Daily Readings

Insights Inspirations - January

CYT - 1982 - ISBN 10: 0959069038 ISBN 13: 9780959069037

Om Namah Shivaya

Om Namah Venkatesaya

January 1

May All be Happy

Years come. Years go.
To many of us the New Year's Day is just the day on which we change the calendar.
We do not value time.
We do not realise the value of life.
Every second, every minute, every hour, every day, every month and every year that is past cannot be recalled.
A businessman at the end of his financial year draws up a balance sheet; he is happy only if he has made some progress in his business.
But the man-in-the-street is quite unconcerned.
We have 'lost' one year; what have we gained?
Ask yourself.
The South Indian has a number of highly interesting customs associated with the New Year.
One of them is forgetting old enmities and greeting all relatives and friends and even strangers with love and goodwill.
We should practise it here.
Let us forget all enmity and ill will and live in unity with all.
Another custom is to include in the lunch a dish of neem-flowers (bitter) and syrup (sweet).
The coming year may have its sweet and bitter experiences; let us, in wisdom, welcome them both.
Let us seek the unity that underlies all creation and all experiences.
May every one of our breaths offer this prayer to the Lord: "May all, O Lord, be happy."
Let us efface all man-made distinctions from our heart, and recognise the Indwelling Presence in all.

Life is an opportunity, but ignorance converts it into a burden.
God created a lot of work for man to do, but ignorance transforms it into worry.
Man has his duty to his fellowman, but ignorance makes it a millstone around his neck, weighing him down with cares and anxieties.
Wealth and wisdom God entrusted to man to serve his neighbour with; but ignorance bound him with them in the fatal ties of possessiveness.

January 2

Freedom From the Known

What do you think of health food stores?
Of course, I love healthy food and I am all for every attempt to promote the production and distribution of healthy food.
But it is doubtful if such healthy food can be stored and sold 'on a commercial basis'.
And there is another aspect to it: when the business tycoon sees the swing towards health food, he also switches to it and all manner of unhealthy stuff passes for health food.
This goes on all the time.
The eagerness with which people swing from one health cult to another, from one miracle-cure to another is super-marvellous.
Now it is medicine, now it is psychoanalysis, now it is psychotherapy, now it is psychedelic drugs, now it is Gestalt therapy, and now it is Transactional Analysis, now it is church, now it is Self-realisation, now it is yoga, now it is Zen, now it is Krishna consciousness, and now it is surrender to the guru.
What is truly remarkable is: every time there is a switch from one to the next, you gasp and declare, "Wow, this is it!"
It works. For a time.
The climax. Then the anticlimax.
And then the swing.
What is the mystery? Simple.
What you are now hooked onto is 'the known': stale, stinking and soon boring.
A new fad floats into your life.
You drop the known and pick up the new.
And there is a momentary thrill.
Freedom from the known.
But no, not yet: for soon you discover that whereas the known terminology was knocked out, the new one refers to the same old known factors.
Soon the newness of the new terminology wears out and the known re-emerges the boring victor.
You did not even really wake up; you blinked in momentary twilight consciousness, but quickly sank back into deep sleep.
Health, wisdom, life, love, divinity - all the good things are ever alive.
They cannot be captured, stored and distributed.

Saints renounce the world to show us that there is no real happiness in this world, and also that for the purpose of living we need very little.
They point out, for instance, that our dinner table contains more of ornaments and art collections and less of food!

January 3

Philosophy of Religion

Philosophy is the love of wisdom.
Religion is applied philosophy.
If even this wisdom is allowed to serve only as a glittering burden, far from saving us, it will serve only as a millstone around our neck.
Religion therefore binds us; binds us to God and (since God is omnipresent) to the welfare of all beings.
In India, this is regarded as dharma.
The name 'Hinduism' was derived from geography: the religious practices of the people who inhabited the land of the Indus River.
They - the seers of Truth who had actual, direct perception of the Reality - sought the highest wisdom; this wisdom is enshrined in the Upanishads.
And they - the yogis - applied that wisdom to life itself.
The resultant practices were regarded as those of the Hindu religion.
They had very broad vision: the vision of Truth that they had had no frontiers.
Their religion had no doors.
As they migrated southwards, they absorbed everything good as they went.
No 'alien' faith could invade them, for in their eyes no one was alien!
Everyone was absorbed, so avaricious was their spiritual hunger.
So avaricious were they for true wisdom that they were ready to grasp it wherever it was found.
They recognised the ultimate reality to be transcendental and Infinite, and conceded that this Infinite could have infinite points from which it could be viewed in infinite ways.
God is One and Infinite.
The Infinite precludes the existence of something 'other' outside it.
Oneness precludes 'manyness' within or without.
The rishi saw the Truth, intuitively and not sensually.
He declared that when we open our eyes we actually see God, but due to the fact that our vision is veiled by ignorance or non-understanding, instead of seeing God the Reality, we see the world which is an appearance.
Instead of seeing the One, we see the many.
God is one. He is Infinite. He is Eternal.
This was their sublime vision of the Reality - that God and God alone exists.

January 4

Rivalry, Violence and Me

It is lovely to see little children play.
How earnest and totally absorbed they are.
Summoned by their parents, they leave the game and go home.
Joy is the spirit of play.
When they play tennis or cricket they are supposed to understand the spirit of working in harmony with others.
However, when someone sets up a couple of goal posts, the game loses its spirit.
Sport loses its spirit of sportsmanship.
The children are no longer interested in playing but in kicking the ball between the two goal posts.
Now the other is no longer a friend with whom to play a game - he becomes a rival.
Psychologists say that the spirit of competition brings out genius, hidden faculties and talents.
This may be nonsense.
Once we consider ourselves rivals playing a game against each other, betting comes in - 'Who will win?'
This then extends to countries and the game becomes a political game with trade and profit entering.
Thus this noble thing called sport has been tainted by the spirit of competition and fighting.
The next step is violence, like the Munich massacre of 1972.
It is not only soldiers who kill.
People engaged in commerce probably kill even more through the spirit of competition, waiting to destroy rivals.
Unfortunately, violence does not seem to spare even the realm of religion.
Someone lays down a rule, and everyone must follow this, or he will be persecuted.
The whole of life seems to be tainted by violence.
Where does it start?
Whether it is violence in sport, commerce or politics, it starts with 'me'.
We say, "It takes two to make a quarrel."
I am convinced it needs only one, and that is me!
If the 'me' is kept out of the way, or if I refuse to fight, there can be no quarrel.
This can be translated into religious terms, too.
Anyone who believes in God accepts that God is omnipresent.
If I want to become one with this omnipresent God, what is it that stands between me and God? Me!
That is the obvious.
Nothing can stand between me and the omnipresence of God except 'me'.
I must be a student, looking into the book of life and feeling the urgency of the problem.
I must arrive at the point when life is seen as a problem, when selfishness is seen as a problem.
I must see that selfishness is the problem.
Then the 'I', the selfishness, drops away.

January 5

Action From the Self

How can we be more effective in getting things carried through to their fulfilment?
There is a saying, 'Trust in God, but first tie the camel'.
It is God who has given you some intelligence, a lovely body and energy - use all that, then trust.
That is the basis of my cynicism and scepticism.
The mind or the intelligence cannot foresee - to foresee is anticipating trouble.
If you foresee trouble, if you see the trouble before-hand, it means you are looking for trouble.
Then you will run into it!
That is one thing.
With the intelligence it is possible to scan the horizon and see a broad spectrum of possibilities - the best and the worst.
The best shouldn't create a problem, so ignore it.
You want to do something.
You are sure of certain things, and these are factors which are clear.
So take care of that which you can take care of.
But you cannot even take care of these, unless you are capable of looking at each one from different points of view - some of these factors may be acceptable, some may not be.
All factors that you can take care of, please take care of.
Then leave it to God.
In all activities, according to the Bhagavad Gita there are these few factors: the doer, the instruments of action, the method of work, and the motive.
Then there is an unknown factor over which you have no control, which may interfere and ruin the whole thing, or crown it with tremendous success.
There must be clarity.
Have you seen all the possible road blocks?
So there are all these irksome factors: one should not neglect, one should not push, one should not take anything for granted, one should not nag.
This applies to everything in life.
It involves much homework because you have to think of every little action.
But this is only fun.
The world is not going to be saved by something you and I do or not do - but in doing this the right way we find the right way.
And while doing whatever we do in the right way, we discover the Self.
So the action is from the Self, of the Self.
The behavior is the expression of the Self, and the way in which the behavior behaves indicates what the Self is like.
It reveals the nature of the Self.

January 6

Health in Religion

Traditionally, religion has adopted one or the other inflexible attitudes toward health.
There are many in the world to whom health is itself a religion: they are the members of the 'Body Beautiful' cult or of the 'Back to Nature' movement.
You might sense a deep religiousness in them, though they may outwardly refrain from a show of that spirit.
In them you often encounter fanatic adherence to vegetarianism, exercising, drugless living, etc.
At the other extreme, you have the ascetics to whom any activity or attitude to life that has anything to do with body-building is worldly, materialistic and irreligious.
They either ignore their physical well-being or positively glorify the sick and the weak body, which to them is proof that the spirit has completely overcome the physical!
There is one thing in common between them: that is an artificial and arbitrary division of what is one, into the spiritual and the physical.
There is no such division between the physical and the spiritual.
Body, mind and spirit are one; and this one wholeness is health, and it is also holiness.
True religion, therefore, strives to harmonise the body, mind and spirit, so that this harmony may eventually radiate from the healthy-holy person as social harmony and the realisation of the one infinite being (God).
That is the very definition of yoga.
Yoga (or religion) is harmony, 'bringing together'.
It is good to stop the definition there: thus challenging each one to discover in how many ways disharmony manifests itself.
Disharmony has thus to be discovered by oneself for oneself; otherwise it cannot be effectively dealt with!
The cultivation of the inner harmony is implied in the commandment that we should love our Lord with all our mind, with all our heart, and with all our strength.
And Lord Jesus commanded further that if you have fought against your brother, better leave your offerings, go and get reconciled with your brother before placing it on the altar.
To do this requires an inner sensitivity.
This inner sensitivity acts like a lamp, the light of wisdom, which constantly illuminates our inner personality and preserves health, holiness and wholeness.
Without this, no amount of yoga, exercising, half hour meditations or mechanical and occasional prayers are of much use.

January 7

The Heart of Communication

All over the world there is a clamour for more communication.
There is more communication today than there was some years ago.
Yet we see that unity, harmony and understanding, that such communication is supposed to bring about, are receding.
Why is this so?
Surely because we have not learnt what it is 'to communicate'!
To communicate is very different from 'to convey'.
When we endeavour to convey, we wish to convey to the other person, group or nation what we consider is right.
Implied in this eagerness to convey this, is the dreadful truth that we consider that the other person, group or nation, is in error.
If that other person does not agree, we think that he is immature, uncivilised or unrighteous.
We then resort to various methods of persuasion!
Such persuasion is rightly regarded as 'battle for the soul' of the other person.
This is violence, domination - and destructive.
This had many synonyms in the yester-era: proselytisation, invasion, slavery and latterly brainwashing.
The most recent euphemism is 'communication'.
But communication is quite different in character.
One needs to know the secret of communion in order to communicate!
In order to commune or to communicate, one must enter into the spirit of oneness with the other person, group or nation.
In order to enter into that spirit of oneness, one must drop one's own ego, one's selfishness and one's self-righteousness.
When the veil that is the ego is discarded, the evil lust to dominate the other person vanishes, and the pure light shines.
In this light both the parties involved in communication see the truth.
When both the parties have learnt the art of communication, have entered into the heart of communication, there is Silence, which is more profound than a thousand words.
Realise that all relationship is the interaction of the images of 'I' and 'You' within yourself.
This is the platform.
From there you can either leap into self-enquiry or 'seeing all as God'.
When you realise it is all imagination, why not imagine, 'It is all God'?

January 8

Gurudev's Divine Grace

Though Swami Sivananda was dynamically engaged in the service of mankind as the head of an ever-growing ashram and the Divine Life Society, He was ever blissful and never lost His peace of mind.
His secret of action is revealed by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita in a phrase which Gurudev loved: 'mamanusmara yudhya ca', meaning, 'Remember me and fight (do your duty)'.
The word 'duty' is rendered by several phrases in the Bhagavad Gita: 'sva-dharma', 'sva-karma', 'karyam karma' and 'sahajam karma'.
Dharma is what is natural.
Karma is action.
All these expressions imply simply 'the natural action that has to be done'.
There is neither an internal nor an external compulsion here.
That which has to be done, has to be done.
Yet, in practice one may not find it so simple.
For the mind interferes in the action as the ego, and memory interferes as the 'me'.
Hence, Krishna commanded Arjuna, "Let your heart seek Me, and let action proceed unhampered."
Action is thus freed from motivation and judgement.
Such action is natural.
Action is freed from thought or ego interference.
Such action is non-volitional.
It is done because it has to be done, because it happens.
This spirit is also the spirit of self-surrender.
Surrender is not the surrender of an imaginary ego, but a turning within to become aware of the springs of one's own actions, physical and mental.
When the attention turns within, it is realised that "God dwells in the hearts of all beings, making them act as they do." Bhagavad Gita (18-61)
When one seeks to find God, one becomes aware of the simple truth that all actions spring from Him; there is no 'I'.
When one seeks to find the hidden motives for the actions, one finds God, Whose energy keeps everything in the whole universe revolving.
The direct realisation of this truth is self-surrender or Self-realisation, and it is freedom and instant enlightenment.
Such indeed was Gurudev's divine life.

If the aspirant worships the guru, may he not then forget God?
No, guru is only the fullest and most faithful reflection of God.
Who will forget his own face, however much he looks at and admires his face in the mirror?

January 9

What is Yoga?

If you look at even a small Sanskrit dictionary, you'll see that this word 'yoga' has twenty to twenty-five meanings.
Most of the meanings of the word are basically intended to convey a getting together, a coming together.
In order to see if there is the spirit of yoga, I must know what comes together with what.
I must first of all become aware of the elements involved in it and I must become aware of how they got away from each other.
If they were not together before, they cannot be brought together again.
Two completely dissimilar things whose natures are completely different cannot be brought together.
When it comes to the practice of what you and I call yoga, we should not forget this basic principle: health is there already, and it has been disturbed.
What disturbs this inner health?
According to the yogis, toxins interfere with the free flow of prana or life force (energy).
In that unity, in that harmony, a split has been created by the toxins.
When that toxin is removed, the flow is restored.
Hatha yoga dissolves these toxins.
Now comes the problem.
Am I aware of this disharmony?
And, do I want this harmony to be restored?
Am I serious about it?
If I am serious I will not with one hand try to restore this harmony and with the other feed disharmony.
This is what many people do.
They practise some asanas, some pranayama every day, but their living habits are wrong.
If I understand the spirit of yoga correctly, I would realise the toxins must be removed and no new toxins put in.
Otherwise we practise yoga as some kind of an exercise and feel frustrated that nothing happens.
This is because we are not serious and we don't value the fundamental principle of yoga.

There is often this confusion that he who is omniscient, the yogi, will be able to tell you where you left the bunch of keys you have lost.
He may not!
The knowledge by which all else is known is like the knowledge of the nature of salt.
You know the quality of salt and why you use salt in food.
But that cannot enable you to know how to prepare curry.
Omniscience is not the knowledge of particulars.
It is a knowledge of the cosmic ground.

January 10

The Best Career: To be Human

Lessons in the yoga postures are a very good training of the body and often overflow to include training of the mind.
The body has a rather remarkable intelligence built into it.
If it is not dulled by unhealthy eating and living habits, it is capable of dealing with all the physical situations that may arise from moment to moment: in fact it seems to function almost always from moment to moment.
If you are able to observe yourself carefully, it is not difficult to see that whereas life is no problem, food is no problem, not even the animals and the people around you pose a problem, but your own prejudice ('I like this', and 'I don't like this') creates incessant problems.
Is it possible for you, without judging, without condemning or condoning, to see for yourself how this prejudice arises and operates, and where it exists in you?
Surely, it is not in the body: even when it appears to be physical, the operation of the prejudice is seen to be in the mind, the physical body acting only as a docile tool of the mind.
When you learn to see this, and when you thus observe yourself, you are in meditation.
What is needed first of all, is the keen interest to observe the mind.
If this is not there, any attempt to meditate or to observe oneself leads to dullness, sleep or frustration.
Secondly, most of us need just a little help in our effort to turn the mind upon itself.
One of the very best methods suggested is 'listen to your breathing' or mentally repeat a mantra, synchronising it with the breath and be aware of it.
When the mind thus turns its attention upon itself, you will discover what distracts such attention!
It is not always an extraneous factor which disturbs the attention, but your own reaction to it.
It is your predisposition that tempts temptation to tempt you.
If you have discovered this, then it is not only possible to avoid the operation of prejudice, but to go to the very source of prejudice, and thus to the very source of fear, anger, hate, jealousy, infatuation, pride, etc.
All these are mental aberrations which do not exist as such in nature.
If we learn to live without creating these prejudices, we shall be human beings!
Otherwise we shall continue to look like human beings intent only on destroying all others and ourselves.

January 11

Yoga or Physical Culture?

People labour under a delusion that while a disciplined life is indispensable for a certain path, for another it is not.
Saints and sages glorify certain practices like japa and kirtan as extremely easy to break the ice of the aspirant's despair ("I am so sinful that I am useless for any yoga practice").
Soon after this, the aspirant is 'enrolled' in the ranks of aspirants, and the sage gently reminds him that unless he is prepared to (in the words of Gurudev Sivananda) "Detach the mind from the world and attach it to the Lord," no progress is possible.
Even so with karma yoga.
I well remember hundreds of instances when Gurudev warned that without desirelessness, egolessness, and (on the positive side) Narayana-bhava or Atma-bhava (seeing God or the Self in all), mere activity is but labour and so much energy wasted.
Without physical, mental and moral discipline, what is styled as hatha yoga (but which in fact is just yoga asana) will degenerate into mere physical culture, and raja yoga or the yoga of meditation and mysticism will be impossible.
However, Gurudev did not insist that we should all become 'perfect' in self-control before undertaking these yoga practices.
He insisted that right from the beginning everyone should practise japa, kirtan, meditation, study of scriptures, yoga asanas, pranayama etc., without losing sight of the imperative need to progress side by side in measures of self-control.
Intelligently and sincerely practised, yoga asanas and pranayama themselves can enable us to acquire mastery over the senses and mind.
I request the yoga student to study Gurudev's immortal works on Hatha Yoga and Science of Pranayama, where He even suggests how the yogic practices can be made to serve the aspirant's desire to overcome his evil habits and tendencies, and to grow in virtue.
For instance, "Practise sirasana, sarvangasana and siddhasana simultaneously with pranayama.
These are all highly useful in the conquest of passion," says Gurudev in His most inspiring book Sure Ways for Success in Life and God-realisation.
Every spiritual aspirant should make a thorough study of this wonderful scripture.
Perhaps the greatest obstacle in the path of yoga is insincerity!
Only God's and Guru's Grace can enable us even to detect its presence and ultimately to remove it.

January 12

Yoga Asanas

Why do students of yoga practise yoga asanas at all?
What are yoga asanas and why are they yoga asanas?
We are not looking for eternal youth or physical immortality - these things are not possible.
The nature of all created things is change, decay, and death.
No-one is going to change that.
In two scriptures, the Bhagavad Gita as well as the Yoga Sutras, it is made very clear that yoga is practised in all its aspects for self-purification.
When we talk of 'purification' we only imply the removal of what does not belong.
What 'I' want to be, is pollution!
If you go on contemplating the phrase: 'to keep these as they are meant to be', you suddenly realise that 'I' don't know what they are meant to be, and therefore there is no desire to make them this or that.
The first and most mischievous element is removed.
'I' don't want to be this or that; 'I' must only ensure that these should be as they are meant to be.
When there is no anxiety to be this or that, to appear youthful or old, every bit of 'dirt' shows up.
Then there is a signal which says 'something needs to be cleaned'.
Following that signal it is possible to bring about a purification of that aspect of my being.
But in order to be able to do that, one must learn to communicate with the body.
The system of yoga asanas is a very delicate and beautiful system, and one has to enter into the beauty of it.
They do not exercise the body at all as gymnastics do.
'Asana' means posture and is described in the Yoga Sutras as 'comfortable, steady.'
If you are unstable, jumping up and down, or if there is discomfort, strain or pain, then the attention is distracted.
Whereas if it is not uncomfortable, you can observe what goes on within, and this observation has the power to focus one's attention on the inner workings of the body.
For the first time you discover that every time a new posture is practised, a whole intelligence system rearranges everything for its sake.
Even if there seems to be a little discomfort to begin with, it melts away as you hold the posture.
If it is done that way, then every yoga asana becomes a new discovery.

January 13

Benefits of Yoga Asanas

One must train oneself to appreciate the benefits of the yoga asanas and to be thankful.
When I even sense a little improvement, I taste it, become aware of it, fall in love with it and thank God for it.
If I do that then I am not likely to gamble it away. I see that this is the path to purification.
Then I will really and seriously avoid all that creates the problems again and go still further to see if the purification continues.
The yoga asanas themselves have been so framed that they work upon the inner systems of the body, not the muscles and bones and so on but the brain, the nervous system and the endocrine glands.
The only purely physiological influence that the yoga asanas have is in the case of the digestive system.
All the rest is almost psychic.
The yogi's theory is that if the flow of prana is clean and pure then both the mind and the body will function properly - not because of the food we eat and the tonics we take.
What is prana? Nobody knows.
We see one thing very clearly and that is that as long as the body lives, the body functions and the mind functions.
When the life force leaves the body the mind is not able to think and the body is not able to function.
That which makes the body and the mind function is prana, yet neither the body nor the mind can understand it.
(This flow is not flow in the sense of a river or the current in the electric wires, but it is like the flow of radio waves in this room.)
When the prana is obstructed, it will send out signals either of pain or of dullness.
One should become sensitive to these two aspects of destruction: one brought about by wrong eating, wrong ways of living and wrong habits, and the other, dullness brought about by laziness.
When these two are avoided then one communicates with this prana.
It is this prana that connects the body with the mind.
What happens in the mind is reflected in the body and what happens in the body is reflected in the mind.
When the body and the mind are pure, when the prana flows unobstructedly, there is a great sense of well-being and there is purity.
That is all the yoga asanas and pranayama are meant to achieve.
This is really not an achievement or a goal because that is your natural state.
The body continues to live, to exist as long as it is meant to live.

January 14

Why Hatha Yoga?

I am not this body, not this mind; but there is emphasis on hatha yoga.
Why is that so?
There is a feeling that the body is mine.
Why should that idea be discarded? - because when something happens to this body you think 'I am suffering', 'I am enjoying'.
This confusion is very deep.
Hatha yoga enables you to realise that the body has its own intelligence, energy; it won't obey you.
And there is no other way of finding this out.
If you tell the body to sit and meditate, it won't obey you, the mind becomes restless.
If it is my mind, why should it be restless?
Unless and until you grip the problem of the restless mind, you can't have an external appearance of tranquillity.
In order to achieve this, you have to go deep into whatever it is.
That restlessness is partly physical and mental.
The problem must be tackled from different angles.
You can't merely say: "The body is not mine".
When the body is slapped, you say: "It hurts me".
In order to resolve that confusion, hatha yoga is necessary.
Neither the statement 'I am the body' nor 'I am not the body' is an experienced reality, truth.
How does one find the answer?
The whole of the hatha yoga system is based on that.
It is not merely what is called yoga asanas.
The intention in hatha yoga is not to build up a body beautiful.
The whole approach is to find an answer to this question: "Is the body mine or not?"
The intention again is (if you follow Iyengar's system) there are so many parts of the body whose existence you are unaware of.
So by twisting and turning, you not only make the body a little more supple, active, dynamic, mobile (that is of secondary importance), but suddenly you realise you have so many muscles, tendons which normally you are unconscious of.
So, bring them to consciousness and realise you have no control over these things.
Then you learn to let the body function on its own intelligence.

January 15

Behold! The Benefactors of Humanity

When some people hear that the yogi spends several hours a day in practising pranayama and meditation, the question naturally arises: "But of what use is all this to mankind? Do we not have our duty to our family, to our society and to the world at large? How does yoga enable me to discharge this duty well? What does it do to promote humanweal?"
Gurudev Sivananda often responded in a lighter vein with the answer: "During the period that these young students practise pranayama and japa, others are free from their mischief!"
Thus there is less evil in the world.
He would then add: "The yogi is the greatest benefactor of humanity."
When you think of 'duty' and 'humanweal', a million questions arise.
How does one discharge one's duty without doing the least harm to others?
How do I promote the interest of my community by destroying the interest of your community?
Do I even know what is good for the entire humanity, to the whole of mankind, to all beings in the universe?
Are we not aware of the untold harm that great social, religious and political leaders have done to humanity while 'acting in the best interests' of their country, community or even mankind?
Think of all the wars, riots and endless conflicts.
Does anyone who provokes these or participates in these say, "I wish to destroy mankind," or "I am an aggressor or war-monger"? No.
He says, "I am working for world peace," "I want to promote the welfare of all beings."
Yoga demands: look within!
Look for the hidden springs of whatever you do.
When your own inner motives and motivation are exposed to your view, in utter disgust and shock you will drop them.
When your own being is rid of the ego, then your actions will surely be totally unselfish.
You will see that there is no division between 'you' and 'he', and that you are the entire humanity.
In fact, the yogi alone is the benefactor of all humanity!
Others are wolves in sheep's clothing.

January 16

Hatha Yoga

Hatha yoga is often confused with the practice of yoga asanas, which forms a small part of it.
The very word 'hatha' alludes to the two main nadis - the ida and pingala - the lunar and the solar forces that operate in the body.
Nadis are not nerves but 'movements' of energy.
The energy is prana.
Prana is cosmic.
Energy cannot be divided.
Prana is the energy inherent in consciousness.
It is Cit-Shakti.
Motion is natural to energy.
The notion of space arises in consciousness on account of this notion of energy.
Motion is movement from a certain point to another.
There are then two possibilities: the movement might form a neat circle (a mere vibration) or the movement might miss the original starting point (the centre) and gyrate in a spiral.
In the case of the latter, there is movement away from the centre.
If you look at a conventional picture of the chakras 'in the body' and if you describe a spiral with the 'crown of the head' as the starting point, with the uncompleted circle expanding as a concentric circle, you immediately realise that everyone of these segments of the spiral passes through the body (at points corresponding to the chakras) and it includes spheres farther away from the 'centre' - outside the body, too.
Thus, these chakras are microcosmic representatives of the macrocosmic elements.
The spiralling away from the centre is not running away forever.
There is a constant pull from the centre which is consciousness.
Hatha yoga arrests this spiral movement so that prana may flow back to its source - which is cosmic consciousness - in a single stream.
Movement in a single stream is non-movement, since it is natural to energy; it is what is hinted at as 'movement in a circle' which is at once complete and perfect all the time.

Watch your breath. You see that it flows on - your thought is not relevant to it - you do not grasp it with your thought.
Similarly it is possible to live - to let the stream of life flow along without the interference of thought.

January 17

Awareness Itself is Harmony

You can practise all these postures and breathing exercises for the rest of your life; you'll have very good health, but nothing more.
The spirit will still be dull and any little problem in life knocks you completely off balance.
Of primary importance is awareness: if there is awareness, that itself is harmony.
Why is it so?
Any disturbance is in the physical, mental, intellectual or emotional field.
Being awareness, it is aware of itself and therefore aware that there is no disharmony in it, that this disturbance is not in this awareness.
At that very moment the other disharmony is somehow dissolved.
When in our ignorance we are tempted to judge others, we often think that there is a kind of a conflict in the external situation.
But when we are aware, of what is going on, this awareness removes ignorance and we see it in a different light.
What appeared to be conflicting is really seen as complementary.
You can see that in the movement of your arm.
When one set of muscles begins to contract the other expands.
If you observe your breathing you also realise this.
As you breathe in, one set of nerves gives the command to the lungs to expand, and at the same time the other one says, "Now I am going to pull back".
They are not fighting with each other.
It is when these two forces function efficiently that there is harmony.
The intelligence that sees disharmony outside is dull and there is disharmony in that mind.
When this dullness is removed and the intelligence is awakened, then that intelligence observes the situation; there is tremendous awareness and in that awareness there is no disharmony.
At that very instant the external disharmony disappears as disharmony.
This wisdom is extremely important in our lives.
Without this, karma yoga, unselfish service or selfless service is not possible.
If this is not there you'll find yourself constantly taking sides, and that is aggravating the situation everywhere.
How does one transform one's life into yoga?
By awakening this inner intelligence and sustaining this awareness throughout, all the time, without allowing that awareness to be clouded again.

January 18

Yoga is Yoga

When the inner harmony has been established, one immediately realises that unless there is harmony in our relationships with one another, there is no safety.
I can be a man of peace, but if my relationship with you is not peaceful, my inner peace is fragile.
So I must know how to live in relationship and still preserve this inner harmony, by directly realising that there is oneness between us already, that we are together.
It is not as though we are completely different beings who have to be brought together.
If that is so, the togetherness will never arise.
All bodies are made of the same food.
Some of us may eat fruits and vegetables and others may prefer to wait a long time before eating the vegetables - they are the ones who eat the meat!
So whether we are vegetarians or non-vegetarians we are all eating vegetables.
All bodies are made up of the same stuff and all of us breathe the same air.
Just as we arrive at a sense of unity on the physical aspect, we can also arrive at the sense of unity on the psychological or mental aspect.
Whatever be your thoughts or my thoughts, all these thoughts are made of the same substance.
The understanding that 'all thoughts good, bad or indifferent - are made of the same substance makes you one with God.
All these silly, stupid ideas of superiority, inferiority, hate, attachment, jealousy and fear disappear because all these are based on the idea or thought that 'You are different from me'.
When that idea disappears then all the evils that we are struggling against disappear.
The yogi realises the importance of divine grace; he realises that as long as the mind functions in relation to the body and this life, there is the possibility of these things coming up again.
Looking and praying for grace, he is constantly vigilant.
That vigilance is like an inner light in which there is no division: it prevents any new factors or disharmony from even arising.
The whole panorama is seen as one - and that whole thing is yoga.
The physical part of it is often called hatha yoga, the mental part of it raja yoga, the interrelation part of it karma yoga and the relation with God or the Cosmic Being as bhakti or jnana yoga, but yoga is yoga.
If you separate it, you are destroying the spirit of yoga.

January 19

Total Health

It is not possible to say that there is a physical part of health, because this physical part of health cannot be parted or separated from the rest of it.
If I separate the physical aspect of it, then it is possible that I go on doing all sorts of marvellous things with my body, but my mind remains rotten.
Sooner or later that rotten mind will also infect the body.
Therefore the yogi, having paid some attention to the body, also sees that the body is closely related to the mind and to the life force, that the spirit of yoga also works on the psychological or mental plane as well as on the spiritual plane.
How is it that I am thinking something, saying something else and doing yet another thing?
This is the problem of modern civilisation.
I must see that this sort of life disturbs the mind and creates a split in it, that this sort of hypocrisy is to the mind what poison is to the body.
If taking in some toxin disturbs what you call physical health, taking in this sort of hypocrisy disturbs the mental equilibrium.
When these psychological pollutants are removed, there is clarity; the mind and the heart are clear and there is transparency.
What you call conscious mind, subconscious mind, unconscious mind or superconscious mind, all become clear; and, even more important, there is no division.
In order to bring this about it is important to become aware first of all of the psychological pollutant, that there is unclarity, doubt and confusion; and then having become aware of this, one must seriously strive to get rid of it.
If you want clarity and you are serious about it, this clarity will lead to transparency of the mind.
In that transparent mind all these artificial or non-existent divisions cease to exist, and any new pollutant arising is seen immediately.
If a thought, a feeling of jealousy or anger arises in me, I know it immediately.
And the awareness that "Here is another pollutant coming in," is strong enough to keep it away.
Thus on that level there is harmony, and the body and the mind function together in health most beautifully.

January 20

To Calm the Mind

The body is not immortal, eternal; it is subject to all difficulties; it is part of the physical universe; it came into being and it has been growing stronger and stronger.
Later it will grow weaker and weaker, and one of these days it is finished.
None of these things can be avoided - only the foolish idea that 'the body is mine' and an equally foolish idea that 'the body is not mine'!
As long as it is an idea, it is a foolish thing.
As a reality, it is something different.
It is a wise approach to seek to experience the answer to this question.
And once the hatha yogi begins this quest, he learns how to purify the body; and once the body is purified to hand it over to itself.
When it comes to purification of the body, it is not only yoga postures that help us; not the isolated physical gymnastics.
It is a whole package deal: diet, your dress, your relationships, the way you deal with other people, because the mind can affect the body and the body can affect the mind.
If the body is full of toxins, the mind is perverted.
If the mind is constantly agitated, the body is filled with toxins.
So, in order to approach the mind, the yogi has the method of using the breathing to get at the mind.
When it comes to breathing or what is known as pranayama, there are thousands of approaches.
Am I breathing or is the breathing breathing me?
So, try to stop your breath for a little more.
You have no control over your mind or your body.
The control you have on your breathing suddenly gives out - by whose intervention?
That is called life-breath.
That is called life; we are all living because of that.
When you discover that, you are not worried about life and death.
On the way you discover that breath, prana, seems to control the body and also the mind.
If you hold your breath beyond your capacity, your mind begins to panic.
It is impossible to exceed the limit set by the breath itself.
If you observe what goes on within you as you approach that limit, there is restlessness (physical as well as mental) and you can see that you are about to lose consciousness; you can't think as you want to think.
Life force connects both the body and mind.
The hatha yogi used this method gently to discover what links the body and mind together.
Then you discover that by merely paying more attention to breathing (Buddha was fond of this), you are able to calm the mind.

January 21

Integral Yoga

Though we use the expression 'Integral Yoga', yoga itself means integration, and where there is no integration there is no yoga.
My Guru, Swami Sivananda, emphasised at every turn that it is no use trying to develop one aspect of your personality while neglecting the others.
The yogi studied the different aspects of our personality and evolved a system that simultaneously develops all aspects - not one after the other, not one at the expense of the other.
No specialisation is possible here.
There have been so-called religious or spiritual people all over the world who regarded the body as a spiritual obstacle and who said it must be punished and tortured or that it should not be attended to.
These were the ascetics.
There were others who believed in raising consciousness to a super-physical level.
They talked in terms of 'levels'.
So neglect the body, neglect the mind, neglect everything below this level, shoot up to the 13th and link with the Supreme God!
Is it possible for you to leap up to the 13th Floor and go to the top?
It seems to be difficult.
When the body is sick you cannot think of God, or if you do, you are merely praying to God for the health of the body.
The hatha yoga system took into account that there is a body which is part of this total picture, and it has to be looked after.
One of the disciplines of raja yoga is 'saucha' or purity, which the yogi defines as cleanliness of everything, not only your body but the environment, so that the yogi's vision is total, not fragmented.
The body is to be kept clean and healthy and as you endeavour to do so you will discover that you need to keep your food, your lifestyle, your clothes and your environment clean and healthy, otherwise it is not even possible to have physical health.
Then, in order that we may not forget that there are other things than the body, and so avoid an imbalanced attitude, the yogi also recommends some elementary ascetic practices which amount not so much to self-torture, but a simple life.

January 22

Hatha Yoga and the Chakras

Hatha yoga texts describe several forms of elemental dharana (intense concentration) on the chakras which are tuning points for the different elements.
They say that one who does such dharana (concentration) conquers such elements, so that the yogi is able to fly, to walk on water and through fire!
This may be true.
But it is also possible that these elements have their own psychological factors.
The earth-element represents grossness and coarseness as well as firmness and reliability.
The water-element represents diffidence and lack of moral courage, as also compassion and unselfishness, adaptability and humility.
The fire-element represents intense zeal as well as destructive and violent rashness.
Air represents unsteadiness as also quickness of perception.
Space represents an amorphous personality as well as limitless breadth of vision.
Intense concentration upon them enables one to eradicate or to cultivate these qualities.
Thus the practice of hatha yoga can be the very best aid to self-purification.
The aim of hatha yoga is to enable one to be reabsorbed in cosmic consciousness.
That is known as laya.
The yogi contemplates each chakra with great intensity.
Each chakra is a mandala which allows prolonged contemplation and which involves the adoration (bhakti) of the aspect of the divine presiding over each one of them.
The radii of each chakra, representing the dissipation of the corresponding energy, are withdrawn into the central core of the bija.
This energy is then invited to ascend to the next higher one.
At each chakra, the seeker is absorbed into it.
Symbolically, he becomes one with that element.
When he contemplates the space-chakra he becomes one with space, as it were.
In the ajna chakra (eyebrow centre) he experiences himself as the inner light (lightning).
At each chakra he realises that the energy (prana) and the intelligence that dwell in the chakra (and therefore in the body) are beyond the 'me' or the ego-sense.
At the ajna he comes closest to the 'beginning' of the spiral, the bindu.
From there it is God's or Guru's Grace that lifts him up to the bindu itself - for beyond the ajna the assumed individuality does not exist.

January 23

Swami Sivananda's Integral Yoga

These questions are often asked: "How can you say that the body is impermanent, not real, and yet practise hatha yoga which seems to assume that the body is important?
How can you consider God omnipresent, nameless and formless, and yet indulge in some kind of singing, chanting and worshipping?"
There is a beautiful verse which is attributed to Hanuman.
Hanuman was a great devotee of Rama in the legend called the Ramayana.
In that, it is said that even Rama depended upon Hanuman to win a victory over his enemies.
One day it is said that Rama asked Hanuman: "Thank you for all that you have done for me.
Tell me, what do you think our relationship is?"
The answer that Hanuman gave was very beautiful: "When I think I am this body, I am your humble servant.
When I feel I am a living soul, I feel I am part of you.
When there is an awareness that I am a personality, I am part of you and therefore at that moment I feel tremendously strong; I feel grace flows from you to me, and therefore I am able to work wonders.
Then when the body-consciousness is completely lost, in that superconscious state I am you, you are me, there is no difference.
I don't exist at all, only you exist."
We are aware of these three states in our own daily life.
Sometimes the ego-consciousness is very strong; sometimes it is nearly not there, there is just a shade of ego-consciousness; and sometimes it is not there at all.
The inner light must observe this parade.
When there is strong body-consciousness, that must be utilised and also attacked by doing karma yoga.
Karma yoga in that sense includes asanas, pranayama and all the rest.
When there is just a trace of ego sense, of ego-consciousness, one must engage oneself in prayer, in chanting, in meditation.
When the ego-consciousness is completely absent, what happens happens as He wills it.
To realise that there is no contradiction at all in this synthesis, one Must see it in action.
It was my good fortune to have seen this in my guru Swami Sivananda.
He could combine what one normally thinks of as contradictory points of view without any conflict at all.
He was extremely humble, but not meek or weak.
He was soft like butter, but when you tried to crush him he was like granite.
He could be a very strict disciplinarian, and yet extremely generous and loving.
One could see in his daily life that he literally saw God in everybody, and yet he was very regular in his own spiritualistic worship.
He lived in the realisation that the world doesn't exist as one sees it.

January 24

Remembering the Truth Constantly

Prejudice might appear as selfishness.
Selfishness is based upon division: "I must have this and not the other: I am good and not the others.
I am more important in the world than anybody else and therefore I must be saved and the others can be destroyed."
How do we overcome this?
By growing in unselfishness, and that is called karma yoga.
All this needs deep contemplation, which is raja yoga.
None of these things are possible if your body is sick, and therefore you must practise asanas and pranayama, which is hatha yoga.
But not one of these things is of any value whatsoever independent of the others.
If on the other hand you combine all these and practise what Swami Sivananda called Integral Yoga, then you are trying to tackle this difficulty of the inner division on all fronts at the same time.
That was His teaching: to combine all these spiritual practices without losing sight of the fact that God is omnipresent.
Yoga is the direct realisation of this Truth.
Until we are able to see, honestly and truly, that the same God who shines in the sun is also in the candle, that the same God who dwells in the greatest saint also dwells in the smallest of insects, we are not really in yoga.
If I really see God, I will not try to see God.
The very fact that I am trying to see God shows that I am not seeing God.
If I see God in all, it comes naturally.
There is no artificiality in your behaviour, it is spontaneous, natural.
If we remember this Truth constantly and if we also remember that there lived a person on this earth - Gurudev Sivananda - Who embodied this Truth, then it grows upon us.

Philosophers are necessary to interpret the mystic wisdom of sages.
But these philosophers are like waiters in a hotel.
If one is inefficient and makes a mess of your lunch, dismiss him - but do not go away without your lunch.
Go to the source and get your food.
Even so, go back to the mystics and to the fountain-source of religion.
It is foolish to renounce religion because philosophers differ and are confused.

January 25

The Essence of Yoga

Asanas and pranayama have almost come to be regarded as mere physical exercises; and the other practices of yoga are found in religious traditions all over the world.
But, what is a 'spiritual' practice?
A practice becomes spiritual only when it is full of the spirit of yoga, full of the spirit of God.
Gurudev pointed out that if this spirit is present, all activities of one's life become spiritual; minus this spirit even what looks great on the surface is worthless show.
Yet it will not do to ignore the traditional spiritual practices (like prayer and meditation) in the belief that our whole life is spiritual!
If it is, it will itself demand regular periods of renewal in japa, meditation, prayer and worship.
And these too will be full of the spirit of God.
Gurudev asked us to 'see God in all', 'to serve the Lord in all'.
How do we see God in all, who sees God in all?
As long as we see only with the physical eye, we shall see only physical bodies.
With our mind we see (try to understand) others' minds or ideas: we 'see' them as intelligent or dull beings and so on.
Feeling responds to others in sympathy.
But none of these can see God.
Only God can see God.
Flesh sees flesh, mind sees mind, heart sees heart, and God sees God.
All the yoga practices are meant to purify the body, mind and heart, so that the transparent inner instruments might reveal the indwelling presence of God.
Yoga does not create anything new.
Meditation is the intensest form of self-purification.
When our whole being is pure, we realise the great truth expressed with great beauty in Baba Muktananda's great message: "Be God to one another".
This is not as much a commandment as a simple statement of truth: when your own heart is pure, the God within you sees God within all.

We only think or guess that we are searching for and seeking peace and happiness.
In truth we do not know.
For every time we get what we regarded as peace and happiness, we drop it and seek something else.
Only this seeking is continuous.
The quest is always there.
Hence it is good to understand that quest.
We do not know its goal, hence all that we can do is to be aware of it.
In the meantime, normal life goes on.
But when this inner observation is continuous, life's ups and downs do not affect us as they did when the observation was not there.

January 26

Leading a Spiritual Life

People ask what they must do first in order to lead a spiritual life.
It is not as though you are a completely blank canvas.
You are made up of the knowledge you have acquired, the things you have done during this life.
So in wanting to lead a spiritual life you must start from where you are.
Since we are not all on the same platform, the same stage, the answer must be different for every individual.
Yoga cannot be practised part by part.
One has to practise everything.
From the first day that you decide to lead a spiritual life, you must do everything, even though you do it imperfectly at first.
Whatever you do it must be whole - the body, mind, heart, life - everything must be involved in it right from the first day.
At the same time the spirit must be kept bright, pure, clear.
If the spirit of spiritual life, the spirit of yoga, does not touch a part of your being, there is the danger that in that part you will make some mistakes.
Specialisation in yoga means partial development and therefore there is no yoga.
Yoga means integration, perfection!
But this perfection can be visualised as perfection in stages.
So you start practising the yoga postures in a small way - today!
You start doing some small service in a small way, study some scripture without understanding very much.
Repeat a mantra or meditate imperfectly.
I am not entirely perfect, but I have started on all fronts.
That is what Swami Sivananda taught us in His Integral Yoga: right from the first day of the practice of yoga you can do everything - i.e. whatever you know at the present moment - without considering that you know everything, without thinking that you have obtained perfection, without despairing or becoming discouraged, without comparing yourself with anyone else.
Today you are doing what you know, what you can and what is 'whole'.
You study, meditate, do some japa and asanas.
Where there is an opportunity, you do some service.
You lead a fairly disciplined life.
While doing this, one little defect here, one little difficulty there, comes to view.
You try to rise above these things and overcome them.
When you have taken that step, the next step comes into view!
Thus one goes on developing infinitely, throughout life.
That is yoga.

January 27

Yoga is Life

Any motivation in the practice of yoga becomes almost immediately counter-productive.
Indeed, it is obvious that it is some sort of a motivation that brings the student to yoga in the first place.
But a wise teacher would do well to point out immediately that yoga is the antidote to the ills caused by motivation and a goal-oriented life, and therefore seeking a goal for the practice of yoga defeats its
People are ill, physically and mentally, because instead of living they are constantly struggling for something.
Living does not involve struggle, contrary to popular misconception.
The simplest form of living is joyous and blissful, and life is intelligent, wise and alert enough to avoid pain and unhappiness instantly.
It is some sort of twisted motivation that causes pain and suffering, and then rationalises such pain and suffering even to the point of exalting them.
Right from the very beginning of the practice of yoga the student discovers that the intelligence in the body is capable of meeting every situation that arises in life from moment to moment.
This is the purpose of the yoga asanas (postures).
During pranayama the yogi again discovers the great power and vigilance of the life-force which is beyond the ego-sense and which alone enables us to live.
In meditation the yogi discovers (uncovers) self-ignorance.
Then, self-knowledge (knowledge as the self or self as pure knowing) alone is.
This is kaivalya, freedom, liberation - which ever is and should, therefore, be treated neither as the goal nor as an idea.
There is not even a rejection of pain, but the realisation that such rejection makes pain painful!
It is not pursuit of pleasure, but the realisation that it is the pursuit that makes pleasure pleasurable (and as its inevitable reaction, painful).
When there is neither rejection nor pursuit, life is liberated from the haunting shadows of ignorant notions.
There is enlightenment.
All life becomes divine life.

January 28

Remedial Action

Life or the existence of energy implies motion, movement, activity.
All life is motion and, paradoxically, in all this motion there is a state of absolute equilibrium or balance.
How is this balance maintained?
By a fantastic trick which is the basic law of electromagnetism - unlike poles attract each other.
So, by keeping two unlike poles together, we build a force of attraction.
Everything is vibrating, everything is in motion and yet in an orderly motion.
It is possible for this orderly motion to be momentarily disturbed and that momentary disturbance is remedied by immediate balancing counteraction or remedial action.
This is Nature and this is what we see in our life.
When one sees the beauty of this balancing nature, one realises there is an intelligence behind it.
And also that that intelligence seems to be superior to our intelligence because it is able to remedy our stupidity.
When these two are seen, then the sources of real action are seen.
The 'I' which superficially appeared to be the doer of all actions is seen to be non-existent and therefore non-active.
But that which was beyond the understanding of the mind and the ego-sense - that is the real doer of all actions.
Yoga does not deal with the self or God, but with the obstacles to the vision of God, to this natural living.
The world or the creation takes no notice at all of your private desires.
The world has not been created to satisfy your cravings or to avoid what you do not like.
What experiences pleasure?
What experiences pain?
How do they come in?
Where does attachment come from?
It is these things that really interfere with the natural flow of our life and introduce pleasure, pain, appointment, disappointment, hope, despair.
The art of dealing with these is called yoga.
Yoga leads to Self-realisation.
Self-realisation is not the end product of the practice of yoga; but when the yoga practice removes all obstacles, the Self is realised to be the sole reality.

January 29

Word is Word: Truth is Truth

In our lives we have varied experiences which we then endeavour to describe.
The original experience is past and what we describe is something quite different.
Though it lasts only as a description, we consider it to be the reality.
Thus a confusion arises.
It is this confusion that haunts our lives.
We cannot struggle out of this confusion; any effort can only aggravate the problem by compounding the confusion.
If we become aware that the description is only a description, the truth can be seen.
Yoga is not any of its descriptions; but we may need a description to help us realise the truth of yoga.
An inspiring description occurs in the Bhagavad Gita (VI-22): "Yoga is non-contact with that which is in contact with pain."
'Pain' is a word.
The word is not pain nor is it painful.
The first actual experience of pain was not 'pain', for then neither the word nor its corresponding concept existed.
There was an experience and the appropriate action arose out of it.
After that first experience, thought created a concept and its corresponding word.
There arises memory.
This memory is in contact with the concept of 'pain'.
The 'me' is a bundle of countless such memories.
Memory may have its own field of activity and in that field it may be valuable; but neither experience nor action should spring from memory.
If the present experience of 'pain' is not linked with the memory of past experiences, it is easy for the body-intelligence to deal with this 'pain' unhampered by the dreadful load of past associations.
For instance, the little baby may not experience 'pain' and 'pleasure' (as we know these).
It rejects whatever may be a threat to the life-force (in that rejection there is no hate) and it receives everything else.
It does not desire and there is nothing undesirable to it.
Such action is spontaneous and non-volitional.
The whole thing leaves no trace at all.
But it is memory that distorts it.
When the present experience is not thus linked, we are in yoga.
The present experience is freed from contact with that (memory) which is in contact with the concept of 'pain'. Hence there is no-one even to call the present experience 'pain'.
There is experiencing, for sure; but it is freed from the notion of 'pain'.
The pure experience gives rise to its own action.
This is life.
And it is life freed from sorrow and suffering.
One may call it bliss, but that is only a word - the truth is just truth.

January 30

Non-volitional Living

Some years ago, one was asked, "Which God do you worship?" or "To which religion do you belong?"
Now it is "What yoga do you practise?"
These questions betray a total misunderstanding of the words 'God', 'religion', 'yoga'.
My Guru often emphasised that God is one, religion is one: God is love and religion is of the heart (again love).
Yet, instead of allowing them to unite us all in love, we let our own ego create divisions and more divisions in the holy name of God, religion or yoga!
It is easy to practise many of the yoga postures.
Meditation has been modified to suit the masses: and such meditation is not difficult either.
There are literally thousands of yoga centres and yoga teachers throughout the world: it seems that it is easier to teach yoga than to practise yoga!
But, what is extremely difficult is to live yoga.
Yoga is union, harmony, integration, oneness.
The student of yoga asanas discovers this harmony during the practice of the postures: the whole body functions as one unit, each part of the body supplementing and complementing others, without competition, jealousy or callous indifference.
Of course, all that happens involuntarily.
In our own life, however, the little individuality, the little ego, interferes ever so often.
It is that little ego that disturbs the harmony and thus robs us of our happiness.
Can this ghost be laid to rest?
Can we find the key to nonvolitional living, non-volitional action?
For such non-volitional action will promote harmony instantly, by the total avoidance of conflict.
May God thus inspire all yoga teachers!

The world does not need me.
It can get on jolly well without me.
I do not need the world.
I can jolly well get on without anybody - my constant companion being myself.
Yet I need to serve, for only in such service, in such relationship, can I know myself.
The service or the particular form of the relationship is not important; it is the self-awareness that is.

January 31

On Harmony

Often we speak of harmony - at the domestic, social, religious, national and international levels.
But we always look for it in others, as if to say, "If everyone does what I decide, I shall co-operate with all.
If no-one annoys me, I shall not get angry."
That is useless if not disastrous.
For that is what perhaps everyone thinks, too, and thus there is no harmony.
Harmony is the same as peace, love, bliss and godliness.
All these are gifts of God.
We cannot produce or cultivate harmony.
However, God dwells in our hearts ever eager to grant us all these boons.
But there is something we and we alone can and should do to receive them.
The first and foremost factor is to realise that no one else is responsible for the tragedy that our life is.
This realisation instantly turns the gaze within and enables us to see that our false values generate the ghosts that haunt us.
Just as we blame someone else for our unhappiness, we imagine that someone else will make us happy, give us pleasure or grant us peace.
We run after these, we cling to the external ever-changing phenomena which are not only not the source of our peace, happiness and security, but on account of their own instability, they make us unstable as long as we depend upon them.
When all this is directly seen, not merely conceptualised (falsely thought of as 'intellectually understood') there is a radical transmutation.
Whether or not we are 'happy', we abandon the craving to be otherwise.
The miracle: we are instantly happy, peaceful and therefore loving, since we do not blame anyone for anything.
There is harmony in our hearts, and in our relationships.
There is peace on earth.

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