Sunday, Nov 18 2018
Practicing the presence of God - 17 Jun 2013
Why is there a need to practice the presence of God in the first place? Here is an illustration. When a loved one gives us a gift, we are thankful to the person for that gift. When we see that person, we remember the gift and feel grateful. Whenever we use the gift, we remember the person who gave it to us. Similarly, the Lord is the greatest giver. He has given us health, wealth & comfort. He has given us, family and friends. He has given us everything for that matter. It is our bounden duty to thank and be grateful to Him. We should stop to remember Him and thank Him for the many gifts He has bestowed upon us.
On the contrary, we have fallen so deeply in love with His gifts that we have totally forgotten the giver. Swami says, "Your temporary contentment in your houses, cars, and bank balances prevent you to even know who God really is. Your "wants" today dominate your "needs", and in this race to want more, your need for God has diminished and even disappeared..."
Sadly, God has become a remote reality in the lives of many. Although we are told that our Lord resides within our hearts it is not easy to remember that God is present, that He sees us, hears us and is very near to us. We very often forget about His holy presence residing in our hearts.
How then can we "feel "the presence of God within us? How do we make ourselves aware and receptive to His presence & love? What we need is a heart full of love to see Him. For that, we need to practice the presence of God. Through this, we will see God everywhere in everyone around us.
Here are some habits that we can cultivate, which will help us feel the Presence of God.
Given that we may not be accustomed to conversing with God, we could start by remembering God at designated times, throughout the day. 'Plug in', as it is more aptly called, refers to us, remembering Swami at various times of the day such as during meal times (food Prayer), before going to work (morning Prayer), before going to bed (night Prayer), before going for an important appointment etc. All we have to do is just simply take a few moments to remember GOD in our minds; such plug ins ensure that we routinely remember GOD throughout the day. Even the mere thought of our Dear Swami is enough for Swami to be right beside us.
Once we have cultivated this habit of routinely remembering God at designated times throughout the day, we can start having a Conversation with God throughout the day. We do not need a set time. We can treat Swami as our buddy; Swami is forever online. We could turn our mind to Him anytime throughout the day Talk to Him. We can tell Him what's on our mind. Or we could simply repeat the name of "Swami" reverently in our mind. There is a saying "An idle mind is a devil's workshop". Therefore instead of letting our thoughts wander aimlessly, it is best to chant the Lord's name, either loudly or muttering it under our breaths, or simply just chanting it continuously in our minds. This kindles the feeling of love & closeness within us for Swami.
At times, we might get distracted from this loving conversation, which might happen due to weakness or due to the fact that we are so caught up with everything around us. When this happens, we should not despair but simply, gently turn our attention back to Him.
As we go about our daily duties, we can dedicate our tasks to God. We can do everything for God, even a simple thing as cooking or cleaning. This will automatically make us go about doing our daily work humbly, with love for Swami, and carefully avoiding anything in thought, word, or deed that might offend or displease Him. It will also prevent us from getting distracted easily, thus increasing our productivity too. As the saying goes, "Hand in the world, mind on Swami".
The next habit we could cultivate, is to learn to constantly Praise the Lord. Praise is the beginning of a lifestyle of being THANKFUL. We are all so accustomed to bring our problems to God. Instead, we should learn to be grateful in our lives. This can be done by learning to praise God for all the little things that make us happy in life. There is a hymn that goes like this:
"Praise Him, Praise Him;
Praise Him in the morning, Praise Him in the noon time, Praise Him;
Praise Him, Praise Him when the sun goes down.
Love Him, love Him;
Love Him in the morning, love Him in the noon time, Love Him;
Love Him, Love Him when the sun goes down."
Let us dwell on thoughts of Swami, of His goodness, of his mercy and love and give Praise to Him.
One of the easiest ways to feel His presence is through bhajans or Vedic chanting. I would like to quote Mother SAI, "Wherever my name is sung; I install myself there." Swami's name is chanted in bhajans, mantras, Vedas, not to mention our daily prayers too. In that way, we are immediately inviting Swami, to be with us, to guide us and bless us. That way, He has definitely, installed Himself here with us and graced us with His love.
Then, finally, to commune with God within, we need to cultivate the habit of Silent sitting or meditation. Swami has said, "It is in the depths of silence that the voice of God is heard." Silent Sitting helps us to purify the mind and awaken us to the Truth of our existence. It awakens God's love within and brings peace of mind. However, it will not help if it is done only for a few minutes a day, for when you get back to your normal routines, your mind goes back to play. Hence, it must be done on a daily basis, with considerable amount of time set aside for it.
All this may be difficult at first, but with practice it will soon become quite natural. Swami Himself has said, "Continual practice in My presence, with No need of praise, will allow your attempts of love to grow into a love that one day will flow automatically, without even any effort"
Clearly,we have to put in time and effort to cultivate and grow the love of God within. Let us begin to practise the presence of God by just taking any one point that was discussed and applying it in our lives.
Baba says, "Once you have tasted the sweetness of the love of the Lord, sugar will lose its sweetness on you. When the God within awakens, His love flows, and
guides your thoughts, words and actions. Living in the comfort of love, is more desirable than any other worldly possession."
JAI SAI RAM