February 7, 2009
Devote Maximum Time to Thinking of God
People generally aim at acquiring more and more of those things which give pleasure to the senses, in the belief that this will result in greater happiness. This belief is not, however, substantiated by experience, for we do not find that those who have such things in abundance are happy. In fact, the more we have of them, the more is the greed for such things whetted. Besides, as a person ages, the body and its senses grow steadily weak and lose their capacity to derive pleasure. Thus, one never acquires real contentment.
A Wise man should therefore, studiously practise and learn to keep his happiness independent of external things, by focussing the mind on God instead of on such things. God is eternal, complete in Himself, and ever blissful; meditating on Him, therefore, instills these qualities in the mind. For one who acquires this divine bliss, life has a sweetness that passes our imagination.
A person who lives and works in the mundane world often finds it difficult to reconcile the demands of practical life with the practice of spirituality. It is common belief that one cannot do justice to both at the same time. For such a person, it would be advisable to do his worldly duties conscientiously and to devote all spare time and energy to contemplation of God. At present, we do not apply to God and to spirituality even such free time as we do have. Let us, therefore, resolve to dedicate at least some minimum time every day to chanting nama, the divine name. There are many things which interfere and prevent; reluctance itself constitutes a major impediment. We should be wary of such impediments and interferences, and persevere in chanting nama, disregarding the world’s adverse influence and comments.
We should make it a practice to read every day some portion of a book or books by saints, concerning the divinity. We should meditate on what we read, and try to see how it can be put into practice. One who does this will progress rapidly in spirituality and attain true contentment which, in other words, constitutes divine bliss.
We should treat worldly life like a sport; pay proper attention to it, but without much concern for success or failure, holding God in the heart as the focal point.
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February 4, 2009
Nama Alone Annihilates Passions and Desires
Passions and desires are the root cause of birth. Desires can be summed up as wishing that the pleasures we have should continue forever, and fresh ones should be added. As a first step towards obtaining emancipation from this state, let us modify our desire and say to God,” Grant the continuance of the happiness we have today, and give such additional happiness as You please to.” We shall thereby be conscious that whatever we get in addition has come from Him; and about what we do not get, we shall always feel that He does not will it. There will gradually arise the conviction that everything comes from God, both what we have and what He grants. This will, in its turn, mitigate hankering and uneasiness for fresh things and attachment for what we already have. Likes and dislikes, as well as the feeling ‘this I want’ and ‘that I don’t want’, will gradually wane.
It is impossible to vanquish and transcend passions and desires on one’s own strength and determination; utter surrender to God and His will is the only remedy. Keeping appropriate company will also go a long way. If, for instance, we associate with a recluse, our desire for fine clothes will gradually die down; but living in the company of the rich may foster love for foppery. We should, therefore, keep such company as will gradually create a spirit of self-surrender.
Complete surrender to God means complete dedication of ourselves and all we have, to His service. This, in other words, means renouncing all upadhi. For this we must adopt a sadhana which is absolutely free of all upadhi. Nama-smarana is the only such sadhana. Time and space, good circumstance and bad, wealth and poverty, scholarship and ignorance, sickness and health, status, sex, age-none of these can be an impediment to the chanting of nama. Nor does nama require any appliance, whatever. The only essential thing is the will to chant it. It can be carried about in the heart, always and anywhere. Without penance or hardship, it will absolve the mind from desire and passion. Have faith that the Lord is at your help and support, and then vritti will not yield to passion and desire. While practising nama we should maintain an awareness of God’s presence. Time and space are subservient to one who practises nama.
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February 2, 2009
Nama Alone can Rectify Thinking
In a last effort to avert the impending internecine war between the Kauravas and Pandavas, Lord Shri krishna Himself approached Duryodhana, the eldest of the Kauravas and pleaded for the grant of a token kingdom of just five villages to the five Pandavas. Duryodhana replied, “Intellectually, I accept the logic and justice of the demand, but the inclinations of my mind refuse to accept it. As you are the Lord Omnipotent, just metamorphose my mind, and the very root cause of dispute will vanish.” This could not be done, however, and a bloody war did follow. Similarly, Ravana too could not be brought to reason. This shows that even a divine incarnation cannot rectify evil dispositions of the mind. It is only the Lord’s name that can achieve this. The dire circumstances of the present age therefore call for recourse to nama with singleness of heart.
Suppose a man develops some trouble in a limb, say, the leg, and the doctor advises amputation, to obviate possible future danger to his life. Would it not be wise to sacrifice the limb for the safety of life? Similarly, constant awareness of God should be considered the main function of human life, and other activities subordinated to it; for, such other activities without that awareness would lead to miserable disappointment and frustration in the end.
The root cause of human misery is, not that things do not shape up as we want them to, but, rather, we desire them to be different from what God, in His infinite wisdom, has ordered.
A cat, having caught a mouse, toys with it for some time before finally killing and eating it up. Exactly likewise do time and death play with us humans, beguiling us with false hopes but callously passing on beyond our limited span of life. We should very clearly recognize this, beware of being deluded and misled by such false hopes, and should understand that living in constant awareness of God alone makes life worthwhile and gainful.
The pundits pride themselves on their erudition, discuss abstract, abstruse matters, and profess to guide others; but they all really labour under a delusion, forgetting that top priority should be assigned to maintaining constant awareness of God.
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February 1, 2009
Nama-smarana Eradicates the “Body-Am-I” Belief
Nama-smarana is the only means whereby one can realise one’s true self. There is a spark of the divine in all creation. However, human being alone, of all creations, is capable of realising it, because he is the only being endowed with the faculty of logical reasoning and inference.
Initially aware of his high lineage, jeeva gradually degrades himself. At birth, he helds the conviction “I am He, the Divine Being.” Then he lapses into “I belong to Him.” Finally, when his fall is complete, he goes to the extent of denying even His existence. This is the result of the increasing hold of the body-consciousness, the “body-am-I” feeling, culminating in the firm belief that he is nothing but the body.
Even so, however, man sometimes speaks as if he knows the truth. For instance, if a friend dies, a man says, “Gone, alas, is my friend”, although he may be present before the dead body. This means that his friendship did not relate to the friend’s body but with the spirit or soul that had departed. Curiously enough he completely overlooks this in thinking of his own body and other living persons. This happens because, evidently he forgets the eternal, imperishable soul part, and body-consciousness has taken complete possession of him.
The obvious remedy for redemption from this situation is retracing the steps. The first thing to do, then, is to disabuse the mind of the idea ‘I am the body,’ and to rekindle the awareness that ‘I am, in reality, a part of the eternal Cosmic Spirit.’ Finally, one should realize the identity between the individual spirit and the Cosmic Spirit or Brahman. This can be achieved by constantly reminding oneself of the Cosmic Spirit, from whom the individual spirit came and to whom one really belongs. Nama is the easiest and most effective such reminder. Constant repetition of nama will awaken and maintain the knowledge and realization of the true self.
The spiritual destination is not difficult to reach if one follows the correct path. It is as simple as untying a knot, provided one knows which end of the string is to be pulled; if we pull the wrong end, however, the knot turns into a tangle. Since the Cosmic Spirit is nirguna, I can only realize it if I likewise become nirguna; and this I can achieve only by shedding the ‘body-am-I’ belief.
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