If we try to propitiate God with worldly betterment in view, it can by no means be termed devotion to God; it constitutes devotion to worldly matters. Ego, that is, the “body-am-I” feeling, invariably gives rise to desire, or expectation, related to worldly matters. Serving God with the ego intact, amounts to smugness or hypocrisy. A person quit family life to become a ‘bairagi,’ and established a hermitage; if the interest in the hermitage again ties him down, what is the good of quitting the home? If we make ornaments for an idol so that we may enjoy the enhanced beauty of the idol, is it not an instance of how ego may spoil an outwardly good act? It is the presence or absence of egoism that determines whether an action is spiritually harmful or beneficial. In brief, ego must be ousted.
The saints ascribe all doership to God. Indeed, we cannot assume doership at all. If we claim doership, can we guarantee success in all our actions? Assuming doership in the circumstances, man invites pleasure and pain. We should assign doership to God, to whom it really belongs. We shall thereby rid ourselves of both pleasure and pain. The vedas say, “all this belongs to God”; the saints say, “All this belongs to Rama and He is the doer of everything.” Both amount to the same thing. True upasana is to foster the conviction that Rama is the real doer, not I. I am but a tool, a puppet in His hands. Say repeatedly that God alone is mine.
Attachment for worldly things will definitely be attenuated, if not completely annihilated, by association with a saint. So always try to live in the company of the saintly. Association and close study are two things which always influence thought and action. I carry a stick in hand, and the only toying I can have with it, is to twirl it in the hand or strike somebody or something with it. I carry a rosary, and I cannot think of hitting with it, I may only pray with it. In our dress, behaviour, talk, we are influenced by the company we keep. We should therefore make it a point to live in the company of the good, the saintly.
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