energy. It is a gift to them.
Master used to write and write. As inspiration would come to him, he would jot down his thoughts on little scraps of paper, train ticket stubs, anything handy at the moment. The monastics finally sewed large pockets inside his robes so he could always carry a steno pad with him.
2001 SRF Retreat, Brother Sevananda and Brahmachari Simon, devotee notes
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