Excerpts from the writings of Paramahansa Yogananda
Why So Much War and Natural Disaster?
The sudden cataclysms that occur in nature, creating havoc and mass injury, are not “acts of God.” Such disasters result from the thoughts and actions of man. Whenever the world’s vibratory balance of good and evil is disturbed by an accumulation of harmful vibrations, the result of man’s wrong thinking and wrong doing, you will see devastation....
Wars are brought about not by fateful divine action but by widespread material selfishness. Banish selfishness — individual, industrial, political, national — and you will have no more wars.
Modern chaotic conditions all over the world are the result of living by ungodly ideals. Individuals and nations can be protected from utter destruction if they live by heavenly ideals of brotherhood, industrial cooperation, and international exchange of earthly goods and experiences.
I believe a time will come when in greater understanding we shall have no boundaries anymore. We shall call the earth our country; and we shall, by a process of justice and international assembly, distribute unselfishly the goods of the world according to the needs of the people. But equality cannot be established by force; it must come from the heart....We must start now, with ourselves. We should try to be like the divine ones who have come on earth again and again to show us the way. By our loving each other and keeping our understanding clear, as they taught and exemplified, peace can come.
The one thing that will help to eliminate world suffering — more than money, houses, or any other material aid — is to meditate and transmit to others the divine consciousness of God that we feel. A thousand dictators could never destroy what I have within. Every day radiate His consciousness to others. Try to understand God’s plan for mankind — to draw all souls back to Himself — and work in harmony with His will.
God is Love; His plan for creation can be rooted only in love. Does not that simple thought, rather than erudite reasonings, offer solace to the human heart? Every saint who has penetrated to the core of Reality has testified that a divine universal plan exists and that it is beautiful and full of joy.
Be Fearless and Secure Through Faith in God
God is the only harbor of safety from the storms of this world. “Take shelter in Him with all the eagerness of thy heart. By His grace thou shalt obtain the utmost peace and the Eternal Shelter.” In Him I have found the joy of my life, the indescribable blessedness of my existence, the wonderful realization of His everywhereness right within me. I want you all to have that.
Yoga teaches that where God is, there is no fear, no sorrow. The successful yogi can stand unshaken midst the crash of breaking worlds; he is secure in the realization: “Lord, where I am, there Thou must come.”
Fearlessness means faith in God: faith in His protection, His justice, His wisdom, His mercy, His love, His omnipresence....
Fear robs man of the indomitability of his soul. Disrupting Nature’s harmonious workings emanating from the source of divine power within, fear causes physical, mental, and spiritual disturbances....Instead of indulging anxiety he should affirm: “I am ever safe in the fortress of Thy loving care.”
Whether you are in the African jungle or at war or racked by disease and poverty, just say to the Lord, and believe: “I am in the armored car of Your presence, moving across the battlefield of life. I am protected.” There is no other way to be safe. Use common sense and trust fully in God. I am not suggesting something eccentric; I am urging you to affirm and believe, no matter what happens, in this truth: “Lord, it is You alone who can help me.”
Draw on God for the solution of all your problems. Do not allow your courage and quick wit to be paralyzed when overwhelming difficulties suddenly come down on you like an avalanche. Keep awake your intuitive common sense and your faith in God and try to find even the slenderest means of escape, and you will find that means. All will come out right in the end, for God has hidden His goodness behind the superficiality of the paradoxes of mortal experiences.
In Times of Darkness, Hold to the Loving Guidance of God
Make the Lord the Shepherd of your soul. Make Him your Searchlight when you move along a shadowy pathway in life. He is your Moon in the night of ignorance. He is your Sun during the wakeful hours. And He is your Polestar on the dark seas of mortal existence. Seek His guidance. The world will go on like this in its ups and downs. Where shall we look for a sense of direction? Not to the prejudices roused within us by our habits and the environmental influences of our families, our country, or the world; but to the guiding voice of Truth within.
Every moment I am thinking only of God. I have given my heart into the shelter of the Lord. I have given my spirit into His charge. My love, my devotion I lay at His feet of Eternity. Trust nothing before God. And then, through the inner direction of God, trust those who manifest His light. That Light is my guide. That Light is my love. That Light is my wisdom. And He tells me how His virtue is winning, and ever shall win.
I used to worry about this war. But I received great comfort when I prayed: “Lord, I am not the one to judge. Thou art the judge of mankind and nations. Thou knowest the karma of all. And what will be Thy decree, that is my desire.” This thought took away my concern even for India, for I know God will protect her. We must learn to depend more on the judgment of the Lord. And that is known only after each act in the world drama is over. During the war His judgment may not be understood; but in time we will see that His hand was in this conflict. The immediate outcome and what will come to pass thereafter will be according to His judgment, according to the karma that each nation and each individual within that nation has earned. Out of the fires of this war a greater world will come. Remember this: brute force is never the final victor. You will see that in this war. God’s virtue will emerge triumphant.
What Is the Spiritual Approach to the Present World Situation?
The present world crisis is due to the upward climb of Dwapara Yuga; in order for the world to become better, evil must be expunged. The forces of evil will cause their own destruction, thus assuring survival of the righteous nations. The conflict between good and evil has been going on since the dawn of history. But as the world is moving upward through the Dwapara Yuga, the electrical or atomic age, there is greater potential not only for good, but also for destruction through the misuse of technology by those who are greedy and desire power. In keeping with the influence of Dwapara Yuga, technology is rapidly moving the general populace to higher levels of achievement. But this progress also creates a greater gap between the achievers and nonachievers. This foments jealousies and social, economic, and political troubles.
I believe in the brotherhood of man created by mutual love and understanding and cooperation. All worthwhile goals and ennobling ideals should be introduced to the world by spiritual example and good methods, not by brute force and war. Political power without spiritual principles is dangerous. By spiritual principles I do not refer to doctrines of specific religions — which may also be divisive — but to dharma or universal principles of righteousness applicable to the well-being of all humanity. To prevent the spread of evil, sometimes righteous war is even necessary. You cannot preach nonviolence and cooperation to a wild tiger, for he will destroy you even before you can expound your philosophy. Some human perpetrators of evil are similarly unresponsive to reason. Any wagers of aggressive war, as was Hitler, will lose. Those who are compelled to fight a righteous war against evil will win. Whether or not a war is righteous is judged by God.
I make one prediction now: The world is not going down to destruction. So don’t be frightened. Believe in your Father. He will protect you if you remember His ideals, if you keep faith in Him. We are moving upward. The twelve hundred years of the material cycle have passed, and three hundred of the twenty-four hundred years of the atomic age are gone. Then there will be the mental and the spiritual ages. We are not going down. No matter what happens, the Spirit will win. I predict this....Anybody who uses the bomb, motivated by aggression, will fall by the bomb; but I know that in the hearts of America and India there is no love of violence. As Hitler with all his power fell, so any dictator, wherever he is, shall be downed. This I predict.
My brothers and sisters of the world: Please remember that God is our Father and He is One. We are all His children, and as such we should adopt constructive means to help each other become physically, mentally, financially, and spiritually ideal citizens of a United States of the World....
When every soul will rise above petty divisions in true spiritual understanding, world misery will be consumed in the fire of the realization of the universality of God and the brotherhood of man.
Such media as radio and television and air travel have brought us all together as never before. We must learn that it can no longer be Asia for Asiatics, Europe for Europeans, America for Americans, and so on, but a United States of the World under God, in which each human being can be an ideal citizen of the globe with every opportunity for fulfillment in body, mind, and soul.
Seek the Eternal Love of God Behind Earth’s Transient Shadows
No man, no prophet, will ever be able to wipe away all the inequalities and divisions on this earth. But when you will find yourself in the consciousness of God, these differences will vanish and you will say:
Oh, life is sweet and death a dream, When Thy song flows through me. Then joy is sweet, sorrow a dream, When Thy song flows through me. Then health is sweet, sickness a dream, When Thy song flows through me. Then praise is sweet and blame a dream, When Thy song flows through me.
This is the highest philosophy. Do not be afraid of anything. Even when tossing on a wave in a storm, you are still on the bosom of the ocean. Always hold on to the consciousness of God’s underlying presence. Be of even mind, and say: “I am fearless; I am made of the substance of God. I am a spark of the Fire of Spirit. I am an atom of the Cosmic Flame. I am a cell of the vast universal body of the Father. ‘I and my Father are One.’”
Just lay yourself at God’s feet. There is no time like the present to surrender yourself unto Him....Use all the strength of your soul to find God....The smoke-screen of delusion has come between us and Him, and He is sorry that we have lost sight of Him. He is not happy seeing His children suffer so much — dying from falling bombs, terrible diseases, and wrong habits of living. He regrets it, for He loves us and wants us back. If only you would make the effort at night to meditate and be with Him! He thinks of you so much. You are not forsaken. It is you who have forsaken your Self.... God is never indifferent to you....
The sole purpose of creation is to compel you to solve its mystery and perceive God behind all. He wants you to forget everything else and to seek Him alone. Once you have found refuge in the Lord, there is no consciousness of life and death as realities. You will then see all dualities like dreams during sleep, coming and going in the eternal existence of God. Forget not this sermon, a sermon He is expressing to you through my voice. Forget not! He is saying:
“I am just as helpless as you, for I, as your soul, am tied in the body with you. Unless you redeem your Self, I am caged with you. Dally no more, groveling in the mud of suffering and ignorance. Come! bathe in My light.”
The Lord wants us to escape this delusive world. He cries for us, for He knows how hard it is for us to gain His deliverance. But you have only to remember that you are His child. Don’t pity yourself. You are loved just as much by God as are Jesus and Krishna. You must seek His love, for it encompasses eternal freedom, endless joy, and immortality.
Be not afraid of the frightening dream of this world. Awaken in God’s immortal light! There was a time when life, to me, was like helplessly watching a terrifying movie, and I was giving too much importance to the tragedies being enacted therein. Then, one day while I was meditating, a great light appeared in my room and God’s voice said to me: “What are you dreaming about? Behold My eternal light, in which the many nightmares of the world come and go. They are not real.” What a tremendous consolation it was! Nightmares, however dreadful, are merely nightmares. Movies, whether enjoyable or disturbing, are merely movies. We ought not to keep our minds so absorbed in the sad and frightening dramas of this life. Is it not wiser to place our attention on that Power which is indestructible and unchanging? Why worry about the unpleasant surprises in the plot of this world movie! We are here for just a little while. Learn the lesson of the drama of life and find your freedom.
Just beneath the shadows of this life is God’s wondrous Light. The universe is a vast temple of His presence. When you meditate, you will find doors opening to Him everywhere. When you have communion with Him, not all the ravages of the world can take away that Joy and Peace. Affirmation: “In life and death, in disease, famine, pestilence, or poverty may I ever cling to Thee. Help me to realize I am immortal Spirit, untouched by the changes of childhood, youth, age, and world upheavals.”