Originally printed in Yogoda Satsanga magazine
“The Power of Prayer”
Paramahansa Yogananda foresaw that as humanity gradually awakens into a more enlightened age, this world would go through periods of turmoil as it struggles to shed limiting mindsets of the lower age we are leaving behind. He has assured us that our era is one of increasing spiritual light that dispels darkness. Yet when we experience the inevitable ups and downs of life in this material world, and see the suffering of innocent souls caught in the crosscurrents of mass karma, how vulnerable we often feel. At such times, when the heart cries out, “Why?” and our human understanding finds no adequate answer, we need to look beyond its limited scope to the Divine One who is our haven of protection amidst all storms of maya.
Out of God’s thought everything in the universe has come into being. We are His children, and in connecting our thoughts and actions with His all-accomplishing will, we are freed of the illusion of mortal helplessness and actualize the potential each one of us has to be a force for good in this world. Prayer that flows from the soul’s native faith, confidence, and awareness of being unconditionally loved draws upon the limitless reservoir of God’s healing power. When we inwardly talk to Him with the urgency of real devotion and the sincerity of our hearts, saturating our prayer with strength from concentrated thought, it takes on reality in the creative Divine Consciousness. The succor we are visualizing is reinforced by God’s omnipotence and gains materializing power for positive results in our lives and the lives of others. “Most men consider the course of events as natural and inevitable,” Gurudeva told us. “They little know what radical changes are possible through prayer.” Prayer is one of the most effective and immediate ways we can reach out to our world family in times of need. In that consciousness, when we learn of a situation that causes suffering, let our first reaction always be to pray—to surround those affected in God’s protecting love. In so doing, we widen the channel for His blessings to flow to them in ways that infuse a higher power into the aid brought by charitable human efforts; and we open our own hearts to His peace and reassurance.
Deep inner communion with God stills the static of doubt and restlessness and enhances the efficacy of our prayers for others, as does the integrity with which we strive to live by His laws of love and truth. As Guruji reminded us: “The goodness of one soul may effectively neutralize the mass karma of millions.” Because he also knew how much the influence of our individual prayers is magnified when we join with other like-minded souls, Gurudeva founded the Worldwide Prayer Circle as part of the service of his worldwide society. I urge you to participate through your own daily prayers in this united effort to seek God’s blessings for all His children in special need, as all of us in his ashrams do every day. By such prayer, by each positive thought and deed, know that you are helping to intensify in this world the light and love of God, the Supreme Healer and bringer of aid to all.
“The Blessings of Kriya Yoga in Everyday Life”
[Excerpt from Yogoda Satsanga magazine]
In this world of dualities and relativities, in which we find so much pain, sorrow, suffering, and turmoil, there is a definite need for a scientific knowledge of how to live. We need a science not just of bringing more material prosperity and more material “gadgets” into our lives, but a science of living. That is what humanity is missing—what is causing all of the problems and troubles in our world today. And that is what our guru, Paramahansa Yogananda, brought to the West in his Kriya Yoga teachings.
Through the ages, the science of living has been given to humanity repeatedly. God’s nature must be one of infinite patience, because how else could God (of whom we speak as the Divine Mother) go on being unendingly loving and tolerant of Her children, patiently reminding us: “This is My world; I created it. I made it good, I made it beautiful. I created you all. I made you good, I made you beautiful. I have told you in Scripture, I have told you through the voices and the examples of the avatars and saints, again and again, what you must do in this world to keep it beautiful, to keep your lives in harmony with Me, so that you bring My beauty and joy and peace and prosperity into manifestation on this earth—which I have created and which I alone sustain. And yet, what have you done to this world?”
In so many ways modern culture, with a great mayic force, has tried to remove God, to dismiss Him, from a “scientific” view of the cosmos and from daily life. Yet the world will never know lasting happiness or peace or freedom from suffering so long as man denies God as the supreme Reality in this creation, which is made and sustained only by His infinite thought.
The Cause of Our Suffering
In the minds of all who suffer, there comes a time of questioning and doubt when we think: “If there is a God, why does He allow this suffering? Why has this pain come into my life? Does God hear my prayers?” And when we see millions afflicted by terrible catastrophes, wars, and disasters, we cannot help but think: “Where is God? Has He just thrown us, as a great mass of humanity, into this world of troubles and then withdrawn?”
God is there. He does listen, and He does respond. We see that exemplified in the lives of the saints and divine teachers. Even a person in ordinary life, who just for one moment touches that Infinite Consciousness, perhaps when some prayer has been granted, gets a glimpse and feels: “Ah, God is real; He does respond!” Modern shallow thinking tells us that this is “unscientific.” But great ones such as our gurudeva, Paramahansa Yogananda, affirm that there is a deeper science that perfectly answers all our questions about life. This is the science of yoga.
God has not withdrawn. He created us in His image; He encased a little portion of His Infinite Consciousness in individuality and said, “Now you are a soul, and I send you into My world of maya to express a part of My Infinite Nature”—not just as beings of pure consciousness individualized as souls, but beings encased in delimited bodies of astral life energy and then of physical matter, set amidst a vast cosmos of material objects and energies.
But what happens? Man gets caught by that maya. Paramahansaji used to refer to maya as a cosmic hypnosis. In order to play the drama of creation, the Lord is powerfully suggesting to our consciousness that this world is real and we are separated from Him. Because that hypnotic suggestion is so strong, we believe it—we behold only the end result of the process of cosmic creation: the physical world and our frail physical bodies. We forget our origin in God, and our blissful, immortal divine nature, inseverably linked with Him; and that is why we begin to suffer.
But there is a way out. The cosmic laws that God put into effect when He created Himself as this multitude—when He spewed out of His own Self and seemingly away from Him this infinity of individualized beings and nature—those same divine laws work in reverse. And the application of that knowledge is the sum and substance of the science of yoga.