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Ethics & Morality

moralityAn ethical man is more powerful than an intellectual man. Morality goes hand in hand with spirituality. Ethical culture prepares you for Vedantic realisation of ‘Saruam Khalvidam Brahma’-all indeed is Brahman. There is no such thing as diversity.

All aspirants commit the mistakes in jumping to Samadhi and meditation all at once as soon as they leave their houses without caring a bit for ethical purification.

A man of right conduct has ideal principles and mottoes. He strictly follows them, removes his weaknesses and defects, develops good conduct and becomes a Sattvic man. Sound character is the only diamond you must crave to wear. Virtues are conducive to Self-knowledge.

Humility is the highest of all virtues. God helps you only when you feel utterly humble.

The law of non-injury is as much exact and precise as the law of gravitation. lf you can be fully established in the practice of non-violence in thought, word and deed, you are God.

A man who keeps up his promise creates a very good impression on the minds of others and merges in Divinity.

Moral strength is the backbone of spiritual progress. Ethical culture is part and parcel of spiritual Sadhana.

Morality is the doctrine of the right and wrong in human conduct. lt is virtuous life.

The Basis of Morality

Morality is religion in practice; religion is morality in principle. You must do what is right at whatever cost of pain and loss. There can be no divorce of religion from morality. Morality is the basis of religion. Morality and religion are inseparable like heat and fire, coolness and ice, fragrance and flower.

Discourses on morality are the best means to improve the character of man and recover him out of his vices and ignorance.

Morality must not be without religion. lf so, it may change as you see inconveniences. Religion must govern it.

The morality of an action depends upon the motive from which you act. First have righteous principles and then you will not fail to do virtuous actions.

Without religion, morality will die. Religion is the very root of morality. Morality without God is bottomless impiety.

Morality & Ethics

The moral principles are not absolute in the sense that there is a state which transcends moral restrictions. But it does not mean that the moral laws can be neglected.

Morality is the adherence to the inherent sense of the right which is voiced by the conscience that is not bound by selfishness and its several expressions or effects. Morality is the soul-sense, the truth-sense, which refuses to be restricted by the autocracy of the passions that disregard the universality of what is good, and which is free from the agony of imperfection.

The purpose of the moral sense is to point out the way to perfection, and morality, therefore, can be judged from how far it directs the consciousness to unrestricted happiness which is not confined to one or some individuals or even to a part of the universe or merely to an aspect of existence. The wider the scope of the selfless consciousness and the joy consequent upon it, the more moral is the method with which such selflessness is practiced or the act by which such selflessness is expressed.

Morality is “a great vow which is universal, not restricted either by conditions, states, places, times or circumstances.” (Yoga-Sutras)

Excerpts from “HOW TO CULTIVATE VIRTUES AND ERADICATE VICES” by Sri Swami Sivananda

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On Detachment (pt. #6)

vanity-of-the-worldThe Vanity of the World

O sage! This seemingly pleasing but actually unpleasant world has nothing in it that produces anything that can afford tranquility to the soul.

Those who do not yield to grief during troubles, who are not elated with prosperity or smitten at heart by women, are rare in this world. Those who fight boldly in battlefields and withstand war elephants are not so very brave, in my opinion, as those who withstand the surges of the mind amidst the streams of carnal appetites. I see no deeds in the world that endure to the final liberation of men. Actions proceeding from a fool’s desire for results serve only for their restlessness on earth.

Men who have filled the corners of the world with their fame and valor, who have filled their houses with true riches acquired by honest means and an unwavering patience, are rare in the world.

Our sons and riches are mere objects of delight to us. To expect them to be of any good to us in the end is as false as to expect any benefit from distilling poison.

To the worldly minded, all wealth — whether forthcoming or unattainable, whether gotten by labor or given by fortune — is as deceitful as the flooding of a river, swelling only to subside.

Whatever we see in the world, living or inert, are all as impermanent as things seen in a dream. What today is a mountain reaching the sky covered with extensive forests is in course of time leveled to the ground, and afterwards is dug into a pit. The man who is very powerful today and presides over principalities, in a few days is reduced to a heap of ashes. Water becomes land and land becomes water. Thus the world with all its contents composed of wood, grass and water becomes something else in course of time.

Our lives in this world are as unsteady as the flame of a lamp placed by the draft of an open window. The splendor of all objects in the three worlds is as flickering as the flash of lightning.

As a granary stored with heaps of grains is exhausted by its continued waste, so is the stock of life spent away by its repeated respirations.

The minds of man are as fluctuating as a flag waving in the air. They are filled with the dust of sin, indicating their wavering between the paths of heaven and hell.

Many things are decaying and renewing day by day. In this ever changing world there is no end to this accursed course of events. Men degenerate into lower animals, and those again rise to humanity. Gods become no-gods. There is nothing that remains the same.

We have prosperity at one moment, succeeded by adversity at another. We have health at one time, followed by sickness soon after. What intelligent being is there who is not misled by these delusions of the world which show things other than what they are and serve to bewilder the mind?

Who is there so sedate and firm that he is not terrified at these sudden appearances and disappearances, at the momentary durations and final dissolution of worldly things? What is the nature of this world in which we are overtaken by adversity at one moment and elated by prosperity at another, where one is born at one time and dies at another?

A pot is made of clay, and cloth is made of cotton, and they are still the same dull materials of which they are composed. Thus there is nothing new in this world that was not seen or known before. There is nothing that does not change its form. The acts of creation and destruction, of diffusion, production and preservation follow one another like the revolutions of day and night appear to man.Sometimes it happens that a weak man slays a hero, or one individual kills hundreds. So also a commoner becomes a noble man. Thus everything is changeful in this varying world. These bodies of men are always changing their states and are like bodies of waters rising and falling in waves whipped by the motion of winds.

The actions of producing and harvesting, of feeding and destroying, come by turns to mankind like the rotation of day and night. Neither adversity nor prosperity is of long duration with worldly people. They are ever subject to appearance and disappearance by turns.

Excerpts from “Yoga Vasishta” by Sage Valmiki, translated by Vihari Lala Mitra

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From Caterpillar to Butterfly

Satguru-Sivaya-Subramuniyaswami-26There are no shortcuts to enlightenment, but there are detours. Impatience with the natural process is one of them. I am saying that impatient striving, the kind of striving that puts aside all common sense and says “I am going to get realization no matter what” is itself an obstacle to that realization which is not a something to get. We must work to perfect an inner serenity that can accept spending a lifetime or several lifetimes in search of Truth, that can accept that some of us are by our nature and unfoldment better suited to service and devotion, and others to yoga and the various sâdhanas. This is a far more enlightened perspective than the Western notion which subtly maintains that there is but a single life in which all the final goals must be reached. The eternal spiritual path, the way of God, is broad. It accepts all and rejects none. No matter where a seeker is in his inner development, the eternal path embraces and encourages him.

According to the Ågamic tradition, four categories of charyâ, kriyâ, yoga and jñâna are the natural sequence of the soul’s evolutionary process, much like the development of a butterfly from egg to larva, from larva to caterpillar, from caterpillar to pupa, and then the final metamorphosis from pupa to butterfly. Every butterfly, without exception, will follow this pattern of development, and every soul will mature through charyâ to kriyâ, through kriyâ to yoga and into jñâna. Charyâ, or karma yoga, may be simply defined as service. Kriyâ, or bhakti yoga, is devotion. Yoga, or râja yoga, is meditation, and jñâna is the state of wisdom reached toward the end of the path as the result of God Realization and the subsequent enlivened kundalinî and unfoldment of the chakras through the practices of yoga. The soul does not move quickly from one stage to another. It is a deliberate process, and within each stage there exist vast libraries of knowledge containing the sum of thousands of years of teachings unraveling that particular experiential vista.

The evolution of the soul through the stage of charyâ, or service, may itself take many, many lives. We see people every day who are working to be of service, to be more efficient, to be more useful to others. Charyâ is the state of overcoming basic instinctive patterns and learning to work for the sake of work rather than the fruits of our labor. It is the simple fulfillment of right action and the first step on the spiritual path. The instinctive mind at this stage of evolution is so strong that it must be governed firmly by external laws, external forces. Tendencies toward selfishness lose their hold on the devotee as he strives to become the perfect servant to God and mankind.

Worship during the charyâ stage is entirely external. As the devotee unfolds into the next stage, of kriyâ or bhakti yoga, he will want to worship and serve in the temple in more internalized ways. Singing the sacred hymns, chanting the names of the Lord and performing japa will become an important part of his devotion, which is partly internal and partly external. Kriyâ blossoms into its fullness when there arises in his heart a desire, a strong desire, to know and experience God.

It is through the devotees in the kriyâ, or bhakti yoga, stage of the unfoldment of the soul that we have all over the world today magnificent Hindu temples, built by people who have performed well, who have controlled their thoughts and actions, who have understood the laws of karma and the penalties of wrong action. They have avoided wrong action not out of fear, but because they have evolved into performing right action. As he matures in kriyâ, the devotee unfolds a more and more intense love of God, to the point that he may well shed joyful tears during intense moments of worship. When that love is constant from day to day, when it is strong enough that he is capable of surrendering his individual will to God’s Cosmic Will, then kriyâ or bhakti yoga has reached its zenith.

At this stage of kriyâ the devotee learns patience. He learns to wait for the proper timing of things in his life. He is in no hurry. He is willing to wait for another life, or for many more lives. There is no urgency. He trusts God and trusts the path he is on. He settles down, and his life comes into a balance.

In the stages of charyâ and kriyâ, the deep-seated impurities of the mind are cleansed as past karmas are resolved and a foundation laid for the third stage on the divine path, that of yoga. Yoga is a very advanced science. It cannot be sustained except by the soul that has unfolded into the fullness of charyâ and kriyâ and maintains the qualities of service and devotion as meditation is pursued. The devotee who has served God well now embarks upon finding union with God in his sanctum within.

In yoga, the devotee worships the transcendent aspect of God. He strengthens his body and nerve system. He disciplines the energies of mind and body. He learns to regulate his breath and to control the prânas that flow as life’s force through his nerve system. In this process, the kundalinî Sakti is lifted and the multi-petaled chakras unfold in all their splendor. Lord Siva now brings the earnest  devotee to meet his sat guru, who will guide him through the traditional disciplines of yoga on his inward journey. It is his spiritual preceptor, his guru, who takes care that he avoids the abysses and psychic pitfalls along the path. In this stage of yoga, the devotee looks upon God as a friend, a companion. Finally, one day, in his first samâdhi, he penetrates to the essence of being. In this ultimate experience, which remains forever beyond description, he has reached the union which is yoga.

Returning from this state of ineffable fulfillment, the devotee brings back into his life a new understanding, a new perspective. He is never the same after that experience. He can never again look at life in the same way. Each time he enters into that God Realization, that samâdhi, he returns to consciousness more and more the knower. His knowing matures through the years as his yoga sâdhana is regulated, and as it matures he enters ever so imperceptibly into the fourth and final stage of unfoldment, into jñâna.

One does not become a jñânî simply by reading philosophy. Understanding another person’s wisdom does not make us wise. Each has to experience the fullness of the path to enlightenment himself. The jñânî becomes one who postulates that what he has himself realized are the final conclusions for all mankind. His postulations are filled with assuredness, for he has experienced what the Vedas, the Ågamas and the Upanishads speak of. He has awakened the power and force of his own realization. He knows. He becomes the embodiment of that knowing, of the Truth he once sought as something other than himself. He finds within the scriptures confirmation of his realization echoed in the verses of rishis written at the dawn of human history. This matured soul sees reflected in their writings that same state of complete merging with the Divine that he himself has come to know as the timeless, formless, spaceless Absolute which he once worshiped symbolically as a stone image in previous life wanderings within the instinctive mind. He has removed the veils of ignorance, removed the obstacles to understanding. He has come into his true being, union with God, union with Siva, and in this serene state he sees God as his beloved, as that which is dearer to him than life itself, as he is consumed by that all-encompassing love. He has become the source of light and darshan which radiate out through the nâdîs and prânas of his being.

The final conclusions are that mankind is on a spiritual path as old as time itself, that this journey progresses from birth to birth as the soul evolves through the perfection of charyâ into the perfection of kriyâ, and from there into the perfection of yoga, emerging as a jñânî. This is the path followed by all souls. Whatever religion they espouse, whatsoever they may believe or deny, all of mankind is on the one path to Truth. It begins with the dvaita of charyâ and ends in the advaita of jñâna.

Excerpts from “Merging with Siva” by Sivaya Subramuniyaswami

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The Responsibility of Enlightenment

Satguru-Sivaya-Subramuniyaswami-26The mere fact he has broken through to samâdhi means that he was able to justify experience enough in his subconscious mind so that his subconscious mind could fall into line, into the habit pattern of pure concentration. When the conscious mind is in concentration upon one single thing, the subconscious mind is in concentration also, following the pattern of the conscious mind, on one particular thing. Then that expands consciousness automatically into the superconscious state of mind.

Each soul comes into Self Realization differently, because each has a different mind, a different subconscious mind and a different conscious mind.

The teachings of yoga are so basically simple and so basically concrete. And the most beautiful thing in the world, on contemplation, is the simplest thing in the world. The most beautiful design is the simplest design. So, simply since one has realized the Self and gone into nirvikalpa samâdhi once, then obviously the simplest thing to do is to do it again. This is the practice of samâdhi. He will become consciously more superconscious for longer periods of time each time he experiences nirvikalpa samâdhi.

If he goes into nirvikalpa samâdhi and becomes ramified in the psychic powers that come after samâdhi, after his first samâdhi, his second samâdhi, his third samâdhi, he will become more intense and will realize new possibilities within himself. If he remains on those planes of the phenomena of the occultism of the mind, then he gains new and fascinating powers of the mechanism of the mind, but he loses the power to bring others along the path into samâdhi.

His first step in practicing samâdhi would be to concentrate upon one physical object, that is if he cannot see his inner light. Only after he has gone into samâdhi many, many, many times, where his whole body becomes filled with light, will he then see his inner light all the time, twenty-four hours a day. The light, really, is the friction of the super conscious mind against the conscious and subconscious mind. In my way of looking at it, it is an electrical friction. The odic forces and the actinic forces merging causes light and sound. So, when he sees this brilliant light right in his head—more brilliant than he has ever seen, intensified brilliance—he tries to find the center of it. When he finds the center of it, again trying to open up that light like a camera lens, he will then come into a state of consciousness called Sat chid ânanda, a state of pure consciousness, a state of pure bliss, savikalpa samâdhi.

Dharma after Self Realization

What is life like after realization? One difference is the relationship to possessions. Everything is yours, even if you don’t own it. This is because you are secure in the Self as the only reality, the only permanence, and the security that depends on having possessions is gone. After Self Realization, we no longer have to go into ourself. Rather, we go out of ourself to see the world. We are always coming out rather than trying to go in. There is always a center, and we are the center, no matter where we are. No matter where we are, no matter how crude or rotten, the vibrations around us will not affect us. Curiosity is the final thing to leave the mind, which it does after Self Realization. The curiosity of things goes away—of siddhis, for example. We no longer want power, because we are power, nonpower, unusable. And Satchidânanda is now to us similar to what the intellect used to be. Samyama, contemplation, is effortless to you now, like the intellect used to be; whereas before, samyama was a very big job which took a lot of energy and concentration.

For ultimate freedom, everything has to go away, all human things, possessions, love, hate, family, friends, the desire for attention and community acceptance. The sannyâsin renounces the world, and then, if his giving up is uncompromisingly complete, the world renounces the sannyâsin. This means the world itself won’t accept him as it once did as a participant in its mundane transactions of a job, social life, home and family.

The renunciate’s path is to seek enlightenment through sâdhana, discipline, deep meditation and yogic practices. That is the goal, but only the first goal for the sannyâsin. To stay enlightened is even a greater challenge for him.

The advice is, having once attained a breakthrough of light within the head, wisdom tells us, remain wise and do not allow these experiences to strengthen the external ego. Become more humble. Become more self-effacing. Become more loving and understanding. Don’t play the fool by giving yourself reprieve from prânayâma, padmâsana, deep meditation, self-inquiry and exquisite personal behavior.

The wise know full well that the higher chakras, once stimulated, stimulate their lower counterparts as well, unless the sealing of the passage just below the mûlâdhâra has been accomplished. Diligence is needed, lest higher consciousness fall unknowingly on the slippery slide of ignorance into the realms of lower consciousness, of fear, anger, resentment, jealousy, loneliness, malice and distrust.

Traditionally, the character has to be built within the devotee as a first and foremost platform before even the hint of an initiation into inner teaching is given. This purifying preparation involves repentance, confession and reconcilation through traditional prâyaschitta, penance, to mitigate kukarmas. This crucial work often takes years to accomplish.

We are still living in a physical body. Therefore, one foot must always be kept firmly on the head of the snake of the instinctive-intellectual nature. The higher we go, the lower we can fall if precaution is not taken. Therefore, we must prepare devotees for a sudden or slow fall as well. They should land on the soft pillows of consistent daily sâdhana, worship of God, Gods and guru, and the basic religious practices of karma yoga and bhakti yoga. Without these as a platform, they may slide down in consciousness, below the mûlâdhâra, into the chakras of fear, anger, doubt and depression. Therefore, we reaffirm, having attained a small degree of enlightenment, or a fuller enlightenment, stay enlightened, because mukti, the transference from the physical body through the top of the head at the point of death, has not yet occurred. And only after that happens are we enlightened forever. This is the beginning of the ultimate merging with Siva in a physical body! Thereafter follows visvagrâsa, the final, final, final merger whence there is no return, where jîva has in reality become Siva, as a bowl of water poured into the ocean becomes the ocean. There is no difference and no return.

Excerpts from “Merging with Siva” by Sivaya Subramuniyaswami

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Words of Indian Saints Part #19

paramahansa-yoganandaMarconi, the great inventor, made the following admission of scientific inadequacy before the finalities: “The inability of science to solve life is absolute. This fact would be truly frightening were it not for faith. The mystery of life is certainly the most persistent problem ever placed before the thought of man.”

“‘Woman,’ he said, ‘seek divine wealth, not the paltry tinsel of earth. After acquiring inward treasure, you will find that outward supply is always forthcoming.’

“The Son of God is the Christ or Divine Consciousness in man. No mortal can glorify God. The only honor that man can pay his Creator is to seek Him; man cannot glorify an Abstraction that he does not know. The ‘glory’ or nimbus around the head of the saints is a symbolic witness of their capacity to render divine homage.”

Though the human race and its works disappear tracelessly by time or bomb, the sun does not falter in its course; the stars keep their invariable vigil. Cosmic law cannot be stayed or changed, and man would do well to put himself in harmony with it. If the cosmos is against might, if the sun wars not with the planets but retires at dueful time to give the stars their little sway, what avails our mailed fist? Shall any peace indeed come out of it? Not cruelty but good will arms the universal sinews; a humanity at peace will know the endless fruits of victory, sweeter to the taste than any nurtured on the soil of blood.

Though India’s civilization is ancient above any other, few historians have noted that her feat of national survival is by no means an accident, but a logical incident in the devotion to eternal verities which India has offered through her best men in every generation. By sheer continuity of being, by intransitivity before the ages-can dusty scholars truly tell us how many?-India has given the worthiest answer of any people to the challenge of time.

The Upanishads have minutely classified every stage of spiritual advancement. A siddha (“perfected being”) has progressed from the state of a jivanmukta (“freed while living”) to that of a paramukta (“supremely free”-full power over death); the latter has completely escaped from the mayic thralldom and its reincarnational round. The paramukta therefore seldom returns to a physical body; if he does, he is an avatar, a divinely appointed medium of supernal blessings on the world.

“‘The substance of a dream is held in materialization by the subconscious thought of the dreamer. When that cohesive thought is withdrawn in wakefulness, the dream and its elements dissolve. A man closes his eyes and erects a dream-creation which, on awakening, he effortlessly dematerializes. He follows the divine archetypal pattern. Similarly, when he awakens in cosmic consciousness, he will effortlessly dematerialize the illusions of the cosmic dream.

The karmic law requires that every human wish find ultimate fulfillment. Desire is thus the chain which binds man to the reincarnational wheel.

“Always remember that you belong to no one, and no one belongs to you. Reflect that some day you will suddenly have to leave everything in this world-so make the acquaintanceship of God now,” the great guru told his disciples. “Prepare yourself for the coming astral journey of death by daily riding in the balloon of God-perception. Through delusion you are perceiving yourself as a bundle of flesh and bones, which at best is a nest of troubles. Meditate unceasingly, that you may quickly behold yourself as the Infinite Essence, free from every form of misery. Cease being a prisoner of the body; using the secret key of Kriya, learn to escape into Spirit.”

The great guru taught his disciples to avoid theoretical discussion of the scriptures. “He only is wise who devotes himself to realizing, not reading only, the ancient revelations,” he said. “Seek truth in meditation, not in moldy books. Look in the sky to find the moon, not in the pond.”-Persian Proverb. “Solve all your problems through meditation. Exchange unprofitable religious speculations for actual God-contact. Clear your mind of dogmatic theological debris; let in the fresh, healing waters of direct perception. Attune yourself to the active inner Guidance; the Divine Voice has the answer to every dilemma of life. Though man’s ingenuity for getting himself into trouble appears to be endless, the Infinite Succor is no less resourceful.”

“We know that man is usually helpless against the insurgent sway of evil passions, but these are rendered powerless and man finds no motive in their indulgence when there dawns on him a consciousness of superior and lasting bliss through Kriya. Here the give-up, the negation of the lower passions, synchronizes with a take-up, the assertion of a beatitude. Without such a course, hundreds of moral maxims which run in mere negatives are useless to us.

“Our eagerness for worldly activity kills in us the sense of spiritual awe. We cannot comprehend the Great Life behind all names and forms, just because science brings home to us how we can use the powers of nature; this familiarity has bred a contempt for her ultimate secrets. Our relation with nature is one of practical business. We tease her, so to speak, to know how she can be used to serve our purposes; we make use of her energies, whose Source yet remains unknown. In science our relation with nature is one that exists between a man and his servant, or in a philosophical sense she is like a captive in the witness box. We cross-examine her, challenge her, and minutely weigh her evidence in human scales which cannot measure her hidden values. On the other hand, when the self is in communion with a higher power, nature automatically obeys, without stress or strain, the will of man. This effortless command over nature is called ‘miraculous’ by the uncomprehending materialist.

For the faults of the many, judge not the whole. Everything on earth is of mixed character, like a mingling of sand and sugar. Be like the wise ant which seizes only the sugar, and leaves the sand untouched.

In his youth Kabir was approached by two disciples who wanted minute intellectual guidance along the mystic path. The master responded simply: “Path presupposes distance; If He be near, no path needest thou at all. Verily it maketh me smile To hear of a fish in water athirst!”

“Forget you were born a Hindu, and don’t be an American. Take the best of them both,” Master said in his calm way of wisdom. “Be your true self, a child of God. Seek and incorporate into your being the best qualities of all your brothers, scattered over the earth in various races.”

“Lord, he who remembers Thee as the Sole Giver will never lack the sweetness of friendship among mortals.”

A passage in Eusebius relates an interesting encounter between Socrates and a Hindu sage. The passage runs: “Aristoxenus, the musician, tells the following story about the Indians. One of these men met Socrates at Athens, and asked him what was the scope of his philosophy. ‘An inquiry into human phenomena,’ replied Socrates. At this the Indian burst out laughing. ‘How can a man inquire into human phenomena,’ he said, ‘when he is ignorant of divine ones?'” The Aristoxenus mentioned was a pupil of Aristotle, and a noted writer on harmonics. His date is 330 B.C.

Excerpts from the book by Paramhansa Yogananda “Autobiography of a Yogi”

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Message of Prem


Prem or Bhakti is intense love or highest form of devotion to God. There is not a bit of effort. There is a genuine, natural, spontaneous longing to meet God in the heart. Just as fish cannot live without water, just as the sun-flower cannot live without the sun, just as the chaste wife cannot live without her husband, so also a true Bhakta cannot live without God even for a moment.Swami Sivananda

Physical love is passion or Moha. Universal Love is Divine Love. Cosmic Love, Visva Prem, Universal Love are all synonymous terms. God is Love. Love is God. Selfishness, greed, egoism, vanity, pride, jealousy and anger contract the heart and stand in the way of developing Universal Love.

Just as taking of food brings Tushti (satisfaction), Pushti (nourishment to the body) and cessation of hunger, so also Bhakti brings Vairagya and Jnana.

No development of Prem or Bhakti is possible without right conduct (Sadachara). Just as a disease can be cured by medicine as well as dietetic adjustment, so also realisation of God can be had by devotion and Sadachara. Bhakti is the medicine. Sadachara represents dietetic adjustment or Pathya.

What is Sadachara then? To speak the truth, to practise Ahimsa, not to hurt the feelings of others in thought, word and deed, not to speak harsh words to anyone, not to show any anger towards anybody, not to abuse others or speak ill of others and to see God in all living beings is Sadachara. If you abuse anyone, if you hurt the feelings of others, really you are abusing yourself and hurting the feelings of God only. Himsa (injuring) is a deadly enemy of Bhakti and Jnana. It separates and divides. It stands in the way of realising unity or oneness of Self. You begin to injure others the moment you forget to see God in others.

Make hay while the sun shines. Winnow the corn while the wind blows. Sow the spiritual seeds when you are young. In old age you will have no strength of body and mind to do rigorous Sadhana.

That from which this universe has evolved, That in which this universe subsists and That in which this universe involves should be understood as Brahman, Atman or God or Supreme Being.

That in which there is neither East nor West, neither light nor darkness should be understood as Brahman.

The highest end of human existence than gaining which there is no greater gain, than whose bliss there is no greater bliss, than knowing which there is no higher knowledge-that should be understood as Svaroopa or Brahman or God.

A drunkard is not one who drinks liquors, but one who is intoxicated with the pride of wealth, power, position, rank, intelligence and false learning from books and passion. A blind man is not one who is not able to see with these physical eyes, but one who is not able to perceive the One Imperishable Essence “Avinasi Vastu” that is seated equally in all these beings through the inner eye of intuition or Divya Chakshus. A dead man is not one whose Pranas have departed from his physical body, but one who spends his life in eating, drinking and sleeping only and who is not doing worship of God for his liberation. 

There are two ways for attaining God-Consciousness. They are the Pravritti Marga and Nivritti Marga. Pravritti Marga is the path of action or Karma Yoga. Nivritti Marga is the path of renunciation or Jnana Yoga.

Let me say a word on practical Sadhana. The Sastras are endless; there is much to be known; time is short, obstacles are many; That which is the Essence should be grasped, just as the swan does in the case of milk mixed with water.

Excerpts from “Practice of Bhakti Yoga” by Swami Sivananda

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The Subconscious Mind #2

Satguru-Sivaya-Subramuniyaswami-26Meditation’s Great Obstacle

Things that you cannot face in yourself you will hate when you see them in someone else. To counteract this, your universal love, the platform for Self Realization, must be awakened into the emotions of the instinctive mind and filter out into the conscious mind. So, as you are meditating and the various aspects of your subconscious come up, face them positively, reprogram them beautifully, and they will settle back into simply a memory pattern, resolved and incapable of disturbing you again.

If you see something in someone else you do not like and it is affecting you emotionally, sit down and face it within your own subconscious mind. The sore spot is located there. If you feel someone is doing something that you do not think he should be doing, and this really  gets on your nerves, just know that under the right circumstances you may do the same thing, because the tendency to react to it is there in your subconscious. Get into yourself and reprogram that area of your subconscious with good, positive affirmations. Firm up your lifestyle, be more strict with yourself, use your willpower and think positively. Do not allow a weak link in a chain of habit patterns to bar your spiritual unfoldment even for a moment.

One of the biggest barriers on the spiritual path is to dislike our own subconscious as we become familiar with it. We must watch this pitfall very closely. The subconscious mind is not an enemy. It is just a well-used piece of equipment that we are renewing. We have to bless the subconscious mind and look at it as a vital tool to help us in our spiritual evolution.

The point I want to make is: do not fear the subconscious mind. Realize that it has not been programmed as it should be. Therefore, the program has to be changed. Realize that your superconsciousness is the master programmer. Get busy and reprogram your subconscious through the power of affirmation. You can do it through the powers of meditation.

Of course, there is a portion of the subconscious mind that remains more or less the same, handling the instinctive, involuntary processes of the physical body. But by following a sattvic diet, which is conducive to meditation, this area of the subconscious also begins to improve. As we improve food intake and elimination processes, we stop storing up poisons in our cells. As stored poisons are released within the body, they are eliminated regularly. This more physical area of the subconscious mind is also improved through proper breathing, proper posture, hatha yoga, getting plenty of sun, exercise, walking and all of the many wonderful things that benefit the physical body.

Add to your contemplative lifestyle a craft. Working with your hands in doing a craft as a hobby, taking physical substance and turning it into something different, new and beautiful—this kind of creativity is important in remolding the subconscious mind. It is also symbolic. You are actually remolding something on the physical plane and, by doing so, educating yourself in the process of changing the appearance of a physical structure, thus making it easier to change the more subtle mental and emotional structures within your own subconscious mind.

It is a principle on the path that until we are rather advanced we do not really know whether we have reprogrammed the subconscious mind or not, or if the reprogramming has been done correctly. However, we do know when we create something with our hands whether it is done correctly and carefully. We also know when it is finished, for we can see it on the physical plane. Taking a physical substance into our hands, using it carefully and systematically, and disciplining ourselves to finish that which we have begun is a powerful process. By doing this, we overcome habit patterns of carelessness and of not being able to pay attention to details. We also overcome the habit of becoming distracted. So, choose a hobby or a craft.

Seeing Oneself In Others

As soon as the subconscious mind has been positively reprogrammed, even just a little, the channels of intuition begin to open, and you feel peaceful. Disturbances within your mind subside. At this stage on the path you often wonder if you are making progress anymore. You hold a consciousness like being in an airplane going a thousand miles an hour while holding the feeling of not moving. When you feel as if nothing is happening to you inside anymore, you are living in an intuitive state, the eternity of the moment. Your intuition is now penetrating your external mind all of the time.

When your subconscious has been cleared of past reactionary patterns and reprogrammed thoroughly, you do not take exception to things that happen in the world. In understanding, you love everyone and embrace every event. You intuitively sense just what they are all going through, because you have in your memory banks knowledge of each happening acquired during all the lives you have ever lived.

Man has not always realized that a subconscious area of mind exists. For hundreds of years, humanity in the West believed that the conscious state was the only reality. Humanity has had religious inclinations also, and believed in superconsciousness, but felt that superconsciousness was totally outside and away from the individual self. That is why God is talked of as being way up in the heaven, and the angels high in the sky.

Why was God supposed to be outside the being of man, way up in the sky? It was because the subconscious area of mind was in-between. From this limited perspective, man saw himself as a little, insignificant nothing that has come from someplace, not knowing for sure when or how he got here in this conscious state. He knew he was a kind and hateful, generous and greedy, jealous, intellectual, instinctive being. He knew that. He knows it today. That is how one gets along through life. You have to fight for what you want. You have to argue. You have to be jealous, or else how are you going to get anyplace? You have to be quick-tempered to dominate others. You have to scare people, get your own way and elbow your way through life. That is the way to live when totally in the conscious mind.

Excerpts from “Merging with Siva” by Sivaya Subramuniyaswami

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Obstacles in God-realization #4

Swami SivanandaEvil Company

A man is known by the company he keeps. Birds of the same feather flock together. These are all proverbs or wise maxims. They are quite true. Just as a nursery is to be well fenced in the beginning for protection against cows etc., so also a neophyte should protect himself very carefully from foreign evil influences. Otherwise he is ruined totally. The company of those who speak lies, who commit adultery, theft, cheating, double-dealing, who are greedy, who indulge in idle talks, back-biting, tale-bearing, who have no faith in God and in the scriptures etc., should be strictly avoided.

Newspapers deal with all sorts of worldly topics. Aspirants should entirely give up reading of newspapers. Reading of newspapers kindles worldly Samskaras, causes sensational excitement in the mind, makes the mind outgoing, produces an impression that the world is a solid reality and makes one forget the Truth that lies underneath these names and forms.

False Tushti & Rasasvada

The Sadhaka gets some experience during the course of his Sadhana. He sees wonderful visions of Rishis, Mahatmas, astral entities of various description, etc. He hears various melodious Anahata sounds (Nada). He smells Divya Gandha. He gets the powers of thought-reading, foretelling etc. The Sadhaka now foolishly imagines that he has reached the highest goal and stops his further Sadhana. This is a serious mistake. He gets false Tushti or contentment. These are all auspicious signs that manifest on account of a little purity and concentration. These are all encouragements which God gives as a sort of incentive for further progress and intense Sadhana. The aspirant gets more strength of conviction by having these experiences.

Rasasvada is another kind of experience. It is bliss that comes from lower Savikalpa Samadhi. The Sadhaka who has experienced this supersensual bliss imagines that he has reached the final destination and gives up his Sadhana. He should never be satisfied with alpam or lower experiences. He should compare his experiences with the highest experiences of sages that are described in the Upanishads and find out whether they exactly tally with them or not. He should exert till he reaches the seventh Jnana Bhumika. “I have obtained all desires, I have done everything, I know everything. There is nothing more to be known. There is nothing more to be obtained.”

So-called Friends

The so-called friends are your real enemies. You cannot find even a single, unselfish friend in this universe. Your real friend in need who attends on you sincerely is God, the indweller of your heart. Trust in that Immortal Friend only who dwells in your heart. Then alone you are perfectly safe. He will give you whatever you want. Hear His sweet counsel from within with one-pointed mind and follow.

Depression

Aspirants get moods of depression occasionally. These moods may be due to indigestion, cloudy condition, influence of lower astral entities, and revival of old Samskaras from within. Treat the cause. Remove the cause. Do not allow depression to overpower you. Immediately take a brisk, long walk. Run in the open air. Sing divine songs. Chant Om loudly for one hour. Walk along the sea-side or river-side. Play on the harmonium if you know the art. Do some Kumbhakas and Sitali Pranayamas. Drink a small cup of orange-juice or hot tea or coffee. Read some of the elevating portions of Avadhoota Gita and Upanishads.

Excerpts from “Practice of Bhakti Yoga” by Swami Sivananda

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Words of Indian Saints Part #18

The Miracle of Light

paramahansa-yoganandaThe ancient Vedic scriptures declare that the physical world operates under one fundamental law of maya, the principle of relativity and duality. God, the Sole Life, is an Absolute Unity; He cannot appear as the separate and diverse manifestations of a creation except under a false or unreal veil. That cosmic illusion is maya. Every great scientific discovery of modern times has served as a confirmation of this simple pronouncement of the rishis.

Newton’s Law of Motion is a law of maya: “To every action there is always an equal and contrary reaction; the mutual actions of any two bodies are always equal and oppositely directed.” Action and reaction are thus exactly equal. “To have a single force is impossible. There must be, and always is, a pair of forces equal and opposite.”

Fundamental natural activities all betray their mayic origin. Electricity, for example, is a phenomenon of repulsion and attraction; its electrons and protons are electrical opposites. Another example: the atom or final particle of matter is, like the earth itself, a magnet with positive and negative poles. The entire phenomenal world is under the inexorable sway of polarity; no law of physics, chemistry, or any other science is ever found free from inherent opposite or contrasted principles.

Physical science, then, cannot formulate laws outside of maya, the very texture and structure of creation. Nature herself is maya; natural science must perforce deal with her ineluctable quiddity. In her own domain, she is eternal and inexhaustible; future scientists can do no more than probe one aspect after another of her varied infinitude. Science thus remains in a perpetual flux, unable to reach finality; fit indeed to formulate the laws of an already existing and functioning cosmos, but powerless to detect the Law Framer and Sole Operator. The majestic manifestations of gravitation and electricity have become known, but what gravitation and electricity are, no mortal knoweth.

Marconi, the great inventor, made the following admission of scientific inadequacy before the finalities: “The inability of science to solve life is absolute. This fact would be truly frightening were it not for faith. The mystery of life is certainly the most persistent problem ever placed before the thought of man.”

To surmount maya was the task assigned to the human race by the millennial prophets. To rise above the duality of creation and perceive the unity of the Creator was conceived of as man’s highest goal. Those who cling to the cosmic illusion must accept its essential law of polarity: flow and ebb, rise and fall, day and night, pleasure and pain, good and evil, birth and death. This cyclic pattern assumes a certain anguishing monotony, after man has gone through a few thousand human births; he begins to cast a hopeful eye beyond the compulsions of maya.

To tear the veil of maya is to pierce the secret of creation. The yogi who thus denudes the universe is the only true monotheist. All others are worshiping heathen images. So long as man remains subject to the dualistic delusions of nature, the Janus-faced Maya is his goddess; he cannot know the one true God.

The world illusion, maya, is individually called avidya, literally, “not-knowledge,” ignorance, delusion. Maya or avidya can never be destroyed through intellectual conviction or analysis, but solely through attaining the interior state of nirbikalpa samadhi. The Old Testament prophets, and seers of all lands and ages, spoke from that state of consciousness. Ezekiel says (43:1-2): “Afterwards he brought me to the gate, even the gate that looketh toward the east: and, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory.” Through the divine eye in the forehead (east), the yogi sails his consciousness into omnipresence, hearing the Word or Aum, divine sound of many waters or vibrations which is the sole reality of creation.

Among the trillion mysteries of the cosmos, the most phenomenal is light. Unlike sound-waves, whose transmission requires air or other material media, light-waves pass freely through the vacuum of interstellar space. Even the hypothetical ether, held as the interplanetary medium of light in the undulatory theory, can be discarded on the Einsteinian grounds that the geometrical properties of space render the theory of ether unnecessary. Under either hypothesis, light remains the most subtle, the freest from material dependence, of any natural manifestation.

In the gigantic conceptions of Einstein, the velocity of light-186,000 miles per second-dominates the whole Theory of Relativity. He proves mathematically that the velocity of light is, so far as man’s finite mind is concerned, the only constant in a universe of unstayable flux. On the sole absolute of light-velocity depend all human standards of time and space. Not abstractly eternal as hitherto considered, time and space are relative and finite factors, deriving their measurement validity only in reference to the yardstick of light-velocity. In joining space as a dimensional relativity, time has surrendered age-old claims to a changeless value. Time is now stripped to its rightful nature-a simple essence of ambiguity! With a few equational strokes of his pen, Einstein has banished from the cosmos every fixed reality except that of light.

Light-velocity is a mathematical standard or constant not because there is an absolute value in 186,000 miles a second, but because no material body, whose mass increases with its velocity, can ever attain the velocity of light. Stated another way: only a material body whose mass is infinite could equal the velocity of light.

The masters who are able to materialize and dematerialize their bodies or any other object, and to move with the velocity of light, and to utilize the creative light-rays in bringing into instant visibility any physical manifestation, have fulfilled the necessary Einsteinian condition: their mass is infinite.

The consciousness of a perfected yogi is effortlessly identified, not with a narrow body, but with the universal structure. Gravitation, whether the “force” of Newton or the Einsteinian “manifestation of inertia,” is powerless to compel a master to exhibit the property of “weight” which is the distinguishing gravitational condition of all material objects. He who knows himself as the omnipresent Spirit is subject no longer to the rigidities of a body in time and space. Their imprisoning “rings-pass-not” have yielded to the solvent: “I am He.”

A yogi who through perfect meditation has merged his consciousness with the Creator perceives the cosmical essence as light; to him there is no difference between the light rays composing water and the light rays composing land. Free from matter-consciousness, free from the three dimensions of space and the fourth dimension of time, a master transfers his body of light with equal ease over the light rays of earth, water, fire, or air. Long concentration on the liberating spiritual eye has enabled the yogi to destroy all delusions concerning matter and its gravitational weight; thenceforth he sees the universe as an essentially undifferentiated mass of light.

As steps in man’s awakening, the Lord inspires scientists to discover, at the right time and place, the secrets of His creation. Many modern discoveries help men to apprehend the cosmos as a varied expression of one power-light, guided by divine intelligence. The wonders of the motion picture, of radio, of television, of radar, of the photo- electric cell-the all-seeing “electric eye,” of atomic energies, are all based on the electromagnetic phenomenon of light.

The lifelike images of the motion picture illustrate many truths concerning creation. The Cosmic Director has written His own plays, and assembled the tremendous casts for the pageant of the centuries. From the dark booth of eternity, He pours His creative beam through the films of successive ages, and the pictures are thrown on the screen of space. Just as the motion-picture images appear to be real, but are only combinations of light and shade, so is the universal variety a delusive seeming. The planetary spheres, with their countless forms of life, are naught but figures in a cosmic motion picture, temporarily true to five sense perceptions as the scenes are cast on the screen of man’s consciousness by the infinite creative beam.

A cinema audience can look up and see that all screen images are appearing through the instrumentality of one imageless beam of light. The colorful universal drama is similarly issuing from the single white light of a Cosmic Source. With inconceivable ingenuity God is staging an entertainment for His human children, making them actors as well as audience in His planetary theater.

“Creation is light and shadow both, else no picture is possible. The good and evil of maya must ever alternate in supremacy. If joy were ceaseless here in this world, would man ever seek another? Without suffering he scarcely cares to recall that he has forsaken his eternal home. Pain is a prod to remembrance. The way of escape is through wisdom! The tragedy of death is unreal; those who shudder at it are like an ignorant actor who dies of fright on the stage when nothing more is fired at him than a blank cartridge. My sons are the children of light; they will not sleep forever in delusion.”

Although I had read scriptural accounts of maya, they had not given me the deep insight that came with the personal visions and their accompanying words of consolation. One’s values are profoundly changed when he is finally convinced that creation is only a vast motion picture, and that not in it, but beyond it, lies his own reality.

Excerpts from the book by Paramhansa Yogananda “Autobiography of a Yogi”

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Bhakti Yoga Sadhana

Swami SivanandaGod is the Inner Ruler of your heart and mind. He is the silent witness of your thoughts. You cannot hide anything from Him. Become guileless and straightforward.

Anger and lust are the two inner enemies that stand in the way of developing Bhakti.

From lust follow ten vices that are mentioned in Manusamhita: “Love of hunting, gambling, sleeping by day, slandering, company with bad women, drinking, singing love-songs, dancing, vulgar music, aimlessly wandering about.”

Anger begets eight kinds of vices. All evil qualities proceed from anger. If you can eradicate anger all bad qualities will die of themselves. The eight vices are: “Injustice, rashness, persecution, jealousy, taking possession of others’ property, killing, harsh words and cruelty.”

How are Bhaktas to be known? Lord Krishna has given a description of them. You will find it in Bhagavata. “They do not care for anything. Their hearts are fixed on Me. They are very humble. They have equal vision. They have no attachment towards anybody or anything. They are without mine-ness. They have no egoism. They make no distinction between sorrow and happiness. They do not take anything from others. They can bear heat, cold and pain. They have love for all living beings. They have no enemy. They are serene. They possess exemplary character.

Here is Sadhana for advanced students. This is highly useful for getting quick, solid progress in the spiritual path. Get up at 4 a.m. Start your Japa on any Asana you have mastered. Do not take any food or drink for 14 hours. Do not get up from the Asana. Control passing urine till sunset if you can. Do not change the Asana if you can manage. Finish the Japa at sunset. Take milk and fruits after sunset. Householders can practise this during holidays. Practise this once in a fortnight or once in a month or once weekly.

Here is another Sadhana for ten days. You can do this during Christmas holidays or Pooja holidays or summer vacation. Shut yourself up in an airy room. Do not talk to anybody. Do not see anybody. Do not hear anything. Get up at 4 a.rn. Start Japa of the Mantra of your Ishta Devata or your Guru Mantra and finish it at sunset. Then take some milk and fruits or Kheer (milk and rice boiled with sugar). Take rest for one or two hours; but continue the Japa. Then again start Japa seriously. Retire to bed at 11 in the night. You can combine meditation along with Japa. Make all arrangements for bath, food etc., inside the room. Have two rooms if you can manage, one for bath and one for meditation. Repeat this four times in a year. This practice can be kept up even for 40 days. You will have wonderful results and various experiences. You will enter into Samadhi. You will have Darshan of your Ishtam. I assure you.

Belief in God is an indispensable requisite for every human being. It is a sine qua non. Owing to force of Avidya or ignorance pain appears as pleasure. The world is full of miseries, troubles, difficulties and tribulations. The world is a ball of fire. The Antahkarana charged with Raga, Dvesha, anger and jealousy is a blazing furnace. We have to free ourselves from birth, death, old age, disease and grief. This can only be done by faith in God. There is no other way. Money and power cannot give us real happiness. Even if we exercise suzerainty over the whole world, we cannot be free from care, worry, anxiety, fear, disappointment etc. It is only the faith in God and the consequent God-realisation through meditation that can give us real, eternal happiness and free us from all kinds of fear and worries which torment us at every moment. Faith in God will force us to think of Him constantly and to meditate on Him and will eventually lead us on to God-realisation.

God will give us full security if we worship Him with unswerving devotion and undivided attention. He gives us the Yoga of discrimination to enable us to reach Him easily. Out of pure compassion for us He destroys the ignorance-born darkness by the shining lamp of wisdom. He speedily lifts us from the ocean of Samsara if we fix our minds on Him steadily with devotion and faith.

The ignorant, faithless doubting self goes to destruction. He cannot enjoy the least happiness. Neither this world, nor that beyond is there for the doubting self. Those who have no faith in God do not know what is right and what is wrong. They have lost the power of discrimination.

Excerpts from “Practice of Bhakti Yoga” by Swami Sivananda