From the British Isles to India: Continuing the Game of Minutes*
The following article is the sequel to, “The Game with Minutes: A Dialogue with My Self,” which appeared in the Spring 2011 issue of Clarity Magazine.* * This new article chronicles Nayaswami Maitreyi’s experiences with The Game with Minutes during the transition from life on the Isle of Man, in the United Kingdom, to life in Ananda’s fledgling Kriya Yoga community in Pune, India.
Nayaswami Maitreyi, a disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda, received the inner guidance to attempt to practice the presence of God moment by moment. Describing her approach, she writes: “Yogananda urged us to talk to God every second, in activity and in silence, with the unceasing desire of our hearts.” Also inspiring her in this effort were two other books: Practicing the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence (1634-1691), and Letters by a Modern Mystic, by Frank Laubach (1884-1970.
When God, whom Maitreyi refers to as “The Presence,” and whom she considers her higher Self, began to speak to her, she recorded His words. God instilled in Maitreyi an overwhelming desire to share His messages, which were not only for her but for all who aspire to know Him in this lifetime. Presented here are edited excerpts from a longer, more complete journal.
3rd April, 2011, Isle of Man, UK
Beloved, tears flow as You repeatedly show me how much You love me.
Last year, when we made the decision to sell our house and move to India, I offered up the entire matter to You. I knew without a doubt that You would look after us if we had intuited Your will correctly.
This deed you have done was in response, not to a prayer, but to a mere thought regarding the move to India. I thought, “When this house sells, it would be nice to sell privately without incurring expensive agent fees, and to someone who will give the asking price and let us stay living in the house after it is sold, rent free!” A nice idea, I thought, but a fanciful one. I was wrong!
The advertisement had not even been made public when our buyer presented himself, privately. No fee incurred. His timing was impeccable. He is paying exactly what we needed, and he is happy to allow us to stay on in the house rent free for the three months until we are ready to leave the UK! And perhaps the most bewildering thing of all is that other than seeing a few photographs, our buyer – a work colleague – has not yet even visited the property.
I am so grateful. I cannot convey in words my feelings. I know without doubt that all paths are open regarding making India our earthly home.
Frank Laubach writes in his prayer diary that he learned by experience the truth that he needed only to keep close to You every minute, and You will do the rest. I am beginning to find this out for myself.
Thank You, dear Beloved. Hold my attention always in Thee, for then I can do no wrong. What can I do to repay for Your grace other than to love You? I have nothing else to give.
My child, when I see my own selflessly giving and asking nothing in return I bestow my pleasure.
7th April, 2011, Isle of Man, UK
Day 1 – Japa quest
Beloved, it would seem you are having a little joke with me. The other day I told you how I was struggling with my practice of japa. Yesterday a devotee wrote to me and asked for my help in keeping Your Presence. She was inspired to begin a forty-one day vigil of chanting Your name, beginning at dawn this morning. Before I knew it, I wrote back to offer my support by doing it with her!
My word is my bond, so here I am, since dawn this morning, chanting, “God, Christ, Guru.” I must say, since I began You have been blissfully present the whole time, and I am faring far better than I thought I was capable. It proves to me how much harder I will strive to support another, than to support myself.
It is so important to be constantly giving. I can see, in this instance, how my supporting someone else will benefit me, even though the support was not offered with selfish motive. But there is even more to it than that. It is the promise that drives me, regardless of the recipient party. Not wishing to go against my word, I am strengthening my resolve.
Almost two years ago I promised myself to chant a full mala round of the Gayatri mantra every day. I am still practicing it daily. A promise made to myself, or any other, is really a promise made to You.
May I feel You ever present in my heart, my Beloved, to spur me on through test and trial.
26th April, 2011, Isle of Man, UK
Day 20 - Japa quest
Beloved, it is dawning on me just how important it is to continuously be singing Your name in my heart. Somehow it is steering me to the point of entering “the Silence” in my meditations. From my one previous experience of the breathless state, I recognize the signs of the senses beginning to lose their grip on the body.
Good Friday, I suggested that my deepened meditations and Kriyas may be coincidental to the japa vigil I am doing. Today I am of the mind that there can be no coincidence. The change in depth of my sadhana is too great and too sudden to be associated with anything else, as japa is the only addition to my practice of late.
I am finding that I am holding You in my awareness far longer than a second a minute. It is actually very difficult to hold You for only one second. I am holding You for minutes and sometimes hours at a time. When I do, I feel truly alive in Your energy.
Beloved. I have spent my dismal past walking in the greys of ignorance. Let me now shine with Your Glory forever and forever, AUM, Amen.
2nd May, 2011, Isle of Man, UK
Day 26 – Japa quest
Beloved, I often bring to mind a saying of Master’s, “To those who think me near, I will be near.” * I have made this practice a reality in my life. I think of You, of Master, of my own dear Satguru, Sri Yukteswar. One thought and there you are, all three truly One. It is such a joy and comfort to know that You are with me always, and that in my forgetful moments, You do not go away. You are still watching and waiting patiently for my return.
The last two days Your presence has increased in intensity. I pray it will never cease to increase. Saying Your name, and feeling Your presence in each possible moment, is affecting my meditation and practice of Kriya. I am finding that the preliminary exercises to raise my conscious state are no longer necessary — I am there in a trice. In fact, of late, I have been in such a state of absorption in You, that I have found it difficult to even commence Kriya.
I still forgot You for great stretches of time at the hospital yesterday, but as soon as I interacted with anyone, I found I was automatically looking for You in their eyes.
Oh Beloved, grace me with the courage to endure the might of AUM, and never to waiver as I am drawn forth into the roar of Your embrace.
SAT, TAT, AUM
13th May, 2011, Isle of Man, UK
Day 37 - Japa quest
Beloved, I was disgusted with myself as I walked out of the Intensive Care unit after my shift last evening. Yes, I remembered my quest at times, and yes, I was extremely busy, but that should not excuse forgetfulness. When God! Christ! Guru! sang in my heart, all was well and good. But when I forgot… I am ashamed to say that I became embroiled in a little gossip. Light though it was, I did detect a certain meanness of heart – as Swami Sri Yukteswar would put it.
I gave myself “a good telling off” on my short journey home. I envisaged the unfortunate recipient of my meanness in Your light, and sent peace and harmony in my poor effort to make amends.
My child, you have only to turn on the light to eliminate the darkness in a trice. It is truly as simple a process as that. You have conditioned your mind to expect a difficult path, to expect obstacles in your way, and also that it is usual to forget my presence! Well, none of these things trouble you in my presence wherein you are not capable of gossip or meannesses of the heart. Change your attitude and you change everything. Expect, rather, that it is usual to think on me always until your true nature fully reveals itself, of itself. Do you not remember, of late, how everything on your path runs smoothly when you involve me in all you think, say, and do?
How hard is it really to form a habit of being continuously in my Presence? As easy as it was to form one of denial!
SAT, TAT, AUM
17th May, 2011, Isle of Man, UK
Day 41 – Japa quest
Beloved, today is the end of my japa quest. “Have I been successful?” I ask myself. Meditation is deeper, Kriya more blissful and I am well on my way to transcending body consciousness. In that sense, yes, a great success. Was I successful in holding my attention in Your Holy Self for one second of every minute? No! I was pretty poor at that. However I did find that my attention was in You far more so than if I had not undertaken this extremely worthwhile exercise.
I have made the decision not to end this noble quest. I am going to continue in the hope that at the end of ten years, I too, as did Brother Lawrence, can glance back and say, “The first ten years were the worst, but it becomes easier after that!”
SAT, TAT, AUM
13th July, 2011, Isle of Man, UK
Beloved, I battle to keep my attention on these keys as You grace me with strong waves of ecstasy. My first thought is gratitude and to simply allow myself to be, drinking the ambrosia of this sweet and heady wine, but my second is to give, because I have learned I must share you with all, so here am I before my computer in this gracious state. I can only ask that You permeate some of the joy You are giving me now, through the words on this page, to infuse all who read them and are receptive to this grace. May they be blessed eternally in ever-new Joy. Amen
The power in this grace is immense and almost intolerable. What would you have me do with it?
Feed the hungry who would consume my body. Slake the thirst of those who would drink of my blood.
Your body is Your church, Your spiritual family, You in omnipresence! Your blood is everlasting life, the Essence that flows eternally once Your body is consumed within, through the might of AUM.
So guide You me, Beloved, to Your will. Help me to reach these needy souls, but first must I eat of Your flesh, and drink from Your veins.
AUM, AUM, AUM
Yesterday I asked my Self what I could do to concentrate more effectively, minute by minute in You. Your answer came, “Be as though Your very life depends on it.”
16th July, 2011, Isle of Man, UK
Beloved, my heart is heavy. My endeavours to date seem so paltry compared to the effort of the saints that I am constantly driven ever harder. Friends of the world would tell me I am doing fine and far better than most, yet I would only hear the words of Satan. There is no room for complacency. I must be hard on myself. I long, but there is little joy in my longing.
I am heartened beyond measure when You come upon me in any given moment; and when the rumble of AUM dispels all ills. But when I cannot hold You, the heaviness returns. You have promised this great thing, so why, in my longing, do I not feel more joyous that I will be liberated in Your good time? I used to smile at this prospect. Now I cry for You.
Yet I am not sad in my joylessness. How can I be sad when I know the ache of my yearning is growing by the day? How can I be sad when the tears I shed are for You?
If you would have me you must put me before all else. You must long with every fiber of your being until you ache. For a time joy will elude you of necessity, for it is this yearning, this call from the heart that draws me to you. Each tear shed in my name is felt in my heart. I am your shepherd, as you are my lamb. I will gather you in my arms and carry you the rest of the way home when I can see that you have given all and there is nowhere else to go.
Tears flow as I write. Not tears of sadness, nor tears of joy, but tears of hope. The communion I experienced after writing the last paragraph is just too sacred for description, but You showed that Your love for me is great and that You are indeed in me as I write this missive.
Ah, my Own, let me share You with all in each moment, to let others know how much they are loved, and where to cast their gaze. Work through me that I may give Your love away. Not just to those who love me, for there is no saintly feat in this, but to those that do not show me kindness, to those who would rob me, to those who would scorn and persecute me, to those who would be angry, and to those who would delight in ignoring me.
Although I can now genuinely empathize and offer compassion for such deluded souls, I am yet too weak to love these people wholly, with all my heart. But You can, through me, show them how to glorify each moment and to love from the heart.
Help me, Beloved, for the sake of all, to remember how to love… for there is nothing else!
AUM, AUM, Amen
19th September, 2011, Pune, India
Beloved, today You have seen my husband and me land on Indian soil. Heart- rending tears at leaving my beloved family behind were plentiful. As London fell away beneath the heavy wings of the Boeing 777, through misty eyes I cried inwardly, “But I must prove to You I love you more.” Despite my loved ones being housed safely in my heart, I cried halfway to India in remembrance of my little grandson’s guileless smile every time his eyes met mine, of the mixture of love and sadness in my beautiful daughter’s eyes, and the urgency in my dear son’s gripping embrace…but I must show You I love You more.
So this wrench of heart is what it feels like to sacrifice what is most precious to me. I know it is Your will that I should come to India. I paraphrase Saint Teresa of Avila when she said Your gifts are given according to the courage and the love we give You, and that our love is the measure of the cross we bear. My cross, for now at least, is the memory of my dear family in the last two days before our departure. But I know I will see them once a year, all being well, and that I will become stronger in my resolve to give all for the sake of Your love.
I stayed close to You throughout the flight, You, my only comfort; You, through the firmness of my husband’s hand clasped in mine, and warmth of his smiling eyes. I am wary of what lies ahead, but not afraid. I have You!
AUM, AUM, Amen
September, 2011, Pune, India
Beloved, I have not written in a week. You have not given me a chance to draw breath. I always assumed I would have less spare time in this pioneering environment than I am used to enjoying, and I can testify that I was not wrong in my assumption.
You are not sending me flowers or honey! I need to surmount all. I have come through unscathed thus far only because I have given you all my worries. When I hand them straight over, You have shown me, or guided me to solutions to any perceived problem. When I forget to do that, I suffer.
My child, I ask much of you now and in the time to come. I have guided you to this place. You must be fearless, tireless, and determined to see my work done. You will learn to forget who you thought you were. You will remember what it is to know your true Self.
AUM, AUM, Amen
11th November 2011, Pune, India
Beloved, is having such a rare astrological date as this, the day before I take nayaswami vows, auspicious? This week you have given me three visions. The first was a small tawny colored dog sitting alone on the edge of a ravine overlooking, what appeared to be, the Arizona wilderness. The second was a wall-mounted tap which was spouting clear, sparkling water. The third was the feet and ankles of a man, and the lower edge of his white robe.
Intuition tells me that the little dog alone in the wilderness represents the spiritual path as a solitary one. I am alone as I take a vow giving myself as wholly to You as my present consciousness allows. Intuition also tells me that the wilderness, which symbolizes “the Silence” — the place and condition we strive for in meditation — can only be achieved entirely alone. No one else may enter with me, no thought invade the sanctity of this place. Having such a narrow entrance, the space inside stretches to Eternity.
The tap with running water speaks to me of the waters of Life flowing through my spine from the Infinite. The clarity and purity of the water represents pureness of heart and baring of the soul.
The third vision represents me placing myself at my Guru’s feet. As Your instrument, he is to replace my world, my consciousness, with his. My only goal is to attain Your constant presence by living, as You will, for all.
AUM, AUM, Amen
27th November, 2011, Pune, India
Beloved, in meditation You are transporting me deeper and deeper into Your realm. The more I give You of myself, the more, it would seem, that You give me of Your heart.
Willingly, nay eagerly, do I surrender this fickle self unto You. It leaves the sweetest feeling of release, of security in the knowing that You are taking safe charge of my material, mental, and spiritual welfare. But how do I surrender utterly?
So quickly do You send rapture when I first begin Kriya, or even just close my eyes in any given moment, but it is not enough to keep me with You constantly. My mind still distracts me, but You quickly bring me back to Your sweet presence. I can now accept that this is how things are at this stage in my development.
I have gone past the stage of feeling guilty and wretched at the thought of having momentarily, or worse, for hours, forgotten who I am and to Whom I should be directing my gaze. Bother Lawrence came to the same conclusion, that feeling wretched actually serves no lasting purpose; that great peace comes in acceptance of any situation for what it is in the moment, and not by putting myself outside the moment by the desire that the situation be different.
The tests You send me are tough — tougher than any I have ever known, but because You are with me, I am coping, and growing! Oh, that everyone knew how life’s difficult and unpleasant trials become bearable if only we would place You first, before all else; that if we surrender our will to Yours, moment by moment, or even a second in each moment, we will change beyond recognition.
AUM, Peace, Amen
5th January, 2012, Pune, India
I was kept awake the other night by a dilemma. I felt the need to follow a certain action that I was uncomfortable with. The thought would not leave me and plagued my slumber. I got out of bed and prayed for guidance then meditated on it. It was something that I did not relish doing and I wanted to be sure, without doubt, that it was Your will.
Saint Theresa of Avila wrote that choosing Your will is very hard to do. For not only must we choose Your will, but we must be pleased with doing it, even if it may be in every way the opposite of that we would choose for ourselves. And how, one might ask, can we do Your will if it goes against our own natures? We must love You with a love so pure that to please You surpasses all desire of our own.
Open our hearts, O Sweet Lord, that we may be so filled with Your radiance, Your love, Your sweetness, that there is room for nothing else but love for You, and You through all.
AUM, Peace, Amen
15th January, 2012, Pune, India
Beloved, the grace You are bestowing on me at this time is great; some too precious to put into words. Tough as life has been here I am finding Your bliss difficult to hide from those around me.
I find You do not want me to chant. I am drawn into AUM samadhi in an instant of the first line of a chant, unable to articulate a sound; unable to do outward prayer. You come upon me in any moment with tidal waves of rapturous bliss, in which everything else falls away to insignificance, leaving me alone in Your loving embrace.
Meditation is swiftly taking me to that place just outside Your door, or rather, the door that lets You in! Easier and easier does it becomes to hold Your presence for long periods, yet my lapses, alas, are equally long.
Beloved, I pray, more than anything, for the yearning of my heart for You to continue to grow from where it was last night. Grace us all with this longing, for until we long for You above all else, there can be no consolation found in this world.
Yet all the bliss You send me, Beloved, it is of no use unless I am equally grounded; that I thoroughly know myself and my faults. You could whisk me off to the highest sphere, but as long as I am bound to the karmic wheel I could not stay with You. I must know myself inside out and analyze how much of it I am holding on to, defying You to take it. From my center I must calmly monitor every thought and every deed, until the day I can truly say, “Maitreyi is gone! Here is an empty vessel, my Lord, fill it as You will and use it for the good of mankind.”
7th February, 2012, Pune, India
Beloved, in meditation the other day the ashram dog who had placed itself on guard outside the temple, of a sudden began howling to the moon. Others around me were disturbed by this, but I thought to myself, “Ah, my Beloved, if only we all howled for You like that. You would be so sick of our wailing that You would come to us very quickly!”
When I introspect, I see that I am holding You in my heart and mind for longer periods of time. But although I forget You, it is not long before I return to the comfort of Your presence. It is so obvious to me, after much practice, that holding You for only one second in each minute is well-nigh impossible. It is only possible to hold You for much longer than one second! Is that not a wonderful discovery?
I was contemplating an aspect of myself I was sure I had overcome, but discovered I had not. I do not wish to disclose what this fault is to any other but You, my Beloved, who tests us to see if we really are freed from whatever was binding us. You have tested me in such a way many times since moving here to India. Some tests I have passed, but some have shown I still have much yet to perfect. But my encouragement now stems from the good habit I see forming of consistently reverting back to You, consulting You on all levels as my dearest friend, lover, mentor, and protector.
17th February, 2012, Pune, India
Beloved, now You give me little time to read spiritual teachings, my favorite pastime, and even less so to write about how I take them to my heart. Yet in this time I am seeing the greatest growth. You are ever more present within me. I am listening for, and hearing, people speak in the language of the soul. No matter the words that someone utters, I feel what is in their hearts. From their vibration I can discern the level of response I must give. I see You in their eyes.
Your grace holds me in Your loving presence, as you see me striving and failing on my own. Your compassion to one who is so weak is an example to us all of Your love as unconditional. You recognize those who love you and reward them, yet You never cease to love those who do not. I take this wisdom to my heart as my guiding star.
O, my good Lord, my Beloved, continue to bless me as Your channel. Use me as You see fit to help those in need of You.
AUM, TAT, SAT
1st March, 2012, Pune, India
Beloved, we have come to a place together, where it is very difficult to leave Your presence. How difficult it was, at the beginning of this journal, to hold You for very long. I have just returned from a short pilgrimage trip to Rishikesh, the home of the rishis. The most amazing blessings You sent me during my stay.
The five-hour train journey from Haridwar back to Delhi was a delight. Sitting, as I did in meditation as others dined around me, I dived deep, slowly muting, from consciousness, the veritable din of metal spoons rhythmically chinking against the many bowls of soup, being consumed by my fellow passengers. Soon I was intoxicated in Your presence. You have made Yourself so delightfully delicious to me that I do not want to withdraw from You. It is easier to will myself into Your presence than it is to will myself out of it, once in. Yet as wonderful a blessing this trip was to me, I could not live just taking from You like that, and I know you would not let me. The blessings would soon cease if I did not share them with your children everywhere.
Thy will be done!
*As quoted in The New Path, by Swami Kriyananda, Crystal Clarity Publishers
Nayaswami Maitreyi became an Ananda member in 2008. Since that time she has given her life to the goal of Self-realization, and Paramhansa Yogananda’s mission. Service, for Maitreyi, comes in many guises, but serving devotees through writing is a major part of her life. Leaving behind family in UK, she relocated to serve at Ananda Pune, India with her husband, Michael, September 2011, and soon after took the Nayaswami vow.
**To read Nayaswami Maitreyi’s Spring 2011 Clarity Magazine article click here
**The Game with Minutes
At first, practice for no more than an hour. Begin the experiment by recording each time you think of God. Aim for one second in each minute. It is amazing how difficult this is. Mark on a piece of paper each time you think of Him and see your score at the end of the hour. This experiment may be practiced anywhere, but until you begin to form a habit, a quiet environment is best. After forming the habit of thinking of God, let go of the paper exercise and gradually increase the time you think of Him each day, taking the practice into all aspects of daily living.
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