September 8, 2009
Read Little, Contemplate and Act on it
What is maya? That which exists without God is maya. Everything that is visible and perishable is maya. As long as we practise nama-smarana we are out of the snare of maya; when we forget God and nama, we fall under the influence of maya. The essence of anything is in doing it, not just listening to it or telling about it. Howsoever you describe nirguna, it will not be possible to comprehend nirguna. We should, therefore, visualize and worship saguna. One who says ‘I worship nirguna’, does not really know what nirguna is, because in nirguna there remains no one even to tell this.
One gentleman told me that he had read all books on vedanta. I said to him, ‘Then you must have achieved contentment;’ On this he replied ‘That is the only thing which I have not achieved’! Of what use then has his entire reading been? What can we then get from studying vedanta? Let us practise simple and easy devotion. Surrender yourself single mindedly and completely to God, practise nama-smarana; you will get everything. Unless you practise what you read in sacred books the reading is futile. Do not read merely for the sake of reading; it adversely affects your sadhana, and you start developing pride over your reading. Therefore, read only a little, contemplate and act on it.
If you spend even a small part of the day in the remembrance of God, the entire day will pass in the same mood of awareness of God; extending days into months, months into years, and years forming the life, your whole life will pass in the continuous remembrance of God.
You should not be fond of family life itself, but should be fond of your duties therein. It is holy to do your duties, but you should not get involved in attachment to family life. You should mentally belong only to God. If you earnestly remember God, He will definitely keep you happy and contented. To belong to God is to be happy and contented in life. Have profound faith in God and do only what He likes; that is the essence of paramartha.
No one knows when this body may fall; never say, therefore, ‘I shall practise nama when I am old;’ start right now.
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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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