The following is an excerpt from the talk “Deepening Your Love for God” in the book Finding the Joy Within You: Personal Counsel for God-Centered Living. Sri Daya Mata was one of the earliest and closest disciples of Paramahansa Yogananda, and served as spiritual head of his society from 1955 until her passing in 2010.
Do not think that you must forsake the world and enter an ashram in order to seek God. No matter how active you are, you can find time to cultivate a loving, personal relationship with Him.
With my responsibilities, looking after the affairs of Guruji’s society not only in this country but in India and other parts of the world, I am as busy as the busiest of you. But God comes first. I allow nothing to interfere with that. What is necessary is yearning for God, and the will power to make time for Him in daily meditation.
Meditation must never become for you just a routine, humdrum activity. In my travels I have gone to temples, mosques, and churches, and around the world I have seen devotees saying their prayers with distracted minds.
I remember visiting the holy places in Jerusalem where Jesus Christ walked and communed with God, and seeing that the priest conducting the service was praying mechanically, more interested in his audience than in Him to whom he was praying. My inner feeling was: “No, no, no! You are here to commune with Christ!”
Similarly, in temples in India, I saw priests perform their pujas, busily looking at the other people all the while they were talking to God. The One to whom their prayers were addressed was not listening, because those devotees were not thinking of Him!
The deep flaw in modern religion is that the One around whom it should revolve is totally forgotten in the preoccupation with what is going on externally.
What Guruji taught is that when we sit for meditation, it is God with whom we have to do. Talk for even five minutes with God, letting no other distraction enter in, and you will find that your relationship with Him gradually becomes more real.
One way to develop one-pointed devotion is to chant mentally over and over again the name of God or some short thought or prayer addressed to Him. This is what India calls Japa Yoga, and the West knows it as a form of “practicing the Presence.”
It is also helpful to express longing for God in a song addressed to Him — such as one of Guruji’s Cosmic Chants. There are many beautiful love songs that can be addressed to God, even if they were not written for Him. One that Guruji liked was “The Indian Love Call.” How thrilling it is to offer such sentiments and longing, not to a human lover, but to God.
Also, read the lives of great souls, such as the life of Guruji, who was always immersed in the love of God.
A great help in awakening devotion is to think of someone you love very much, someone whose love has been an inspiration to you.
Guruji thought of the love he had for his mother, which was beautiful, noble, and pure; he revered her. As you recall the love you feel for that person — your mother, for example — turn your mind and feeling to Divine Mother. “Oh, Divine Mother, I know it is You who came to me in the form of my mother.”
It can be a parent, husband, wife, child, or friend. Think of the sweet quality of that individual, and when love wells up in your heart, immediately put your mind on God. Think in those moments: “This person could not love me unless You had instilled love in him.” It is from God that all love comes. When you think this way, gradually you begin to cultivate love for the Love behind those you love.
During the day, whenever anyone does something to help you, always see God’s hand in the bestowal of that gift. When anyone says anything kind about you, hear the voice of God behind those words. When something good or beautiful graces your life, feel that it comes from God.
Relate everything in your life back to God. Think in those terms, and you will suddenly find one day, “Oh, it is He alone with whom I have to do.”
God is the common denominator in the lives of all human beings. He is the prime mover behind all of our activities, our greatest well-wisher and benefactor. Can there be any greater incentive to love Him and to receive His love in return?