All things—from Brahma the creator down to a single blade of grass—are the apparently diverse names and forms of the one Atman.
The spiritual path has been likened to a razor’s edge. This scares some people, and they avoid the path, fearing the strenuous effort such an analogy implies. Yet no one can escape, because life itself is the spiritual path. Everyone is traveling this path—whether they realize it or not.
Most people do not wake up until, experiencing deep pain, they look for a way out of that suffering. They look at their lives and realize they cannot, by the force of their own will, create the happiness they are seeking. So they look for another way.
Others don’t wait for suffering. They question life. What is truth? Who am I? What is my purpose here? They seek wisdom.
Still others come to the path through love, drawn to self-knowledge through the yearning to love and serve God.
Whatever it is that brings us to that point, once we begin making spiritual effort, we find that we are not alone. To our great delight, we realize that we do not need to make the journey all by ourselves. As soon as we begin making spiritual effort, an inner divine grace meets us to reinforce our endeavors and propel us forward on the path. The mystic poet Kabir said: “It’s the yearning that does all the work.” The primary discipline of the spiritual life is to let ourselves be drawn by the soul’s natural love for what is life-giving. In other words, to fall in love with our life.
Here is the central paradox of the spiritual path: To become what we already are, and to seek what we already have. Remember when you were a child? You were naturally joyous. How did we lose that joy? We never did. We simply began to identify that joy with external things—our toys and our friends. And then one day all the building blocks fell down and we had nothing.
Or so we thought.
The heart, the seat of the soul, still possesses that joy. The mind may still be consumed with child-like fascination with the toys of this world, but the heart remains ever at home with God. It is the heart that now must train the mind, transform it into a true friend of the soul. The mind that has been seduced by worldly mirages must be redirected within to drink of the inner, living waters of the soul.
The first step is to meditate. The language of the soul is silence. The mind must be taught to sit still in silence. The next step is to carry that peace gathered in meditation into our daily lives. Another word for this is devotion, the realization that in the play of life with its diverse manifestations, there is truly only One with whom we relate—one Spirit, one Consciousness operating behind Its many guises.
When we practice devotion, when the mind returns to thoughts of God during activity, we begin to see something that we have missed before. We notice a shimmering beauty—a vibrant presence transforming the dull grays of a mundane existence into the colors of joy.
For some people, devotion means love for God. For others it is devotion to Truth. In either case it is the commitment that draws the response. Those who have difficulty relating to a personified image of God may find it easier to contemplate the qualities of God, such as peace, truth, or love. Qualities of God contain the presence of God. Concentrating deeply upon love, one feels divine love. Focusing on peace, one experiences the peace of the soul.
Christ talked about the kingdom of heaven. Few people realize that this divine realm extends to the earth plane as well. There is no place we can go where God is not, no situation in our life where divine love is not there to comfort and guide us. God pervades our life and is our life. The direct path to loving God is to begin to love our life by affirming what is. Even in the most difficult situations it is possible to summon the light of goodness through the power of affirmation.
It is human nature to love certain parts of our life and to reject others. But this causes us to miss the blessings that hide behind distressing disguises. With spiritual vision, we open ourselves to the realization of universal goodness—the truth that everything is working together for the fulfillment of divine purpose and our highest happiness. In a heart made whole by surrender, the dark night of grief heralds the dawn of new life. Accepting life in all its aspects opens the door to experiencing the unconditional joy of the soul.
The mind is magnetized by what it loves. When what we love is God, our life reflects God’s presence. Brother Lawrence practiced this to such an extent that whatever he was doing—whether it was working in the kitchen or kneeling in prayer—he experienced the same sweet communion with the Beloved. “I began to live,” he said, “as if there were no one in the world but Him and me.” His joy grew. So much so, he found it difficult to contain it.
A simple handwritten note, found in the back of an old woman’s Bible, reveals the secret for experiencing divine companionship. It read: “Three rules to live by: Live one day at a time. Do one thing at a time. Trust God all the time.”
The spiritual life is not an after-life. It is life now, an eternal life with the ever-present God, the supreme Support, Comfort, and Guide with us always, sharing our joys and sorrows, our victories and defeats with a love beyond that of even the most devoted father or mother, closest friend, or dearest beloved.
Krishna, the Divine Presence, speaking to Arjuna, the soul yearning for true happiness, advises: “I am always with all beings; I abandon no one. And however great your inner darkness, you are never separate from me. Let your thoughts flow past you, calmly; keep me near, at every moment; trust me with your life, because I am you, more than you yourself are.”
Inspiration and practices from the spiritual path of Kriya Yoga offer a way for seekers of truth and lovers of God to discover the heart of holiness. To live and love fully begins where we are, in every precious moment we consciously embrace. Living the eternal way in every moment, we discover that, in essence, that which we seek is what we are.