It’s so wonderful to be with all of you on this very special Mother’s Day. Loving pranams and divine friendship from all of us here at the Mother Center to all of you, our beloved guru Paramahansa Yogananda’s worldwide spiritual family, and to those of you who are joining us for the first time. It’s really wonderful to in this way be able to reach out to so many of you and for just a few moments to be able to share with you our beloved Guru’s guidance, his inspiration, his divine love, and wisdom, something that is so much needed in the world today. It brings us closer, doesn’t it? It unites us and in that unity we have the ability to draw from one another that spiritual strength and support. So let us begin our service. Let us pray invoking the presence of the Divine Mother, and as we do so let us hold a grateful heartfelt moment of appreciation for all good mothers everywhere who have nurtured their children with love and devotion. And as we invoke the presence of the Divine Mother, let us feel that we are drawing her close through the power of our love, through the power of our devotion, through the power of our prayer. Let us close our eyes and lift the gaze to the point between the eyebrows, the Kutastha center, and invoke the presence of the Mother and our Great Gurus. Heavenly Father, Mother, Friend, Beloved God, Jesus Christ, Bhagavan Krishna, Mahavatar Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya, Swami Sri Yukteswarji, Divine Gurudeva, Paramahansa Yoganandaji, saints of all religions, we bow to you all. Divine Mother, shower Thy richest blessings on all mothers everywhere. May they ever reflect thine unconditional love and understanding. And bless each one of us. We are thy children. Bless us that every feeling flows with Thy love. Bless us that every feeling flows with Thy love. Bless us that our every thought is bliss-saturated with a consciousness of Thy loving presence. Uplift us, O Mother. Place us on thy lap. Bless and be with us and make us like Thee. Aum, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti, Amen. Our service today is entitled, “God’s Nature in the Mother.” You know, children are so delightful and candid and clever and to the point. And one little girl was asked, “Who’s the boss at your house, Mommy or Daddy?” And one little girl was asked, “Who’s the boss at your house, Mommy or Daddy?” And she said, “Daddy’s the boss until Mommy comes home.” Children can really teach us a lot. So I’d like to begin now reading the passage from the Gospel of St. Luke. And this took place during the time that Jesus was around 12 years old and he had been separated from his parents for about three days and they were looking for him frantically. And the gospel says, “After three days they found Jesus in the Temple sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him they were amazed. And his mother said unto him—and you notice who spoke first: the mother— she said, ‘Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.’ ” Now in the reply that Jesus gave to his parents, he gives to them and to all parents everywhere the right perspective. He said unto them, “How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” This is an excerpt from Paramahansaji’s commentary on this passage. “This remark was the first hint by Jesus to his parents as to what they would have to expect and what his life was going to be. A successful life must be begun with spiritual culture, for all material and moral actions are governed by spiritual laws. Noble parents, lovers of God, should wish the first interest of their children to be in God’s business. They should start their children on the right road in life by showing them the way to be proficient in contacting God and in doing all things with God-consciousness. A life can be successful, healthy, and complete— balanced with wisdom and happiness— when activity is guided by God’s inner, intuitive direction.” Paramahansaji said, “In vedic India the ordinary family life was a life of spiritual training. This is an excerpt from Paramahansaji’s Gita commentary, and in this commentary he explains how in ancient India, in the higher ages, dutiful spiritual actions were performed by both the householders and renunciants because in that evolved society everyone knew that the ultimate purpose of life was spiritual freedom — liberation. Paramahansaji said, “In ancient times every child at the age of seven entered an ashram that was in the charge of a wise guru-preceptor. The students were given spiritual initiation and received from the guru a sacred thread as a symbol of the purity of life. They also began vedic studies and higher education.” So in this way the individual practiced self-discipline up to the age of 24, then” — listen carefully — “with character formed, he entered family life.” So this was truly a golden age with highly evolved souls. But what a blessing for all of us to have been born at this time in Dwapara Yuga, when the Great Masters deemed that the time was ripe for the teachings of Kriya Yoga to be reintroduced once again into the world. And all of us who have embraced Paramahansaji’s teachings are actually following the teachings of vedic India. And listen to what Guruji says here. He says, “You will also find those in this age who are living ahead of their time.” He’s referring to you and I, and we don’t really know how far we’ve already traveled on the spiritual path. And those of you who are parents — you have both a duty and a blessing to share Paramahansaji’s teachings with your children, to set them on the right road in life, and to stress and emphasize in their life the importance of cultivating an intimate and personal relationship with God, because that is what leads to spiritual freedom. So in our service today we will explore those responsibilities as it pertains to the role of the mother. But first let us have a few minutes of chanting and meditation. Let us now assume the correct meditation posture. Keep the spine erect, the chin parallel to the floor, palms upturned, resting at the juncture between the thigh and abdomen. The gaze should be lifted to the Kutastha center, the point between the eyebrows. And as we chant together, imbue the words of the chant with your heart’s love and devotion. Go deeper and deeper into the words. Feel that your chanting is an offering to God, and that every word you utter comes from your heart, comes from the depth of your being. And after we’ve chanted, take some phrase from that chant and repeat it again and again and again. Go deeper and deeper with that thought. Then after a while, if you know one of the SRF meditation techniques, you may practice that or just remain in that deep inner stillness surrounded by that peaceful presence of the Divine. Let us now chant. So let us now have our affirmation. I will read it first and then you will repeat after me. Divine Mother, open wide the bud of my devotion and release its fragrance, that it may spread from my soul, to the souls of all others, ever whispering of Thee. Please repeat after me: Divine Mother, open wide the bud of my devotion and release its fragrance, that it may spread from my soul to the souls of all others, ever whispering of Thee. Aum. Shanti. Shanti. Shanti. Amen. So the service today is entitled “God’s Nature and the Mother.” And Paramahansaji tells us that in India we like to speak of God as the Mother Divine because a mother is more tender and forgiving than a father. He said that devotees find profuse remission of sins, meaning the lessening or forgiveness of our sins, in worshiping God as the ever merciful Divine Mother. So what he’s saying here is that the nature of the mother is more tender, forgiving, more forgiving, and ever merciful. And listen carefully to what Guruji says that God has done within the heart of every mother. He tells us that God implanted in the heart of the mother a love for the child that is unconditional, regardless of the child’s merit or behavior. And he says that in many ways that unconditional love is more spiritual and therefore greater than most human expressions of love. And I remember some of my friends who gave birth to their sons or daughters, and they said to me that that experience of giving birth and holding that newborn baby was so overwhelming. They felt so much love in their heart that they felt it was going to burst. They said it was the greatest experience of their life. And it’s almost as though God is using the vehicle of the mother, the heart of the mother, to care for her children, for His children. And I remember Mrinalini Mata receiving many letters from mothers around the world asking for prayers for their son or their daughter. And on one occasion she wrote something so beautifully to a mother. She said always remember this: “That babe that you gave birth to, that child belongs to Divine Mother. That is not your child. She’s only giving that babe into your care for a time, and the more you can love that child, the more you can nurture it with tenderness, the more the Divine Mother can work through your heart to guide that child rightly in life.” How beautiful that is. How true it is. Each one of us is a child of the Divine Mother. Guruji goes on to say that, “This human love is closest to the perfection of God’s love.” Guruji goes on to say that, “This human love is closest to the perfection of God’s love.” Guruji goes on to say that, “This human love is closest to the perfection of God’s love.” So think of that. He also explains one reason, among many, why God implanted his unconditional love in the heart of the mother. He said, “The mother’s love is not given to us to spoil us with indulgence, but to soften our hearts that we may in turn soften others with kindness, and free struggling souls from the hard knots of bondage to this world. Those who are helplessly shackled by dire difficulties need our tenderness and love. And haven’t you found that when life is difficult and you’re facing some challenge or another sometimes you think, “I could sure use a little tenderness and love.” I know that I have many times. And I remember when my mother was still alive, and in my younger years, and even when after I’d entered the ashram, when I found that I was going through some struggle, I would sometimes call her on the weekends. And I just wanted to make that connection with her. I never told her that I was going through a difficult time. And I found that just by making that connection with her, as we chatted about anything and everything, somehow her ever-present love, her unconditional love and tenderness and affection, always, always came through. And it was like a soothing balm for my soul. Many years later, it was about a week before she left her body, I went to visit with her and I said, “Mother do you remember on the weekends sometimes I would call you? Well I have a little secret to tell you. Sometimes when I called I was going through a difficult period, but I never wanted to burden you with my problems. I just wanted to talk with you. And just by doing that you gave me the strength to keep on keeping on.” And as I was saying this to her, I noticed she had this little twinkle in her eye and she said, “Well, my darling, that touches me to hear you say that, but I have a little secret to tell you.” She said, “All those times when you called, I knew, and I knew what you needed the most.” Such is the heart of a mother — tenderness and love. And I’m sure that each one of you can reflect on similar moments with your own mother. I want to share with you something that a devotee sent to me. It’s based on a study that was done in 2003 and it’s entitled, “Her Voice Is Powerful.” It says you knew your mother’s voice before you were even born. A 2003 study out of Queens University in Canada published in the Journal of Psychological Science found that the fetal heart of an unborn baby races faster when hearing a recorded poem read by its own mother compared to when the poem is read by a stranger’s voice. Later in the 2010 study it was found that this vocal maternal power continues long past the baby state. Hearing a mother’s voice eases older children’s stress just as much as a real-life hug. The sound of mom’s voice lowers children’s stress hormone cortisol and raises his or her level of oxytocin, a hormone linked with love and bonding. So give your mom a call on this Mother’s Day. It’ll do you both a tremendous amount of good. Every parent wants to be the best they can be for their children and you want to set them on the right road in life, especially spiritually. And as a mother we could say that you have two basic responsibilities that are key. The first responsibility is for your spiritual life to be strong and active. Because it’s from your relationship with God that you will gain the strength and the wisdom, the infinite patience and tolerance that it takes to guide your child rightly. So this is your first priority — to yourself. The second highest priority is to create a spiritual environment for your child. And the best way to do that is by your example. That’s key because the way you behave tells it all. You are their role model and children are very smart and impressionable. You know, their minds are like sponges and children are very smart and impressionable. You know, their minds are like sponges and they will absorb all of your thinking and they will imitate your habits and your behavior. You’re their world. You are the most important person in their life and they want to be like you. You’re their world. You are the most important person in their life and they want to be like you. You can also set the example in the many roles that you play for your children. There’s going to be times when you’ll be their spiritual counselor sharing Master’s teachings with them, sharing stories from the books and the lessons on Master’s life. And I remember when I was a young child my mother had this beautiful leather-bound book entitled “The Lives of The Saints,” and every Sunday and sometimes during the week she’d sit down with me and she’d read a story. And she didn’t just read it, she would almost act it out and she’d read a story. And she didn’t just read it, she would almost act it out and it was so engaging and it just grasped my little mind and I just loved everything that she shared. And at the end of the story she was very careful to be sure that I understood the moral. And she asked me questions. And if I didn’t understand to be sure that I understood the moral. And she asked me questions. And if I didn’t understand then she would explain it. She also prayed with me and you can do that with your children. Teach them to talk to God as though He was right there in front of them. They can pray about anything and everything that pertains to their life. And you are the example. Show them how to pray. And of course if they observe in you that spiritual strength and faith, which is something that I gained from those stories and I gained from my mother’s example, it will become second nature to them because they lived with someone who exemplified that faith and that trust. There will be times when your children go through difficulties that only they must endure no matter how you try to help them. And when they come to cry on your shoulder you will be there for them as an oasis of comfort and love and tenderness. And mothers are the greatest of consolers because you’ve been through it all and you understand. There will be times when you will be their life coach and when your children excel you tell them how proud you are of them. In great detail acknowledge their successes. And when they’re hesitant we can remind them, can’t we, that they already have everything within them that they need to succeed. And if they call on God and ask for His help and do the work required He will surely be there to pave the way and bless all their good efforts. You can also be a sanctuary of safety for your children where they feel safe and they can come to you about anything and everything that’s on their mind. And they know that you won’t judge them, but you will listen with empathy; and you will try to understand them and see things from their perspective and then guide them rightly. And during those times when you’re going to have to be the disciplinarian, let your firm, loving, consistent discipline be done in such a way that doesn’t make your child feel that they failed in any way, but rather that they’re on a growth journey, and as they strive to do better and to engage in right behavior, they will grow into a well-balanced, healthy, spiritually inclined mature member of society. And that type of person uplifts not only those around them but society in general. So these are just a few of the many roles that you will play for your child. But whatever role you play do it in such a way that leaves a lasting favorable impression. And I have an excellent example of that. It’s from the book, “Medja,” written by his brother, Sananda Lal Ghosh, and it talks of the family and the early life of Paramahansa Yogananda and it’s loaded with so many stories that you can use to share with your children. There’s this one story that Sananda tells about his mother’s loving discipline. And he wrote: about his mother’s loving discipline. And he wrote: I recall an incident of mother’s training of us children. Our family was invited for tea at the home of a Bengali friend. A little girl sitting near me was playing with attractive colored picture cards that one could get only from cigarette packages. I stared intently at the bright cards contriving how I could obtain them for myself. Mother sensed my intention and looked at me over the heads of the guests. I had been discovered. Immediately I controlled myself, but luckily I did get a card quite by chance. When the little girl left she unknowingly dropped one of the picture cards and I hastily picked it up and put it in my pocket. After we returned home I was getting ready for bed while Mother brushed and arranged the clothes we had worn. I suddenly remembered the picture in my pocket and knew Mother was bound to find it. “Mother,” I cried. It was too late. She removed the picture from the pocket, but said nothing at that moment because Father was in the room. I quickly jumped into bed and shut my eyes tightly pretending to be asleep. Of course Mother knew better and softly spoke my name. But I was so fearful I could say nothing. Then she spoke: “Have I not read to you from the scriptures that to take something without the owner’s permission is stealing? Why did you bring the picture home without asking? So many things in this world are lying about momentarily unattended. Will you also pick them up? Never do this again. Will you remember this?” With my eyes still shut tight, I nodded. I felt a strange, tingling current pass through my spine. The next morning, mother sent the picture and some sweets to the mother of the girl. She enclosed a letter to beg forgiveness for what I had done. She had humbly written: “My son has committed a great offense. Please forgive me for his behavior.” I think we would all agree that she masterfully handled a situation that required loving discipline. So let’s take a closer look at how she handled this. She senses her son’s intention and gives him a glance — that was the first message. And when she finds the card, she doesn’t lose her temper. She doesn’t raise her voice, or shout angrily at him. So what does she do? She softly speaks his name, because she knew he was already fearful. Next she reminds him that taking something that belongs to another is stealing, and that the scriptural commandment: “Thou shalt not steal” is a universal principle. And then she asked him: “Why you took the card?” He certainly had to think about it. And next she gives him clear guidance, firmly telling him never to do it again. And she asks him to agree, by saying: “Will you remember this? And not only this incident, but the underlying lesson and principle behind it?” And Sananda nods. Now the question is: Did he remember? In great detail. Because, he added this story and many other stories, praising her, for her loving discipline. And then the note she writes to the girl’s mother asking forgiveness, this shows her humility, and her nobility of character. And this is a beautiful example for all mothers to show how a mother’s spirituality, comes into play. Her spirituality in action. And that approach that she took, left a lasting, favorable impression. And obviously, she had a strong spiritual foundation, that deep, personal relationship with God, and something that we, too, are working towards. And often times, devotees ask: “Well, what is the best approach that I can take, to develop that relationship with God?” And I was thinking, you know, it could be likened to the way that I approach my mother. I just wanted to make that connection with her. I never burdened her with my problems. But just by calling on her, just by connecting with her, her love, her tenderness, always came through. And what does Guruji tell us? He says that the moment you sit down to commune with God, set aside all your troubles, all your worries, and problems. Free your mind from them, and then call on the Lord and talk to Him in the language of your heart. And it could go something like this: “Lord, I’m here to be with you. Just you. Just you and I. Just you and I.” It can be that simple. Then don’t just say a few words; Continue to pray. Continue to invoke God’s presence. Feel it in your heart: “I need Thee, Lord. Be with me, now in this meditation, and every moment of life. Be with me.” Go on and on, churning the ether, calling on God’s presence. And after you’ve done that, then dive deep into the practice of those sacred, scientific techniques of yoga meditation. They will take you deep within. They will take all your feelings, all your thoughts, all your consciousness, all the life force in the body, deep within, so that you can perceive the presence of the living God within you. Practice long and deep, and then at the end of your meditation, he says: “Spend time in silent communion with the Lord.” Feel the peace. Feel the love. Feel that tranquility, that calmness that comes over you from His response.” Guruji said: “Pray deeply, and you will see that there is a God who is very human, who is very human, and responds to human affection.” Now, you may ask: But what about all those troubles, my burdens? Is it wrong, to talk to God about them? Not at all. But consider this: Divine Mother knows us better than we know ourselves, and She knows about our problems long before they occur. And because She’s bigger than all our challenges, She knows what we need, and when we need it. And in her time, when the time is right, and our consciousness is right to receive, her help will be forthcoming, unfailingly. Guruji said: “Like any loving father or mother, the Lord delights in fulfilling our worthy wishes, and legitimate needs. Like any loving father or mother, the Lord delights in fulfilling our worthy wishes, and our legitimate needs.” And so through regular, daily, deep meditation, and deep prayer, cultivate a deep prayer life. And then you will see that God, the Divine Mother, will truly become for us, someone that we can always turn to for guidance. And Their guidance will always be there, unfailingly. God will become for us someone we can trust absolutely. He will become someone whom we can love completely, and whom we know love us unconditionally. And by our daily efforts, He will become for us a living, loving presence that never leaves us. We carry Him in our hearts, in our consciousness. Why? Because we have made Him the center of our life. So let us all long for this, pray for this, meditate deeply to attain that beautiful, intimate relationship with God. Let us now have our healing service and join with the Worldwide Prayer Council to pray for all those who are in need of God’s help for healing in body, mind, and soul; and let us pray for world peace. I’d like to ask all of you to please stand and we will practice together Paramahansaji’s healing technique. Please pray with me: Heavenly Father, Thou are omnipresent, Thou art in all they children. Manifest Thy healing presence in their bodies. Aum Heavenly Father, Thou are omnipresent, Thou art in all Thy children. Manifest Thy healing presence in their minds. Aum Heavenly Father, Thou art omnipresent, Thou art in all Thy children. Manifest Thy healing presence in their souls. Aum Divine Mother, spread Thy mantle of peace over all the earth, that the people and leaders of all nations may learn to live together in true peace and brotherhood. Let us now raise our hands and chant Aum for world peace. Aum Heavenly Father, Mother, Friend, beloved God, Jesus Christ, Bhagavan Krishna, Mahavatar Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya, Swami Sri Yukteswarji divine Gurudeva, Paramahansa Yoganandaji, saints of all religions, we bow to you all. Divine Mother, make my soul Thy temple, make my heart Thine altar, make my love Thy home. And may Thy love shine forever on the sanctuary of my devotion, and may I be able to awaken Thy love in all hearts. Aum, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti Amen.