“God is simple. Everything else is complex.” –Yogananda
Never let yourself believe that your understanding regarding something of this world is complete. Never settle on any viewpoint or depth of understanding. The truth, pertaining to this world of duality (also called “maya”), is always relative, directional, and circumstantial.
On the other hand, “God is simple”. If you ever get in touch with your inner joy, taking a stroll on a warm summer day, feeling your connection with the nature around you, that is God. That never changes. Take that as the absolute, timeless, never-changing though ever-new truth.
When I received an email letter from my love, who had been back to her country after finishing her studies in the US, telling me that “she feels that we need to go our own separate ways” I was thoroughly shocked and confused. How could such a sweet connection of love and affection turn around so quickly? For the first few days, I was so heavy in pain from the feeling of losing my first and only love relationship in this life, at the ripe age of 33, that I had to walk leaning against the wall, so that there is less weight to carry.
After a month, I decided, without telling no one, to fly all the way to the other side of the world just to see her and try to understand what was happening. When I came back from my short meeting with her my understanding was even more muddled. How could our embrace feel warmer than ever, yet from her mouth I hear the words “I do love you. But I don’t ‘love’ love you.” The few conversations I had with her felt so incongruent.
I came home and started on the usual journey through the phases of confusion, despair, anger, blame, pity, and questioning. Eventually I grew into more elevated understandings. I started to feel her pain. I started to understand that it must’ve been harder on her, to go back in her old living environment, physically separated from her newfound life in the States and love relationship. I came to feel that she had let go of our relationship, not because she didn’t want us to be together, but because it was too difficult to be apart.
Now popping up a level on the grand scheme of things, around this time I came to read the Autobiography of a Yogi, a book we had picked up together before to read. Reading the book so quickly, I remember telling my sister “I’m crying my way through the whole book.” The crying was coming from subtle remembrance of truths and soul connections lost from past lives. It was coming because, all of sudden, the life which had never made much sense to me, started to all make sense.
From this sacred book I got to know, my now guru, Paramhansa Yogananda, and through him God, the Divine Mother. As I came to know Her, from within me, I started to see what had happened. Divine Mother, in Her omniscience and unconditional love, had worked through my love to initiate our breaking away to nudge us towards our next steps in our soul advancement. All of a sudden I understood the reason for all incongruities. It wasn’t my friend, in her own capacity, who had said and done that. It was Divine Mother working through her, seeing what’s ahead for us, what we could not see.
Arriving at this state of understanding, which hadn’t come easy but nevertheless in a divine way, I started to feel our love alive as before, though stronger than before because it was now released from earthly conditions and motivations. That was so freeing and good to feel! But I had a problem; We weren’t in touch anymore, and I missed her often.
But reading the chapter 2 of the Autobiography of a Yogi “My Mother’s Death and the Mystic Amulet” gave me the solace I needed. Mukunda (Yogananda’s given name) lost his mother at the age of 11. For years he was stricken by the pain of losing his mother. And one day Divine Mother finally appeared to him:
“It is I who have watched over thee, life after life, in the tenderness of many mothers! See in My gaze the two black eyes, the lost beautiful eyes, thou seekest!”
Reading the words of Divine Mother to my guru as only a boy, I realized that what I was missing wasn’t the form, the personage of my girlfriend. It was the sweetness of Divine Mother, which she reflected with ease, that was the object of my love. She was the reflection, not the source.
And so I understood what I’m really longing for. Well, not entirely… Still, every once in a while, my heart nagged “yes, but I miss that particular reflection through her.”
What really connects us to one another is not the form, but the invisible consciousness behind the physical realm. It’s not the shape and touch of your lover that makes you feel love and loved. Rather, that serves as a facilitator to help you remember the divine qualities that you already have within you.
In the previous part of this blog I recounted the story of my heartbreak and how I came to find that the essence of what I had loved is always accessible within me. I ended by confessing that even though I believe and know this to be true, I still can’t always calm my heart, who occasionally becomes naughty and insists that “No! I know everyone’s a reflection of God, but I specifically miss her way of reflecting God!”
So now, let me “complete the circle” of this blog.
Jai Uttal has a great album called “Kirtan!” which has a really nice intro explaining what kirtan is. There he mentions that in certain parts of India known for being the home of Krishna’s devotees, it is common practice for people to call each other “Radhe”, rather than by their own given names. Krishna is the unmanifested divine Spirit. Radha or Radhe is His consort, and represents the divine presence in the manifested universe. If you see the light of God in your friend or loved one’s eyes, that is Radha, the divinity in the created being, realizing its utter devotion and oneness with the Spirit behind all there is; its realization that it does not belong to this visible world. So those devotees call each other “Radhe” to remind one another that every single person is in essence Radha. Knowingly or unknowingly, all we are seeking is the lost divine Krishna within ourselves and everywhere else. We are the lovers of Krishna, because at the core of our being we are one and the same with Krishna!
Indeed, many sages have told us that life is essentially a dream, a kind of an illusion—“veils of light and shade” Yogananda called it. Science is catching up with this truth. As we know now, the entire creation is nothing but an arrangement of electrons and protons (or even smaller building energies/particles), and virtually space everywhere. Behind the matter is energy, and behind energy is consciousness: thoughts of a cosmic Creator appearing as a life we experience.
It was a nice step for me to realize that I don’t need the channel of my soul friend to get in touch with the love that I’m seeking. But even that’s not enough, because it fails to fully understand that which all true religions have said: “there is really nothing but God!”
There is a better way to perceive, to “complete the circle”:
Rather than thinking of people and things as mere reflections of God’s consciousness, practice perceiving them as nothing but God! Think of everyone and everything as the one cosmic consciousness that we call God, appearing in that specific form just to serve a specific divine purpose.
There are no friends, no enemies, no animals, no strangers and acquaintances, no mothers, no fathers, no boyfriends, no girlfriends, no Clintons, no Trumps, no sages, no murderers, no ostriches. No you or me. Don’t you see? It is all God! If people and things look and act a certain way, they have no true reality but for the sole purpose of providing you with the perfect conditions to awaken spiritually and find God.
If I think of my girlfriend as a reflection of sweetness of God, I can sure enough miss that particular reflection. But if I realize some day the truth that it is Divine Mother Herself, playing the part of every single being, including me and her, how could I miss her? Who misses whom?