August 31, 2009
“I Inhabit the Home where Contentment Reigns”
Whenever I meet a person what I particularly observe is, how far he is happy. Perhaps you, too, do the same, only the criteria differ. Your test is his wealth, learning public esteem, and suchlike. People prefer the rich, I prefer the poor; people honour the learned and the scholar, while my preference is for the simple unlettered. My preference is poles asunder from the worldly man’s. That is why I enjoy contentment which other people lack. I searched deep to find wherein contentment can reside, and found it only in God. So I like to live in the house which is replete with contentment. Being contentment in and out, I find it difficult to live with one who calls himself mine but is discontented. All that I expect of you is that you should live in contentment, as I do.
To this day, I have meticulously observed one vow: I never hurt anyone’s heart or feelings. This I could do because I have never lapsed into forgetting nama. After all, I am a destitute by worldly standards : I have neither scholarship, nor art, nor wealth. And yet people seem to want me, find support in me; and this is solely because I love everyone selflessly, guilelessly, whole-heartedly.
I know fully well the way of the world, and therefore, I have never worried about what people say or feel about me; I have only taken pains to see what I should say to each person in his own interest. That you people come repeatedly to hear me speak may be due to one of three reasons. First, I may not have been clear and precise enough; second, you may not have understood me correctly; and third, you may be forgetting what I say.
I expect you to talk with me with the same open-heartedness that you would have with a member of your family. In any case, I always say to a person what I feel will be wholesome for him. I feel sure that he will profit if he follows my advice; by ‘profit’, however, I do not mean an apparent improvement in his worldly life, but something conducive to contentedness in the circumstances as they exist.
It is my mission in life to create in the listener’s mind a relish for nama. Whoever comes to meet me, I ensure that he will take to nama sooner or later.
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August 30, 2009
Lasting Contentment is Nowhere but in Rama
Everyone devotedly engrosses himself with worldly matters, but nobody ever obtains contentment. He experiences a mixture of happiness and unhappiness. One sometimes feels disgusted with worldly matters, but we cannot shake them off. Handling coins tarnishes the hands, but that is not the fault of money. So, excessive regard for money leads to worry and misery. Too much regard for worldly esteem has a similar effect. One should follow the course of the world and behave as occasion demands, but all the while maintain calm contentedness at heart. In practical life, do as you would be done by. We must preserve our respective relationship with everyone. Be practical in your behaviour, but take care that you hurt nobody’s feelings.
Choose your associates carefully, without being carried away by mere honeyed talk. Avoid associating with smooth-tongued persons who, however, harbour evil intents at heart. To everyone give the respect he deserves; keep young ones contented, humble yourself before elders. Be noble of heart and submissive, agreeable, in behaviour. Talk not insultingly to anyone, but rather, agreeably to all. Beware of indolence, for it may well render merit ineffective.
Dependence is undoubtedly rankling, but remember everyone has it in one form or another. However, be not under obligation for sheer indolence. On the other hand, do not overrate and overtax your physical capacity. Do not worry unnecessarily about what has been or what will be; act as may be appropriate to circumstances, without being a victim of indolence.
In financial matters, accept what you earn today, and try to earn more in future. You can’t get anything for nothing, so work hard in your job. Save something from your earning, instead of spending all. If you are in debt, pay it back, in instalments if necessary, and beware of contracting fresh debts. Be loyal to your employer, obedient in his service.
Be cautious in worldly transactions, and direct your effort properly. Follow the path of truth. Act with care so that nobody is put to loss on your account, even unwittingly. Remember in your heart of hearts that you belong to God. Lasting contentment is to be had in Rama, nowhere else. Therefore be in contentment with circumstances as you find them, with nama as your constant companion. Never expect that you can achieve self-interest without proper effort.
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August 29, 2009
Religion: Blending of Morality and Spiritualism
Let us try to simplify this mystifying jargon about unity and duality. It is from a single elemental entity that these diverse forms which we see and sense have emanated. Duality appears real because we have lost sight of the fundamental unity that pervades the diverse-looking creation. This is an obvious illusion which pundits call maya. Living ever in the awareness of the fundamental unity, the true Reality, is to overcome this illusion. Illusion is the product of imagination, and can only be dispelled by correcting the imagination, by living in the company of those who are ever aware of the single Reality, God.
How can we belong to God? By giving up what made us part company with Him: maya. After all, maya is the handmaid, the creature, of God; so submit unreservedly to God, so that you will not get into the clutches of maya. Maya works through desire and doubt; these fail in assailing one who is ceaselessly in nama-smarana.
Nama, God’s name, is changeless, but His forms are changeful. Form does not mean only the visible shape, it includes all that the mind and imagination can envisage. Nama has no equivalent, it is immaculate, unique. What is perfect is satisfying, that is, it gives peace, which means lack of upsets and disturbances. That philosophy, that religion, alone is acceptable which definitely yields contentment. Religion is true blending of right behaviour or morality and spiritualism.
Man’s desire for more and more physical comfort leads to devising more and more amenities. Experience shows that this is an insatiable search that never yields contentment; on the contrary, it whets the desire for yet more amenities, a dissatisfaction in life, and destroys peace of mind. Knowledge which can only secure employment must be imperfect. It can only provide means of sustenance; the study and knowledge which bring peace and contentment are quite a different thing; so what is popularly known as ‘education’ need not be given paramount or undue importance.
Looking at the misery prevailing in this world, one may well doubt whether happiness, contentment, joy, can ever be found. The doubt, however, is baseless, for, on festive occassions we do assume, for the time being, utter freedom for worry. The only thing to do is to continue the worry-free attitude for all time.
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August 28, 2009
Maya Obscures Eternal Joy
That which makes things look what they are not, is maya. Maya is perishable; it is and it is not. The pleasure derived from sensual enjoyment is not lasting. It is common experience that sensual pleasures ultimately turn into suffering of one kind or another. Maya pushes us into the lure of sensual pleasure. To make one uneasy, dissatisfied, with the existing situation is the modus operandi of maya, and money is the main weapon. It is the business of maya to lure man away from God. Maya derives its power from God Himself; but when it debars us from understanding Him, it works as a deterrent; whereas when we realize its true nature and feel amused by it, it appears as His sportiveness. It becomes ineffective and disappears, for a person who dedicates himself, unifies himself with God. The wonder is that while realizing the mischief of maya, we play voluntarily into its hands.
The way of the world is to deny God, or to connive at Him; let us avoid being carried away by it. One who submits himself to the current runs many kinds of risks; he may be dashed against a rock, be caught in a whirlpool, or be carried on and on, away from the destination. We have to fall into the stream, but, instead of drifting along with the current, we should brave it and swim to safety; this requires maintenance of constant awareness of God. A haunted person feels unceasingly the presence of the ghost; we should similarly ceaselessly feel the reassuring company of God as our sheet anchor. Improper thoughts may sneak into the mind despite the wakeful watch by the conscience; it is our duty to repel them by refusing to follow their lead. Thus discouraged and unsupported, they will ultimately give up their nefarious attempts.
The many relatives and friends and things that I am familiar with – these I call ‘mine’; only, I hesitate to call God my own. This is the effect of maya.
A pleader pleads a cause in a court of law as if the case were his own; however, he views the case only objectively, with a subjective detachment from the final judgement. We should similarly look upon prapancha as a task and a duty, and be unmoved by the sweet or bitter fruits thereof. Won or lost as the case may be, the advocate gets the fee agreed upon; so, too, in prapancha we get only the destined result.
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August 27, 2009
Contentment, a Quality of Mind, not Body
Contentment can only come to one who sees that Rama, or God pervades everything. On the other hand, God can only be found in a home where contentment rules. He will experience true contentment who will genuinely try and live for a year with a firm faith that everything in this world is the result of Rama’s will.
Contentedness is an attribute of the mind, not a quality of the body. I yearn to find a man who is so contented in his heart that he has nothing to say about his worldly life and matters. Such a person will be acclaimed by the whole world.
Contentment is not a thing that can be made over by one person to another. It calls for faith of the highest order. The Kauravas in the midst of the luxuries of the palace did not have the contentedness enjoyed by the Pandavas in their hermit’s life in the forest. The conclusion is that we should accept the condition of life in which God chooses to place us.
A divine gift must be pleasant, sweet, from all angles. Wealth, obviously, is not a divine gift because it entails worry and a thirst for, more. The only really divine gift is contentment. There is no telling how much money will suffice a particular man, whereas, if one has the frame of mind to be contented, whatever is there, is enough. There is more pleasure in giving than in receiving. Besides, the more one receives, the more is the whetting of greed. Giving, on the other hand, has an end; for, when one gives away one’s all, complete contentedness is the result. Today we are completely enveloped in upadhi; if we shed one upadhi! after another, our true nature, namely, oneness with the Cosmic Spirit, will become apparent, with its characteristic attribute of undisturbed contentment.
Every action of a man is done with some aim in view. About the actual result, however, he will be virtually indifferent if he has the conviction ‘Thy will be done’. We have much theoretical knowledge about the philosophy of life, but lack the wisdom an actual occasion calls for. The one good point about the present times is that simple constant awareness of God achieves what more difficult sadhanas can achieve.
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August 26, 2009
True Happiness is Independent of Cause
There is evidently a joy in being alive. How, then, is it that we suffer misery? The reason is that we become oblivious to the true objective of human life. We want things in order to make us happy, but instead of remaining the means they become the goal in life. All things in the world are perishable, impermanent, and therefore illusory. The gladness they bring is consequently, fleeting, momentary.
That everyone desires joyfulness is a clear indication that unification with God is a universal need; for God is the fountainhead and the storehouse of joy. We have contracted a habit of extracting joy from something; that is to say, keeping our joy dependent on something or other. Every person hankers for joy; but we seek to get it through the medium of prapancha, that is, through a medium fraught with misery. We should therefore learn to extract joy which exists by itself, not because of something else. Joy which comes because of something must necessarily be short-lived, because that something is itself short-lived.
In order to acquire supreme, causeless beatitude, one should practise to sit quiet, silent, actionless, for a while. This kind of purposelessness is really a very high achievement, far superior to being active. It is, indeed, far more difficult than action; for it signifies total unison with the Cosmic Spirit, complete annihilation of the pride of doership.
If you keenly yearn to be happy, then learn to be happy under all circumstances. If a desired thing does come about, you may feel contented, but not rapturous. Conversely, suppose there is someone who delights in vexing us; our reaction should not be one of annoyance; our joy should continue unbroken. To be doing our duty happily, unexpectantly, in the awareness of God, is the hall-mark of a fruitful human life.
Trust not people who try to dislodge your faith in nama. Listen not to sterile philosophy. Every repetition of nama is a reminder of God; so consider nama as the be-all and end-all of life. The omnipotence of nama will become apparent only to those who repeat it ceaselessly. Pilgrimages to holy places or to saints are not for acquiring material ends, but for acquiring undisturbable satisfaction, and nama-smarana is the infallible means to it.
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August 25, 2009
The Purpose of Human Life is to Attain God
A dream appears an undoubtable reality while it lasts. So, too, this illusory world seems an unquestionable fact so long as God is not realized. Actually, that which stands the test of time, that is, what is eternal, can alone be called the truth. We can go towards that truth even if we only realize that we have missed the way. We cannot experience true contentment because our mind clamours for sensory interest; and where contentment is not realized we can conclude that we are following the wrong path. The large black ant sticks so tenaciously to a lump of sugar, that even if pulled off, it will not let go of the piece, no matter if it snaps at the head and neck. Equally tenaciously do we stick to sensual pleasures and aspirations. Those who learn from experience and sagacious thought give up all hankering for satisfaction of the senses; and it is such people who realize the futility of the pleasures of the senses.
What is the basic cause of our discontent? It can be traced to the desire to have something, be something, different from what is today. A thing can never be found in a place where it is not, no matter how assiduously you search for it. Real contentment rests only with God.
The fact is that our mind is completely preoccupied with circumstances, and cannot, therefore, remain steady at all, and that is what upsets its contentment. Dissatisfaction with the existing leads him to doing something, which invariably lands him into trouble. It is best, therefore, to learn to be happy in what is, rather than hanker after what is not.
Man generally becomes contented when he succeeds in accomplishing the mission undertaken. That one does not find contentment dearly indicates that one’s objective has been misunderstood, mistaken. That our strenuous effort does not yield satisfaction evidently shows that the objective of sense pleasures is wrong, that true contentment is to be found in God, that to attain Him will alone yield contentment. The mind, therefore, should be firmly fastened to Him; it should think of Him; the sadhaka should keep in nama-smarana, talk only of His noble qualities and deeds. Let no other thought enter the mind. The desire to unite with God is the objective of human life.
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August 24, 2009
Joy and Contentment Always Accompany Saints
Saints sometimes feign ignorance although in reality they are omniscient. Saints, indeed, are difficult to make out from their external appearance or behaviour. They can be known only by one who is completely dedicated to God or one who lives in the prescribed sadhana. A saint can be recognized by one who has completely vacated his mind of all earthly desires and interests, and who has become totally blind to defects in others. A saint is like the flower of the green champaka; its haunting scent spreads far and wide, but the flower remains hidden in the green foliage of the parent bush. Similarly, felicity and contentment are unmistakably found where there is a saint, but he defies discovery because he lives outwardly like a common man.
We prattle glibly about philosophical matters while the saint silently lives philosophy. Saints stay unmoved even in trying circumstances. They are free of all doubt about God, while our minds are constantly shrouded in doubt. It is therefore that they live in changeless contentment while we grope in discontent. To remove this doubt we must alter our mental frame.
True companionship with a saint is only realized when we learn to like what he likes. The pride of doership is the basic cause of the limitations that the individual soul experiences; to get free of that pride is the real way to belong to the sadguru.
A sadhaka is an aspirant; he is likely sometimes to be right, sometimes to go wrong; whereas a siddha is always right. The mortification of the senses is only a means, not the end; the real aim is to have a constant awareness of God.
Persons habituated to, interested in physical action, should first give up that interest by practicing to sit inactive in meditation, and acquire constant awareness of God. Failure in acquiring this awareness should not discourage or dissuade a person, but rather prompt him to fresh effort. In academic examinations, a failure naturally urges another attempt, but we often give up the spiritual quest if we do not succeed the first time. This is obviously unreasonable. God is truly like a father to us, just, but uncompromising; the saints, however, are like the mother, ever ready to condone, to pardon waywardness. The saints educate us by telling us about God. It behoves us to listen to them, to follow their advice.
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August 23, 2009
Reading : Need and Limits
The ‘educated’ man reads the scriptures, puranas, and saints’ writings with great relish, and also narrates them enthusiastically to others. And yet he does not endear himself to God, because he merely talks about them, never acts up to them. Saints’ works should be read as carefully as letters from near and dear ones, treasuring every word, and with a view to carrying out what is expressed in them; for the author writes in order that propositions expressed therein should be practiced. If it is a translation or a commentary, the writer will, knowingly or unknowingly, construe the original text according to his own view or interpretation; so the reader should always keep the original text in sight; to read the original text oneself is always the best. The text is like the mother’s milk, while a translation is like the feed from a wet nurse.
With many, reading becomes a passion; much of it is not only futile but confusing. Indiscriminate reading particularly of newspapers is futile. Only he should read who clearly understands and digests what he reads. Others should read only with moderation.
What one reads should be absorbed thoroughly by contemplation. Reading is only profitable if accompanied by practice; the true meaning then becomes clear, and the sadhaka makes real progress. The reading of the basic philosophical books like the Upanishads, the Bhagavadgeeta, and such others, understanding their purport, is essential for a clear notion of the logical basis of our upasana. The Bhagavadgeeta, indeed, can be considered the basis, the mother of treatises on philosophy. It correlates and coordinates worldly life and spiritual life, performance of duty and renunciation. We should bear this in mind when studying it. Philosophy is of no use unless put into practice. Anything that is accepted or proved as wholesome must be acted upon in practical life.
Suppose we are walking by the highway to go to a certain place. We meet a knowledgeable person who points out a foot path or a cart-track which is a much shorter route. We take that path and reach the destination much sooner. Similarly, if on the spiritual path we are obstructed or halted by an unknown defect, or by a recalcitrant mind, a book like the Bhagavadgeeta often offers a useful corrective. We thereby become aware of the defect; and this is the first step in the process of reformation.
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