•by Barbara McCaughey•Sunburst teachings provide a framework of “right activity” for me. Cooking is sort of a combination of the Sunburst spiritual Paths of Work and Recreation, and an activity that needs to be done in my family, but one that I also enjoy. I made the decision many years ago to keep my kitchen free of many of the time saving gadgets available to help us “whip up a meal” in no time, instead preferring simple basic tools that would allow me to slow down and infuse the food with the one ingredient that works for every recipe—love.
A couple of years ago, I awoke on a Sunday morning a few hours before I was to prepare and serve the brunch that follows our Sunday group meditation. As soon as I opened my eyes, for some strange reason, I was straining to remember the name of a comic actor. Even though his name was familiar to me, I just couldn’t jog it free from my memory banks. Although this was a pesky little thought that bothered me a bit, it was too insignificant to wake anybody so I just tried to put it out of my mind.
I started preparing the food and time seemed to go by very quickly. When there was less than one hour left before it needed to be delivered, I was disappointed with how some of the dishes were coming out, even though I had expected a good result. The time began to weigh on me a bit, and I started to speed up and try different spices and ingredients to improve the flavor.
Realizing that I was losing my center, I stopped for a moment and said, “Divine Mother, you’re the cook.” I was going to continue: “Please work through my hands,” but before I finished the word “cook,” the name “Jim Carrey” seemed to fly through all of creation and crash land in my brain!
I started laughing. I felt as though Spirit’s sense of humor was communicating approval of my stopping to remember where my life and abilities come from. One silly little desire was fulfilled in that moment of quiet reflection, but of course our greatest desire is fulfilled there as well.
One translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls includes these words: I will bless the Creator’s name in all I do. Before I move hand or foot, whenever I go out or come in, when I sit down and when I rise, even when lying on my bed I will chant in praise. My lips shall praise the Divine as I sit at the table which is set for all, and before I lift my hand to partake of any nourishment from the delicious fruits of the earth. When fear and terror come, and there is only anguish and distress, I will still bless and thank the Creator for all their wondrous deeds, and meditate upon their power, and lean upon their mercies all day long. For I know that in their hand is justice for all that live, and all their works are true. So when trouble comes, or salvation, I praise God all the same.
•by Paramahansa Yogananda•“Emphasize the light, and darkness will be no more.”[We offer these words of wisdom from Paramahansa Yogananda in honor of his birthday on January 5th.]
The initiative to undertake your most important duty in life is often buried beneath the accumulated debris of human habits. You must free yourself from their stultifying influence and start to sow the seeds of the success that you desire. Life is worthwhile when you are accomplishing the most essential work, which is to find out the meaning and true values of your existence.
Man should be instructed by this cosmic motion picture of life. It is not being shown without a reason. Each day we behold different scenes, and each day has a lesson to teach. You are meant to learn the lesson by concentrating on the supreme purpose of human existence: to know Who is behind your life.
By evading self-analysis, people go on being robots, conditioned by their environment. True self-analysis is the greatest art of progress. Everyone should learn to analyze himself dispassionately. Write down your thoughts and aspirations daily. Find out what you are—not what you imagine you are!—because you want to make yourself what you ought to be. Most people don’t change because they don’t see their own faults.
…Most of the world is like a mental hospital. Some people are sick with jealousy, others with anger, hatred, passion. They are victims of their habits and emotions. But you can make your home a place of peace. Analyze yourself. All emotions are reflected in the body and mind. Envy and fear cause the face to pale, and love makes it glow. Learn to be calm and you will always be happy. Analyze your true nature and develop its best qualities.
Learn to carry all the conditions of happiness within yourself by meditating and attuning your consciousness to the ever-existing ever-conscious, ever-new Joy which is God. Your happiness should never be subject to any outside influence.
Don’t keep your mind engaged in too many activities. Analyze what you get from them, and see if they are really important. Don’t waste your time. Always point the needle of your attention toward the North Pole of spiritual joy.
You yourself made your habits, and you can change them. Make up your mind to be with good company, and to study and meditate.
There is already too much evil in the world. Don’t talk of evil, don’t think of evil, and don’t do evil. Be like a rose, wafting to all the sweet fragrance of soul goodness. Emphasize the light, and darkness will be no more. Study, meditate, and do good to others.
There are so many inspiring things to know, and yet man spends his time foolishly. Don’t waste time, constantly seeking new excitement. [Above text excerpted from “Man’s Eternal Quest” by Paramahansa Yogananda]
by Heiko Wirtz •Many people think about developing positive habits that will help them build a strong spiritual practice. When I think about that, I realize that it really starts with devotion and inward connection.
When I was younger, I read in “The Autobiography of a Yogi” about a time when Paramahansa Yogananda first had a glimpse, a vision, of the presence of the inner Sun. Reading this stirred something within me; I wanted to know God, too. I wanted to have that connection.
How could I get my focus and my love to come to that point where I was so open, that I could receive the Divine? Everywhere I looked—in the sunshine, in the glistening waters, in the trees—I could feel the vibration of God. Every cell of my body was created by God. But why did I have a consciousness that felt separate? These thoughts were beginning to deepen my spiritual quest.
This is a good time to consider your own beginnings of connection, of search. How did that evolve into your present moment? How close is Spirit? Each of us has to learn how to go within to answer that question. You have to unlock the doors inside, the chakras of your inner-dimensional spine. You have to become strong.
God will guide you every moment, but you have to trust, and inwardly believe you are on your path, and you are walking it. Then no matter where you go, you have that connection. You have that inner goal, and it is calling you. Every time you make space and remember what really lies just next to your thoughts, you connect. You make the Light notice you, and you honor it.
In your deep meditation, feel your energy moving inward, naturally pulling away from your outer limbs, your hands, your arms, inward to the center, to the core of your being. Your body is just there, but your consciousness resides deeper than that. With every breath it becomes more concentrated. Bring your energy up to the seat of your soul, to the third eye, and send out to the Divine your love, all that you are, as an offering. Then feel the divine blessing that offering. Feel it cocoon you with energy radiating from the crown of your head. You can send that energy to those you love, to all that you know, and to the world. Align your will with Spirit’s will. “Be still, and know that I am God.”
Strength lies in this connection, and the connection will show you how to live your life. It will show you when you need to sit down in your closet and practice your meditations. All you need to do is create a space in yourself where it can reside and teach you.
Let your consciousness remember the Divine always. Remember your journey. Remember to go within when it calls you. May we all connect to that light in greater abundance, and share all that we have learned with the rest of this planet. Send out your love!
Letting your eyelids gently close,
look to that place in front of you,
the screen upon which the inner-dimensional
tunnel and star of Christ first appears.
As you become conscious of your breathing,
become conscious of your thoughts
slowing and becoming deeper.
Imagine you are diving deep into a beautiful ocean,
looking intently to find
that precious pearl that lies at the bottom.
The more quiet your thoughts become,
the deeper you can dive.
That precious pearl, that star of light,
is your true Self.
This body that you live in, this personality
with all its thoughts, emotions, and desires,
is simply the clothing that you wear.
It is not your true being.
Who are we?
Who is I Am That I Am?
Who is the I Am that exists at the very root,
the very core of our being?
This is what our meditation is for:
to rediscover who I Am really is.
•by Jonathan King•The Sunburst congregation is such an intimate group of people who I love so much. We’ve been together for so long and we help each other so much. I want to acknowledge how blessed we are to have each other, that Spirit has brought us together, has answered our prayers.
Before joining Sunburst, I was asking Spirit, “Help me find someone that has met you face to face.” I read Yogananda extensively but he was no longer here physically. Then Spirit brought me to Sunburst and allowed me to get to know Brother Norm. This answered my prayer.
In Sunburst, Spirit gave me a family of brothers and sisters who reflect the living presence of God to me every day, and give me the opportunity to reflect it back. Norm’s Sunburst teaching is so precious and comprehensive, so all encompassing.
Here, we learn to combine all of these wonderful elements: striving every day to live a virtuous life, practicing conscious living, and the eight paths. We’ve been given a tool of meditation that teaches us so many things, and brings us to a place where we can say, “Dear Spirit, what is it you would have me do? Not my will, but your will be done.” Every day we can practice; every day we can feel an incredible consciousness growing within us.
Yet sometimes, in a dry spell, we might feel we’re not that devotional. No matter what our predispositions are, everything can go better with a little more devotion. Love is the key and each one of us has a heart full of love. When we are blessed by a visitation of living Spirit, we find our heart is so full of devotion we can barely contain it.
I was reflecting on this recently and remembered a story Norm used to tell about another brother at Yogananda’s who said he really wanted illumination. This person always pestered Yogananda to give him a little thump on the chest and grant him an experience. This monk would come to Norm and say “I’m meditating day and night, but I’m not getting any results. Nothing is happening.”
I remember hearing that story and being able to identify a little bit with it. I would ask Spirit, “Fill every meditation with unconditional intense love for you. May my heart be open, pulsing with devotion, and may I offer it to you.”
Little by little, as I expressed that love to Spirit, I started to feel it returning back to me. And I wanted more. Not for myself, but when I would feel the presence of God, I wanted to give of myself without any regard for what would come in return. This felt so good.
I continued my practice, and asked Norm questions, and asked Spirit questions. I realized in practicing our Kriya meditation technique that light is always reigning down on us just like the picture of Kir Paul Sing (above).That light is coming down all the time, full of divine consciousness and full of love and devotion for us.
by Jonathan King•One of my assignments, as a freshman in college, was to read The Confessions of St. Augustine. At the time I wondered, “Why on Earth am I reading this?” But I gave it my best. Very late at night, all was quiet and I read about St. Augustine’s life as a student. He used to go out with his buddies to hang out and carouse.
That really shocked me. At the time, I was doing the same thing quite a bit, just as he did, but I didn’t feel that good about it. I was trying to resolve my behavior and think about how I wanted to be as I moved into manhood.
As I continued to read, I started to think, “Wow! This is a dilemma.” I was reaching out to Spirit for a solution. All of a sudden the air in the room became electric. This may have lasted for a minute, but it seemed like a really long time. The room was filled with the presence of Spirit. It was so strong, I felt that it grabbed me by the heart and stopped me right in my tracks.
There wasn’t any question at that moment: “Does God exist?” The internal humming spoke: “I Am” That vibration filled everything, and it stayed. It was incredible!
Later, I thought about it until I inwardly fell to my knees saying, “My God, how could I have ever doubted you? Thank you!”
What I realize now is that I was being called. We all have the experience of being called at some time. It’s an archetypal experience which is custom tailored for each one of us. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, we know we are being asked to change — to change in a way that will give us ultimate freedom, and entrance into a realm of feelings and vibrations we could not attain any other way.
Making a commitment to live your life every minute dedicated to finding Spirit within opens up so much joy, so much meaning and satisfaction. Even after a short while, you realize there really isn’t any other meaningful choice. I hope you will remember the times you have been visited by Spirit. If you haven’t had an experience like this, you will!
What you sow you will reap. This is the law of cause and effect. It actually exists in order to multiply our joy, our bliss. God waits for us to call, so he can respond.
Listen to the voice within you; it is the voice of your pure Self. Listen to it well. Has it not been waiting for you since the beginning of your existence? – Norman Paulsen, Sunburst Founder