Daily Readings

Insights Inspirations - June

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

Om Namah Shivaya

Om Namah Venkatesaya

June 1

Turn Within and See

Is the Practice of yoga a selfish practice?
One of the charges levelled against yoga and yogis is that "They are only interested in their own salvation, whereas we are deeply involved in bringing salvation to others."
We are always trying to serve one another without understanding the basis.
Are we trying to serve one another or are we merely trying to escape from the unpleasant task of looking within and finding out who and what we are?
That is the problem.
Without knowing who and what I am, how is it possible for me to help you?
I must know where I am standing before I can help you.
I must know if I have the capacity to do so before trying to help you.
Before saving someone who is drowning, are we sure that we are good swimmers?
If we are not sure that we are safe, it is impossible to save others.
In the light of this, it would seem that all this 'I save you' attempt is a distraction.
We don't want to look within because even an occasional glimpse is so horrifying that we would rather busy ourselves by 'saving' someone else.
Unfortunately, without Self-knowledge, saving another is impossible.
What is the Self-knowledge that the yogis are talking about?
How is it gained?
Is it a gain at all?
If so, then the accusation is valid.
If Self-knowledge is something which I acquire for myself, then you can say: "You are a selfish man".
But is this Self-knowledge something that is gained for oneself?
In order to answer this question, we must try to turn within and see what this Self-knowledge is.
Then you will see that the very striving for Self-knowledge promotes unselfishness.
Perhaps only when you turn within and try to find an answer to the questions: 'Who am I? What am I? Where am I standing?', will unselfishness arise.

Can I be established in peace?
I guess that is what we are looking for.
Though it should really mean you should realise that you are that peace!
It is when you try to hold an experience of peace and joy that it turns into its opposite.
All these experiences come and go.
We cannot hold them.
There is no need to hold the Self; you cannot get rid of yourself!
When this is clearly understood, there is no more struggle.

June 2

Neutrality in Conflict

When A and B - both of whom are your family members or friends - quarrel, what must you do?
If you side with one or the other, you are aggravating the situation, losing a friend and your own peace of mind.
The best advice in the circumstances is: "Be neutral".
Immediately this must be clarified: it is "Be neutral," and not "Do neutral".
There is a world of difference between the two.
To "do neutral" involves the politics of pleasing either or both, of playing safe, of fear of consequences and anxiety.
Neutrality is not a question of pleasing either or both the parties.
Neutrality is not the reaction to what one or the other of the parties to the conflict may say or do, or threaten to do.
When you feel that one or both the parties do not appreciate the fact that you are neutral, you are not being neutral!
Look within, within your own heart.
Are you neutral or do you wish to appear to be neutral?
And does this feeling not also imply that you feel that you are superior to both of them in as much as you are able to see their different points of view, whereas they do not know what a wonderful neutral person you are!
Neutrality is a quality of the mind and the heart, not a quantity of action!
"I am neutral; now what must I do?" is an absurd question.
If you are neutral, if the quality of neutrality fills your whole mind and your whole being, then you will immediately know what to do be neutral, not do neutral!
True neutrality is total freedom, but freedom is not an assertion of one's opposition to A or to B, and unwillingness to obey either.
And this total inner freedom is possible only when one ceases to judge.
Again, not feeling "Ah well, stupid people, let them fight."
One ceases to judge when there is love at heart.
Love does not need to be proved.
When affection, neutrality, freedom, etc. have to be proved, love is absent.
When you have to prove your neutrality, you betray fear.
If you are afraid, then you are not neutral - you are on the opposite side.
And therefore, you are the architect of disharmony, perpetrator of the conflict.
If you are aware of this, it drops from you: you are neutral, you are love.

What you say should not only be soft, but should not provoke others.

June 3

Dharma - The Good Life

How difficult it is to define the good life!
And yet, here is something where all the religions, all the prophets and saints of the world over are unanimous and insistent.
The good life is an indescribably glorious expression which we can inwardly experience, but not define.
In India the good life is referred to as dharma, which, again, is indescribable and grand.
It is virtue, goodness, social justice, the means to salvation and a hundred other elements mixed well together.
This word has been succinctly translated and explained in the following terse sutra: "That from which perfection and salvation are obtained is dharma."
The root-meaning of the word dharma is 'something which holds together'.
It is derived from 'dhr' - to uphold, to hold together.
When we put this root-meaning and the sutra together, we have a glimpse of the vast vista of the Good Life called dharma.
It holds everything together, not only in this world but in the whole universe.
It is the mysterious power in the universe that holds even the stars and planets together.
Here perhaps you have a glimpse of the highest meaning of dharma: it is equated to God.
Perhaps, there is no distinction between 'good' and 'God'.
The Good Life is the expression or manifestation of God.

June 4

The Darkest Hour is Before Dawn

Irrespective of what we do or do not do, dawn breaks after the darkest hour.
One might regret the darkness of this hour, but the dawn is always welcome.
In the Bhagavatam, the description of Kali Yuga (the present dark age) unmistakably points out that wealth will be the sole criterion and might will be the sole deciding factor.
It is surprising how exactly the description tallies with the present-day world and tomorrow's 'progress'.
Oppression of the weak by the strong is not new to this world; but the rate at which this curse is spreading is alarming.
The freedom of the individual applies only to the strong individual.
"Heads I win, tails you lose," says the strong man; and the weak one is free to toss the coin as high as he pleases!
The modern, mighty and machine-minded millionaire is a postmaster in camouflage, eager to find a scapegoat for every crime that he loves to commit.
In wars, the 'other nation' is the aggressor; in society, the non-conformist is immoral; in business, the poor victim is an incompetent fool.
He is always right and the others are always wrong.
Sometimes he is so thoroughly entrenched in his own views that the spirit of enquiry is totally absent in him, and he dismisses any other point of view as utterly stupid.
However, the Bhagavatam draws our attention to the silver lining that heralds the dawn.
It says: "Robbed of their wealth and women by greedy and merciless rulers behaving like robbers, people will resort to mountains and forests and subsist on leaves, roots, honey, fruits, flowers and seeds."
How marvellous!
In this universal chaos, there will always be some who will retain their sanity and discover the right remedy.
Such people are today found all over the world.
They are few in number.
In the East and West, they are the ones who turn away from the glittering nothing that we call wealth, from the corruption called progress, from the insanity called civilisation.
They live a natural life in communes, often in the mountains and the forests, sharing what they have with one another.
They are the pioneers of the New Age.
In the mountains life is not a bed of roses, and many of these good ones may fall by the wayside.
But the few that survive will have enabled Man to survive and will have rendered the greatest service to Humanity.

June 5

Behold! The Man

The problem with Man is that he is not Man.
What are the indispensable qualities of Man?
Integrity and sincerity.
Integrity and sincerity are not technical skills that can be acquired, but spiritual qualities that manifest themselves when the covering veils are removed.
Neither wholeness nor sincerity can be fashioned by human effort, it is human effort that veils them.
The man who tries to be sincere is insincere, however 'sincere' his efforts may be!
One who is sincere does not try.
This applies to integrity, too.
The self, the ego, veils the wholeness that remains forever untouched in the heart of all beings; the self is the flaw which the self itself endeavours to mask by inventing what appears to be clever systems and marvellous organisations.
These latter are twice removed from the truth which is beyond the self.
Integrity and sincerity come into being when this self immolates itself at the altar of the omnipresent God.
This is commonly regarded as the field of religion.
One may or may not believe in God or in what has come to be regarded as religion; but it is clear that as long as the self rules life there can be no peace, happiness, welfare, wholeness or sincerity.
It is not hard to see that where people are religious even in the common sense of the word, there is comparatively greater peace and harmony, happiness and prosperity.
Simplicity, goodness, integrity, sincerity and other divine qualities are gifts of God and cannot be acquired.
They make a man Man.
And they manifest when man surrenders the self in loving devotion to the divine.

Though anger comes into being in my relationship with others, the potential cause for anger exists in me.
Only flammable material is consumed by fire and not a big rock.
I must therefore learn to watch myself with utmost vigilance to discover what it is in me that is vulnerable to provocation.
The direct method from here on is to be ever vigilant and watchful for the least mental disturbance and, when the ripples of anger arise in the mind, to become aware of this phenomenon.
To be aware of it is the main thing, not 'To get rid of it'.

June 6

The Spirit of Education

Education is integral and should not be divided into the sacred and the secular.
The human being has obviously three aspects which are inextricably interwoven: body, mind and spirit.
Education is that which is able to bring out the best in each one of us.
To ensure that which is thus brought out is the best, education trains the moral and the intellectual faculties of man. None of these can be neglected without disastrous results.
We need secular education - the arts and the sciences (which is the form or the body of education).
Equally we need moral and intellectual training so that we are able to discriminate between the destructive and the constructive uses of technology.
Here again it is when the human heart attains maturity through moral training that we begin to see that our worst enemy is the 'me' (selfishness).
A truly mature and therefore educated person arises from this realisation.
It can therefore be easily seen that education is the surest means to the eradication of the ills and evils humanity is suffering from today.
When does such an education begin?
It is beginningless!
Hence it is a fresh beginning every day, every moment.
It is a spiritual adventure undertaken by the parent, teacher and student together.
None of the three has authority over the others, all of them being part of this maturing process.
All of them learn all the time from one another and from themselves.
In this spirit of co-operation there is no compulsion, no surrender, no suppression and no rebellion.
Education is the expression of whatever is best in man and the spirit of education is the focussing of attention within one's own heart to observe what is thus expressed!
Such observation is itself maturity.

When the part of the globe revolving on its axis turns away front the sun, there is darkness.
This is the greatest message which most of these oriental divinities have given us.
Krishna, Buddha, the wonderful Vedic sages have all proclaimed one Truth, that there is no such thing as 'eternal damnation'.
I am in darkness, not because the sun has set, not because the light has gone, but because I have turned away.
This inner light is there, it has always been there, it will never, never disappear.
But, I must turn towards it.
This turning towards the inner light is yoga.

June 7

The Uncompromising Imperative

The life of the school is the pupil.
Discipline is not merely conforming to a series of do's and don'ts, though these may be necessary in any society.
Discipline is a spiritual quality; it is the very spirit of life.
It cannot be imposed from outside; that will lead to the worst form of indiscipline, rebellion.
'Self-discipline' is an oft-used, much-abused term, rarely understood.
The children must 'inspire' discipline (to inspire is to breathe in).
To make this possible the staff must radiate discipline.
The children learn not only from the teachers at school, but from the parents and the entire community who influence the young in one way or another.
Only in an atmosphere of discipline will the young be inspired to discipline themselves.
My Gurudev Swami Sivananda reminded the young that they were the 'citizens of tomorrow' and exhorted them to inscribe on the tablet of their hearts the four words: Be good, do good.
But all these are likely to fall on deaf ears if the young do not see that the elders are exemplars of these values, or that they are making sincere attempts to grow in them.
We are living in dangerous times.
A little error might lead to a great loss.
Man is denied the natural (instinctual) wisdom of the animal.
Hence he 'learns by mistakes' and he 'values what he has lost or is about to lose' (like health, peace, freedom and affection).
There were times when it was possible to gamble with life. Not now.
An error now will end in irrecoverable loss.
The intelligent citizen realises that self-discipline is the only key to prosperity and security.
The disciplined leader inspires discipline in the people and the pupil.
Disciplined people constructively support the leader, realising that their strength is interdependent.
Self-discipline is the antidote to selfishness.
Only he who is unselfish can be disciplined.
Selfishness destroys discipline and thus life itself.
An unselfish person is a human being made in the image of God.
Such was Swami Sivananda: He not only taught but lived the divine life, a life of self-sacrifice and self-discipline.

We are asked to swim in this world - not to keep out of the water (we can't, we are already there), not to get drowned, but to swim.

June 8

The Life and Teachings of Gurudev Sivananda

In the countless books that Gurudev has written He has expounded the traditional doctrines, flavouring them with His own charm and simplicity.
They are meant to cater to the spiritual needs of all temperaments and capabilities.

In His own life, He exemplified the perfection that at once combined all the essentials of the different branches of yoga. Yoga means integration; and He emphasised integral yoga, thus underlining the truth that perfection is all-round perfection and not partial perfection.
Gurudev not only gave us text books on the different aspects of yoga and of the unique alchemy that transformed daily life into divine life, but He also showed by His own highly successful, dynamic, devout, mystic and enlightened life that the yogi is
a perfect administrator,
a perfect master,
a perfect karma yogi who does everything efficiently and in the right spirit,
a perfect devotee who lives a life of total self-surrender,
a perfect raja yogi whose life itself is continuous meditation and samadhi, and
a perfect jnani whose enlightenment is perfect and leaves no shadow of doubt.
Gurudev, Who was incarnate Love, did not demand that everyone should attain this perfection overnight; He recommended and taught a step-by-step approach to perfection.
His prescription for spiritual evolution is an expansion of consciousness in concentric circles.
The goal or the ideal is the summit; but it is the immediate next step that is vitally important to the pilgrim.
Gurudev saw no contradiction in the monistic, dualistic and pluralistic doctrines at all.
In our own daily lives we experience body consciousness, self-consciousness (as in dream) and unconsciousness in deep sleep.
It is possible to combine service (in body-consciousness), worship (in self-consciousness), and egoless meditation (in transcendental consciousness) at the same time.
Such was the message of His own life which was at once colourful, glorious and enlightened.
To contemplate it is to assimilate divine life.
May He guide us from within our own hearts.

June 9


How to get rid of fear?
But what is fear?
How do we observe and see what fear is?
There is no special technique, except to become like a child and experience the fear without labelling it as 'fear'. When the baby experiences fear it reacts to it spontaneously.
The baby does not cry, as it were, it is the fear that cries!
Later we are taught to identify the fear, to label it and then 'not to be afraid'.
This, however, does not mean fearlessness!
Even now we are afraid, but immediately we experience fear, we push that experience away and pretend that we are not afraid.
We are afraid, and we are afraid to express that fear!
Hence we are ignorant of fear.
All our fears and confusion are born of this ignorance.
Even when we turn within to look at fear as it rises, we are only looking at the label 'fear', which simultaneously rises to cover up the pure experience.
We continue to be ignorant.
If we understand this, and if we see how this ignorance stops us from this vital understanding, we shall drop the label (and with it the inhibitions and repressions that we were taught to cultivate) and come face to face with fear and realise its true nature.
Fear understood is fearlessness.

June 10

The Price and Prize of Education

Illiteracy is a curse.
Poverty is a curse.
Backwardness is a curse.
Any attempt to get rid of these curses is indeed laudable.
However, their removal demands greater skill than the heart surgeon's.
Otherwise, the humility of the illiterate peasant, the industry of the poor and the aspirations of the backward might yield place to the haughtiness of the lettered, the laziness of the rich and the complacency of the civilized!
Hence, education should result in self-control and discipline.
Both Gurudev Swami Sivananda and Swami Vivekananda emphasised character-building education.
A beautiful Sanskrit verse describes the following sequence:
"Knowledge (education) gives rise to right conduct (gentleness, humility and so on);
right conduct generates the requisite qualification;
the qualified and skilful earn wealth;
wealth is righteously utilised, and happiness follows."
Real education is not merely instruction in the three R's, but the construction within the student of the edifice of character which is edifying.
Such a construction within is naturally the work of the student himself (or herself.)
Externally imposed discipline leads either to rebellion or to abject conformism, both of which are destructive.
When the child's nature is exposed to itself, the child sees what is good and promotes it, and what is undesirable and drops it.
To bring out (educate) this sensitivity, the teacher (which includes the parents and the people around!) should also be sensitive and rightly educated.
Once this sensitivity is established, learning enriches the heart, mind and soul of a student.
That is the prize of education.
But the price is dedicated service of the children, in which the teachers, parents and the public participate.

June 11

Wealth: Blessing and Curse

Will it be possible for the Indians to improve the economy of their country with the help of the practical, all-uniting idea of yoga, one day?
This is not an isolated Indian problem, it is a global problem.
We are called Indians only outside India, especially where Indians are not very much liked or wanted!
Within India itself, all are not treated as Indians by one another - either they are South Indians or North Indians, Bengalis or Biharis, etc, till you come right down to 'my' family and 'his' family.
Hence we treat the 'Indian problem' as if it is the problem only for the Indians to worry about, and they that are not actually affected treat it as if it is the problem of only those that are actually affected - the poor, starving, suffering people.
This negligence in due course leads to violent and revolutionary changes.
Instead, if we cultivate 'humanity' and look upon all as human beings, sharing the problems of all human beings everywhere, there would be no hunger nor poverty, and perhaps there would be no wastage of food and subsidising of the farmer not to produce more food in other parts of the same world.
Yet, man will accumulate wealth and strive his utmost to obtain more.
My Gurudev, Swami Sivananda, once said, "Even sannyasis (swamis) need money nowadays."
Again, our scriptures insist that we should produce more food and more wealth.
Yet again, one is unable to resist the temptation to regard that 'earned' (often by exploitation) wealth as his own and to look with suspicion upon anyone who asks for a share of it.
Gurudev suggested the way out of this tangle: "Consider that you are only the trustee of the wealth that has been entrusted to you by God."
You are certainly not going to take it away with you when you leave this world!
So why make yourself and others miserable by hoarding it?
Do not bring in silly 'philosophical arguments' to support Your miserliness: e.g. "Charity promotes laziness,"
"Let him suffer the consequences of his own past evil actions (karma)."
Put yourself in the other man's position, sincerely and truly.
What would you expect? Compassion?
Be compassionate.
Turn accursed wealth into a great blessing by sharing it with all.

June 12


What is the cause of what we call evil thoughts and so on arising in us?
Aggression is frustrated craving.
Where craving arises, that craving itself becomes aggression, violence and hate.
The object is not the real cause of the craving arising; but the craving arises in me.
First I dismiss the illusion that there is an external cause and I begin to investigate the internal cause.
I see that I had a glass of champagne and I liked it.
When in the enjoyment of a certain object, I decide that it is pleasant, that experience leaves a mark on the mind.
In Sanskrit it is called samskara.
It is possible to translate it easily in English as 'some scar' - some scar is formed.
Then it is possible that if there is a glass of champagne in front of me, that scar starts itching.
Sometimes I only need to think about it and the scar comes to life I must have it.
If the scar isn't there, there is no craving.
The samskara is a bit dangerous.
It is possible when there is a reaction for me to take that reaction quietly, calmly, happily.
I can accept an insult or injury patiently and without reactions and that will be settled.
It is also possible that my action is not so strong as to create an influence, but the samskara is the risky part of it, for the samskara demands repetition.
The moment a favourable situation arises, the samskara wants to express itself again.
To say that by fulfilling a craving you are working it out, may not be right because every time you repeat this experience, the samskara gets stronger and the craving becomes even more intense.
Is there a method which avoids both the suppression and the expression at the same time?
Suppression leads to explosion and expression strengthens the samskara.
We should find another method by which the samskara can be diffused: that is to go to the root of the problem, which means deep contemplation.
It is the mind that calls an experience 'pleasure' and runs after it.
If I can see the process taking place now, I have seen the whole thing.

June 13

On Aggression

Aggression is a pervasive evil in the world.
It has very many other names - war between nations and social violence of one group against another (these two categories often pass for defence of present or future aggression), competition and rivalry in business as also in sports and education (these two categories are linked with our concepts of success and progress), domination either by one group of people over another (which is considered necessary for the survival of one or the other) or by one person over another (at home and at work, where it is known as discipline, duty, obedience, order, etc).
In one's own behaviour it is noticeable as a superiority (or a masked inferiority) complex which consciously or unconsciously invents reasons why such domination is essential.
Such reasons are considered scientific when the polluted mind observes 'nature' and of course sees that even in the animal kingdom (the word 'even' suggests their superiority over the human being!) aggression and the spirit of domination prevail.
Such rationalisation itself is the symptom of aggression and its perpetuation.
Condemnation of aggression is aggression, too.
It does not go away by 'fighting' it (an absurd paradox) either within oneself or in the external world.
Expressing the aggression produces the world in which we live today.
Suppressing the aggression leads to psychological explosion which must eventually lead to the most
violent expression of such aggression.
When aggression is neither suppressed nor expressed, it comes into sharp focus of the inner intelligence which is then able to understand the nature of aggression.
In the inner light, aggression is seen for what it is: the deluded ego-sense which struggles to protect the shadow at the expense of the substance.
It is a thought, a notion, for it obviously does not exist in deep sleep when aggression is absent, too.
When the fictitious nature of the 'me' is discovered in the inner light, aggression comes to an end.
There is love.
Love alone is.
God is love.
Love is God.
Premaiva satyam.

June 14

How to Love God?

How to love God in all?
How to ensure that I love you, not as you - because immediately there is going to be a cause.
Only if I love God who is omnipresent can this motivation be kept aside.
How to love you as God?
I must love, and I cannot love an abstract being; so if you prevent me from worshipping an image or a symbol of God, then I will worship something else.
It may be a girlfriend, money, power or position, film stars or soccer stars.
There is this emotional aspect which is pumping, jumping, in order to find an expression.
One must be very careful in dealing with it and channelling it Godward.
Prayers, japa of a mantra and worship were evolved in order to bring about one little experience of the love of God.
Swami Vivekananda once remarked that Man has never worshipped anything but an image.
You cannot worship the Omnipresent Being.
If some have done, that it is only because in their previous incarnations they adopted the other techniques and methods and had trained themselves.
We might use some image, some idol or some symbol which represents God and through which we might train our emotional being to experience love of God.
If this does not appeal to us, we might land in unpalatable soup, because there is an emotional aspect in us and it demands expression.
If I had that single experience of the love of God, then it is possible for me to love each one of you - all beings - as the manifestations of God.
Again a word of caution.
This, which may be called idol worship or image worship, is meant as a sample to lead me on to this cosmic love.
The love of one is merely a stepping stone for the love of all, not to be treated as an isolated experience.
Even so, if I go to a church or the temple in order to worship God there, it is not to be mistaken for bhakti.
Love of God is not to be confined to the church or the temple, to the image, to an ashram or meditation room, but it is meant as a sample which should be tasted and experienced everywhere, in all my relationships.

June 15

Love All

Love is merely the expression of the unity that already exists between us.
If that is not realised, there is no love.
It seems to be difficult for me to love another without a motivation, and if love is motivated, it is a motivation and not love. Can I love you as long as I have the feeling that you are another?
You and I exist as separate beings, but we are one in God.
Only that feeling or understanding can enable us to love one another.
Loving one another in other contexts is fraught with danger and frustration, because if I love you and you do not reciprocate, I am frustrated, I am mad.
Even murders take place in such a context!
So, I must love you, but I must love you as God, then the emotional aspect of my personality must also be brought in to participate in this total yogic process.
That is called bhakti.
Now the problem is: how to love you, and not to love 'you' but to love 'God in you', or recognise that we love one another because we are one in God.
It is then that your emotional aspect can be trained properly to integrate the rest of your personality in yoga.
It is possible for some to rise instantly to the 31st-floor by recognising the omnipresence of God.
To many of us it may not be so easy, and therefore the wise sages introduced innumerable rites and rituals, methods and techniques to awaken in us this love of God.
As someone very beautifully said: "In order to love all you must learn to love one."
I must love one in order to experience what love means so that I may love all, but usually I love this one and I feel quite satisfied with it.
Then I am imprisoned.
Love cannot be confined in that way.
It has to break all bonds and express itself in innumerable ways towards all beings on earth.

Love for God can be likened to a piece of iron attracted to a magnet.
God compels us, at a certain stage, to love Him as He loves us.
It does not depend upon our will to yield or not to yield; it depends upon God.

June 16

See God in All

We have all said that God is omnipresent since beginningless time.
We have interpreted it in different ways.
If God is omnipresent, it naturally means that God alone exists.
Then we are faced with the problem: 'What about me? Am I also God?'
Even that does not seem to be difficult to reconcile with the teaching.
But it does seem to be difficult to reconcile the teaching with what we consider as 'evil'.
So we interpret it in this way: "God is everywhere; in a way, I am also God.
But that wicked man cannot be God."
This is where we are caught.
One cannot theorise this.
One has to see the Truth.
Then it is possible to understand what is meant by 'God is omnipresent'.
If you ask the question: "Who is a saint or a yogi or a sage?"
The simple answer would be, "Anyone whose life is a commentary on the Truth that 'God is omnipresent'."
Such a person was Swami Sivananda.
His whole life was a prayer.
His whole life was an affirmation of the Omnipresence of God.
In God's Omnipresence He was also God.
He used to say: "See God in all".
Surely, if God is omnipresent and I am not seeing God in all, there is some error.
Where is the error? How do I remove this error?
Because, if I pretend to see God in all, I am not seeing God in all really and truly.
Yet since this truth has been declared by a holy man, something deep within us says that it must be true. Therefore, if there is a defect, it is in me, in my vision, in my perception.
I start from there.
I hear the truth from a holy man.
Intellectually it seems to be true.
But yet, there is something within me which doesn't accept that it is true.
I must then examine this division within me.
Without hypocrisy, I must work towards the integration of my vision.
It may be easy or it may be difficult.
What makes it easy?
It's easy to answer: "God's Grace," because we don't know what God's Grace means!
Why is it difficult?
Because of my ego.
The answer again shows that I don't know what my ego is.
The difficulty is my ego and if I know what my ego is, I could just take it and throw it away.
So we do not know what God's Grace is, we do not know what the ego is.
We only know that there is this division within and that it is difficult to overcome, but not impossible.
Therefore I must constantly work with this difficulty.
That is yoga.

June 17

Omnipresent Love

We often say "God is Omnipresent," and " God is Love," without realising what it means!
God created the earth: our dwellings are made of earth.
God created the wind, it sustains us as air, and as cyclone it brings destruction.
God created fire which cooks our food but burns everything.
Even so with water.
Yet, who would want water to burn, fire to freeze, stones to fly and wind to be still?
God dwells in all; and God is Love.
We do receive this love from all, without any exception whatsoever.
God's love flowing through fire is warm; God's Love flowing through snow is cold.
The form the love takes may appear to be different, but the difference is created and then perceived and experienced by the limited mind.
God dwells in all and God is love.
It is good to realise this.
Your friend's friendship, your husband's or wife's love, your rival's jealousy, your servant's devotion, your enemy's hate, the saint's goodwill and the neighbour's ill-will - all of them without exception, are really and truly the manifestation of love which is God.
When we see it, we also see that it cannot be otherwise.
Fire cannot freeze and snow cannot cook our food: it cannot be otherwise.
God is Omnipresent and God is Love.
Whatever we get from each one is exactly as it is: the Love of God manifesting through that personality. It cannot be otherwise.
When we realise this, we rise above reaction and retaliation.
We realise that it is so.
This is God-realisation.
Rationalisation sees at least two alternatives and picks one: it is uncertain.
Realisation sees that it is as it is: there is no alternative!
There is absolute certainty.

June 18

The Path of Love

Bhakti has often been taken to mean mere emotionalism.
Crying, jumping, dancing, fainting and such other abnormalities have often been mistaken for true devotion.
We often forget that though sages may behave like mad men, mad men are not sages!
We should know the genuine and the spurious.
Otherwise, we shall regard bhakti as a mere riot of emotion.
It is not.
Worship of an image of God, singing of kirtans, repetition of the Divine Name, etc. all have their places in our sadhana. But we should not forget that the goal is realisation, not imagination.
Here, again, as in karma yoga, it is the inner attitude that matters, not the amount of money spent in the worship.
The symbolism of the worship should not be forgotten.
As we grind the sandal-paste, we pray to Him to bestow upon us forbearance, to do good to even those that do evil to us, even as the sandalwood gives fragrance to the man who cuts it and grinds it.
As we offer flowers at His feet, we should feel that we offer all actions as flowers of worship.
As we wave the incense before the Lord, we should inwardly feel that He is all-pervading as the scent of the incense pervades, though imperceptibly, the entire room.
As we wave the single faced lamp, we should feel that we adore the Lord with the inner Self or Soul.
Similarly, the three-faced lamp represents the three bodies, the three states of consciousness and the three gunas; and the five-faced lamp represents the five pranas, the five organs of action and the five organs of knowledge.
Through all these we adore the Lord.
When the multi-faced lamp is waved we should feel that we adore Him with all our thoughts and emotions.
With the camphor, we should melt and pray to Him that our individual personality may thus merge in Him.
It is the bhavana (inner attitude) that ultimately blossoms as anubhava (actual experience) in due course; and it is all important in bhakti yoga.

June 19

Idol Worship

Idol worship should lead us on to meditation on the Absolute.
Without the first step of idol worship, meditation on the Absolute is almost impossible.
And, if we do not extend the frontiers of divinity beyond the idol, we may get stuck there.
Hence, even in the method of worshipping idols, our ancient Seers had introduced elements of adorations of the Nameless and the Formless - in fact, they emphasised that we should superimpose the qualities of the Absolute on the idol.
Again, they declared that mental worship of the chosen deity was superior to gross external worship, and that para puja (a way of adoring the Omnipresent God through all our thoughts, words and deeds) was superior to all other forms of worship.
The sincere aspirant realised always that he could not get anywhere on this path without the help of an idol to fix his mind on.
The idol also provided a concrete Form of God on which he could pour out the devotion of his heart, to which he could pray, and on which he could lean in times of stress and strain, trials and difficulties.
He found great relief from tension, worries and anxieties when he had a 'tangible God' to whom he could talk!
The Omnipresent-Divinity which was of course present in that idol too, heard his prayer and granted it.
When the concentration grew intense, the power latent in that idol was revealed; and thus we have stories of the great mystics who could 'see' God in and through the idols.
Let us not forget: God who is Omnipresent, is in the idol too, and He Who is Omnipresent can reveal Himself in any Form to the devotee.

June 20

End to Dualism

There is a state where dualism comes to an end, a state which transcends the dualistic notions of happiness and unhappiness.
The yogis call that state bliss or ananda, a state of pure awareness which is not aware of the other.
Ordinary happiness depends upon something else - the other and the other will inevitably go away.
If I say, "I am happy, " it implies that yesterday I was unhappy and I fear that my happiness may not last till tomorrow.
Happiness that depends upon the other is an escape, but if I am happiness itself, that happiness is forever.
It is my nature and because it has not arisen, it will never set.
The one who is able to 'enjoy life' is also able to create his own unhappiness.
The mind which creates happiness will also create unhappiness.
It is the yogi's endeavour to retain pure inner awareness which is not aware of another.
This does not allow dualism to arise.
Pure awareness does not need to confirm that it is aware.
When confirmation is demanded, I create the other.
Fire does not look for a hot water bottle; confirmation of warmth is not necessary.
That confirmation creates the other and the whole dualistic experience arises.
Thought arises, and bliss is reduced to happiness or pleasure.
It is at this point that the yogi steps in and cautions, "Beware, that happiness will go away!"
The moment I become aware of this, the outward flow is reversed.
Awareness which was flowing towards the other, flows back towards me.
Awareness that was externalising itself, flows within, towards the centre.
When I loved 'you', I was happy, but when I find that love within, I am supremely happy.
It is not the other whom I love, but I am love itself.
It is when I project this love on another that selfishness, expectation and sorrow arise.
The heart in which love shines, which is aware of itself without being aware of the other, with no necessity for that love to flow towards another in a dualistic relationship, that heart is unselfish and divine.
There is nothing in that heart but love, love which does not project but radiates to everything in the universe.

June 21

What is Prayer?

One thing that is practised universally is some sort of worship.
When I love God I want to express my love directly.
I think more and more people should learn to approach the divine directly.
Prayer, chanting and singing are possible.
You can learn to chant in your own way, using your own formula, singing in your own way.
In the case of chanting it is the feeling that counts.
The prayer can be in any language, in any tune and said in any way you like, but what is prayer and how does one offer a prayer?
Both for prayer and chanting it is good to create a certain atmosphere.
Theoretically it should be possible for you to pray in a supermarket; but the environment helps, so that here it is better to make use of the mind's own weakness of working on the basis of association.
So when you want to pray or meditate, use a certain room or a certain portion of your room and don't use that spot for anything else.
So that the moment you go there, the mind already says "Prayer time".
Chanting is very useful and very powerful.
While we chant we are merely invoking the presence of God; and if there is a feeling of devotion, it is possible to experience when this presence is actually felt.
It doesn't happen always, but when it happens it's very clear.
That is what we are looking for in prayer or in devotion.
It happens fairly easily while chanting.
If you use one of those hymns that the great saints have used, there is some inspiration in it.
It has got its own association, its own power or Shakti.
In prayer or in chanting the idea is for the ego, the self, to melt away.
If at the same time you are praying for something, then the self wakes up again, it becomes strong.
Therefore prayer, if it is to be really effective, must be unselfish.
Again it is the brain, the intellect, that interferes.
The intellect can support the heart by realising that if there is a need, God knows it already.
Knowing this, the mind or the intellect does not clamour for this or that and the prayer is just prayer, merely to feel the presence of God here.
In other words the prayer is: "God you are omnipresent, let me feel your presence, let me experience your presence here."
That is probably easier for me to experience in a temple or in an image of God, but once I have experienced it there, it is not difficult for me to experience it everywhere.
That is when one's whole life becomes yoga, karma yoga.

June 22

Tension Means No Peace Of Mind

There is this mansion of peace within us.
The key is prayer.
Prayer is the centre of all religious practice, but the modern man has an intense dislike of prayer.
The fault is not entirely his.
The 'devout' have turned praying into preying!
We do not pray to Him - we prey upon Him.
We regard God as a Christmas tree, with all sorts of gifts hanging round - and we hurry to grab them, lest our brethren should get there before us!
What foolishness and ignorance.
Why should we beg for food from God, our Parent?
Work for it!
Why should we pray for prosperity?
Work for it.
Why should we pray for health?
Live a clean life.
Why should we pray for a holiday in heaven?
If we are good to our neighbours and charitable we shall get it.
Why waste prayer on these childish ends?
Prayer is the key to the domain of peace within.
It involves a twofold confession:
(1) The individual is powerless against the undivine forces within which disturb the peace and stir the animal instincts into activity.
(2) The indwelling Divine Presence is full of power, the light of divinity, wisdom and peace.
Hence, prayer is an invocation of that Divine Power to take hold of or flow into and transform the individual personality.
More than even this, our prayers should be practical.
They should be translated into our daily life.
We often pray for Light and Wisdom, but revel in darkness and bestiality!
We should also recognise that God is Infinite, and cannot be accommodated in a small heart.
Our heart should expand and we must wish well for all and translate this wish into a practical life of selfless service and charity.
Then the prayer becomes effective.
Such prayer opens the gates to the inner chambers of peace.
Only he who prays regularly, who lives a selfless life promoting the happiness of all and who delights in the happiness of all can be at peace within.
Only he can be truly happy for there is no happiness for the man without peace of mind.

June 23


Prayer is not only a religious exercise.
Prayer is resorted to by people all over the world, in all walks of life, for all sorts of reasons, with all sorts of motivations.
Prayer in that sense covers requests, pleading, begging and such other means of one person gaining something from another person.
"I pray, will you tell me this?"
"Pray do this for me."
We use such expression very often in life.
When it comes to prayer as a religious exercise, one has to understand the three vital elements involved in it: who is it that prays? to whom is the prayer addressed? what is the prayer itself - or what are its motivations and goals?
For if once again, even in the religious field, we use prayer as a means of fulfilling our selfish or self-centred ends, then the prayer becomes an extension of the numerous selfish activities that characterise our lives and that inevitably bring us greater and greater sorrow and restlessness.
I go to a powerful person, I pray to him that he may employ me, hire me, and from there on I become his slave.
I go to a prosperous person, wealthy person, pray for a gift; then I am indebted to him for the rest of my life and therefore, once again I become a slave.
And these are terribly unpleasant forms of prayer because they generate in me, immediately, a sense of dependence, a slave mentality, fear and therefore hate.
If prayer in religion also implies our prayers for the fulfilment of our selfish ends being addressed to God or gods, we are merely extending our slavishness to the sphere or the realm of the invisible and therefore the dependence, the fear and the hate will continue.
Perhaps prayer in the religious sense has a very different connotation.
In order to understand the religious importance of prayer, it is essential that we should become aware of the nature of the three elements in prayer: who it is that prays, to whom the prayer is addressed and what the motivation is and therefore what the prayer is.
One who endeavours to find an answer to these three questions enters into the state of prayer which is deep meditation.

June 24

The Fountain Source of Prayer

From where does prayer spring?
I am praying - to whom? To God.
What is God?
"I think that God is..." etc.
The rest of the sentence is unimportant. I think God is...
So I am praying to a concept or an imaginary being that I myself have put together from descriptions I myself have gathered over the years!
I am not saying that therefore prayer is useless.
Prayer is a vital part of religious exercise.
So, without entering into speculation concerning who that God is, can we look into this religious exercise which we call prayer?
One consideration may also help in getting rid of idle speculation and that is this: if I am praying to God and if God is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient, as I have been taught, then immediately I realise the prayer is a silly waste of time!
God who is omniscient knows it already; God who is omnipotent is capable of dealing with all the problems without my having to intercede.
So all that is irrelevant.
I pray. Who do I pray to?
I recite the following prayer:
"Om sarvesam svasti bhavatu,
sarvesam shantir bhavatu,
sarvesam purnam bhavatu,
sarvesam mangalam bhavatu."
An interesting feature in this prayer is that it does not specifically declare the entity to whom this prayer is addressed.
"May all be happy,
may no one suffer,
may no one be unhappy,
may all enjoy health."
That is a wish. I am expressing the wish.
Who am I talking to?
If I do not want to enter into any speculation whatsoever, the one person who immediately hears this prayer is myself.
Perhaps if we realise the beauty in that, the prayer becomes living.
I am not suggesting that I am praying to God, "Oh God, make everybody happy - so that I dutifully create more and more unhappy people for You to do Your job"!
It is God's job to promote everybody's happiness and peace, and in order to make His omnipotence worthwhile, I go on creating trouble in society.
That's not the spirit at all!
When these words are uttered, the first person who hears the prayer is myself.
I am suggesting to myself, I am praying to myself, "May all be happy," - which means I should not make anyone unhappy, and, if possible, I should work for the happiness, peace, health and prosperity of everyone I come into contact with.
That seems to be the very essence of prayer.

June 25

The Only Prayer

The mind is impotent, irrelevant.
It is only when this truth is realised that life becomes meaningful, otherwise there is no meaning in life.
This is one error we commit.
Another error is when we make ritual an end in itself.
Chanting, ritual and all this is marvellous, but when we keep on doing them meaninglessly and senselessly, they are useless and a waste of time, effort and life.
We think that this puja I am conducting itself is going to save us.
It will not save you.
Nothing will save you.
We should pray to God for only one factor in our lives and that is the enigmatic and almost impossible problem we are faced with: "What is this 'mineness' and how do I deal with it?"
Something tells me it is not true, and yet life tells me it is very true.
From moment to moment my life and peace of mind are destroyed by this.
Other things are rational: I don't have to pray to God to give me my daily bread, it is there in the kitchen.
I can go and eat it.
I don't want to pray to God for wealth, that's easy.
The only thing that is difficult (if not impossible) for us, because we are bound hand and foot to reason, logic and thought, is how to deal with the mind which defies reason.
I can easily solve the problems of my son, my wife, but even if I have solved all that I am still caught up in this one insurmountable obstacle, 'I am this body', or 'This body is mine'.
So then we sincerely pray - to God or to illusion itself, maya "I cannot understand this, please save me".
"Save me" in that context only means see if there is some way of destroying this mineness.
Almost all other prayers are unnecessary, irrelevant and don't make sense.
It is when something within you sees this, that you really and truly realise that God is omniscient.
It is then that you can also from the very bottom of your heart say with Jesus Christ, "Not my will, but Thy will be done."

June 26

The End of Prayer

If belief in God comes into this religious exercise called prayer, then we might suggest to ourselves that the prayer entering into the ears of the person who is offering the prayer reaches the heart of God who dwells within the heart of the praying devotee.
It amounts to the same thing, but it is better to avoid speculation because if the praying devotee believes that the prayer is addressed to another person, then he does not take responsibility for the prayer.
He is not involved in the prayer at all and therefore he can behave most hypocritically.
He says, "May all be happy," and after having voiced this prayer he goes out and fights with someone else the next minute, because the prayer was not addressed to himself.
This, I believe, is the most vital aspect of prayer.
Either way, whether one believes that the prayer is offered to the divine that is seated in one's own heart or one enquires into the source of the prayer itself within oneself, it is inevitable that one should come face to face with the fundamental motivations.
Prayer, being a religious exercise endowed with certain potencies and purity, when it detects selfishness, self-centredness, passion, greed and craving, has the power to eliminate all these within oneself.
If one thinks: "I am praying that everyone may be happy; that everyone includes me," then selfishness loses its meaning and greed loses its charm.
One knows that the omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient Divine will fulfil all needs without the necessity for greed.
When such selfish activity has come to an end within oneself, the self also ceases to be an intruding factor and the heart in which the self does not stir as an intruder is a temple of God, God Himself.
When you reach that point, you are in holy communion with the Divine.
That is the end of prayer.

June 27

Indiscriminate Discrimination

Prayers are prayers addressed by man to God!
Why do we label them Hindu prayers, Muslim prayers or Christian prayers?
The language is different, but the content, the message, is the same.
We use even these words - Hindu, Muslim, Christian indiscriminately.
Out of these our mind fashions images, masks.
These masks then collide, bringing about disharmony, conflict and violence.
Someone defined Hindu as one who has banished 'himsa' (violence) from his heart.
A Muslim is one who has surrendered himself to God.
A Christian is one who loves God and loves his fellowman.
Three words whose meaning is identical, if you are sincerely looking for the meaning and not for the excuse to distinguish yourself from the other and to distinguish yourself above the other!
Such indiscriminate discrimination is a sign of ignorance.
But what is ignorance?
It is not an object or an entity which is supposed to obstruct our vision.
Ignorance is a type of knowledge that tells us that we are looking in the wrong direction or through wrong glasses which pervert our vision.
(Hence it is denoted by the negatively worded a-vidya or a-jnana in Sanskrit.)
We are looking: but not in the right direction and in the right perspective.
We do not bother to 'meet' a brother-seeker professing another faith; and even if we do meet him, we look at him and his faith through the glasses of prejudice and indiscriminate discrimination.
If we abandon this we might still see the distinguishing characteristic of 'our' faith, without even wishing to distinguish ourselves or consider ourselves as superior or inferior!
Allah in Arabic is God in English and Isvara in Sanskrit.
The words are different, the languages are different, the spelling is different: but they connote the one Truth.

June 28

Do You Want Happiness? Give It!

A young American friend said to me, "I need love, lots of it, to make life worth living." Quite so.
But this love is within yourself; hence the eyes close and the mind turns inward when you are in the presence of your beloved or your God (in the temple or in your meditation).
The external 'source' was but a provocative agent.
He, she or it lifted the lid covering the inner fountain-source: and love flowed - from yourself, towards the other person - and you thought it came from the other person!
Not only you, everyone in the world needs love: you have it only when you give it.
We have all heard and we have all said a million times over that everyone seeks happiness in this world; and the holy ones have reminded us again and again that that happiness is within us, not in the external world or objects.
That is what Yoga or Self-realisation or God-realisation is about.
It is possible to look at this question from another angle, as follows.
I seek happiness. So does my neighbour.
If I think that my happiness lies in his (or her) doing what I want, so does his happiness lie in me doing what he (or she) wants!
It is at once plain that if happiness is mutual, giving it is easier, more practicable and less of a problem than demanding it.
One can certainly go on from there and learn to be happy in making others happy, in giving happiness to others, to all.
But this giving must be truly giving and not a forced or a hypocritical giving, with one eye screwed on what it brings.
Even here, the happiness that one seems to 'get' from outside is truly within oneself and the person who makes you happy helps you in an indirect way to find it.
When you discover that you are happiness then you constantly give happiness and thus you are never unhappy.
Love and happiness can only be given out, and this is possible only if you are love and happiness.

June 29

To Reach Beyond Self

Wise men all over the world realise that any religion worth the name must take every man and woman beyond the self.
To talk of 'brotherhood' within the different and often divergent religious folds is to sow the seed of discordance and disharmony.
Many of the religious leaders of the world unknowingly and unthinkingly (and therefore unwisely) commit this grave error: when, for instance, Mr. X risks his life to save Mr. Y, the religious leader might say, "What a noble example of Christian charity!"
Very true indeed, and the remark is entirely justified.
Perhaps even he did not intend to imply that such charity is not to be found in the practice and percept of other religions: but alas, the mis-leaders who profess to follow the religious leader interpret the statement to imply such comparison and such condemnation.
There is no doubt whatsoever that such perversion is the work not of the religious person, but of the utterly irreligious person.
It is also true that such an irreligious person is capable of perverting anything that the religious leader might say or do - even to the ludicrous extent of exclaiming, "Behold, my leader says that all religions are the same; he respects all holy men; and therefore he is superior to all others and all the others are knaves and fools," without realising that thereby his irreligiousness does incalculable harm to his own leader.
It is therefore good that every true and sincere religious leader all over the world should hold up 'human brotherhood' at every turn, at every opportunity.
This human brotherhood transcends the self even in its most extended form as a religious community or community of religious people.
Beyond the limited self is the infinite in which all distinctions dissolve.

June 30

The Secret of Harmony

When a wife (or a husband) is interested in yoga or a spiritual life, and the spouse is not, and so resents it, what should one do?'
Naturally, it is good to realise that "You asked for it!"
You chose to get married; you loved and still love your spouse, and you want this harmonious relationship to continue.
Otherwise, the question does not arise.
Millions of marriages break up on other (and flimsier) grounds, but it becomes a real problem particularly to those interested in a spiritual life, whose conscience is awake and questions one's actions and motives.
When the conscience is asleep, the mind rationalises everything with the greatest of ease.
In any relationship there is some interaction - give and take.
Sooner or later expectations build up.
One's reasonable expectations are considered unreasonable demands or compulsion by the other.
But we do see that we serve one another anyway - either feeling compelled to do so, or as a duty, or out of love.
Is it not possible, then, to do whatever one does, out of love?
Yes, it is. Why not?
We do what we do because we love the other person - and because we wish to be love, incapable of violence - not with a desire to please the other.
It is not possible to please all - not even a spouse - always.
When you try to please another there is no love in you but a lot of effort.
Moreover, all this may raise the expectation still higher, bringing displeasure closer!
Hence the yogi practises ahimsa (non-violence).
If you eradicate all violence, all wrong motivations, and all expectations from your heart, you will be love.
Expectation is violence.
To resist expectation is violence, too.
But it is possible to refrain from expecting that the spouse should not expect you to do what he or she expects you to do.
Being a yogi, it should be easier for you to understand the other!
Otherwise, what sort of yogi are you?
Must you always fulfil everyone's expectations? Can you?
When you can, you will.
If you cannot, but if you are a yogi full of love, the other person will surely understand.
Well, there will always be some who will not! So what!

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