Maintain Unbroken Awareness of God
The holiest of holies, the purest of the pure, is the incessant awareness of God. Those who have planted such awareness in their heart are really blessed. That effort is truly faultless which is made with such uniform awareness. Such awareness will gradually mitigate all ego. For practical purposes you may have to say ‘I’ and ‘mine’, but in your heart of hearts God should be the only occupant. Have a daily ‘darshan’ of Maruti; His grace will help maintain constant awareness of God, as a miser has of money. A person gone on an errand constantly maintains awareness of returning time, so should one remain in this world, ever mindful of God, one’s true home. This awareness should be maintained, above all the vicissitudes of life. Never hurt anyone’s heart, while going by the way of the world. For one’s own part, one should take both regard and disregard in one’s stride. Ceaseless awareness of Rama will help you maintain the tendency towards good moral behaviour.
Surrender to Rama in the implicit faith that Rama is your sole relative, friend, philosopher, and guide, your everything. Listen to this dictum, that you should dedicate yourself to Rama, body and soul. Make God your all in all, for He is the very embodiment of compassion. Such single-minded dedication becomes easy if one forsakes all doership. Belong henceforth to Rama, leave all your anxiety to Him; for, if you throw yourself on someone’s mercy, your care automatically becomes his. Be in perfect peace in the trust that He understands your interest better than you yourself do. Dedication to Him is the correct means to overcome desire for worldly pleasures. Even after doing our utmost, we have still achieved no peace, no contentment; so let us take recourse to Raghupati, for He alone can remove our misery, our discontent. So henceforth, let us take Rama as our Lord, and think of none else.
Dedicate yourself, including your ego, to Rama. Go ahead with this conviction at heart that He is your very last resort. Whatever you have done so far, dedicate everything to Him. Whatever happens is done by God in our own interest; so the situation He gives should be accepted without demur. That worldly man is blessed who dedicates himself and his ego to Rama.
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Maintain Unbroken Awareness of God
Every action begins with an object, that is, a desire. Life itself similarly begins with desire. The rise of the Ganga is in a pure driblet; similarly, although we owe birth to polluted desire, the remoter, original source, the Ultimate Reality, is perfectly pure. At early age the mother teaches the child to pray, ‘May my motives be pure and selfless, O God!’ Later, this pure, innocent child becomes polluted with venal and selfish desires. Just as the later polluted water of the Ganga can be clarified by using alum, the polluted mind of a grown-up man can be purified by planting in it the feeling that Rama is the doer. This feeling makes the dissolved and suspended ego settle down as a sediment, and clarifies mental outlook. It doesn’t help much to quieten the mind with the thought that the present suffering is the consequence of some previous action, because we still continue to pile up actions, and as it were, provide reason for the next life. If we sincerely desire to avoid rebirth, we must suitably conduct ourselves in the present life, by destroying all desire.
It is a completely mistaken notion that people who possess wealth, power, and a plethora of ‘pleasurable’ things are happy. Actually, these things are but a burden unless based on sound faith in God. The apparent pleasure of some people in worldly matters is like swelling over the body mistaken to be a healthy plumpness. Therefore, really speaking, worldly life is unhappy for everyone.
With increasing age, a man’s business in the world expands, calls for increasing attention, and detracts the mind farther from God. Desire multiplies instead of diminishing, and forms the basis for a subsequent birth. It is therefore necessary to wake up early and devise a way out. Actually, this way is very easy and straightforward, and has been clearly pointed out by the saints time and again. Start walking along that path; God is eagerly waiting to help you further. It is upto you to show some interest, some determination, some eagerness; you can trust God to do the rest for you.
You admit verbally that you are convinced, but do not put it into practice; nor do you tell what is unconvincing; what can be done in this situation? I would repeat, wake up in time, and follow the right path.
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If we investigate the root cause for birth, it can be traced to desire of one kind or another. We thus find ourselves trapped by desire in the maelstrom of birth and death. It is futile to seek arguments and try to probe whether desire came first or birth. It is like posing the question, which preceded, the tree or its seed. Whatever that may be, the fact remains that the cycle of birth and death goes on. We should, in brief, free ourselves of worldly desire.
When we see a shadow pass across, we conclude that someone has passed. The world is like a shadow, the basic fact being God. Let us try to recognize Him. Although He is all-pervading, we cannot see Him because our eye-sight is clouded by worldliness. We can only see Him when our eyesight, that is, our outlook, is cleansed of that worldliness. If, for instance, one looks on a woman, she will be seen as one’s impulse may be; to a lustful man she will appear amorous, while a noble man will feel motherly regard for her. So, without a pure, selfless heart one will not notice the immanence of God in everything. While trying to perceive God everywhere, one should not overlook His presence in one’s own self. Both kinds of awareness have to be practised simultaneously.
Obey the sadguru; this destroys ego. Saints somewhat deprecate rigid conformity to religious practices, for the possibility of a rise of self-righteousness; whereas, doing what the sadguru advises precludes that possibility. An objection may be raised here that the sadguru, too, advises nama-smarana, that is, some kind of action. A man suffering due to overeating went to a physician to seek relief. He was given three powders to be taken at stated intervals. ‘But, doctor,’ he protested,’ on the one hand you advise me not to eat anything, and, in the same breath, you ask me to take these powders! How can we reconcile your instructions?’ The doctor replied, ‘These powders have to be taken to counteract the effect of previous overeating.’ Similarly, the action of nama-smarana is advised for removing the effect of previous actions, which tended to create the rise of the sense of ego and doership. The sadguru reduces our love for sense-pleasures and creates relish for nama.
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We have some funny ideas about paramartha. Complete ignorance is better than mistaken notions. The sun has been there before, is there today, and is going to be there in the time to come. Consequently we take him for granted, almost overlook him. A like attitude grows up about God. A non-believer may say, ‘There is no God; show Him if you claim that He exists.’ Actually, even he admits the existence of God, though he may call Him by different names, Nature, the powers that be, etc. Then whatever he accepts to exist, should be regarded as God.
A man cannot write down all that he knows; the reader cannot assimilate every word he reads, nor can he explain all that he has understood; nor again, can the listener grasp everything he hears. Therefore, there is no proof as perfect as personal experience. Experience teaches that all doership finally rests with God; so all that one can seek, is to stick to duty.
The saints observed that prapancha and paramartha are imagined to be in conflict with each other. They synthesized the two, and advised doing prapancha, while keeping aware of God by ceaseless nama-smarana. So, I say again, be in nama-smarana while you go through worldly life; keep firm faith in nama and, without deviating from it, you may do what practical life demands. Nirguna is not perceptible, not comprehensible, so it manifests itself either as divine incarnations or as saints.
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Set up some relationship with God. Imagine Him to be your master, yourself His willing slave; make Him your mother, be yourself the child; He the father, you the son; He the husband, yourself the dutiful wife; He the wire-puller, yourself the obedient puppet. When a child is adopted, do we not give him our parental love? A youth and a young girl marry and give each other conjugal duty, and love between them grows. Love begets love. So relate yourself to Him as you feel, as you please, and facilitate attachment for Him. Hanumanta took Rama for his master, and established Him in his heart. Guha had similar feelings. Ravana as an enemy, Bharata as a brother, Seeta as her husband, Bibheeshana as an ally, all these filled their heart with Him in one capacity or other.
Take Maruti for your model. Think it a sacrilege to live in a town or village that has no temple dedicated to Maruti; or at least have a Maruti idol at home. Sanctify your home with some upasana practices; let it be as holy as a temple. All food and drink you imbibe should be looked upon as a divine gift; never think otherwise, and never forget God, the giver. As His gift, we should have no special regard to taste. The main thing is to remember God in every act and in everything; whether it is eating, drinking, singing, playing, or walking. However, it is difficult to keep aware of God in singing, because the tune and the time-beats demand a lot of pointed attention. In any case, the singing should be so genuinely expressive of emotion that it should call forth tears even from God.
Rama never fails to provide enough to fill the needs of His people; conversely, we should learn to make do with what He provides. We think very earnestly of Him when there is a difficulty or calamity; we should have the same degree of earnestness at all times. Our faith in Him should be complete, then He takes over all anxiety for us.
The crux of upasana is to feel an earnest need for God. The individual soul is essentially the same as the Cosmic Soul, like a droplet of sea-water and the ocean. To recognize this, to unite with that Cosmic Soul, is the objective of the spiritual quest.
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God is omnipresent, and man is endowed with the special faculty of intelligence whereby he can convince himself about His presence. Some people, namely the saints, discovered and actually experienced His presence; we find their word reliable, and accept their assertion. If His existence is certain, how can we come to realize Him? In algebra, we assume ‘x’ as the unknown quantity to be found. Its value only becomes known when the problem is solved; till then, its value is only hypothetical; but we have got to assume ‘x’ to begin with. Similarly, we must assume the existence of God to unravel the mystery of life. His true nature and form we can only realize when the mystery is finally solved.
He is our true relative and well-wisher who shows us the way of escape from this cycle of birth and death; a saint is such a person. Saints have declared what God likes; it is simply this, ‘Go in implicit surrender to God, eschewing all interest in worldly pleasures and desires’. At present we yield to sense-pleasures and passions. But one who obtains the Lord’s support no longer fears anything. However, going to Him in implicit surrender is really far more difficult than performing intellectual and physical feats.
When we climb a stairs, we do not do it to please or oblige the steps, but to reach the upper floor; the stair is only the means. Similarly, pilgrimages to holy places, religious vows and observances, are all means; it is God that is the object. People, however, attach importance to these means, and completely overlook the object; isn’t this just refusing to listen to reason?
God, in reality, is abstract, without form or attributes. It is man that brings Him within the range of imagination, giving Him a habitation and a name. We imagine Him to be a model of virtue, of all desirable attributes. We look on Him first as having concrete existence, and then give Him a name.
God’s world is perfectly all right; the change required is not in His order, but in our own outlook. Since it is He that controls and orders all creation, all happenings are at His command. When we water the roots, the water naturally reaches all parts of the tree; so, too, when we keep constantly aware of God, whatever happens is all for the best.
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Embers, touched knowingly or otherwise, will not fail to cause a burn. A philosopher’s stone will turn into gold even a heavy sledge hammer with which it is struck. So, if you approach God with just devotion, even without ‘knowledge’, God accepts you with open arms. However, there is no real devotion so long as there is even a little attachment to any worldly matter. Where the devotion is really strong, the idol may exhibit even human emotion, human reaction. This may come about when the devotee, in his ardency of meditation, even forgets his own physical existence. This supernatural experience may pass on to others who are comparably advanced. However, this high level of ardency may not stand continuously. Hence this experience alone may not avail much in the spiritual quest.
A young boy played some prank on a neighbour, so she slapped him. The boy howled loudly, and retorted with abusive language. The mother, hearing the loud cries, came out, and spanked the boy roundly; and the boy accepted the treatment much more quietly, and without abusive language. Similarly, if difficulties come, a devotee with implicit faith will accept them patiently, in the belief that God has sent them in his ultimate interest; he will, of course, have to suffer a lot, but will not lose patience and balance of mind. We lose peace of mind if we lose sight of God. We should remember that the lion lifts its cubs with the same sharp fangs with which it kills huge animals; and yet, the fangs have no terror for the cubs.
If we think dispassionately, we shall easily know the way to God. God is attainable for all except those who will not change their ways and outlook. First put into practice what you have understood; the way ahead will automatically become clear in due course. Be content with what you know, for mere hair-splitting discussion will be of no avail; it only signifies egoism and attachment for the body and the world.
He alone will attain freedom from fear and from all desire, who enjoys the company of God. Everyone needs some support or other. People, however, look for support from something or somebody that is worldly and therefore imperfect; consequently, we do not get real freedom from fear. We should, therefore, look only to God for support.
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Man’s way and capacity of thinking are limited by the range of his imagination; Nobody, however, ever admits or recognizes his limitation. But God is beyond ken, beyond conjecture, beyond the pale of imagination, unamenable to or inaccessible to imagination. It is under the influence of illusion that man seeks to comprehend Him with his severely limited range of knowledge, and believes in that knowledge alone. We should therefore recognize the distinction between faith and fancy. True faith resides beyond doubt and fancy. It is a pity that we do not attach the implicit faith to God’s name that Prahlad did; he entertained neither the shadow of doubt nor of fancy. Even in our paltry lives we come across events that we may not have dreamed of. Why, then, can we not believe that God is beyond our limited logic and meagre imagination?
Just as the sun lights the whole world, God pervades the temple, the house, the holy places, and everywhere, everything. God is accessible not only to the learned and the wealthy, but to all and sundry. Because He is universally owned by all, He must be easily obtainable. A learned mathematician may be able to do sums rapidly, but even rustics can do them accurately, though much more slowly, without acquaintance with higher mathematics. Similarly, a learned man may, perhaps, comprehend God quickly, but even an ignoramus may attain to Him, in due course. The Lord sees the deepest thoughts of a person very clearly and accordingly holds him near or at a distance from the bosom.
Immediately on birth, a person automatically acquires relationships like father, mother, etc. Similarly, once you establish kinship with the blissful Lord, you inherit all concomitant qualities of His bliss. We have in our bosom the same divine spark that was in Maruti; only he kindled it and developed it, whereas we smother and put it out; thus we have become our own enemies.
Important personages have no fear of the accompanying policemen, but suspected offenders are afraid of the guards accompanying to ensure that they do not abscond. Similarly, a person who banks on God to back him is not frightened by upadhi, for he has the conviction that he can come to no harm.
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What an enormous trouble you undertake to reach this remote village ! And, on reaching, you accept a life full of inconveniences of many kinds, what with the lack of city amenities. But then, do you correctly realize what all this is for? Do you truly, keenly, feel the urgent need of God? We usually do not think much about the objective.
When we are faced with a difficulty, a calamity, or loss, our first reaction is to ascribe it to God’s injustice or harshness. This is the greatest of sins. In this respect, even an atheist is preferable, for he will at least not impute it to God for the simple reason that he does not acknowledge His existence! As a matter of fact, God is extremely loving, and like a mother, cannot bear to see anyone in pain. So, first disabuse the mind of the idea that unpleasant things and events are the product of God’s will.
Remember the misfortune and the most indecent humiliation suffered by Draupadi at the hands of Dusshasana. She had initially felt sure that her brave husbands and other elder statesmen will save her from this humiliation, but that proved to be wrong. It was only when she single-mindedly and most ardently remembered and prayed Lord Shreekrishna, that He rushed to her help and saved her from the worst act of humiliation. He explained to her later on, that He could not come to her rescue earlier, because she had pinned her hopes on others and not singly, to the exclusion of others, on Him.
Our call to God can not be termed really ardent unless we pin our hopes singly on Him, and give up all expectation from anyone or anything else. Such ardency will come only when we look on Him as the last, the only resort. This ardency arises only where there is incomparable love. Such love for God cannot come without long, intimate association. Such association results from ceaseless nama-smarana. I urge you to earn His love by such nama-smarana, devoid of extraneous thoughts and fancy, for such fancy is the weapon par excellence in the hands of maya. Pure, thought-free nama-smarana will be extremely efficacious, for, if you pray to God, thinking exclusively of Him, He hastens to shower His grace.
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