To be human is commonly associated with lack, mistakes and failure. Habitual expressions referring to the human condition include “I’m only human”,  “to be human is to err” and excusing any manner of human foible or fault as  “just human nature”. But what if the truth is that being human, in essence, is to be divine?

Paramhansa Yogananda was a man who was born in India in 1893 and died in California in 1952, but he was (and is) also a divine being, fully awakened in Self-realization. Once, a great disciple found himself in the presence of the Yogananda, contemplating this paradox of his human form and his divine stature. Sensing this student’s deep consideration but inability to comprehend–”how can the little cup hold the whole ocean?”–Yogananda approached the disciple and, smiling, gave him an apple. In a subtle yet playful way, he was imparting the unthinkable wisdom of an enlightened Guru who is one with God: that the highest form of humanity is divinity. Yogananda’s definition of Self-realization explains that within each human form dwells the divine:

“Self-realization is the knowing in all parts of body, mind, and soul that you are now in possession of the kingdom of God; that you do not have to pray that it come to you; that God’s omnipresence is your omnipresence; and that all that you need to do is improve your knowing.”

To ‘improve our knowing’ is the only goal of life. Lesser teachings and teachers will convincingly reason that it is sufficient to simply accept and love oneself as one is, or that a little self improvement is enough. But the ultimate, beautiful goal of life is to know God, and the human who recognizes and yearns for this knowledge will be satisfied with nothing less. In the words of the great saint Sister Gyanamata “see nothing, look at nothing, but your goal ever shining before you”.

There is a little flame of Spirit in every human soul in creation. Many humans remain ignorant or naive, barely acknowledging the divinity so readily apparent within and without. But the human being who fans and feeds the spiritual flame feels its inner warmth and light, gradually spreading everywhere. Meditation and especially Kriya Yoga are the highest forms of art and science available for the little flame to become spirit, for the little soul to know God. The natural expansion of consciousness that follows, hand in glove, leads to loving awareness and perception of, and joyful service to God in everyone, everywhere. But everything starts with the little human being who seeks God, pulling on that thread of seeking tirelessly, lovingly, without end.

Remarkably, and never revisited enough by the inspired disciple, is the statement by Yogananda that the enlightened state of jivanmukta is attainable in this very lifetime. The illumination of great saints and sages is not the stuff of far off spiritual legends, but the essence of our own lives here and now. Every human heart holds the universal current of Divine Love, beating eternally through the cosmos and in the hearts of all. Every human experience is an invitation to awaken that love. Some humans will pine for the “good ole days” that will never come, because the real good days come each and every day, when no matter what comes we do our best to love God, seeking and serving God, thankful for these countless divine blessings of being human.

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