March 31, 2009
Reform Yourself, the World Improves to that Extent
We consider ourselves to be the sole doer of everything, and grieve if eventually we come by misery. What is the ground for boasting ‘I have done it’ when I cannot be sure of the result beforehand? Even to say that ‘I dedicate every action to God’ nurtures pride. There are many persons of God-fearing conduct, but they too, are not free from the pride of doership. Really speaking, we cannot become spiritual merely by doing even noble deeds; to realize that one is not the true doer is the key to success in spiritualism. A man lands himself into pleasure and pain by vainly assuming doership. We should rise above both of these by ascribing doership to God, to whom it belongs in reality.
It is quite often presumed that a prisoner who feels happy in the confines of his cell must be really happy. Are we not like that prisoner if we think there is nothing beyond the body, and seek pleasure in sense-objects? But just as the prisoner will no longer feel pleasure in his cell once he breathes the free air outside, one who has tasted the supreme bliss that is God, will attach no value to sense-pleasures.! Perhaps today we cannot purge the mind of sense-pleasures, but it does not mean that we cannot turn it to God at all. We should coax the mind just as we pat a shy horse. We should tactfully bridle the mind when it tries to deviate from the correct path. Nama-smarana, to which we are today disinclined, should be forced on the mind, and thereby the mind should be weaned from the sense-pleasures which it cherishes today.
We manage to surmount difficulties in worldly life; why, then, should we be afraid of impediments we come across in spiritual life? If discerning thought cannot make us happy in the present circumstances, we can never hope to be happy.
Can one succeed in the spiritual quest merely by retiring to mountains and caves? Were it so, even monkeys could have achieved it. The lower animals are unable to restrain their passions; but man can discriminate between good and bad; this is a special gift of God to mankind.
Do not bother to reform the world; that is a task for great souls. Reform yourself, and the world is reformed to that extent.
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March 30, 2009
God Resides where Harmony Reigns
Of the four ‘orders’ or stages of human life (ashramas), that of the householder or family man is the best. The institution of marriage aims at the preservation of social and personal morals and religious practices. God resides in the home where peace and harmony reign. A man is judged by his deeds, just as confectionery can be judged by its pleasant smell. Always behave so as not to harm anybody or his interest. Never be downhearted; courage will lead to success sooner or later. Exert yourself, try to make up the deficiencies in your family life. If illness comes, do not be frightened; spare no effort in arranging for proper treatment, but never yield to anxiety.
See that you keep your kith and kin happy and contented, but do not play into anybody’s hands. Bear in your heart love for all. Do not let anything make your mind dispirited. Contentment in the home decreases as individual selfishness grows. All in the family will be happy if everyone is considerate to others.
Husband and wife should love each other and live happily, contentedly, in the contemplation of Rama. Give no cause for worry or pain to each other. If anybody in the family errs or goes astray, punishment is necessary, but it should not be of a kind and degree that would debar repentance and correction; rather, everybody should treat the errant person in such a way that he would feel induced to improve himself.
Keep your conduct pure and above reproach; be faithful to your wife. Seek not another woman, even if doing so costs you your life. Do not fall into vice of any kind; always avoid low or undesirable company. Do nothing unworthy. A weak point or deficiency of the family should not be divulged to outsiders. Do not impair your prestige. Do not betray others, nor rejoice in their suffering, nor be overmuch worried over your own. Never mention an obligation you may have done to another person.
Take proper care of your children. Never be depressed in family life. Give your love to all. Selflessness is the source of true happiness. Children should obey the parents, keep good company, attend to their studies, and keep in nama-smarana. There is no truth higher or purer than nama; it will definitely lead you to realization of Rama.
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March 29, 2009
Look on Worldly Life as a Mere Spectator
To recognize the reality is spiritualism; worldly life takes the unreal as real. What we perceive may not necessarily be real; and yet it may not be entirely unreal, non-existent. The Ultimate Reality has all the qualities that we attribute to it, and some more; in this sense, it can be called nirguna. Also, whatever attributes we apply to it are a matter of imagination, and it is therefore beyond all attributes; in this sense, too, it is nirguna. The structure of the universe is on the same pattern as the human body. Both possess the ‘five sheaths’, the pancha koshas, with the only difference that in the body they are in manifest form while, in the universe, they are latent.
Brahman, the Ultimate Reality, being single, felt bored with its solitariness, and so assumed the myriad forms which constitute the universe. Man inherited this trait from his creator, this liking for creating diversity. However, God remained aloof from his creation, and so stands as a spectator, and is untouched by pleasure and pain, whereas man got himself involved and entangled, and therefore suffers pain. One who can manage to keep aloof, mentally detached, will never suffer pain or sorrow. The spiritual quest is an attempt to disentangle oneself from all this mess. If one wishes that worldly activities should not give rise to sorrow, one should learn to live as a mere objective spectator.
We multiply our worldly activities with the aim of deriving pleasure, but as the joy arising out of anything is dependent on that object, it vanishes with the removal of that object. We should strive to find lasting joy.
To be alive is to have the vital force within oneself. This vital force being part and parcel of the Ultimate Reality, is constituted of existence, knowledge, and bliss. Therefore, so long as we live, bliss must be our natural characteristic. This pure bliss we should enjoy. This bliss is positive, while the pseudo-bliss that deep sleep brings is negative in nature.
The firm belief that the divine will is at the root of everything, that God is the real doer, gives the only real contentment. Real happiness lies in action itself rather than in the fruit or expectation thereof. The action of nama–smarana will easily and naturally lead to lasting happiness. One who genuinely feels that he knows nothing but nama, truly knows everything.
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March 27, 2009
Pleasure and Pain Arise from Desire
“In this world we often find the unrighteous happy and prospering, while the righteous frequently meet with failure and sorrow. Why then should I, too, not adopt unrighteous conduct?” This is a question that often besets a common, ‘God-fearing’ person. If we investigate this matter deeper, we find that the common man is not a true seeker of God at all; he is ‘God-fearing’ because he has a lurking fear of punishment by God, or of social disapproval, if he deviated from accepted standards. He hopes to keep God’ pleased’ so that He may not allow snags to arise in his worldly life, or to straighten out those that exist. This is asking the Lord of the Universe to pay attention to the apparent difficulties of an insignificant individual; isn’t it as ridiculous as calling in a professional brick-layer to build a doll’s house? In worldly life it is our own duty to exercise proper care and caution; if we fail to do so and suffer as a consequence, how can we expect God to step in and set things right?
We pray to God for trifling mundane favours. Even if He were to indulge us, we must be prepared to accept both sides of the coin, including the attendant ill effects or sorrow. Imagine that a ‘pious’ thief regularly prays to God before embarking on his mission of thieving. He may occasionally succeed; but if he happens to be caught and convicted, shouldn’t he accept the punishment, too, as His dispensation or pleasure?
Unless and until we realize what we are in reality, we shall not get peace and contentment, not even if we are at the peak of success and prosperity. We should get to know our real self and the Creator of this universe, for true peace and contentment.
Any conclusion based on an unsubstantial hypothesis, such as the permanence of the body, must also be unsubstantial. To look for happiness in this worldly life is as foolish as hoping to get white paste by rubbing and grinding coal. Our sense of pleasure and pain depends on our mental outlook. In worldly life we get no more and no less than what we are destined to; therefore, both pleasure and pain will vanish if we cease to desire anything different from what it is–that is, merge our desire with that of God.
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March 26, 2009
Sensuous Pleasures are neither Real nor Lasting
Howsoever great a man may be in this world, there is always something wanting in his life. We may occasionally come across a person who asserts that his life lacks nothing, but even so he has the anxious desire that the status quo should be undisturbed; which means that he is not really happy. There may also be a person engrossed in sensuous pleasures or pursuits who appears to be carefree. A drunken person may not care whether he is naked or clothed, may even defy or challenge the king, but only so long as he is under intoxication.
Sensuous pleasures depend on transient sensuous objects that may leave us some day; or our senses may become weak; or we may die. And who will enjoy such pleasures if he is conscious of death, which is bound to claim him some day?
That abundance of ‘pleasurable’ things makes for abundant pleasure is an obvious misconception. Real happiness is that which is everlasting. It can only be found with God, who is Himself eternal. Sensuous pleasure is available to beast as well as to man. What, then, distinguishes man from beast? It is the faculty which enables man to think on the fundamentals of life, such as what he really is, and what the purpose of his life is. In everyday, worldly matters we think of gains and losses; but they pertain to a world which is itself impermanent; how can such thinking lead us to the truth?
We do not try and learn to be contented in the situation in which God has placed us, and crave for ‘better’ circumstances which, we imagine, will make us happy. Even our devoutness to God and submission to saints is, overtly or covertly, for some worldly objective. Isn’t such devotion or submission an attempt to exploit God or a saint for a mundane purpose? Even superstitions we twist and interpret to suit our wish and convenience. For instance, if a cat crosses the path we turn back, interpreting it as God’s premonition that our mission will not succeed; but if one wife dies, the husband does not interpret this as God’s hint but begins to think of marrying again! In short, to secure worldly pleasures is our aim, and we exert ourselves only for that purpose. Truly, a man who does not introspect on his experiences in worldly life can never become wise.
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March 25, 2009
Live Worldly Life Solely as a Matter of Duty
A confirmed smoker once fell ill and went to a doctor. “I will faithfully follow your prescription,” he said, “on condition that I will not be asked to give up smoking.” The doctor was very tactful; he agreed, but prescribed that a certain pill should be held in the mouth when smoking. The pill counteracted the harmful effects of tobacco. We can similarly counteract the baneful effects of worldly life if we banish from the mind the notion that this kind of life will give us true happiness. Thereby, our attachment to it will gradually diminish, and we shall continue with worldly life, but purely as a matter of duty.
Persons leading a worldly life have a peculiar nature; they dislike being told the truth. As a matter of fact, people happen to meet each other in life as a family or friends and foes, simply coming together for a limited time and purpose, like co-passengers in a railway train. A family is made up of a number of persons; each of them has a ‘self’ which he wants to please; how, then, can any single one of them obtain happiness according to his own ideas?
Go about your life with the firm conviction that true contentment is with God alone. In business the motive is to earn profit; if there is no profit, the business is not worthwhile. Contentment is the profit we seek from worldly life; if this profit is not obtained, where is the sense in devoting oneself to such life?
If asked- to pin-point the cause of his lack of contentment, no one will be able to do so. This means, conversely, that contentment really does not depend on any external cause or condition. And yet, we find that we are not happy with what we have; on the other hand, even if we get what we want, we do not realise happiness. Everyone knows fully well, from his own experience, that worldly life does not, cannot, yield contentment and joy; and yet, people do not behave as they ought to; city dwellers out of pride, village folk out of ignorance.
We must consider how we can obtain divine love and contentment while still participating in worldly life. Love for the body will automatically shrink and so, as a consequence, will love for all that is related to it, if we live in the divine name.
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