Swami Swaroopananda on God’s Will
Question: How does one know the difference between God’s will and our own will and how can we surrender to God’s will?
Answer: We know nothing about God’s will. The only way for us to know about God’s will is from studying the scriptures, for example, the Vedas. God’s will means the supreme being’s will and the supreme being includes everything. Yogis believe that there is ultimately one will that governs all individual wills. Each of us has an individual will but when the universe operates in harmony, all individual wills act in harmony with each other. And that harmony is governed by what the rishis, the sages, called the divine will, or God’s will. But to say that we, as individuals, truly understand God’s will, this would be a bold statement. We know very little about God’s will unless we study the scriptures and listen to the guidance of the rishis, the sages, or unless we have a guru. Ultimately, in higher states of consciousness, there are people who are aware of the one supreme will that governs all wills.
What is the method by which we may become aware of God’s will? Of course, the method is meditation. In the deepest levels of meditation a person may become aware of that will which unifies and governs all wills, and some people have achieved this. The rest of us are left with only the possibility to believe it or not to believe it.
Therefore yogis say that the most important references are the scriptures and sages, and the words of the spiritual preceptor. But what about people who do not believe in God, can they become aware of God’s will? If God’s love is real, even those who don’t believe in God are able to become aware of it. Even those that call themselves atheists can become aware of God’s will, although they may not call God’s will by this name. They may not even use the word “God.” Still, they can become aware, at a certain level of consciousness, of God’s will. But for most of the people, it is a matter of faith. Either you believe it or you don’t believe it. And if you believe, it will follow.
Yogis don’t speak much about God’s will. In our scriptures, there are discussions about God’s will but for most people who follow the path of yoga, they don’t know much about God but they know a lot of other things which allow them to enter the path of yoga. And, again, there are people who come to the path of yoga, without believing in God at all. What about them? Can they enter the path of yoga? Of course they can. So, belief in God is not a precondition for entering the path of yoga. Is yoga equally valuable for atheists and non-atheists? Of course. The idea of yoga is that as our consciousness evolves, we become more aware of many new levels of existence and things that we were not aware of before. Yogis speak about that will which governs everything. Through the power of divine meditation, we may become aware of divine will.
Swami Swaroopananda is a senior disciple of Swami Vishnudevananda. A practicing yogi from a very young age, Swami Swaroopananda has dedicated his life to the practice and teaching of yoga. He taught in Yoga Teacher Training Courses around the world and is currently teaching advanced yoga philosophy courses and lectures internationally. He is Director of the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat and acharya (spiritual director) for the Sivananda centers and ashrams in the Bahamas and the Middle East. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres.