This is an excerpt from the talk “Maintaining Our Divine Connection While Living in the Material World” by Brother Chidananda, president and spiritual head of Self-Realization Fellowship/Yogoda Satsanga Society of India. The full talk, which was given on November 10, 2019, the last day of a three-day program conducted in Mumbai by YSS, can be read in the latest annual issue of Self-Realization magazine.
At the beginning of this excerpt, Brother Chidananda remarks on the spiritual bond and true divine friendship that occur when seekers join together for such events as the program in Mumbai, and especially when they meditate deeply together, as they had done the day before his talk was given.
I always marvel at the end of these short programs how close we all have become. Many of you I had never met outwardly before coming here — this is my first visit to Mumbai — and yet, in these three days, one can’t help feeling that such a sweet bond of divine friendship has been formed.
I feel that way; and I think where that bond is formed in the most powerful way is in those three hours of meditation that we spent together yesterday — diving deep and deeper into those divinely restorative wells of spiritual experience, of spiritual consciousness.
When we meditate together we form, on a much deeper level than our intellect or our emotions, a spiritual bond; and that’s why I say that even though, relatively speaking, we have only spent a short time together outwardly, inwardly the quality, depth, and intensity of that connection has united us in a tangible and very real bond of divine friendship. I will never forget these days that I have spent in your company.
There is a very interesting point to be made about how meditation forges spiritual relationships between individual souls. Because when we go within and contact our own soul awareness, and we do that in the company of other souls — where jointly all of us are operating, at least for a short time, from that higher soul level of consciousness — automatically we develop love; automatically we develop respect and appreciation, and that deepens into the sweetest divine friendship. Now, why is this especially important in these times?
“The Hope of Humanity”
Look around at the world today. We have such conflict; we have such divergent interests and opinions and agendas. The world is not an easy place to get along with people. We have this concept that by spiritual progress, or by the gradual evolution of the human race, at some point we will all be able to live together as brothers and sisters. This is an ancient ideal from the Vedic scriptures, of the world as one family.
We are all the children of God, and we should live in that harmony, in that peace. But I am convinced — and our Guru said this over and over again — that it will always remain an unattained ideal until deep, daily meditation permeates society.
As more and more people make the effort through meditation to experience God within, only then will we gain the ability to perceive that divine spark, that divine essence, that presence of God in all other souls. That is the basis of “the world is one family,” the basis for the brotherhood of man. That is the only lasting, realistic basis of the hope for world peace.
Each of you has committed to forming the habit of meditation, to a routine of truly meditating — not just letting the mind wander while you sit quietly, but in a deep, disciplined, and focused way using these high techniques of yoga meditation.
Those of you on this path, and on other paths that practice that kind of inner effort of diving into the divine consciousness — you are the hope of humanity.
Now, after these days together, we have had that wonderful connection as souls; we have, perhaps, a renewed conviction and perception of what that spiritual essence within each of us consists of. And yet, even though we are eternal, immortal, ever perfect, and divine on the level of our souls, we live in these material bodies and these material bodies live in a material world.
That is our challenge: how to take that perception of our divine essence that we gain in meditation and spiritual unfoldment, and hold on to that; how to maintain that connection even while living in the material world.
You can read this complete article, and many more inspiring articles on balanced spiritual living including a previously unpublished article from Paramahansa Yogananda, in the 2022 annual issue of Self-Realization magazine. Subscribers to the magazine also receive access to an extensive online library of articles from past issues of the magazine, along with a curated collection of many recorded talks that were included with the magazine over the years.
The video of this talk is also available on our YouTube channel.