Daily Readings

Insights Inspirations - October

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

Om Namah Shivaya

Om Namah Venkatesaya

October 1

Divine Optimism

The two words 'yoga' and 'jnana' are often regarded as completely different and distinct.
In the Bhagavad Gita you have these two used almost interchangeably as synonyms.
What is yoga?
Krishna says: "That, having realised which you do not crave anything, and established in which the greatest calamity doesn't have the least effect on you. That is yoga."
That is jnana also.
It is perhaps very easy to say this, and of course easier to listen to it, all this; it is perhaps not terribly difficult to apply this to your daily life and endure small losses and misfortunes; but what is hinted at here is perhaps very different, very sublime, very holy.
I saw this in the life of our divine Master, Swami Sivananda.
What would normally have destroyed our peace of mind and our tranquillity, what might have made us insane (not merely have a nervous breakdown), did not touch him at all.
It is not as though he recognised these as calamities and reacted one way or another - in a saintly or not-so-saintly way.
He was endowed with a certain insight, a certain vision of the truth concerning life and the world, so that he looked at those events in a light that is very different from ours.
During the few years I was at his feet there was a financial crisis at least once a year in the ashram.
After some time even we became immune to it, but not in the sense in which he was.
He almost looked forward to the next financial crisis.
In one such extremely grave situation we observed the way Swami Sivananda behaved and it was extraordinary.
On his face you could see not resignation, not acceptance, but the recognition "This is God's will.
This is as it is, as it should be.
Isn't it marvellous that God has given us this wonderful gift of a collapse?"
So, while the others were looking at the dark side of the picture, to Swami Sivananda himself only the bright side existed.
He wasn't even aware of the dark side.
This is something extraordinary.
I do not know if it is possible to put it into words - one had to see such a phenomenon as Swami Sivananda to understand this.

October 2

Is Truth True?

If truth cannot be known, is truth true?
What is truth?
Is there a truth other than a truth
concerning something, an object?
All truth concerning an object is a point of view and an opinion.
If this is an opinion and merely a point of view, is there a truth other than this, and can that truth be known?
Or in other words, can a thing be known for what it is?
A thing cannot be known for what it is, and this is the latest quantum physics: that the very observation alters the character of the object being observed.
At what point can you really say, "I know this"?
Before you say, "I know this," the thing has undergone a change.
So, can an object be known as it is without being altered by the observing consciousness?
Not possible.
If that is not possible, then what needs to be known or understood is who the observer is.
The observer can be known only if the observer can be objectified.
How can the observer be turned into an object?
If you contemplate along these lines you come to not quite a dead end, but to a state of expanded consciousness which at once includes all objects (including all opinions of all objects) and a light that seems to illumine both the subject and the object - the light that is the subject which illumines itself and all objects without itself ever becoming an object.
And there you stop.
Consciousness has expanded itself so widely as to include all this without excluding anything.
Am I aware of this consciousness?
No, obviously not, but since consciousness is consciousness there is no unawareness in that consciousness.
If you are aware of consciousness there is a division, and that is either your point of view, your object or your thought.
Consciousness is either that which is the subject without an object, or that which is between the subject and the object, which links both these and in which there is no division into subject-object.

October 3

In Quest of Truth

Are students of yoga allowed to question the scriptures and the teachers?
Yes, of course.
Krishna specifically recommends questioning.
But there are several types of questioning.
The true seeker is on a quest, and for him questioning is most important.
Another type of questioning is of the curious: there is no harm in this, for it will lead to a greater understanding of the truth.
Then there is questioning based on doubt.
Doubt may be destructive, though a healthy doubt may save a genuine seeker from a charlatan.
Destructive questioning is when an aspirant asks questions in order to show-off his knowledge and expose the ignorance of the master.
This destructive questioning might elicit only gracious indifference on the part of the master.
In ancient days, books were not recommended; knowledge of the truth had to be learnt 'by the (h)ear(t)'.
Hence the knowledge was known as sruti and the process sravana.
The student approached close to the master (sitting close was upanishad) and became one-big (h)ear(t) (which is what sravana meant).
He imbibed the teaching through every avenue, through all the senses and through his very innermost being - verbally, and, what is even more important, non-verbally.
If the teaching is directly absorbed, well and good.
Otherwise, it remains the Master's truth (paroksa jnana).
There is unclarity in the student.
He tries to 'chew' it within himself, he discusses it with fellow-students; finally he asks the Master himself for clarification (all this constitutes manana).
Then deep contemplation (nidhidyasana) enables the truth to be assimilated and it becomes living truth not dependent upon belief in the words of another (aparoksa jnana).
This whole process is yoga; all else is ego.
Belief arises from ignorance and an innate abhorrence of ignorance.
Belief is like a shirt to cover the ignorance.
If you want to grow it won't do to shed your shirt or make a larger one, but to promote growth inwardly.
Promote abhorrence of ignorance by keeping on the quest of Self-knowledge.

October 4

Contemplate and Do

Quite a number of very holy men refer to themselves in the third person: "Give this something to eat".
If you do that you have not used the word 'I', but look within and see if there is a thought or a feeling with you that 'My body is hungry'.
What is it that creates this confusion?
That is avidya.
You are still thinking.
As long as the mind is thinking you are unable to see it.
Seeing is very different from thinking.
For instance, when this book is held up, first you see something.
Then the name and form arise as soon as you begin to think about it.
But without thinking you can still see it.
Similarly, are you able to see this confusion without thinking about it?
Wisdom is not a gimmick.
Removal of avidya is not a gimmick but a very real problem which has to be solved in a very real way.
Only vidya (or jnana) is an antidote to this avidya.
One attains vidya or jnana through viveka.
Viveka or unbroken wisdom is when you are so steadily and firmly established in this wisdom that it is continuous, whatever you are doing and wherever you are.
If that arises you will not mistake what is impermanent for permanent.
You know that the body is impermanent - use it, live in it nicely, wisely - and when the time comes, drop it.
You do not think that it is permanent, but that does not mean that you are asked to think that it does not exist!
It does exist, but it is not permanent.
That is pure vision, clairvoyance.
When this viveka becomes continuous there is comprehension of the reality as such, and the heart (or this awareness) constantly seeks the reality.
That is the nature of wisdom.
Krishna also suggests this in the Bhagavad Gita, when he commands Arjuna "Therefore at all times contemplate me and do what has to be done."
Wisdom and action must go together.
It is in and through life that this wisdom has to be realised.
Swami Sivananda used to impress upon us.
"This is not only possible, but easy, and its benefits are incalculable."
That which befriends this wisdom, which forever seeks this wisdom and doesn't want to be separated from this wisdom, is true philosophy.

October 5

the Beauty of Appropriate Action

The sattvic buddhi knows nivritti and pravritti.
(One leads you away from involvement in the world; the other leads you towards involvement in the world.)
The sattvic awakened intelligence knows what has to be done.
Krishna says, "Do what has to be done", but doesn't define what has to be done - it is left to you.
What you have to do is very different from what I have to do.
It is a waste of time to imitate one another.
The awakened intelligence does not do that.
Swami Sivananda in the thirties lived in Swargashram among the great yogis of different types, and yet did not imitate any of them.
He took it upon Himself to serve them all.
Whenever there was satsang He arranged the platform, carpets, cushions etc., so they could all be comfortable.
He knew, "This I can do".
They had their special faculties; He had something else to contribute to that company of saints (that was his genius); with the result that He outshone them all - but that was not His intention.
What has to be done and what has not to be done must be very clear, and therefore imitation has to be ruled out.
The intelligence that is sattvic knows what has to be feared and when the fear is psychological, pathological, unwarranted, irrational.
One had to observe this in a great master like Swami Sivananda to know where self-respect ends and arrogance begins, where timidity ends and humility begins.
One has to learn the difference between meekness and weakness, when to bend down and when not to, when to fear and when not to.
Both bending down and not bending down can be attributed to arrogance.
Here one sees the beauty of appropriate action - and it needs an awakened intelligence which is sattvic.
The behaviour of our master was incomprehensible to us, because we looked at him through our lenses, and they were not pure.
Swamiji was not afraid of public opinion, but that did not mean that he defied public opinion.
These are two different things.
We may be afraid of public opinion and so avoid action, or we may defy public opinion to assert ourselves.
We have a rigid pattern of behaviour.
Swamiji took into account public opinion, social customs, the spiritual goal, the end, the means - and these were all reflected in his conduct.

October 6

Religious Instruction

In Rishikesh there are so many ashrams presided over by enlightened masters.
Daily we are privileged to sit at the feet of these masters and they speak to us, individually or collectively.
Or do they?
When these great masters talk to us, do we understand?
No doubt, we understand the words, because we have installed on the pedestal of our brain cells images which correspond to these words which are used.
But this is useless.
There is no understanding.
It is jugglery of words or transliteration (not even translation).
These are days when religious organisations all over the world are being besieged by calls for vernacularisation of prayers and explanations of doctrines.
What follows is not to be treated as a doctrine to be debated, but to be seen for what it is - a mere statement or plain truth.
A 'pastime' is euphemism for 'dangerous abuse of time'.
The worst of pastimes is polemics.
It is futile, but its refutation is worse still.
Hence I do not indulge in polemics.
But can we, each one of us, endeavour to understand why religious instruction has so far failed everywhere in the world?
Why is it that people who understand the words understand nothing.
The teaching concerns truth.
Your mind is filled with thoughts concerning health, wealth and filth.
How can such a mind understand or respond to such sublime teaching?
But then the trouble is you think you understand.
You praise the teacher.
He ought to be surprised to hear that the student could understand what he himself has not understood!
But if he is as foolish as you are, then he thinks that he is a great teacher.
And so goes the circus.
Even if God Himself stands in front of you to teach you in your own mother-tongue and in your special dialect, you will understand nothing if you are not properly tuned to the teacher.

October 7

Holy Man! Give up jealousy

While the pragmatism of the materialists unites them, the dogmatism of the spiritualists divides them.
The former's goal is immediate profit and even if the unity is not long-lasting, it is spectacular: like America and Russia fighting side by side to crush Hitler.
The religious people, on the other hand, have an abstract ideal which to all but a handful of truly spiritual heroes might mean nothing more than hallucination.
To each man of religion his vision is the only truth and all else untruth to be actively denied and destroyed.
This fissiparous tendency is often evident in spiritual organisations.
The leader of each religious group is more eager to broadcast the others' faults than even to beat his own drum.
The result, as we have seen throughout the history of the world, is growth of irreligion.
Sometimes it cuts into the organisation, creating parties within its membership.
It may generate personal dislike of jealousy.
These undivine qualities don idealistic mantles: the undivine jealousy, is admired as vigorous dedication to the 'Cause', in defence of which a spiritually advanced brother has the courage to denounce another!
The immediate appreciation it evokes in the hearts of one's own unspiritual associates who are clever enough to reap a harvest of personal profit prevents one from shedding the mask and seeing the Truth.
It was Gurudev Sivananda who demonstrated in his own life that every spiritual aspirant and leader should combine in himself the most ardent devotion to his own path, vision or ideal, and the wisdom to let every other spiritual aspirant or leader similarly pursue other paths or ideals.
If we adopt this principle, we shall be able to unmask jealousy and such other undivine elements that may rear their heads within us and deal quickly with them.
The world's moral (and therefore basic) problems are nothing if the religious forces get together, instead of tearing humanity apart by mean-mindedness and jealousy.
May Gurudev's light shine brightly in our very souls.

October 8

Sivananda's Meditation

To meditate upon the guru is to meditate upon God.
Every disciple is asked to contemplate the guru before doing anything, and thus link his consciousness with the guru's several times a day.
Krishna reveals to us that meditation is not such a rare thing.
He reminds us in the Gita (II-62) that we often "meditate or contemplate objects of pleasure".
Such meditation leads to self-destruction.
Throughout the scripture, of course, Krishna deals with meditation for self-realisation or enlightenment. Krishna points out that "Some people behold the self by the self in meditation".
Here and throughout the scripture the emphasis is on 'seeing' (pasyati a pasyanti).
"He who sees God or the Self in all, and all in God or the Self," is a devotee, yogi and so on.
This is the way, and this was Sivananda's meditation.
We saw that Gurudev was fond of the Vibhuti Yoga of the Bhagavad Gita (10th chapter).
'See God in all'- that was his mantra.
Not to think "I see God in all".
How does one know that one sees God in all?
How does he who sees God in all behave?
Does he see God in all except in himself?
If he sees God in all, including himself, how does he function as if dualistically?
This is the supreme paradox and mystery which can really and truly be understood only if we see the truth embodied in someone like Gurudev Swami Sivananda.
In Him we saw clearly illustrated the twin bhavas (realisation): narayana-bhava (see God in all) and nimitta-bhava (God is the indwelling reality, and the body and mind are instruments in His hands).
This attitude, this perception and this realisation constitute real meditation.
They cannot be practised, cultivated or applied.
They have to happen - of course, by the grace of God and Gurudev.

October 9

A Revelation of the Divine Mother

The Durga Saptashati is a small text of 700 verses - the same number as that of the Bhagavad Gita.
Perhaps the number 700 and its association with the Bhagavad Gita were deliberately contrived to illustrate one of the most emphatic declarations of Sri Krishna concerning Divine Incarnation.
The whole universe is depicted and conceived of as a play of contrary forces, which frequently create an imbalance.
To restore balance the Divine incarnates again and again.
Thus we are told in the Durga Saptashati that after a long, long penance of self-negation, when the seeker had a vision of the Divine Mother, he prayed to her: "Please relieve me of ego and egoistic relationships."
This is surrender.
Perhaps to bring home to us a strange problem, the scripture tells us that even the breath-taking austerities of the king could not eradicate the extended ego: hence the king prayed to the Divine Mother for power and position - there was no surrender.
So, first there has to be this inner awakening, and in that awakening this awareness keeps watch over all one's thoughts, words and deeds.
Life doesn't change overnight, but as life flows on this awareness, the monitor, detects our defects and shortcomings.
Whether they go away immediately or not, they begin to hurt and hurt and this hurt is very good.
We become more and more intensely frustrated and dissatisfied with what we are, not with what we have. When even to live seems impossible, then there is a revelation of the Divine Mother.
To pretend to have surrendered before this happens is pretension, not surrender.
Surrender must happen in its own good time.
First you were bad, then you struggled hard and you became good.
Then you struggled harder and you became better.
Completely free of all evil qualities, you were the embodiment of all good qualities - and immediately you became worse because you were full of vanity.
That is the time to surrender, and from there on surrender flows and all that you do flows to the feet of the Divine Mother.

October 10

The Sequence of Prayer

With what we consider to be our own firm conviction in their efficacy, we recite our prayers and chant mantras.
For very good reasons our ancient sages have inculcated in us the faith that their very repetition would save us from sorrow.
By this the texts have been preserved, and this faith persuades us to study them till the prayer becomes alive in us.
Some may regard the whole thing as superstition.
But, Gurudev Swami Sivananda had great faith in the Devi Mahatmyam (Durga Saptashati).
Faith is different from belief.
One who has never seen burning fire may be told that it is hot.
He believes that statement.
But when he draws near a real fire he feels the heat.
He now has faith in the truth that fire is hot.
If he comes into direct contact with it he knows.
One hears that the Durga Saptashati is a powerful mantra or prayer.
One participates in the ceremony with devotion.
Then one experiences grace.
Then faith is born.
One may then continue the devotional practice and experience the truth.
Often our prayers are answered.
But the answered prayers stop us from praying.
We are satisfied that the prayer has been answered and therefore we cease to pray.
This is invitation to disaster. Wise men, when their prayers are answered, immediately give thanks to the Lord for the grace shown. This is wisdom.
There is something more.
If one sincerely realises that "I could not make it myself and hence I prayed for divine grace; and it was on account of the grace that I succeeded.
The success belongs to the divine" then there is true humility and continued prayerfulness.
This is the key to the continued reception of grace and continued success.

October 11

A Guide to Insight

All the scriptures that have been handed down to mankind are maps of Life.
The problems dealt with are problems that we face every day: sorrow, grief, disappointment, confusion, attachment.
What are they?
How do they arise - that is, what are the internal causative and contributory factors?
A knowledge of the answers to these questions might enable us to deal with these notions and emotions without inviting them, succumbing to them and thus aggravating them.
Defeated, disowned and disgraced by kith and kin, a king and a trader sought the counsel of a sage.
They were unhappy, but they kept affectionately worrying over the unhappiness of their kith and kin! Mysterious is mind.
Do we love to be unhappy?
Is it possible to look at unhappiness, sorrow and attachment without blaming others or even oneself, and discover what they are made of (just as the substance of the objects seen in the mirror is mirror or glass)?
All experiences arise within us; hence we should learn to look within.
Three factors obstruct our vision:
(1) Pure undivided awareness (or: God-realisation, witness consciousness, choiceless awareness, observation without an observer, self-knowledge, Christ-consciousness and so on) is 'asleep'. In the absence of Self-knowledge, 'the other' is experienced as real, and
(2) our mind and senses pursue pleasure and thus wallow in the impure divided consciousness.
(3) When the reality of inner experiences and so on is sought intellectually - hence, vainly - there arise sophisticated distractions - the noble pursuits of philosophers (and scientists), priests and politicians!
In the three episodes of the Devi Mahatmya we are given a graphic teaching of how to deal with these three so that we might be able directly to become aware - choicelessly - of the stuff of consciousness.
Such awareness itself is the destruction of distractions and the realisation of the unpollutability of the undivided essence.
It is the instant ending of sin and sorrow.
There is natural holiness.
All life is recognised to be already divine.
The mind and the senses are sanctified by the 'touch' of the divine; they are incapable of diabolical activity and evil vanishes from their view.
The entire universe is realised to be the expansion of chit-shakti (the power of consciousness - the omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotence of God).
We are all one in Him.
This is Love.

October 12

The Battlefield is Full of Demons

How to acquire this inner vision which, without changing anything extraordinary, brings about a total and complete change?
The vision is turned within to examine what this 'mineness' is, how it arises, where it arises.
There is no sense in calling it an illusion.
That it is an illusion may be revealed to you in God's good time, but for the present it is there and very, very real.
Pursue it.
As you pursue it, unless you are highly mature, you may not perceive the 'mineness' itself.
But you will perhaps become aware of the various aspects of this 'mineness': attachment, craving, desire, anger, foolishness, lust, hatred.
All of these come out.
Can you already apply this marvellous philosophy that these are all movements of energy in consciousness?
Then you might run into serious difficulties.
When you find that greed is your problem, become more generous.
When you find that short temper is your problem, become a little more patient.
That's enough.
There is a challenge and there is an appropriate response.
When these things are moved out of your way and you see that in spite of all your exercises the problem still exists, then suddenly this Raktabija - the demon who apparently cannot be overcome - is formed.
At that point, your whole intelligence gets frightened because you have been battling and battling with your own evil qualities and you think you have made the grade, but you see the battlefield is full of these demons - they are all there in different forms waiting to pounce upon you.
As Gurudev would say, "Your vanity has multiplied" the vanities of humility, charity, kindness, efficiency and learning.
Whatever you thought was good has been turned into vanity and eventually becomes evil.
If you are wise, that wisdom trembles: "What am I going to do?"
Surrender is meaningful only at this point.
Until then, if you detect unhealthy, undesirable qualities in yourself - battle.
Find appropriate remedies.
As Gurudev would say, "Cultivate good qualities to replace the undesirable ones."
Then you really see that that is not enough, because whatever you do is all turned into ego, vanity.
Then surrender arises.

October 13

The Divine Incarnation

All the descriptions of gods and demons, heavens and hells and so on are just figures of speech, there is nothing in it.
If you want to go to heaven, please do, but if the scriptures can be trusted, these gods are in constant fear of being dethroned and of demons hunting them out, just as the earth is revolving, heaven and hell also seem to be revolving.
For a few years all the so-called gods rule the heavens and then comes a revolution and the demons are ruling the heavens.
The scriptures say that periodically the demons invaded the heavens and drove the gods away.
Quite possible.
The gods are radiant, they have the support, the grace and the blessing of God.
How is it that they can be driven out by demons?
Once you feel that you are supported and protected you become arrogant and evil.
This is the greatest danger.
You become arrogant and vicious and therefore weak, so that the demons come and attack you and drive you out.
This is one interpretation.
Another interpretation is also possible.
The devas are ruling the heavens and with the passage of time they become more and more arrogant.
They are the demons, and where they live becomes hell.
It need not be a very specially assigned corner of the universe, but where the majority of people are vicious that itself is hell.
This divine power - Durga, Christ, Buddha, whatever you wish to call it - when it descends into the world of diversity, has only one aim, only one purpose.
For the destruction of evil God incarnates Himself again and again and again.
It does not mean that since we are performing all the ceremonies, pujas and so on we are the saved ones.
There is no protection at all against wickedness.
Wickedness must be removed, and if you examine yourself very carefully, you see that all viciousness, wickedness and weakness spring from this one single, simple word - 'mine'.
It is only grace that can remove it.
Can I, on that score, neglect to do anything?
Then I am accepting and rationalising this mineness.
So I have to struggle hard against it and then come to the precipice where I say, "Lord, not my will, Thy will be done. I don't know how to deal with this. I have done everything possible to overcome it. It is not possible for me. 'Me' cannot overcome 'mine'."
It is then that there is an incarnation of this divine Power within you and that which was not there is realised to be not there.

October 14

At the Feet of the Divine Mother

As part of the ritual recitation of the Durga Saptashati, we take special note of an inspiring half-verse.
The Divine Mother, the Cosmic Energy, is endowed with several special potencies which are for a very special purpose, thus stated in the half-verse: "For the removal of the body of the demons, and to bestow upon the devotee the boon of fearlessness".
This is surely what tempts us to repeat the prayer, the feeling: "I am a devotee eligible for this boon of fearlessness."
But then, if I discover that I continue to be a prey to fear, to a sense of insecurity, sorrow and suffering, then surely it is not because the law of grace has become inoperative in my case, but because I am not a devotee.
Devotion to the Cosmic Power and fear (and all the rest of it) do not go together.
If the latter is present, then devotion is not.
If I am no devotee, then I partake of the nature of demons (if we are honest we shall discover that we all carry a little demon in our own heart and mind).
And what does the scripture say?
The Cosmic Power removes the 'body' of the demon.
This does not mean only the physical body, but the mental, intellectual and karmic sheaths as well.
This action of the Cosmic Power is made manifest in our own life in different events which the ignorant mind, the demonic mind, interprets as 'old age' (which removes pride of youth), 'poverty' (which removes the arrogance of wealth), 'illness' (which removes our reliance on physical strength), 'dishonour' (which removes the veil of vanity).
If the mind and the heart are able to see these events as actions of divine grace instead of as calamities, we are instantly transformed into devotees and we become instantly eligible for the boon of fearlessness, which is granted to us without the least delay.
Sounds simple, but often it is not that simple.
For suffering and even its understanding do not lead to enlightenment which alone ends evil.
Only when all actions and endeavours in life have a single direction, when all these are made to flow towards the divine, does the ego come to an end.

October 15

Thy Will be Done

'Surrender to God' is an oft-discussed but easily misunderstood topic amongst religious and spiritual seekers.
It is assumed to be the easiest and the most direct way out of the sorrow inherent in life, and an entry into the Kingdom of God.
The assumed simplicity of surrender is because it does not involve physical effort or expenditure of time or money.
It seems to be an entirely inward process; hence, it is easily 'attained'.
But only in one's imagination.
For, real self-surrender is not difficult, but tricky.
We tend to forget a great truth illustrated by Draupadi's predicament in the Kaurava court.
She did not surrender to Krishna and call upon Him prematurely.
Even so, it is impossible for a living human being to realise the futility of effort before having made that effort.
If you have not tried your best, the ego is unwilling to accept defeat; and this is an essential condition to true self-surrender.
When this condition is fulfilled, surrender happens and grace flows; there is absolutely no doubt that whatever happens from there on is realised to be the operation of grace.
However, if one is sincere, it is possible for one to derive an insight into one's own being even when one merely professes to surrender to God.
This is what we learn from the Durga Saptashati.
The ego, which considers itself righteous and holy, does not easily admit of a necessity for total surrender to God; for such a person is ensnared in his or her own self-esteem.
When this self-esteem is challenged, he turns to God, but not before being worsted in the battle with the hidden diabolical forces within himself.
This happens again and again.
For, the surrender is often hypocritical if not imaginary.
Hence, paradoxically the very attempt to surrender seems to end in giving a boost to the ego; for it is the ego that thinks it has surrendered itself to God and (the blasphemy of it) is protected by God, whereas true surrender asks for no protection.
Thus the inner battle goes on.
First with the forces of the grossest form of the ego, then the struggle becomes more intense and closer to oneself - the identification with family, property and position.
When these are also seen to be an imaginary extension of a fundamental error, the spirit of true non-attachment arises.
The last to go is the fundamental error - the feeling 'I am the body'.
All other misconceptions are based on this fundamental error.

October 16

The Unapproachable Fortress

During the nine days of Durga Puja, God is adored as Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati: the three fundamental functions of cosmic energy.
Energy is indeed indivisible, though its functions can be not only varied but apparently contradictory.
The indivisible manifests as the diverse; all contradictions harmonise in the indivisible.
This is considered a great secret because of the human intellect's inability to comprehend the totality.
Hence the need to resort to an approach that is beyond the intellect but not irrational.
Hence again, the need to worship, to adore and to love the Godhead represented by Durga.
The word 'durga' itself has several meanings, definitions and interpretations.
The meanings can be as varied as 'a fortress' and 'unapproachable'.
Paradoxically, the same divinity is a fortress that provides ultimate security and that mysterious energy or reality which is unapproachable by the human intellect.
This indeed is the challenge.
To dare to approach the unapproachable, and by total surrender enter the fortress.
The insecure salt doll gains absolute security when it surrenders itself to the ocean.
That is adoration of Durga, Durga Puja.

The extensions of the ego have to be examined and realised to be unreal by oneself.
Does God's Grace come into this at all?
Perhaps yes.
Material losses, failure, dishonour and social and domestic hostility, may all be God's Grace, if you look at these from the point of view of a true seeker.
However, the meaninglessness of extended ego has to be realised by the intelligent seeker without waiting for a miracle to save him.
But the fundamental error ('I am the body') can be overcome only by Grace.
Hence, the emphasis in the teachings of Lord Jesus and Lord Krishna that one should forsake all worldly relationships and connections and seek Him.
When the seeker reaches this stage - and only then - he realises that self-effort is futile thereafter.
He has done all that he could do.
This realisation gives birth to the true spirit of self-surrender.
(At this point the seeker may realise that it was Divine Grace alone that made self-effort possible right from the start.)
Surrender is indeed the easiest and the most direct path to God realisation.
But all other spiritual practices precede it.

October 17

The Play of Cosmic Forces

We are normally unaware of the cosmic being whom we call God.
But we are aware of cosmic energy.
It is this energy that creates, sustains and brings about changes and thus maintains the cyclic process.
These three functions are attributed to aspects of one indivisible cosmic energy.
Energy, by its very nature, is dynamic, moving, flowing and ever-changing, without ever undergoing a change in its nature as energy.
The source of this energy is visualised as Durga.
When the energy, by an infinite process of combination and recombination, brings about the infinite variety of beings and objects of this universe, we call it Lakshmi.
One who recognises this treats everything with respect.
He gains wisdom.
Wisdom is Saraswati.
Thus, when this energy flows, there is unity in diversity, prosperity under all conditions, and wisdom which is Self-knowledge.
Self-knowledge reveals the divine ground of the infinitely diverse phenomena.
However, built into all this is a mysterious potentiality of ignorance.
As the beautiful story in the Kena Upanishad tells us, even the gods fall victim to this mysterious ignorance; and the individual who is but an integral part of the movement of total energy, thinks that he is an independent doer of actions.
Pride enters into him.
When this perversion arises, the cosmic balance is disturbed and there is conflict.
Even this conflict is a mere play of cosmic forces from God's point of view.
For, nothing can be outside of Him.
However, from the relative point of view, there certainly is conflict - and the conflict is between the forces of light and the forces of darkness.
In this conflict they who turn to the divine for grace and help are the beings of light.
The aggressor performs this signal service to the humble by humbling pride and directing the heart of the humble towards God.
In response to heart-felt prayer, the divine manifests again and again, when and where help is needed.
Everyone within the field of the divine influence is redeemed - the saintly and the sinful, for energy is one and divine.
All life is divine.
All beings are cells in the body of one God.

October 18

Pray with Sincerity and Wisdom

There is an interesting episode in the last section of the Durga Saptashati.
Two mighty demons drive all the gods away from heaven and take charge of it.
The gods who were driven out suddenly remember a boon granted to them by the Divine Mother: "Whenever you are in trouble think of me and I'll come to your help."
It's an interesting boon which guarantees that you'll get into trouble!
Remembering this boon they start offering a prayer and the prayer is very interesting: "We salute that Divine Mother who is intelligence, power, energy, sleep, the creative energy, craving, thought, memory, patience, peace, confusion or madness in all beings."
It is a very interesting thought that wherever there is conjunction of consciousness and energy, there is the Divine.
All that you can think of is the conjunction of consciousness and energy; the two are inseparable.
You cannot have consciousness without its inherent energy.
Whether you call it a good thought or a bad thought, both are thoughts.
Good fortune or misfortune, both are fortune.
It depends which end of the stick you are holding.
When you lose, somebody else gains.
There is nothing other than just a movement of energy in consciousness.
If we think "Ah, that's a beautiful philosophy. I can do what I like".
There is the snag.
You may say that there is no difference between kindness and cruelty, except that kindness will beget kindness and cruelty will beget cruelty.
Are you prepared to treat what you receive in the same spirit in which you give?
If you are cruel to others, are you prepared to receive cruelty from others in the same spirit in which you gave it?
Only when the inner vision of sameness arises does this philosophy make sense.
Prematurely applying this philosophy is useless.
It is words without sense or meaning.
The inner vision is necessary and if the inner vision is not there, whatever you do, however much meditation or worship you do, all is 'water off a duck's back'.
It doesn't touch anything.

October 19

When the Heart Becomes Heaven

When the very fact that we regard something as 'mine' begins to hurt, then that heart becomes heaven, the abode of God.
There is something good in our lives, however wicked we may be.
In fact, it is the existence of that goodness that leads to this rationalisation.
It is something that stirs in you, that says, "I shouldn't do this."
That stirring is divine.
So, in a way, if you feel frustrated and dissatisfied, that frustration and dissatisfaction is divine - hang onto it.
When this cry of frustration becomes intensest, the Divine manifests itself.
Instantly there is Divine Grace.
One of the signs of this frustration or dissatisfaction is that it does not seek to fill the vacuum of dissatisfaction.
You refuse cosmetic solutions.
It is then that something fearless and courageous, awakens in you and says, "What on earth am I doing here and what is this cosmetic treatment going to bring me? At worst I may die. That's good. No problem." Suddenly you realise that this is the fundamental truth which you had forgotten.
This is what is separating you and me all the time.
What sort of cosmetic treatment are we undergoing?
Now that dissatisfaction has brought about an inner awakening - a little window has been opened on the truth concerning life.
That is the stirring of the Durga within.
If one is prepared to face the truth, even if there is only one small glimpse of it, just one little hole in the roof through which the light streams in, if one is prepared to hang onto it, then even one's failure in life can be welcomed and greeted as grace.
The heart that is looking for the pearl of truth is not interested in shells anymore.
That is the criterion, that is the sign that the inner awakening has taken place.
If it's not there, a little more struggle is indicated.
Without anticipating anything, without any hope whatsoever, is it possible for us to experience this inner agony that "I am trapped in this 'mineness', in this sense of possession, in this spirit of dominance and, my God, I can't get out of it!"
When the heart bleeds, cries aloud in prayer, it's then that Durga, the supreme power, manifests itself in our own hearts and there is enlightenment.

October 20


What is Brahman?
Brahman is God.
What is God?
In our search to understand anything, we always construct mental pictures comparing something we do not know with what we think we know.
We use descriptions: 'long', 'small', 'high', etc., but all these are measures.
Measuring limits, but in order to understand anything, I have to measure, to compare.
That measure is maya.
If we want to understand what maya is we have to measure measure!
If my measure is wrong, everything it measures is wrong!
I cannot really understand maya beyond seeing that it means measuring, limiting.
From this standpoint I can again enquire and try to define Brahman as 'Cosmic Being', using the notion of cosmic to remind myself of His Infinity.
This also introduces a limitation!
By stating He is infinite, I have indicated that He is not finite.
The mind is caught in this trap of measuring, defining and thus confining.
Understanding that all description is a limitation, one may drop the measuring instrument and catch a glimpse occasionally of the Immeasurable.
Realising that what we are talking about is beyond description and comparison, we also see that to understand the immeasurable, we have to get out of the measuring!
By measuring it out, by going through maya beyond maya, I understand that there is no blue 'dome' covering the world, but I still see the sky as blue; but coming face to face with the fact that there is nothing there, I drop the false idea I originally had.
Once I have recognised there is no real pool of water in the desert, (realised the illusoriness of the illusion), though it still appears to be water, I know it to be in fact a mirage.
I have to work through the appearance of maya to get beyond it.
God cannot be affected by anything I do.
The fact that I try to measure Him, cut Him into finite (to me comprehensible) pieces does not cancel His Cosmic Nature!
Just as water is water (be it muddy, tea or the body of a swami or a thief, the spirit, whatever it may appear to be, never becomes filth, but is forever pure Spirit.
Once we realise that the Cosmic cannot be measured and thus limited, but that throughout our life we cannot help measuring and limiting (conceptualising), this measuring disappears.
When I realise that all my concepts and beliefs are nothing but measuring, the illusion that measuring had for me is gone.
I have realised that the unreal is unreal.
To know that the unreal is unreal is Realisation.

October 21

Maya - The Basic Limitation

The concept of illusion gives rise to a lot of misunderstandings.
Maya is a limitation or conditioning that is inherent in all creation.
The eyes can perceive only a small segment of the spectrum - the cars can hear only a few decibels of sound - i.e., they are not even as efficient as the machines that we have invented!
This is how it is: there is no fault here and hence no remedy is called for.
The mind ('my mind') too, is limited and conditioned - by the enormous stuff that has been fed into it birth after birth.
It is loaded with this memory and so responds to this as a computer would.
The intellect which is individualised cosmic consciousness can function only within the logic barrier.
It is obsessed with the 'why', and it invents reasons and explanations which somehow satisfy it.
The intellect may even 'accuse' the mind and the senses without realising that the accuser is also the accused!
It is also conditioned.
No amount of physical or mental activity can uncondition the body, mind and intellect. With ruthless perseverance the seeker must drop the conditioning by the 'neti-neti' method.
Any effort at transforming the mind will leave the problem untouched - even as dough can never be free of form, even if it is just a shapeless mess!

October 22

Know the Subject; Know the Object

The word 'subject' is subject to all sorts of interpretations.
Subject is the one who studies.
Subject originally meant self and studying the subject meant self-knowledge.
What do you mean by the question: "What subject did you study in college?"?
You go to college to study the subject! Yourself!
Not mathematics or physics - they are of no use.
But while studying mathematics you are studying yourself.
So why are these things called subjects?
Subject is the studier, the student.
Now, instead of studying oneself in relation to the object, you 'master' the subject, and that which is mastered becomes 'subject'.
Then subjection is abstracted into a thing in itself - slavery.
Until you begin to object to that.
What is the object of this objection?
The object of this objection is the subject which subjects this object to subjection!!
Eventually and gradually you turn towards the subject and that is precisely the process of yoga.
Having been completely lost in the mire of maya, you pull yourself out and 'turn towards yourself.
Then at some stage you are bound to wonder, "Am I an object of myself that I am able to observe myself?"
But still that seems to make sense at some point - when you observe your own nature, your own characteristics, your own defects and shortcomings etc.
You realise, "I am angry," "I am attached to you" and "I am full of hate and jealousy".
Then this observation is going to make some change there also - an exact parallel to the quantum physics: all observation brings about a change.
And if you are able to observe your own qualities, whether they are good or bad, those qualities undergo some change.
So, while observing what is euphemistically called 'oneself', a change takes place.
When the observation becomes a bit more intense, one has to wonder at some time, "How did I become my own object? With what can I observe myself and know the truth concerning myself?"
When that burning question arises there is an inner explosion and an expansion of consciousness that is indescribable.

October 23

Maya is Incomprehensible

The substratum for maya is Brahman or God.
This supreme power pervades the whole universe.
In fact, the universe is just one vibrant mass of whirling energy.
But somewhere this whirling vibrant mass of energy takes a certain form, and mysteriously there arises a feeling in relation to this form, 'I am'; whereas in truth there is nothing but a whirling mass of energy - energy which is alive, aware consciousness itself in motion.
That which is unable to experience this truth is maya.
This illusion exists wherever the reality exists.
It is merely a matter of perception.
This maya is incomprehensible to the human mind because the human mind is part of the confusion.
How does this mini confusion deal with the maxi confusion?
It is an absurd game.
Here the intellect has no relevance at all.
Illusion cannot be understood or fought against.
You will fail.
Then, must we go on living under the illusion that the body is me?
We have tended to regard maya as something outside ourselves which prevents us from looking inside and beholding the omnipresence within.
But if we turn our gaze, it is possible to peel away layer after layer of the 'me' and come to the direct realisation of that which is beyond the me, whose shadow is the me.
It is then that you realise this divine omnipresence whose effervescence is called the world and all the experiences that 'we' undergo in this world.
Bring about this inner awakening now and sustain it as long as the body lasts.

I am not against formalised religion, because I see from history that everyone who condemned formalised religion has been made to found a religion in spite of himself.
Buddha, for instance, condemned formalised religion, but today there is Buddhism.
One cannot but appreciate the need for a form in worship, but that form by itself is a dead body.
If I need a form and I cling to that form, it is like sleeping with a dead body.
I must make sure that the person I am sleeping with is alive!
So we need neither the form alone nor the spirit alone, but a spirit in form, a form enclosing the spirit.
If spirit is infused into these forms - Christianity and Hinduism - they are wonderful.

October 24

The Supreme Effort

Maya is so powerful that even the greatest of jnanis is overpowered.
It should be so easy to cross this ocean of samsara or maya, but the difficulty is that we are fighting with something that does not exist.
Maya is not real, or it is inexplicably real and unreal like the reflection in the mirror or the shadow on the wall.
You cannot say it doesn't exist and you cannot say it exists.
That is where your brain and intellect fail.
There is only one thing which can deal with that shadow and that is light, and the parallel is that it is only investigation or self-awareness which can deal with this illusion.
What is waking up and how does one wake up?
Two paths have been taken by seekers: one is the path of enquiry, jnana marga; the other is the path of surrender.
In the case of jnana marga you do not bother about maya at all, but investigate what the reality is.
That is rather a bold approach.
Surrender presupposes that you have endeavoured to understand maya, but you have come to feel that you cannot understand it.
You admit that you are attached to your family, your friends, etc. and you cannot understand how this mysterious maya works.
Face the facts.
Try to get rid of it; and when it doesn't go you surrender yourself, knowing that maya itself must reveal its nature.
That maya itself must make itself non-maya, because the substratum for that maya is Brahman, God.
When you flash a light on the shadow on the wall you don't see the shadow anymore in its place you see the wall.
Even so, if you surrender yourself to maya, realising the inability of the mind and the intellect to solve this problem, then the truth will be revealed.
That surrender itself is supreme effort.
So you surrender to this maya, not knowing what it is.
You realise that it is not possible for the intellect, the mind or the ego to know what this maya is.
Instantly this illusion has gone.
That is a mystery which one has to experience.
When you say you don't know what it is, you don't call it anything anymore.
The problem disappears without any effort but the supreme effort of self-surrender.

October 25

The Truth That Comes From Within

We try to rationalise this problem of what is called illusion and if we discover that it is impossible to rationalise it we try to reject it which is another form of rationalisation.
When you bring something which is beyond reason into one or other of these two categories, to be accepted or rejected, you have got to rationalise it.
Neither of these works, and so you go from one frustration to another.
In this world, 'I am' is a simple fact.
We may place different definitions upon this simple expression, 'I am'.
You may think you are the body, a psychological or spiritual entity; whatever definition is placed upon those two simple words, 'I am', is undeniable.
But this thing called 'mine' does not exist even in the sense of 'I am'.
You may say "I am the body," and there may be some philosophers here who say, "You are not the body, you are the immortal self."
Materialists might say, "There is no soul or spirit, you are the body. Look after it nicely and you will live a long healthy life."
Both are right, but even that much of truth cannot be attributed to the expression 'mine'.
You cannot accept it, that's silly.
You cannot reject it, that is equally silly.
Why do you reject something which does not exist?
That means that the mind has rationalised it and accepted it in a left-handed way.
Now it's trying to push it away.
It is a wasteful effort.
There are billions of 'I am's.
'You are' is only another expression which really means 'I am'.
As long as this diversity lasts all these 'I am's are independent and maybe from the absolute point of view all these 'I am's blend into one super whole or totality.
Having heard that, can I apply this truth as if it were some kind of cosmetic stuff?
Truth cannot be applied.
It has to be realised.
It has to come from within.
It must be realised and become the living truth.

October 26

Realise That Nothing is Mine

Maya can work in various subtle ways.
It can make you a jnani, a highly intelligent man, a successful person or a brilliant Yogi.
But you are still being twisted by maya: "I am not attached to anything here. I want to renounce everything."
But you are attached to this image called yourself!
Even a devotee or a good man can lose his head: "I'm a very good man. I am full of virtue and devoted to God."
Whenever some such people appear on the scene my mind almost immediately says, "So what!"
A little meditation on this pulls the ground from under all our so called endeavours.
What are we striving for in this world?
Even in striving for good things, being good or doing good, there is already strife, egoism and vanity.
They will come in through the back door, and it is possible for a good person to destroy his goodness by being proud of it.
Previously, your vanity was confined to "This is my wife, these are my children, etc."
Now all that is gone - but nothing is gone.
The same ego continues to identify itself with other things: "This is my ashram, these are my disciples, these are my books and I am so great. Though physically I am five foot seven inches, my spiritual stature is fifteen thousand feet!"
It's very much like saying, "I am blind in the left eye, you are blind in the right eye."
What's the big deal?
We are both one-eyed monsters, never mind which eye is lost!
Instead of engaging in such jokes, is it possible for us to come to a clear understanding that here is a problem that the mind cannot understand?
Is it possible for you to look around and realise that nothing is mine?
But ultimately you are caught somewhere - caught in the body, in your own little personality: "This is my body, this is my personality. I am this."
How does that go?
Two things seem to be necessary simultaneously: surrender to this divine power and at the same time investigation of the truth.
Then we gain divine grace which flows through surrender, and that grace alone enables us to investigate the truth and bring about enlightenment.

October 27

Detecting Maya

This thing called 'mineness' or the sense of possession is so pervasive that it is not possible for the human mind, however brilliant it may be, to comprehend it.
You give up what you think is an obstacle but carry the obstacle with you.
The man who has renounced his wife thinks of her more often now than he used to before.
So, what has he renounced? Nothing.
That is the mistake we commit, but for grace.
Grace is necessary to see that this 'mineness' can come round and round and round - it has so many forms.
Gurudev used to say that you cannot directly see maya but you can detect maya through her own lieutenants.
For instance, if you are jealous, tackle that jealousy.
It has its root in egoism, but the ego is not seen.
Tackle this jealousy and the ego will come out.
You are craving, tackle that craving, the egoism comes out.
In the same way one has to deal with all the different manifestations of the ego.
No one can convince another that this sense of possession is demoniacal or that it even needs to be dealt with.
We have not only accepted the sense of possession - 'mineness' - as truth, as fact, but we have also crowned it by saying that it is perhaps the greatest saviour in the world.
"It is because we are attached to each other" we don't say attached, we 'love' each other - "that we serve each other and promote each other's welfare and that is what has made the world what it is."
You might add that the mess in which we find the world is due to this attachment also.
It demands grace to even see this for what it is: a danger to peace of mind, sanity, happiness and enlightenment.
When Grace descends into us and we are able to observe this, then we don't see grace or the reality of God or consciousness.
What we see are our own defects and weaknesses, the million ways in which we cheat ourselves, justify and rationalize our actions, our behaviour, our mode of life.
And very often we shy away from it.
It frightens us and we think that merely turning our gaze from it will make it go away.
It doesn't go away.
The very fact that we have to rationalise it shows that there is something wrong there.
We never rationalise a fact.
I don't justify myself for breathing.
Similarly, why must I go about saying "I am an instrument in the hands of God"?
If I am an instrument I may not even know it, only He will know it.
So, without getting into all these traps, grace enables you to be aware all the time.

October 28

The Lord's Maya

On the auspicious day of the Birth of Lord Krishna, we read the Story of the Nativity from the Bhagavatham.
We are reminded in it that Maya was also born at the same time, at the Lord's own command!
God and Maya manifest at the same time!
It is even more mysterious that the Lord who has immortalised Vasudeva in the holy mantra (Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya), made Vasudeva exchange Him for Maya!
All these are worth deep contemplation.
We shall then realise the beautiful truth expressed thus by the royal sage Bhishma: "I salute the Lord who as Moha confuses beings by the bonds of affection and attachment, for the furtherance of this world."
All this is His Play which needs light and darkness.
It is not our play, however.
The most revered saint Swami Harisharananandaji (one of Gurudev's senior disciples) used to remind us in his talks: "When Vasudeva had the Lord in his hands, the fetters fell away, the prison doors opened, the fierce guards fell asleep and the river Yamuna gave way; but when Vasudeva held Maya in his hands, his arms were fettered again, the doors closed and the guards awoke."
The meaning is obvious!
Sure enough we (the pleasure-loving ego or the salvation-seeking soul) resent the bondage; and we loudly protest that Maya is a terrible power of illusion.
Lord Krishna Himself gently cautions us: "You cannot overcome Maya, for Maya is My own (Power or Energy)."
Maya is not illusion (a non-existence); but it is a different kind of reality.
It is the Lord's Energy.
Deep contemplation on this simple truth enables us to realise that we need the grace of Maya every moment of our lives.
That is what the Durga Saptashati or Devi Mahatmyam reveals to us.
We are assailed, not by God's Maya, but by the demons created by our own ignorance and stupidity.
These demons threaten all that is good and noble in us, and therefore they cannot be overcome by our ego-centred activities.
It is God's Maya that overcomes these diabolical forces.
It is Maha Maya that promotes all that is good and noble in us.
Hence, Lord Krishna reveals that they who surrender themselves to Him surrender themselves to His Maya who thereupon affords them safe passage (even as the river Yamuna did).
Not otherwise! Hence, Lord Krishna Himself enjoins the worship of the Divine Mother Durga.
May Her light illumine our path.

October 29


The Infinite is That which cannot be measured.
Not only in the sense of measuring by some kind of instrument like a scale, tape or a test-tube, but that which cannot be measured even by the intellect or the mind.
That which can be measured is naturally smaller than the measuring instrument.
So the Infinite cannot be measured by any other than the Infinite.
In relation to the Infinite, even the mind is finite, and there is what is called 'measuring' (maya) which is beyond the mind.
Therefore maya cannot be understood.
Maya is that foolish idea with which the finite tries to measure the Infinite.
When a person, a human being, thinks: "I can see God or know God", that thought itself is maya.
One who reaches up to that point and knows that which is Infinite cannot be measured, has reached the state of ultimate wisdom.
How does one describe the Infinite when all description is finite?
The guru, the teacher in one of the Upanishads, gives a vague definition: "That from which all beings become manifest. That in which all these beings exist, That into which they all return when they leave this embodiment, That is Brahman."
It is as unclear as any other statement in the world.
That is the teaching - because the Infinite cannot be described.
What is it from which all beings are born?
What is it by which all beings live?
And where do these things return to?
Easy - earth, food.
What is this body?
This body is made of food.
And how was this body born?
It was formed from the food eaten by the mother.
So I was born as a result of eating food!
How do I live now?
Naturally by eating food!
And when I die, I go back into the earth.
So the disciple answers: "Food."
The disciple feels, "This is the ultimate truth, the Infinite."
Having come to this understanding, he comes again to the teacher.
By merely looking at the student the teacher knows what the student has done.
The student says, "Sir, teach me what is the Infinite."
But now the guru does not want to teach any more.
He says: "Go, go, meditate, meditate."

What matters is not how much water is in the ocean, but how much your bucket can carry.
What kind of vessel have you got and how much can that vessel contain?

October 30

The Ocean of Light

Legend has it that Ganga was once a celestial river and a great monarch (Bhagiratha) brought it down to the earth in order to redeem his ancestors from a curse.
At every step there were insurmountable obstacles, but Bhagiratha was unflagging in his zeal to fulfil his sacred mission.
He performed penance standing on one leg for thousands of years.
With the help of Lord Siva, the king brought the celestial river down to the earth.
But his trials were not over.
He and Ganga met with many more obstacles.
The austerities had to be renewed with redoubled vigour, till the holy waters of the celestial river flowed over the ashes of the king's ancestors who were instantly redeemed.
All things are possible for self-effort.
I can even now hear Gurudev's exhortation: "Exert. Do purushartha".
He Himself was an exemplar of unceasing purushartha (Self-effort).
We often talk of self-surrender prematurely, as a cover for our laziness and cowardliness.
Self-realisation is not for the weak, declared Swami Vivekananda.
"Exert, achieve, and then renounce," said Swami Ranganathananda in a thrilling address.
It is in the fullness of one's achievement that there arises the knowledge or understanding that it was all due to divine grace; in that understanding there is intelligent and dynamic self-surrender.
Ganga is brought down to the earth by divine grace.
But the mission is not over!
No one can afford to rest on his oars at any time.
As long as there is energy in the body and the mind, as long as there is the least experience of individuality, so long self-effort, in the right understanding that all things are made possible by divine grace, should not be abandoned.
It is possible to bring Ganga to Perth in Western Australia via the Indian Ocean.
It is possible to flood the heart of man with the ocean of light, the light of Self-knowledge.

October 31

Oases in the Desert

Whenever I read or speak about the Mahabharata, I am overwhelmed by a depressing thought.
The hundred wicked Kauravas acted as one man, hardly ever arguing, hardly ever even disagreeing with one another and ever-willing to overlook their differences of opinion.
On the other hand, the five noble Pandavas spent too much of time and energy arguing (almost bickering!) among themselves.
I can understand this, justify it, but cannot appreciate it.
'Good' people in the world are more eager to reform one another; they expose one another's faults in the name of truth, honesty, sincerity, etc.
Criticizing one another is considered a demonstration of moral courage.
All that is excellent.
But what they tend to forget the whole time is that they have forgotten the real problem: the Kauravas (wicked people) multiply proliferously.
If the leaders of world religions combine their energies, pool their resources and work in harmony, they will succeed in clipping the wings of Satan.
Will they get out of their own shell and take a broad view of the world?

No one for one moment would deny that in every part of the world there are good people and there are not-so-good people.
But it is doubtful if there is any justification whatsoever for the sweeping generalisations which we, in our ignorance, often make.
If you move around the world, you might be surprised how hazardous such generalisations are.
There are good people throughout the world: of this I have no doubt.
It is high time we gave up making sweeping generalisations born of our own ignorance and prejudice and made a special effort to link up with the divine forces of love, harmony, unselfishness and divinity which exist throughout the world as oases exist in deserts.
Among materialists, you will find many spiritual beings.
Among atheists you will find devotees of God.
Among the superstitious you will find highly intelligent beings.
Among fanatics you will find those who are full of love and tolerance.
The fact that they exist surrounded by the opposites makes them more valuable and precious: oases in deserts.

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