•  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

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