• by Barbara McCaughey • Paramahansa Yogananda used to say to his disciples, “Get devotion!” But with this admonition, he also gave them practical ways to accomplish that goal. To nurture devotion, he encouraged them to practice the meditation techniques they had been given.
In doing so, they would set aside time to quiet the mind, to interiorize the senses, and give the subtle life force a chance to find its way into their consciousness in a very personal way. An experience of the Divine is one of complete unconditional love. Once you experience this, devotion naturally flows; you are forever devoted to the perfect Love which created us.
Another thing Yogananda stressed was the importance of practicing the presence of God. In our silent meditations we are looking for the light of pure consciousness, and trying to feel life force moving through our bodies. In practicing the Presence, we are using the magnificent vehicle of the body to bring divine Love into the creation. Practicing the Presence expands our idea of Love and Life as being the cause and fabric of creation.
There was a naturalist who used the term, “The Spirit that moves in all things.” When we look at all life forms in this way, how could we not feel love for every manifestation of Nature?
In order to feel the Spirit that moves in all things, we have to slow down. We have to do all our actions with intention. The Buddhists use the term “mindfulness.” We’re not scurrying from one activity to the next; we are acknowledging the presence of Life and Love in every moment.
In the traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony, the attention to detail, the purposeful placement of every single item, almost confounds the untrained mind. It’s all done to express the beauty and order of the Universe, and it’s meant to honor the guests that are attending. The idea behind it is: “One moment; one opportunity.” There will never be another moment in all of eternity that is configured just like this present moment. Think about that; not one moment in eternity is just like this one!
Yogananda talked about the need to purify the heart from the lower emotions of jealousy, anger, greed, and so on, because all those things block Love, block Life. When we remove the blocks to Love they’re dissolved. It’s as if it never happened, and we’re back in tune with where we want to be. When we recognize this creation as the blueprint of our divine Creator, then we can only pray that we courageously, humbly and harmoniously fit into this wonderfulness. One life form cannot be above or below another; all are from the same Source.
So many people who have a special spiritual experience, either through meditation or near-death, are transformed by Love, but they also then have a greater desire to learn. When you study the natural universe, I think the word that you always come to is “Wow!” Love, Life is so present in this creation. The more we experience it, and thus know it, the more we appreciate it.
“Your problem is how you are going to spend this one odd and precious life you have been issued. Whether you’re going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over people and circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it, and find out the truth about who you are.” – Anne Lamott
(Omar Itani image) Story by Dawn King•Last week, as I entered Sunburst Founder, Norman Paulsen’s words as the blog text (Feb. 15, 2023), this sentence really struck me: “Cultivate your imagination, for herein lies the power of the master builder, the master scientist, the master physician, the master of the cosmic forces.”
Perhaps imagination is what sets us apart from animals. We can be motivated by something beyond the necessities of instinct and survival. We can dream and imagine, then manifest our dreams.
It was my dream to bring art classes to Sunburst sanctuary. And it is happening this year, with a unique kind of creative activity each month. We are each here to engage in Life, to dream, desire, and act in a way that uplifts everyone, and is in harmony with Nature. You too can dream, and desire to fulfill your dream.
Meditate and find your soul inspired dream. Norm’s words again: “True direction does not arise from the emotions, or from a confused mental condition. Be still and meditate a moment; listen to the space between your thoughts and you will receive the right direction.”
You can create your own process, or follow the steps below to go forward.
1. Use your imagination to trust (have faith) that the creative Spirit is within you. Invite that creative Spirit to create through you.
2. Imagine what your highest self wants to create through your mind and hands; let charity, goodwill and empathy (compassion) lead you.
3. Imagine a plan of baby steps that will help you make progress, and commit to taking these steps; i.e. express loyalty to your higher Self.
4. Imagine using your willpower and courage, then actually take a step forward toward your goal.
5. Imagine enjoying the journey, while you practice patience. Acts done as service to Spirit (and Spirit in others) bring us joy.
6. See yourself as determined to take any and all steps needed, since everything worthwhile requires perseverance.
7. Continue to embrace the inner and outer work of God-realization: service and meditation. This is temperance: refraining from harmful extremes, or being wasteful. Life is like one artist described painting: “It’s a series of making corrections.”
8. Remember that truly, God is the only doer. You are co-creating with the Divine, who gives you life and breath. (Be humble.)
9. Imagine the joy of personal growth, and connection to Spirit you will feel upon accomplishing what you dreamed of doing.
Following our dreams creates character in us. We have to be courageous to start, and to follow through to the end. We must use mindfulness and self-control, which Paramahansa Yogananda called “the key to a happy life.” He also advised us to “Never count your faults. Just think whether you love God enough.” And, “Be calmly active and actively calm.”
Pablo Picasso is quoted as saying “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”
•by Norman Paulsen, Sunburst Founder•Many people who have had near-death experiences have miraculously returned, describing seeing their physical forms on a hospital operating table or in a serious accident situation. At the same time, they describe seeing a tunnel of light of sufficient diameter for them to enter. Predominantly, these souls have also seen a light way off in the distance, seemingly at the end of the tunnel. This light is approaching them offering love, compassion, understanding and hope, and enjoining them to come to it.
They go on to describe a personal, one-on-one relationship with this Being of Light. It may appear as a spherical, brilliant orb of light, or in a human-like form. It has the ability to communicate with the individual. They seemingly hear a voice coming toward them through this tunnel. Many have been given the choice of going with the light at that very instant, or of remaining in their earthly environment to go on with the perfection of their lives.
Those who have been blessed with this experience have returned profoundly changed. They have had a taste of immortality. They know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is alive, that God is personal. They know that beyond this physical form, life goes on in a continuum, and it goes on dramatically and wonderfully!
Incredibly, this experience can be gained in full health, without the necessity of going through a terrible accident or illness. By attempting to live a balanced life of virtue and service, as well as devotion and love for God, we can set the stage for the day of illumination to come. On this day, all our efforts bear fruit. We now stand in the full light of God’s brilliance and unconditional love.
“…Having been in the presence of a Being who knows everything about you, to know he totally accepts you and totally loves you, I never wanted to leave this Being again…” – Dr. George Ritchie, M.D., describing his near-death experience
•by Trish Dunham•Today (January 5) is the anniversary of our teacher Paramahansa Yogananda’s birthday. Sunburst recognizes the virtue of Temperance in association with the current zodiacal month of Capricorn. Temperance can mean many things, from living a moderate and healthful life to maintaining order in your environment. It can also mean creating good habits, including perceiving the people and scenes you witness in a positive light, and acting in accordance with those positive perceptions. Mostly, we associate temperance with the avoidance of overindulgence.
In terms of tempering a sword or knife, metal is repeatedly heated to red-hot temperatures, pounded, then plunged into very cold water. Somehow this strengthens (tempers) the blade. The virtue of temperance is like that; we all learn from our mistakes. Seared by the fires of error, when we plunge into the waters of meditation, the cooling relief of divine love gradually strengthens our better impulses, our good habits.
Paramahansa Yogananda, in his Bhagavad Gita, compares the life of every human being to the battlefield in this story. Arjuna (a great warrior) with the help of Krishna (greater awareness, or Christ consciousness) was required to slay the armies of his own cousins and lifelong friends. On one side of this battlefield were a hundred cousins with all their friends and supporters, representing the habits and ingrained impulses toward selfish, materialistic desires. On the other side were twelve or so faculties of true discrimination plus their friends, all that lead to soul happiness. This is the daily battle we each face within.
Yogananda goes on to say that we are simply a collection of habits. Isn’t it wise, in that case, to work hard on improving them every day? We show progress by beginning to slay the enemies of laziness, disorder, etc. These habits cry out and redouble their efforts to resume their former life of relative ease and comfort. This could discourage us, but it’s a time for greater faith, a time to remember spiritual blessings, and to fight on with all your might, aided by General Good Habits!
Sunburst teachings are really very simple: daily meditation (morning and evening), and trying to live a life of virtue. The devotee is not asked to give up simple pleasures such as a movie now and then, or to whip him/herself with self-scorn if she fails in any way. As we each strive on, united in our efforts, no matter how far we are separated geographically, our efforts raise the consciousness of everyone on planet Earth who cares to receive.
•by Valerie Joy King• A common question was asked of us at Sunburst during our Founder Norm Paulsen’s last years. “How many of you besides Norman are Christ conscious [meaning spiritually fully awakened]?” This question tickles my funny bone, because we feel as one in the Spirit. We manifest the energy of Christ consciousness at times, and at other times we fall short.
Awakening spiritually is a process, like the growth of a child into an adult. It’s up to each of us to nourish and protect our spiritual growth as it matures. That’s why having guidance is so important. We each try to do our best. Sunburst’s Eightfold Path and Twelve Virtues give us that guidance. An attitude of devotion and a desire for God-realization, as well as the practice of selfless service greatly hasten one’s development.
Christ consciousness always exists in each one of us. It’s the compassion of our hearts; it’s the still small voice of conscience within. As you begin to meditate and practice virtue, your heart will be filled with love for all; your conscience will speak more loudly and clearly. You begin to feel ecstatic energies move through you. You may hear Spirit, or taste or smell inner delights. You may see beautiful scintillating light before you, a distant beckoning star. All of these are signs of your spiritual awakening, of being in a state of spiritual grace.
Yes, there have been times that many of us have tasted this consciousness, but our continued goal is to feel this in every moment. Then we will truly be serving all, allowing the radiance of God to live, work and play in us. This is our work and the rainbow pathway homeward that we walk.
“If I am living in a state of grace, may God keep me there; if I am not, may God put me there.” – Joan of Arc
• by Norman Paulsen, Sunburst Founder • Prayer and meditation, alone or with others, attracts divine Spirit’s attention. As we pray and meditate, God can appear before us brilliant like the sun! This is the subjective light, the very face of I Am That I Am. God may also appear before our gaze like a twinkling star at the end of an inner-dimensional tunnel. That light is the reflected image of the first creation of light, the Christ light that exists within each one of us. This light of Christ pervades all the dimensions of creation, all space and all time, within us and around us.
The angels in heaven and all the sons and daughters of man who have attained Christ consciousness [saints, seers and prophets] exist in that dimension of light. If we name them, we can call them forth to visit us, to help us, to heal and illuminate us—if we but call, if we but ask.
True tithing is giving our life force to God. To sit down twice a day, whether we like it or not, and call and pray that our Creator reveals himself to us— this is the real tithing. Being willing to give of yourself, your time, your love, your energy and desire to the Divine. When we tithe to God in this way in our prayers and meditations, our efforts are returned one hundredfold.
It takes self-discipline to seek God, because our self-conscious minds always want to go and play, acquiring this thing and that, running here and there. But when we discipline ourselves to sit down, even for five minutes, our divine Mother and Father will reward us. All desires are fulfilled, all transgressions are forgiven. But we have to sincerely offer ourselves.
As a young man I made the effort in prayer and meditation at the monastery of my teacher, Paramahansa Yogananda. I spent over four years diligently applying myself to meditation, praying to God to reveal himself to me. He finally came to me, and he will come to you, if you make the effort.
This wondrous experience, which surrenders the self- conscious ego, is for every one of us to have—to know our divine Parents face to face; to know our own soul—totally divine, awaiting to be awakened within us; to have our prayers answered, our desires fulfilled, our loved ones who have passed on seen again; to see God’s face shining like the sun. It will hide at times to test you to your limits, but it is always there, always loving, always miraculously returning to you.
All We Have To Give
Oh Light of Christ, we offer the life force of our bodies to you. This is our tithe. This is all we really have to give you: our life force, our energy, our consciousness.
Oh, that our consciousness might be touched by yours. That our consciousness might expand into your body of light throughout the creation.
We are here on this Earth only such a short time, only a moment in your eternity. Let us see you face to face, let us know you, let us see that place where we go when we leave here. Let your love be with us always, eternally.
Our world is in a state of upheaval, mighty changes. You and your angels, your army of light are here to see the world in peace and love, in growth and understanding.