Wherever God has placed us, there He must come. Dedicate every moment, every action to Him. When we return home to our everyday lives we may not be able to enjoy the same spiritual companionship we had while on retreat, but always remember…you have God and Guru.
Maya is very strong. We must resist it. We must protect our relationship with God. He is the source of all love, all wisdom, and all creativity. As we return to our homes, now comes the challenge of incorporating the teachings into our everyday lives.
Ways to Practice the Presence
Strive to have some periods of silence in your life when possible. Talking expends so much energy, much more than we know. There is a story of four Tibetan monks. One of them noticed a prayer flag flapping in the breeze. To the others he remarked, “Flag is flapping.” The second monk, a bit more observant, replied, “Wind is flapping.” The third monk, even more perceptive than the other two corrected them, “Minds are flapping,” to which the fourth monk replied, “Tongues are flapping.”
Whenever you have a spare moment, turn your mind to God. Master said, “A sure and swift way to the infinite is to keep your attention at the Christ Center.” We can always do this; when you are not able to practice Kriya and the other techniques, it is possible to keep partial attention at the Christ Center during your work, and full attention there when at rest. This doesn’t mean placing the gaze at the Christ Center, but just keeping one’s inner attention there.
Pay attention to nature, for this also is practicing the presence. Brother Lawrence once saw a tree in the winter, stripped of its leaves, and as he thought about how within a little time the leaves would be renewed, and after that the flowers and fruit would appear, suddenly he was overcome by a vision – the power of God was with him, and he was blessed with a love for God which never left his soul. Pay attention to the life force in your body. Pay attention to the god in your friends. Brother Lawrence used to live in the world as if there were no one else but he and God. Practicing the presence is powerful! …
Ask for the guru’s guidance in everything you do.
One of the most common methods for practicing the presence is by repetition of a mantra or phrase. It may be especially powerful by repeating it musically as a chant. Repeating a mantra starts a rhythm going which, when practiced regularly, eventually becomes self-perpetuating.
Guruji tells Br. David “I love you” ~ Story
Br. David told a story about how Brother Bhaktananda used to chant inwardly all day long, “I love you Master.” Then one day after about a year of chanting this, Master came over to Brother in the gardens at Encinitas and whispered sweetly, “I love you, too.”
This story so impressed Br. David that he started using the mantra, “Guruji, I love you.” But he felt a little sad because he knew that Master, having left the body, could never respond to him in the same way he had with Brother Bhaktananda.
Time went by, and he persisted with this mantra wholeheartedly. Then after a visit with family in Australia, as he was waiting at the Sydney airport to catch his flight back to the U.S., he thought, “This is a good time to use my mantra”, and he began to chant inwardly. After some time he noticed a little girl coming toward him and the next thing he knew the youngster climbed up on the chair next to him, leaned over, and whispered in his ear, “I love you.” Br. David was quite charmed by this little girl and he replied to her, “I love you, too.” She told him her name was “Lizzy”. Just then Lizzy’s mother came to retrieve her, apologized to Brother for the bother, and escorted Lizzy back to their seats, some 50 yards away in the airport. But pretty soon Lizzy was back again, and once again she climbed up on the chair next to him, put her arms around his neck and whispered, “I love you, I love you, I love you!” Soon the mother came to reclaim Lizzy again, and repeatedly apologized for the trouble. But in a little while Lizzy was back again for the third time, hugging Br. David and saying over and over, “I love you, I love you, I love you!!”
Suddenly Br. David realized what was happening. He recalled the sadness he had felt in thinking he would never get a direct response from Master, and he realized that the guru was responding to his devotion through this little girl. God can work through many channels.
[Brother Bhumananda said that he also once had an experience of Master’s response, though not as impressive as that of Br. David’s story about Lizzy. He’d had a really rough day while at Mother Center and at the end of the day as he was walking by the main gate he noticed an old abandoned car parked on the side of the street. On it was a bumper sticker that read, “Remember who loves ya, baby!]
Always keep in mind why we need to make beneficial changes in our lives. Begin with introspection. One time a Sunday school teacher was instructing her students how to pray and she said to the class, “What’s the first thing we need to do to pray for forgiveness”, to which one little boy piped up, “Sin!”
Many people are stagnating in life because they see no need for introspection. Their reluctance is because that kind of deep personal introspection brings to light the many flaws in one’s nature. It makes us realize just how far we are from perfection, and so we tend to avoid looking at ourselves this way. But introspection is the “map” we need to use if we want to reach our destination. We have to keep looking at that map in order to get there – if we get lost we have to pull out the map of introspection – it’s a lifelong thing.
Throughout the day learn to use this introspective map. If for instance, we seem to encounter negativity from others, we need to analyze ourselves and ask ourselves, “What am I doing to arouse these negative reactions in others?”
A minister once noticed a group of boys huddled together in a circle. He became curious and when he drew closer he saw they were gathered around a little puppy dog. “What are you doing, boys?” asked the minister. One boy answered, “We’re taking turns telling lies and the one who can tell the biggest lie gets to keep the puppy dog.” The minister was taken aback, quite aghast, and he admonished them, “Why you should be ashamed of yourselves, telling lies. When I was your age I would never have thought to tell a lie!” That said, one boy picked up the puppy and handed it to the minister and replied, “Here mister, you win!”
We need to look at our activities to determine if they are in line with our goal. Be very careful what you choose to do. There are a myriad of distractions that can take us away from our path. Television, computers, movies, newspapers, etc. Before you embark on any endeavor ask, “Am I going closer to God through this action?”
Have a big end-of-the-month introspection and if you see you haven’t changed as much as you had hoped, use your willpower to make the changes happen. You may get worn out. It may seem too hard to go against old ingrained habits. We must realize that willpower is the secret to success. You create your destiny through all your thoughts and actions. Decide not to yield to the dictatorship, the compulsion of past bad habits. They are an invisible prison and we must break out of the jail of bad habits.
We are divine. Master said, “It is easier to find God than to become rich.”
If your attempts fail it may be because the goals you have set are too vague. Get very specific about the changes you want to make in yourself. Be reasonable in your expectations for yourself. If you set the goals too high you may be setting
yourself up for failure. Always remember the goal – God realization.
Sometimes we assume the wrong attitude – one of being ashamed to seek God. But remember that if in the past we did wrong it is because God made delusion so strong. In a way He is to blame. Master once told a disciple, “God doesn’t mind our mistakes. He minds our indifference.”
Learn to cultivate zeal in your spiritual life. In the beginning we may have very strong feelings of attraction for this path. Br. David said when he first came to this path he had many wonderful spiritual experiences. Everything seemed wonderful, easy. It is common for the guru to give us certain experiences in the beginning, a little taste of what we are working towards. But then those experiences stop, no more, and this is the guru saying, “I’ve given you a taste of spiritual sweetness and now you must work for it.” You must work for spiritual growth.
God is the source of Joy. If it seems that your lifestyle is being restricted by following this path, remind yourself that those restrictions are not depriving you of anything of value. It’s all excess baggage. Think of the caterpillar that encloses itself in a cocoon – binding itself up so it can’t even move! But the result is a transformation into a beautiful butterfly, flying free. It’s the same with us – the discipline, the seeming restrictions will transform our lives in the same beautiful way.
2003 SRF Retreat – Brahmachari David, devotee notes
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