Asha Praver's Monthly Letter
March 2008

Introducing: Divine Mother

Dear Friends,Asha Praver photo

On one of my first visits to Ananda about 1970, I overheard a conversation between two of the original residents, Binay and Satya that I’ve never forgotten.

Conditions were quite primitive at that time. Binay lived in a teepee, Satya lived in what amounted to a plywood box—8 x 8 x 16 ft. Anything that could keep one relatively warm and dry was considered a prize structure.

Sometime before Ananda bought that first piece of land, someone had driven an old bread van onto the property and abandoned it in the woods. Binay was using the van as a workshop for his fledgling business of jewelry made from wild flowers and manzanita wood.

In an effort to clean up the neighborhood, however, another resident had taken the van to the dump, not realizing he was also dumping Binay’s business.

The conversation I overheard was Binay’s effort to make sense of what had happened.

Mother Is In Charge

“I thought Mother wanted me to do this business,” Binay said earnestly. “But I guess She has other plans She hasn’t told me about.”

I was a newbie and naturally thought he was talking about his earthly mother. Inwardly I was critical. “What kind of a mother would take his business to the dump?” I wondered. “And why is a grown man waiting around for his mother to tell him what to do?”

As the conversation continued, I realized he was talking about someone (rather Someone) he called “Divine Mother.” That didn’t make it any better. His attitude was incomprehensible to me.

Later, when I moved to the community, I went to work in the Retreat Kitchen. I was willing, but utterly unskilled. On the first day, when the woman in charge asked me to make scalloped potatoes, I told her I had no idea how to do it.

Apparently I was the last in a long series of unqualified assistants. In extreme exasperation, she turned her eyes toward heaven and exclaimed, “Divine Mother, why do you keep sending me people who can’t cook?”

Divine Mother seemed to be a powerful, but not a particularly competent force at Ananda!

My last introduction to Divine Mother came through Swami Kriyananda. I had sought his advice about a dilemma I faced. After listening to my tale of woe, he  said, “Just give the problem to Divine Mother. Let Her solve it.”

I was several months into my sojourn at Ananda, so by then I knew of Whom he was speaking. Not that it helped much. I remained silent, but inwardly I was pleading for some useful advice. But none was forthcoming.

Transformation

Fast-forward a few years. One of the guests at our retreat seeks me out for counsel. At the end of her tale of woe, I say with complete sincerity, “Just give the problem to Divine Mother. Let her solve it.” Her bewildered expression was such a perfect mirror of my own from years before that I nearly burst out laughing.

In fact, my own words had surprised me. When had I shifted from observer to participant? When had Divine Mother become my own?

I was never able to pin down the exact moment when everything shifted. I just knew beyond any doubt, that God is personally concerned for every one of us. That Infinite Compassion is a conscious force, ever eager, like a loving Mother to help us. Not necessarily in the way the ego wants, but in ways that nurture the soul.

Happiness comes from relying more on God and less on the ego to resolve our dilemmas.

Truth Is Simple

So many of the principles I have learned from Swamiji are simple to express:  “Live in the spine.”  “Rest in the heart.”  “Give your problems to Divine Mother.” “Aum Guru. Aum Guru. Aum Guru.”

Many times I would have preferred answers as complicated as my questions. But as Swamiji writes in a recent essay, Religion in the New Age, “According to every saint who has experienced this sublime awakening, God is simple: it is man, with his intellectual justifications, who is complex.”

Or, as Jesus put it, “Be ye therefore as little children, for of such is the Kingdom of God.”

Heart and Mind

In no way, of course, is this an invitation to put our intellects on the shelf. Swamiji’s 80 books make it obvious that deep, intuitive, clear thinking is a tremendous asset, in fact a requirement, for success on the spiritual path.

The key word here is intuitive. Intellect alone is not enough. Intelligence must be guided by the calm feeling of the heart.

I am so grateful that from the beginning, Swamiji trusted us enough to tell us the truth: Love God. Give your problems to Divine Mother. Aum Guru.

At first I didn’t understand. If Swamiji had given me another option, some intellectual conundrum to puzzle over, I would never have faced the far greater challenge of opening my heart to Divine Love. I would have chewed the dry philosophical bone forever.

Well, maybe not forever. For without Divine Love, nothing satisfies.

The greatness of true spiritual teaching is that it explains—but not too much. Rather than reducing “Truth” to something the ego can comfortably embrace, it challenges us to meet Truth on its own level. It is not a question of heart or mind. It is both/and.

Spiritual growth is like water on a stone slowly carving into the rough surface of ego a smooth receptacle for God’s love.

Blessings and joy,
Asha (and David)