Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Ask Asha: Divine Mother


I’m used to thinking of God as the Heavenly Father. The idea of Divine Mother is very new to me. What’s the Divine Mother all about?


In the summer of 1970, I visited a friend who lived on the small property that was Ananda’s only land at the time. Later, it became the Seclusion Retreat. But at the time, it was all there was of Ananda, just 12 acres of remote land with hardly anything on it but trees, bushes, and a few primitive structures.

We were all very young, and everybody was just scratching out a living on the land.

Binay was a young monk who lived there at the time and still lives at Ananda Village. But back in those very early days, he started a jewelry business in the back of a delivery truck that the owner had abandoned there.

Binay would cut little pieces of wood and put rosin on them, then put dried wildflowers in the rosin. It was a very nice product. Every so often, you can still see Ananda folks carrying them as key chains or wearing them as necklaces.

Then someone got the bright idea of cleaning up the property, and so they attached a tractor to Binay’s jewelry shop and hauled it away to the dump.

On the afternoon I arrived, I wandered around and eventually found my friend talking with Binay in the office dome.

Binay was saying, “Well, I really thought that Mother wanted me to start that jewelry business, but I guess She didn’t, because she hauled the truck away.”

As I sat there listening, I thought, “He’s got a really strange mother! First she tells him to do a jewelry business, and then she takes his shop away.”

I thought, “And he’s a pretty old fellow to be letting his mother run his life.”

The whole thing was way, way too weird for me, even though I’d studied eastern philosophy for quite a few years. And when I found out that he meant the Divine Mother, it didn’t make it any easier. In fact, it made it worse, because I had no mental cabinet where I could fit that idea.

The first job I had at Ananda was in the kitchen. The woman in charge desperately needed help, and so someone asked me to go work there.

I told her I couldn’t cook worth beans, but she said, “That’s okay, for lunch you just need to make scalloped potatoes.”

I said, “How do you make scalloped potatoes?” And she raised her eyes to the ceiling and said, “Oh, Mother, why do you always send me people like this?”

So again I was thinking, “What’s wrong with these people?” But fortunately, I liked Ananda enough to stay.

This woman consistently turned me off to the concept of Divine Mother. She was extravagant in her expression, and she was always blaming Divine Mother for everything that happened, always in an extremely dramatic way. And I just wanted nothing to do with it.

A year or two later, somebody was talking to me and I said, “Oh well, just trust Divine Mother, and it’ll be all right.”

I heard myself say the words, and I thought, “Where did that come from?” And I realized that they were only words to describe something that had become very big and real for me.

There are people who have an image of the Heavenly Father as looking like Michelangelo’s painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel – a God in human form, living in a house with Divine Mother, and they have a little family and they cook and lead a normal life like you and I. But that’s not what we’re talking about when we refer to God in these familiar forms as mother and father.

“Mother” and “Father” are, in fact, only words. What we’re saying is that there is a force in the universe that you can experience inside yourself, and this force feels like someone who always loves you, whom you can trust completely, who accepts you completely for who you are, and who is always on your side.

Jesus called this force “the Comforter.” I love that word. In the Bible, Christ says, “I am leaving you, but I will send the Comforter.”

Esoterically, Jesus was talking about the AUM vibration. AUM is an actual sound that we can hear in meditation. It is, in fact, the force that is our own deepest nature. It’s the Comforter – which we know because when we experience this vibrational force, we experience the power and presence of God – not way out there somewhere waiting for us to get organized so that He can bless us, but right inside of us, exactly like a mother.

Think of what it is to be a little child, and to be able to rush up to the mother and experience her complete acceptance and love. A two-year old can be playing happily, and all of a sudden they see something that is way too much for their little minds, and so they press against the mother’s body. They’re gripping her legs and asking to be lifted onto her lap. And the mother picks the child up and holds it against her bosom.

This image, which seems so intimate and loving and familiar, is in fact very small compared to the love that we feel when we receive this inner vibration.

Searching for a word to describe what that inner vibration is like, we arrive at the image of a mother, because that vibration is saturated with unconditional love.

It was hard for me to accept the idea of Divine Mother, because it wasn’t intellectual. I had studied philosophy and I’d read the Gita and the Upanishads, and I had a grand picture of the cosmos all worked out in my mind.

And then to say, “Oh, Divine Mother…” – I simply couldn’t be that childlike! It was too unsophisticated. And it wasn’t until I had lived the teachings for a time that I began to feel, without really thinking about it, the presence of the Divine Mother. And then the words came out of my mouth naturally. Because there weren’t any other adequate words to describe that presence.

Jesus spoke of the Father, so that people could feel closer to God. And he promised that their Father would never judge them harshly or punish them, because He was a spirit of Love, and not only of impersonal Law.

Now, Yogananda has come to us with a new dispensation from God, and he speaks of God as the Mother.

Yogananda told people, “Pray to God as Mother, because the Mother is closer than the Father.”

The image he urged us to hold in our heart is that there need no longer be any separation between us and the consummately loving expression of God as the Mother. Yogananda came to tell us that God is much closer than mankind has ever dreamed.

You find that your experience broadens over the years. In 1970, I would never have thought that I would take Divine Mother as my own. I was far too small and mentally contracted. But as I began to open my heart, what do you know? I found that I could experience a reality that included Divine Mother.

So, even if you can’t accept the Mother for now, don’t reject it. Just say, “I won’t put on that particular garment yet. I’ll put it in the back of the closet, and for now I’ll wear this one, because it’s comfortable.”

Yogananda said that if we would do only ten percent of the things he said, we would find our freedom in God. But everyone needs a different ten percent, and that’s why he gave us so much.

The point is, you can only trust your experience. So go forward step by step, and don’t limit yourself because something seems strange at first. After a time, it won’t seem strange at all.

God bless you,

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