Find God Everywhere
by Swami Jyotirmayananda
God is the all-pervading presence. There isn’t a corner in this vast universe where God is not present, nor an object or living being – even the smallest microbe – which is not indwelt by the Divine Self. God is omnipresent – the embodiment of bliss, beauty, love, knowledge, power, and all that is sublime. This is the mystical truth confirmed by sages of every religion of the world. Those who have developed a perpetual awareness of that Divine Presence are indeed blessed.
A child sleeping in his mother’s arms may have a dream in which he has been taken away from his mother, and in the dream he feels much misery and pain. But the moment child awakens and sees the face of his mother however, he smiles. All his misery has disappeared. Similarly, as long as you are not aware of the all loving Divine Presence that sustains you at all times, you become involved in an ego dominated mental process in which you experience alternating pleasure and pain – a world of turmoil followed by a world of misery in a ceaseless cycle. But if you were to develop that awareness of the Divine Presence, all pain would vanish. This awareness is a secret formula, a miraculous remedy that alleviates all torments and suffering.
There are two great methods for cultivating awareness of the presence of God. One is enquiry – exercising your intellect. The other is Bhavana (feeling) – exercising your heart, your emotions. These are interdependent, and should ideally be practiced together.
Discover the Self through Reflection
Enquiry or reflection implies listening to the teachings of the Vedantic scriptures, and then following within yourself the enquiry into “Who am I?” When intellect becomes pure, enquiry becomes effective. When the intellect is cluttered by egoistic demands however, one cannot truly reflect upon one’s mystic identity: who he is, where he is going, and from where he has come? Instead one remains involved only in the practical realities of life: what to do today, what was done yesterday, and what may be expected tomorrow. The illusion of yesterday, today, and tomorrow keep the mind preoccupied and confined.
All scriptural disciplines of every religious path, especially Yoga, are meant to harmonize your personality so that you can do your daily duties well, use your energy properly, and then relax your mind and be reflective during your free time. But if you are not fulfilling your responsibilities or adequately handling situations in your life, then while you may have a lot of time on your hands, you will not be able to effectively practice reflection.
If you are living a life of balance and harmony, your intellect becomes keen. The moment you relax you spontaneously begin to reflect within yourself, “The real me is not the body, it is not the mind, not the intellect, not the ego. The real me is one with God.” This reflective process leads to an understanding of the Upanishadic declaration: “Aham Brahmasmi” – “I am Brahman.”
Similarly, it leads to an understanding of the revelation that Moses experienced on the holy mountain when he experienced communion with God. According to the scriptural account, from the burning bush there came the voice of God. When Moses asked, “What is your name?” The voice replied, “I am that am I.” This implies that the “I am” in you – the innermost source of your mind and intellect, the root of “you” – is God, Brahman, the Absolute.
As you reflect, you begin to understand that God is the ultimate reality without whom nothing can exist. God, who is Absolute Existence, is the very support of every name and form. Even from a scientific point of view, if you look at an atom and deeply examine its inner workings, mystery beyond your imagination lies within. Who controls all the mysterious functions of matter and energy in this vast universe? The immense intelligence of God controls all the movements of the planets and the course of the stars. The very same intelligence is operating within your body at every moment. Behind the mystery of how your mind works or how your senses perceive thoughts, there lies the Divine Presence. Through the practice of enquiry you become aware of that Presence and understand that God is everywhere, both internally, and externally.
Discover the Self through Feeling
The devotional path to awareness of the Divine Presence involves exercising your emotions and feelings. Although God is everywhere, you begin to train yourself in the devotional art by feeling the sweet presence of God in certain objects that inspire your mind. When you see the rising sun or the full moon shedding its nectarine light, when you see a flower bloom, or see people unfolding their spiritual qualities, you see the glory of God and the Divine Hand at work.
God smiles in the blossoms. He sports in racing clouds. He flows along with the breeze. His power manifests through hurricanes and earthquakes. The world is nothing but an expression of the power, beauty, and glory of the Divine Self. Gradually, you develop the exalted feeling, the Bhavana, that the loving presence of God is everywhere.
As you advance, you understand that in every situation – even those that seem negative from the ego’s point of view – there is the Divine Hand. In every rose bush there are thorns before the roses come forth. The thorny stage is essential for the life of the rose. Similarly, in life adverse and bitter situations will sometimes arise. All of these have their meaning. When God becomes the inspirer of your heart, every situation – whether painful or delightful – has significance. There is nothing out of order. God’s presence is here all the time, yet you need to become aware of it!
By culturing your devotional feeling on a daily basis, you will gradually be able to relieve your mind of the problems by which it is burdened. The moment you become deeply aware that God is with you, your problems will immediately vanish. God removes them like a big vacuum cleaner sucks up the dirt.
The Ramayana describes how every day the monkey army fought for Rama against the demons and became beaten and battered in the process. When evening came however, the monkeys sat before Rama and when He looked at them, the infinite sweetness of His smile made them completely well, ready to fight the next day. The demon army however, beheld the demonic face of Ravana every night, and when he frowned and foamed and assaulted the army with his wrath, the demons became increasingly more miserable.
This episode has a subtle spiritual meaning. Though your life is a battle, there are sources of light and goodness operating in you, helping you to fight the battle and attain spiritual victory. Day by day as you bring Rama, God, within your heart and feel the sweetness of the Divine Presence, those sources of light will receive nourishment and become strengthened. The sources of evil however, will gradually diminish and fade away. Every obstacle, everything negative in you, will be eliminated by the simple miraculous art of turning your mind to the Divine Self.
Begin to practice this transforming art by finding a time during the day or night when you can relax, and inwardly feel that you are in the hands of God. Even if you are working in an office and have only a short break, close your eyes, sit quietly, withdraw your mind from the gossip and problems of the world, and turn within. Listen only to the whispers of your soul that God is everywhere – that His loving presence fills the universe! When the Divine Self becomes for you the object of infinite love, the source of infinite beauty and joy, your mind rises beyond past and future, beyond time, and melts in the Eternal Self!