June 17, 2013 Comments Off on Unity at the Mountaintop
If we return to our analogy of the mountain peak, the path to it, religion, would be likened to a well-trodden trail. There are many people all along the way to assist in times of need. There are also those few in each religion who have walked the entire path, reached the summit and can lead others along the way. Those pursuing yoga, philosophy or mysticism separate from the foundation of day-to-day religion are like lone climbers treading through unknown territory, up unknown slopes. Theoretically they too can reach the summit. But realistically they do not. Mountain storms, unforeseen precipices, dead ends and untold other dangers and detours eventually claim such would-be seekers. Many fall into the crevice of intellectual rigidity and arrogant argumentativeness.
The path of dharma, which is India’s word for religion, is the sure and proven path. They call it the eternal path, Sanatana Dharma. True religion does not discount mystic experience. Every true religion has produced its mystics. And it is here where religious unity is realized. The Zen master, Christian mystic, master of Kabala, Sufi mystic, Shinto shaman, Hindu sage and Taoist recluse can all speak of unity. They can all look into each others’ eyes and see no differences, but only oneness of spirit. For there is but one mountain peak that rises above the clouds. And all true seekers, regardless of their religion, must find their way to this one summit within themselves, sometimes transcending the religion of their birth. In mystic experience lies the unity of all religions.
Vedanta is an attempt to describe the experiences of the mystic. But how many actually attain to these final heights of realization? Many speak of them, but in the final analysis, too few ever reach them, for very few are willing to go through the rigorous efforts of purification. Few are willing to face each fault and weakness in their nature. Few are willing to take their scriptures, their spiritual leader’s words and their own intuitive knowing to heart and apply and practice their religion every day, every hour, every minute. But this is what it takes. It takes this kind of dedication, this kind of unrelenting effort.
The mystic whom we see poised on the peak of God Realization is the man who once faced each experience that you now do. He didn’t skip them or go around them. He had to deal with the same doubts, the same fears and the same confusions. He had those same experiences where all seems against you, and you seem so alone and ask, “Why am I the one who has these unsolvable problems, these totally confusing situations?” He didn’t give in to that abyss of doubt. He threw himself at the feet of God when all seemed beyond hope. And hope appeared. He persevered, tried his best, made the decisions that made the most sense in spite of unclarity–and all the while continued his sadhana, continued his spiritual practices, until one by one the veils of confusion faded and clarity became constant. He is the man who strived so hard on the little things in life, as well as on the great challenges. He simply did–not spoke of, but did–what you know you should do. We are the carvers of our own future. God’s grace, His love, is always blessing us in our efforts. – Lesson 305 from Living with Siva, by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniya SWami
April 16, 2013 Comments Off on Asaadhana
The true nature of spiritual saadhana, is the asaadhana that has to be constantly looked into and eliminated. What does this mean? What is asaadhana? In actual practice, what is the process of dealing with it? All this must be properly looked into and understood.
One important aspect of spirituality that I always emphasize is: incorporation and elimination. You must incorporate noble virtues and eliminate harmful traits. This twin process should be continuously going on in the mind of the saadhaka.
For anyone who wants to be effective, happy and progressive in this world – whether he is a spiritual seeker or a worldly aspirant – this quality is very necessary. In fact, that person alone can be considered as good and efficient, who is constantly given to eliminating undesirable traits and incorporating desirable notes. This is the summum bonum of life. We have the necessary means with us to accomplish this. Our mind can develop the required will and wish for the purpose.
In this context, you may wonder: what is meant by removing asaadhana? In spirituality, one fundamental and ultimate concept is that the Soul is ever present. It is already there. You don’t have to bring the Soul; nor can you drive it away. It is always present and you are That. If you are the Soul, and if it is ever blissful, a question arises. Why is it that you have non-blissful moments so often? You should contemplate on these lines: “If I am the blissful Soul, which part of my system feels un-blissful? And why am I allowing it?” That means, whenever your mind is hurt, disturbed or agitated, immediately the thought should come: “Why am I getting hurt and agitated? What has happened to my mind?”
The external cause may be there. It may be a person – his actions, words or attitude. Let that be! That is his! But, why is it impacting your mind in this harmful manner? Why are you losing your peace and blessedness?
Your line of thinking should be: “I am the blissful Soul, always. The blissfulness of the Soul is getting covered – an aavarana has taken place. Because of this covering, I am getting distracted. These two extraneous elements – the covering and the subsequent distraction – have to be removed by me. They will not go away on their own. I have to remove them by my own efforts, willfully.”
So, do not get overwhelmed by external causes of your agitation. Understand that it is your mind that is getting affected. Again, ask yourself: “What is that factor in my mind causing this affectation? Is it because of any intolerance? Is it because of mind’s constriction and clouding? Am I influenced by preference and prejudice? Do I have anything like a desire?” – Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha
(c) Narayanashrama Tapovanam, 2012
Venginissery, P.O. Ammadam, Trichur, Kerala – 680 563
March 18, 2013 Comments Off on Forbearance – a very important lesson
Once I happened to see a doctor attending a patient suffering from a kind of chronic rheumatic complaint. The patient had been under treatment for long. Yet he did not have full relief. That day the doctor was brought to the patient because the patient’s condition was somewhat serious. When the doctor completed his examination, I enquired of him “what will be the progress and outcome of the disease?”. He replied “not fatal in any way. However, the patient will have to learn to live with the disease, that is all”.
I think the case with sukha and dukha, which life continuously brings for us, is something quite similar, at least to begin with. As long as we propose to live with one or more of the senses and as long as we do so in this world full of various objects, sukha and dukha will perforce be creeping into our mind repeatedly. We cannot escape them at all. What the wise man has, therefore, to do is to recognize their inevitable nature and thereupon outlive an attitude of forbearance towards them, as in the case of death and such other factors.
However, there is one advantage in the occurrence of sukha-duhkhas. They do not have permanence or durability. They are, by nature, fleeting, flickery, like the clouds that rise up in the sky, like the bubbles that surge up on water. Each of them emerges within our body, but only to disappear too soon. Thereupon the other creeps in. That too vanishes in an instant. The former surges up again. Like this, they go on alternating themselves ever and ever, as do the seasons in every year. Geetha says that their flicker and alternating nature is the factor that must serve the sadhaka, the thinker, as a source of help in cultivating forbearance.
Truly, for the humans, the best source of power and help is right knowledge and recognition. We see a stick lying on the ground in dim light, and suddenly take it to be a snake. Fear immediately creeps into our mind. Suppose we bring in a light and examine the object. We find it to be a stick, and instantly the fear disappears. Ignorance thus causes fear, and knowledge, its opposite, removes – it effectively. Sukha and duhkha also will stop deluding us if we can gain the proper knowledge about them. We will be able to deal with them rightly with forbearance.
So, forbearance is a very important lesson that Bhagavadgeeta holds for us. Without the preparedness to forbear the sukha-dukhas, no sadhaka can hope to make any progress at all in his spiritual efforts. This is a cardinal truth.
– Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha
[This is an excerpt from the monthly journal Vicharasethu.]
(c) Narayanashrama Tapovanam, 2012
June 3, 2012 Comments Off on Do not sow fear or inflict pain on others
As far as it lies in your power, do good to others. Do not sow fear or inflict pain on others or promote anxiety or grief. If you take pleasure in the pain of others, you only scotch the divinity in you and bring to light the demonic natures in man. The Lord resides in all – “Ishwara sarva bhoothaanam” – He is in you, as much as in the other, whom you are harming. Know this and give up all efforts to ruin others. You cannot help another – you can only help yourself by that act. You do not harm another; you only harm yourself by any wicked action. The outer attachments and nature may be different, but the inner reality in you is the same as in the ‘other’. – Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, from: Divine Discourse, Apr 10, 1965.
June 1, 2012 Comments Off on Everyone has to do action
Everyone has to do action (Karma); if not the world itself will come to a nought. Everyone in the world is bound by the obligation of Karma. Wisdom (Jnana) is the final goal and gain of all Karma; wisdom is the treasure won by one’s efforts to purify the mind and to earn the grace of God. What is this wisdom? Through wisdom, you experience that God is present in everyone and everywhere. All are in you, you are in all. You must get this conviction fixed in your consciousness, by means of analysis, discrimination and intellectual exploration. Isolate and dismiss from your consciousness the impressions of the senses, the mind, the intelligence, etc. You must carry out every single act of yours with this wisdom (Jnana) as its background and conviction. – Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, from: -Geeta Vahini, Ch 6.
May 22, 2012 Comments Off on Of course! He will listen to the one who loves Him truly
Of course! He will listen to the one who loves Him truly. And who is that? Naturally, the one who has surrendered to His will. When one has surrendered to His will, is not prayer redundant? Our definition of prayer changes as we realize that the one who is always in sync with the Lord has his prayers answered for he always prays for what the Lord has already willed! This is indeed a very different way of thinking. If my prayer is answered, it is because I was in sync with God; I was in communion with Him. If my prayer has not been answered, I was not in sync with Him; I have to make efforts to be in communion with Him. – Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, From: Radiosai Global Harmony Studios. Prashanti Nilayam
March 27, 2012 Comments Off on In the present times
In the present times, all things have gone up in value. Man alone has become cheap. Despite being endowed with the valuable gems of reason, discrimination and detachment, man has allowed them to slip away, and is facing the consequences with dire poverty of the spirit. He has become cheaper than animals because of the proliferation of anger, hatred and greed. People have forgotten their unity with all others, all beings and all worlds. The contemplation of unity of all beings alone can establish individual peace as well as peace in the society and in the world. All other efforts are like pouring sweet scented rose water on a heap of ash – its ineffective and foolish. It is mere ignorance that keeps you away from this task. Investigate the truth about yourself and the world. Make all efforts to build peace on this foundation of Atmajnana, the knowledge of the Atmic unity.
– Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, from; Divine Discourse, Mar 22, 1965.