“Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord of Hosts.” – Zechariah 4:6

“When you find no strength left in the body, when you find no strength left in the mind, you have to stand on the strength of the Self, the Spirit.”

Swami Ashokananda[1]

There is a power that is greater than any force that we can imagine. There is a wellspring of infinite strength that never runs dry. This is the power of the Eternal Divine Spirit. It dwells in the spark of God that lies inside us all.


Sister Gargi: “Is it alright for me to stuff cotton in my ears when I meditate?”

Swami Ashokananda: “No, better not to use external aids.”

SG: It’s very noisy in the morning in my apartment. The people below start getting up.”

Swami: “Use willpower. Do you know willpower?”

SG: “No.”

Swami: “Become acquainted with it. Balanced strength is the true strength. It is like the serene surface of a calm lake. It goes deep, deep. One feels one can give oneself to it and be held securely. If necessary, serene strength can raise waves mountain high.”[1]

The power of the Spirit is not accessed by stirring up the emotions, or by galvanizing our feelings and resolve. We tap into this great Divine power by diving deep within ourselves to the place of calm and stillness where the presence of God resides. It is from this place of absolute quiet and tranquility that we awaken the power of the Spirit, the power of the Will of God.

One of the devotees of Sri Ramana Maharshi described the special power that emanated from Bhagavan, the Maharshi, when he withdrew inward into himself:

“When Bhagavan gave darshan [benediction of his presence] on Jayanti [birth] days he generally cut out all casual conversation with his attendants and devotees…For most of the day he would sit statue-like on his couch, with his eyes open, but not focused on anything in particular. He would be so still that even his stomach and chest, which should have been gently rising and falling with his breathing, would show no signs of movement. Many devotees, including myself, felt that he radiated more than the usual amount of power and grace on Jayanti days. We all felt this power very strongly when Bhagavan sat transfixed in these Samadhi-like states.”[2]

Or as another devotee portrayed the scene:

“The hall was filled with power and silence and an immense love that was pouring from Bhagavan like a mighty sea.”[3]

The Bible makes this truth explicit for us in the story of Elijah’s experience on Mount Horeb. Elijah had gone to Mount Horeb in search of God. Seating himself in a cave, he plunged inward in meditation. First, he experienced a howling wind that broke upon the mountain, then a powerful earthquake that shook the ground around him, and finally a raging fire that filled his cave. But, the Torah tells us, the Lord was not in the wind, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire, but in the “still small voice” which came afterward and resounded in the very depth of his being.

 

“Lord, by Your favor You have made my mountain stand strong.”  – Psalm 30:8

Inner strength is not something that we attain on our own; it is a Divine favor, a Divine grace. Rav Abraham Isaac Kook teaches that all real confidence arises out of the understanding of this profound truth; the recognition that the “strength of my mountain” is a gift of God’s Will. All the good that we have, all the strength that we feel, is the result of His grace, the shining of His Supernal Countenance upon us; it is not connected to any other reason or cause. The more we internalize this truth, Rav Kook assures us, the more we will be able to draw on the Divine Spirit within us, and the greater will be our confidence and joy.[4]

Based upon this principle, the Hasidic Master, Mordechai of Neskhizh, suggests that whenever we find our vitality begin to ebb away and our conviction start to waver, we should recite Psalm 46:8, “The Lord of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our eternal stronghold.” And we should keep on repeating this phrase until we feel that our strength and our confidence have returned to full force.[5]

Psalm 46:8 continues, “Lord of Hosts, happy is the human being (adam) who trusts in You.” Rav Kook explains that the end of this verse comes to tell us that once we truly understand what it means to be a human being, adam, we will know that all is well. When we will realize that we have been created in the image of God, that the strength and power of the Infinite is within us, then we will have complete trust in God and confidence in ourselves. This spiritual confidence will link our every thought, word and deed to the Will of God. It will raise us above the sorrows of this world and bind us to the “source of all that is.”[6]

This is the nature of a holy person. A holy person is someone who dwells completely in the knowledge that he is a spark of the living God. This Self-knowledge permeates everything that he says and does. It uplifts and empowers all those who meet him or her. Simply by being in the presence of a holy person, we will be imbued with confidence, trust and faith.

In a holy person, the Spirit of God becomes a tangible presence. It radiates forth from him. It is a quality that can be felt, experienced and received.

Once again, it is a story from the life of the prophet Elijah which brings out this truth.

Before Elijah parted from his disciple Elisha, he turned to Elisha and said: “Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken away from you.” Elisha thought a moment and then replied, “I pray you, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.” (Kings II 2:9)

Later, after Elijah had disappeared into the heavens, Elisha made his way back across the Jordan River to Jericho. When the sons of the prophets saw Elisha approaching, tremendous energy was emanating from him. At once, they proclaimed, “The spirit of Elijah is on Elisha.” Then they came to meet Elisha and bowed themselves on the ground before him. (Kings II 2:15)

 

The power of the Spirit is the blessing of a holy person. The power of the Spirit is the grace of the Holy One, Blessed be He. The power of the Spirit reaches beyond the body and beyond the mind to touch our Divine essence. It is the stillness of the Self, the peace of Pure Consciousness, the silent presence of Eternal Life that underlies all that exists.

 

Copyright © 2010, by Yoel Glick

 

Acknowledgements    (↵ returns to text)

  1. Sister Gargi, A Heart Poured Out, p. 411
  2. Sister Gargi, A Disciple’s Journal, p. 60
  3.  David Godman, The Power of the Presence, Vol III, p. 208.
  4. Godman, p. 103.
  5. Rav Abraham Isaac Kook, Olat Reiyah, p. 189
  6. Mordechai of Neskhizh, Reshifai Aish # 12
  7. Rav Abraham Isaac Kook, Olat Reiyah, p. 150, see also his commentary on Psalm 91