Daily Readings by Sw. Sivananda Saraswati

0 Wed, 13 December 2017, 06:43

Moksha Gita – 1 

Fear not, my child. In reality there is no death for thee. There is a means for crossing this ocean of relative existence and attaining immortality or the supreme bliss. I shall teach thee now Brahma-Vidya (knowledge of the Absolute).

Salutation to satchidananda para (supreme) Brahman, that glorious first preceptor, who is self-luminous, eternal, indivisible, pure, spotless, desireless, attributeless, timeless, spaceless, changeless, beginningless and endless.

That ultimate reality which is the support for this world, body, prana (life), mind and senses, which is the womb for the vedas, which is all-pervading and all-permeating, which is colourless, odourless, tasteless, nameless and formless – that something shines eternally.

Some indescribable supreme principle which is imperishable, unborn, undecaying, fearless, motionless, one without a second, ancient and infinite – that alone exists.

What is neither short nor long, neither that much nor this much, neither black nor white, neither stout nor thin, neither good nor bad – that should be understood as Brahman.

That which is neither subtle nor dense, which has neither caste nor name, which is immutable, immortal and bodiless, which is beyond the reach of mind and speech – that should be understood as Brahman.

Brahman is distinct from the gross, subtle and causal bodies. He is the soul of all. He is the inner ruler of all. He is eternally free. He is without action, and without motion.

Brahman cannot be defined. To define Brahman is to deny Brahman. The only adequate description of Brahman is a series of negatives. That is the reason why the Upanishads declare, “Neti-neti” – “not this-not this”.

Respect All – Adore All 

Competent disciples are never in want of a competent guru. Realised souls are not rare, but ordinary ignorant persons cannot easily recognise them. Only a few persons, who are pure and embodiments of all virtuous qualities, can understand realised souls, and they only will be benefited in their company. The number of realised souls may be less in the present age when compared with the satya yuga (the golden age), but they are always present to help the aspirants. They are always searching for the proper adhikaris (qualified aspirants). Let each man take the path according to his capacity, understanding and temperament. His true guru will meet him along that path.

Do not dig shallow pits here and there for obtaining water, for the pits will dry up soon. Dig a very deep pit in one place and centralise all your efforts here. You will find good water that can supply you throughout the year. Even so, try to imbibe thoroughly the spiritual teachings from one preceptor alone. Drink deeply from one man. Sit at his feet for some years. It is useless to wander from one man to another out of curiosity, losing faith in a short time. Do not have the ever-changing mind of a prostitute, but follow the spiritual instructions of one man only. If you go to several people and follow the instructions of many persons, you will become quite bewildered and be in a dilemma.

From one doctor you get a prescription. From two doctors you get consultation. From three doctors you get your own cremation. Even so, if you have many gurus, you will be bewildered and be at a loss to know what to do. One guru will tell you: “Do this.” Another will tell you: “Do that.” A third guru will tell you: “Do the other.” You will be quite puzzled. Stick to one guru and follow his instructions.

Listen to all, but follow one. Respect all, but adore one. Gather knowledge from all, but adopt the teachings of one master. Then you will have rapid spiritual progress.

– – –

The guru and the scriptures can show you the path and remove your doubts. Direct experience or direct intuitive knowledge is left for your own experience. A hungry man will have to eat for himself. No doubt, the guru’s blessing can do everything. But how can one have his blessings? By pleasing the guru. A guru can be pleased with his disciple only if the latter carries out his spiritual instructions implicitly. Therefore, follow the instructions of the guru carefully. Only then will you deserve his blessings which can do everything.

Guru Bhakti 

You will find in the Gita: “Learn thou this by discipleship, by enquiry and by service. The wise, the seers of the essence of things, will instruct thee in wisdom.” (Chapter IV – Verse 34.)

The guru must not only be a Brahma-shrotriya (well-versed), but a Brahma-Nishta (established in Brahman) as well. Mere study of books cannot make one a guru. One who has studied the vedas and who has direct knowledge of the Atman, through anubhava (direct experience), is a guru. If you find peace in the presence of a holy man (mahatma) and if your doubts are removed in his presence, you can take him as your guru. When the guru gives the mantra to his disciples, he gives with it his own power.

Just as water flows in a river, so also jnana (knowledge) and bhakti (devotion) are ever flowing from a sage. Only a thirsty man drinks water. So too, a thirsty aspirant, who has implicit faith in his guru and is eager to imbibe his teachings can drink the nectar from him. The student can imbibe from his guru only in proportion to the intensity of his faith in him.

The guru tests the students in various ways. Some students misunderstand him and lose their faith in him. Hence they are not benefited. But those that stand the tests boldly come out successful in the end.

The periodical examinations in the ‘University of Sages’ are very stiff indeed. Once a great sage (Gorakhnath) asked some students to climb a tall tree and throw themselves head downwards onto a very sharp trident (trisula). Many of the faithless students kept quiet. But one faithful student at once climbed up the tree with lightning speed and hurled himself down. He was protected by the invisible hand of the sage and had immediate Self-realisation. This man had no deha-adhyasa (feeling, “I am body”), but the others had strong attachment for their bodies.

Once Guru Govind Singh tested his students. He said: “My dear disciples, if you have real devotion towards me, let six of you come forward and give me your heads.” Four faithful disciples offered their heads.

Many people debate over the necessity for having a guru. Some assert vehemently that it is not necessary to have a guru for spiritual advancement and that one can attain Self-realisation through one’s own efforts only. No spiritual progress is possible unless a man gets the benign grace and direct guidance of a spiritual preceptor.

The Disciple’s Duty 

People want to have contact with an avatara (divine incarnation) without being endowed with the proper qualifications. Even if an avatara appears before you, you will not be able to recognise him. You have not got the eyes to see him. You will take him for an ordinary man.

It is only a saint who can recognise a saint. Only a Jesus can understand a Jesus. Even if you live with a saint for a considerable time, you will not be able to fathom or know him.

A beginner on the spiritual path should have various upa-gurus (assistant gurus). He must prepare himself gradually. He must get spiritual instructions from them. He must follow their instructions strictly. He should make himself fit to approach a Brahma Nishta guru (a guru who is already established in Brahman). He should practise meditation and he should see the Lord in meditation.

An aspirant should develop various satvic (divine) virtues. These are all enumerated in the Bhagavad Gita, chapters thirteen and sixteen. These are virtues such as humility, fearlessness, freedom from anger, a forgiving tendency, tranquillity, self-restraint and so on. He must also practise yama (self-restraint) and niyama (discipline). This is his work. The guru will not do this.

But nowadays people want to practise a comfortable yoga, lying in an easy chair. They do not want to practise any vigorous tapas (penance) or sadhana (spiritual discipline). They expect everything to come by the grace of the guru. They even seem to expect him to place Self-realisation before them, like a ready-made betel leaf – so they can just take it and swallow it easily!

All saints and yogis are ready to receive you with outstretched hands and love – if you have the real eyes to behold them, if you have the real heart to unite with them, if you have the real earnestness and longing to be in their company, if you have a real thirsting for God-realisation – and if you are really hungry to eat the sweet divine manna of the illimitable domain of bliss of the self.

Necessity for a Guru 

Ishvara (God) is guru of gurus. He removes the veil of ignorance and blesses the ignorant jiva (soul). The aspirant should regard his immediate guru – in the physical form – as an incarnation of that Guru of all gurus. He should have equal devotion to him. Guru in physical form is the main source and embodiment of all good and happiness that accrues to the disciple.

The disciple should realise the supreme necessity for obeying the guru’s commands and behests. He should keep his faith in the guru unsullied and staunch. Lay bare to your guru the secrets of your heart. The more you do so, the greater the sympathy. And this means an accession of strength to you in the struggle against sin and temptation. A spiritual teacher actually transmits his spiritual power to his disciple.

A certain spiritual vibration of the satguru is actually transferred to the mind of the disciple. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa actually transmitted his spiritual power to Swami Vivekananda. Lord Jesus did the same to his disciples. This is the master’s touch.

It is he who transmutes the little jiva (soul) into great Brahman, infinite. It is he who overhauls the old, wrong, vicious nature (samskaras) of aspirants and awakens them to the attainment of knowledge of the self. It is he who uplifts the jivas from the quagmire of body and samsara (worldly life), who removes the veil of avidya (ignorance), all doubts, fears, etc.  It is he who awakens the kundalini and opens the eye of inner intuition.

– – –

Never look into the defects of the guru. Deify the guru. Guru, Ishvara, Brahman, Om, truth, are all one. Strictly obey the guru and carry out his orders. You must think that underneath the name and the form of the guru there is the all-pervading, pure consciousness. In course of time the physical form will vanish and you will realise your own self, the pure Brahmic consciousness that lies at the back of the physical form of your guru.

Once you have taken a man as your guru you should never change even if you get a man with greater siddhis (development). Then only you will have strong faith. And through this strong faith you will realise God in the guru.

Glory of the Guru 

The guru is God himself manifesting in a personal form to guide the aspirant. Grace of God takes the form of the guru. To see the guru is to see God. The guru is united with God. He inspires devotion in others and his presence purifies all.

The guru is verily a link between the individual and the immortal. He is a being who has raised himself from this to That, and thus has free and unhampered access into both realms. He stands, as it were, upon the threshold of immortality; and, bending down he raises the struggling individuals with one hand, while with the other he lifts them up into the imperium of everlasting joy and infinite truth-consciousness.

The true guru is Brahman himself. He is an ocean of bliss, knowledge and mercy. He is the captain of your soul, the fountain of joy. He removes all your troubles, sorrows and obstacles. He shows you the right divine path and tears your veil of ignorance. He makes you immortal and divine, transmuting your lower, diabolical nature. He gives you the rope of knowledge, and takes you up when you are drowning in this ocean of births and deaths. Do not consider him to be only a man, for, if you do, you are a beast. Worship your guru and bow to him with reverence. Guru is God. A word from him is a word from God. He need not teach anything. Even his presence or company is elevating, inspiring and stirring – his very company being self-illumination. Living in his company is spiritual education. Read the ‘Granth Saheb’ (the holy scripture of the Sikh religion). You will come to know the greatness of the guru.

Man can learn only from man, and hence God teaches through a human body. In your guru, you have your human ideal of perfection, the pattern into which you wish to mould yourself. Your mind will readily be convinced that such a great soul is fit to be worshipped and revered.

Guru is the door to liberation, the gateway to the transcendental truth-consciousness. But, it is the aspirant that has to enter through it. The guru is a help, but the actual task of practical spiritual practice falls on the aspirant himself.

The guru’s tender smile radiates light, bliss, joy, knowledge, peace. He is a blessing to suffering humanity. Whatever he says is Upanishadic teaching. The guru knows the spiritual path. He knows the pitfalls and snares on the way. He gives timely warning to his students. He showers his grace on their heads. All agonies, miseries, tribulations, taints of worldliness, etc., vanish in his presence.

Know the Guru 

Guru leads man to God. Guru, mantra (mystic formula) and devata (deity) form a unity. Guru is present in the mantra which he enlivens and communicates. The mantra is the body of the devata. The guru is the embodiment of the deity that is invoked.

True guru is living God. Devotion to guru trains your heart and prepares for devotion to the Lord. Gurus are plenty but good disciples are very rare. When the disciple is ready the guru appears. He who has a guru can alone know Brahman, and the knowledge received from a teacher alone becomes perfect.

Initiation is necessary to go along the spiritual path. Guru shows you the path. When you are initiated your body and mind become purified. The highest spiritual wisdom experienced by the seers of truth in ancient times, has been passed down to the present day, through an unbroken line of traditional teachers.

Have self-control, tranquillity, sincerity and humility. Then approach the spiritual preceptor. Then alone you will be benefited. Hear silently – anything that your guru may say – hear with faith and bhava. Adapt yourself to his ways. He who serves the preceptor and follows his instructions gains the greatest benefit. He who speaks ill of his guru and does not follow his instructions loses most.

A perfect guru is learned in the scriptures and is desireless. He is a boundless ocean of mercy. He is a full knower of Brahman. He is a friend and a guide to those who have surrendered to him.

Guru is the word. The word is guru. Though God is indescribable, you can see and realise God through the guru.

– – –

Here are the characteristics of a real guru. If you find them in any man accept him at once as your guru. A real guru is one who has full knowledge of the self and the vedas. He dispels the doubts of aspirants. He has equal vision and balanced mind. He is free from likes and dislikes, joy and sorrow, egoism, anger, lust, greed, pride, etc. He is an ocean of mercy. In his presence one gets peace and elevation of mind – all doubts are cleared. The guru does not expect anything from anybody. He has an exemplary character. He is full of joy and bliss. He is in search of real aspirants.

Importance of Guru Bhakti

It is universally admitted that an efficient teacher is needed in all branches of knowledge in this physical plane, and that physical, mental, moral and spiritual culture and growth can only be had through the help and guidance of a competent teacher or master. This is a universal, inexorable law of nature. Why then do you deny the application of this universally accepted law in the realm of spirituality as well?

Spiritual knowledge is a matter of guru-parampara – it is handed down from guru to disciple. Study the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. You will have a comprehensive understanding of this truth.

Some aspirants do meditation for some years independently. Later on they feel the actual necessity for a guru. They come across some obstacles in the way and do not know how to proceed further. Then they begin to search for a guru.

The student and the teacher should live together, as father and devoted son, with extreme sincerity and devotion. The aspirant should have an eager receptive mind, ready to imbibe the teachings of the master. Then only will the aspirant be spiritually benefited. Otherwise there is not the least hope of the spiritual uplift of the aspirant and the complete regeneration of his old unregenerate nature.

Once Shankaracharya wanted to test the devotion of his disciple Padmapada. The river Kaveri was in flood. Shankara was standing on the bank of the river and Padmapada was standing on the other bank. Shankara beckoned Padmapada to come to him immediately. There was no boat. Padmapada did not care; he at once jumped into the river. He did not know how to swim. This is real devotion. Through the grace of Shankaracharya, Padmapada walked quite easily on the water. At each step a lotus flower appeared. This is how he got the name Padmapada (lotus in the feet).

There is no hope of salvation for the deluded soul without the healing, magnetic touch and guidance of the spiritual preceptor. It is the guru only who can effect a radical change in the angle of vision of men and raise them to sublime, transcendental heights of eternal life in Atman (Self) with cosmic consciousness, divine glory, atmic effulgence and splendour.

Mumukshutva 

Mumukshutva is intense desire for liberation or deliverance from the wheel of birth and death with its concomitant evils of old age, disease, delusion and sorrow. If one is equipped with the previous three qualifications, viz., viveka (wisdom), vairagya (dispassion) and sad-sampat (six virtues), Mumukshutva will come by itself.

The mind moves towards the source of its own accord, because it has lost its hold now on external objects. It has no resting place in this objective universe. Purification of the mind and mental discipline form the rock-bottom foundation of yoga. When this is effected, the longing for liberation dawns by itself. Mumukshutva must be of a burning type. If burning Mumukshutva is coupled with burning vairagya, Self-realisation will come within the twinkling of an eye.

Generally the vast majority of people have got a dull type of vairagya and Mumukshutva. So they do not succeed in their attempts. If one finds that he has not got burning Mumukshutva, he must practise the other three sadhanas (practices) vigorously till he acquires intense longing for attaining salvation or immortality. That aspirant who is endowed with these four qualifications should hear the shrutis (scriptures) from a Brahma Nishta guru (preceptor who is established in Brahman), and then reflect and meditate on the inner self. He will soon get Self-realisation.

The aspirant should practise all the four means to a maximum degree. Proficiency in one sadhana alone will not make you perfect. There is a definite significance in the sequence of the four sadhanas. That aspirant who is in possession of the four means is a blessed divinity on the surface of this earth. He is Brahman himself. He must be adored and worshipped. My silent salutations unto such exalted souls!

– – –

Open yourself fully to the divine influence. Develop a burning desire for the attainment of God-realisation and burning dispassion (vairagya) for worldly enjoyments. Abandon all worries. Abandon all worldly ambitions and mundane desires. Soar high in the realm of higher spiritual knowledge. Show your moral courage and spiritual strength now, O Ram!

Freedom: Your Birthright 

Freedom is man’s birthright. Freedom is knowledge, peace and bliss. Consciously or unconsciously, willingly or unwillingly, all are attempting to attain this freedom. One nation is fighting another on the battlefield for freedom. A robber robs in order to obtain freedom from want – though his movement may be crooked and circuitous. Every movement of your foot is towards freedom or existence-knowledge-bliss.

The real reason is that there is in you the immortal, self-effulgent soul or Atman, which is one without a second, which has no rival, which is the inner ruler, which is the support for the whole universe. In reality, you are this Atman. That is the reason why you have such a feeling and desire.

In every heart, there is this desire for freedom, this all-consuming passion for liberty. Freedom is the birthright of man. Freedom is the very nature of Brahman or the eternal soul. Brahman is eternally free. The desire for freedom is there even in the lowliest of God’s creatures. Freedom is an attribute of the soul, born with you. No force, no known human device, can suppress that desire. Freedom’s flame is ever burning bright. Freedom or liberation is the ultimate goal of man. Freedom is liberation from the thraldom of mind and matter.

Real freedom is not merely political or economic, though political and economic freedom is essential for the welfare of a people. Real freedom is lordship over oneself. It is the freedom of the self. It is immortality; it is perfection. It is attainable only by slow and painful stages.

From time pass into eternity. This is freedom or emancipation. Still the mind. Herein lies freedom and bliss eternal. Real freedom is freedom from birth and death, freedom from the bondage of the flesh and mind, freedom from the bonds of karma and freedom from attachment to the body. Real freedom is freedom from egoism and desires, freedom from thoughts, likes and dislikes, freedom from lust, anger, greed and pride. Real freedom is identification with the Supreme Self. Real freedom is to realise the self. Real freedom is merging in the Absolute.

Freedom is in detachment, desirelessness, mindlessness. Eradication and extinction of desires lead to the sublime state of supreme bliss and perfect freedom.

Such is the Mind

There is no limit to the power of the human mind. The more concentrated it is, the more power is brought to bear on one point. You are born to concentrate the mind on God after collecting the mental rays that are dissipated on various objects. That is your important duty. You forget the duty on account of moha (attachment) to the family, children, name and fame, money, power and position.

Mind is compared to quicksilver, because its rays are scattered over various objects. It is compared to a monkey, because it jumps from one object to another. It is compared to moving air, because it is restless. It is compared to a furious elephant, because of its passionate impetuosity.

Mind is known by the name ‘great bird’, because it jumps from one object to another just as a bird jumps from one twig to another, from one tree to another. Raja yoga teaches us how to concentrate the mind and then how to ransack the innermost recess of our mind.

Concentration is opposed to sensuous desires, as is bliss to flurry and worry, sustained thinking to perplexity, applied thinking to sloth and torpor, rapture to ill-will.

So long as the thoughts of one are not thoroughly destroyed through persistent practice, he should ever be concentrating his mind on one truth at a time. Through such unremitting practice, one-pointedness of the mind will accrue and instantly all the hosts of thoughts will vanish.

To remove this tossing of the mind and various obstacles which stand in the way of one-pointedness of the mind, the practice of concentration on one thing alone should be made.

The more the mind is fixed on God, the more strength you will acquire. More concentration means more energy. Concentration opens the inner chambers of love or the realm of eternity. Concentration is a source of spiritual strength.

Fix the mind on the Atman. Fix the mind on the all-pervading pure intelligence and self-luminous effulgence. Stand firm in Brahman. Then you will become ‘Brahma-Samastha’ (established in Brahman).

Balance of Mind 

Samadhana is mental balance. There is perfect concentration now. This is the fruit of the practices of sama (control of mind), dama (control of the senses), uparati (turning away), titiksha (endurance) and shraddha (faith). It is fixing the mind on Atman (Self) without allowing it to run towards objects and have its own way. It is self-settledness. Sri Shankaracharya defines in “Atma-Anatma Viveka”: “Whenever a mind engaged in shravana (hearing) and the rest wanders to any worldly object or desire, and finding it worthless, returns to the performance of the three exercises – such returning is called samadhana.”

The mind is free from anxiety amid pains. There is indifference amid pleasures. There is stability of mind or mental poise. The aspirant or practitioner lives without attachment. He neither likes nor dislikes. He has a great deal of strength of mind and internal peace. He has unruffled supreme peace of mind.

Some aspirants have peace of mind when they live in seclusion, when there are no distracting elements or factors. They complain of great tossing of mind (vikshepa) when they come to a city, when they mix with people. They are completely upset. They cannot do any meditation in a crowded place. This is a weakness. This is not achievement in samadhana. There is no balance of mind or equanimity in these persons. Only when a student can keep his balance of mind even in a battlefield when there is a shower of bullets all round, as he does in a solitary cave in the Himalayas, can he be really said to be fully established in samadhana.

Lord Krishna says in the Gita: “Perform all actions, O Dhananjaya, dwelling in union with the divine, renouncing attachments, and balanced evenly in success and failure.” This is samadhana. Again you will find in the Gita: “The disciplined self, moving among the sense objects with senses freed from attraction and repulsion, mastered by the self, goeth to peace.” This is also samadhana.

Faith Versus Reason 

Faith is first and reason is second. Faith is life and doubt is death. Reason is powerless to know God. Faith alone takes one to God. He who has faith has everything. He who has no faith has nothing. Have intense, unswerving faith – in the measure in which you have faith, you will achieve.

Faith brings God closer and reason puts Him far away. Faith is not blind belief – it grows out of the wisdom of the heart. Do total surrender to the Lord – keep nothing back, not even a little pride. Surrender yourself and your all to the Lord.

Say to the Lord: “O Lord! Give me only that which is best for me, because only you know what that is.” A life of faith and devotion and of absolute faith in the name of the Lord will always be successful in the long run. Through love, faith and devotion alone is God-realisation possible.

Prayer releases God’s power. It should consist of confession, praise and petition. Prayer is a spiritual tonic – it purges the mind of all its impurities – such as desire, attachment, anger, lust, etc. It also strengthens a man’s aspiration and brings him closer to God. It brings him into the presence of God.

Pray to the Lord for strength and help as soon as you get out of bed in the morning. Satsanga (the company of holy men), faith, single-minded devotion to one’s ideal, intense love for God, bhava (feeling), and prema (divine love) bring the devotee face-to-face with God.

– – –

Trust in the Lord with all thy heart. Acknowledge him in all thy ways. He will direct thy spiritual path. God helps the sincere aspirant at every step. God will help you too. He will bless you, inspire you and throw light upon the path. Never mind about the external environments. Create your own internal environments, wherever you are.

Faith is the Greatest Thing 

Faith is shraddha. Faith is the greatest thing in the world. Even the greatest philosopher has faith as his stronghold. No intellectualism can prove good if it is unsupported by faith. The whole world stands on faith, is guided by faith.

Religion has faith as its root. One cannot prove God if he has no faith in God. And this faith is the outcome of samskaras (past mental impressions). Faith is guided by impressions of actions done in previous births.

Blind faith should be turned into rational faith through understanding. Bhakti (devotion) is the development of faith. Jnana (self-knowledge) is the development of bhakti. Faith leads to the final experience. Whatever a person strongly believes in, that he experiences and that he becomes.

This whole world is a product of faithful imagination. If you have no faith in the world, the world does not exist. If you have no faith in sensual pleasure, you will not get pleasure from sensual objects. If you have no faith in God, you will never reach perfection. Wrong faith can even turn existence into non-existence. Faith is the fundamental necessity for spiritual sadhana (practice).

Aspiration is a development of faith. The flame of faith burns as the conflagration of spiritual aspiration for moksha (liberation). The devotee longs to have union with the beloved – he has no sleep, no rest. He always contemplates how to attain the object of his love. He prays, he sings, he gets mad with his Lord. Divine madness overtakes the devotee and he completely loses his personality in the aspiration for attaining God. This is called self-surrender.

You must have an ideal to live for – otherwise you will be heedless, depressed and negative. Understand well before you take a step. Have a clear-cut ideal and then have right attempt. Faith in God, faith in oneself, faith in the guru (preceptor), faith in the wise teachings, faith in all that is good and noble – this is the sap of life.

External Renunciation is Necessary

Renunciation of family life is the beginning of self-surrender. He who is endowed with burning vairagya (dispassion) and discrimination, one who is really earnest for his spiritual rejuvenation, can also do complete self-surrender even though he is living in the world.

In and through the world he realises the Lord by complete surrender of his whole being to Him. But it is only very few who are capable of doing this. This is because worldly life is beset with innumerable obstacles and temptations. And it is hard for the aspirant to attain complete dispassion in the midst of so many dissipations and distractions.

Therefore renunciation of family life makes the path easier for the aspirant. It also makes it smoother. The seed is now sown. The aspirant then goes to his preceptor and falls at his feet. Now the seed germinates.

The aspirant now starts the service of the guru. As he advances in his devotion and sincere service, his surrender becomes more and more perfect and complete. His heart becomes purer and purer and gradually the light of knowledge dawns in him. Now he cognises the supreme Atman which pervades all, everywhere.

The actions performed by the sadhaka (seeker) after renunciation do not bind him, because he has offered all his actions unto his preceptor or God. He does not do any action which can be considered selfish.

Thus, through service of one’s preceptor, with utter self-dedication, his heart becomes purified and, ultimately, the Lord becomes his preceptor. Now he is completely surrendered to the Lord and he attains the highest intuition.

 

What to Renounce 

Mere outward giving up of things is nothing. It is not real renunciation. Real tyaga or sanyas (renunciation) consists in absolute renunciation of all vasanas (tendencies) and the destruction of the heart-knot of ignorance, the chit-jada-granthi (confusion between the conscious subject and inert object).

What is to be renounced is the bheda buddhi (divisive intellect) which says, “I am superior to that man.” “I am the body.” And the kartrtva abhimana which thinks, “I am the doer”. There is no use in your renouncing your home, wife and children. You must destroy moha (attachment) for the body, children, money, house, property – then you will get that state of immortality from which you will never return.

He who has merely withdrawn himself from worldly possessions, cannot be regarded as having renounced the world altogether; but he who is living in actual contact with the world, finds out its faults. He who is freed from every passion and whose soul depends on nothing may be said to have truly renounced the world. Read the story of Raja Sikhidhwaja and Queen Chudala in the Yoga Vasishta.

The spirit cometh and goeth. Therefore you will have to be careful always in nourishing and protecting your spiritual samskaras (impressions) with burning vairagya (dispassion), intense and constant sadhana (practice) and burning mumukshutva (desire for liberation). Increase your good samskaras. Develop them. Multiply them.

People do not want to remove mala (impurity) by selfless service and vikshepa (restlessness of mind) with upasana (devotion). They think that bhakti and service are nothing. They at once jump to open the kundalini and raise the brahmakara vritti (the feeling of Brahmin is the all). They will only break down their legs.

Serve and worship; jnana and yoga will come by themselves; kundalini will be awakened by itself

The World Needs Sannyasins

Every religion has a band of anchorites who lead a life of seclusion and meditation. There are bhikkus in Buddhism, fakirs in Islam, sufistic fakirs in Sufism, fathers and brothers in Christianity. The glory of a religion will be absolutely lost if you remove the hermits or sannyasins or those who lead the life of renunciation and divine contemplation. It is these people who maintain and preserve the religions of the world. It is these people who give solace to the householders when they are in trouble and distress. They bring hope to the hopeless, joy to the depressed, strength to the weak and courage to the timid by imparting the knowledge of yoga and vedanta, and the significance of, “That thou art”.

True renunciation is the renunciation of all passions, desires and egoism. If you have a stainless mind, a mind free from attachment, egoism and passion, you are a sannyasin – no matter whether you live in a forest or in the bustle of a city, whether you wear white cloth or an orange coloured robe, whether you shave your head or keep a long tuft of hair.

Shave the mind. Someone asked Guru Nanak, “O saint, why have you not shaved your head? You are a sanyasin.” Guru Nanak replied: “My dear friend, I have shaved my mind.” In fact, the mind should be cleanly shaved. Shaving the mind consists of getting rid of all attachments, egoism, infatuation, lust, greed and anger. That is real shaving. External shaving of the head has no meaning so long as there is internal craving.

Many have not understood what true renunciation is. Renunciation of physical objects is no renunciation at all. True renunciation lies in the abnegation of the mind. It consists of renouncing all desires and egoism, and not world-existence. The real renunciation is the renunciation of the ego. If you can renounce this, you have renounced everything in the world. If the subtle egoism is given up, identification with the body goes away automatically.

Atman

The Atman (Self) is most ancient, hard to perceive and abides secretly in the innermost cave of the heart or intellect. This Atman or supreme soul fills all with his radiance. This Atman is incorporeal, pure, invulnerable. He is untouched by evil. The Atman is the supreme seer and thinker, immanent and transcendental. This Atman is the immortal spirit, the common, unifying entity present in all. You live, because the supreme Atman is. You understand, because the Atman is intelligence. You enjoy, because the Atman is bliss.

Atman is the reality itself – it is of the nature of pure consciousness. It is undifferentiated, pure awareness and pure experience. Atman is secondless; it alone is; all else which appears to be is not. Atman is the one which appears divided; the changeless as full of change; the timeless as temporal; the infinite as extended and fragmented in space.

Atman is one. It is the root, the reality itself. Atman is pure consciousness, calm and infinite like the waveless ocean. That Atman which is impersonal, changeless, like unto space, by nature purity itself – verily, verily, that am I. The one who is the eternal, the Atman, exists. He is all in all. This Atman is so mysterious that it cannot easily be grasped. This Atman can easily be grasped when the science of the Self (brahma-vidya) is taught by a guru who has attained Self-realisation.

This Atman is subtler than the subtlest and so is not attained by arguments. Like butter hidden in milk, this mysterious Atman is hidden in every being. Realise this Atman by the churning of meditation. The Atman is unborn, ageless, immortal, deathless and fearless. He who knows this Atman becomes Brahman, the fearless.

Atman is Brahman – absolute, infinite, the Supreme Being. It is existence-absolute, knowledge-absolute, bliss-absolute. It is self-delight and self-knowledge. It is bodiless, formless and without gunas, all-pervading, all-full, imperishable. It has neither beginning nor end. It exists in past, present and future. It is self-existent, the source for body, mind, senses, prana, the vedas and the universe itself. No one can deny it; it is the inner Self of all beings.

 

Annihilate the Ego

Study the autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi. He never made any difference between menial service and dignified work. Scavenging or cleaning the latrines were the highest yoga for him, the highest puja. He annihilated his illusory little ‘I’ through this service.

Many highly educated persons joined his ashram to learn yoga under him. They thought that Gandhiji would teach them yoga in some mysterious manner, in a private room. They thought that he would teach them pranayama, meditation, awakening of the kundalini, etc. They were asked to clean the latrines first.

Gandhiji used to mend his own shoes. He himself used to grind the flour. He would take upon himself the work of others when they were unable to do their allotted portion of work. When an educated person, a new ashramite, felt shy to do grinding work, Gandhiji himself would do the work in front of him. And then the man would willingly do the work the next day.

Try to do daily as many virtuous actions as possible. When you go to sleep have a review of your day’s actions. Mark them in your spiritual diary. Performance of virtuous actions is the beginning of spiritual life.

Repeat mentally or silently with the breath, the Lord’s name ­ such as Hari Om, Sri Ram, or your own ishta mantra. Do this even when you are working in the office. A strong habit of repetition of the mantra will soon be formed.

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Karma, according to Jaimini Rishi, is the performance of agnihotra and other vedic rituals. According to the Gita, any action done with nishkamya bhava (unselfishly, motivelessly), is karma yoga. Lord Krishna says: “Work incessantly. Your duty is to work but not to expect the fruits thereof.” The central teaching of the Gita is non­-attachment to work. Breathing, eating, seeing, hearing, thinking, etc., are all karmas.

Service of your guru or a mahatma (saint) is the highest form of karma yoga. This purifies your heart quickly. Contact with a great soul or guru has immense advantages. You will benefit by the magnetic aura of the great personage. You will draw inspiration from him.

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