Wednesday, March 22, 2006

God is Everywhere

In the book, Autobiography of a Yogi, Yogananda describes a time when he was adamant that living in solitude in the Himalayas would enable him to be at union with God. He leaves his teacher and sets off to see Ram Gopal Muzumdar, also known as the sleepless saint who lives near the Himalayas. On his way Yogananda comes across a famous shrine, a stone that is revered by the Hindus but finds it insignificant and refuses to bow to it. He continues on his journey and asks passers-by for directions but he ends up being sent in the opposite direction. Finally, Yogananda is approached by the very saint he is seeking. The saint knows who Yogananda is without introductions. Musumdar asks Yogananda:

"Tell me; where do you think God is?"

"Why, He is within me and everywhere." I doubtless looked as bewildered as I felt.

"All-pervading, eh?" The saint chuckled. "Then why, young sir, did you fail to bow before the Infinite in the stone symbol at the Tarakeswar temple yesterday? Your pride caused you the punishment of being misdirected by the passer-by who was not bothered by fine distinctions of left and right. Today, too, you have had a fairly uncomfortable time of it!"

I agreed wholeheartedly, wonder-struck that an omniscient eye hid within the unremarkable body before me. Healing strength emanated from the yogi; I was instantly refreshed in the scorching field.

"The devotee inclines to think his path to God is the only way," he said. "Yoga, through which divinity is found within, is doubtless the highest road: so Lahiri Mahasaya has told us. But discovering the Lord within, we soon perceive Him without. Holy shrines at Tarakeswar and elsewhere are rightly venerated as nuclear centers of spiritual power." The Sleepless Saint
I agree with Muzumdar's sentiments about devotees tending to believe their teacher holds the whole truth when their teacher is only coming from one of many perspectives.

I realise I have my own inner teacher but I also know that this teacher is omnipresent. When I think of how many insights I have had during my bus journeys alone, I'm grateful I am open to have these experiences. I can dip in and out of books, websites, discussion forums, television programmes and find them of value because I know it is the one teacher using different instruments to express self.

Can you imagine what it means when you're open to experience truth in multifarious ways? You are no longer defensive about any teaching because you know all paths are useful. That is real freedom.

God is everywhere. Nuff said.