Daily Readings

Insights Inspirations - March

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

Om Namah Shivaya

Om Namah Venkatesaya

March 1

Yama, Niyama

Yama is the first of the limbs of ashtanga yoga.
Yama means a group of five virtues: truthfulness, ahimsa (non-violence), continence, non-stealing (i.e. not taking anything that belongs to another person and non-greed (i.e. not coveting someone else's possessions).
Yama is used here in the sense of self-control, holiness.
But Yama is also the name of the deity connected with death.
There is a prayer asking God to let happen what has to happen, adding that if death has to come, may it be without difficulty, 'Let me go the way a fruit falls from the tree when it is ripe.'
We think that as there is life in every part of the body, it would be a great struggle when life has to be cut off.
Yet when death comes naturally, there is nothing dramatic.
It is so simple: one just stops breathing!
Death takes life from this body quietly, without any trouble.
Yama in its meaning of self-control, virtue, must also be like that - effortless!
There must be an inner ripening; when the whole being is ripe, then virtue happens.
If you want, you can make a show of non-violence - repress the aggression you feel, bite your tongue, use nice words etc., and so do violence to yourself.
This is not genuine, non-violence.
Love happens. It cannot be forced.
When your whole being is filled with love, when you are spiritually ripe, then virtue happens without any inner struggle.
We have not questioned the basic assumption, that man is naturally aggressive and brutal!
Why not take love as what is natural for us and consider aggression, violence etc. as the perversion?
As you go on developing non-violence in you, when it is 'ripe', all that is opposed to love drops away naturally. There is no need for artificial restraining, repressing.
Death brings restraint eventually to our stupidity, our viciousness.
One may continue being stupid, nasty etc. for sometime, but there is a limit.
One day you have to go!
One who sees that nothing goes on forever in this world becomes naturally virtuous.

March 2

Natural Yoga

There has been perennial argument among teachers and students of yoga concerning the qualification of yoga-practicants.
Which comes first, yama-niyama (ethical discipline) or dhyana (meditation)?
Is it possible to practise or even to learn meditation if one is not fully established in yama-niyama?
On the other hand, is it possible to get one's foothold in yama-niyama if one does not learn to meditate, to look within and to observe oneself for oneself and to recognise the tricks of the wayward mind?
So, which comes first?
Gurudev Swami Sivananda said, "Both."
It is of course possible to study scriptural texts and to form an image of what yama-niyama is all about.
It is then possible to 'apply' it to one's life.
That would be artificial, superficial and 'cosmetic' discipline.
It is either partial or hypocritical.
Take for instance ahimsa or non-violence.
It is possible for me to suppress my anger when I am insulted or injured and congratulate myself that I have thereby 'practised' ahimsa (I am doing violence to myself then!) and either think I have learnt to love my 'enemy' (which is surely hypocritical) or to feel "God will punish him for this," which is another form of violence (cursing).
The yogi's approach is different.
When provoked by insult or injury he studies (that is what 'discipline' means) the internal annoyance and 'that' which reacts to the provocation.
The eagerness with which he does this is the source of ahimsa and all the other aspects of yama-niyama.
In other words, he is so busy studying the psychological phenomenon of anger that he has no time to be angry.
Similarly with lust, greed, fear, jealousy, etc.
The yogi works on himself and an inner revolution takes place as a result.
This is both meditation (dhyana) and discipline (yama-niyama) which Gurudev emphasised.
It is natural and effortless, profound and permanent.

March 3

Self Discipline

No study of raja yoga is meaningful without the discussion concerning yama-niyama (self-discipline).
If you turn to jnana yoga, the same factors appear in the guise of 'sadhana-chatustaya' (the four means).
Even karma yoga and bhakti yoga cannot really be practised without ethical foundation.
But self-discipline cannot be imposed by another.
All the scriptures of the world contain stories to illustrate this.
God and His incarnations have power over the elements, but the human being defies them!
Adam disobeyed God Himself.
One of the disciples of Lord Jesus turned against Him.
Lord Rama and Lord Krishna had enemies.
Lord Buddha's own cousin plotted against Him.
Man refuses to be influenced.
He has to discipline himself.
And he even resents the suggestion of an external imposition contained in the words 'has to'!
Krishna revealed a great truth in the Bhagavad Gita: "You are your own friend and your own enemy.
If you lead a life of self-control you are your friend.
If you lack self-control, you are your own enemy."
There is no compulsion here, but an indication of a truth.
Self-discipline in yoga has to be discovered by the student himself, not by struggling to cultivate the virtues listed under yama-niyama.
The very fact that there is need to cultivate them indicates that they are not there already and that perhaps their opposite qualities exist!
Any effort at such cultivation depletes energy spent in the inner battle.
Hence the master suggests that while you practise the asanas, observe the behaviour of the body.
Regardless of what yoga posture you are doing, the whole body participates, the inner intelligence restores the balance and comfort.
The whole body acts as one unit, though it appears to have many parts.
It is one.
In meditation, similarly, you will discover the intelligence beyond the limitations of the body and mind (thoughts and emotions) and the limitations of the individuality.
That which is beyond these is pure intelligence or consciousness which is indivisible.
The intelligence that functions in the body is undivided; even so, the intelligence in the universe is undivided.
When this truth is realised directly, yama-niyama and all the rest of self-discipline follow effortlessly.
It is like this: when you want the baby's face to smile, you tickle the foot, not pull its cheeks apart.
When you realise your oneness with all life, virtue or self-discipline is natural.

March 4

Discipline and Temptation

Yama and niyama are simple if one truly endeavours to understand that they are in themselves the faithful manifestations of a vigorous search for reality.
The searchlight of that search searches for the hidden springs of that which creates problems in our life ambition, desire, hate, greed or by whatever name this may be called.
It is not difficult to see that this is merely a temporary mode of the mind stuff itself.
That is: if the mind stuff can be compared to a crystal ball, anger (for instance) is its redness when a red flower is placed near the ball.
One cannot say it is, nor can one say it is not.
The crystal ball has not suddenly become red, in fact it has undergone no real change.
Yet one sees that it is red.
When, in the light of the yogi's observation (which is free from the notion of an observing self or individual personality) there is the realisation of the absence of the self, there is the purest form of virtue which is entirely different from our conceptions of virtue and vice.
In that virtue there is no 'No' or resistance.
There is choiceless awareness which is spontaneous action.
This choicelessness or spontaneity should also be rightly understood.
It is also very simple.
Light illumines: it has no choice.
Darkness veils: it has no choice.
Light does not say 'no' to darkness; darkness does not say 'no' to light, either.
The yogi is naturally virtuous and holy, not because he 'resists evil'.
His 'tolerance' (for want of a better word) of others' evil arises from his awareness that these others are equally helpless in their situation.
He may help them without judging them, and thus he manifests his holiness without condemning the unholiness and thus importing unholiness into himself.
Realisation is the light which dispels the darkness of ignorance in which evil arose and thrived, which gave rise to the 'self' which generated lust, anger, greed and all the rest of it.
In this light such qualities do not arise, and there is no effort involved in this yama and niyama.

March 5

Power Beyond the Self

Surely, the whole of nature is vibrant with energy and we are all part of that nature.
The energy is however the power of consciousness (Chit-Shakti).
This energy and this consciousness are indivisible.
The functioning of this consciousness is energy and the energy therefore functions highly intelligently.
All this is beyond the grasp of the individualised being.
It is the individual that creates a division in all this.
The 'self' divides energy from consciousness and then seeks energy without the grace of consciousness (or wisdom).
The light of wisdom reveals to us (by our own daily experience of deep sleep) that there is a marvellous recuperative power hidden within.
We also realise that at other times this power-source is made available when we are literally possessed by love which transcends the 'self'.
A frail young woman is able to 'move mountains' when her little child is involved in an accident.
One factor is common to both these: the dividing and limiting self had been suspended.
When the egoistic self is removed, the natural energy operates without the least division and, therefore, without any loss whatsoever.
In fact this is what yama and niyama emphasise.
They are neither disciplines imposed upon us by others, self-imposed disciplines nor measures of self-control in the sense 'I suppress my inclination and even natural urges'.
Non-violence, truthfulness, purity, etc., demand that the self (whose activities are known as violence or the spirit of domination) should be vigilantly watched.
The self is but a shadow cast on the indivisible oneness by ignorance.
This indivisible oneness, God (Who is omnipresent and infinite), is the inner light in all.
In this inner light the shadow of the self vanishes.
As long as this light shines brightly, the shadow of the self does not appear.
That is meditation, which is both the practice known as meditation, and the uninterrupted vigilance that is characteristic of the yogi.
When thus the shadow of the little self is dispelled, the great disciplines grouped under yama and niyama naturally manifest themselves.
That is known as love.
Love is infinite power.

March 6


The discipline in those areas in which the self can play a destructive role is yama and five of them have been described in the Yoga Sutras: ahimsa, satyam, asteyam, brahmacharya and aparigraha.
What does ahimsa mean?
The total absence of himsa is ahimsa-himsa not only means physical violence or harassment, but harmfulness.
Even the intention to do harm to others is himsa.
I may hate, be jealous, be rude or crude either in ways or in looks.
On the other hand your life itself may disturb me - what to do, go and jump into the lake?
In order to promote the happiness of one body, I am punishing another body.
It is possible that aversion, instead of flowing towards another body, flows towards this body which is mine, and instead of weakening or destroying the self, it makes the self very strong.
Can harmfulness, the desire or the intention to harm, completely disappear from my heart?
In order to do that I must learn how to observe the arising of the emotions and to remove them from there.
If you are able to do that then you are meditating.
When it comes to diet, there are all sorts of theories, each one more confusing than the other.
Men of extreme ahimsa say that you should not only not kill an animal and not eat meat, but you should not even eat plants, for they also have life.
You may eat fruit but not the seeds, because the seed has life which is going to sprout another fruit later.
At the other extreme we have the health cultists and the nature-cure people.
Their view is that a living thing can only survive on life.
But I also see that the cows live on dry grass.
The cow eats that and gives me milk.
If we see all this, either we conclude that there is life in everything or that some destruction of life is inevitable in our living.
Some of the greatest saints and sages of all religions of the world have been meat-eaters.
When you think of them and think of this teaching, you don't want to say that they are not perfectly enlightened.
What you see may not be as clear-cut as you think or hope it should be.
This only means that your own inner vision must be fully open and perceptive in order to see that there are no absolute rules in any of these.

March 7

Yama or the Five-fold Discipline

'Yama' is the first limb of yoga as described in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras.
It has been variously described or explained as restraint, self-control, regulation and discipline.
To me, discipline means study.
I do not want to say "I will do this" or "I will not do this", or that "I must do this" or "I must not do this", because I see that that attitude often leads to inner conflict and confusion; and unless you have a great master who is able to guide you, it won't work.
If He is a great master and He tells me to "Do this" I do it, or "Don't do this" and I don't do it.
Even there I am studying.
What is it that wants to do this or refuses to do it?
My Guru says "Do this", and there is some inner resistance; He says "Don't do this," and there is a craving.
So even there I am more interested in studying this phenomenon (along with the obedience to the Guru). Especially when such a perfect Guru is not near you to help you at every step, it becomes very important to understand this discipline as study, not so much to say I will do this or I will not do this, but to understand craving and resistance.
You ask if one may have to say 'no' to the temptation to sleep a little more, in order to wake up and meditate in the morning. Perhaps!
There is another route to this.
Can we observe ourselves and see why we are unable to stay in bed or sleep when there is something interesting elsewhere?
What wakes me up at all, everyday - not just a resistance to the temptation to sleep some more?
The 'urge' to wake up is built into the system, as much as the urge to sleep.
What is called temptation is a mode of the mind, a habit-mould, education or training - the thousand ways in which we have convinced ourselves that it is pleasure to stay in bed.
If, on the other hand, we had been trained differently, the whole thing would have been different.
When I clearly understand the arising of such a craving or of resistance, then I see the manifestation of the self or of the ego.
The self, like a mosquito or a bug, stays and bothers you as long as you are not aware of it.
When you become aware of it, it weakens and eventually dies.
Therefore the discipline becomes yama, the death of the self.

March 8

Let Us Behold Thee in All

Diversity is the fact of creation; but creation itself is one, unity.
Unity and diversity form indivisible duality.
Diversity exists only because of unity; and unity is revealed as the ground of diversity.
God is one, the universe is one, humanity is one - but they are capable of infinitely diverse expression.
Variety is inherent in the unity.
Even so in religion or the spiritual quest.
One school of thought suits someone, but it is unsuited to another who seeks another school of thought.
Different teachers, diverse paths, various ashrams and a maze of ideas and ideologies exist to serve the single spirit and to fulfil human aspiration.
It is not necessary for each one of us to understand and appreciate all.
It is sufficient if we understand that such is the fact of creation and appreciate that the other man's viewpoint is as valid and as true as our own.
That was the unique genius of Gurudev Swami Sivananda.
Gurudev's redeeming and life-transforming message is contained in the Universal Prayer.
Its central theme is given in just one vital sentence: "Let us behold Thee in all these names and forms".
This sentence is the essence of Gurudev's own life as well as His teachings.
"Let us behold Thee in all these names and forms."
What a sublime vision.
What a unifying force.
What a fountain of love and harmony.
How ennobling and uplifting!
Such a vision immediately destroys the narrow ego-sense and with it the feeling of 'the other' in all our relationships.
The omnipresence of God, to which all religious people all over the world pay lip-service at the moment, precludes 'I' and 'the other'.
When we cease to pay lip service to that Truth, but realise that Omnipresence, we shall in fact behold Him in all these names and forms.
We shall then love and serve all, even as Gurudev served and loved all without any distinction whatsoever.
A life of such loving service is indeed divine life.
May this be, then, our own prayer, morning and night and at all times: "Let us behold Thee in all these names and forms".
Gurudev's eternal spirit is present in this prayer.
May it be enshrined in our hearts.

March 9

Ahimsa and Meditation

In the Bhagavad Gita, the definition given for the classification of food is so total that it is very difficult for anyone to evolve a definite list of do's and don't's out of it.
The sattvic (pure) fruit is fresh and juicy, it enhances the qualities of sattva - calmness, lightness, peace, life-span, health, pleasure - and it must be tasty and give enjoyment, not only pleasure or happiness.
If you place before a young man what you consider the perfect food - first class fruit cut and presented nicely - and the very look of it makes him sick, then it is not sattvic.
It is destroying his enjoyment.
That does not mean that if he likes some filthy thing that promotes his enjoyment, it is sattvic. It is not.
So, this problem is not at all easy to understand.
By God's and Guru's Grace, each one has to determine for himself what is sattvic in relation to himself.
This is only one small part of ahimsa.
What happens to our relationships?
Are we soft, sweet and gentle all the time?
There are some situations where that may be himsa (himsa - violence; ahimsa - non-violence).
Apart from anything else, you are suppressing your own emotions.
I am your brother, your son, your husband, or whatever it is, and I am doing something which you disapprove of, which I should not do.
How do you react to that?
Especially if I am a child, if you do not restrain me, you are promoting evil.
So with supreme love you may have to be egotistic.
And therefore, again we see that this ahimsa is not capable of being reduced to do's and don't's.
It is not something which can be demonstrated or positively defined.
That is the reason why it is negatively worded 'a-himsa'.
What ahimsa involves is constant, unbroken awareness in which there is alert attention which avoids himsa.
And that itself is meditation.
Ahimsa becomes possible when there is meditation; and it promotes meditation, it purifies the heart and the mind.

March 10

Non Violence

That heart which is hurt is violent.
Here non-violence takes a very delicate and beautiful form.
Non-violence, as far as the social structure is concerned, is restricted purely to not hurting other people; not fighting, not killing.
But non-violence in the spiritual sense is a subtle inner adventure leading to self-knowledge.
Is it possible to lead one's life never hurting another, yet also never being hurt oneself
If someone calls me a fool, I may feel hurt; and once I am hurt, I will bear that hurt for all time to come.
However much I may mask it, in ten or fifteen years it may still come up as gossip or some other type of subtle character assassination.
I have not forgotten.
And that is violence.
So, that heart which is hurt is violent.
And likewise, when I am not hurt by others, I will not hurt another.
When will I not be hurt at all?
When I realise that what is hurt is only the ego, my own self image, a shadow which is the product of my own ignorance.
This is the fool that is hurt.
Yet if I am a real seeker, endeavouring to dispel this shadow of the ego, I should mentally thank that person who pointed out the fool.
My goal is to discover the ego and he has made that ego react.
Now I can see that reacting ego and deal with it.
So, if I feel hurt and call myself a spiritual seeker, I am insincere, I am not honest with myself.
Non-violence and the quest for truth are closely related, universal disciplines.
So, non-violence is essentially the virtue of not being hurt.
And the virtue of not being hurt is the virtue of having no self image.
When the self image is completely eradicated, rooted out of the heart, then I am love.
I do not love, I am love.
I am non-violence.
And whatever happens in my life is love, even if I am a butcher, even if I am a soldier.
Even if my karma leads me in such a direction, in my heart there is no animosity, no ill-will, no aggression, no violence at all.
Whatever actions proceed from that heart, mind and body will be good.
So, to be good comes first and doing good is a mere extension of that being.

March 11


Truth may mean being truthful in one's speech.
That is a tall order, since there are times when we may have to tell lies.
Scripture describes how on certain occasions untruth becomes truth and how on certain other occasions truth becomes untruth.
If we get hung up on speaking the truth as a discipline itself in a restricted sense, then we not only lose sight of the totality of truth, but we fail even in that restricted speaking-truth. Why?
Because the vision is narrowed and there is no insight.
What is truth?
If someone tells me: "So-and-so is a holy man.
Please go and have his darshan," the truth is that in his opinion that person is holy and I should have his darshan.
I do not come to any conclusion about it.
To come to a conclusion is a dangerous thing - the mind is closed and the quest, truth, is lost.
Therefore, is it possible for us not to jump to any conclusion about anything?
Which means to be able to distinguish between what is an opinion and what is the truth.
If we are constantly looking for truth and if we are able at the same time to know "This is only an opinion.
It is not truth", that itself is the truth.
It is then that we are able to graduate from mere verbal discipline to higher mental and spiritual disciplines.
The very fact that we realise 'This is my opinion', stops us from expressing it where it need not be expressed, where it will hurt.
When what you are about to say is not factual, pleasant and beneficial, say something else.
If that is lived, not applied or merely practised as an exercise in our daily life, it leads us to the next stage: if this is just an opinion, where is it formed and what is the truth concerning it?
One who pursues this quest comes face to face with some shocking truths concerning the mind.
Peeling layer after layer of the mind and its prejudices, we realise how opinion is formed because of samskaras.
(Some scar which was formed on the mind by previous experiences, is being disturbed by the present experience and the prejudice comes up.)
An opinion springs from our own prejudice.
Coming face to face with this, we realise that all these opinions are prejudices and we are still looking for the truth.
To be constantly aware of the search, there is a confession, a realisation that all that the mind conceives of and expresses is untrue, false opinion.
That is the truth.
One who lives this truth is a true seeker.

March 12


Yama and niyama are disciplines - not so much things to be done, as truths to be understood, to be grasped.
If I understand the truth, that truth itself works.
As my guru Swami Sivananda used to say, "Be good, do good; but it is the 'be good' that is more important, for if you are good you must do good."
Discipline is not something I have to do with great effort, but discipline is an understanding of the truth; when the truth is understood, the truth itself acts.
Yet, here in the Yoga Sutras, these three constitute what is known as kriya yoga (dynamic yoga, the yoga of action):
- tapas or the inner burning fire;
- svadhyaya, study of scriptures as well as study of one's own actions and reactions, and the motives of one's own actions; and
- lsvarapranidhana, surrender to God.
These three are part of yama and niyama and they also constitute what is described as kriya yoga.
Isvarapranidhana literally means 'surrender to God', devotion to God.
What is God?
In the Bhagavad Gita we read something very interesting.
Krishna says, "I am the true, and I am also the false."
(I do not think such a statement is contained in any other scripture.)
That is, both reality and unreality are God - not only the reality, but what you think is unreal is also God!
God is the all.
Do not cut this Infinite and say, "This much is God, and this is not God."
The moment that licence is given to the human mind to divide the Infinite and designate, "This is God," and "This is not God," there is licence to violence, and man kills man.
Here is the boldest declaration by Krishna: what you consider truth or reality is God, and what you consider unreal is also God.
You are caught and squeezed.
Your ego has no escape.
And you say, "God, I am sorry." That is perhaps Isvarapranidhana.
For when God is all this, you cannot hate anyone, you cannot be afraid of anyone.
That is probably what God is!

March 13

Investigating the Persona

The yoga discipline known as Isvarapranidhana has been variously translated as devotion to God, dedication to God, surrender to God.
Who or what is this God I am talking about?
God in this context is not some sort of a superman, but probably a super person.
'Persona' is a mask - the body and the mind that make you an individual constitute the mask.
Behind this mask is God.
So it is a 'super persona'.
The mask, the persona, is the body-mind complex and the purusha is the individualised cosmic consciousness.
Thinking or feeling that 'I' or ego cannot comprehend this truth, I give up.
Therefore tapas, meditation, contemplation, yoga, sadhana - you can call it what you like - becomes terribly important.
The question arises, 'What makes me do what I do?'
One type of action proves to be wrong, another type of action obviously seems to be right.
I think that it is right, all of you think that it is right and even by the result it is considered to be right, but it strengthens my ego.
Therefore both these actions are wrong.
In order to discover what is right action, I must know right now who or what makes me do this that I do.
When you ask yourself this question seriously, you are investigating the persona.
If you are observing yourself keenly at that point, you will almost literally see that the attention or awareness which was flowing out starts returning to yourself.
I like something or someone, and I do not like something or someone else.
Suddenly you come face to face with your own prejudice.
That is a very painful part of the enquiry, and most people drop the whole thing or get frightened and do not go further.
I am not going to ask myself 'What is it in him that makes me like him or dislike him?'
Searching for an answer to this question in the objects in the external world is futile, the awareness has gone outside.
Instead, the awareness goes searching deeper within.
Is there a fundamental difference between like and dislike?
If there is both a God who is all love and a devil who is all hate in me, are they two different things?
When you reach that point the likes and dislikes drop away because they have no sense, no reality at all.

March 14

Surrender to God

Self-surrender is often made to look easy.
When it is taken lightly, it is the mind that creates a 'god' and a 'self' and surrenders that self to that god.
The self is the subject, not an object.
There is awareness all the time, but this awareness illumines objects (including experiences).
The yogi uses objects to turn the awareness to the subject, as it were.
This is the beginning of meditation.
The master allows any object to be used for this.
It is even hinted that pleasure and pain can be used as meditation-subjects.
But, pleasure tends initially to be a distraction and later to become dull and boring.
Self-inflicted pain has been used by mystics all over the world, in the name of austerity.
The question is: is all this necessary, are there not sufficient pleasant and unpleasant experiences in daily life which can be used to trigger meditation?
Surely, yes.
When the light of awareness is turned on them abnormal reactions cease, the pleasure inherent in life is heightened (because it is freed from the excitement which results from craving), and the pain is lessened (because it is freed from the fear, arising from memory and imagination).
There is no suppression of any emotion, but there is non-reactionary action which arises from the inner intelligence.
Everything in the yogi's life "turns his gaze within", in the words of Gurudev Swami Sivananda.
The quest for Self-knowledge goes on till it is realised that just as 'self-pity', 'self-love' and 'self-hate' are words without real substance, the words 'subject' and 'object' are also words without a corresponding reality.
The one awareness or consciousness is indivisible and forever undivided.
This realisation does not interfere with or negate life; but life is greatly enriched by it.
Isvara-pranidhana - 'self-surrender' or 'surrender to God' - may have three connotations.
As niyama, it is a sincere prayerful attempt to approach God.
Self-surrender as a way in itself happens when the fire of enquiry burns through all the components of the self and through all its activities.
The infinite is not the senses, the mind or the self.
But then, what is beyond? Unable to find the answer, the self collapses in surrender.
The Light dispels the shadow of the self (the investigator or the experiencer).
The questions: 'Is the observer different from the observed?'
'Is 'I' independent of the totality?' burn without an answer because there is none (no self to hear the answer!
The observer is the observation - pure awareness.
The experiencer is the experience - pure experiencing.
There is total freedom, kaivalya.
One alone is, as all-one.

March 15

The 'I' Cannot Know God

We are asked to surrender to God, to be totally devoted to God.
What is God?
Why not admit: "I do not know."
The 'I' is not something that can know God!
We are shown in the Bhagavad Gita and other scriptures, that God is not limited or weak, but we are, and so we need some aid to remind us of God.
We use symbols to represent God, and as we sit in front of them we feel the presence of God.
He is however not limited to that picture or statue.
The symbol, the statue, serves as a reminder of God, but when one looks within and feels the Divine Presence, there is no more need of any outer sign.
I know that God is not only there, but He is everywhere - also in me!
Thus, once one has learned to feel the Presence of God before the symbol and to realise his omnipresence, one knows how to experience this elsewhere.
Sometimes there is a block: I notice something I do not like, something ugly.
I say: "No! This is not God"
Then I remember Krishna's words about God's Omnipresence, regardless of the mind's classifications.
The block is dropped.
I regard the sage as God-like.
Then I encounter another man whom I consider to be less holy.
Suddenly there comes the message of Krishna to my mind: "Even he is God."
In this manner there is expansion of consciousness like the ever-widening circles around a stone dropped inter a pool.
Surrender to God cannot be explained; but if one is careful one may catch a glimpse of it.
As one goes on in the light of this expanding consciousness to realise that this and that i.e. everything is God (the so-called holy as well as the apparently unholy), something is dissolving within: the ego!
Suddenly one realises that this God, who is in one and all, pervades all creation.
I cannot be exempt from this Omnipresence, which is all-inclusive, which includes me - but not as 'I'!
The 'I' has dissolved.
Suddenly one realises: that is surrender to God.
The function of the body will still go on, even if you are the Buddha.
It will live just as the grass and the trees live, but there is total surrender of the ego-sense - isvarapranidhana.
At that stage all your preconceptions, all regret and remorse, have gone.
The feeling 'I am a holy man' is gone, as also the sense of guilt: 'I am a sinner'.
Whatever life brings or takes there is neither approval nor disapproval.
If unhappiness comes, let it come!
Then one is happy and is happiness!
That is true surrender.

March 16

Dissolution of the Ego-sense

Surrender to God cannot be explained, but if you are careful you may glimpse it.
When your consciousness expands, and in the light of this consciousness you realise 'this is God, that is God; what is regarded as good is God, what is regarded as not so good is God; what is truth is God, what is regarded as untruth is God; what is holy is God, and what is regarded as unholy is God', then something is dissolving within you.
That is the ego: the ego which was built up of your own ideas, education, culture and tradition.
All these things which have been gathering together to form the ego are gradually dissolving.
All your prejudices are dissolving.
Your self-estimation is dissolving.
All your ideas about good and evil are dissolving.
Suddenly you realise that this God who is omnipresent includes you also.
You are not exempt from it - but not as 'I', because the 'I' has dissolved.
That is called surrender to God.
It is not something about which you say, "I have surrendered to God; when will I have my next cup of coffee?"
It does not mean that after the surrender you will not drink coffee - the body wants the coffee; and the body will have the coffee - but the ego-sense has dissolved.
The earth is parched dry, heat rises and rain falls.
The stomach feels hungry, food comes, eat.
All these things happen.
What has been called 'I' is also one of the happenings in this universe; it will continue to be as such.
But the 'I' had no business to be the judge!
It used to; it does not any more.
Isvarapranidhana is the total surrender of the ego-sense; not the ego itself, but the ego-sense.
The ego is part of the world-happening.
This body will still go on living even if you are the Buddha himself, even as the tree lives.
But you do not have the feeling 'I am a sinner', nor the opinion that you are great.
Your self-estimation has gone. Your regret and remorse have gone.
'I am a sinful man' is gone.
'I am a holy man' is gone.
And this is isvarapranidhana, surrender to God.

March 17

The Self Becomes Cosmic Awareness

What is individualisation of consciousness?
Can consciousness be limited?
Can space be cut up?
The mind says that there is this room, different from the outside.
Then you investigate and realise that space is not cut up - this room, the walls around this room and the outside are all one undivided space.
As long as this perception of divisibility of space continues, it is foolish to pretend, "I know the Infinite".
Do you see this room as a room or not?
A physicist says "No, space cannot be cut"; we sit and listen and say "You're right".
But you have not seen it as reality, as truth.
Similarly, you create in your mind another image called infinity.
If we are honest we freeze, "Oh my God what is this?
I'm caught, I am trapped".
When your whole soul seems to shed tears in agony, then that which was blocking the awareness from realising the Infinite melts away; not because I wanted it or deserved it, but because I realised honestly, sincerely that I was completely impotent.
That is isvarapranidhana.
At that moment the 'I' of awareness (this is beyond even the purusha or the individualised consciousness) shines - blazing.
Visualise the shadow on the wall.
There's a flood of light on the shadow and the shadow becomes enlightened; that is Self-realisation.
In that Self-realisation the awareness was examining the shadow and the moment that shadow became enlightened, the limitation disappeared, not because the shadow became light, but because the light shone on the shadow.
It is not for the individual self to attain Self-realisation.
The awareness seeks to know the truth concerning the individual self, and stands completely baffled - it is not possible.
The light of God shines on it and this darkness or shadow disappears.
The awareness is thinking of the truth concerning this individual self, "What is it?"
It is unable to find the answer to that question, and therefore in great humility but with tremendous zeal, it surrenders.
There is surrender, but not surrender of laziness or inertia; there is passion or zeal but it is not egotistic.
When there is this surrender, the self is enlightened.
The awareness which was investigating the self suddenly finds itself the cosmic awareness.

March 18

No Hope

What is the difference between memory and hope?
Just plain spelling!
Memory is never pure.
Memory of the past is invariably twisted and distorted by hope.
In the same way, hopes are almost invariably built on memory.
Take the memory away, there are no hopes.
The mind, or that which induces value to objects, to experiences, to teachings, is constantly looking for something - happiness, for example - without ever having asked whether that exists.
If the question is asked seriously, only one thing exists: the questioner, the hoper of these hopes, the rememberer of the memories.
However, an interesting but tragic quality of the mind is its tendency to select.
When it reads a scripture, it selects only what suits it, what it values most - not in terms of how to better itself, how to discover itself or how to learn, but merely to get a testimonial that it is perfectly right, to pat itself on the back. The self is purposely hidden and the mind does not want to look at itself.
The scripture says that he who is devoted to God experiences joy flowing towards him from all directions.
If this experience is not there, there is something wrong.
It is not the fault of the teaching, it is our unwillingness to go thoroughly into the whole problem.
What is it that resists?
Hope, fear, cravings.
Yet, when we focus our attention upon one of these, it seems to disappear.
But, has the craving in fact gone?
It is possible that it has moved out of the focus of our attention temporarily.
However, if we had trained ourselves in focussing our attention, then we would not let it slip.
To develop this attention, the Masters have given elaborate instruction in meditation.
Here, a different attention arises: the attention is flowing towards the perceiver, the question is turned upon the questioner, the seeker has merged himself in his own seeking.
There is a state in which there is no thinking.
That state is called total surrender, absolute devotion and complete and total love.
When we are full of love in this manner, happiness flows to us from all directions.
It is then that devotion is properly understood and properly practised.
And then the problems are instantly solved or resolved.

March 19

Understanding the Truth

'Tapas' in Sanskrit means burning.
Any activity or practice that burns up the false sense of ego or self is tapas.
One of the most important ways in which the self-idea manifests is the feeling 'I am this body'.
The orthodox people suggested that anything that tortures, that mortifies the body is good.
These don't work because you are only punishing the body.
The idea of the self, that 'I am this body', still persists.
After all these wonderful practices you come up and say: "Look what I have done!"
Whereas if something is practised that attacks directly this idea that 'I am this body', that might be useful.
What sort of practice should we adopt in order that the false idea that 'I am this body', might be removed?
My Guru Swami Sivananda had a very simple and beautiful teaching.
He said: "Bear insult, bear injury. This is the highest sadhana."
When you are insulted or get upset, it is this idea that 'I am this body' that is insulted.
When you are injured because somebody hit you, it is the body that is injured.
Therefore if it is possible to work on that area which gets hurt by insult or injury, then this false identification can be overcome.
This is perhaps a very beautiful form of self-enquiry or meditation, and it is something that can provide us with the key to solve most of our problems.
For instance, somebody calls me a fool.
'Fool' is a word and that is his opinion, but when I hear this I am hurt - which means I feel almost a physical pain.
What has this incident to do with the physical pain that I experience?
We have never asked ourselves this question, and therefore we go on suffering this hurt in a million ways in our life.
If, on the other hand, we can devote some time to it just once, it will go forever.
What is this pain and what is it made of?
Where does it arise?
(Not why does it arise, because then you are tempted to blame others or say that you are a very sensitive person. These things do not help you.)
Someone says something and I feel physically hurt.
If one contemplates this really seriously and earnestly, one arrives at this simple and beautiful realisation: that person was referring to a nothing and that nothing got upset.
There is an idea that 'I am this body that 'I am So and so', and that idea is hurt.
That is all.

March 20

Tapas (Decolouring of the Mind)

Tapas (austerity, 'fire') refers to a kind of 'heating' of the muddied mind which the Indian sages recommended for 'burning' away the accumulated impurities till the mind-stuff is pure.
When the mind was considered as the real cause of bad behaviour, it was suggested that meditation would purify it.
That was supposed to be sufficient and there was a tendency to go from the extreme of self-torture to that of self-indulgence!
The real purpose of tapas was forgotten in all this.
Tapas was taken to mean suffering - for the sake of God and also for the sake of those one loved.
It was assumed that the Almighty Father preferred his children to die rather than to live for him!
This encouraged a martyr complex and masochism.
Tapas however really refers to the great energy required to discover the colouring of the mind.
The most important factor is the destruction of this colouring of the mind stuff that makes all judgements and evaluations.
What is it that is coloured?
What does all the evaluating?
Without condemning or justifying the mind colouring one looks at it, discovers it - thus de-coloring the colored understanding.
Instead of artificial suppression, one brings it up so as to see it and to be able to deal with it.
One has to get hold of it.
Thus one can get to the colouring that is to be eliminated.
As one calmly says "No!" to the wish or the habit as it arises stopping it physically - the mind gets into a commotion.
The whole being seems to burn.
That is tapas.
One is neither enjoying it nor suffering it, one is in it.
Each time the same desire crops up, one looks at it in that way, going on and on with the enquiry: "Where is it arising?
What is it?
What makes me want to do this again?" - until after sometime this particular problem has dissolved.
It has been 'burnt' away!
What we are interested in is to find the colouring agent that gives value to these things that attract or repel us.
As one comes face to face with the habit (or thought or ego-wish) it dissolves. The cover has been discovered! The mind stuff has been decoloured, purified!
The Upanishads tell us: "Go on practising tapas. Tapas itself is Supreme Truth!" Tapas is the inner commotion, the energy of the burning; and tapas is the fire that burns constantly - the Light that watches, purifies, illumines - and in the course of time becomes enlightenment.

March 21


While practising some kind of enquiry - mental tapas - the masters say it is essential that there should be an intelligent understanding of the truth.
Therefore they recommend svadhyaya study.
Otherwise it is possible that I undergo life's experiences and think I am learning from life but I am getting the wrong message.
We need some guidance.
It is here that we realise the great importance of both the scriptures and the teacher.
Together they form what I would call the railroad.
They will not take me to the goal, and what is even more important, they will not push me on it; but if I have the energy and the application they provide a sense of direction.
It is the scripture which keeps us on the track and prevents us from reading false lessons from our life's experiences.
We read some scriptures during the satsang.
If these are not read continuously some people will pick up the same chapter again and again.
They are in love with that one chapter and go on reading that, not the others, saying: "These are inspiring," but it may be more necessary to expire!
How do I know when I am reading through a scripture that I am giving proper emphasis to all those factors to which I should pay attention?
How do I know that I am not skipping what is inconvenient to me?
It is the teacher who is our safeguard here.
So svadhyaya (study of scriptures) and the teacher become tremendously important if you are seriously practising yoga.
We do this study in Satsang.
The word itself means 'sat' - good, (sang' - company.
'Sat' also means truth or God.
So, to keep good company or to keep the company of truth or God is Satsang.
You'll notice something very strange - we keep rereading the same scriptures.
You'll be surprised to discover that every time you get some new inspiration from the same chapter.
It is possible that we overlooked that passage in the first reading; it is also possible that in the meantime we have matured a little bit.
So the svadhyaya continues, the satsang continues, and we mature, maybe imperceptibly, but surely.
In the absence of the teacher, the satsang is equally powerful.
The satsang doesn't hit you on the head as a teacher might, but what happens is almost equal to that.
You go on hearing in a receptive mood, and you are not allowed to argue or to shout back, so you are receiving; and the message goes right into your heart.
One can of course do all these readings by oneself at home; but in a group, in the satsang pattern, the same reading seems to have a tremendous effect - even if the group is small and the satsang is brief.

March 22

Be a Hero

When we come into contact with great Masters, we listen to their teachings.
But that is only the beginning of a great spiritual adventure which is lifelong.
Only a spiritual hero can undertake this adventure.
To be a hero, all that you need to do immediately is to have the courage to experiment with the teachings.
Are these great Masters teaching us the truth or some sort of opinion?
There is no loss in such experimentation.
There is great loss only if you fail to experiment.
The experiment will either prove them right or not so right.
If the experiment proves them right, then the teaching is assimilated.
Now, experiment with this discovery, until you arrive at the experience of the truth.
Then, give expression to this experience.
This attempt at expression might expose flaws in the experiment, and also the difficulty of expressing an experience.
Now you are mature enough to explore further, and discover the truths that you originally heard from the Masters which they had endeavoured to express in their own way - because you realise that no expression is ever able to express any experience faithfully in its totality.
"It is better to aim at a lion and miss it, than to aim at a jackal and hit it."
With the Grace of God and the divine Masters, if it is possible to aim high, it is also possible to achieve it.
What we need is total sincerity and intense zeal.

When I listen to the Upanishads my mind is in a sublime mood.
Then I sleep - or the mind is stupid.
And then I wake, I am ambitious - and the mind is in another mood.
There is a lump of dough.
I fashion it into a figure of Buddha.
A young man fashions it into a film star.
A little boy smashes this and smears it all over the floor.
These are sattva, rajas and tamas.
But what is dough without any form?
What is mind-stuff without any mood.
That is its dharma - 'own nature'. (Moods are but activity or motion of the mind.)
Pursuit of this enquiry will lead to meditation and samadhi.
Also true humility and virtue are born of this enquiry.

March 23

Quest for Truth

Who decides what will be done - what is 'duty'?
No-one external to the self, which means neither another person nor one's own calculating intellect or blind emotion; but only the divine which is the indwelling omnipresence.
Therefore, our foremost duty becomes the realisation of the divine.
It will not do to hide selfishness under the camouflage of duty.
We have cultivated the delightful habit of naming things and experiences - calling some good and others evil, some happiness and others unhappiness, some desirable and others undesirable.
Once the pigeon-holes are fashioned, we endeavour to find a hole for every factor!
We do not look at them to find their true nature, the truth.
Yoga is the search for truth.
We practise asanas, pranayama and meditation, we discuss and study scriptures in satsang.
Even these spiritual activities have to be correctly understood; otherwise they become mechanical and therefore unintelligent.
When their truth is directly seen they become a single quest; otherwise they appear to be diverse and different.
The enquiring intelligence alone is free from the conditioning imposed by the naming intellect.
This enquiry is goalless and therefore endless.
If a goal presents itself, the intelligence shall question it.
Any object, any image, is the subject of this questioning!
When all objects are dispersed in the light of this intelligence, it (the light, the subject) shines and stands self-revealed.
Since it is of the nature of consciousness, there is awareness, but not awareness in the subject-object sense.
That is light. That is enlightenment.
In that light the shadow of ignorance does not arise.
One does not confuse the substance with the shadow, the description for the reality.

If you are hurt, first realise that that is the nature of the world.
To expect anything else in the world is already foolishness.
This is a world of unhappiness, this is a world of sorrow, this is a world of disease, this is a world of death.
If you are looking for a world of undiluted happiness, you have come to the wrong shop!

March 24

Have You Heard of yogism?

I haven't!
Years ago an Indian in a responsible position recommended me to a group of seekers as an authority on 'Yogism'.
I have always wondered what he meant by that.
Yoga is fast becoming a fashion, especially among Europeans.
It will soon be regarded as a status symbol, a qualification for obtaining a job or getting married!
People have always aspired to dominate over others: some people with the know-how of yoga will soon 'capture' the field, create a cult, put a hedge of rules and regulations of their own invention around it - and now an 'ism' is born.
Already the simplicity and the meaning of the technique of yoga are forgotten.
When the 'ism' is born, the spirit of yoga will have evaporated, leaving the empty bottle of rituals and formalities, organisations and, if you please, headaches too!
They are life's vehicles and vexations.
Wisdom lies in using the positive and, if not eliminating at least minimising, the negative aspects of these necessary evils.
People have blindly followed many 'isms' - and people are losing interest, surprisingly even in materialism and sensualism.
Everywhere young people are asking.
In our ability and willingness to reply to them lies the destiny of the youth, of the nation and therefore of mankind.
Asking is not for the sake of asking: and the answers will be insipid if the questions are not flavoured with the right spirit of enquiry and inner discipline.
We should encourage the youth to cultivate these.
Knowledge without discipline is newspaper.
Knowledge with discipline is scripture.
Yoga is a technique for Self-realisation or God-realisation, satori, redemption, communion, mystic atonement with the Divine - words do not matter in the very least if you get the idea right!
Keep the spirit of yoga. Use the form.
But where 'the letter killeth the spirit' be bold enough to revive or resurrect the spirit.
Yoga - yes. Yogism - no.

March 25

Re-creation or Re-destruction

Gurudev cautioned us against making excuses.
"In winter, it is too cold; in summer it is too hot; during the monsoon it is too wet to practise yoga. Now you are sick and now you are too busy," He often said.
"You complain of the family jhanjhat (responsibilities, worries etc.). These are all lame excuses. Add the sadhana-jhanjhat now."
If you refuse to excuse yourself, you will find plenty of time and energy to do what you wish to do.
When you find an excuse you are really accusing yourself of insincerity.
Everyone loves to complain, to grumble and to find excuses.
You love to make it appear that you are indeed keen to do this or that, but... and the excuses follow!
Even if the temple or the church is next door, you always find an excuse why you cannot or do not go.
But you do not excuse yourself from going to the seaside or for a holiday.
Man burns one end of the candle of his life in struggling to live.
He is soon tired.
He resorts to seaside cottages, a holiday overseas, play, fun and recreation.
But what is recreation?
To create again. What?
That which was lost.
And what was that?
Life, balance of mind, sanity, wisdom - all of which are lost in bread-winning labour and prestige-earning service.
Re-creation is possible only if we deliberately reverse the course of life at the seaside or wherever we may go.
By extrovert activity we lost the saner sense of values and wisdom; now, by introvert contemplation and raising our consciousness above the daily battle of life, we should regain them.
On the contrary, if we continue to be the same old selves, even during the holidays at the seaside, we shall only be burning the candle at the other end, too!
We return from the holidays madder, if possible.
That is re-destruction!
Among the Buddhists of Burma there is a custom: whatever be their station in life, they retire periodically to a monastery and live as monks for a few weeks.
Their attitude to life gets readjusted during this period.
It is not only a period of physical and mental relaxation but of spiritual rejuvenation.
It is a wonderful system, for all of us.

March 26

The Importance of Pilgrimage

I think those of you who are interested in oriental epics are familiar with the Ramayana, the story of Rama.
Rama, who was considered an incarnation of God, went on a pilgrimage when he was young.
Today such an exercise is unnecessary, but in those days, people who hardly moved out of their small villages were asked to go on pilgrimages in order to widen their horizons and to become aware of a world which consisted of not just the family, but of people very different from themselves.
A pilgrimage is a very important spiritual exercise, and if you keep wandering from place to place, it is a very chastening experience.
You meet people who not only hold different views from yours, but whose faith and life-style is also totally different.
Suddenly you begin to question the dogmas that were given to you with your breakfast, and the feeling that you alone were right and others were wrong.
You realise that the people you meet don't believe exactly what you believe.
Going on a pilgrimage, or just wandering, also helps you develop an insight into the workings of the divine.
My Guru, Swami Sivananda, was very fond of this.
He used to gently laugh at people who professed to depend on God.
"Leave your jacket at home in midwinter," He would say.
"Don't take any money with you, walk out of the house at midnight, and then you will realise what it is to really depend on God."
It is not tempting the devil or God, but if you go out, surprisingly you will see help coming to you from all sorts of unexpected sources.
People whom you have never met come to you and ask, "Would you have a cup of tea?"
You look into their eyes and say, "What makes you offer this? I have done nothing for you at all."
There you see God's grace.
So, when you wander, there are several advantages.
You come face to face with this mysterious Grace of God, this power which fills the entire universe, which you call love, but which you do not know until you experience it within yourself in a situation where you are at the receiving end.
When you are at the giving end you may think it is love or charity, but it may be something else.
When you are at the receiving end, you realise that here is a person who helps me for no apparent reason, and there you experience God.
You also become intensely aware of the nature of the truth concerning the world.

March 27

Free Will versus Destiny

A Tamil proverb warns us: "What you see with your eyes is false; what you hear with your ears is also false."
When you go to an ashram, remember this.
You will have great inspiration: meaning, you will 'inhale' the holy man and his wisdom.
The air that you breathe in sustains your physical life; the holy man and his wisdom will sustain the spirit, not by merely seeing him or hearing him but by inhaling him.
What is free will?
What is predestined?
Who knows?
When you cannot find a satisfactory answer you resort to doctrines like 'God's will' or 'God's grace'.
Who knows what these are? Only God.
To borrow a vedic expression, "Perhaps even He does not know!"
He who wants to know God's will often hopes that that will enable him to avoid suffering the consequences of his own past evil action; or, he wonders if he could engineer a happy future without caring for present action.
In all this speculations, the immediate action is ignored.
Perhaps that is why God has veiled our destiny from us.
When you go to holy men with this problem, they exhort you to be good and to do good, to be righteous and to abide by the injunctions of the scriptures.
When you try to do all this, you will find that the mind is selective: you do what suits you and there is inner revolt when you try to do what does not suit you.
You discover that your will projects a number of ambitions and cravings.
These are the rebels.
They cause all your problems.
And they are totally unnecessary for living.
Life flows on regardless.
When this is realised, your ambitions and cravings drop away.
You have the free will to do this much.
One thing remains.
It is the source of your cravings - called ego. You cannot drop it.
Only God's Grace can do this.
But if you have done what you had to do, this will happen, by God's Grace.
Free will or destiny? Why not both!

March 28

The Yoga Way to Mind Control

'Avidya' or ignorance of our spiritual nature is a non-entity front, the philosophical (or the Absolute) point-of-view, though it is yet capable of very real and frightening results while it lasts.
It is similar in a way, to a nightmare.
It is not only like the darkness of the night which veils the reality, but like the illusory dream which conjures up false entities which enjoy momentary existence.
The world outside, which we experience, is one such dream: if it appears to be a solid reality, it is because the nightmare is still in progress.
If we dream that we are being attacked by a tiger, what we need is not knowledge of holy scriptures, but merely to wake up from slumber.
Yoga gives us a method which will enable us to wake up from this slumber of ignorance.
That branch of yoga has been called raja yoga.
Three words define this yoga: 'citta, vritti, nirodhah'.
They are not easy to understand because they are subjective facts and not objective effects.
In fact the crux of yoga is to understand and to know the Self, whereas all other knowledge in the world is of the world.
Let us try to glimpse (not grasp) the meaning of the words, but please remember that 'meaning' is not a paraphrasing, substituting one set of words for another.
Citta is Mind with a capital M. What it is will forever elude our grasp; for it is that with which we grasp.
Our eyes cannot perceive or glimpse themselves.
Yet, we do not 'see' what we see.
It is an intuitive vision, inner vision.
In the same way, we may intuit the existence of the Mind.
Mind is that whose changes are referred to as thoughts and emotions, and on which thoughts, words and deeds, experiences and expressions leave an indelible impression that continually modifies its appearance, while leaving its essential nature unchanged.
Vritti is that change itself.
It is usual to translate it into 'a wave, a ripple' i.e. if citta is an ocean, vritti is a wave.
What is the wave, if not the ocean itself, though the ocean is not just wave?
Nirodhah has also been translated into 'suppression', but it is very much more than mere suppression - it is control.
But control does include expression as well as suppression, motion as well as standstill, and all the variations and components of such motion (except perhaps commotion).
Yoga is and should be practised with open eyes, active limbs and alert mind too.
This is like driving the car, not madly and inefficiently but with excellent control and an unclouded sense of direction.

March 29

Avidya and Asmita

What is the Absolute, God, the Self?
If we are honest we must admit: "I do not know"!
As a student is told in the Upanishads: "If you think you have understood, you are a fool!"
In Vedanta, this 'not knowing' has another name: avidya.
Literally it means 'I do not know', but it is not the ignorance of something that I have not yet learned to know, to understand.
When we talk of avidya it is a deeper, different not-knowing.
It is the inevitable ignorance of Self-knowledge.
There is absolutely no way in which I could come face to face with this avidya, understand it.
One might 'feel' there is avidya and 'understand' the description of it, but one can never know what this avidya is.
Either one is in a state of avidya, or there is knowledge, enlightenment.
The moment there is Self-knowledge there is no more avidya.
Until then, when I pursue these questions, I have come to this blank wall and cannot know what - if anything - is beyond it.
Similarly with asmita.
This means literally 'I-ness', the ego-sense - not egoism in the sense of vanity.
The closest you can come to understanding it is when you know that you do not understand!
Then you stop and start to enquire.
How does the feeling come: 'I see it'?
That 'I', the ego which arises in me somewhere, somehow, is asmita.
As the eyes look at an object, e.g. the paper, there comes the thought: 'I see the paper'.
It is when the ego-sense springs up mysteriously that the paper becomes 'paper'.
The ego-sense gives a name to itself and another name to the 'other end' of any happening.
If we examine seriously, we will note that it is not as though the world or God created problems, but they are all related directly to the ego-sense.
As soon as 'I' is there, 'the other' is also formed.
And with this comes the differentiation between 'mine' and 'his' - and 'good' and 'evil'.
It is always somebody else who is at fault!
The innocence of the newborn is replaced by ego-sense which labels, classifies, judges, conceptualises.
When we make any statement the 'I' is assumed as a fixed point of reference, from where I am relating myself to everything.
This assumption has to be questioned.
Does the 'I' exist?
May be - may be not!
The answer to this question is asmita: the egosense arising in pure action.
The yogi's approach to a problem is characterised by this attempt to find out first who creates the problem.
Who am I? Or rather: What is 'I'?
What is the ego-sense?
From where and how does it arise?
This is the fundamental question.
That question, if properly pursued, should dissolve the best part of our problems.

March 30

The Instrument, Not the Doer

If you watch very carefully, you will see that whatever judgement the mind makes is completely limited to our physiological, biological survival.
This is the animal nature of our being.
(Animal in the strictly technical meaning of the word anima - living substance.)
The mind is not interested in altruism or the search for truth.
It is not interested in dissociating itself from the body and looking at the truth.
If we let the mind take a decision, it will necessarily and naturally function as an adjunct to the physiological aspect of our personality.
The mind advises us how best to survive in this world.
There is something absurd here.
The mind's effort to perpetuate the physical body is a contradiction, because it turns a blind eye on the fact that this physical life must come to an end.
It is very difficult for the mind of most of us to appreciate the totality of life.
It seeks pleasure but refuses to see that the other side of pleasure is pain.
It desires success but refuses to see that success is bound to end in failure.
It sees only one side and therefore it is partial, limited and the advice it gives is bound to be inadequate, limited and therefore frustrating.
One who quite clearly sees this, also sees that the mind, being a self-appointed guardian deity of the body, conditioned by its own foolishness, is untrustworthy; and any action that springs from the mind or the physical organism is pure animal action, meant merely to preserve the physical organism.
It is instinctive, impulsive and therefore futile, fruitless, blind and fragmentary, and must lead to frustration.
The moment one is able to see this, faith in the mind drops.
The wise man who seeks truth, firmly avoids taking the counsel of the mind.
But if the mind is not going to enable us to make the decision, what else does?
How does an action take place?
When we write a letter, we use a fountain pen, paper and the hand.
The hand is propelled by the brain (the mind) and the mind itself is propelled by some unknown intelligence.
The mind is but an instrument - the antahkarana, the inner instrument of action - and the instrument should obviously not become the doer!
Hidden as the inner light in all these instruments is the jiva - the living, sentient, conscious spark of God, the inner light that alone sustains nature.
Whatever there is in this whole universe is pervaded by this consciousness, and any action which springs from this inner light, the jiva or the spark of God within, is real action.

March 31

You Must Wake Up!

Our life is so completely wrapped up in irrational fantasies that they provide the motivation for whatever we do - good and evil.
Watch the mind very carefully and you will see this.
If you love me you do all sorts of things and you are prepared to undergo any amount of privation, suffering and expense.
You love me because you think I am your friend or your brother.
That relationship - my so and so, whatever it may be - makes you do all sorts of good things.
This is a reason why this irrational, stupid idea of a relationship is very jealously guarded and maintained by society.
But the unfortunate factor is that it is not goodness alone that flows out of this 'mine'.
You care only for people whom you regard as 'my' people.
Are these people really mine?
How does this 'mineness' arise?
How does this relationship arise?
Are these relationships based on reality, truth?
The strangest part of it is that they are there as long as you accept that they are there.
This 'mineness' is a nightmare or a sweet dream, it doesn't matter which way you look at it.
But please also remember that while you are enjoying a sweet dream you are inviting a nightmare, because they both belong to the same family.
There is only one way to avoid both of these, and that is that you must wake up.
The moment you wake up from this ignorance and begin to enquire into it, the mineness goes away.
'I am' is there and 'you are' is also there.
We are not running away from that.
There is a body here, there is a body there, but we don't possess each other.
We are both equally important, so I don't have to torture myself in order to do something good to you and you don't have to torture yourself in order to do some good to me.
That is a beautiful life where we love and respect one another without possessing one another, when we realise that possession does not exist.
There is no martyrdom and there is no greed.
If goodness does not need the motivation of possession, then it is free, true goodness.
Virtue which is free from compulsion is true virtue.
Is it possible to free goodness from this sense of possession, and in that freedom cultivate goodness?
That goodness is divine.

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