Daily Readings

Insights Inspirations - July

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

Om Namah Shivaya

Om Namah Venkatesaya

July 1

True Freedom

Guru means 'light'.
God, Guru and the inner reality or Atman are synonyms.
That inner light is nameless and formless.
It is the limitation of our own vision that sees that light as a form.
The form of the Guru is the manifestation of the Grace of God, the light of lights.
Only grace can thus condescend to descend to our level and appear to us in a form that is easy of our comprehension.
In fact, that which dispels the shadow of the 'me' is the light, the Guru.
In the very silent presence of the guru, ignorance is dispelled.
Words are distracting, disturbing and unnecessary superfluity.
Yet again the Grace of the Guru supplements non-verbal communication with verbal communication, because we are deaf to the enlightening eloquence of silence.
The Guru is the light of God that has assumed a human form, by the Grace of God, in answer to our own inner aspiration and prayer.
That light dispels the haunting shadow of ignorance, which is the 'me'.
Only that which is beyond the 'me' (the Guru) can know how and when this has been achieved.
The 'me' does not disappear easily.
It is capable of creating its own delusions even of enlightenment, liberation or nirvana.
Therefore, the Guru adopts suitable means for the eradication of this 'me'.
The Guru's behaviour and teaching may even appear contradictory: that is the way in which He deprives the 'me' of all support.
Hence, the scriptures warn: "Do not look into the merits or the demerits of the commands of the Guru. Obey implicitly."
It is often the inner tyrant (the self) that demands freedom from external authority and determines what that freedom means.
True freedom is freedom from self which is realised to be nonexistent in the light of the inner Reality, which is the Guru.
It is the awakened intelligence that realises this inner Reality.
This awakening of the inner intelligence (or chit-Shakti) is Shakti-pata.
One who brings about this awakening is known as the Guru.
However, this Shakti-pata does not take place unless there is self-surrender; until the disciple has come to the end of his own resources and is able to approach the Guru humbly in total devotion (which is of the heart and not of the intellect), and to establish a channel of direct communication by means of loving and devoted service to the Guru.
It is when the disciple learns to listen to the Guru 'with the ears of his heart' that the Guru is able to transmit the highest truth direct to the very heart of the disciple.

July 2

Dharma and Salvation

By holding people together, dharma promotes prosperity.
We are no longer selfish and narrow, bigoted and egotistic.
We love one another; we serve one another; we promote the welfare of all and each other.
Thus is the prosperity of mankind ensured by dharma.
Dharma holds the different aspects of our own personality together.
The man who leads a life of adharma (opposite of dharma) has an unintegrated personality.
He is confused, worried and disorganised.
Dharma integrates his personality and thereby promotes peace, happiness and harmony within.
It holds or binds man to God.
Thus is our salvation assured.
Thus this 'holding power' brings about prosperity and salvation at the same time.
Dharma and salvation are like the two banks of a river, with wealth and pleasure flowing as the water of the river.
So long as the water flows between the banks it brings prosperity and happiness to the people and cattle.
If the river breaks the banks, then the very same water becomes destructive to both people and cattle.
To do good to others is dharma.
To harm others is adharma, its opposite.
Who is the 'other'?
You will remember the parable of the Good Samaritan that Lord Jesus taught.
We have an equally grand statement in the Bhagavad Gita: "Sarvabhutahiteratah" (keenly interested in the welfare of all beings - human, subhuman, superhuman!).
For, "the good man with a large heart regards the entire universe (i.e. all beings) as his family."

Compulsion means I am compelled to do something.
When you isolate this compulsion from external sources - he, she, it - and transfer it to God and the Devil, both of them are in you.
There is dichotomy there.
In that dichotomy, am I the doer or am I the compeller?
This is the most fundamental question which seems extremely difficult.
So we look around and think that compulsion comes from someone else - that because I am living in an ashram I am compelled by the authorities of the ashram; because I am living in a community, I must obey the structure of the community.
Its convenient to see the compulsion coming from someone else.
That is not compulsion.
It is coercion, violence - because if we love one another then you don't have to compel me; you just have to indicate and I love to do it.

July 3


Who gets enlightenment, - and how?
How do I know whether what I consider 'knowledge' is not again merely ignorance, whether rny 'self-awareness' is not just another 'ego-trip'?
The happiness I think I enjoy - of any spiritual experience I think I have - might be simply ego-experience!
What I regard as 'peace' may in fact be dullness.
I cannot by myself discover, understand and overcome ignorance (avidya) and ego-sense (asmita).
I hear and I believe that God is Omnipresent, ONE, - yet in my vision there is infinite diversity!
Assistance is required to get out of avidya and asmita.
The Guru is the person or experience which makes this possible.
The Guru is whoever or whatever provides the inner answer to the questions facing us: "How am I caught in this world? What is my relationship with the objects of this world? Who am I? What is I?"
The enlightening experience that enables me to see the answer - Truth - is the Guru.
Whether the light shines in the form of a human being, or an animal, or an object, or as an event in nature, or in the outer world, or as an inner experience - the Light that dispels the darkness of avidya is Guru - 'remover of darkness'.
To be able to recognise the Light when it comes, I must at least know its opposite, that is, what it is to be trapped in darkness under the influence of avidya.
Aware of the existence of confusion within me, I am constantly expecting someone, something that will remove this.
I must be in a continuous state of respectful expectation - ready whenever it comes, alert not to miss it, as it could be anyone, anywhere, anytime.
Anything is possible!
And I might not recognise It - like the cousin of the Buddha, who was so close to the Master and despised him through familiarity!
No-one can save you from yourself.
A Guru is necessary, but no-one can do it for you.
You must be aware of all your conceptualisation and rationalisation, false but convenient judgements and 'explanations', so that the light - when it comes - does not slip through your fingers, as the mind interprets according to its limited limiting lights!
Whilst the Guru-experience is necessary, it needs in conjunction my respectful, alert readiness to 'catch' It!
Yoga is whatever helps the unenlightened individual to true Enlightenment - and the Guru is what enables him to see the Light.

July 4

Thoughts on the Guru

Spiritual awakening is the guru (which is discipleship), but it needs confirmation and direction.
When this inner awakening (or discipleship), the personality of the guru and inner experience of the utter futility of activity based on ignorance (which is ahamkara 'I am body' idea) come together, there is moksha.
The ignorant-egoistic disciple may seek knowledge other than Self-knowledge from a Guru.
He is like the banana stem which is hard to ignite.
The Guru's Grace and Shakti will help mature him into coal and then into petrol.
In spirit the three are one - it is matured vegetation that becomes coal and then petroleum.
A bodhisattva should not aspire for his own salvation; for then he entertains the false notion of self.
He strives for enlightenment for the good of all sentient beings.
When he attains enlightenment he realises the non-existence of 'self' - hence no one is ignorant or bound in his eyes.
All are enlightened.
Hence he does not have to take birth again to free other sentient beings.

To the spiritual aspirant, periodic 'recharging sessions' at the feet of an enlightened master are important.
Only the Guru can knock down the self-image that insidiously forms in us and redeem us from the self.
Gurudev Sivananda had that power.
It is impossible for us to get rid of the self-image on our own; often we fail to recognise even its formation.
Hence it is most essential that as often as we can we should bathe ourselves in the dust of the feet of the enlightened ones.
All God-men are one in essence.
However, Gurudev and Baba Muktananda are especially so.
Baba travelled a lot.
Gurudev's message has travelled the world over though he remained on the Ganges bank.
Gurudev spoke with his pen.
Baba wrote with his tongue.
Gurudev asked us to "See God in all".
Baba gave us a new commandment:
"Treat one another as God."
"Do not break anyone's heart because that is the real house of God."
In the glare and blare of everyday life we soon forget this great teaching.
It is then time to run to the Guru and recharge the inner spiritual battery.

July 5

Obstacles in Spiritual Life

My Guru, Swami Sivananda, was once asked, "Since You did not live with your Guru, since You led an independent life during your sadhana, what were the obstacles that you encountered and how did you overcome them?" Gurudev smiled and said, "I had no obstacles at all."
How is this possible?
Perhaps the key lies in the fact that whatever discipline He undertook was natural to Him.
It wasn't forced upon Him either by others or even by Himself.
It was the natural fruit of an inner vision.
If the inner being sees a truth, then there is no struggle.
"I must know the Self and be free. I must realise the Self now."
With this as the uppermost thought, all obstacles were wiped away.
There was no struggle, no temptation to revert to a life of ease and status.
His sustaining power was, "I must realise God now."
He was determined to realise God here and now, and whatever He did was based upon this.
With the inner direction fixed, all the disciplines like asana, pranayama, japa and diet were natural and bore fruit. Minus this basic direction, carrying on some practices will never yield fruit.
This is what is called burning desire.
Not fireworks which flare up and disappear, but a wood fire, burning silently, constantly, giving warmth and illumining everything around it.
In our case, in the beginning our zeal and enthusiasm are overwhelming.
But in six months it is gone; and we swing to the other extreme when the reaction sets in.
In his case the burning was constant, without noise, without show or fuss.
Such a fire burns itself out completely.
The fire, "I must realise God now" was all there was.
There was no looking back.
'Back' had been burned and there was only forward.
In His own words, "When shall I be free?
When 'I' ceases to be."
When 'I' is burned in the fire of enquiry.
He does not use first person, but third: when 'I' ceases to be.
Here there is no identification with ego but simply active observation, observation in itself.
Light that shines without a source, because this light is omnipresent.
These were not just words, but truth, and truth that emerged from the crucible of life.
Living truth.
And when truth becomes living truth, that living truth experiences no difficulty whatsoever, no obstacle whatsoever.

July 6


'Disciple' is an error in spelling.
Discipline is the word.
Discipline must approach the Guru.
Guru is 'the light that dispels the darkness of ignorance'.
Discipline must approach that light; then there is right perception.
If 'pupils' approach the Guru there is contrary result.
The pupil closes up in the presence of light and opens wide in darkness!
It cannot receive light.
The Guru inspires the discipline.
To inspire is to breathe in.
Inspiration comes from breathing in.
To breathe in, your lungs, your nostrils and the whole respiratory mechanism should be open to receive the Guru's inspiration, your innermost self must be open, too.
This is symbolised by the lotus in Indian religious sculpture.
Even more vital to inspiration is expiration: you cannot breathe in if you have not breathed out completely.
Expiration means death, too!
Unless 'I' dies, you cannot receive anything, no inspiration is possible.
The ego must go - that is why it is called (y)e-go!
When the ego is gone and all the old fossilised ideas and mental furniture which we had wrongly labelled knowledge have been shed, the inner being is pure and disciplined.
It is ready to study.
Discipline also means 'study'.
To study, the mind must be steady; discipline means this too.
To study is not to acquire and accumulate 'knowledge', but to find the truth, to find the answer, to find the reality.
To find is not to think.
Thinking can only be 'of' something: it can never be of the thing itself.
The thing itself, the answer, the truth has to be discovered.
Discover is to uncover.
It is there.
It has to be uncovered.
And it is found, not by the 'I', but by the inner eye.
In the light that is the Guru, this eye opens.
This does not involve exchange of ideas, but right perception - 'darshan'.
We go to the Guru to have His darshan, not just to see Him or His physical being, but to see the reality inspired by the light that He is.
May the Guru enlighten your innermost being!

July 7

The Reality Within Us

I read of a tragedy that struck a great cathedral in Chile's Santiago in December 1863.
Two thousand people died on that day and in that cathedral.
The story concludes: "When the Chilian Government announced that the cathedral would be rebuilt, enraged crowds began tearing down the tottering stone walls...
In the end the Government, bending to the people's wishes, agreed to raze the ruins and dedicate the site as a memorial to the dead".
In a library elsewhere I read a volume which describes a European seeker's hunt for a Guru in India.
He found none.
His fruitless quest turned him away from God towards the modern world's potent substitutes: alcohol and the almighty dollar, sex and scientific progress.
A letter I have just received from a sincere friend narrates how a sick man went to a swami credited with miraculous powers; spent much time and money, but returned with the illness minus the money, plus a positive hostility towards the swami.
Lord Krishna's words in the Bhagavad Gita come to my mind: four types of people worship the Lord - the sick, the greedy, the inquisitive and the wise.
If they are sincere, all of them will eventually be absorbed into the fourth type.
But if they are not sincere, if they seek the protective walls which they then erect to provide themselves with a security which they do nothing to deserve; if they use God's or guru's grace as a cheaper substitute for expensive medical treatment; if they egotistically and critically hunt and thereby drive away from them holiness and godliness, they will only materialise the scepticism, ungodliness, hostility to spiritual truth and disillusionment which lay hidden in their heart, behind the selfish motive.
Yet, the disillusionment is good, for it saves others from the illusion!
We humbly seek the Guru because we are sincerely aware of our spiritual insufficiency and the Guru is therefore our only light.
We surrender our little self to God and wait upon Him, because He is the Reality within us, the little self being just a shadow, a mirror-image which owes its very existence to the Substance.
Such motiveless, desireless, unselfish love is wisdom; all else is ignorance.

July 8

Guru and Disciple

We need the soup, but in its preparation the ladle plays a vital role.
We need correct understanding and we need someone to stir us from time to time, in order that our understanding might be mature, well-cooked and clear.
You think the ladle is disturbing the soup - it does not, it mixes it better!
Somebody is worried when a great and holy man says: "Abandon all external gurus, the real guru is within you". True.
One's Self (not self) is one's Guru.
Always (except in rare exceptions) one's attention has to be guided towards this Self by an 'external' guru.
Come to think of it, even this 'external' guru is but the manifestation of the inner consciousness made external by the special need of the human personality which can only perceive an external object.
There is no object, for the entire universe is within you - you the Self, you the Infinite Being.
I worshipped My Guru, Swami Sivananda.
Right here in front of Me I have sandals blessed by Him, which I adore.
Do I worship these inert objects?
Did I worship the physical form of Swami Sivananda? No, no.
To give you an illustration: I am an inert candle and I approach the flame - immediately I touch the flame, I realise that I am myself that Light!
This is initiation.
This is the relationship between the Guru and the disciple.
The flame is the Guru; the candle is the disciple.
The combustible substance is within the candle, no doubt, but it needed the flame to bring it to the surface, to inflame it.
If the candle said, "I possess the ability to burst into a flame, I do not need an external flame," it will continue to live as an inert substance.
Gurudev adopted a wonderful attitude!
He insisted that every seeker must have a Guru who must be literally worshipped as God: even as the early Christian fathers had commanded young Christian seekers.
In fact, the disciple will be attached to the Guru, which may be the only way in which the disciple will be able to snap other worldly attachments.
'The guru should not be attached to the disciple,' was Gurudev's warning.
This effectively prevented the disciple's attachment developing into an obstacle.

July 9

Hail! The Light of God

At the time of Guru Purnima, our minds and even more so our hearts turn to the Divine Guru in love and adoration, for it is a day of renewal.
In these days when everything is moving fast, the shadows of spiritual ignorance move in very fast too, overshadowing the light of truth that forever shines in our hearts.
And it is a day of rededication.
Surely, it is enough if we dedicate ourselves to the Guru once.
But in our ignorance we often 'think' we do all this, while deep within us we deny the Guru.
Not everyone can be a Guru.
Not everyone is a disciple.
When you think of Guru, it is impossible not to think of Sri Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj and Baba Muktananda Paramahamsa.
In Them the Guru was resplendent.
They are shining lights of God.
In Them the divine is radiant.
Through them the divine radiates across time and space.
People in distant parts of the world are inspired and spiritually awakened by them.
They live in millions of hearts and they shall continue to live in the hearts of disciples for all time to come.
Only he is a disciple whose heart is filled with the Guru; there is no room in it for the ego.
This happens when the true seeker 'sees' in his Guru the light of God, nay God Himself.
In that light the ugly shadow that terrorised the seeker's life till then vanishes.
The 'I' is absorbed in the Light of God - Guru.
There is the indescribable realisation that the self, God and Guru are three words that indicate a single truth.

isvarogururatmeti murtibhedavibhagine vyomavatvyaptadehaya sri daksinamurtaye namah
Salutations to the Guru Dakshinamurty who, like indivisible space, pervades the three forms known as 'God', 'Guru' and 'Self'.
May the blessings of all the great gurus of the world be showered upon all the blessed disciples of the world.

July 10

The Qualified Student

When a disciple sits near the master and asks the right question or listens with intense receptivity, what takes place between them is Upanishad.
The truth however is not in the master's pocket - it is in you!
The answer is in you, but because you are unable to discover it for yourself you go to a spiritual teacher.
What is the problem that the student should experience within himself to qualify him to go to the master?
Why should a man go to any spiritual master at all?
The spiritual teacher can do nothing if one is satisfied with the type of life one is leading.
Only when one's present life itself poses a problem, when one finds no satisfaction in it or in the world, can one meaningfully enter into a dialogue with a spiritual teacher.
Understanding of this distinction is called viveka.
My Guru Swami Sivananda said: "There are many spiritual teachers in this world, but there are not many disciples."
A disciple becomes fit to approach a master only when this dissatisfaction has arisen in him; it is then that he really turns away from worldly pleasures and ambitions i.e. there is vairagya or dispassion in him.
But first comes viveka, dissatisfaction, questioning: "Is this real? What is life? What am I doing here?"
What can really make me question this world?
Almost nothing!
One can suffer in this world, one can have all sorts of misfortunes, but there is no guarantee that they will inevitably give rise to viveka.
Only the right understanding of the impermanence of all that we seek in this world and intuitive faith concerning the existence of something beyond this can really and truly produce virtue.
When the student endowed with all this goes to the master, he possesses virtue, self-control, control over the mind.
This virtue is natural to him.
Virtue must be born of right understanding, of a right sense of values.
All these are based on what is known as mumukshutva or an intense longing for liberation.
That aspiration is there only when one knows that somehow one is caught and that this bondage is intolerable; then the disciple goes to the master and asks him: "Please tell me where and how I am caught and how I can find release?"

July 11

The Fundamental Question

Only one who has discrimination, dispassion, humility and sincerity is able to grasp the true meaning of a master's teachings.
When the qualified student approaches the enlightened master, he may ask a question; but if he is virtuous and wise, he will not ask out of curiosity.
He has worked on the problem with the powers of his own mind and found no answer, and so he asks the Guru.
For the problem to be real for him, the student must come face to face with it in his own life, and use his own resources in the search for the answer.
Then, realising them to be inadequate he comes to the Guru in the right spirit as a seeker.
In the Kena Upanishad there is a beautiful illustration of this.
The student goes to the teacher and asks: " O Master, who ordains that the eyes should see and that the ears should hear? Who is the one, that guides all these? Who enables life to live and the mind to think?"
The master merely gives one little hint - that the controller of all these functions is one.
(Note that the student comes and asks a particular question. In the Upanishads the master always takes him from there, from the point where he already is. He does not go off at a tangent and start talking about God.)
The sage leads the student one step further, saying: "Look within yourself, and you will find something there which enables you to see - that is the power of seeing. This power of seeing is the essence of sight itself. It is the same essence that enables the ear to hear. It is your life, it is your mind - it is the mind of your mind, the breath of your breath, the eye of your eye. The eyes cannot see it, but because of it, the eyes see."
It is - and therefore everything functions.
It is - and therefore the mind thinks.
It is - and therefore life lives.
The master continues: "You cannot know that with your mind, so do not even try to use your mind to find out what it is. It is and therefore the mind functions - and therefore the mind cannot comprehend it!"
This story teaches us two lessons.
Firstly, that Divine Grace is necessary in order to see the Truth, and secondly, that our whole being functions only because of a certain intelligence.
It is and therefore you think.
It is and therefore you ask the question: "What is it?"
When the question collapses there is Enlightenment.
Enlightenment is not something new - it is not something created by your enquiry, but something that happens when confusion comes to an end.
When confusion comes to an end, then the infinite alone exists and this is called Brahman (God).

July 12

Entering the Hall of Self-knowledge

The qualifications necessary for discipleship are fundamentally based upon sincerity.
The tradition is that when there is this sincere inner questioning I go to a Guru.
In order to ask a question sincerely, I must have reached the end of my own resources.
I must have come to the cross-roads, to the point where my whole being says: "I do not know the answer to this, I do not know the way."
Only such a person can go to the Guru.
What does the student do when he approaches a guru?
There are a number of possibilities, but one common factor is dialogue.
Either the disciple asks a question, or the Guru volunteers a statement - in either case dialogue ensues.
During this dialogue the disciple listens (this is called sravana).
It is beautiful.
Only if his whole being is questioning will listening take place.
All his energy is in hearing only.
He does not think, he does not feel - nothing functions except his ears.
If you have ever listened with this concentration, you realise that this hearing is of a special quality.
What is the next step after hearing?
Having sat near the Guru and the dialogue having come to an end, the mind begins to work.
In the presence of the Guru the mind was totally absorbed in hearing.
But now, as you are alone or with some other disciples, the mind is working (manana).
It is possible to resolve the arguments within yourself alone or with the help of another disciple who heard the same teachings.
You came to the master as a living question and now you are the living answer.
In the Bible there is a beautiful expression, "Knock and it shall be opened."
You go to the Guru and knock.
You do all this (sravana and manana) and suddenly the door is opened.
That which appeared to be a stone wall opens up.
This is nidhidyasana - total atonement or enlightenment.
Sravana means hearing the teaching and manana means saturating the whole mind with the teaching.
When the mind is thus saturated, whatever you are thinking will be in accordance with the teaching.
What has happened?
Your whole body was the question and now your whole being is the answer, because your whole mind is saturated with the teaching.

July 13

Swami Sivananda

Swami Sivananda's physical energy, mental energy and stamina enabled Him, at the age of 67, to go round the whole of India, to undertake an intensive two month tour.
This was a super-human achievement.
All this was due to the regular practice of pranayama and asanas and a well-regulated life.
This still may not solve some problems.
We may be practising all the yoga asanas, we may be eating excellent food, but look at our faces - something that was seen in Swamiji's face is missing.
Radiance and extraordinary attractiveness were there, however ill Swami Sivananda's body was.
I am speaking not only of the ordinary little influenza, I am talking of when he was at death's door with a bout of typhoid.
He had been confined to bed for about 20 days.
He was not used to that, so one day he told some of us, "Ah, I think I am alright now.
Take Me to the verandah so that I can see the Ganges and the Himalayas."
We literally had to lift Him off the bed, He could not walk.
We brought Him outside and He sat in His easy chair'.
If you looked at His face then, it was as though there was nothing wrong with Him.
He was radiant, beautiful, laughing and joking with us all.
After an hour or so, He asked to go back to bed.
He planted both His feet on the floor and said, "Wait, I will try to get up myself."
He lifted himself off, then collapsed back into the chair.
Probably you and I would have had a heart attack - "Oh, what has happened to me? Twenty years ago I was so strong."
Regret, remorse, despair, depression. But there was no hint of that.
As He collapsed He started laughing, "Oh! The legs have lost their strength."
It had nothing to do with Him - the legs had lost their strength.
That is an extraordinary feature where even an aging body does not dampen the spirit.

July 14

Behold! Gurudev is Within

So the ringing voice is silent.
The majestic form has vanished.
We shall no more see the gigantic figure of Swami Sivananda clad in orange, shod in canvas shoes, stride with measured long steps, bag in hand, ready to distribute fruit, wisdom and work to us, His beloved children.
That child-like giggling, with the tummy quaking with convulsions of joy - a laughter so wholesome that tears of joy bedimmed the sparkling eyes; a laughter that radiated the bliss of God to all, can be heard no more.
But the light of Sivananda is inextinguishable - it shines in the heart of humanity today, without a lampshade and so the brighter for it.
Gurudev is the manifestation of God.
God is the supreme immutable reality.
He dwells in us.
The physical was His own maya.
The impersonal reality is His own self.
The end is perhaps shocking - but that is not the end.
It is a beginning.
The builder worked outside, He was on view.
He created an inside and He has entered it.
Now He works inside, out of external view, but more truly and purposefully active therefore.
Gurudev has moulded us, given shape to shapeless masses, laid stone upon stone in us and built a shrine, entered it and is now busy at work in there.
Look within.
Behold, Gurudev is within you!

July 15

The Key to God consciousness

What is the inner climate of the Guru Purnima?
On this auspicious day we remember the Guru and some of us rededicate ourselves to the Guru.
There is a bold and beautiful declaration in the yoga Vasistha: "He is a Guru Who is able to give rise to God-consciousness in the disciple by a look, a touch, by verbal communication or by grace."
The Guru is one Who removes the darkness of spiritual ignorance.
It is not a sin to be unenlightened as long as we are looking for the light.
Guru is a thing that happens, and when it does, you realise unmistakably: "This is He!"
He reveals the truth, God or reality in your own heart.
In a manner of speaking, this inner revelation is the Guru.
The function of the Guru is the transmitting of Shakti.
Shaktipata is an extremely simple yet profound expression which literally means dropping Shakti.
The Shakti is the power of enlightenment.
The Guru is an enlightened person Whose power is poured into the disciple.
But, does it then entirely depend upon the Master's Grace?
There seems to be a decidedly strong suggestion that whereas the Guru's awakening Grace is there, it will become effective only to the extent that you are a true disciple.
Gurudev Swami Sivananda once told someone: "It is easy to find a guru, but it is very difficult to find a disciple."
What is the cause of enlightenment?
When the disciple's heart has become perfectly pure then God-consciousness arises in that heart.
Vasistha uses a double negative to state: "Guru does not produce God-consciousness in you, but God-consciousness does not arise in you without a Guru."
What is important is that the heart should become pure.
Therefore the spirit of discipleship is extremely important.
Wherever a true disciple is, there is the Guru.
That true discipleship itself is the Guru and hence, in a characteristic way, Gurudev emphasised that you cannot do without a Guru.
Simultaneously, He said: "Don't be a Guru." In that lies the truth.
Then you will see the whole universe as your Guru.
That is what I saw in Gurudev Sivananda.
He himself treated everybody as His Guru from whom He learned something or the other.
The great and mighty Guru felt that He was everyone's disciple, an eternal student.
In such a spirit of discipleship dwells the highest wisdom, the key to God-consciousness.

July 16

Conviction, Confusion, Clarity

Learned Arjuna, who considered himself wise got confused and experienced dharma-sankata (psychological conflict).
Only an imbecile idiot and an enlightened sage are free from dharma-sankata.
All of us are puzzled often: especially when we have been exposed to the teachings of different authorities.
Even if you avoid this by following a single authority (the 'cult' mentality) it is not always easy to know how to apply the teaching to real life situations!
This is because you cannot apply teachings.
Therefore, when a real life situation arises your convictions are shaken.
This is excellent.
Convictions often convict you of killing the spirit of enquiry (which is wisdom).
Shattered conviction is experienced as confusion.
When this happens, you have no alternative but to seek the lotus feet of an enlightened Master and seek guidance, as Arjuna did.
But the seeker must learn the art of listening (hearing with the heart); if the intellect intervenes it registers convenient instructions and conveniently forgets others.
If the heart hears, the Word becomes flesh, living truth abides in the heart and the seeker obeys the Master's commands without a second thought!
It is not even obedience; for the disciple sees no alternative.
It is not obedience because it is not external compulsion or even persuasion.
There is total surrender.
At the moment of total surrender, the Master alone reigns supreme in the seeker's heart.
There is oneness.
There is enlightenment, because the Master is enlightened and the seeker has merged himself in the Master.
Suddenly there is clarity out of confusion.
You - not you, but the Master in you - do what is to be done.

The best service that a devotee or disciple can render his Guru is to grow in His likeness.
While a total metamorphosis may be granted only to a few blessed ones, it is possible for most disciples and devotees to reflect at least certain aspects of the Guru's glorious personality.
With Gurudev Sivananda this ideal is brought within the reach of all because He was a dazzling multi-faceted personality.
Each of His disciples and devotees saw and admired one or a few of them.
Surely there was something in the disciple that responded to that facet.
This response grows into a responsibility - the ability to respond with one's whole being.

July 17

The best worship

One tends to grow into the likeness of the person or the object one worships, provided of course the worship is not a mere imitation or a show or conformisms, but the inevitable consequence of one's own love and conviction.
Jesus, Buddha, Rama, Krishna, etc., came to be worshipped by sincere devotees out of pure love; and then the worship was continued in the hope that the lesser devotees might develop such love and grow in divinity.
But then, the film stars come to be worshipped; and one can easily see in the life-styles of the modern youth the ease with which they are growing into the likeness of the film-stars.
Next only to the film stars, the peoples of the world today honour, adore and almost deify and worship the military heroes killers or defenders (depending upon from which side you speak!).
History exalts them.
Politics holds them before the public eye, decorating them and glorifying them in order to recruit more of them.
No wonder that more people think of war than of peace and Godliness.
O lover of peace!
Worship the Guru Who is the Light of God, and turn away from the worship of the gunman who is the devil's agent, a messenger of darkness.

It is only by His Grace that one can even know when one has a Guru; otherwise there is 'neither a guru, nor a disciple'; and when the disciple has totally surrendered himself to the Guru, once again there is 'neither a guru nor a disciple'.
In the words of Sri Shankaracharya one feels 'chidanandarupa sivoham sivoham' (I am infinite consciousness).
We seek the Guru.
But then we have our own notions and ideas which block our vision.
Not all cowherds may be Krishna; but one of them may be.
Not all princes may be Buddha; but one of them may be.
Not all carpenters may be Jesus; but one of them may be.
God or Guru does not have a stereotyped behaviour.
"Do you love God?" asks Gurudev.
If you love God with all your heart and soul you will recognise Him, whatever be His appearance and behaviour.

July 18

Tuning In to the Teacher

When we go to a Guru we don't argue.
This is a hypothetical presumption: supposing the bee alights on some kind of a flower which doesn't have nectar.
What does it do? It takes off.
If you go to some holy person and you cannot relate to that person, take off.
Find another open flower which is waiting for you. No problem.
Humbly approach the teacher, serving in whatever manner you can.
It is not that the teacher is in need of your service, but it is through that service that you tune in.
The entire trick lies in tuning in to the teacher, tuning in to the holy man.
It is then that the knowledge begins to flow.
Unless you are on the same wave-length you won't receive the message.
But, even if you are on the same wave-length, another difficulty arises.
The holy one's experience cannot be transplanted.
So, when you are on the same wave-length with the Guru, He guides you in such a way that you seem to be close to the truth.
Be very careful here.
The Guru points out the truth as if it were very near to you.
If you have been with someone as enlightened as, for instance,
My Guru Swami Sivananda, you will appreciate this.
In the presence of this Master you feel that the truth is here.
But, go away and what happens to it?
It's gone!
This spiritual reality is not a substance which can be transferred from one to the other.
The Guru, Who has walked this path and therefore knows it, is capable of bringing you close to it or enabling you to feel that you are close to the truth.
If you are aware all the time that it is still His realisation, His experience, not yours; that you are still oppressed by the tyranny of the mind while He is free; that He has shown you that the truth is so close; then you are aware that you must be very cautious in the handling of it.
You realise, "I must endeavour to get into that stream without disturbing the environment.
I must sit there with intense awareness, concentration, contemplation, humility, love and affection for the teacher, for the truth, for the reality, for God or whatever it is.
With all that intense love at heart and intense yearning, I must surrender myself to that knowledge, to that wisdom, so that..."
You cannot complete that sentence - it does not become yours, perhaps you become part of that knowledge.
The only thing that you may experience is that the mind is no longer capable of terrorising you.
As long as the body exists and the mind functions, there has to be this extraordinary vigilance, alertness, and that is part of what is called enlightenment.

July 19

The symbol of wisdom

The folding of palms in greeting might well have numerous meanings: the coming together of the opposites, the ideal love-relationship between 'you' and 'me' in a free (not locked-fingers) association (not held apart), and "I greet the divine in you".
What is that 'divine-in-you'?
This is answered by the great jnana mudra or chin mudra: bring together the tips of the thumb and index finger with the other three fingers straight and together.
God is not the three.
Hence they are excluded and the so-called ego (the index finger) bends (surrenders) to meet the Lord (symbolised by the thumb).
What are the three?
The physical body which is but the product of food and shares the perishable fate of food, the mind which is the supermarket called knowledge, the confluence of very many influences or conditioning factors, and thirdly, ignorance in its literal sense of non-knowing.
It is on account of ignorance that the so-called ego (the index finger) comes between all these and the omnipresent divine.
The ego-sense has no separate existence.
Its realisation of this truth is surrender, and the instant completion of the circle (when the tips of the index finger and thumb are united) which is the realisation of the infinite.
The 'three' are excluded only from the point of view of the assumed individuality.
When this bluff is called, there is no longer 'my' body and 'my' mind.
Then all matter, including the body, is seen to be God's own cosmic body; all mind is understood to be the cosmic intelligence which is non-different from the infinite consciousness.
Hence we worship and adore even the physical body of the enlightened sage, our own guru.

They say that it is only the human being who is endowed with an intelligence that distinguishes it from other living creatures.
But does it?
How much of that intelligence is awake?
How much of our own daily life is utilised in other than what we superciliously call animal activities - eating, drinking and so on?
In what way are we better than those living beings who are considered inferior, or is it merely presumption?
If we have intelligence, is it awakened?
Are we leading exactly the same life as other animals, with an added burden called an intellect?
Are we even aware of where we are going or what we are doing?

July 20


Upanishad takes place as a dialogue between the Guru and the disciple.
This is a purely personal adventure; it is not possible to enter into a dialogue when there is a crowd.
There is another important factor in dialogue - unless the teacher and the taught, the Guru and the disciple, are on the same level of understanding, dialogue does not take place.
How does the disciple come to the same level of understanding as the Guru?
Through devoted service a communication channel is established.
Then it is possible for the Guru to transmit this knowledge by a mere nod of his head.
Without devotion or love, service is impossible, useless.
The Guru is not going to reward you materially, so for what reason will you serve him, unless you are devoted to him?
Devotion and affection, plus service, open the channel of communication.

July 21

What are We Here For?

Is there a purpose at all to life?
The question of how best the purpose can be served (which means choice, and then the decision) comes later.
You are building beautiful houses hoping that a roof over your head will provide security.
Does it?
Have you met some of those millionaires who have big houses?
In those days when I was young, that itself was supposed to be the ultimate in security.
You have a big house and so you are secure, and then you discovered that that was not security, it was insecurity - the larger the house the greater the area in which the robbers could operate!
You could hide yourself.
Then you had to install burglar alarms.
Where is security?
All right; you are safe - but then they kidnap you on the roads.
Absurd! We even go so far as to secure a dead body in a box and keep it safe!
Then there is the latest craze of deep-freezing people.
You see the total, ridiculous absurdity of the life that we visualise for ourselves.
Because somehow we think that there is a purpose, and I am hunting for that purpose.
The mind itself suggests a purpose.
'My purpose is to serve all.'
What do you mean 'serve all'?
What do I serve?
Do I serve soup?
How do I serve?
What is service?
I know of quite a number of social workers, swamis, holy men, who serve humanity by telling them, "You shouldn't do that, you shouldn't do this, you know".
Serving, elevating them, uplifting them.
They haven't asked these people whether they want to be uplifted or down-trodden!
Have they ever found out what people want, what they need?
What is uplifting?
If you don't mind my saying so, all of us are undergoing this 'toilet training' until we die.
Someone or other is telling us all the time, "This you should do, this you shouldn't do".
And just as the diapers are around the baby, we also have got all sorts of diapers around ourselves - head to foot!
And we are never allowed to be ourselves.
Is that what is called service?
Is that what we are here for - to tell one another what we should or should not do?

July 22

Guru Dakshina and the Honey Bee

Unable to answer our questions, unable to find a door, we go to the Master.
Therefore, the sage says:
"It is blessed to be born human.
It is blessed to experience the longing for freedom from the tyranny of the mind.
And thirdly it is indeed a rare privilege and bliss to enjoy the company of the holy one."
So, in a spiritual desert (which the world is fast becoming today), to enjoy the company of a holy one, if only for a little while, is like an oasis.
It is strange that we should consider ourselves far superior to what are called sub-human species.
If you contemplate the relationship between the bee and the flower, you will probably understand a lot more about this expression 'company of the holy one' than anyone else can teach you.
There is a longing in the bee for nectar.
The flower blossoms and the bee goes straight to it - a bee-line.
Then, watch - this is something very beautiful.
The bee alights on the flower.
How sweet, how soft the landing is.
And it takes just the nectar from the flower.
Just that, nothing else.
Nothing else of the flower is disturbed.
And, in the meantime, it carries the seed from this flower and brings about cross-pollination.
That is what these holy ones would call Guru Dakshina or Guru Seva - service to the Guru.
You are not a parasite.
You get something from the holy man, do a little service for Him also, but without disturbing anything, without in the least affecting the health, the sanity or the sanctity of the flower.
I think that for a human being with all this arrogance built in, it is almost impossible to imitate the bee.
The bee's relationship with that flower is like the company of the holy one.
Having got the nectar, go on, build your own honeycomb.

It is when you are bothered by this thing called loyalty or disloyalty that you indulge in this most regretful thing that distinguishes the human spiritual aspirant from the bee - criticism.
The bee sings and the human being stings.
And the stinging is directly attributed to the fact that you feel some loyalty problem.
Any Guru worth the name would love and encourage the seeker to find the truth, like the bee, from whichever source is within his reach.
May we become the bee and gather this honey, the honey if knowledge, from any source that we can.

July 23

Relationship With the Guru

If you are too greedy, if you hang on to this flower and keep sucking it dry, then you may yourself be consumed.
This lesson is important.
When we go to these holy ones, do we seek their company in order to find an answer to the question that has been bothering us - the question being 'how to be free of tyranny of the mind?'
Or, do we go to this person to develop some other sort of relationship?
The disciple and the Guru can have so many types of relationships, some liberating, leading us towards this freedom from the mind, and some leading us exactly and precisely in the opposite direction.
Therefore, one has to be extremely cautious.
What happens between the disciple and the Guru?
Paradoxically, enigmatically, ironically, Self-knowledge is so simple that it has to be taught.
It is not so mystifying, it is not even so enigmatic.
If there is some dirt just below your eyes, it is quite possible that you can't see it.
You have to seek someone else's help to find this dirt.
That, perhaps is why we go to the Guru.
The problem is so simple and yet it sticks to our fingers.
Krishna gives us three hints: go and surrender yourself to the Guru.
This is a spiritual thing, just like the bee alighting upon the flower.
Fall at the holy one's feet - basically, morally, spiritually symbolically surrendering the innermost being with this feeling: "I have looked but I can't find an answer to the question, 'How shall I be free from the tyranny of the mind?' So I surrender to you. Please, help me."
If the surrender is there, you would question in order to learn and not question in order to argue.

July 24

to bee or not to bee

The guru brings about an awakening.
It is easy for the Guru, for He is the Light.
It is impossible for the self, for the self is the shadow of ignorance.
However, this awakening does not take place unless there is self-surrender, until the disciple has come to the end of his own resources and is able humbly to approach the Guru in total devotion (which is of the heart and not of the intellect) and to establish a channel of direct communication by means of loving and devoted service to the Guru.
It is when the disciple learns to listen to the Guru 'with the ears of his heart' that the Guru is able to transmit the highest truth direct to the very heart of the disciple - the light of the Guru's Grace dispels the shadow of ignorance, and there is spontaneous enlightenment.
Another important factor and truth which is explicitly stated in one of the religious texts called the Bhagavatam is: like a bee, gather honey, knowledge and inspiration from every source you have access to.
If your spiritual aspiration is keen and if you have experienced that bee-flower relationship with a holy one, you will know that you can derive inspiration from many and yet build one honeycomb no matter from where this nectar is brought.
All the saints teach us the same message in different ways.
These blend into you.
If they don't, it is your fault, not theirs.
Remember this very carefully.
If you are a bee you will know how to collect and gather honey and not make a mess of it.
Serve each one from whom you have received some knowledge and generate that honey within yourself.
The honey itself is the knowledge.
That is the greatest service you can render to the master himself.
The master is thrilled.
He is happy that you turned out to be a first-class student.
Naturally you would never compare one master with the other.
The bee does not do it.

July 25

The Enlightened One

It is by watching the actions of an enlightened person that we realise that our images of an enlightened person are mostly wrong.
Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita specifically cautions against building such images.
"The wise man must live in exactly the same style as the unwise man."
So there needn't be this external distinguishing mark where one is shaven, the other is not shaven; one wears this kind of dress, the other wears another kind of dress.
In the ignorant man there is attachment, in the enlightened man there is no attachment.
The moment you hear the words 'attachment' and 'non-attachment', you are once again slipping into some kind of an image.
It is possible to understand these only when this inner light is bright and it prevents the arising of any false identification in the sense of false relationship with other beings.
"This is my view" or "I have no view" - is it possible to drop all views, to drop even the dropper?
Only then can one understand how an enlightened one behaves.
In Gurudev Sivananda there was absolutely no ego consciousness, so that He could change from moment to moment as if it didn't matter at all.
Only He could know what He was.
Holiness is something like the aroma of a flower which comes from within.
The aim of yoga, if there is an aim, is to enable us to be exactly what God meant us to be, and to do exactly what He meant us to do without ego interference.
There is no answer to the question, "What does God want us to be or to do?"
That can only be discovered by discovering God.
To discover is to take the cover of the ego off! "I want this, I want to be like this."
That can be removed.
When that cover is removed from all departments of our life, then the light of God shines brilliantly in His own way.
Finally, it is only by Guru's and God's Grace that this may be possible, because eventually it is only by grace that this ego cover can be lifted and the inner light be discovered.

July 26

You are the World

Why do we want to run after happiness?
Happiness comes in life, enjoy it.
Don't hold it, let it go.
It is not necessary for you to hang on to this shadow because you are the reality of which the shadow is projection.
How do you get rid of the shadow?
Yogis are not very dogmatic, but they point out that the only way is to turn towards the light.
The shadow is gone.
You will not see it unless you turn away from the light again.
Can we live with our inner vision trained on this inner light all the time?
We are not asked to abandon something which is real.
The yogi is not such a fool that he wants us to abandon this world, abandon this body, abandon living in a house.
What are you going to do?
Can you abandon this world?
Wherever you go the world is still there, because you are the world.
'You are the world' may have other interpretations, but even if we are able to appreciate it, the simplest connotation is enough for us.
What is the body?
The body is the same as the earth or the vegetables that you eat - or the vegetables that those beings ate whom you eat.
The vegetarians take vegetables first hand, the non-vegetarians second-hand.
So, your body is made of nothing other than what the world contains already.
Your life breath is one with the air of the whole world.
Your intelligence is shared by all other beings in the universe.
You are not something special.
So you are the world, you are part of the world and this is the inescapable truth.
There is no need to run away from this truth.

July 27

Form versus Truth

The 'devil' does not invent anything new at all.
All discoveries are essentially divine.
For, when you lift the cover - always ignorance - what you discover is Truth.
Einstein, who discovered the principle on which nuclear bombs are based, was a pacifist and believed in God.
He discovered a divine law.
In Indian parlance, he was a rishi (sage).
But the 'devil' takes charge of the application of the principle, and it administers the law.
The rishi is pushed aside, his sane advice ignored, and humanity cuts its own throat.
This is the lesson we learn from history and legend alike.
Both in Mauritius and in South Africa I have had the good fortune of meeting holy men of different religions, particularly Hindus and Christians.
I go to temples and churches and take part in the worship of God.
The purport of the hymns, whether they are in English, Sanskrit or Tamil, is the same.
The purpose of the liturgy is also the same - to lift the human heart to the lap of God.
We sit together, and feel we are all one.
That is the Truth.
As soon as we leave the places of worship, however, we completely ignore the lesson we learnt, and clinging to the form, assert that one form of worship or one form in which the Truth is expressed is superior to another.
Why is that?
Whereas the discovery of the divine through prayer is divine, the application of this discovery (formalised religion) soon passes into the hands of the 'devil'.
In India we have continually battled against this.
The Upanishadic rishi warned against clinging to forms and losing the spirit.
Lord Buddha put an end to disputations in the name of the one Truth, by diverting man's mind to practical life.
Swami Dayananda rescued the spirit of religion from the diabolical grip of sectarian formalists.
My divine master proclaimed that religion or yoga was not a matter for discussion but for diligent daily practice.
This is the only way to keep the 'devil' at bay: practise yoga and do not make a cult of it.

July 28

Changing Moods

A correspondent writes: "My moods change, so my state of being is not serene."
True. We do pass through these states.
We momentarily forget that 'states' should pass, leaving the 'being' intact.
The being cannot be changed; and the state of being has to.
But we can hold neither!
The holder is the being who cannot obviously hold himself.
And a state of being held, turns into its opposite.
The whole joke lies in seeing the changing states as changing states; and in realising that the see-er is - all expressions like changing and unchanging being irrelevant.
You do not have to give up the world for all this.
That would mean changing the states and getting into a changeless 'state' which is absurd.
But it does mean realising the subtle distinction

July 29

Man or Machine?

A man is known by his companions!
For they do in a subtle way influence us.
They awaken and vivify the tendencies (good or bad, desirable or undesirable) latent in us.
A saint kindles saintliness and a criminal provokes sinfulness in us.
But for them, the respective qualities would have 'died' in us.
My Guru Swami Sivananda used to say that similarly even inert objects like dress and furniture can alter our behaviour.
A man wearing simple sandals walks gently and the same man with fashionable shoes has a different gait.
When we talk of civilisation today, we imply a greater accumulation of or intimate association with the Machine. Does the machine civilise us?
Does it evoke civilised behaviour in us? Perhaps not.
If you are sitting next to me at a table and if, while getting up to go, your foot happens to touch my leg, you at once apologise, "Oh, I am sorry".
You are polite and courteous, because you were in association with me, another human being.
Assuming that a few minutes later you are driving a powerful, big car, and I happen to come in your way on my scooter, you will in all probability knock me down and then if I am conscious, swear at me for obstructing your path!
You have become a machine for the time being.
If you live constantly in the company of machines you will begin to behave like a machine, think like a machine and have no feeling, like a machine.
Civilisation and progress are not evils in themselves, but injudicious abuse of machines that civilisation and progress symbolise can lead to evil consequences.
Man should turn to nature, to simplicity, to humility, to humanity.
Man should turn to God, the indweller and the inner ruler of humanity.
Then will he become a peace-lover, radiating and promoting peace.

July 30


We seem to be seeking, looking, searching for something all the time.
That is a beautiful thing called dissatisfaction.
It is not so dreadful as we make it sound.
Dissatisfaction will continue to exist as long as we look for satisfaction.
That, I think, is axiomatic.
It is this mad exertion to remain at peace that disturbs peace.
There is nothing to seek.
Why is it so?
The very seeking takes you away from it.
Hence the famous commandment, 'Be still; and know that I am God!' 'Be still' is the most important thing.
Can the mind be made to remain still?
If the mind is to remain still, then there is no more seeking for satisfaction, no more hunting for peace or happiness in this life.
Can the mind be made still?
That's nonsense because mind is merely another name for restlessness.
Whenever you are able to observe the mind, it is restless.
Sometimes the very observation seems to make it restless.
You are not aware of a thing called mind, but you are aware of a thing called restlessness.
That which is there is here already, and that which is here is there already.
When this truth asserts itself, then perhaps the restlessness of the mind will cease and the seeking comes to an end, for there is nothing to seek.
You and I are not isolated antagonistic beings, you and I are nothing but these dancing sub-atomic particles.
At that point the mind, baffled, comes to a standstill and cancels itself.
The mind ceases to be mind.
Meditation is when the mind entertains no thought of an object.
You cannot be a participator in this whole game and yet be an observer - that is a contradiction.
You must abandon the observer status and jump into it.
The only thing that happens at that point is that the seeking has come to an end.
You want neither happiness, peace, satisfaction nor security and therefore you have all that.
It is not a pessimistic or defeatist theory because the mind is not satisfied with the theory that there is no satisfaction in the world.
So, it has to go through the entire circle and come back to the starting point, having abandoned the search it finds itself in it and there is peace.

July 31

The Art of Listening

In the teacher's presence, many people experience a great surge of energy; they even think that they are enlightened!
But when they go away, that feeling also goes away.
How can this problem be solved?
And how does one revive that feeling later on?
Superficiality taints every aspect of our life.
We go to listen to a great teacher because of our superficial curiosity, not out of a serious spirit of enquiry.
We do not listen to him: the communication is on the intellectual or verbal level.
And, whatever he says we translate within our own mind into concepts and conclusions.
For this is how we have trained our mind and converted it into a filing cabinet, every new idea being neatly linked up with the previous ones and put away.
That is not listening surely!
It is possible to know that one is not doing this while listening, but it demands tremendous discipline, though not in the traditional sense of the word.
It is possible for us to know that our whole life at present is plagued by concepts and conclusions.
That knowledge enables us to listen without conceptualisation.
Then you listen to a statement like: "The end of suffering is the beginning of wisdom," without making a concept or an image but you see the truth of it directly.
And this truth becomes yours.
Then you do not lose it.
You need not be reminded of it.
If, on the other hand, you make a concept of it or an image of it, you are given a technique to practise in order to revive it, and the practice of this technique makes you dull and the energy is lost.
So to listen without conceptualisation is the art of listening.
One who knows it has the key to the mansion of truth.
The very act of listening is to him the seeing of the truth.
The truth thus seen is never lost.

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