Daily Readings

Spiritual Diary - February

compiled by Yogeshwari Muhl - Cape Province - SA

Om Namah Shivaya

Om Namah Venkatesaya

February 1


Is there justice in this world?
Don't we often, almost always, see wicked ones (who are powerful, too) prospering and justifying their aggressive exploitation of the weaker people?
"We civilized them, we conquered them, we made them work, we saved them."
Superficially, there is nothing but injustice in this world.
Yet, if you look deeper, you discover that the aggressor buys material prosperity at the expense of peace and sanity.
Again, there appears to be injustice only when you restrict your vision to a short lifespan.
When you next ill-treat a poor, weak "foreigner", remember that he may be reborn as your grandson and demand justice in your old age!
The all-seeing eye of truth cannot be cheated.
The world that we know of is perhaps full of evil, because the instrument of that knowledge (the mind) is evil.
But, we should derive great consolation from the fact that the world that we know of is not the world that is, i.e. the world that God made, saw was good and knows of.
When we raise ours to God-consciousness, then we shall know the world as He knows it, and find it is good.

February 2


If I am love, I have no choice but to love.
The other man may be bitter and his heart closed.
If I hit him on his head, saying I am not going to love him, then I am lost too.
I cannot do that - I have to love, because there is nothing else in me.
If someone says, "You are a fool, you are an idiot, and I am going to kill you," I am told "Why don' t you defend yourself, give him a blow for a blow?"
I try, but it is not possible for me, because I am not made of that stuff.
I am made of love, so I cannot possibly retaliate - I cannot hit him back.
Then I look at him and think, "Maybe you also have the same problem, maybe you cannot change either. I am love and therefore I cannot hit you back; maybe you are made of that stuff which makes you hit me, and probably you cannot change, either."
Why must I even want him to change?
Let him be what he is.
That is what St. Paul is supposed to have said: "Love doesn't want to change, doesn't fix any conditions."

February 3


It seems to be a popular conception that if you wish to adopt the spiritual path, at some stage you will need a teacher.
You seem to be saying that one cannot teach another.
Where does the Guru come in?
Like a midwife.
The midwife cannot deliver the baby, yet in a manner of speaking she does.
Let us start at the beginning.
You are already marching on the spiritual path, according to yourself.
How did you get started on it without a teacher?
Somewhere, something hit you and pushed you onto this path.
That is already a teacher.
It may be human, it may be divine, it may be subhuman, or it may be an incident in my life.
That is what initiation means.
I'm given a push.
So the Guru or teacher may or may not be a human person.
In the Bhagavatam there is the story of someone who says he had twenty-four gurus - the sun, moon, wind, stars, stones, etc.
All of them taught him some lesson.

February 4


So to begin with you are pushed onto the spiritual path by somebody or some non-body, and then from there it depends entirely upon you.
If you are awake and alert, then human or non-human agencies can teach you.
Do you see the difficulty there though?
It is a dual action.
By myself alone I may not have noticed the truth, but I must be awake in order that you may teach me, and I must be speaking the same language as you before you can teach me.
Only if I am open to what you say, can you teach me.
If I am truly open to knowledge, I can learn from anything.
But I still need the other agency.
I must be open and at the same time the other agency must be there; the two working together make for the teaching.
Once again we have split this into two or three nice little compartments.
One school of thought says that all learning happens within; another school of thought says, "Nonsense, a teacher is necessary."
But very few people really suggest that it is the interaction that really works.

February 5


Swami Sivananda had a clever motto.
He said that as a student you must have a teacher, you must be taught by a Guru.
If you do not have a Guru, you are sunk.
Then he turned to the Gurus and said, "If you have any disciples, you are all idiots."
What do I do?
The Gurus are not supposed to have any disciples, but the disciples are lost unless they have Gurus - that is the idea.
The Guru has no business to feel that He is teaching you.
And the student must feel that either he is my Guru, or that everything is my Guru.
The Buddhists have the same thing in the Diamond Sutra.
A bodhisattva must vow that, "I will liberate all beings, and I will not look for nirvana until I have liberated all living beings," but at the same time he must know that he can liberate none.
I can do nothing.
The two attitudes together is wisdom.
It is not, 'either-or', it is, 'neither-nor'.

February 6


But how do you teach love, or is it necessary to teach love?
No, it's the other way around.
If you are love, whatever you say is love, and if a student comes to you, what you teach him is nothing but love.
But unless he is receptive, he may turn round and hit you.
He may turn round and say, "Don't talk rubbish."
So unless the other person is receptive, your teaching is of no value.
Temporarily you may have won your point.
If you apply the theory of probability to what I am going to say, what would be your answer?
In the Bible, people brought a woman to Jesus who had committed adultery; they were about to stone her.
Jesus said, "He who has not sinned, let him cast the first stone."
That was a direct challenge to them.
His words were full of love, but unfortunately, to them it sounded like a challenge.
So they hung their heads down in shame and walked away.
Is it not possible or probable that some of them eventually became his persecutors?
It's probable.
So although such teaching may appear to have some effect, it does not change a person until he is open.
Therefore to teach love is impossible, but to communicate love is possible, communicate in the sense that, when you and I are one at heart, then it is possible non-verbally to communicate love.
Verbal communication is unnecessary and superfluous.

February 7


Life itself is important and therefore I must take a better look at life itself, understand who I am, who the others are, and what our relationship is.
From this understanding of human relationship springs action.
Action is not something which we should perform, because it leads to a certain result.
Action must spring from our very being, from the understanding of oneself.
That is spontaneous action.
Impulsive action is immature.
Most of us know only impulsive action.
For example, somebody calls you a fool, so you roll up your sleeves and hit him.
That is impulsive action, and proves that you are a fool!
That is impulsive action born of our lower animal nature.
As we mature, we begin to see that this impulsive action is confusing.
It creates more problems than it solves.
When we are subject to impulsive activity, our whole life becomes a string of regrets and remorse.
How often have we said, "I should not have done this, but should have done something else."
That is because that action was impulsive.

February 8

Wise Action

When we mature a little more, we grow out of that impulsive action into calculated action.
Like a businessman, I sit down and work out, "If I do this, what will happen? And if I do that, what will happen? How can I promote my own welfare?"
That is pure business, therefore if I call my young friend a fool, he begins to calculate, "If I retaliate, my friends will misunderstand me and think I am immature, so I will smile and say, 'God bless you,' and I will be enhanced in the eyes of my friends."
This is calculated action, which is slightly better than impulsive action, and yet not true action, because here you are reacting and not acting.
You are not totally immature, you are not asleep, but still not mature, and therefore you are reacting - calculating the consequences, the profits.
The problem here is that if these consequences turn out to be what you anticipated them to be, you are happy, and if the consequences turn out to be contrary to what you expected, you are unhappy.
That is not intelligent or wise action.

February 9

Choice of Action

When you stand under, you see "him" greatly magnified!
You look up at him - you try to grasp him - and if you cannot, even then you understand him and go away.
Perhaps, you will never say, "He is wrong", but only, "I cannot grasp him, though I understand him."
However, if you go along this path understanding yourself, society and the relationship of that understanding, action springs up.
Out of your own innermost being, action springs up.
It is interesting if you study this problem very carefully.
To a wise man and to a fool, there is no choice of action.
The freedom and opportunity to choose exist only in-between.
The fool acts impulsively; the wise man acts spontaneously.
It is only in the middle that there is calculation.
It is only when you and I have the habit of calculating the consequences that we see a choice of action.
To an impulsive man there is no choice; he acts on impulse.
To the wise man there is no choice either; he acts spontaneously - he is a good man, and goodness springs from him.

February 10


A good man was taking a bath in the river.
It was the monsoon season in India, and evidently a scorpion had been washed into the stream.
Water is the enemy of the scorpion, and it was struggling for life.
This good man saw the scorpion struggling and, wanting to save its life, picked it up to throw it onto the bank of the river.
The scorpion did not know whether he was a good or a bad man, so it stung him.
As soon as the scorpion stung the finger, the hand withdrew, and the scorpion fell back into the water.
The good man saw that the scorpion was again struggling for life, so he took it up with the other hand, and tried to throw it onto the bank.
The scorpion stung him again - the scorpion has to do its job.
The hand dropped it - not he, but the hand dropped it.
The man said, "What a silly fool I was. I should have scooped it up with a handful of water, so that my hand did not touch it." So he scooped up the scorpion with both his hands and threw it onto the bank.

February 11


Two people were watching the game with the scorpion, one a modern gentleman, and the other a religious person.
The religious person said, "What a noble character, a saint. The scorpion stung him twice and he still saved its life."
The modern gentleman said, "Silly fool, serves him right, it stung him twice and still he did not get the message. Why save a vicious creature like that?"
The good man, having listened to both comments, got out of the water, looked at both of them and said, "I am neither a saint, nor a fool. I am just what I am. There is no enmity between the scorpion and me. The scorpion did not sting me because I am an enemy; it only expressed its own nature. It had no intention of harming me. It expressed its nature and so did I. Nothing more. So, I neither deserve your condemnation nor your praise."
From a pot of honey you can only get honey.
When someone's nature has been transformed into goodness, then nothing but good can come from that person.
He does not calculate; he does not react; all his actions are good.

February 12

Matter over mind

I went to a huge factory where they make boxes and containers for all sorts of consumer goods.
The speed with which these goods are produced is staggering.
The moment the switch is on, the machine keeps the hand behind it busy!
The producer has to sell them.
First he sells the idea, "You cannot live without this. This is civilization; without it is backwardness, unhygienic living or even danger."
At first the buyers believe the idea, and thus keep the mills rolling, the workers busy and the industrialists sleepless.
Soon afterwards, the machine and the worker question the need for the producer.
And, the buyer plans to buy the factory instead of its products.
The idea that was invented as part of the marketing technique, has taken root in the buyer' s mind as truth.
The buyer has become the producer's competitor.
The ensuing race for greater sophistication, and more intense and better selling propaganda, claims peace of mind, harmony, brotherly love, spiritual values and even commonsense as its victims.

February 13

Mind over Matter

Someone sees the truth.
The new infection spreads; a new wave sweeps the world.
The materialist is looked down upon and condemned as a terrible monster.
The holy war is on. People run away from the "world", and there is open rebellion.
Mind denies matter.
Truth languishes in-between the two camps.
We have the factories, the planes, the radios, television and the motorcars.
Time will replace them with something better or worse.
But we cannot deny their existence.
And they in themselves do not constitute a threat to spiritual truth.
A motorcar is a cart with a mechanical horse!
The need is for the driver to preserve his spiritual values, to enthrone humanity in his own heart, and to search for ways and means of expressing that humanity in the altered material conditions.
Then he will give a lift to a friend, instead of running over a pedestrian!
Mind over matter triumphs.
Nature is conquered to serve man.
Machines roll, obeying the spirit that enlivens the hand that presses the switch.
The workers are happy for they serve man.
The producer sleeps peacefully when love of the workers and the welfare of society sing the sweet lullaby of divine life in his ears.
Let us pray for such an evolution.

February 14


"I am neither mind nor body. Immortal Self I am".
This is a direct experience of meditation, not just a formula or an intellectual or rational conclusion.
In meditation you realize that the body is only a cloak.
You wear it in order to express your nature and to gain some experience, just as an actor or actress wears a costume during a drama.
Even the life force of the vital sheath is not the self.
It is energy that animates the body and that is all.
Within the body, the thinking principle or the mind directs the life force to animate the body.
Mind is guided by the discriminating intellect in its choice.
The individual soul is the boss of this illusory performance.
The soul itself is nothing more than a reflection of the self, the sole reality which is indwelling Omnipresence.
It is in you, but not confined to the individuality.
It gives reality to the entire personality.

February 15


The scriptures of the world aim at the spiritual education of the inner man.
They explain that no one can lead an isolated life here, that everybody is connected with everybody else.
That we are all cells in the one body of God.
Intellectual assent to this idealism is the first step, but the goal is the actual realization of this truth.
The path lies through the progressive application of this truth to daily life, through the manifestation of this spirit of selfless service, the cultivation of cosmic love, and the recognition of the all-pervading spirit of the Godhead.
As he walks along this path, man becomes purer and purer at heart, simpler in his habits, more selfless and charitable, more and more divine.
This spirit is as old as time, but today it has been sunk in the deep sea of materialism and atheism.
Let us salvage this spirit and apply it to our daily lives.

February 16


Acquiring worldly goods does not occasion undue worry and hurry, if it is done in the right spirit, but it entails endless turmoil and suffering it this spirit is absent.
What is the right spirit?
It is understanding the fundamental unity of mankind.
The same life force throbs in all hearts.
The other man too has feelings, emotions and sentiments, as much as you and I.
He is subject to hunger and thirst, heat and cold, pain and pleasure; he too has a right to have food, clothing, shelter, social security and justice.
This spirit enables us to enjoy our share of the world's goods, and, with equal eagerness to let others enjoy their share.
This spirit unveils the majesty of the soul, reveals the fountain source of peace and happiness within ourselves.
It takes away the sense of "want" from our hearts.
The man who does not possess this spirit is a spiritual baby.
He has to be educated in order that this message may become intelligible to him.

February 17


Where are 'you'?
Your body is here, no doubt, but look within and see for how many seconds you are here, whole; your thoughts and feelings are about something else, linking up with something else.
Only part of you is here, some part is elsewhere.
This is why we are not integrated.
Take anger. When someone says something, you get annoyed.
If a cobweb falls on your face, you may get irritated or worried.
If someone says you are a fool, am "I" annoyed or is it something exterior like the cobweb?
If I am annoyed, how can I become dis-annoyed?
If I am a man, I cannot become a dog.
Where is this annoyance?
I drink water, the water is then in me. No danger in this.
But if I am in the water, I can drown. This is danger.
So let us find out whether the annoyance or any other trouble is in me, or whether I am drowned in it.
The enquiry is only possible if you are still in control.
But if you have lost yourself in the annoyance, allowed it to get under you, you are finished.

February 18


What is the fundamental problem that faces us?
Making decisions?
Why does that become a problem?
Someone says, "Because we have a choice, and we do not always know what choice to make."
Because we have the freedom of choice, we are not free to be happy!
Unless of course we make the right choice: the choice "to be".
Is there a way to make the right choice?
We must look at the alternatives without prejudice.
Both alternates are seen to be equally good or equally bad.
This attitude deflates the "world" and dries up the twin currents of attraction and repulsion.
The next step is to find the one within us who makes the choice.
To do this, we need a calm and clear mind, free from prejudice.
Now we see that worldly objects and goals have no value, except in relation to ourselves.
When we look within and make this enquiry "Who makes the choice and takes the decision?", we will soon know if it is us, or whether it is a craving that is deciding.
Then the choice we make will be the right one, totally in accord with our essential nature.
It will not be confused by petty craving.

February 19


Calculated action is not just something which takes place - it is the ego that acts, it is the ego that does it.
If you watch yourself keenly, you will see that there is always a "because" - because I like it, because I am afraid of it.
Now comes something very important.
The action takes place, regardless of Mr. X or Swami V.
But when the ego links itself with that activity, it experiences what comes after as pain or pleasure.
The coconut palm stands there with all the coconuts hanging.
The tree is totally unconcerned whether they are hanging there or not.
A coconut is cut. Does the tree feel any loss? Not at all.
But if I am holding a bag in my hand and somebody snatches it - "Oh! It is mine. I have lost it."
Why? Because the ego was holding it.
Because it is the ego that creates ownership, and it is the ego that creates this identification, therefore it is the ego that creates or projects the idea of pain or pleasure, and then it is the ego itself that suffers it.
It is a beautiful thing, if you watch what goes on in your own mind.
When something comes to me - why does it come to me?
Something comes - that is all.

February 20


In our attempt to find what constitutes right action and right relationship, we find that one of the vital processes is meditation.
This is not merely sitting on the floor morning and evening - it means keeping up this awareness perpetually.
Unbroken awareness is required, otherwise we break our life into pieces - then we do not know who we are.
Yoga brings about total integration - that is why it is so beautiful.
If you take isolated little strands of fiber, you may not find any pattern, any order, but once you weave them into a carpet, they become a thing of beauty.
We must try to bring order such as this into our life.
This can be brought about if there is perpetual self-awareness.
If you draw a circle, you can arbitrarily divide it into segments of one inch each.
Each segment is part of the whole, and if you remove any one part, it is no longer a circle.
The part is as vital as the whole. Everything is part of the whole.
There is no essential distinction between part and whole.
When the whole looks at the part, it sees first of all that the part is in ME.
The state of meditation arises when the whole looks at the part, and it wakes up to the great truth that this part is part of ME.
Without that part I am not the whole.

February 21


Most of us think that we have freedom of choice.
When we think so, the only truth is that we are in a state of confusion.
We do not do what is right or wrong, the only thing we actually do is worry.
It is the only action we commit unceasingly - worrying.
If you watch yourself very carefully, as you actually do something, you might discover that really you had no choice.
When you thought you had a choice, you had in fact no choice but to worry.
To use a rather crude example, when you want to go to the toilet urgently, you just have no choice.
If you think you have a choice, it is not yet urgent. Is this not so?
The man who thinks he has a choice is insensitive, does not see the problem.
When that problem becomes urgent, he will have no choice whatsoever.
When the real urgency of the problem is seen, action is spontaneous.
When there is no spontaneity in our action, we are not sufficiently awake.
We are not looking squarely at the problem.
We are still finding excuses, literally looking around.
I am trying to see why I am afraid.
I am trying to look around, instead of looking within where the tear is.
Face it, do not bring about excuses.
Look for the truth, not what appears to be the truth.

February 22


Karma Yoga demands rigorous inner discipline.
Watch your mind.
Self-deception is waste of time.
Scrutinize your inner motives, examine your attitude.
When you do a job for somebody else, you can regard it as labor and invite fatigue, you can do it as duty, often with a sour face, or you can derive pleasure from it, if you change your inner attitude.
What is the karma yogi's attitude?
First and foremost he knows that the ego is a non-entity, and affirms, "Not I, but the Lord in me is the doer of all actions."
Become unselfish, desireless and egoless, you will never have disappointments in life.
Secondly, the karma yogi affirms that he serves the Lord in all.
Such an attitude will free you from attachment.
You will remember God constantly.
You will never look for reward or reciprocity, and therefore you will never suffer a shock.
Regard every one of your actions as worship of the Omnipresent God.
Feel it.

February 23

Karma Yoga

Karma yoga strikes a blow at the very root of all our problems.
What are our problems?
Lust, desire, craving, desire for pleasure, profit or power.
All living organisms are active, that is the law of nature, but man is driven by desire.
This leads to sin and to suffering.
Karma Yoga keeps action in, and desire out.
Desire disturbs the equilibrium of the mind - desirelessness preserves it.
A balanced state of mind is conducive to efficiency, skill and achievement.
This state of desirelessness is not possible to grasp, but try to have just this one desire - desire to do your duty for duty's sake.
Remember God all the time.
Feel that you are worshipping the Lord Who is seated in all beings.
You will naturally be free from selfish desires and the profit motive.
With the profit motive out of the way, people promote one another' s welfare.
This is Karma Yoga.

February 24

Bhakti Yoga

What is God? How to remember God?
What is worship? What is the spirit of worshipfulness?
The karma yogi needs to have an answer to all these questions.
Karma Yoga without God is a lamp without light.
Bhakti or God-love is an integral part of any yoga, for yoga is union of the human soul with God.
God is the reality.
God is the unchanging substratum of changing phenomena.
The goal of life and all religions is God.
God is one and infinite.
God is within all and therefore everyone has his own conception of God.
The important thing in yoga is to love God.
Love God in your own way, as your father, mother, friend, master, child or lover.
Divert all your love to Him.
Worship Him in and through the temples, churches, synagogues and mosques, but worship Him in your own home too.
Work in Him, love in Him, live in Him.
This is Bhakti Yoga.

February 25


My Gurudev used to say that service of the sick and the poor is the very best form of worship of God.
But you should feel that the sick and the suffering are God in disguise.
God is nameless and formless, yet He appears in infinite forms.
When you sing, feel that the Lord Himself is sitting in front of you or in your heart, and is listening to your singing.
Pray to God at regular intervals of the day.
Even a selfish prayer will eventually lead you to unselfish and pure prayer.
When you pray or meditate, visualize God in your own heart, and later visualize Him in all the people you meat.
Meditate regularly.
True, real meditation is a rare experience, but even an imperfect attempt will fill you with inexpressible peace and joy.
You must be established in great virtues, like non-violence, truthfulness, and purity, before you can taste the bliss of deep meditation.

February 26


If the buddhi or the pure intelligence, with it's conditioning, is facing towards the mind , with the impressions of past experiences it has gathered, with all its preconceptions and prejudices, then you are limited.
The buddhi will function in a manner suited to the pleasures of the senses.
The ego will function, work, and decide in a manner suited to pleasure, which can only lead to unhappiness, shock and failure.
If however the buddhi is united with its source, the source being cosmic intelligence, then the whole process is different.
The ego is isolated.
It performs a routine function of making decisions, and the buddhi does not give the ego a choice.
When this happens, you no longer function as a crazy individual, fighting against the rest of the universe, but you work in total harmony with the entire cosmos.
In short, the buddhi has turned away from the mind and the senses, away from the limitation imposed upon it by the mind, and the senses turn towards the cosmic consciousness.

February 27


One cannot possibly lay down rules on how and in what manner the totally egoless person will behave.
I have seen this in the case of my Master.
The actions of an egoless person are totally unpredictable.
The only thing that you can say about Him is that you can say nothing about Him.
The great ones said we should possess the qualities of truthfulness, sincerity, consistency, humility, egolessness.
We could not understand what they meant, we were not prepared to concede that we did not understand, and therefore we did not wish to start looking at life as they commanded us to do.
We jumped to conclusions - egolessness means this, sincerity means that, humility means this.
Therefore we got married to portraits.
These are all images.
It is not possible for us deliberately to perform non-egoistic action, or to live a non-egoistic life.
What is possible however is to be intensely aware within ourselves and to detect the play of the ego from moment to moment.
It has its own role to play in life, as the decision maker in certain situations.
The mind thinks, the ego decides, the nose smells, the eyes see. That is all.
When this is seen, life assumes a completely different quality.

February 28


One should pray that the whole universe may be happy, that all the obstacles, troubles and difficulties of everyone in the three worlds be removed - not just my and your troubles.
It is good to remember that, so long as we limit our prayers to our silly little selves, there is no redemption.
As long as my prayer is selfish, limited to myself, even if by some kind of chance it is granted, it is bound to lead to frustration.
No wise person ever prays for himself - that is basic, fundamental.
There is of course the bodhisattva ideal that one cannot achieve salvation for oneself, that there is no salvation for "me".
So long as the "me" is there, there is no salvation.
Thus even salvation is not to be asked for, for oneself alone, because I am not alone in this world.
I am part of the whole.
Wisdom lies in understanding, realizing that the 'I', the ego, is an illusory shadow.
When the shadow goes, we are one.

February 29


Whatever be the nature of knowledge and wisdom, it is a colossal waste if it merely adorns our intellect or heart.
We should have the courage of our convictions and live up to them.
We should experience what we understand to be the highest truth (even in our own present limited vision); for only then is even a verification of its validity possible.
We may err; it is human.
But if we do not have the daring, if we are ever standing on the brink, hesitant - "look before you leap", we may die with a great weight of falsehood misunderstood as the Truth!
Hence, by all means, look before you leap ... take a second look, and a third ... but for heaven's sake, leap!

Look at creation.
It teaches you, do not accumulate your worries.
God has introduced nights between days to break the tension.
You can follow this cue by meditation, and after each act disconnect yourself from the world.
Even with discrimination one has to be careful.
It has its light and dark sides.
When the bright side is up, it says, "Spiritual life is more worthy" - but the dark side comes up and it says, "It is difficult".
Strike while the bright side is up.

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