Daily Readings

Insights Inspirations - May

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

Om Namah Shivaya

Om Namah Venkatesaya

May 1


Sadhana means any practice, any effort directed towards an achievement.
Whatever you do to reach your goal is sadhana.
The goal itself is called siddhi, or perfection.
Perfection cannot be defined.
As soon as it is defined, confined, it is no longer perfection.
Mental and physical perfection are unknown to us, and who can lay down adequate criteria to identify them?
Even what we would consider perfection for one stage of our life would not apply to another period of development, or type of person.
But we can at least, to some extent, be aware of what imperfection may be.
Physically you can see that while you might not consider yourself to be in 'perfect' shape, (whatever that would imply) you are, however, free from obvious defect.
The body functions as it should.
It seems that the senses and the limbs and organs behave as God meant them to.
The fact that you cannot do certain things like flying, merely means that that perfection belongs to birds and not to man!
Mentally you regard your mind as free from obvious imperfections, when you see that there is no dullness, no constant turmoil and loss of equilibrium, and so on.
You can also establish on looking deeper, that the imperfection of psychiatric disturbance, psychological complex, neurosis etc. is absent.
That much you can ascertain.
Whatever practice you undertake to reach this state of total absence of imperfection, is sadhana.
One of the spiritual practices which Swami Sivananda emphasised most was japa.
In japa, one repeats a mantra (a short formula).
The mantra often incorporates the Name of God.
Repetition of a mantra quietens the mind and its turbulence.
One must beware of dulling the mind through mechanical repetition, but it may be possible that mantra makes the mind tranquil enough for you to go deep and enquire where the sound comes from -'Who is the 'I' repeating it?' - thus getting to the source of the Inner Being.
Japa should not be an isolated practice limited to short periods morning and evening.
If it is to be spiritually beneficent, it must affect every aspect of your personality, your life.
As you link japa with breathing in and out, you might discover that the respiration becomes regular, naturally controlled.
Without any need (or possibility) for you to control it.
It simply happens!
Thus the simple sadhana of japa can bring about mental and bodily health as well as spiritual understanding.

May 2

Japa and Mantra

Japa is silently repeating a mantra.
What does the word 'mantra' mean?
The definition is given: mananat trayate iti mantrah
The word 'mananat' is difficult to translate.
It is mentation which is not thinking about it, but is it.
For example, if you take OM for your mantra, you don't think of what all the philosophers have said about OM, but your thinking becomes OM.
Mentation (manana) is to saturate the mind with it, to let the mind be it.
Mantra is that which, when this happens, redeems (trayate) you.
If you can sit here, forgetting everything else, and let the mind become completely saturated with the mantra, then you are saved from all problems.
It's as simple as that!
But we don't do it.
We doubt: "Is this going to solve all my problems and business worries?"
That doubt is the problem.
We value only treatment which is complicated and difficult.
Our mind is so complicated that it rebels against anything simple.
I have a doctor friend who has many wealthy patients who are often on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
He is very sympathetic, and he realises that although there is nothing wrong with them, they feel sick.
He gives them an injection of double-distilled water with great care and attention, and the miracle of it is, it works!
If he told them that there was nothing wrong with them, it wouldn't work, because it is too simple.
We feel that all solutions must be complicated, because our life is so complicated.
Japa is an extremely simple solution to our problems.
This is what my Master Swami Sivananda prescribed for thousands of people with problems.
Sit down, let the whole mind be saturated with a mantra.
Then the problem that is outside you may remain, but you are not involved in the problem, you do not create or complicate the problem.
By saturating the mind with the mantra you are strengthening your inner spiritual resources, so that when you get up from the japa, the problem is dissolved.

May 3

Mantra Medicine

A mantra is a formula.
It is often a single word or syllable (sometimes longer) which, when it saturates the mind, immediately relieves one of all problems.
It is so simple.
It is good to keep the mantra secret, because if you tell someone what your mantra is they may say, "Oh, mine is superior to yours".
Then, into this extremely simple saving factor in your spiritual life, you deliberately and foolishly introduce complications.
You become worried, doubtful; doubt destroys the efficacy of the japa.
There are many different mantras.
Om is a mantra in itself.
Soham and Om Namah Shivaya are mantras.
Among early Christians, Kyrie Eleison and Christe Eleison were used as 'mantras' or the 'prayer of the heart' as they were called.
The Jewish mystics and also the Sufis have their own mantras.
The yogis say that Soham is a mantra which all of us are already repeating involuntarily.
If you close your eyes and inhale and exhale deeply and listen to the breathing, the inhalation sounds SO and the exhalation sounds Ham (or the other way round).
This they call ajapa (no-japa) mantra - you don't have to repeat it, it is repeating by itself.
Like your circulation system, it goes on if you wish it to or not.
They even say that God is so merciful, that, knowing that you would not do it, He made the breath do this japa!
The meaning is also very sublime.
Soham means 'That I am'.
'That I am' is also a biblical formula - Moses is said to have heard 'I am That I am' on Mount Sinai when he asked God 'Who are You?'
It does not mean that this Swami Venkatesananda (or whoever it is) is God.
No, what you call 'I' is a misnomer - He is the reality, He is the truth.
When you stand facing the sun, behind you is a shadow.
Can you say that you and the shadow are the same? Absurd!
You are the only truth, the only reality, the shadow is non-existent as an entity.
It is not there at all, it is only an appearance.
The 'I', like the shadow, is merely an appearance.
Soham - He is the reality, He alone is, God alone is.

May 4

Soham - That I Am

You can use the mantra Soham, ('That I am') in conjunction with a personal deity if you have one, or without if you don't.
If you have a personal idea of Christ, Buddha or whatever, then sit and feel ,,He is the reality".
Not that "I am Christ" (that is absurd) but that "He is the sole reality in me".
If that is true - then who has all the worry? He does!
If God is the sole reality in 'me', then the problems also belong to Him!
When this terrible ego - 'I', 'Me', - clears away, about ninety-eight percent of the problem is gone, because ninety-eight percent of the problem was created by the ego.
For instance, when there is a headache, do you know what makes it worse?
The question that arises within you "Why me?"
"Why should this headache come to me?"
Have you asked yourself: "Good heavens, why not me!"
It is 'Why me?' which resists the headache and makes it worse.
The problems which worry us so much in our life are common to nearly everybody.
Millions have domestic problems and financial worries.
Ninety-eight percent of the problem is the egotistic question "Why me?"
Consider, "Why not me? Am I something special that everybody else in the world may suffer, but not me?"
This consideration gets rid of the egotistic approach.
Any solution, whether it is called japa, repeating a mantra, prayer or meditating - whatever be the solution - if it takes the ego aside it solves ninety-eight percent of the problem.
The two percent which will still be there will be so silly that you wouldn't want to mention it to anybody!
It is when the 'me' is so big that you go around grunting and griping, telling the whole neighbourhood about it. It is that that creates the headache.
However this ego is but a shadow; hence the creation is not real.
Therefore, the solution is simple.
Let the whole mind be saturated with this mantra.
The mantra says "Not I, but He is the reality."
It is in this manner that the mantra has a redeeming feature.

May 5

Mantra japa I

When a disciple or seeker approaches a spiritual master and asks a question, whatever the latter says in reply is mantra.
It may be a word or a phrase - it can be any language, as all sound is sound!
There are Jewish, Muslim and Christian mantras, as well as Sanskrit.
It can merely be some wholesome advice, counsel, or instruction, with the help of which the seeker is 'saved'.
Literally translated, 'mantra' means 'that which saves, redeems and protects'.
As repetition of a mantra involves concentration, it certainly saves one from mind-wandering and inner problems.
It saves one from oneself.
There is a story of a man who suffered from an argumentative mind, full of doubts.
He was saved from this by his Guru merely shouting at him once: "Shut up!"
This switched off the chattering mind and he became a great sage.
The Guru may suggest that you take the all-inclusive cosmic sound 'Om' and make it your bow, and fixing the arrow of yourself to it, with one-pointedness, shoot yourself into the target which is God: 'Become one with God'.
He may tell you to repeat 'Om' constantly - hearing 'Om' in the sound of the wind, a plane, the breath - everywhere.
The prayer 'mantra mulam guror vakyam' means that the guru's word itself is taken as a mantra.
If what the guru says is reflected by the mind in such a way that the mind is saturated with it, one is liberated.
There is a Sanskrit definition of a mantra with the notion of 'protect'.
When does the mantra protect?
When there is 'mananat'.
This word cannot be translated, but the English word 'reflection' could be used here.
It isn't by mere thought or contemplation, but only if the mind reflects the mantra is it saturated with it, not by mere thought or contemplation.
It is only the mind which is saturated with the mantra that is protected by it.
When the mind reflects the mantra so effectively that it is saturated with it, that mind becomes the mantra.
Then it protects.
The mind, usually unsteady and impure, is now steady and pure.

May 6

Mantra japa II

Japa is the process by which the mind becomes saturated with the repetition of the mantra.
This promotes concentration of the mind.
Japa is often used in pranayama practice, and Swami Sivananda recommended its association with yoga asanas.
You might object that this would distract you from concentrating on the yoga postures.
But while the mind is supposed to observe the body during each posture, if you watch carefully, you find that you are thinking of something else.
Only the yogi observes with the mind absolutely still, totally absorbed in the observation - that itself is the mantra.
The Master advises us to think only of the rnantra instead of getting lost in silly thoughts, letting the mind wander here and there, thinking of a million things.
During any activity whatsoever, the conscious mind can be occupied with the repetition of the mantra.
One can learn to say the mantra, on waking, associating it with the breath.
Synchronised with the respiration, japa becomes continuous - almost a reflex action.
Mantra-repetition between each of the daily tasks prevents nervous, psychological and physical tension.
Some people believe that the very vibrations of a mantra have a beneficial effect and that sincere invocation of God through japa may make Him appear!
The mantra may be Sanskrit or any other language.
The important thing seems to be that the formula used should be fairly short.
The early Christian Fathers used 'Kyrie Eleison, Christe Eleison' - Greek for 'Lord have mercy upon me, Christ have mercy upon me'.
It was called the 'prayer of the heart'.
Swami Sivananda used to recommend to Christians the shorter form of Om Jesus.
A shorter mantra promotes intense concentration, but is only of use when the mind is close to concentration.
If concentration itself is difficult, a long mantra is better as the mind is kept busy working it out.
With a short mantra the attention may more easily wander away.
The ideal however is a short mantra.
The yogis suggest three different ways of japa:
(1) to say the mantra fairly loud,
(2) to move the lips without much of a sound, and
(3) repeat it mentally.

May 7

From japa to God-realisation

There are no Hindu, Christian, Buddhist or Moslem rnantras mantra is a mantra: God is involved in this mantra, but it is not a Christian God or a Hindu God.
God is an unknown quantity - unknown, but not unknowable.
God is not a transferable or marketable commodity.
God is an inner reality, the essence of your being which each one has to discover.
Is your God the same as someone else's God?
How do you know what his God is?
So even here there is no discussion and no argument.
What God, the Truth or Reality means to you alone is real to you.
Yoga is the realising of this God within.
Therefore the same mantra which helps us in our life, which redeems us and saves us from our own little problems, also goes to the root of all problems - the ego ('me') - by enabling us to discover this inner reality.
That is done when the only thing that stands between 'me' and God is removed.
What is that?
If God is omnipresent (inside, outside, everywhere) what is it that stands between that omnipresent reality and 'me'? ME.
As soon as you remove that 'me' (ego), you realise that the omnipresent reality alone exists.
So yoga, by discovering the illusory nature of this ego, brings the reality of God into sharp focus.
When you sit and repeat the mantra mentally you can easily learn to watch the manner in which the thought rises and falls.
It does need a little training.
First you can whisper the sound.
In this, the repetition of the mantra is confined to exhalation.
When your mind is reasonably steady, stop this whispering and instead repeat the mantra mentally, synchronising it with the breathing, repeating it while inhaling and exhaling.
If you listen to this with all your attention focussed on this inner sound of the mantra, you will notice that the sound is clear and you are yet able to hear other sounds - it feels like a fish nibbling at your toes when you stand in water!
These sounds are not strong enough to take your attention completely away, they are peripheral.
The attention grows stronger.
When you are confident that you have the strength, if you concentrate on one thought (which in the beginning is the mantra itself), you will come to the root of the mind.
When that happens then, by God's Grace, one day you will discover that even what you thought was 'I' was nothing more than a thought.
When that thought is disposed of, the inner reality of God shines.

May 8

Word and Deed

A close scrutiny of Swami Sivananda's teachings should convince an intelligent person that they are born of Swamiji's direct experience.
Religion is not found in text-books and its true spirit cannot be imbibed from teachers, however learned - though all these help us understand religion.
Swami Sivananda used to say that life is a great school, and pain is a great teacher.
He Himself was always quick to learn in that school.
Once learnt, the lesson was never forgotten.
His life had its fountain source in these experiences - physical, social and spiritual.
To give one illustration: As a young doctor He had travelled to Malaya, His orthodox brahmin upbringing imposed severe restrictions on His eating habits so that he starved during the voyage; He had wandered into a city (His destination) and was near collapse when He reached a temple and found 'suitable' food.
Out of this experience emerged His later 'flexible orthodox', His understanding of others in similar straits, and most important of all, His eagerness to rush to the aid of anyone in distress.
Have we not been in similar situations?
Do we learn?
Do these experiences touch our hearts, melt our hearts?
For only if they do is the spirit of religion awakened in us to become the living motive-force of our daily lives.
Alas, sometimes the perverted intellect invents distorted logic which hardens our hearts.
We 'learn' from our sorrow that we should be more selfish and more vicious.
We feel, "If only I am more aggressive and demand and get what I want, I shall never suffer."
And the welfare of others is seen to be a threat to our own!
This indeed is the distinction between the divine and the diabolical: their paths are different and hence their very outlook on life is entirely different.
This fact reveals a vicious circle.
The same experiences in life make the divine more divine and the vicious even more vicious.
How is this downward trend of the vicious to be arrested?
For that surely is what every intelligent person wishes an every saint works for.
The ideal is not realised in a day. No ideal is.
Sincere application is the best we can hope for, and even that is rare in the world.

May 9

Control Of Mind

There are those who declare that mantras have some special psychic benefits, some magical properties and so on.
All this may be correct.
But we are approaching it purely from the spiritual point of view.
There are others who are definite that each mantra is dedicated to a particular form of God, so that if you repeat a certain mantra you must visualise a certain form.
Probably they are right.
But then, in a sanskrit scriptural text called the Bhagavatam (which resembles the Bible very closely) the statement occurs again and again, "All these spiritual practices have one end in view, and that is to get complete control of the mind".
All yogis, whatever their main preoccupation, realise that it is the mind which creates problems in our life - in our relationships first and foremost.
What is the difference between you and me?
If there is a real difference, why is it there?
Because you think there is a difference.
After thinking that there is a difference you go round looking for a difference.
Naturally you will find it because you create it!
It is the mind that creates all these differences and the differences exist in the mind.
Whether you repeat a mantra or whether you sit and meditate according to the hatha yoga method, according to your choice, the ultimate aim and goal of all yoga or spiritual practice is control of the mind - control not in the sense "I can stop, start or go", not in the sense that "I can sit here and make myself think what I want to think," but control in the sense of a complete understanding of the mind.

What happens (in the family, in society, in the world) is insignificant, for the simple reason that all the people involved in all these endless human conflicts would at best be memories in a few years time.
But what happens within oneself is of supreme importance.
When all those with whom I come into contact and conflict have passed away, I still have to live with me.
Yet, again, it is when I meet the other person that the 'I' becomes clear!
Therefore the family contacts and conflicts are inevitable: but their true purpose is to enable you to discover yourself.
In any conflict, let the initiative or the first move come from the other person.
In love, let the move always come from you!

May 10

Om Means Yes!

A Harley Street psychologist once delivered a series of lectures at the Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh, and declared that almost all illnesses were psychosomatic and arose from too free and frequent use of the word 'no' instead of 'yes'.
OM primarily means 'yes' (vide Taittiriya Upanishad), the same as 'aam' in Tamil.
Patanjali in the yoga Sutras declares that OM is a verbal indicator of the divine.
Yes it is!
Gurudev Swami Sivananda was all 'yes' - rarely he said 'no'.
Even when He might have felt that the other person was not quite right, he would seem to concede the point, but point out (perhaps later) the flaws in the view.
"Yes, you are right!" wins your heart, and then it is easier for you to realise that a change is indicated.
God is indicated by OM.
When this is repeated mentally, you wonder what 'mentally' means.
When, with the mind concentrated, you ask where the sound arises and what it is, the non-verbal knowledge arises that it is the mind; at the same moment the ego which co-exists with the object of thought is also absorbed in the non-verbal realisation of OM.
This is surrender.
When this surrender happens, the ego with all its desires, fears and hopes drops away.
In all our sadhana, japa (repetition of mantra or name of God) plays a vital role.
It is a solution to all our problems!
For all our problems are created by the impure mind; and repetition of the mantra is the best purifier of the mind and tranquilliser too.
We have such a restless spirit in us.
It is the impure mind.
If we do not keep it busy with some good activity continuously, it will create impure desires and thoughts and destroy us.
The best way to keep it constantly busy, without obstructing our daily work, is japa of God's Name.
As soon as we get up from the bed in the morning we should start repeating the mantra and continue for at least half an hour.
Then, during the day, every hour or so, we should close our eyes for just a few seconds, and repeat the mantra a few times.
In this way we shall soon be able to create the habit and ultimately, along with our daily activities, the mind will go on repeating the mantra as a sort of undercurrent.
Even during sleep the mind will involuntarily go on repeating the mantra.
This is a great purifier of the mind; and it will also steady the mind and enable us to enjoy great peace and happiness.
Before going to bed we should repeat the mantra for half an hour.
Then we shall sleep soundly and well.
The current will be kept up during sleep also.

May 11

To Become One

It is indeed a wonder that mental japa (repetition of a rnantra) is inwardly audible.
You have been told by yogis of the anahata sounds and many other psychic phenomena, so that you miss the extremely simple truth that when you do mental japa there is anahata (produced not by one object beating another) sound.
But greater is the wonder when you ask: "Who utters the mantra and who listens?" It is you!
You utter the mantra and you listen.
You are the sound and you are the ear.
Isn't that marvellous?
If you realise this, you have already derived immense benefit from the japa.
This is what is happening to you in your every-day life.
You do not love your friend, because you do not even know who or what he is!
You only know what you think he is, and you only love that image you have formed of him in your own mind. You, the love and the image are all you yourself!
The subject is the object and the object is the subject.
When you observe someone or something, you are only observing the image that the various stimuli produced by that someone or something in yourself.
You observe - and the object so observed is also within you, part of you - yourself.
This is the basis of our judgement of 'others': glorifying them, condemning them, criticising them, praising them, admiring them, loving them or hating them.
The judge and the convict are one, the judge is the convict!
When this is seen, judgement drops and peace prevails in our life.
Even in our own little attempts at concentration and meditation the disturbing element is not outside us, but within us - us!
The dog barks outside, sure enough.
But the 'barking' is heard, registered inside.
'You' are disturbed by this 'barking' that takes place in your own head, brain or mind.
You resist this barking - you have divided yourself into the 'meditator' and the 'hearer of the barking' and so get frustrated.
The two are one: in oneness there is no disturbance.

Our thoughts, words and deeds spring from the single personality.
Our thinking, feeling and willing form part of a single personality.
Their distinction is arbitrary though it helps psychological studies of character.
When the illusion of their separateness is dispersed, health and peace are restored to body and mind.

May 12

The First and Fundamental Yoga

Sit completely relaxed.
Watch where the sound of the mantra happens and where you are repeating the sound, where you are listening to the sound.
Where does the repetition take place and where does the hearing take place?
You may be surprised to find that every time you look at it something changes.
Then you discover what the real meaning of the mantra is.
Whatever be the mantra, it does not matter.
When it comes to the real meaning of the mantra, you yourself realise that all mantras mean exactly the same thing, because the real meaning is that the mantra is the 'mind-stuff!'
That word is not the meaning!
It is a misleading description because now you are going to think it is the mind that is repeating the mantra. No!
The mantra can be repeated even during sleep when obviously the best part of the mind is asleep.
So let us begin with the feeling that I do not know what the mantra is; what the mantra means, what the sound is made of, or where it is produced.
Now I am enquiring into the whole phenomenon.
This is one of the most effective forms of meditation.
And when one does this consciously, seriously, then sooner or later you come face to face with your mind and you no longer think you know what thought is, but you see what thought is.
This is something very difficult to explain.
You see what thought is and how it arises.
You see what a feeling is and how it manifests itself.
You see what an emotion is and you see it rising.
You must see, not only with your eyes, but you must sense it first.
If it is something valuable you can keep it.
That is when you are master of the feeling, and if you want to throw it away, you can throw it away.
Then you can live here or in the fish-market.
This may not be Self-realisation, but this is, according to Swami Sivananda, the first and fundamental yoga.
All the rest of the yoga practices He used to describe are auxiliaries to it, strengthening it, facilitating it.
But this was the centre-piece He taught us.
The first thing He did when you became His disciple was to give you a mantra and that mantra itself would lead you to meditation.
But not mechanically.
You had to make your own effort to get there, or at least to show a serious and curious interest in the mantra.
Then you became saturated with the mantra.
Right from now till the consummation of yoga practice, the mantra will keep you company.

May 13

Hints for Meditation Practice

Here are some hints which may be of some practical use to those of you who wish to take meditation a bit more seriously.
1. Sit with your body erect.
Become aware of the body, the posture, its contact-points.
This will stop dissipation of attention.
Then watch the breathing, listen to the breath (You must follow this very carefully otherwise you will miss it).
As you listen within yourself you hear So on inhalation and Ham on exhalation (or the other way round).
You hear the sound Soham clearly.
Can you also find out where this sound arises?
When you talk the sound comes from the throat.
Can you similarly locate from where the sound of Soham comes when your vocal cords are not functioning?
You still hear this Soham.
What produces this sound and where is it located?
If you can closely watch and tune in to that sound, then it is possible to be totally absorbed in it.
In the process of trying to locate it clearly you will discover that your mind is calming down, slowing down, and becoming introverted.
2. You hear the sound of Soham within you.
Are you saying it or are you listening to it?
For instance, when you are speaking you are also listening to it, because the sound waves come out of the mouth and enter into the ears.
But while repeating the mantra, you are not uttering a word, yet you can hear the sound of Soham.
Are you saying that sound or are you listening to it?
In other words, there seem to be two distinct personalities or entities within you - one that says Soham, and the other that listens to Soham.
Are you this one, or that one?
It is not an intellectual question and there are no intellectual answers.
You are asking for a direct perception, not a verbalisation or verbal answer at all.
3. As you go on asking this question, suddenly a question pops up, "Maybe I am neither of these".
There seems to be one that says the mantra, another that listens to it and there is a third who asks this question and is aware of the two!
It is at this point that we get into the vital aspect of yoga.
That is, the enquiry: "Who am I, what is 'I'?"
It is introduced in such a subtle way that eventually you almost stumble into the truth.
In that deep enquiry lies the secret of the use of the mantra.

May 14


Conventionally, a mantra is a short formula, which, when repeated again and again, promotes concentration of the mind.
This process is called japa.
A shorter mantra promotes intense concentration.
Naturally, it is of use only when the mind is close to concentration.
If you use a longer mantra, then the mind is busy working out the mantra.
Supposing the mantra is short (and that is the ideal), how does one use it?
If your mind is restless, then it is possible to shout the mantra and deliberately make it fast.
In other words you are 'hitting' the concentration.
Loud repetition is very beautiful.
When the mind is caught in this rhythm and this sound, then it is time to glide gently into the next method.
You stop the sound now but make the lip movement.
In the third method, even the lip movement stops and you are repeating the mantra mentally.
"Am I repeating the mantra mentally or not?"
When you ask yourself this question, the mind becomes concentrated, the attention becomes powerfully focussed on itself.
For a few moments I am repeating the mantra, concentrating on the mantra, and for a few moments I am thinking of something else; the attention goes away.
From there on it is an unending effort, till one learns the art of dropping all effort.
The effort must not be abandoned prematurely because if you do so, then the fun continues, and you accept distractions as normal.
We want to find out if it is possible for the mind to be engaged in just this one work of repeating the mantra.
No distraction can really distract you unless you want to be distracted; so don't blame distractions.
You go on observing the mantra sound and the image it evokes within, and then a question arises: "What is this mantra sound and what is this inner figure made of? They are both experienced in me."
When this question arises seriously, the mind is saturated with the mantra and with this figure.
You suddenly learn that this is mind.
Whatever this mantra was made of, whatever this figure is made of, that is the mind.
This must be discovered, not thought of, so that this knowledge arises within yourself without your thinking of it.
When the answer arises within you there is a thrill of joy and there is stillness.

May 15

Spirit of Curiosity and Wonder

The only difficulty in connection with the practice of mantra repetition is dullness.
It is very easy to go to sleep when you are doing something monotonous.
(In case you have friends who have difficulty in going to sleep, tell them this!)
When you repeat a mantra, even if you roll the beads of a mala, you can become very drowsy.
To the student of yoga this is a bugbear, because he doesn't want to go to sleep, he wants to keep awake and remain intensely alert.
It's very difficult to remain alert while doing japa.
It looks as though the mind does not want to reveal its secret, it does not want to be controlled, and it does not want you to know what its tricks are.
Normally you are thinking, but you are not aware that you are thinking or of the source of thought - which is your mental conditioning.
Thinking takes place, like reflex action, and there's no meaning in that thinking.
You are thinking automatically, compelled by past habit-patterns, without your understanding or control.
You think because you cannot help thinking and thought controls your behaviour; that is what has made your life so messy.
The yogi wants to become aware of this phenomenon and when he uses this mantra, therefore, he has to be extremely alert.
Otherwise he'll go to sleep.
It is then that one needs a few aids.
For a truly religious student of yoga, the first and foremost aid is love of God, and therefore the masters introduce some kind of devotional fervour with the mantra.
When they said that each mantra has a deity and if you sit and repeat the mantra the deity will appear before you, they were not fools.
If you sit and repeat "Om Namah Shivaya", eagerly expecting Lord Shiva to appear before you, you are all alert.
If you have that faith, then naturally there is alertness.
You can have this faith and devotion or you can have a spirit of intense wonderment.
When you say that you are repeating the mantra mentally, what exactly do you mean?
The source of the mantra within you is also the source of all thoughts.
Does the thought go back or forward?
Does it come to you from the head or elsewhere?
When these questions arise in you, you realise that thoughts like: 'I think I am here', 'I think I am bad', 'I think I am a very religious person' have arisen in you for thousands and thousands of years, and caused all this mischief amongst us.
We are quite happy with them, we have taken them for granted.
We do not want to know anything about their origin.
The yogi suggests that we can have this very healthy spirit of curiosity, or wonder.

May 16

Feel It!

God-realisation is not the monopoly of swamis and sadhus, nor of easterners or westerners.
If God is everywhere, He is accessible everywhere, He is accessible everywhere to everybody at all times.
What is it that stops us from realising that God is ever real?
What is it that stops us from making God real?
Our whole life is mechanical; we have lost the capacity to understand.
All the teachings of saints and sages flow above our heads so that we are completely and totally untouched, unaffected.
We use a lot of words, but some of these are a menace, a danger to our life.
One phrase is 'thank you'.
'Thank you' often means 'our account is settled'.
Though the 'thank you' may be a danger, gratitude is supreme.
That feeling is something which arises from the very heart.
So, if you want to say: "Thank you," please do, but with feeling.
Another word which is equally dangerous is 'sorry'.
We continue to be callous, negligent, indifferent, lazy, because of the availability of this formality: we can always say: "Sorry".
However, by merely saying 'sorry', one is not apologising or feeling it at all.
If I do something which really makes me feel sorry, I'll do it only once, never again.
The whole inside is churned and there is 'sorry' in the tone of speech, in the very look.
Words like 'thank you' and 'sorry' are superficial words which mean nothing if mechanically repeated.
What is needed is honesty, feeling.
So, into your sadhana, whatever you are doing, whether it is japa, service or worship, put in your heart, put in your feeling.
Let it not come from the heart, that is the emotion; let it not come from the brain, that is the calculating mentality; let it come from deep down, from life itself.
Then there is no selfish motivation for anything, there is no calculation, no emotionalism or sentimentalism in anything, and actions spring from life.
The actions are pure and because they are totally integrated, they are whole.
That is what makes a man holy.
Holiness is to become whole!
When the personality is not integrated, we are fragmented, divided beings.
So, whatever we are doing, whether it is secular activity or spiritual activity, can the whole being feel it and do it?
Whatever we do, is that exactly what is happening - nothing more, nothing less?
Gurudev's main and most vitally important teaching was: Life is already divine; the divine pervades the universe, fills every atom of existence.
So, put this feeling, this spirit back into life!

May 17

'I' doesn't exist

Though we are familiar with concentration and meditation in our lives, we practise them in order to know how they work.
I repeat a mantra and focus all my attention on it till that sound becomes foremost.
I have avoided the distractions and there is clarity of vision.
When the mantra is the only thought or object that occupies the mind, that is meditation already.
But it is not a rigid, static affair; the mind, being vibrating consciousness, is not still in the sense of dead matter.
As you are focussing your attention on the meditation object, there is a stream of consciousness flowing towards it.
You are not meditating on the object, you are meditating in the object.
It looks as though you are entering into it, examining it, looking at it from inside, from within.
You are not standing outside and watching it.
Looking at it is concentration and entering into it is meditation.
You begin to ask, "Am I repeating the mantra or am I listening to the mantra?"
At that point you are entering into the mantra.
If the mantra sound and also the image of God is the mind, what am I?
Am I inside of it or outside of it?
If I am in it, I am also the mind: 'I' is also the mind.
When this question arises you are entering into it, melting into it.
The 'I' is still using the mantra, because the mantra and the form of God are still the focal point.
They represent the mind which is spread out as the world and has not come to be restricted.
The only problem that remains is 'What is the relation between the mind and me?'
There is no verbal answer to that question.
When it arises, it is possible that the mantra sound suddenly stops.
Something else may happen as well - you may fall asleep!
If there is dullness, sleepiness, you can do some pranayama, jump up and down or stand up, and then continue to meditate.
The mind is full of ideas, but at least it is awake and alert.
The mind has to be extremely alert in order to enter into meditation.
Then when meditation becomes deeper and the mantra alone remains, when the listener gets dissolved and meditation happens, you'll know what that means.
The 'I' is not there; it blends into consciousness and the mantra also blends into consciousness.
There is no hearing of the mantra, because 'I' doesn't exist.

May 18

You Cannot Have Them Singly

When you observe yourself during japa, you are aware of the mantra being repeated and heard within yourself. These two - sound and hearing - are inseparable, the distinction being one of polarisation.
If 'you' distinguish yourself from these, then another pair is 'born': the self and the not-self!
Another polarisation.
In the same manner, you discover that 'desire follows the pleasure-sense' and 'an experience of pain is accompanied by dislike' in the words of Patanjali.
If you learn to observe these, without being caught up in their coils, you will discover that hope and anxiety, the ambition to succeed and the fear of failure, craving and frustration, security and slavery, domination and revolt all come in pairs!
In fact, everything you wish to have comes along with everything you wish to avoid!
And you cannot possibly break up these pairs and have them singly.
Even to attempt to separate the self from the not-self can therefore lead to constant inner conflict and frustration, till in Pure Awareness even this distinction disappears and all contradictions are seen to be polarisations and thus no contradiction at all.
This is surely what Lord Krishna declares in the Gita: "The gunas move among gunas."
But when the 'I' observes this phenomenon it gets inevitably involved in the self - not-self polarisation!
Hence Krishna reminds us that all this (including the self - not-self polarisation) is the 'field': and 'I am the Knower of all fields'.
This 'I' or God is the all-inclusive Witness Consciousness in which there is no polarisation at all.
This Witness Consciousness of Pure Awareness alone is beyond contradictions and conflicts.
May you all be established in it!

May 19

From Purpose to Meaning

Why do people practise yoga at all?
Obviously the motivation is varied: health, vitality, therapy, relaxation, weight-reduction, mind development, supernatural powers, kundalini awakening, equanimity or balanced state of mind, problems related to interpersonal relationship and generally, unhappiness and sorrow.
At the very outset the serious student of yoga discovers that it is a waste of time blaming all these on 'others'.
Whatever their source may be, they are experienced by oneself, within oneself.
The yogi is not keen to analyse these physiological, psychological, social or spiritual problems, to find why they are there or what their purpose may be.
He is interested to find out what they are.
Obviously this can only be discovered by oneself.
Others' views are their views, their opinions.
Opinions differ, indicating that perhaps no one opinion represents the whole truth, not even one's own!
Hence, even the sort of answer that presents itself to the enquiring intelligence is not accepted as truth, for it gives rise to the question, 'Who is the enquirer?'
Surely, this question cannot be answered verbally or conceptually.
That would still maintain the internal division between the observer and the observed, the questioner and the quest.
The quest has, therefore, got to culminate in Self-knowledge, an indescribable experience (the word 'experience' is used for want of any better word!).
In that, the 'what' is realised, the truth is realised, and all problems are dissolved (not merely solved).
This is not the 'end' of yoga, it has no beginning and therefore no end.
Life takes on a different quality.
It is divine life.
The relationship of one who has Self-knowledge is love, for his vision is limitless, having seen all points of view to be limitations.
He is truly a blessing.

May 20


The quest for the truth concerning relationship is a tremendous inner discipline.
What makes relationship?
Simply, very simply, relationship comes into being; it happens.
None of us were born together - we came alone and we will go alone.
Our relationship had a beginning and it must have an end.
This is the plain truth, and intelligence which sees this, instantly transforms relationship into something very beautiful, sacred and holy.
I don't know what brought us together, but that which brought us together knows what should happen, so I approach relationships very respectfully.
I didn't seek this relationship - it happened.
And even if I thought that I sought it, it still happened!
We have come together for a brief moment - that which has arisen must also cease - so I do not expect anything, I am only waiting to discover why we have been brought together and for how long.
In this waiting there is respect, there is love and a total lack of expectation.
From moment to moment I am discovering your interests and how this relationship may be beneficial to both of us.
But throughout, one truth is clear - I was alone, I have come together with you and I will be alone again.
I am not dependent upon you nor are you dependent upon me, but in our coming together there is a certain temporary dependence.
There is beauty here.
Coming together is a blessing, whether we are husband and wife, brother and sister, Guru and disciple or fellow pilgrims.
When this truth is realised, all our relationships are transformed into something holy.
This truth is living, flowing like a river - in it nothing is taken for granted.
If expectation should creep in, poisoning the relationship, intelligence springs into action: "You have taken this relationship too far."
Expectation drops and the relationship continues on its own sacred level.
This life is a blessing and a privilege.

May 21

The River

Life is full of surprises.
The unexpected always happens, but it is not the fault of happening.
We are part of a game called life.
You often ask, "Swamiji, when will you come back?"
In order to come back, I have to go.
In order to go, I have to come.
Though we realise the inevitability of change, change changes something within us which needs not to change.
When we come together we are naturally happy, but then we are afraid to part.
And when we do part, we hope that we will meet again.
Meeting and parting are inevitable parts of life; yet they give rise to happiness and sorrow, hope and fear.
Is that also inevitable?
The body has infinite potential to adjust and readjust ... but never to anticipate.
The intelligence reacts to stimuli, but that intelligence does not anticipate any reaction.
Intelligence (not brain or mind) does not anticipate anything.
And therefore it is free from hope and fear.
Intelligence can act only in the present.
It is mind that functions in the field of memory or imagination.
All thought relates to past or future.
How to live in the present?
Again, ask your body.
Its infinite potential to adjust without the interference of hope or fear is intelligent life.
If joy is to rise, it has its own counterpart, sorrow.
Everything in the world has two sides.
We cannot have only one side of anything.
If we want pleasure only and try to avoid all pain, we discover we have one pleasure and three pains!
Hope and fear are not based on truth or fact.
Can we face truth or reality and avoid imagination?
Can we live our life in truth and not in imagination?
The body indulges in neither hope nor imagination, but only pure life.
See life as it is, not what it was or should be.
Pleasure and pain are one - not two separate things.
Cause and effect are one, cause being the extension of effect and vice versa.
If I can see this truth, then instantly change comes to a stop.
I see a river - the unchanging in all this change.
What appeared to be many and fearfully contradictory phenomena are suddenly seen as complementary.
Night follows day; death is the other side of what we call life.
But these different sides are only my invention.
The river keeps flowing on.

May 22

The Spiritual Life

Life is spiritual.
The spirit is indivisible and it is also invisible.
It therefore does not satisfy man's craving to experience it, to possess it and to express it.
Therefore we see in him a savage compulsion to materialise this spirit.
This idolatry of matter is seen in our veneration of someone who is able 'to materialise things' by a wave of his hand.
But our own life is full of such materialisations; the whole world is the materialisation of the spirit.
All the machines and all the weapons have been immaterialised 'by a wave of someone's hand.'
It is this materialisation of the spirit that has prevented us from realising the spiritual nature of life.
The mind serves as the veil to hide the reality and promotes the worship of matter.
The mind is clever enough to conjure up, like an adept magician, false concepts and images of God, religion, love, peace and happiness, so that even in a moment of disillusionment we might not turn away from the unreal and discover the reality.
Only the greatest of spiritual heroes is able to discover this plot and to realise that these concepts or images are not only not the reality, but the greatest and most potent obstructions to the realisation of the reality which is pure and spiritual.
The spirit is never lost, though, in ignorance, it may be lost sight of.
It is forever waiting to be discovered.
Right from infancy we have been bombarded with concepts that have created divisions in our consciousness.
The infant's vision is pure.
Perhaps even the notion that there is an object external to itself has not arisen in it, because its own ego-sense has not been developed.
The parents strive to condition the infant's mind and call it 'training'.
The child is prevented from seeking to find its true identity by being forced to identify itself with this or that.
'I' am constantly pressurised into accepting as an incontrovertible fact that 'I am a man, an Indian, a brahmin ...'.
It hardly ever occurs to me that I am even a human being, leave alone the purest truth, that the spirit alone is real and 'I' am but a cell (a soul) in the cosmic body of the spirit which is the universe.
The direct realisation of the spirit which is indivisible is religion.
It is also love that is God.
That love is not partial, limited, contractual, nor is it the antithesis of hate.
It is the spontaneous manifestation of the already existing indivisible oneness which alone is the truth.

May 23

Religious Education

I once read in a periodical that in Russian schools the students receive religious instruction only once a week.
In many non-communist countries there is no religious instruction at all in schools.
They say they enjoy freedom of worship (religion); but the educational system is freed from religion.
In Mauritius, both religion and education receive adequate attention.
Education at all levels is free.
Twenty-five percent of the island's budget is directed to education - an impressive record, Religion is free from state control but not from state support.
A fine distinction, ably made and sustained by the wise leaders of the country.
Religious instruction is imparted in schools.
The Christian mission schools bear the names of saints.
Many of the Government Schools, too, bear names that inspire the students with ideals of service and self-discipline.
A Government Primary School and another Government junior Secondary School have both been named 'Swami Sivananda', after Gurudev.
The children in these Schools are becoming more and more familiar with Gurudev's supreme motto: 'Be Good, Do Good'.
Gurudev often proclaimed that these four words contained the very quintessence of all religions.
It is to learn those words 'by heart' (to inscribe them on the tablet of one's heart so that they become living truth) that young ones go to school.
If it was to study books and pass exams perhaps we should all go to school at a much later age!
Learning may be easier for adults, but self-discipline is almost an impossibility unless it is achieved earlier.
Self-discipline is not an imposition even by a teacher; though this does not mean that the teacher should tolerate indiscipline.
By precept, practice and, if need be, praise and punishment, the teacher should promote self-discipline in the young ones.
The best way to do this is of course to place before them the sublime ideals embodied in the great saints and spiritual heroes of all religions.
When the hearts of the young ones respond to the lives of the great, they will no doubt strive to be great, and a great nation with a great future is born.

May 24

Learn From the River

In India, rivers are considered holy.
Sages and saints lived on the banks of rivers.
They learnt from the river.
The river symbolised to them the unchanging change of phenomena - 'samsara'.
The river taught them that Truth is ever the same and yet never the same: it has to be discovered anew.
The ancient Truth has to be renewed today.
The river empties itself into the ocean and finds fulfilment; but the ocean replenishes it at its source.
The cycle of creation, preservation and apparent destruction does not alter the Infinite.
Even so, the religious spirit flows on as a perennial stream.
Its waters are the perennial philosophy.
Its designation changes in accordance with the language prevalent at different points on its bank.
The river in itself does not undergo any change; it is not more holy here than it is there.
Such distinctions belong to the stagnant pool of poisoned mind, not to the stream of the religious spirit.
The river is unfathomable and wide: 'this' side is samsara (bondage) and the 'other' side is nirvana (liberation).
It is not as if X side is bondage and Y side is freedom; irrespective of which bank you are standing on, the other side is freedom!
Freedom is freedom from that which you possess and are possessed by.
Freedom is freedom from that which you know, and have therefore limited.
Freedom is freedom from that which has conditioned your mind and distorted your vision.
When all this is abandoned and you dive into the river - neither caring whether you swim or sink, nor wishing for greater security than the swift flowing stream affords - then the other shore welcomes you and you are liberated.
Life flows on, thought flows on.
Let them.
When, during meditation, you watch the flow of the breath, you realise the mutual freedom of the breath and the witnessing intelligence.
Similarly, let life flow on.
Be a witness.
You will be free from sin and suffering, samsara and sorrow.

In deep sleep the ego strives to gain peace and happiness without striving - realising that they could not be had by striving in waking and dreaming.

May 25

The Inner Meaning

What is the meaning of all this singing and chanting, and the repetition of what you call a mantra?
This question seems to rise in the hearts of most people, particularly the educated ones.
If it is asked in a spirit of enquiry, it is the open door to enlightenment; but it is often spurred by cynicism and doubt, which close that door.
Sometimes it is raised by curiosity which is easily satisfied with words rather than truth.
"What is the meaning?" we are eager to ask.
But, can we understand the answer?
Can we recognise the truth or God or whatever these things point to?
Can we verify it by our own experience?
If you take a mantra (for instance Om Namah Shivaya), its meaning is not a description of what it stands for, etc. but what it is.
I repeat the mantra, at the same time contemplating the 'meaning' (the truth concerning it).
When I ask myself, "What is the meaning of 'Om Namah Shivaya'?" I observe the 'Om Namah Shivaya' sound within.
This observation creates a division within - between 'me' (the observer) and the 'Om Namah Shivaya' sound.
It is this division that thwarts all attempts to gain knowledge.
It creates likes and dislikes, love and hate, etc, and gets caught in the division and then enjoys and suffers endlessly.
As long as this division exists there is no knowledge; and in our social relationship as long as there is psychological division between 'you' and 'me' there is no understanding, no peace, no harmony and no happiness.
Then you learn to reframe the question: "Am I the producer of the 'Om Namah Shivaya' sound or am I the observer?"
The mind gets puzzled when confronted with this question.
And the question is reframed once again: "Who am I?" What is my relation with the mind?
Am I in it, or is it in me?
When this question arises spontaneously in the mind, there is great stillness, an inner silence.
In this silence alone can the answer manifest itself.
Verbal answer is no answer: it is a set of words, an image, a thought.
This image is not knowledge because it involves the inner division of the one into the observer and the observed.
The mind is locked with the question, unable to move, unable to know the answer in the conventional way, which is thought.
Beyond this, only He who is 'not-me' should give me the final push, enable me to cross the chasm that divides the known from the unknown.
Only the grace of God, Guru, Self, etc., can do this.

May 26

Sweeping Changes in Our Life

There was a time not so long ago that oriental (particularly Japanese) society was extolled for its moral values.
Some of the factors selected for special praise were a sense of duty among subordinate workers, respect for elders, reverence for teachers (religious and secular) and a national pride which enabled them to put national interests first and self-interest last in any situation.
(According to Press reports, all this is changing.)
Such a cultural tradition might indeed have prevailed all over the world; but in the East it survived a bit longer than in the West.
Perhaps industrialisation has something to do with it.
Perhaps literacy has something to do with it, perhaps socio-economic revolutions that have been sweeping the world this century have something to do with it.
Perhaps, too, such sweeping sweeps away some of the dirt that might have settled on the various cultures, besides marring their native beauty.
No system, no tradition, no belief is perfect and permanent.
They are all man-made, man-administered (mal-administered) and man-enforced; hence, they share his vagaries, foibles and hypocrisy.
However much we dislike a system, tradition or belief, however anti-establishment we might be, we find that the 'free' people soon establish themselves with a system based on a tradition in accordance with their (new) beliefs.
Hence, it is wise to recognise their inevitability and to remain vigilant lest the sweeping changes sweep us off our feet.
In Japan, in India and in other parts of the world, too, there is a vigorous movement to reassess the situation.
Two factors have been singled out for intense scrutiny - the only two that have been ever with us before all the revolutions, evolutions and 'isms' arose.
They are the parent and the teacher.
The report about school violence in Japan pinpoints four possible causative factors: working mothers neglecting children, small (nuclear) families in which there is very little interaction between young people, elitism among teachers and over-emphasis on academic distinction.
These are universal factors today.

May 27

The Meaning of Life

The problem that Lord Rama faced is one that engages the attention of all wise humans.
Given the inevitability of death and destruction as the forces operating in the world, is there any meaning to 'life', apart from the purposes we create for it, to fill the vacuum of ignorance?
No other question is relevant.
To be or not to be?...
There is no choice but to be.
To do or not to do?...
There is no choice but to do.
But what? What to do?
What the mind determines leads us nowhere.
For what is known as the mind (even what is called one's conscience) is a product of culture, tradition and acquired knowledge - all of which are divisive and hence conflict-ridden.
Can the mind itself be freed from all this? Of course!
By what technique or method?
Or is it by some sort of intercession?
Again we are looking away from the mind itself.
Hence there is either distraction or frustration in all our attempts to find the meaning of life: out of these attempts are the numerous philosophies born.
Can the mind learn to turn its attention upon itself?
If it does turn within, it instantly becomes aware of the endless series of factors which condition its movement and thus determine action; and such action is the author and the victim of the mess that life on earth is today.
This awareness is freedom.
It is not freedom 'from', but it is freedom to explore, to investigate life itself.
With this freedom it is possible to discover the truth concerning life, without ever producing another theory or philosophical system!
To sustain this awareness and thus the freedom which is indispensable for this investigation, there should be tremendous energy, and all that energy should flow in the single direction of the unexplored.
This is known as the religious life, brahmacarya or sannyasa, renunciation of the world, dedication to God.

May 28


Attachment is a very complex problem. Are there any techniques one can use to deal with it?
The technique which is usually suggested is what one might call transference rather than sublimation.
This is referred to in the Bhagavatam.
Attachment is bondage if it is directed towards your husband or children and so on; but the same attachment, when it is directed towards holy men, is conducive to liberation.
Though you may be attached to the holy man, the holy man is not so attached.
So, in that relationship the feedback that you get is one of non-attachment and hopefully (that's what they hope), one of these days you'll discover, "My God, this man is very affectionate, he is not indifferent, he doesn't hate me, but he's not attached to me. What is this magic?"
They hope that when you question thus you will find your way out of this silly thing called attachment.
But, that may not happen.
All these tricks and techniques that are given are ultimately useless because you are merely transferring your attachment.
I see that this attachment is non-existent and therefore there is no need to struggle against it at all.
I am alone, I was born alone, I will die alone and nothing, nothing, nothing in the world will do anything!
Even so, everybody is born alone and will die alone and will pursue their own course.
I cannot cling to them and there is no sense in my allowing myself to be clung to.
In the meantime, you and I are together - we can make our lives as pleasant and comfortable as possible.
As a matter of fact, if there is no attachment there is a greater joy in relationship.
There is no jealousy, no sense of possession, no clinging, nothing.
Whether you are my father or mother, my wife or husband, my son or daughter it's beautiful.
As long as we are together - which means as long as you want to stay with me and I want to stay with you - we can love each other.
But even then I realise that one day you will die, one day I will die.
When that is seen clearly, then there is no attachment.
The intelligence recognises that there is no attachment.
It is not a question of 'I should not be attached'.
'I should not be attached' is already an assumption that it is there and I have to get rid of it.
The direct perception or recognition that attachment is not there, is the only solution.

May 29

Self-fulfilling Prophesy of Doom

From the day the world was created there have been predictions of its imminent destruction.
Surely, it does not need a prophet to declare that all that is created must be destroyed.
But the way in which such doom is predicted is rather interesting.
Everyone who prophesies somehow reassures himself that he will be saved, and by extension all those that follow him!
The message is: "God is about to incarnate to protect the good and to destroy the wicked: we are sure to be protected, and we are sure that our enemies will be destroyed, because they are evil."
In most cases, the enemies are specifically mentioned and described as evil.
The inevitable result is the generation of fear, which the promoters of this campaign want.
Fear gives rise to hate of that which we fear.
Hatred leads to violence.
This violence is of course justified by the prophet who has already declared who the wicked are!
It is a self-fulfilling prophesy; and when a country and its peoples are specifically mentioned, the whole thing smacks of an open invitation to war and destruction.
When every created thing is inevitably proceeding towards destruction, what are we trying to protect?
The prophets have a quick answer: our civilisation, our culture, our nation, our religion, our way of life.
Such protective action is its own doom!
It is the 'protective action' (aggression) that divides the one family of mankind into two or more opposing camps.
Even if such action succeeds, it is unable to preserve that which it pretends to protect.
The world does not come to an end; what we cling to (our culture, etc.) will surely come to an end; our own earthly life, and that of our children and grandchildren will also come to an end naturally.
No one can protect you from death.
When this universal truth is realised, the prophesy of doom sounds puerile.
Life goes on: it knows how to take care of the problems as they arise.
When someone comes to you with the prophesy of doom, tell him: "It is all right; I may not live till then."

May 30

The Measure of Spiritual Progress

What is the spiritual impact of religious organisations?
What purpose do they serve?
Do they instantly eradicate all ignorance and evil, bring about peace and harmony, and transform sinners into saints?
Is such a radical change a push-button achievement?
If you look at the world you begin to wonder: what is the impact of even incarnations of God and spiritual luminaries who periodically appear in this world for the redemption of man?
Yet surely, light cannot but dispel darkness!
People are not all on the same level of evolution or the same plane of awareness.
The light of these luminaries enables all of them to see one step ahead.
He who was enveloped in the total darkness of ignorance (tamas) perceives the light.
He who was asleep bestirs himself to activity.
There is a burst of religious - including social and communal - activity (rajas).
This is an inevitable step.
Activity is like the light-switch; depending on the direction, it leads to enlightenment or darkness.
There is a danger here of egoistic, self aggrandising and even divisive dynamism; but then it is much better than ignorance and inertia.
However, it is extremely important that the torch-bearers of truth should at this point rigorously avoid being swallowed up by the swirling currents of destructive dynamism, and redouble their efforts to promote constructive dynamism.
Such constructive dynamism will promote social welfare while illumining our path to liberation from the ego (sattva).
Salvation is indeed for all, but only a few make it in every generation.
The others are not denied the blessings of the light.
Each one takes a step forward.
Whether it is a small step or a giant step forward depends on one's attitude to these spiritual luminaries.
Many regard them as great teachers: these are the peripheral devotees who look for some useful teaching to promote their own selfish welfare.
They, too, gain.
Few, very few, regard them as gurus: and these few are prepared to surrender themselves to the guru and obey the guru implicitly.
Such total obedience is the key to self-surrender or Self-realisation.
Perhaps great Masters like Swami Sivananda founded ashrams to discover who is a student and who is a disciple!

May 31

Living Truth

There is an extraordinary feature which applies to all of us.
It is possible that you are driven out of the house or job or something or the other, but you go on thinking about my wife, my children, my friends.
This word of two letters, 'my', has such dramatic potentiality that you are not prepared to accept that you are being kicked out.
They are still 'mine' and the mind goes on looking back, hugging the shadow.
But nobody is dependent upon you.
That's an absurd concept.
I have directly seen that these things are not mine.
They don't regard me as theirs, but I keep hanging on to them.
How is that?
I see that this is the danger in family life but yet the mind is not prepared to accept it.
It still hankers after the same old life.
They are still 'mine'.
Anything that is 'mine' must explode one of these days.
So when you use the word 'mine' remember that.
Is it possible for the mind to see directly without fuzziness or haziness, with great clarity, that as long as I treat this as 'mine', it will explode and destroy me?
On an occasion like this we often think we have understood.
That is not true understanding.
Theoretical understanding is one thing and converting it into living truth is quite another thing.
Here we think 'I' have understood, but it is merely a psychological game.
It does not become a living truth so easily.
When you see this living truth for a fact, then the action is instantaneous.
Until it is seen as a fact there is no action, but there is a terribly confused life.
Two minutes you are swimming this way, two minutes you are swimming the other way.
What is it that makes you swing like a pendulum?
One moment you want to give up everything and meditate for sixteen hours.
The next moment the mind thinks of something else.
That is our fate because we are gripped by this mysterious force called maya, which does not allow us to see the truth for what it is.
If I see a scorpion in my lap, it is impossible for me not to act immediately.
The seeing itself is action.
Such is the beauty of seeing the truth for what it is.
But in our case we think we see the truth and the danger in the sort of life that we are leading.
Because we are only thinking of this danger we also think that we can somehow fix it.
That is a confused mind.
It has no power to act and there is no action, only confusion.

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