Practicing the presenceShortly after I discovered and started practicing yoga I read Autobiography of a Yogi which was my introduction to Paramahansa Yogananda and his writings. I felt a very deep connection with Yogananda and devoured everything I could find by him. Around that same time Darcyís Mom and Dad gave us the book Living Between Two Worlds by Joel Goldsmith. We had been practicing yoga and consciously on the spiritual path for several years at that point and were overflowing with inspiration. I remember sitting together reading Living Between Two Worlds to each other and getting spiritually high because we were literally lifted up into truth consciousness. As Joel would say, "You canít read truth in a book, or receive or impart truth through words. But the truth in a teaching or a book can help bring you into the conscious knowing and experience of the truth that is already an inherent part of your Soul".
Yoganandaís and Joelís teachings did just that. I was so deeply uplifted by their teachings that I began to read and study as much of their work as I could get my hands on. In those days you had to depend on finding these types of books in either health food stores or spiritual bookstores. I remember that over the years Darcy used to love to bring home a new book sheíd run across by Yogananda or Joel. We both loved their writings, and she knew what a treat it would be for me when she brought one home. We always take several of their books with us when we travel by car and read to each other as we drive along. Iíve read and studied many, many things over the years and value them all. But I have to say that the teachings of Yogananda and Joel Goldsmith are the foundation of my study.
One of the most important things that you can learn to do is what Joel Goldsmith called "practicing the presence". To be aware of, to feel and experience Godís presence from moment to moment as you move through your day-to-day life. Yogananda also taught and suggested "practicing the presence".
I had the blessing of studying directly for many years with Paramahamsa Hariharananda who was a disciple of both Yogananda, and Yoganandaís guru Sri Yuteswar Giri. I learned many wonderful things studying with Hariharanandaji. But one of the fundamental things that he taught us was: "In every breath feel that it is God who is inhaling, and therefore remember, be grateful to and love God in and as every breath. Whatever you are doing feel and know that it is God who is working through you. God is the doer". Baba would also say: "Keep your attention of God through Soul".
I remember one time Darcy and I had gone to spend some time and study with Hariharanandaji at an ashram he had in Washington, DC. We were camping out at a camp ground in Reston Virginia. One morning we over slept and missed the morning meditation. When we got to the ashram we saw Baba and told him we were sorry weíd missed the meditation. He looked at us with a very sweet smile and shining eyes as if to ease our guilt about missing the meditation and said, "Meditation is important, but itís more important to love and remember God in every moment." If weíre disciplined and dedicated to our sadhana we may meditate for a few hours a day. But when we practice the presence of God our attention is on God most of the time. Of course devoting time to formal meditation combined with practicing the presence is the most effective approach.
I see God behind the blessings and guidance in my life. I feel Him working through me as I write, play or sing a song, or as I teach a yoga class. And even in this very moment, I feel and acknowledge Him working through me as I write this. I acknowledge God as the doer or inspiration behind beautiful works of art and music, behind the brilliance of great discoveries and acts of humble service, kindness compassion and love. I see that it is God who is working through the out reached hand of someone offering help to another. See your life and that of those around you, as an unfolding of God.
As Iíve grown with this practice throughout my life Iíve found that whenever I feel a cool breeze or the nourishing rain touch my skin, hear birds singing or children playing, stand in front of the ocean or overlooking Lineville Gorge, it reminds me of God. And my heart is filled to overflowing with gratitude for this beautiful creation and for the joy and blessing of being consciously aware His blessed loving presence. It feels so great — thereís absolutely nothing more amazing and wonderful, than to be riding down the road and feel the warm loving presence of God in your heart, to see his glory as you crest a hill and behold a beautiful sunrise or sunset, to love and experience Him in every breath.
Thereís something Iíd like to mention since Iíve been talking about Joel, Yoganandaji and Hariharanandaji. Always remember that God is the true teacher and guru within all teachers and gurus. Ultimately youíll find that Godís presence within you is your true teacher and guru — "the true teacher of the heart". Yoganandaji said: "The joy felt in meditation is the presence of God. In that joy is Godís truth and guidance". I call the guidance and truth we receive from God through our Soul "heart guidance". Iíve written more about heart guidance and the true teacher of the heart, and have referenced it to John Friendís "Anusara Invocation".
Your Soul is Godís presence within you, as you. And when you begin to know and experience yourself as Soul youíll be able to know and commune with God, love God and feel Godís love for you, and know His truth and receive His guidance directly through the omniscience or intuition of your Soul.
One of the things that Yoganandaji, Hariharanandaji and Joel Goldsmith taught, and what Iíve learned and have begun to experience through my study, practice and life, is that your whole being and life and everything that you are and do is an unfolding — a manifestation of God; that God is the doer in, as, of and through each and every one of us, and that all of creation is a manifestation of God. Therefore, God being the source and substance of your being and creation, allness of good is the only reality of your being and creation. Anything other than allness of good comes about after that manifestation has occurred, due to delusion and ignorance (Avidya) based on identifying with the manifestation instead of the Source, and with the pairs of opposites in creation instead of realizing the one reality that is behind and the source of it all. In yoga philosophy this delusion is called Maya, and the play, or interaction, between that duality and us is called Lila.
Youíll find God in the temple of gratitude; in the temple of love and devotion; in the temple of compassion, kindness and service; in the temple of stillness and silence; in the temple of your breath; in the temple of your heart and Soul; in the temple of truth and omnipresence. Three quotes by Yoganandaji that refer or relate to this are:
"The temple that God loves most, is the temple of His devotees inner silence."
"I used to think that God could only be found in holy places of worship. But now I find that as soon as I begin to pray, my heart becomes a mighty temple and God is there."
"If you fill the moments with divine aspirations, automatically the years will be saturated with them."
Find God in the temple of your devotion, in the temple of your heart and Soul — in the temple of your life. God is already always here. We need only become aware of His presence. And thatís what weíre here for, what our lives are all about — to know, love and express God in and as every moment of our lives.
[ To Top ]