Avatar – “the descent of God into human form”. In English, avatar literally translates to “descend – coming from above”.
God’s intention behind sending an avatar is to fulfill a divine mission. People need help and God wants to help them. So he has to send someone who is already free and who already has the answers. Just as when you go into math class, you don’t just pick a student you know well and ask him to take a turn at teaching math. Instead you want somebody who knows what they’re talking about, so that you can learn. It’s not for the glory of the teacher, but it’s so the student can learn, so that we can become filled with that glory too.
Swami Kriyananda said, just as much as the avatars seem to live a human life so that they are like us; we are also like them.
We should aspire to become like them. One can have a guru who isn’t an avatar or there can be an avatar who isn’t his guru. Being disciples of Paramhansa Yogananda we are fortunate to have one in the same; in fact we have five avatars.
Having an Avatar as our Guru doesn’t mean we understand them. Sri Yukteshwar was sometimes criticized or at least questioned behind his back by his disciples. To Master (Paramhansa Yogananda) they would say, we don’t understand ‘Guruji’ and Master would say ‘neither do you comprehend God’. At another time he said, one day I shouted so badly because they were just giggling instead of meditating. Then when he questioned them, they said, ‘Guruji makes us work so hard, that we are sleepy.’ Master said, ‘When he gives you food, I don’t see you sleepy.’
When we’re meditating, that’s when the Masters are trying to give us the real food.
Sometimes you would have had the experience of resistance to meditation, with the thought of being too tired, too busy, too stressed to relax. But finally when we are forced to do it one way or another, even if only by our own willpower, it all lifts in an instant and it really is like the mind unclouded, like the disease suddenly being healed and we feel Master’s presence or we feel God’s touch and we feel better.
Swamiji said, ‘When you understand a master then you will be one, not before’.
Master would often teach people in mysterious ways. At first it would seem that because he was trying to get them to grasp the lesson from inside, to develop an inner understanding. He wasn’t consciously trying to confuse them. For example, in one case there was a man who was pouring concrete for the driveway at Mount Washington and because heavy trucks would drive up and down that driveway carrying heavy loads of paper for the printing press, the driveway had to be very thick. It had to be very many inches high of concrete. If it were too thin then the weight on it would crack it.
So, Master asked the foreman of the job, Andy, who was not a disciple but in time became a devotee and a sort of disciple. Andy, how many inches do you think we should make the concrete? Andy said four inches should be plenty. Master said to Andy with a very sweet smile, better make it six.
Swamiji thought why spend all the extra money, with 50% more concrete as it was a long driveway. But his thoughts were more towards the smile, why the smile, what did that ‘sweet smile’ mean when Master said ‘better make it six’.
As the day came for the cement to be poured, when Andy came to the job – he was drunk. As you know when you’re pouring cement and making it dry you have to spray water on it also to just help it spread out. And because he was drunk he wasn’t really paying attention, so he sprayed too much water. To such an extent that it started to dilute the cement mixture and it would have cracked if it weren’t for those six extra inches.
Later Andy apologized but Master of course understood. He knew it would happen but he didn’t say. He could have said let’s do four but don’t drink anything on the way to work on the day. But he didn’t because it might have embarrassed Andy. Master wouldn’t necessarily interfere with Andy’s will that way. We have to rise to their level. Still he made an allowance.
Master is constantly making allowances for us. We are constantly pouring too much water on the cement. He is always bailing us out.
Another side to this story was that there was a disciple who was witnessing this over pouring of water on the cement and was silently criticizing and thinking what a fool, wasting all the money, he could ruin us. He didn’t say any of it and Master came out of Mount Washington building and walked right over to this disciple and said, ‘Don’t criticize him, he said, he has great love’.
It is so beautiful that first of all that Master knew, and secondly he didn’t scold the disciple who was criticizing Andy in his mind. Instead he said he has great love. It says in the Bible too, “He who loves much, much is forgiven”
Sometimes you find that there can be someone who is a little bit odd or a little bit difficult but they have a good heart. In order to feel someone’s heart, you have to be able to feel your own heart first. Once you feel your own heart, then you can start to feel others’ hearts.
A person with a good heart is sincere, is trying, is kind and is well-intentioned. If you had to ask “what is a good heart”? I would say sincerity is a big part of it – and Master said that too. He said you must be sincere, and to be sincere is to do what you believe is right, to not hold anything back consciously.
We want to be sincere, to develop goodness in our hearts, to feel the hearts of others. The broader our love is, the more our heart opens, the more forbearance and patience we have, and the more we find good people around us. This happens for two reasons; to one extent yes we attract them, but on the other extent, we see the goodness where we didn’t see goodness before. And also, with our hearts open enough, we become less dependent on others to fulfill our hearts.
Sometimes we say that person doesn’t have a good heart, why? Because he’s not nice to me; well that may not have anything to do with it, and he actually may have a really good heart. Swamiji was the ultimate example of that. He said people’s opinions about me do not affect my feelings or my opinion of them.
And this is so rare. Usually it’s “I like you if you like me”. But on the spiritual path, it’s our job to give love to others – but impersonally. That’s what the Masters do too. They come and they give love and joy to all. They really do and so we should in their name.
Swamiji says in the affirmation ‘Help me to find happiness through others’. ‘Through’ is a really important word. He doesn’t say ‘In’ others because if we try to find happiness in others what happens? We are happy, if they are happy. We are happy as long as we get what we want, but if we don’t, then we’re still wanting.
Just think about when somebody is trying to get more from you. They don’t always say I would like more love. Instead they say you know I would like you to do this, this, this, this, and this. They are always trying to take; you feel they are taking energy and you can’t supply it. You’d feel, I’m barely able to supply my own needs here. Go to God. But God does come to us through others, and God may be testing us through others, by saying, “what more can you give”.
Give freely when it feels right, not when it feels too much. But why should we not give too much, or give to the point of exhaustion or death? Because, it does not help the other person. If somebody is too dependent on you, it doesn’t help them to give them more, because they’re not developing their own strength. All they’ll do is just continue to depend on you. So, you have a fine line to respect. Only intuition can give you the answer in any specific case.
Though the avatars come for a world mission they also come for individuals. They also come for each of us. They are generally uplifting the planet, as many as can and want to be. Also they have a quantitative effect just on the earth and on the vibration of the earth.
It is also the vibration of the earth, the general openness to spirituality that draws the avatars. It’s whenever virtue declines and vice predominates God comes. We might think that whenever things get really bad then God comes to clean it up. Why doesn’t he clean it up before it gets really bad. It is because when things get really bad, then the cries go up to the heavens.
I’m reminded of that scene and that story in the autobiography of a yogi of the Tiger Swami, who before being a swami was going before and was beating up Tigers before everyone. He would knock the tiger out and with his head in the mouth of the tiger that was unconscious and say – see how I have bested him and so on. So as the story goes, the humiliated tiger sent up a course of prayers to heaven that some tiger demon be born on earth to punish this man who was humiliating them.
So the analogy shows that whenever enough bad things go on, we all sort of cry out just like please send some help and so remember, whether it’s happening on earth, whether it’s happening in your country, whether it’s happening to your family, if it’s happening to you, you can say – no one else is praying with me but I am going to pray 10 times the same prayer. So it’s like 10 prayers coming up so you’ve got to send some help. Remember God wants to help us and God wants our happiness. He wants our happiness, our enjoyment.
Once when Master went to the shop where he used to go to get short Scottish shortbread, which is like a kind of cookie. The disciple went in to get it and came out and said sorry they’re all out. Master was not used to things like this not working out in his life. It was just that Divine Mother always made these little things sweet.
Though he went through plenty of big tests but in these things there was always a support. So he just looked up and said, Divine mother, how come? Meaning this is odd. At that time he saw a light descend onto the shop and a moment later the owner came running out with the bag of shortbread and said “I had made this and was saving it for another customer. But I can make them some more. I want you to have it”.
Divine Mother does the same thing to us. Sometimes she makes things not work out, or our karma makes it not work out, but then even if we may not see the light, she does save us and that’s how we feel her presence. It’s very sweet when you make plans and they don’t quite work out – and then they do work out at the last minute or you’re saved by some miracle, because then you know that God is there.
You have proof – as Master said in the autobiography of a yogi, “hundreds of memories of God rescuing him, God’s miracles, God’s protection flooded into his mind”. When his brother was daring him to go to Brindaban with no money and other conditions, he had all this faith built out of experience.
That’s why it’s important to us to keep our prayers going to God, because God will answer the prayers that we ask. I remember I asked my parents for a skateboard for Christmas and instead of a skateboard I got a dictionary. This was the days before a dictionary app and so the dictionary was about as big as the harmonium.
Ten to fifteen years later I still had the dictionary, I was still using it until the app came out or the internet came out – then it was easy- but I still used it all the time. And that skateboard I ended up buying for myself and within six months I was done with it. So, it was a gift that I actually needed that I didn’t want, but it turned out to be a very wonderful gift. God does that to us too.
So, God will only give us answers in the way we ask. We should ask too often. Usually we walk through life alone, thinking we’re alone. God is right here. God is handling pretty much everything including our own lives so let’s involve him actively so that we can finally come home and merge with him. God bless you