by Paramhansa Yogananda
Is God to be thought of only as a vast impersonal Spirit, without form or sex? Or can the Creator be appealed to in some form which is more familiar to the human mind? If so, shall we say, “Father” or “Mother”? God is both.
There is one portion of Being that is hidden space beyond the universe, where nothing exists but pure wisdom. That is the Father aspect of God. And all nature is the Mother aspect, because therein we find beauty, gentleness, tenderness and kindness. The flowers, the birds, the beauties of trees and rivers, all speak of the Mother aspect of God, the creative, artistic instinct of God. We smile when we think of the Mother, with her diamonds of stars and Milky Way, Her flowery perfumes, Her laughter of flowing waters, and all Her beauties, seen in creation. When we look at the fruitful land, at all the growing things, at the love of all creatures for their young, we feel a tenderness rise within us; we can see and feel the motherly instinct of God. And if Nature’s ways seem cruel and inexplicable at times (in India the Mother, in such moods, is known as Kali), why, so do the Mother’s methods of protection and discipline seem to the young child.
As you sit in a dim and quiet forest, or stand against blue sky on a mountaintop, or walk on white sand by the sparkling ocean, you cannot help but feel a tenderness within you. That is your reaction to the Mother aspect of God. But if you close your eyes and visualize vast space you will be enthralled by infinity, and you will sense the vibration of pure wisdom naught else but wisdom. That is the Father aspect of God, the limitless sphere where there is no creation, no stars nor planets, but only the formless power of wisdom. That is the Father. Therefore, God is both a father and a mother.
When God is spoken of as existing in three aspects the Father, Son and Holy Ghost we see the Holy Ghost as the Mother aspect, God as the Father aspect and all creation as the Son. As a mother is reflected in her son, so Nature is reflected in creation. The Father and Mother aspects of God produced a Son, an emblem or statement of their love. We as parts of Creation are components of that emblem of love.
The Trinity In The Family
In a human family we see the miniature of that greater family. God is represented in the father and in the mother, and in their statement of love the child. Why is it that this trinity is found in the family? Why is it? Because we are all parts of God, and that is what God is. The Creator, who is infinite wisdom and infinite feeling, desired vehicles through which He might express His wisdom and feeling. So, manifesting in creation, His wisdom assumed the form of the father, and His feeling the form of the mother.
Each one of us is only a partial statement of the Infinite, because the father always moves by reason and the mother by feeling. Both are imperfect. The father wants to govern the child by reason and force and the mother by feeling and tenderness. By beating a child that has been half-drowned in wickedness in order to pull it out of that desperate state, the stern father will only drive it further into evil. But the mother says, “Teach him by love.” Sometimes a little bit of strictness is good and sometimes a lot of love is good. But if you give only sweetness, too much of it may spoil the child. Both aspects of God the father and the mother aspect are necessary for balance.
I have spoken of father love that is sometimes too stern. Not all mother love is perfect either. Fritz Kreisler once told me, “My mother loved me so greatly that she never wanted me to leave Europe, but I wouldn’t be Kreisler today if I hadn’t out-ruled the love of my mother.” Such love is selfish and binding.
God In The Human Father
Jesus spoke of God as the Father. There are some saints who speak of God as a Mother. After all, if you take God as transcendental, He is neither Father nor Mother, but as soon as you think of Him in human terms, He becomes the Father, the Mother, the Friend, Child, or Beloved. So the fatherhood and motherhood of God are right in your own family. When I think of my parents it is never as a father or a mother, but as the heavenly manifestations of God.
Although I have said that every man embodies the wisdom aspect of God, you may sometimes find it difficult to see this. Perhaps you say, “Well, maybe the Heavenly Father is in this man, but he is so evil that I can’t find any Divinity in him.” You must be able to separate the good from the bad. If you cover a gold nugget with mud do you say there is no gold there? No. You are wise enough to say that the gold is still underneath the mud.
Reason and feeling, in their highest forms, both have intuitive qualities. Thus pure reason, exemplified in man, can see as clearly as pure feeling, embodied in woman. It is acknowledged that women have keen intuitions; only when they get excited do they lose that power. But the highest form of reason is also intuitive. If the premise is wrong the conclusion will be wrong. But intuition cannot be wrong.
The divine man achieves a state of balance by developing both the fatherly and motherly qualities in himself. As he concentrates on the heart he can develop the good qualities of the motherly aspect of God. And when he concentrates at the spiritual eye, or wisdom center above and between the eyebrows he will develop the wisdom qualities of God. When I concentrate on the heart I feel all the tenderness of the Mother, and that divine joy is right within my heart. And when I concentrate at the wisdom center I feel all the wisdom of God the Father glowing there.
So the perfectly balanced man can feel toward everyone the same love that the mother feels for her children. That is what Jesus Christ felt. That is why He said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Why did He feel such love for those who were crucifying Him? Because He had developed both the fatherly and motherly aspects of God. To Him these were not enemies with spears who were nailing Him on the cross, but they were His children. Who but a mother could feel as Jesus felt? They were His children who didn’t understand Him. When a mother sees her son torturing her, she is only afraid of what might happen to him. That is what Jesus felt and thus He said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” I often think that if He had said, “Mother, forgive them,” it would have been still more tender a statement of His love.
So every human father and every man, since all are potential fathers, should remember that his body and mind must be a temple for the Heavenly Father, and there must be no evil passions to defile it, for these laws of sexual creation are intended only for the propagation of the species. This body temple must not be used to house evil passions and desires, but its creative power directed toward the heavenly thought of producing vehicles for souls. Then, more important still, every father should remember that in him is templed the Divine Being. The greatest creation of the human father is to produce in his material children divine thoughts, and to foster his own spiritual thoughts, looking upon them as his divine children.
And let every father remember, when tempted to speak to the child with harshness, “Because my voice is used by the Cosmic Father I cannot speak error to my children, for my mind is a transparent glass through which the Father’s light is shining upon all my children, His children.”
And who is your child? Not only your physical children are your responsibility. They will all be taken away from you some day. God has given you this human relation so that you may give wise guidance and protective care to every helpless woman and child you meet, just as every woman should radiate her pure motherly love to every man and child she meets; giving that motherly love whenever it is necessary to protect and lift some person out of the pit into which he has fallen. I see that mother aspect in every woman. There is nothing equal to it, that pure unconditional sympathy of woman toward man.
If a man will give that respect to every woman he meets he will soon begin to see something in woman which he has never seen before. But those who look on woman as the object of lust encourage that same evil within themselves. Woman was given that motherly instinct to save man from the pitfalls of evil. That is the purpose of woman. She was not created for lust.
I know of one great saint who exemplified this. A few of his disciples wanted to test him, and they sent to him some beautiful prostitutes to tempt him. But when he saw them his reaction was neither anger nor lust. He quickly jumped up and cried, “Mother Divine, in these forms you have come to me. I bow to you all.” Then the remorseful disciples made obeisance. And the sensual women bowed before him, and were ashamed. His great love washed away that lust which had encrusted them, and they were changed.
Man should look upon woman as a mother. He misses so much if he looks upon woman only as the object of passion. A man may be a judge in the highest court, but in his home, to his wife, he is a child. Because that flood of Divine Love passes through the mother, the human instrument, even the greatest masters have shown honor to their mothers. Swami Shankara, when his mother was dying, returned to her despite his vows (through which he had renounced all family ties in order to serve the greater family mankind) and cremated her body in a divinely produced flame.
God In The Human Mother
It is equally true that every woman must feel that same love for all the world if she would radiate the Divine Mother’s love. To inspire men by such a manifestation is to give the greatest blessing a woman possesses.
When woman is full of hate and anger she will see in man those same qualities. That is why every woman must guard against being conquered by her emotions, and keep herself free from wrong emotions. For every woman who is jealous and full of hatred will lose that intuitive quality which is her special gift from God. My mother had great intuition because she was free from jealousy and hate and anger.
All mothers are meant to be the unconditional manifestation of God’s love. But human mothers are imperfect. The Cosmic Mother is perfect. And when I see the blindness of some human mothers, then I say, “This is not the encompassing love of the Divine Mother.” When a mother can perfect her love so that it is no longer possessive and limited, then it will become transmuted into the love of the Divine Mother.
And, as I said before, it is the duty of the mother not only to love her own children but to give that motherly love to all. “But,” you say, “we can’t meet all the people of the world to give them that love.” Well, there is an easier way to develop unconditional love. When you meditate, concentrate on the heart and say, “I feel God as the Divine Mother.” And when you are conscious of that great love, mentally send it to all creatures of the earth.
Instead of being an object of temptation, you will then become an object of inspiration. I bless all mothers and say to them: Extend to all beings that love which God has placed in your heart. You must be very proud that the Divine Mother took your form to give tangible love to the world not only to your children but unto all Her children on this earth. That last part of the statement you should strive to remember: that the Divine Love which is passing through you is unconditional. It is not your love, but the love of the Mother Divine within you. Your pride must not limit you, nor make you possessive. Then you will be really blessed and say, “I am not only proud of having one son or two sons, but I have many sons all over the earth.” Then you will become one with the Divine Mother.
That mother who looks upon all as her own is no longer a mortal mother. She becomes the Mother Immortal. That is what all feminine saints are. They suddenly realize, “This love which I felt for my own I now feel for all. I know that I am not this body but I am omnipresent Divine Mother.” Think what you can do! From a woman to the Divine Mother! And why not? Divine Mother made you in Her image and you must manifest that image by loving all.
My Human Parents
This unconditional love of which I speak is not a blind love. You should see how the child errs, and you must love him in spite of his wrongdoing. Yet you must not be blinded by his wrong actions, nor support them. I found always, as I eagerly accepted the love of father and mother, that I could see their defects. Father would be unduly strict and mother would be unduly kind. That was my first realization of the truth that every father should temper his reason by a little love, and every mother should temper her love by reason.
But in my Master I saw the sternness of the father and the kindness of the mother without the blindness of the father or the mother.
All these human relations are given to you not to idolize but to idealize. If you can learn to think of your mother as the unconditional love of the Divine Mother manifest here, then when she is gone you will be comforted, remembering that she was only the form of the Divine Mother come to you for a little while. If you have lost your mother, you must find the Divine Mother who is hidden behind the skies. The Mother Herself is not lost to you. The one you loved was but a representative of the Cosmic Mother who came to cherish you for a little while, and now is immersed again in the being of Divine Mother.
How well I know this! How I suffered to learn it!
For my earthly mother was everything to me. My joys arose and set in the firmament of her presence. I remember that when I felt intuitively she had died while I was on the way home to her, I ran to my uncle at the station and asked, “Is mother alive?” Uncle said, “Yes.” What a relief I felt, for I was going to throw myself beneath the wheels of the train if he had confirmed my fears. Alas, it developed that uncle had not told the truth, fearing I might do something drastic. When I learned the truth I sought everywhere for her loving eyes until the stars became black eyes looking down at me, but they were not those that I loved. I have told of this search in one of my poems, and how I found no solace until:
Seeking and seeking my dead mother,
I found the Deathless Mother.
The lost love of the earthly mother
I found in my Cosmic Mother.
Seeking and searching,
In Her countless black eyes
I found those lost two black eyes.
It was then-when I asked Mother Divine, “Why didst Thou tear away the diamond of my mother’s love from the ring of my heart?”-that She told me of Her all-encompassing love. And part of what She said was this:
“I stole those
Imprisoning two black eyes
That thou might’st be free
To find those eyes
In My eyes,
And in the soulful eyes
Of all black-eyed mothers,
And that thou might’st behold
In all black eyes
Only the shadows
Of My eyes.”
If you could only feel the thrill I felt when suddenly I felt those two black eyes of Mother were watching me everywhere, from every speck of space. What an experience it was! All my sorrow was changed into joy. If you pray deeply, as I did, you will receive the answer audibly. You don’t pray deeply enough yet. But when you pray with continuous heart-felt demands, determined not to stop until the reply comes, then you will receive an answer from Divine Mother. And you will see your mother in Her. To me every woman is a mother now. Even where there is only a little reflection of goodness, I see the Mother.
When you think of God as a parent you will see why He never forsakes anybody, and why He will forgive the greatest sinner. Whenever you think your sin is measureless, whenever the world says you are no good, call on God as the Mother. Say, “Divine Mother, I am Your child, even though I am a naughty child.” When you appeal to the Mother aspect, God can’t say anything. You melt Him. But don’t misunderstand me. He will not support you if you continue to do wrong. You must forsake your evil actions as you pray to the Divine Mother.
In confession there is a great deal of wisdom. It not only clears your conscience, but clarifies your position, shows you what you must do, or must avoid. Now, when you go to a doctor you have to tell him your illness, and he prescribes for you, and if you follow directions you are healed. But if you keep on doing wrong time after time, you will never be healed. And so it is with spiritual confession. I know of a boy who always said, “I can do anything I please, for I will be forgiven next week when I confess.” That is a wrong view of confession. If you don’t forsake the evil with the confession you will never be forgiven.
If you sincerely determine to rectify your errors, then when you appeal to God as the Mother He quickly gives in, for you have appealed to His tenderness and unconditional love. As soon as you worship the Mother, you can face Her and say, “Divine Mother, naughty or good, I am Thy child. Many incarnations I may have been evil, but do I have to pay all this karma according to law? I cannot wait so long to get into Your presence! Mother, please forgive me! Why can you not forgive me? After all, I am Your child. What is done, is done. Why should you exact punishment from me? It is all past. I am not going to do it again.”
Then the Divine Mother says, “You are naughty; stay away from Me.”
But you reply, “You are my Divine Mother. You have to forgive me.”
“Ask of Me salvation,” the Divine Mother suggests. “I will give you salvation. Ask of Me wisdom and I will give you wisdom, but do not ask My love, for when you take that away, I have nothing.”
But if the devotee cries, “No, I want only Your love!” then the Divine Mother says, “Since you are My child and you have told Me I am your Mother, how could I not forgive you?” And She gives you Her last possession-Her Divine Love.
So if you have weaknesses, if you have failed in the battle against temptation, do not despair. After all, before God we are all “sinners.” But a saint is a sinner who never gave up. And you can become a saint if you persist until you receive that unconditional love of God.
Power Of A Saint’s Devotion
I remember a saint I used to visit in India [Master Mahashaya, know as M, the recorder of the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. Ed. note]. The first time I went to see him, I had to wait quietly, for he said, “I am talking to Divine Mother.” He was so great, and yet so gentle and childlike! His whole countenance shone with the love of the Divine Mother. When I was in his presence those vibrations were overwhelming. Whenever I saw him talking to Divine Mother I felt a thousand million times more love in my heart than that which I felt for my earthly mother whom I dearly loved. The emotion is indescribable! I felt I could not exist another moment without my Divine Mother.
One day I went to this saint and said, “How is it you are communing with Divine Mother and I cannot? Please ask Her if She loves me. I must know. I do not feel the love of Divine Mother now. I must have Her. I must know if She loves me!”
I kept on insisting for a long time, until finally the saint said, “All right, I will ask Her.”
And you know, that night I had a great experience. I cherished it silently, within myself. One or two days afterward I went to the saint, and again I saw those upturned eyes wandering in the jungles of the Infinite. Such love you have never seen. In most missionaries who go to India to “save the heathen” I do not see that love of God. And I have seen many Hindu priests and teachers who did not reflect it. But I have also found some great masters in whose eyes I saw God twinkling. I used to bow down at the feet of this gracious saint because I knew Divine Mother was smiling in him.
So I asked, “What did Divine Mother say about me?”
He replied, “Naughty sir, naughty sir!”
“What did Divine Mother say?” I persisted. “You promised me. What did She say?”
Still he repeated only, “Naughty sir!”
I knew he could see through me and realized that I was hiding my thoughts in order to see if the experience I had had was real. And still I went on, “You promised me! Why is it you saints always mystify?”
Then he replied, “You come to test me? That is not right. Didn’t Divine Mother come to you the other night in the form of a most beautiful mother and say, “Yogananda, I love you always?'”
I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was so filled with the nectar of joy. I had meditated all day long until I heard the answer, and when I went to this saint and heard those same words from him, what could I think? Only one thing: My Mother had truly responded!
When this saint used to talk he was just like a little child. In the glittering of those eyes was the shining of Divine Mother’s eyes. “Everyone that will seek Her will find Her,” he said, “but one has to make the effort.” Every time I think of him my whole soul becomes enraptured, and my heart becomes so filled with love that I cannot speak. He told me my Master would come later on. Meanwhile, he gave me the devotional aspect of God-whereas my Master later gave me the wisdom aspect. That combination provided what I needed-the complete Father-Mother manifestation of God.
Whenever I want to see God as the Divine Mother, I think of Her love and of how She forgives everybody.
It is a wonderful privilege to be able to love God in the form one needs-as the Divine Father when wisdom is sought, and as the Divine Mother when forgiveness is needed. Say to Her, “Mother, all I can give unto Thee is the measureless love of my heart. Thou knowest that I love Thee more than all the gifts Thou hast given to me. How canst Thou stay away from me?” Make that your continuous prayer.
When you find that you no longer think so much of your food or clothes and possessions, and that they are receding from your consciousness, then you will know that you are drawing closer and closer to God. And if you once feel that love in your heart which is the love of the father and the mother, and the love of the mother and the child, and the love of the lover and the beloved, then you will know you are one with the love of God.
There is nothing greater than to feel She is with you. So, meditate upon the presence of the Divine Mother who will look after you in every way, whether your trouble is sorrow, pain, or sickness.
Learn to do the Cosmic Mother’s work as you would work for your own mother. Realize that you are here to love Her and to help Her cause as you would help yourself. All forms of human love, in their perfection, are encased in the love of God.
Once I was in Palm Springs. Under the desert sky I was chanting devotional hymns of India. Then in the stones and palms and everywhere I saw Her. It is true that God has no form. But to please the devotee He can assume any form that you want. So when I was chanting this song, “Mother, I give Thee my soul-call. Thou canst not remain hidden any more. Come out of the silent skies, come out of the cave of silence,” She appeared everywhere. You have no idea how wonderful Divine Mother is. How great She is! How loving She is! How important to your happiness She is!
The One Beloved
Yes, She is the source of your well being, because you are here only for a little while. Everything you experience is temporary. Only the association with God is permanent and forever; and, since this is so, you must not be deluded by the temptations of the world so that you forget. The Creator can be known. The Master-Mistress of the universe who twinkles in the stars, whose life-throb is in every blade of grass, is the One you must find. That is the most important thing in this world. You must seek the Beloved in the temple of silence. When your heart again and again, with unquenchable devotion and attention, cries to the Divine Mother, then you will find Her.
God is realizable. God is knowable. I do not talk to you about an unknown God, but One that I have known-One that is more real to me than all the things you perceive around you. One that is the very ocean beneath the waves of our lives. You can do without anything else, but you cannot do without God. And remember, the Beloved can only be known in the secrecy of your devotion. If you let many people know about your devotion you will not succeed. You must make love to the Divine Beloved in the temple of your silence with the continuous asking, “Reveal Thyself. Reveal Thyself.”
Yes, it is all right to pray sometimes for things you need, but your first desire should be to know God, who cannot be known without adherence to Divine laws, without following one of the paths which lead to the Source. You must realize within yourself all the principles which you study. This you can do through meditation.
As you think of God-whether as Mother, Father, Friend or Beloved-you must not be afraid of being lost in the Infinite, for being so lost you shall gain hereafter. He who saves his life will lose it again but he who loses his life in God will be immortal. You must expand and dissolve your consciousness in the immortal consciousness of God as the Divine Mother within, realizing, “God as the Divine Mother is within me, without me, everywhere. I bow to Her. I and my Divine Mother are one. I and my Divine Mother are one.”