November 1997 Newsletter (Volume 1, Number 2)
"Everywhere we look in daily life there are Pilgrims all around us; heroic souls who strive to be free, and are willing to undertake great sacrifice that others may also be free."
Divine Mother Audrey's Message
On October 3, l863, President Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving Day a national holiday, to be observed on the last Thursday of November. In l94l Congress adopted a joint resolution confirming the fourth Thursday of November, as Thanksgiving Day.
Thanksgiving is an American holiday which usually brings to mind a day to get together with friends and family. Over the years, the focus has been to prepare the traditional roast turkey and pumpkin pie with all the trimmings and to catch the football season on television.
Many people have a vague recollection that this holiday started with the Pilgrims, but have forgotten the beautiful history behind this celebration. It is a story of human struggle, courage, and a commitment to the freedom to practice one's faith against great odds. The story carries timeless application for us today, as we recall with deep gratitude in our hearts the great love and sacrifice of others that paved the way for us.
Religion in England was woven into the monarchy as a way to unify the people, and to command their loyalty. When Queen Elizabeth I ascended to the throne in l558, she was determined to enforce one Protestant religion. She passed an Act of Uniformity which compelled the clergy to adhere strictly to the detailed forms of worship set forth in the Book of Common Prayer. A group of Puritans known as Independents began to oppose the Church of England. They found the detailed forms of worship in the Book of Common Prayer repugnant, and they sought to worship in their own way.
Some Independents, called Separatists, began to hold their own private worship, and stayed away from the church. By forming these separate congregations, the Puritans made themselves subject to persecution, and Parliament forbade them to hold their own services.
When James I ascended to the throne in l603, he made it clear that he opposed the Puritans. He considered their disagreement of his leadership of the Church of England seditious. He strengthened the Court of High Commission to punish Puritans who wanted to make reforms. As persecution of the Puritans intensified, they escaped to Holland, eventually settling in Leyden.
The Puritans began to hear glowing accounts of North American settlements. A pioneer English colony in North America had been founded at Jamestown. Life in Leyden was difficult. Work was not easy to find, and they had not been able to escape from religious strife. Leyden was also a potential battlefield as a twelve year truce between Holland and Spain was to end in l92l. The Pilgrim Fathers decided to go to America. They were hopeful of having the freedom to worship in their new homeland.
The Leyden Pilgrims boarded the Mayflower and sailed for North America, eventually landing at New Plymouth, where they established a settlement. Nearly half of the Pilgrims died from the harsh New England winter, disease, and scurvy. The Wampanoag Indians were friendly to the Pilgrims, and taught them how to plant corn, and showed them how to harvest fish and other commodities of the land. The first harvest in a new land was bountiful, and a day of thanksgiving was set aside. The Pilgrims were joined by the Indians in three days of festivities, and the first thanksgiving in American history was celebrated.
The Pilgrims wanted to thank God for His bounty. Notwithstanding all of their suffering, they never lost their faith in God, and their strong spiritual life was instrumental in seeing them through their hardships. Over the years, more settlers arrived from England to escape the continuing anti-Puritan policies of the monarchy.
Samuel Eliot Morison, wrote in The Pilgrim Fathers, Their Significance In History, that the story of the Pilgrims was a "story of their patience and fortitude, and the workings of the unseen force which bears up heroic souls in the doing of mighty errands, as often as is read or told, quickens the spiritual forces in American life, strengthens faith in God, and confidence in human nature...And the key to that story, the vital factor in this little group, is the faith in God that exalted them and their small enterprise to something of lasting value and enduring interest."
The cornerstone of truly great achievement rests in God, and the inner peace that one can find when the heart and mind reposes in Him, no matter what the trying circumstances in life may be. As the Pilgrims thanked God for His goodness though they suffered, so too, may we thank God for the experiences that we must experience to evolve and grow in greater strength spiritually. Let every day be a day of thanksgiving to God. Everywhere we look in daily life there are Pilgrims all around us; heroic souls who strive to be free, and are willing to undertake great sacrifice that others may also be free.
History is replete with horrific persecutions in the name of religion. We are fortunate that in our American history the freedom of religion is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States which sets forth that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."
I remember Divine Mother in my heart always, and I recall how she used to say that America was founded on freedom of religion. She could see the inherent wisdom in allowing a nation's citizenry the right to worship God in ways that rang true in their hearts. She saw the beauty in the ability of each person to realize his or her potential to the fullest, and she often said that the greatest love that one can give is freedom. We can never experience true freedom at the oppression of others, for we are all connected to each other, and to oppress others is to oppress ourselves.
Sri Ramakrishna said, "I have practiced all religions—Hinduism, Islam, Christianity—and I have found that it is the same God toward whom all are directing their steps, though along different paths...Whenever I look, I see men quarrelling in the name of religion—Hindus, Mohammedans, Brahmos, Vaishnavas, and the rest. But they never reflect that He who is called Krishna is also called Siva, and bears the name of the Primal Energy, Jesus and Allah as well—the same Rama with a thousand names. A lake has several ghats. At one the Hindus take water in pitchers and call it 'jal' at another the Mussalmans take water in leather bags and call it 'pani' at a third the Christians call it 'water.' Can we imagine that it is not 'jal' but only 'pani' or 'water?' The substance is One under different names, and everyone is seeking the same substance; only climate, temperament, and name create differences. Let each man follow his own path. If he sincerely and ardently wishes to know God, peace be unto him! He will surely realize Him...If people feel sincere longing, they will find that all paths lead to God."
I thank Divine Mother for awakening my spiritual consciousness, and for making God come alive in my heart. I remember her life spent in her humble kitchen, serving an endless stream of people who sought to be with her, and experience her powerful transmissions. Divine Mother wrote to me on October 27, 1973, "When one loves the Lord, he knows God is all in all, and that God is perfect harmony, love, joy and abundance, and that God is the only power. Attach the mind to God and work. Everything belongs to Him. He is infinite love...Let God be the Doer. He is the Creator and the Destroyer, and as we hold His hand and work in the early stages of spiritual unfoldment we will get strength and comfort, the anxieties will gradually disappear. Try to love God first before anything else. His life is in you the closest of all. Keep on thanking Him. He is running the universe."
How I love the deep respect that Sri Ramakrishna and Divine Mother had for each person's sacred journey back to the Godself. They lived in that transcendent state of pure Spirit in which religions do not exist, and yet is the wellspring from which all religions are born.
There is great joy in each person's spiritual evolvement, and I have been privileged to see incredible growth taking place throughout the spiritual family. I am happy to see these courageous souls go for their true freedom which can only be found in God realization. Along the way, I am touched by these grateful hearts who praise God, and I am happy to share with you their beautiful thanksgiving in this issue. May the joy of this holiday and everyday be magnified in our hearts with deep gratefulness and devotion to the One Great God. Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Words of Thanksgiving from the Spiritual Family
Thank you so much Sri Ramakrishna, Divine Mother, Divine Mother Audrey and the spiritual family for bringing me home to God. Divine Mother Audrey, you who keep this spiritual path alive, shining brightly, so true and overflowing with Love...I am so grateful that I am for the first time really getting to know my Godself within me...that I am learning the meaning of God's unconditional Love and I am beginning to give this love out to my husband, my children and family...that I can now be a better wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend. I no longer feel lonely, but I feel so fulfilled, so loved, so complete and at peace, for this I am grateful.
I will always be grateful to Divine Mother Audrey for guiding me to God's unconditional Love and peace, and for the awareness that God is in my heart...Thank you for helping me to see the good in everything, and that all of our experiences are for our spiritual evolvement.
Ten years ago when I was in Boston, Divine Mother asked me to visit Swami Sarvagatananda...When I asked Swami if I could do anything for him when I returned to Hawaii, he said, "Serve your Spiritual Mother." To my deep regret I did not follow through, and I am grateful that I have a second chance now to serve Divine Mother by serving Divine Mother Audrey.
Divine Mother Audrey, thank you for my experience of seeing Divine Mother's Light which you will be taking to the world.