June 20, 2009
Worry is Harmful to Paramartha
He is a good son who never blames or despises his parents for their defects and shortcomings, but who keeps them contented and pleased. In all actions his main aim is to secure their satisfaction. A mother has the most tender feeling for her child. Her heart grieves if the child is in grief, and buoyantly responds to its joy. So the child should ever be cheerful, free from sentimental upsets. The child should not get irritated if a parent happens to say harsh words or unpleasant things; it should itself, however, always speak pleasantly, pleasingly. It is necessary for everyone to work and earn his livelihood. One may even amass wealth, but should not be under the illusion that it is the wealth that is the means for all happiness. One should always avoid ill-considered acts or speech which may lead to loss in worldly life.
Give food to all who come to you, turn no one back empty-handed. Never feel frustrated or disappointed; never give up hope. Pay due regard to necessities of practical life, but never lose sight of the goal of human life, namely, the attainment of God. Remember that one who does not face practical life courageously cannot achieve much in paramartha either.
Worry about family life acts against paramartha like white ants. One who trusts in the Lord need have not an iota of anxiety. One who lives in God does not even think of pain, misery, or worry. One who realises that his true self is identical with the Brahman will cease to entertain worry. Trust in Rama as your protector and saviour, and say ‘good-bye’ to worry. One who attributes all doership to Rama worries not about sin and merit. Assuming oneself to be the doer is the basic cause of anxiety. Where is the anxiety for one who dedicates himself body and soul and assigns all doership to Rama?
What is past is, after all, past; what the future holds we do not know, nor can it be evaded; it is, therefore, improper to indulge in futile worry. Whatever I think belongs to me is really that of Rama and should, therefore, be consigned to His care, and the mind thus freed from worry. Rather than worry about the children, the family, etc., we should aim at doing what Rama will like.
* * * * *
June 19, 2009
The Feeling of Self-importance is Ruinous
On analyzing the causes of people’s difficulties, one is driven to the conclusion that they spring basically from bodily pain or illness, and insufficiency of money. Help in these two respects would, apparently make most people happier, and so my mind started to ponder on the idea.
Considering first the item of money, I noted that being myself penniless, and devoid of a desire to earn or own money, I must first create such urge in myself, then acquire and conserve money, and thereafter spend it in the service of the needy. This, however, is not so easy as it appears; for who can guarantee that the basic desire to earn and conserve money will not dominate my heart and dissuade it from giving it away? That will amount to polluting the mind with greed from which, fortunately, it is free today, and the remedy will thus be worse than the disease. I shall, in that event, not only be unable to assist others, but also be losing the present purity of heart from base desires and tendencies.
The other item is pain of the body. One who has utterly rid himself of the ‘body-am-I’ feeling cannot adequately appreciate an other’s body-pain. Consequently, I shall have to recreate in myself the ‘body-am-I’ feeling. Even if that is done, and the other’s bodily ailment is cured, is there any guarantee that the trouble will never recur, or that another ailment will not arise? Today’s colic may be stopped, but there are hundreds of disorders that may crop up at a later time. Thus, there is no permanent immunity from all types of human misery, and on the other hand, the curer himself may have to suffer spiritual degradation. I therefore think it best to pray to Rama to favour me by protecting me from both the desire and the power to bring about such things.
There are two principal causes that destroy the innocence of childhood: money, and worldly knowledge. Both these create a sense of self-importance, and this sense is harmful for the spiritual pursuit. The feeling “I belong to so-and-so” is greatly helpful, for then we tend to ascribe all doership and greatness and goodness to the Master, instead of taking credit ourselves and unknowingly pampering the feeling of self-importance.
* * * * *
June 18, 2009
Secrecy is Necessary in the Spiritual Path
It is extremely difficult to escape from the clutches of desire, as it is the very cause of birth. Overcoming desire calls for complete effacement of the consciousness of being a separate entity, utter annihilation of the ego. Desire and its consequences can be conquered only by being constantly in the company of God, for He is the very antithesis of desire. Prapancha in itself is neither good nor bad. Paramartha consists in withdrawing all desire from prapancha, all attachment for it. Prapancha needs publicity or show of one kind or another; a woman, for instance, would think nothing of ornaments or fine clothes if prevented from showing them off. On the other hand, it is best to preserve paramartha unnoticed by others, for it is very prone to be affected by the evil eye, not only of some other person, but even of oneself. This can be achieved by taking care to see that it is unnoticed by others, and in the conviction that the sadhana is being performed by the grace of God or the guru. One should outwardly appear to be a common, worldly person; inwardly, however, one should devote oneself completely to God; it is really an art to play this double role.
A sick man has only to lie in bed patiently, and to accept passively, coop era tingly, the nursing tendered by others. The medication, however, must be taken by the patient himself. Even a prince will not get cured by relegating this task to a proxy. So, too, in the spiritual quest, one must oneself remember to have a constant awareness of God.
Do not follow an untried, unknown person, an impostor, a charlatan. First understand clearly and correctly what paramartha is, and then follow the path diligently. Beware of being misguided, for to be misled is as much disastrous as misleading others. Remember that prapancha carried out in constant awareness of God becomes paramartha. Conversely, even paramartha pursued with self-conceit is as harmful as mere prapancha.
Every day we read and hear of outrages, crimes, immoral behaviour, and discontentment in the world. All these can be traced to the spurt in greed for money and power. Generally, to those with whom God is pleased, He gives just about enough for livelihood, while He tests others by giving much more money than their needs call for.
* * * * *
June 17, 2009
Pursue Spirituality amid the Bustle of Worldly Life
Some people behave deceitfully, and justify it as a pragmatic necessity. Such unprincipled behaviour cannot be accepted as proper, nor will it give ultimate satisfaction. It will not contribute to spiritual advancement. Renouncing pracical life and becoming a recluse with the object of repudiating liabilities cannot be treated as spiritually prompted renunciation. The shackles of attachment are not forcibly severed but should genuinely and naturally drop off.
Suppose a person disgusted with the trials and travails of family life retires to the forest. Even there, he builds a hut for shelter from the elements; collects faggots to build a fire against cold; clears the land to keep out reptiles, etc. And on top of this, he worries about all these when he goes to beg alms. What is all this but a variant of the house and family life that he sought to escape from? The real trouble is not with the kind of things or life but with the attachment we bear for them. They cease to be harmful or painful the moment we stop feeling concern for them. Unconcern takes off the sting.
It is incorrect and unwise to defer paramartha to old age and the period of retirement. It is to be pursued while one is still active in the bustle of life. In the tumult, we have to be vigilantly aware of the ultimate goal of human life, namely, the attainment of God. Keep the mind fixed on the goal even as you go through life’s turmoils. When sensuous pleasures and subjects distract you from thoughts of God, be alert and bring the mind back to Him. Surrender yourself to Him with the fervour of one yielding to a sensuous attraction. Disabuse the mind of prepossessions and prejudices, and judge impartially the degree of your surrender to sensuous pleasures and thoughts. Do we not bow to the orders, even the whims, of the employer or the superior? What we do to earn livelihood, should we hesitate to do to attain the divine, the overlord of the universe? It is easier by far, for it costs no money, needs no article or thing; we can mentally submit to Him the moment we feel like doing so. One who thinks ‘I belong to Rama,’ ‘Everything that happens is by Rama’s will,’ will find himself always and automatically vigilant about allegiance to God and of worldly temptations.
* * * * *
June 16, 2009
Photograph taken on the occasion of the “Prathistapana Mahothsav” of Sri Brahmachaitanya Sri Rama Mandir, on 13-6-1949. Poojya Sri Tatya Saheb Ketkar Maharaj is seated at the centre, to his right is Poojya Sri Kundagol Narayanappa Maharaj, and to his left is Poojya Prof. Belsare Baba. Seated on the carpet to the right of Sri Ketkar Maharaj is Sri G. Venkannaiah, the founder of the Mandir at Chintamani.
June 16, 2009
Paramartha Does Need Discerning Faith
Since we are born as humans, it becomes our natural goal to attain God. We have so long been through a cycle of births in various forms, and by the grace of God we have come to the human form which alone enables one to attain God. The saints wake us to our heritage and potentiality, but in supreme disregard we pull the covers over our heads and refuse to be made alive to the reality and our true and lasting interest. One who is really asleep can be awakened, but what can be done to a person who is purposely feigning sleep? Even those who undertake the long journey to Varanasi for a purifying dip in the holy Ganga do not believe themselves to be genuinely absolved of sin. Thus their faith in the pilgrimage and its efficacy is clouded by lukewarm feeling, whereas even an unlearned rustic with sincere, undoubted faith may derive true benefit. We overlook the fact that even in everyday life we go about with trust in persons even previously unknown, persons whose credibility is unknown or even doubtful. We start from home with a certain calculation of time, despite the experience that quite often we fail to make it. We reserve a sleeping berth on a train and travel confidently at night despite the knowledge that the driver of the train is, like any other human, far from being infallible, and that train accidents do take place now and then. On what ground can we refuse to trust God at least to the degree to which we trust the engine-driver who is absolutely an ordinary mortal quite liable to err?
Paramartha should be undertaken either with perfect understanding, or with the utter, undoubted faith of an ignorant person. We, however, go about with only half-knowledge ‘or a conceit of knowledge; such persons are merely doubting Thomases, hard to convince and satisfy. He is a real ignoramus who does not put into practice what he is convinced of; truly wise are those who learn from experience and change themselves accordingly. Paramartha certainly demands faith, complete faith, but not ‘blind’ faith, nor superstition.
Our true Self is distinct from both the body and the mind and transcends them both; we should therefore practise and learn to live independently of both; this is easily and definitely achieved by no other means but nama.
* * * * *
June 15, 2009
‘I Live in and for Nama alone’
A person may be a great scholar, able to deliver excellent sermons and profound discourses on the shastras, talk lucidly on the scriptures and mythology; he may be a good man, even a godly man, and yet he may not be acknowledged a saint if he does not live immersed in nama, or if one is unable to learn to love God in his company. Relatives of saints are not necessarily saints, just as a son may not take up his father’s calling.
Even a saint should outwardly behave like a common man. To behave eccentrically is by no means the distinguishing feature of a saint. Complete freedom from fear is the prime quality of a saint. What, indeed, can create fear in one who sees God everywhere and in everything? Being without a trace of fear, he is left undisturbed even by normally lethal creatures such as snakes, wolves, tigers, and lions. Even wild man-eating animals will not dare to meet a fearless gaze; besides, the purity of the saint’s heart also has a disarming effect.
Association with a saint only comes from extraordinary good fortune. Generation of love for God or for His name is the true gain to be derived from such association. Unbroken association with a saint can only be obtained by ceaseless nama-smarana, for where there is nama, it is there that a saint likes to dwell. Shri Tukarama’s prayer is: ‘Grant, O Lord, that I may never forget You;’ while Shri Ramadas prays for the favour that he may never have to live away from Him, to be ever associated with, attached to Him, and for the mind to be restored to awareness of Him whenever it happens to stray away from Him.
An order, however emphatically worded, remains ineffective unless signed by a competent authority; the signature imparts life to it. Nama plays the role of that signature with respect to any spiritual sadhana. The strength and vitality of nama have to be tried and experienced to be believed. It is nama and nama alone that I have been advocating all my life. Indeed, I came and lived for nama, I live in nama, I exist neither here nor there but only in nama. Whoever utters nama, there, about him I live and linger. That you should keep uttering nama is all that I exhort you to do, all that I expect from You.
* * * * *
June 14, 2009
To Attain God is the Only Religion
Even extracanonical actions are permissible if they conduce to the attainment of God, which, after all, is the highest, the sole aim of human life, and true religion. No act performed with an egoistic attitude is acceptable to God. Benevolence, howsoever great, will yet do no real good if it stems from a desire for celebrity. This only pampers the ego, does not bring God any nearer. Actions prompted by real, selfless spirit of service, alone conform to true religion. Treat yourself solely as God’s instrument, while He is the true doer. This, indeed, is true, utter surrender to Him.
Faith in God can be developed at any age and in any situation. True faith can face any challenge, and not yield to opposition. A person of true faith will never entertain worry or anxiety on any account. Anxiety vitiates the prospects of attaining the goal, and makes us forgetful of duty. Trust in God and do your best, and be content with the result. In worldly matters contentment comes from doing one’s duty; in paramartha contentment is the reward of firm faith. Paramartha is achievable neither by hypocrisy nor by foolish simplicity. In financial matters, we should act with due regard to our capacity, taking care to see that we do not create debts. We should neither cheat others nor be a prey to others’ deceit. One devoted to paramartha should carefully avoid hurting others.
One who is prepared to accept whatever situation comes will never feel the pinch of want. We should neither envy the rich nor scorn the poor. Remember that all are treated by God with justice, equality, and forgiveness. Justifiable distribution of wealth is that which ensures food and such basic necessities to all. If we recover or extort money from others without giving adequate return, such money is tainted with the desires of the owner. It is a funny thing that even one who carefully keeps his word in other matters does not exercise the same care in money matters. In the present state want of money and its profusion both cause us difficulty.
All that a sannyasin should seek to store is one day’s provision. A householder should have enough to serve for three days, and should cease worrying. A person usually starts his life with the notion ‘I am the doer,’ while the first step in paramartha is the belief that Rama is the doer.
* * * * *
June 13, 2009
Prapancha is the Ladder for Attaining Paramartha
Working many years in a subordinate position develops a slavish attitude of mind; this is undesirable. A person should live at least for some years as his own master. Even during his period of service or business, one should learn to live in consciousness of God so that, on retirement, he is able to occupy his spare time in such consciousness.
Everyone is in search of joy and contentment, all through life, and strives continuously for it; that is, everyone is after paramartha. Prapancha should be treated as instrumental for that purpose; pursued as an end in itself, it is incapable of yielding happiness. It is basically, essentially, the same all over, for the rich and the poor, for the superior and his subordinate, in this country and that; it is characterised by defectiveness, incompleteness, transiency. We should always bear in mind this characteristic of prapancha and not be led to envying another for having something that we do not possess; we should be content with what we have.
Position in the progress in paramartha cannot be granted by one person to another; it has to be attained by dint of one’s own effort and action. The importance and need of paramartha is poignantly felt in times of pain, suffering, and misery, not while prapancha is apparently affluent and happy. This apparent happiness always culminates in unhappiness and misery.
When our sensual desires join hands with tempting circumstances, the desires become strong and we succumb to them. The desires gradually wane if we resolutely refuse to yield to them. The remedy to foil temptation is resorting fervently to nama-smarana. Those sensate pleasures which present themselves in the ordinary course should be accepted passively, without voluntary enthusiasm, only as a duty. This will weaken passions and render them harmless.
The clinical thermometer only indicates fever, but does not cure it. Similarly the shastras point out where we go wrong and how to correct ourselves; the action is entirely with us. Shree Samartha did meet Rama; why is it, then, that we do not? The plain answer is that we lack that staunchness of faith, and that persistence and regard for the devotional practices. Never forget that you belong to and live for Rama. He will certainly not expose you to want of life’s necessities. If you repeat nama with firm faith, and forget yourself in it, you will live ever so joyfully.
* * * * *