Friday, June 30, 2017
God Must be the Sole Aim of Every Observance
Take up an observance which will lead you to God the Eternal, and keep it with all your heart and soul. Keep the body busy with your duty, and the mind riveted to Him; that is the true way to propitiate Him, and achieve freedom from the painful cycle of life and death. Be ever contented, and never for a moment lose awareness of Him; be sure that this will bring His blessings on you. Keep the divine name ever on your tongue, and awareness of Him ever in mind; let your conduct never swerve from what is right and clean, and maintain purity in thought and feeling. Rest assured that if you do this much, Rama will bless you; experience this for yourself.
Never fail to feed a visitor, never turn away anyone in need of food. If you learn always to ascribe all doership to Rama, you will never be found wanting in any respect. One who believes that everything happens by His will, that He is the ultimate source of everything, there is nothing that you need to be afraid of. True, unperturbable contentment will be yours if you see Rama and His hand in everything.
To everything that happens to you or to the world, be an impartial, unconcerned, dispassionate witness. Entertain nothing but God in your heart of hearts.
The shastras say clearly that all physical happenings are but the result of past action, but man rarely credits this sincerely. Ceaelessly utter the Lord's Name, and fill your heart with love for Him to the exclusion of all other thought. Maintain this with a determination; God will certainly back you up in this resolve. Never for a moment be without nama, I urge you with all sincerity.
It is the 'body-am-I' feeling that is the source of all mental agony. The only way to purge the mind of this feeling is to resort to nama-smarana with sincere love. Nama-smarana will undoubtedly lead you to Rama provided you are absolutely sincere about it. Give up all thought of self, and give yourself up to the Cosmic Soul. One who is absorbed in the holy name will lose all awareness of pleasure and pain, and will forever live in joy.
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Thursday, June 29, 2017
Celebrating a Saint's Anniversary
The spirit of a saint is particularly active, beneficent, on the day of his anniversary. The devout vow you make on such a day receives his special grace and support. Determine on the anniversary to live in the divine name.
I wish to be ever in the company of everyone who comes here to me, but you virtually shut me out of your heart by living in mundane interests. Keep uttering nama assiduously, persistently, to keep mundane interests away. Bad times loom ahead threateningly; you will ward off their evil influence if you keep faith in nama. If anyone, no matter how great or learned he is, tells you anything against nama, believe him not, and never leave off chanting nama. Just as a thing tied firmly to a deeply-anchored post will resist being washed away by a torrent, if you hold firmly on to nama, you will successfully resist the onslaught of the bad times.
As Shree Samartha says, the form is identical, co- existent, with nama; so you will undoubtedly perceive the form if you persist in nama. We have to realize the Lord in our own heart; it is in our own interest that we gradually realize Him there through persistent nama-smarana. Only thereby shall we perceive Him truly and permanently. There are those who show or perform miracles; one may see some divine aura, or a vision; even if true, such experiences are only occasional and short-lived. If a lanky person, desiring to look normally fat, prays for swelling over the body, it would be evidently foolish. If, on the other hand, he takes proper medicine, he may not look fat but will at least become tough. The 'spiritual experiences,' visions, and similar things may not be permanent. So, on a saint's anniversary, we should pray for his blessings and help in sterling spiritual progress, not for temporary or elusive 'experiences'. Constant nama-smarana will definitely give love for God.
Religious festivals, holy days, saint's anniversaries --- all remind us of our spiritual duty in the midst of the multifarious claims of prapancha. To do nama-smarana in all these various distractions does need a resolute heart. Nama is backed by God Himself, and includes company of the good. So resolve right now to chant nama continuously without expectation of reward.
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Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Paramartha is a Practice-oriented Discipline
A highly learned man once went to the palace of King Janaka, and sent in word of his arrival, expecting the king to order that he be immediately ushered in, and to shower honours on him. The saintly king divined that the guest was filled with pride, and so sent a reply that he come alone, meaning minus the pride. So we, too, should set aside our ego and sense of self-importance when we go to see Rama, or the sadguru. So long as I recollect who I am, duality evidently exists. We should not approach God in order that our ego or self-pride may be pampered. Even at the shadow of a desire that evil come to another person, take it as a sure sign that pride is lurking, nay, growing in the heart.
You should love God as much as, if not more than, your wife and children. Desire nothing but what God wills; that is the key to success in paramartha. Merge your desire into that of the Lord, and live contentedly and happily.
Duty done with complete selflessness is its own reward. A mortgagee is not entitled to put a mortgaged article to use; treat your wife, children, everything you have, as a mortgage to you by God; do your duty in everything, but keep off the idea that they belong to you. Protect them dutifully, but be unconcerned, detached, about them in your heart of hearts. It is, indeed, a crime to feel attachment or proprietorship for them and to feel pleasure or pain on their account.
A person who has turned to God must show an appropriate change in his attitude and behaviour. One should abide by certain moral standards, either out of understanding or by implicit faith. One should be firm on one's belief, free from confusion. The mind should be adequately determined, fortified. Just as a white garment is easily soiled, so are good deeds more prone to meet with opposition; we should resolve to disregard them. When thought and action are in consonance, words will automatically conform to them.
The more a man's learnedness, the weaker his faith. Read but little, ponder deeply over it, and act up to it. Paramartha is entirely a practice-oriented discipline; its goal is acquisition of unshakable contentment and joy. Joy comes to your life when you do your duty in the remembrance of God.
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Tuesday, June 27, 2017
HOW TO ACHIEVE IMPERISHABLE HAPPINESS
One who delivers moving and convincing sermons, or carries out religious rituals meticulously, may yet fail to realize for himself unalloyed, imperturbable contentment; he continues to suffer from one dissatisfaction or another. The reason is that his goal is not clear to him. People often observe moral rules for fear of popular disapproval rather than for personal thought or conviction. Anything done merely for social regard will fail to give genuine, lasting contentment. Nor, on the other hand, does contentment come to one who disregards the moral code and behaves contrary to public regard, for his own conscience constantly pricks him.
A man once bitterly complained that God is very unjust. "Why do you say so?" I asked. He answered, "I conducted myself righteously, morally correctly; and yet could afford only a humble house; whereas that mere assistant of mine amassed wealth by dishonesty enough to build a three-storeyed house right opposite mine!" "Why did you not do likewise?" I asked again. He replied, "What would people say about me?" Something done like this merely to avoid public comment and censure will never give genuine contentment. We observe morals for fear of social disapproval, and perform religious rites to earn happiness which rests only in God. An action, however good, but done without genuine devotion to the Eternal God, is bound to fail in yielding real contentment; nor, conversely, can the edifice of paramartha stand without the foundation of moral behaviour.
Paramartha is, as a matter of fact, very simple and straightforward; it is the professional philosophers, the argumentative erudites, who make or represent it as highly intricate. It can be easily attained with the help of one of three things; one, actual company of a living saint; two, keeping in touch with the saint's writings, and acting on them; and three, constant repetition of the divine name, for such repetition will keep us in the company of God, ceaselessly aware of Him. To follow a Saint's behests faithfully, doubtlessly, is the first step, and to persist in them with determination, faith, and love constitutes the last. This, indeed, is the easy way to unperishing contentment.
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Monday, June 26, 2017
Discover and Enjoy the Unity in Diversity
We carefully water, manure, and take other care of a plant that we particularly wish to grow. Conversely, we disregard the plant about which we care little. Similarly, we should carefully nurture the precious plant of firm faith in God, ignoring the mortal body and thoughts pertaining to worldly matters. We put a guard round a tree to protect it from cattle; our efforts for attaining God should similarly be protected from being noticed, lest they be affected by an evil eye. Our search for God should be sincere but unseen as far as possible. A seed we have planted is not to be dug up every day to see how much it has grown; similarly, hanker not after mystic 'experience' or 'realization;' it will only hamper and retard your progress.
In a way I do not dislike stubborn people and even addicts, for if their stubbornness and addiction are turned towards God, such persons undertake this pursuit also with vigour and determination. In our spiritual effort, we may make only a small rule, but it should relate to the Eternal, and be kept up sedulously. It should be maintained with the care with which we seek to protect our very life.
Dhyana, or concentrated meditation, is fit only for persons of a high order of capacity. In such meditation, the person becomes oblivious of the world and of one's own existence, of time and space. One may remain in that state not only for days but even for years, and yet his physical body may remain entirely unaffected.
For the common man, however, repeating the Lord's Name is the most convenient and fruitful sadhana; food is the best gift we can give; and of all upasanas, saguna upasana, the worship of God considered as having attributes, the best. These three eventually lead to oblivion of the physical body and the mind. So pursue these three means assiduously.
It is the natural tendency of life to go on expanding its field of activity, and then discover the unity that underlies the apparent diversity. Take the common bee-hive. The bees collect nectar from diverse flowers and convert it into what we call honey. So, too, we should see the unity in the multiplicity of life, the one God who pervades everything. One should treat everything and everyone as a manifestation of the one all-pervading God, and realize that the same God animates us too.
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Sunday, June 25, 2017
Paramartha is Not in Conflict with Prapancha
Good books are those that inspire the reader with love for God and wean him away from the mundane. Good books induce us to eschew immoral behaviour and to walk in God's way. It is most important to read such books and meditate on them, act upon them. This gradually creates a liking, fondness, love for God. Of the different means advocated by Shree Samartha for the attainment of God, reading of such books is one.
Reading, however, is not merely browsing through idly, purposelessly, but making an earnest effort to understand and assimilate. One must make a serious effort to put into practice what one understands and agrees with. Mere voluminous or voracious reading without appropriate action to follow is futile. Not casual reading but rumination is required.
The pathway to God is straightforward; the way in prapancha is strewn with thorns and boulders. Prapancha should be treated as necessary for practice only and training in paramartha. On the contrary, we put them the other way round, and the hedge has overgrown the field instead of protecting it. The sooner we realize our folly the better.
One who carries on prapancha with an eye on the correct goal will undoubtedly attain to God, just as sugar moulded into the shape of even a bitter-tasting fruit will ever taste sweet. Similarly, even if we go through prapancha it will achieve paramartha provided we keep God as the target. Paramartha is definitely possible because that is what we are born for, and it is in our own interest that we never lose sight of this lodestar.
Just as the mouth is the venue for feeding ourselves, moral conduct is sine qua non for Paramartha. It is, in fact, the very foundation. It is true that mere morality is not paramartha; but evidently no edifice can stand without a proper foundation, and there can be no paramartha without the firm base of moral conduct.
We should think of paramartha with the same sincere care and affection with which we look upon our own child, and treat prapancha with the affection that we bestow casually and outwardly on another's child. Paramartha, in the ultimate analysis, is nothing else but going merrily through prapancha remembering God.
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Saturday, June 24, 2017
Knowledge is a Two-edged Sword
He is a true writer who writes with a burning sincerity for the well-being of mankind; he is a true preacher who preaches only after acting up to what he preaches; and he alone can be called a real listener who puts into practice what has been preached. Means of disseminating knowledge have become proliferous nowadays, and these are often misused to spread knowledge which is untrue, unwholesome, demoralizing, or otherwise undesirable.
Knowledge is a two-edged instrument which can be used or misused; it is upto the nature and object of the person who wields it. Knowledge which respects social and personal morality and religious principles is beneficial to mankind. It is, by its very nature, sacred, and beneficial to man if founded on the abiding principles of morality and religion. Such knowledge is desirable and beneficial as augments mutual regard and goodwill between the rich and the poor, the learned and the unlettered, the young and the old, men and women. Such knowledge alone deserves to be spread. One should not disseminate knowledge which is likely to cause or augment hatred or disaffection between peoples and individuals, or spread disregard for moral discipline. They are not true scientists and technologists who bring forward inventions which only breed greed and selfishness, for they pave the way to the disintegration and destruction of humanity. Knowledge which does not impart and increase contentment is pseudo-knowledge. Only that knowledge deserves the name which enables us to understand the real nature of the universe.
Since I call this 'my' body, the real 'I' is evidently not identical with it, is different from it. A prapanchi person is one who knows only the tangible world, while a philosopher is one who understands the true nature of the world, the mystery of it. Happiness comes only from the knowledge of the subtle. The Cosmic Soul is like an ocean, whereas an individual is in every way no more than a drop in it. True philosophy is to realize the identity between the two. The importance, the greatness, the limitlessness, the prowess of nama cannot be understood by dint of study, but only through the grace of a saint. It is the greatest good fortune to have complete faith in nama. We should beware of this faith being shaken. True, firm contentment can only be achieved by ceaseless repetition of the divine name with full, unshakable faith in the word of a saint.
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Friday, June 23, 2017
Always Act with a Clean, Selfless Aim
Everyone of your actions should be motivated with a pure, selfless objective. A pure motive naturally results in clean action and is a step forward in progress. The object is like the spring that feeds a well; if it is a spring of clean water, the well will also yield sweet, drinkable water. We should therefore take care to keep the objective pure, and pray Rama for it.
If a person has enough to house, feed, and clothe himself, he should live in contentment and in nama. All that we should pray Rama for is to save us from indigence. On the occasion of a holy conjunction of the planets, God grants our wish whether holy or otherwise. We should beware of unholy incantations, and only wish for holy things and arousal of benevolent emotions. We should pray God and say, "Do as Thou wilt, O Lord, but grant that I never forget Thee. Forgive me for evil and sins I may have committed knowingly or unknowingly; never more shall I misbehave." God is bountiful and ever forgiving if we genuinely yearn to reform ourselves.
Those who indulge in the filth of material pleasures can never realize the sweetness that paramartha is. Insects wallowing in the gutters will never sicken of filth. Worldly-minded people, steeped in worldly pleasures, sling slander on the saintly, believing that they alone are wise and all-knowing. They overlook the fact that this wide world holds thousands who are more learned or wealthy or capable. Many of them do not realize the pangs of penitence that await them when the elation of worldly pleasures wears off.
Few indeed are those who live in the faith that God is omnipresent. The execution of prapancha involves effort and pain, whereas the experience of God is all Pleasureful. A fevered person hankers for a sweat; but mere hankering does not help; proper medication is required. Similarly, one who desires to have real devotion for God needs to resort to the divine name. This devotion, once acquired, will never cease.
Gold occurs in minute particles in pieces of rock in a gold-mine; so does God exist in us. Just as gold is recovered from the ore by removing the dross, so do we attain God when we cleanse the heart of all desire. God manifests Himself when the 'body-am-I' conviction is completely subdued.
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Thursday, June 22, 2017
Happiness Lies in Detachment
We feel disappointed, miserable, when we fail to obtain what we desire. The best, the only remedy is, therefore, to renounce all desire. Be contented with what He is pleased to grant you, desiring no more, nothing else. This, in truth, is true renunciation, vairagya. As it is, we are sinking in the quagmire of mundane desires; to desire more of them is to hasten the sinking. What else can we conclude from this except that true and permanent happiness lies in abandoning desire, not in indulging it?
Why do certain things make us restless? Because we treat them as real. We should go about in life treating it as an actor treats his part in a play. True happiness is to be found only in what is real and lasting, not in what is unreal or transitory. Experience of mundane pleasures indulged in so far clearly indicates that they do not yield contentment; does it not mean that the pleasures they are supposed to yield are but hollow, illusory? And yet you continue to ask me what will make you happier in mundane life! How can you extract happiness from what is basically devoid of it?
Two little girls were playing at house-keeping. One, the daughter of a poor family, made simple bread and ate it with simple mango jam; the other, who belonged to a rich family, made cakes and sweets; but everything being only make-believe, which of the two could satisfy real hunger? Evidently, neither. So it is with prapancha. A wife and children are not indispensable for prapancha; anyone who seeks pleasure from anything tangible indulges in prapancha. So even an unmarried, single person lives in prapancha. In short, prapancha involves more than one; now, since each one has his own individuality and idiosyncrasies, how can they all meet the pleasures, whims, and fancies of any single person?
Prapancha needs a multiplicity of things; there can never be enough of them, for everything has in it the germ of the need for something else. God, on the other hand, is unique and complete, and independent of anything else. Attainment of God is, therefore, the fruition, the fulfilment, of all desire.
To feel that one is happy because of a certain thing, situation, or person, is futile, unreal. True happiness is independent of cause.
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Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Faith is the Foundation for Paramartha
Just as money is a basic requirement for prapancha, faith is a basic need for success in paramartha. Prahlad believed God to be present everywhere, so He manifested Himself even in a wooden post. Saint Namadeo's faith made even the stone idol of Shri Vitthal eat the food offering that he had brought. For success in paramartha we must also have the same genuine, unflinching faith in God. We say only verbally that God is omnipresent and omniscient; if we genuinely believed this, could we ever dare to commit sinful acts, or even to entertain immoral thoughts? It clearly means that we pay only lip service to Him, and our faith is not firm and genuine. We claim to be believers in God, and feel we need Him, but He is not considered indispensable. Prapancha we must have, while God we would like to have; the former is a necessity, the latter is a desirable superfluity. This, really, should be the other way about. We should feel that God we must have, prapancha we may or may not. We should have a liking for the duties of prapancha, not for prapancha itself; the body may be kept engaged in these duties, but the heart should be kept riveted on God.
We can control passions if we desist from doing anything that bites the conscience. We should do only such things as will not shame us in the eyes of God.
Those who have a lot of worldly business, toil, and turmoil to face, complain about it; but, then, those who are free from these are found equally complaining and unhappy. Wherein does happiness lie? Does money give it? Making money is not easy; and after all, money cannot last forever. The same is the case with all worldly things. And do we ever come across a person who has all kinds of happiness all the time? Everyone has one complaint or another, one deficiency or another. Everyone hopes to be happier tomorrow; this hope is never fulfilled, and the complaining never ends. And thus goes on the endless cycle of hope and frustration; for all things in the world are imperfect and perishable, and therefore, result in misery or unhappiness. It is in this sense that prapancha is illusory. One who thinks on this experience and remains unattached to prapancha can alone be happy; one who disregards this experience remains unhappy.
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Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Worry is Harmful to Paramartha
He is a good son who never blames or despises his parents for their defects and shortcomings, but who keeps them contented and pleased. In all actions his main aim is to secure their satisfaction. A mother has the most tender feeling for her child. Her heart grieves if the child is in grief, and buoyantly responds to its joy. So the child should ever be cheerful, free from sentimental upsets. The child should not get irritated if a parent happens to say harsh words or unpleasant things; it should itself, however, always speak pleasantly, pleasingly. It is necessary for everyone to work and earn his livelihood. One may even amass wealth, but should not be under the illusion that it is the wealth that is the means for all happiness. One should always avoid ill-considered acts or speech which may lead to loss in worldly life.
Give food to all who come to you, turn no one back empty-handed. Never feel frustrated or disappointed; never give up hope. Pay due regard to necessities of practical life, but never lose sight of the goal of human life, namely, the attainment of God. Remember that one who does not face practical life courageously cannot achieve much in paramartha either.
Worry about family life acts against paramartha like white ants. One who trusts in the Lord need have not an iota of anxiety. One who lives in God does not even think of pain, misery, or worry. One who realises that his true self is identical with the Brahman will cease to entertain worry. Trust in Rama as your protector and saviour, and say 'good-bye' to worry. One who attributes all doership to Rama worries not about sin and merit. Assuming oneself to be the doer is the basic cause of anxiety. Where is the anxiety for one who dedicates himself body and soul and assigns all doership to Rama?
What is past is, after all, past; what the future holds we do not know, nor can it be evaded; it is, therefore, improper to indulge in futile worry. Whatever I think belongs to me is really that of Rama and should, therefore, be consigned to His care, and the mind thus freed from worry. Rather than worry about the children, the family, etc., we should aim at doing what Rama will like.
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Monday, June 19, 2017
The Feeling of Self-importance is Ruinous
On analyzing the causes of people's difficulties, one is driven to the conclusion that they spring basically from bodily pain or illness, and insufficiency of money. Help in these two respects would, apparently make most people happier, and so my mind started to ponder on the idea.
Considering first the item of money, I noted that being myself penniless, and devoid of a desire to earn or own money, I must first create such urge in myself, then acquire and conserve money, and thereafter spend it in the service of the needy. This, however, is not so easy as it appears; for who can guarantee that the basic desire to earn and conserve money will not dominate my heart and dissuade it from giving it away? That will amount to polluting the mind with greed from which, fortunately, it is free today, and the remedy will thus be worse than the disease. I shall, in that event, not only be unable to assist others, but also be losing the present purity of heart from base desires and tendencies.
The other item is pain of the body. One who has utterly rid himself of the 'body-am-I' feeling cannot adequately appreciate an other's body-pain. Consequently, I shall have to recreate in myself the 'body-am-I' feeling. Even if that is done, and the other's bodily ailment is cured, is there any guarantee that the trouble will never recur, or that another ailment will not arise? Today's colic may be stopped, but there are hundreds of disorders that may crop up at a later time. Thus, there is no permanent immunity from all types of human misery, and on the other hand, the curer himself may have to suffer spiritual degradation. I therefore think it best to pray to Rama to favour me by protecting me from both the desire and the power to bring about such things.
There are two principal causes that destroy the innocence of childhood: money, and worldly knowledge. Both these create a sense of self-importance, and this sense is harmful for the spiritual pursuit. The feeling "I belong to so-and-so" is greatly helpful, for then we tend to ascribe all doership and greatness and goodness to the Master, instead of taking credit ourselves and unknowingly pampering the feeling of self-importance.
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Sunday, June 18, 2017
Secrecy is Necessary in the Spiritual Path
It is extremely difficult to escape from the clutches of desire, as it is the very cause of birth. Overcoming desire calls for complete effacement of the consciousness of being a separate entity, utter annihilation of the ego. Desire and its consequences can be conquered only by being constantly in the company of God, for He is the very antithesis of desire. Prapancha in itself is neither good nor bad. Paramartha consists in withdrawing all desire from prapancha, all attachment for it. Prapancha needs publicity or show of one kind or another; a woman, for instance, would think nothing of ornaments or fine clothes if prevented from showing them off. On the other hand, it is best to preserve paramartha unnoticed by others, for it is very prone to be affected by the evil eye, not only of some other person, but even of oneself. This can be achieved by taking care to see that it is unnoticed by others, and in the conviction that the sadhana is being performed by the grace of God or the guru. One should outwardly appear to be a common, worldly person; inwardly, however, one should devote oneself completely to God; it is really an art to play this double role.
A sick man has only to lie in bed patiently, and to accept passively, coop era tingly, the nursing tendered by others. The medication, however, must be taken by the patient himself. Even a prince will not get cured by relegating this task to a proxy. So, too, in the spiritual quest, one must oneself remember to have a constant awareness of God.
Do not follow an untried, unknown person, an impostor, a charlatan. First understand clearly and correctly what paramartha is, and then follow the path diligently. Beware of being misguided, for to be misled is as much disastrous as misleading others. Remember that prapancha carried out in constant awareness of God becomes paramartha. Conversely, even paramartha pursued with self-conceit is as harmful as mere prapancha.
Every day we read and hear of outrages, crimes, immoral behaviour, and discontentment in the world. All these can be traced to the spurt in greed for money and power. Generally, to those with whom God is pleased, He gives just about enough for livelihood, while He tests others by giving much more money than their needs call for.
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Saturday, June 17, 2017
Pursue Spirituality amid the Bustle of Worldly Life
Some people behave deceitfully, and justify it as a pragmatic necessity. Such unprincipled behaviour cannot be accepted as proper, nor will it give ultimate satisfaction. It will not contribute to spiritual advancement. Renouncing pracical life and becoming a recluse with the object of repudiating liabilities cannot be treated as spiritually prompted renunciation. The shackles of attachment are not forcibly severed but should genuinely and naturally drop off.
Suppose a person disgusted with the trials and travails of family life retires to the forest. Even there, he builds a hut for shelter from the elements; collects faggots to build a fire against cold; clears the land to keep out reptiles, etc. And on top of this, he worries about all these when he goes to beg alms. What is all this but a variant of the house and family life that he sought to escape from? The real trouble is not with the kind of things or life but with the attachment we bear for them. They cease to be harmful or painful the moment we stop feeling concern for them. Unconcern takes off the sting.
It is incorrect and unwise to defer paramartha to old age and the period of retirement. It is to be pursued while one is still active in the bustle of life. In the tumult, we have to be vigilantly aware of the ultimate goal of human life, namely, the attainment of God. Keep the mind fixed on the goal even as you go through life's turmoils. When sensuous pleasures and subjects distract you from thoughts of God, be alert and bring the mind back to Him. Surrender yourself to Him with the fervour of one yielding to a sensuous attraction. Disabuse the mind of prepossessions and prejudices, and judge impartially the degree of your surrender to sensuous pleasures and thoughts. Do we not bow to the orders, even the whims, of the employer or the superior? What we do to earn livelihood, should we hesitate to do to attain the divine, the overlord of the universe? It is easier by far, for it costs no money, needs no article or thing; we can mentally submit to Him the moment we feel like doing so. One who thinks 'I belong to Rama,' 'Everything that happens is by Rama's will,' will find himself always and automatically vigilant about allegiance to God and of worldly temptations.
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Friday, June 16, 2017
Paramartha Does Need Discerning Faith
Since we are born as humans, it becomes our natural goal to attain God. We have so long been through a cycle of births in various forms, and by the grace of God we have come to the human form which alone enables one to attain God. The saints wake us to our heritage and potentiality, but in supreme disregard we pull the covers over our heads and refuse to be made alive to the reality and our true and lasting interest. One who is really asleep can be awakened, but what can be done to a person who is purposely feigning sleep? Even those who undertake the long journey to Varanasi for a purifying dip in the holy Ganga do not believe themselves to be genuinely absolved of sin. Thus their faith in the pilgrimage and its efficacy is clouded by lukewarm feeling, whereas even an unlearned rustic with sincere, undoubted faith may derive true benefit. We overlook the fact that even in everyday life we go about with trust in persons even previously unknown, persons whose credibility is unknown or even doubtful. We start from home with a certain calculation of time, despite the experience that quite often we fail to make it. We reserve a sleeping berth on a train and travel confidently at night despite the knowledge that the driver of the train is, like any other human, far from being infallible, and that train accidents do take place now and then. On what ground can we refuse to trust God at least to the degree to which we trust the engine-driver who is absolutely an ordinary mortal quite liable to err?
Paramartha should be undertaken either with perfect understanding, or with the utter, undoubted faith of an ignorant person. We, however, go about with only half-knowledge 'or a conceit of knowledge; such persons are merely doubting Thomases, hard to convince and satisfy. He is a real ignoramus who does not put into practice what he is convinced of; truly wise are those who learn from experience and change themselves accordingly. Paramartha certainly demands faith, complete faith, but not 'blind' faith, nor superstition.
Our true Self is distinct from both the body and the mind and transcends them both; we should therefore practise and learn to live independently of both; this is easily and definitely achieved by no other means but nama.
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Thursday, June 15, 2017
'I Live in and for Nama alone'
A person may be a great scholar, able to deliver excellent sermons and profound discourses on the shastras, talk lucidly on the scriptures and mythology; he may be a good man, even a godly man, and yet he may not be acknowledged a saint if he does not live immersed in nama, or if one is unable to learn to love God in his company. Relatives of saints are not necessarily saints, just as a son may not take up his father's calling.
Even a saint should outwardly behave like a common man. To behave eccentrically is by no means the distinguishing feature of a saint. Complete freedom from fear is the prime quality of a saint. What, indeed, can create fear in one who sees God everywhere and in everything? Being without a trace of fear, he is left undisturbed even by normally lethal creatures such as snakes, wolves, tigers, and lions. Even wild man-eating animals will not dare to meet a fearless gaze; besides, the purity of the saint's heart also has a disarming effect.
Association with a saint only comes from extraordinary good fortune. Generation of love for God or for His name is the true gain to be derived from such association. Unbroken association with a saint can only be obtained by ceaseless nama-smarana, for where there is nama, it is there that a saint likes to dwell. Shri Tukarama's prayer is: 'Grant, O Lord, that I may never forget You;' while Shri Ramadas prays for the favour that he may never have to live away from Him, to be ever associated with, attached to Him, and for the mind to be restored to awareness of Him whenever it happens to stray away from Him.
An order, however emphatically worded, remains ineffective unless signed by a competent authority; the signature imparts life to it. Nama plays the role of that signature with respect to any spiritual sadhana. The strength and vitality of nama have to be tried and experienced to be believed. It is nama and nama alone that I have been advocating all my life. Indeed, I came and lived for nama, I live in nama, I exist neither here nor there but only in nama. Whoever utters nama, there, about him I live and linger. That you should keep uttering nama is all that I exhort you to do, all that I expect from You.
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Wednesday, June 14, 2017
To Attain God is the Only Religion
Even extracanonical actions are permissible if they conduce to the attainment of God, which, after all, is the highest, the sole aim of human life, and true religion. No act performed with an egoistic attitude is acceptable to God. Benevolence, howsoever great, will yet do no real good if it stems from a desire for celebrity. This only pampers the ego, does not bring God any nearer. Actions prompted by real, selfless spirit of service, alone conform to true religion. Treat yourself solely as God's instrument, while He is the true doer. This, indeed, is true, utter surrender to Him.
Faith in God can be developed at any age and in any situation. True faith can face any challenge, and not yield to opposition. A person of true faith will never entertain worry or anxiety on any account. Anxiety vitiates the prospects of attaining the goal, and makes us forgetful of duty. Trust in God and do your best, and be content with the result. In worldly matters contentment comes from doing one's duty; in paramartha contentment is the reward of firm faith. Paramartha is achievable neither by hypocrisy nor by foolish simplicity. In financial matters, we should act with due regard to our capacity, taking care to see that we do not create debts. We should neither cheat others nor be a prey to others' deceit. One devoted to paramartha should carefully avoid hurting others.
One who is prepared to accept whatever situation comes will never feel the pinch of want. We should neither envy the rich nor scorn the poor. Remember that all are treated by God with justice, equality, and forgiveness. Justifiable distribution of wealth is that which ensures food and such basic necessities to all. If we recover or extort money from others without giving adequate return, such money is tainted with the desires of the owner. It is a funny thing that even one who carefully keeps his word in other matters does not exercise the same care in money matters. In the present state want of money and its profusion both cause us difficulty.
All that a sannyasin should seek to store is one day's provision. A householder should have enough to serve for three days, and should cease worrying. A person usually starts his life with the notion 'I am the doer,' while the first step in paramartha is the belief that Rama is the doer.
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Tuesday, June 13, 2017
Prapancha is the Ladder for Attaining Paramartha
Working many years in a subordinate position develops a slavish attitude of mind; this is undesirable. A person should live at least for some years as his own master. Even during his period of service or business, one should learn to live in consciousness of God so that, on retirement, he is able to occupy his spare time in such consciousness.
Everyone is in search of joy and contentment, all through life, and strives continuously for it; that is, everyone is after paramartha. Prapancha should be treated as instrumental for that purpose; pursued as an end in itself, it is incapable of yielding happiness. It is basically, essentially, the same all over, for the rich and the poor, for the superior and his subordinate, in this country and that; it is characterised by defectiveness, incompleteness, transiency. We should always bear in mind this characteristic of prapancha and not be led to envying another for having something that we do not possess; we should be content with what we have.
Position in the progress in paramartha cannot be granted by one person to another; it has to be attained by dint of one's own effort and action. The importance and need of paramartha is poignantly felt in times of pain, suffering, and misery, not while prapancha is apparently affluent and happy. This apparent happiness always culminates in unhappiness and misery.
When our sensual desires join hands with tempting circumstances, the desires become strong and we succumb to them. The desires gradually wane if we resolutely refuse to yield to them. The remedy to foil temptation is resorting fervently to nama-smarana. Those sensate pleasures which present themselves in the ordinary course should be accepted passively, without voluntary enthusiasm, only as a duty. This will weaken passions and render them harmless.
The clinical thermometer only indicates fever, but does not cure it. Similarly the shastras point out where we go wrong and how to correct ourselves; the action is entirely with us. Shree Samartha did meet Rama; why is it, then, that we do not? The plain answer is that we lack that staunchness of faith, and that persistence and regard for the devotional practices. Never forget that you belong to and live for Rama. He will certainly not expose you to want of life's necessities. If you repeat nama with firm faith, and forget yourself in it, you will live ever so joyfully.
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Monday, June 12, 2017
Paramartha is the True Goal of Human Life
The feeling of disunion with Brahman or the Ultimate Reality is the cause of pain, while happiness and bliss result from the realization of identity with Brahman. If we live in the conviction of this identity or unity, we shall always be in enduring bliss. The world appears manifold, but basically it is one and the same stuff. Paramartha, or the attempt to realize this fundamental unity, is uni-directional; and it is on this that we should focus our attention. To desist from mental involvement in life is paramartha. It calls for abandonment of all upadhi so that even 'I' or myself as a separate entity, has no existence. Prapancha, arising as it does from a feeling of duality or separateness, is bound to appear multitudinous.
Unless and until we recognize the true aim of human life, prapancha persists as our goal. As a matter of fact, man comprises not merely the body but also the mind, and therefore he must strive for both the physical and spiritual goals; but the real, ultimate goal of human life is realization of identity between all creation and the Cosmic Soul. So far as physical, worldly life is concerned, a sense of duality is essential for any sense of happiness. Consequently, in our transition from the present conviction of reality of material things to the realization of paramartha, the 'manasa-pooja' or mental worship pre-supposes the duality 'God' and 'I'; it is with this duality that we have to begin.
Until paramartha is assimilated in our flesh and blood, it is desirable to reinforce our sadhana with appropriate reading. We have to see what we must do to keep the mind fastened to God.
Prapancha carried out with only a material outlook fails to yield the expected fruit. The remedy advocated by saints is to supplement it by nama-smarana. We are, however, deterred from it by our pride and our 'wisdom'. Who creates this ego? Its small, almost imperceptible seed exists dormant in ourselves. It sprouts as desire for popular esteem. What the saints suggest for countering it is to be in nama-smarana, and simultaneously to suppress the urge for sensual pleasures. Reverses and obstacles in life should remind us that the aim of human life is to realize God, to take us closer to God. So, instead of getting scared by them, we should apply ourselves to nama more seriously.
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Sunday, June 11, 2017
Pleasure and Pain are but Mental Reactions
A medicine will serve its purpose only if its effect reaches the affected part; similarly, if we want to remove unhappiness, we should trace its source. Any deficiency or shortcoming of prapancha causes unhappiness. We shall discover that unhappiness is the common result, whether a person is poor or rich. One person may have enough money, but may be unhappy for being childless, while another may have children and lack money. A third one has both, but is afflicted by persistent colic. And so on and so forth, ad infinitum. In short, we can find no one free from unhappiness. No matter how many things you bring in, there does remain or come about one deficiency or another.
A little thought shows us that our remedies for unhappiness are superficial or transient; we do not realize that it is the reactions of our mind that constitute the basis of our unhappiness. A man in deep sleep, while his house is being robbed, may continue sleeping merrily. He starts feeling upset only on waking and discovering the fact. What feels sorrow and happiness, therefore, is the mind. What needs treatment in life is thus the mind. It is the mind that the saints train to face calamities and reverses, with unflinching faith in God. On the other hand, we give free rein to our senses, and only subordinate value to spirituality.
The company we keep influences the mind and its reactions. Accustomed as we are to sensual pleasures, we naturally find enjoyment in such pleasures. As we sow, so must we reap.
It often happens that adversities and shocks in life prove conducive to driving a person towards, and to impart earnestness to, spiritual effort. Progress in spiritual effort, however, depends not on external factors such as wealth or poverty, health or sickness; it depends on peace of mind, purity of heart and of conduct. Convenience in life can be an impediment as much as difficulties. When we go out for some work, delay may be caused if we stop on the way watching a shop window, whether it displays dresses or books. Prapancha is neither favourable nor otherwise for spiritual progress; it affects us only because we approach it with mental attachment. Paramartha is nothing but cultivating detachment from it.
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Saturday, June 10, 2017
Trust in God, the Sole Doer
It is not proper to feel or say, 'better had it been if a thing had happened in such and such a manner;' because whatever has happened has been willed by Rama and brought about by Him. The mind will certainly pick up courage in the faith that no one can go counter to His will. My very being is a matter of His will; what, then, of other things? Everyone's fortunes, good, bad, and indifferent, are controlled and directed by Him. Do not be puffed up by pride of doership; know that every happening is due to His will. Whatever takes place in the mundane or spiritual field is because He has willed it so. Let us, then, go down before Him in utter submission.
Understand that he becomes a favourite with God, whose heart is permeated by contentment; and contentment comes to him who places complete faith in Rama. Place yourself unreservedly at His disposal. Forget 'me and mine,' seek contentment in Him. Treat with scant attention the shortages and shortcomings of life and the circumstances and their changeability; preserve contentment through attacks of anxiety, ego, affection, undeserved trouble, deceit, disrespect, sharp talk, and such other things. Contentment is not like an article which somebody can hand over to you; it is a gift of God, unobtainable except through unreserved faith and surrender to Rama.
How can contentment be derived by feeding and nourishing sensualities and mundane desires? It just cannot be had so long as there is upadhi and an interest in and awareness of the tangible. It is not related or perceptible to the body, and can come only by completely belonging to God. Think of the Pandavas; they had to live in banishment in the forest, deprived of the amenities of civilized life, but happy in the company of Lord Krishna. We, too, can live contentedly if we commit ourselves completely to His care.
One should never say, 'I have done this,' 'I will do that,' especially with an emphasis on 'I'. One who says, 'I will strive by myself and attain God,' has no chance of success; it is just not possible. What is wanted is an ardent craving to meet God. Give up insisting on what you want or do not want. Learn to accept, cheerfully and with equanimity, what comes by God's will; that is the easiest way to conquer desire.
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Friday, June 9, 2017
Annihilate Desire, and Get Liberated
Most of us are unaware of the true meaning and significance of devotion and the pursuit of spirituality. Devotion may not spring from mere disgust of prapancha; what is required is disgust for sen-sate pleasures; indeed, one who is careless about duty in prapancha has slender chance of success in spirituality.
To achieve happiness is the ultimate goal for which every living being strives. Liberation is the attainment of transcendental happiness while still living in the body.
Truly, there is nothing that God, the Creator, can lack or need or be wanting. All that we need to do is to lay down our mind and heart at His feet, and be devoted to Him with unreserved faith. To worry is to expose faltering faith. To consign our body to Him unreservedly is real renunciation. It is a pity that no act of ours is free from desire or expectation. Our error lies in looking here and there for the peace and contentment which, actually, are there in ourselves. The contentment must remain suppressed, inexperienced, so long as there persists a desire for this and that. We cannot rid ourselves of avidity till the last; this is the basic trouble; and therefore, only he can be called liberated who has become devoid of desire.
No one can become a true servant of God until he gives up all desire and expectation. Whenever hope arises in the mind it should be dedicated to God. Prapancha is like a drama. Whether one acts as the prince or the pauper is of no consequence, so far as the actor's personal life is concerned. Indeed, a well-acted pauper may be more applauded than a luke-warmly-played prince. Similarly, in this drama of life, what does it matter if one is wealthy and another poor? It isn't life that matters but the awareness of God which one maintains. Provided only fair, moral means are used, amassing money is not at all objectionable; only, money must never be considered as a support to be rated above or even equally with dependence on God. It must never become either a substitute or an impediment to treating God as a support.
The supreme happiness to be found in devotion to God cannot be realized or appreciated so long as sensual pleasures continue to please. God is attained only when there is no desire whatsoever but Him.
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Thursday, June 8, 2017
Divert Craving for Sense-objects towards God
What 'trust' is in worldly dealings corresponds to 'faith' in spiritual practice. Worldly life, being by its very nature imperfect and incomplete, can never yield satisfaction, which is basically, a natural quality of perfection and completeness. Acts done without expectation of any kind will lead to purification and ultimate liberation. 'Sacrifice', truly speaking is utter surrender of self, and unbroken awareness of God. In the sadhaka stage body may be subjected to suffering but, once liberation is achieved, the body becomes brimful with the bliss that is God. It is, of course, far from necessary for an aspirant to live indigently. He may live in luxury if he can afford it; but if, some day, he is beset by poverty, he should not even remember the past times of affluence.
The shastras have extolled the householder's life as blessed, and particularly congenial for spirituality. If, however, we get engrossed in the sensual pleasures which it affords and allows and ignore the duties and responsibilities, what is the gain? It be-hoves a person to engage himself in service or a business for his living, but if he forgets God to serve the employer or the business, it is certainly all to no purpose. Even, service should be performed in the remembrance of God.
Do not believe it if someone tells you that domestic life precludes attainment of God. You certainly can attain that goal; only you must take these precautions: Commit yourself and everything else to the care of God. Relate alike your pleasure and pain to Him. Be contented in whatever condition He pleases to place you in. Everything that you do should be dedicated to Him. Do nothing for which conscience may prick you.
A man is nowhere near spirituality so long as he feels prapancha to be the be-all and end-all. Even evildoers sometimes appear to be happy, but they are not so in reality. Repentance does strike such a person at some time or other and does make him unhappy.
We treat spirituality in a step-motherly fashion. What we need to do is to apply our genuine attachment to God instead of to prapancha. Learn to derive happy contentment in nama-smarana.
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