Dedication & Unconditional Love for God
Being in India provides such a relief from the constant demand on our time, and all the responsibilities that come with our activities here in America. My heart belongs to that simpler life – a life dedicated to sadhana. Despite that, I have always felt that my dharma lay in both worlds. The first time I went to India, I had a deep feeling that expressed itself in the words, “I wish I could bring back a little of this spirit which is India to the West.” In our own way, we have been doing that ever since then. Despite the part of our being which yearns for peace and an ‘easy life’, our beloved Gurudeva, Paramahansa Yogananda, tells us, “An easy life is not a victorious life;” “Life should be chiefly service.”
Swami Ramdas says: “An active life is perfectly in keeping with Self-realization and divine service. What is needed is a total dedication of your entire life to Him. In all situations maintain a steady consciousness of Divinity within and about you.”
We have so many opportunities to immerse ourselves in spiritual practice, kirtan, satsang, and the constant remembrance of God. Yet each one of us must develop the enthusiasm and tenacity to move forward boldly in the pursuit of that one and only supreme goal of life.
Gurudeva often used the word “volition,” in his writings and lectures. Volition might be defined as ‘super-will.’ He says, “No matter how impossible of attainment one’s goal may seem, a man of volition never stops making conscious efforts to achieve his goal as long as he lives.” That is the dedication and determination that is required for success in the spiritual life. Another term for it is “unconditional love.”
I am certain that we have all heard many times the admonition of the necessity of letting go of the ego sense in order to progress toward God-consciousness. Here is an interesting quote from Swami Ramdas about the unreality of the ego:
“How can we sympathize with those who suffer? It is possible only when we have got a pure heart. How can we have a pure heart? Only when it becomes God’s own heart. Ask those people who are hanging around if they can feel for the sufferings of others. Here the sense of my-ness is obstructing them. What an amount of mischief the ego-sense does! After all, it is only a ‘sense’ and not anything that exists. Saints, who have once and for all shed their ego-sense, wonder how a thing that has no existence at all becomes the cause of so much misery to man. When we shed the ego-sense, how sweet everything is! It is pure bliss – unadulterated bliss permeating each and every cell of our body. Later we realize that the same bliss is pervading everywhere. We swim in an ocean of bliss.”
The great question now becomes how to overcome this sense of limiting self-identity. Spiritual practice is the only way, as precepted by the saints. We have no lack of spiritual teachings. As Paramahansaji once said to a disciple who asked for his blessings, “You have my blessings. It is your blessings that are needed!”
We all know how it is when you read some truth and feel that you want to shout it from the rooftops. In the Spring, 2009, issue of Self-Realization Magazine, there is an article by the late Self-Realization Fellowship President and Sangamata, Sri Daya Mata, entitled, Pranayama: Bridge to Divine Consciousness. It is a stunning, quintessential article, which epitomizes the essence of the path taught by Paramahansa Yogananda. It is my hope that SRF will make this satsanga available as a ‘How-to Live’ booklet for all to read. Although directed to devotees of the SRF path, Sri Daya Mataji’s words in the following quote are applicable to all aspiring devotees:
“Sometimes devotees get discouraged and rationalize: ‘I’ve been meditating for so many hours, over so many years, and still I don’t feel I am getting closer to God.’ Well, what of it? Guruji often quoted: ‘The only difference between a saint and a sinner is that the saint never gave up.’ How dare we try to impose upon God our limitations of how much time we are willing to devote to Him, and then give up if He does not respond according to our timetable? That is ridiculous. Many persons spend their whole life madly pursuing some particular ambition – to be a great artist or scientist, or build a business empire. Those who would find God must have that same undaunted zeal, tremendous strength of mind and determination – if necessary until the end of life. If you ask me what has been most helpful to me in this endeavor, it is this: I made up my mind in the very beginning that my attitude would be, ‘Lord, in this life I will let nothing deter me from seeking You wholeheartedly, because I know that is the only way to prove to myself the truth of what Christ, Krishna, Buddha, and all the great saints have said.’”
May each one of us follow in Ma’s and Paramahansaji’s footsteps by making such a resolution, and by following through until the end of life. This is the test: to see if our love for God is truly unconditional, or if we will give up or become lukewarm devotees when He doesn’t respond in the time and way that our little selves expect.
On another occasion, the Master said, “Do not demand God to appear before you just because you have meditated for ten years, or whatever you think is the right amount of time. He will never come… But when there is no demand; when you go on calling Him saying, “I love you, Lord, and I will wait for You for as long as is necessary,’ then He will come.”
Sundaram is the author of the book, Where Souls Dream God: Westerners’ Perceptions of Spiritual India, and publishes Himalayan Heritage Magazine, a bimonthly periodical in support of Sanatana Dharma.
At Himalayan Heritage we feel that our publications: Himalayan Heritage Magazine, & our book, Where Souls Dream God: Westerners’ Perceptions of Spiritual India, are our most important service. We hope you agree!