By Nayaswami Dharmadevi
March 26, 2019
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” I’ve often heard and thought about these beautiful words of Jesus Christ. On a visit to our Ananda Seattle community, I gained a new insight into what Jesus meant. During our travels there a few years ago, I met a man who was taking The Art & Science of Raja Yoga course.
He told me how much he was enjoying his studies and, that through his practice of the techniques, he said “I am beginning to see God in everyone.” I was touched deeply and reflected afterward, “Wow, that is what Christ meant!” It isn’t that one day, boom! our hearts are pure and God comes to us as a burning bush, or suddenly the spiritual eye is emblazoned in our sight, and the sound of AUM is constantly flooding our senses. Maybe those things will happen too, but isn’t it so much sweeter to think that, as our hearts are purified, we begin to see God in everyone and everything?
Paramhansa Yogananda counseled his disciples not to talk about their spiritual experiences without discretion. It can be a trap of the ego – “Hey look at me, I had this experience, I must be special.” More subtly, it can negatively impact others who don’t have the same experiences and cause them to think they are doing something wrong or perhaps even that God has forsaken them.
Even more subtly, to vocalize a Divine experience brings it down to a grosser reality. To “see God” can mean to feel His presence as Love, or Peace, or Bliss. These experiences should be held close to our hearts and cherished, especially because we don’t know when the next Divine gift of that nature will be given to us.
When we are new on the spiritual path, Divine Mother sometimes gives us these gifts to help us know we are moving in the right direction and to keep us motivated. They are also to let us know how we could feel all the time through union with Her. In other words, our own Divine potential.
Sometimes, great souls who have been on the path for decades, have little to no spiritual experiences. And by that I mean lights, sounds, and other phenomenon that we hear about sometimes in spiritual circles. Why would that be? Perhaps they don’t need them in order to believe. Maybe those experiences would even be a distraction toward their goal of perfect soul union with God.
Several times while serving at Ananda I’ve encountered people who had extraordinary dreams or visions of Yoganandaji appearing to them. And more often than not, I’ve seen those people leave the path. Again, why? You would think such an experience would be an overwhelming reason to stay firmly rooted on the path.
I believe it becomes a question of why we are on the path in the first place. What are we seeking? To catch a glimpse of God or to feel His presence in all Creation? To get a little taste of ecstasy or to feel ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new Bliss? When we clarify our goal, God will come to us in the form we are seeking. If we seek Him alone, not powers or experiences, He will reveal His true nature and we will truly see God – in each other, in all nature, in every life situation.
In each fragile, undulating mirror of human flesh I see reflected Thy restless dance of omnipresent power. In the lambent waters of life I behold Thy ever‐steady, almighty life.
Teach me, Christlike, by the power of concentration to still the restless storms of desire raging on the lake of my mind. Stilling those waters, I lovingly behold Thy unruffled face of cosmic stillness. Cause the little wave of my life to subside, that Thy consciousness in me spread out to become Thine own vastness.
—Whispers from Eternity by Paramhansa Yogananda