“So it is with God,” writes Paramahansa Yogananda, an Indian yogi who was one of the first to introduce eastern meditative practices to the west. “Everything in the universe,” he continues, “is saturated with His presence—the twinkling stars, the rose, the song of the bird, our minds. But one has metaphorically to “squeeze” God out of His material concealment.”
So how do we squeeze God from our everyday experiences? Since the Divine is omnipresent and we are multifaceted, there are an untold number of avenues. Graciously greeting whatever comes our way is one such approach.
Author and social activist Reverend Deborah Johnson encourages us to adopt a “sacred yes”. She points out that we tend to say yes conditionally and “on the backend”, after we’ve decided that a particular experience will feel good and comes with sufficient guarantees to make us secure.
“This concept of yes has to be on the front end,” Johnson explains. “The declaring of the yes opens up the doors…so that we can be more accessible to resources that are all around us.” In other words, by welcoming what comes our way, we greet the Divine within it all.
So does this mean we say yes to injustice, for example, and go about our merry way? Of course not. We can, though, say yes to this injustice arriving in our life at this moment. We can say yes to determining and enacting our unique response. And we can say yes to allowing ourselves to be transformed through a profound engagement with what is.
Welcoming every person and event, every pleasant and difficult experience, saying a resounding “Yes!” to them all, is undeniably a formidable practice. But the alternative is to live on life’s edges, never fully entering the stream. When we say yes, we open ourselves and step into that vast current. We present ourselves as we are and touch life as it is. In the process, we open ourselves to the Sacred.
“In joy, the devotee sees God playing hide-and-seek with him in the blossoms,” Yogananda writes. “When his eyes are spiritually opened, the devotee beholds, peering at him through the eyes of everyone, the eyes of the Infinite. Behind the kind or unkind voice of everyone he hears the truthful voice of the Infinite.”
The Sufi poet Rumi says it this way in his poem, The Guest House.
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
In this column, we’ve traveled from India to present~day California and back in time to 13th century Persia. We now reach further back, to a village on the way to Jerusalem. In Luke 17:21, Jesus says“…for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”
The message is the same. God is right here, right now. All we need to do is open our eyes to see, our ears to hear, and our hearts to be touched.
Yes! Yes! And a thousand times, yes!