June 30, 2009
God Must be the Sole Aim of Every Observance
Take up an observance which will lead you to God the Eternal, and keep it with all your heart and soul. Keep the body busy with your duty, and the mind riveted to Him; that is the true way to propitiate Him, and achieve freedom from the painful cycle of life and death. Be ever contented, and never for a moment lose awareness of Him; be sure that this will bring His blessings on you. Keep the divine name ever on your tongue, and awareness of Him ever in mind; let your conduct never swerve from what is right and clean, and maintain purity in thought and feeling. Rest assured that if you do this much, Rama will bless you; experience this for yourself.
Never fail to feed a visitor, never turn away anyone in need of food. If you learn always to ascribe all doership to Rama, you will never be found wanting in any respect. One who believes that everything happens by His will, that He is the ultimate source of everything, there is nothing that you need to be afraid of. True, unperturbable contentment will be yours if you see Rama and His hand in everything.
To everything that happens to you or to the world, be an impartial, unconcerned, dispassionate witness. Entertain nothing but God in your heart of hearts.
The shastras say clearly that all physical happenings are but the result of past action, but man rarely credits this sincerely. Ceaelessly utter the Lord’s Name, and fill your heart with love for Him to the exclusion of all other thought. Maintain this with a determination; God will certainly back you up in this resolve. Never for a moment be without nama, I urge you with all sincerity.
It is the ‘body-am-I’ feeling that is the source of all mental agony. The only way to purge the mind of this feeling is to resort to nama-smarana with sincere love. Nama-smarana will undoubtedly lead you to Rama provided you are absolutely sincere about it. Give up all thought of self, and give yourself up to the Cosmic Soul. One who is absorbed in the holy name will lose all awareness of pleasure and pain, and will forever live in joy.
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June 29, 2009
Celebrating a Saint’s Anniversary
The spirit of a saint is particularly active, beneficent, on the day of his anniversary. The devout vow you make on such a day receives his special grace and support. Determine on the anniversary to live in the divine name.
I wish to be ever in the company of everyone who comes here to me, but you virtually shut me out of your heart by living in mundane interests. Keep uttering nama assiduously, persistently, to keep mundane interests away. Bad times loom ahead threateningly; you will ward off their evil influence if you keep faith in nama. If anyone, no matter how great or learned he is, tells you anything against nama, believe him not, and never leave off chanting nama. Just as a thing tied firmly to a deeply-anchored post will resist being washed away by a torrent, if you hold firmly on to nama, you will successfully resist the onslaught of the bad times.
As Shree Samartha says, the form is identical, co- existent, with nama; so you will undoubtedly perceive the form if you persist in nama. We have to realize the Lord in our own heart; it is in our own interest that we gradually realize Him there through persistent nama-smarana. Only thereby shall we perceive Him truly and permanently. There are those who show or perform miracles; one may see some divine aura, or a vision; even if true, such experiences are only occasional and short-lived. If a lanky person, desiring to look normally fat, prays for swelling over the body, it would be evidently foolish. If, on the other hand, he takes proper medicine, he may not look fat but will at least become tough. The ‘spiritual experiences,’ visions, and similar things may not be permanent. So, on a saint’s anniversary, we should pray for his blessings and help in sterling spiritual progress, not for temporary or elusive ‘experiences’. Constant nama-smarana will definitely give love for God.
Religious festivals, holy days, saint’s anniversaries — all remind us of our spiritual duty in the midst of the multifarious claims of prapancha. To do nama-smarana in all these various distractions does need a resolute heart. Nama is backed by God Himself, and includes company of the good. So resolve right now to chant nama continuously without expectation of reward.
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June 28, 2009
Paramartha is a Practice-oriented Discipline
A highly learned man once went to the palace of King Janaka, and sent in word of his arrival, expecting the king to order that he be immediately ushered in, and to shower honours on him. The saintly king divined that the guest was filled with pride, and so sent a reply that he come alone, meaning minus the pride. So we, too, should set aside our ego and sense of self-importance when we go to see Rama, or the sadguru. So long as I recollect who I am, duality evidently exists. We should not approach God in order that our ego or self-pride may be pampered. Even at the shadow of a desire that evil come to another person, take it as a sure sign that pride is lurking, nay, growing in the heart.
You should love God as much as, if not more than, your wife and children. Desire nothing but what God wills; that is the key to success in paramartha. Merge your desire into that of the Lord, and live contentedly and happily.
Duty done with complete selflessness is its own reward. A mortgagee is not entitled to put a mortgaged article to use; treat your wife, children, everything you have, as a mortgage to you by God; do your duty in everything, but keep off the idea that they belong to you. Protect them dutifully, but be unconcerned, detached, about them in your heart of hearts. It is, indeed, a crime to feel attachment or proprietorship for them and to feel pleasure or pain on their account.
A person who has turned to God must show an appropriate change in his attitude and behaviour. One should abide by certain moral standards, either out of understanding or by implicit faith. One should be firm on one’s belief, free from confusion. The mind should be adequately determined, fortified. Just as a white garment is easily soiled, so are good deeds more prone to meet with opposition; we should resolve to disregard them. When thought and action are in consonance, words will automatically conform to them.
The more a man’s learnedness, the weaker his faith. Read but little, ponder deeply over it, and act up to it. Paramartha is entirely a practice-oriented discipline; its goal is acquisition of unshakable contentment and joy. Joy comes to your life when you do your duty in the remembrance of God.
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June 27, 2009
HOW TO ACHIEVE IMPERISHABLE HAPPINESS
One who delivers moving and convincing sermons, or carries out religious rituals meticulously, may yet fail to realize for himself unalloyed, imperturbable contentment; he continues to suffer from one dissatisfaction or another. The reason is that his goal is not clear to him. People often observe moral rules for fear of popular disapproval rather than for personal thought or conviction. Anything done merely for social regard will fail to give genuine, lasting contentment. Nor, on the other hand, does contentment come to one who disregards the moral code and behaves contrary to public regard, for his own conscience constantly pricks him.
A man once bitterly complained that God is very unjust. “Why do you say so?” I asked. He answered, “I conducted myself righteously, morally correctly; and yet could afford only a humble house; whereas that mere assistant of mine amassed wealth by dishonesty enough to build a three-storeyed house right opposite mine!” “Why did you not do likewise?” I asked again. He replied, “What would people say about me?” Something done like this merely to avoid public comment and censure will never give genuine contentment. We observe morals for fear of social disapproval, and perform religious rites to earn happiness which rests only in God. An action, however good, but done without genuine devotion to the Eternal God, is bound to fail in yielding real contentment; nor, conversely, can the edifice of paramartha stand without the foundation of moral behaviour.
Paramartha is, as a matter of fact, very simple and straightforward; it is the professional philosophers, the argumentative erudites, who make or represent it as highly intricate. It can be easily attained with the help of one of three things; one, actual company of a living saint; two, keeping in touch with the saint’s writings, and acting on them; and three, constant repetition of the divine name, for such repetition will keep us in the company of God, ceaselessly aware of Him. To follow a Saint’s behests faithfully, doubtlessly, is the first step, and to persist in them with determination, faith, and love constitutes the last. This, indeed, is the easy way to unperishing contentment.
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June 26, 2009
Discover and Enjoy the Unity in Diversity
We carefully water, manure, and take other care of a plant that we particularly wish to grow. Conversely, we disregard the plant about which we care little. Similarly, we should carefully nurture the precious plant of firm faith in God, ignoring the mortal body and thoughts pertaining to worldly matters. We put a guard round a tree to protect it from cattle; our efforts for attaining God should similarly be protected from being noticed, lest they be affected by an evil eye. Our search for God should be sincere but unseen as far as possible. A seed we have planted is not to be dug up every day to see how much it has grown; similarly, hanker not after mystic ‘experience’ or ‘realization;’ it will only hamper and retard your progress.
In a way I do not dislike stubborn people and even addicts, for if their stubbornness and addiction are turned towards God, such persons undertake this pursuit also with vigour and determination. In our spiritual effort, we may make only a small rule, but it should relate to the Eternal, and be kept up sedulously. It should be maintained with the care with which we seek to protect our very life.
Dhyana, or concentrated meditation, is fit only for persons of a high order of capacity. In such meditation, the person becomes oblivious of the world and of one’s own existence, of time and space. One may remain in that state not only for days but even for years, and yet his physical body may remain entirely unaffected.
For the common man, however, repeating the Lord’s Name is the most convenient and fruitful sadhana; food is the best gift we can give; and of all upasanas, saguna upasana, the worship of God considered as having attributes, the best. These three eventually lead to oblivion of the physical body and the mind. So pursue these three means assiduously.
It is the natural tendency of life to go on expanding its field of activity, and then discover the unity that underlies the apparent diversity. Take the common bee-hive. The bees collect nectar from diverse flowers and convert it into what we call honey. So, too, we should see the unity in the multiplicity of life, the one God who pervades everything. One should treat everything and everyone as a manifestation of the one all-pervading God, and realize that the same God animates us too.
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June 25, 2009
Paramartha is Not in Conflict with Prapancha
Good books are those that inspire the reader with love for God and wean him away from the mundane. Good books induce us to eschew immoral behaviour and to walk in God’s way. It is most important to read such books and meditate on them, act upon them. This gradually creates a liking, fondness, love for God. Of the different means advocated by Shree Samartha for the attainment of God, reading of such books is one.
Reading, however, is not merely browsing through idly, purposelessly, but making an earnest effort to understand and assimilate. One must make a serious effort to put into practice what one understands and agrees with. Mere voluminous or voracious reading without appropriate action to follow is futile. Not casual reading but rumination is required.
The pathway to God is straightforward; the way in prapancha is strewn with thorns and boulders. Prapancha should be treated as necessary for practice only and training in paramartha. On the contrary, we put them the other way round, and the hedge has overgrown the field instead of protecting it. The sooner we realize our folly the better.
One who carries on prapancha with an eye on the correct goal will undoubtedly attain to God, just as sugar moulded into the shape of even a bitter-tasting fruit will ever taste sweet. Similarly, even if we go through prapancha it will achieve paramartha provided we keep God as the target. Paramartha is definitely possible because that is what we are born for, and it is in our own interest that we never lose sight of this lodestar.
Just as the mouth is the venue for feeding ourselves, moral conduct is sine qua non for Paramartha. It is, in fact, the very foundation. It is true that mere morality is not paramartha; but evidently no edifice can stand without a proper foundation, and there can be no paramartha without the firm base of moral conduct.
We should think of paramartha with the same sincere care and affection with which we look upon our own child, and treat prapancha with the affection that we bestow casually and outwardly on another’s child. Paramartha, in the ultimate analysis, is nothing else but going merrily through prapancha remembering God.
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June 24, 2009
Knowledge is a Two-edged Sword
He is a true writer who writes with a burning sincerity for the well-being of mankind; he is a true preacher who preaches only after acting up to what he preaches; and he alone can be called a real listener who puts into practice what has been preached. Means of disseminating knowledge have become proliferous nowadays, and these are often misused to spread knowledge which is untrue, unwholesome, demoralizing, or otherwise undesirable.
Knowledge is a two-edged instrument which can be used or misused; it is upto the nature and object of the person who wields it. Knowledge which respects social and personal morality and religious principles is beneficial to mankind. It is, by its very nature, sacred, and beneficial to man if founded on the abiding principles of morality and religion. Such knowledge is desirable and beneficial as augments mutual regard and goodwill between the rich and the poor, the learned and the unlettered, the young and the old, men and women. Such knowledge alone deserves to be spread. One should not disseminate knowledge which is likely to cause or augment hatred or disaffection between peoples and individuals, or spread disregard for moral discipline. They are not true scientists and technologists who bring forward inventions which only breed greed and selfishness, for they pave the way to the disintegration and destruction of humanity. Knowledge which does not impart and increase contentment is pseudo-knowledge. Only that knowledge deserves the name which enables us to understand the real nature of the universe.
Since I call this ‘my’ body, the real ‘I’ is evidently not identical with it, is different from it. A prapanchi person is one who knows only the tangible world, while a philosopher is one who understands the true nature of the world, the mystery of it. Happiness comes only from the knowledge of the subtle. The Cosmic Soul is like an ocean, whereas an individual is in every way no more than a drop in it. True philosophy is to realize the identity between the two. The importance, the greatness, the limitlessness, the prowess of nama cannot be understood by dint of study, but only through the grace of a saint. It is the greatest good fortune to have complete faith in nama. We should beware of this faith being shaken. True, firm contentment can only be achieved by ceaseless repetition of the divine name with full, unshakable faith in the word of a saint.
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June 23, 2009
Always Act with a Clean, Selfless Aim
Everyone of your actions should be motivated with a pure, selfless objective. A pure motive naturally results in clean action and is a step forward in progress. The object is like the spring that feeds a well; if it is a spring of clean water, the well will also yield sweet, drinkable water. We should therefore take care to keep the objective pure, and pray Rama for it.
If a person has enough to house, feed, and clothe himself, he should live in contentment and in nama. All that we should pray Rama for is to save us from indigence. On the occasion of a holy conjunction of the planets, God grants our wish whether holy or otherwise. We should beware of unholy incantations, and only wish for holy things and arousal of benevolent emotions. We should pray God and say, “Do as Thou wilt, O Lord, but grant that I never forget Thee. Forgive me for evil and sins I may have committed knowingly or unknowingly; never more shall I misbehave.” God is bountiful and ever forgiving if we genuinely yearn to reform ourselves.
Those who indulge in the filth of material pleasures can never realize the sweetness that paramartha is. Insects wallowing in the gutters will never sicken of filth. Worldly-minded people, steeped in worldly pleasures, sling slander on the saintly, believing that they alone are wise and all-knowing. They overlook the fact that this wide world holds thousands who are more learned or wealthy or capable. Many of them do not realize the pangs of penitence that await them when the elation of worldly pleasures wears off.
Few indeed are those who live in the faith that God is omnipresent. The execution of prapancha involves effort and pain, whereas the experience of God is all Pleasureful. A fevered person hankers for a sweat; but mere hankering does not help; proper medication is required. Similarly, one who desires to have real devotion for God needs to resort to the divine name. This devotion, once acquired, will never cease.
Gold occurs in minute particles in pieces of rock in a gold-mine; so does God exist in us. Just as gold is recovered from the ore by removing the dross, so do we attain God when we cleanse the heart of all desire. God manifests Himself when the ‘body-am-I’ conviction is completely subdued.
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June 22, 2009
Happiness Lies in Detachment
We feel disappointed, miserable, when we fail to obtain what we desire. The best, the only remedy is, therefore, to renounce all desire. Be contented with what He is pleased to grant you, desiring no more, nothing else. This, in truth, is true renunciation, vairagya. As it is, we are sinking in the quagmire of mundane desires; to desire more of them is to hasten the sinking. What else can we conclude from this except that true and permanent happiness lies in abandoning desire, not in indulging it?
Why do certain things make us restless? Because we treat them as real. We should go about in life treating it as an actor treats his part in a play. True happiness is to be found only in what is real and lasting, not in what is unreal or transitory. Experience of mundane pleasures indulged in so far clearly indicates that they do not yield contentment; does it not mean that the pleasures they are supposed to yield are but hollow, illusory? And yet you continue to ask me what will make you happier in mundane life! How can you extract happiness from what is basically devoid of it?
Two little girls were playing at house-keeping. One, the daughter of a poor family, made simple bread and ate it with simple mango jam; the other, who belonged to a rich family, made cakes and sweets; but everything being only make-believe, which of the two could satisfy real hunger? Evidently, neither. So it is with prapancha. A wife and children are not indispensable for prapancha; anyone who seeks pleasure from anything tangible indulges in prapancha. So even an unmarried, single person lives in prapancha. In short, prapancha involves more than one; now, since each one has his own individuality and idiosyncrasies, how can they all meet the pleasures, whims, and fancies of any single person?
Prapancha needs a multiplicity of things; there can never be enough of them, for everything has in it the germ of the need for something else. God, on the other hand, is unique and complete, and independent of anything else. Attainment of God is, therefore, the fruition, the fulfilment, of all desire.
To feel that one is happy because of a certain thing, situation, or person, is futile, unreal. True happiness is independent of cause.
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June 21, 2009
Faith is the Foundation for Paramartha
Just as money is a basic requirement for prapancha, faith is a basic need for success in paramartha. Prahlad believed God to be present everywhere, so He manifested Himself even in a wooden post. Saint Namadeo’s faith made even the stone idol of Shri Vitthal eat the food offering that he had brought. For success in paramartha we must also have the same genuine, unflinching faith in God. We say only verbally that God is omnipresent and omniscient; if we genuinely believed this, could we ever dare to commit sinful acts, or even to entertain immoral thoughts? It clearly means that we pay only lip service to Him, and our faith is not firm and genuine. We claim to be believers in God, and feel we need Him, but He is not considered indispensable. Prapancha we must have, while God we would like to have; the former is a necessity, the latter is a desirable superfluity. This, really, should be the other way about. We should feel that God we must have, prapancha we may or may not. We should have a liking for the duties of prapancha, not for prapancha itself; the body may be kept engaged in these duties, but the heart should be kept riveted on God.
We can control passions if we desist from doing anything that bites the conscience. We should do only such things as will not shame us in the eyes of God.
Those who have a lot of worldly business, toil, and turmoil to face, complain about it; but, then, those who are free from these are found equally complaining and unhappy. Wherein does happiness lie? Does money give it? Making money is not easy; and after all, money cannot last forever. The same is the case with all worldly things. And do we ever come across a person who has all kinds of happiness all the time? Everyone has one complaint or another, one deficiency or another. Everyone hopes to be happier tomorrow; this hope is never fulfilled, and the complaining never ends. And thus goes on the endless cycle of hope and frustration; for all things in the world are imperfect and perishable, and therefore, result in misery or unhappiness. It is in this sense that prapancha is illusory. One who thinks on this experience and remains unattached to prapancha can alone be happy; one who disregards this experience remains unhappy.
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