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Seeker after Liberation (pt.#4)

effort-invest-time-like-antThe Necessity of Effort

Will or inclination, even according to the rules of law and scriptures, is the prime instrument of all action, just as the reflection of light gives various colors to things.

Fortune and effort contend with each other like two rams of unequal strength where the mightier overcomes the other. Therefore man should apply himself diligently and employ his skill and effort in such a way that his today may overcome his tomorrow.

When one finds himself led astray by the demerit of his acts of a former state of existence, he must attempt to subdue them by the greater energy of his present state. One should endeavor to exercise his efforts so much that he may beat down the evils resulting from his bad fortune (or predestination). The evils of bad fortune are undoubtedly removed by the meritorious acts of the present life, just like the bad consequence of an act of yesterday is averted by its remedy of today.

Having trampled over an unfavorable fortune by one’s reliance upon his continuous effort, he must attempt to secure to himself every good for his well-being in his present life. Know that tranquility is not to be found through the effortlessness of dull ass-like men. It is the lawful energy of men which is said to secure his welfare in both worlds. One should make his way out of the pit of this world by force of his energy and diligence, just like a lion breaks out from his cage.

Every day one must contemplate that his body is subject to corruption, his beastly acts must be kept back, and man-like acts put forward. Good efforts are attended by good results just like bad ones are followed by bad consequences. Chance is merely a meaningless word.

It is a pleasure to men of perverted understanding to think of themselves as guided by their fortunes. Prosperity flies far away from such men who depend on their luck. Therefore let a man diligently apply himself first to his reason, and then investigate the works of subtle, hidden spiritual knowledge.

Whatever one attempts to do, he readily meets with its reward. This is the effect of effort. Fate is nothing but the same thing. Thus fate, being nothing but a name for our past actions, it is as easily overcome (by present acts) as a boy (is subdued) by an adult youth. As some bad conduct of yesterday is corrected by proper behavior of the present day, so is past fate is removed by present acts. Like two rams, our fate and efforts are fighting one another. Victory is always on the side of the stronger.

The strong efforts of men truly constitute the fortune that governs them, and these two are viewed alike by the wise.

Present acts destroy those of the past life, and those of the past life can destroy the effect of present acts, but the exertions of a man are undoubtedly successful. Of these two powers, that of the present is manifestly superior to the past.

As a hail shower lays waste the cultivation of a whole year, so also does predominant fate sometimes overpower the attempts of this life. However it does not behoove us to be sorry at the loss of our long earned treasure, for what does it serve to have sorrow for something that is beyond our control? If I have sorrow for what I am powerless to prevent, then I may as well weep all the days of my life because death will not spare me.

Actions of the past and present lives are the two fruit trees growing in the garden of humanity. Whichever is cultivated the best thrives and bears most fruit. He who is unable to overcome his false fate by his best efforts is no better than an ignorant beast that has no power over its pain or pleasure. He who thinks of going to heaven or hell by the will of the Maker is also a slave to destiny and is no better than a beast. The man of a noble mind who is employed in acts of goodness, breaks off from the errors of the world like a lion from its cage. Those who vainly imagine themselves to be led about by some supernatural power, and so slight their necessary duties, are to be shunned at a distance as the mean and base.

The wise know infinite happiness or a tranquil spirit is the supreme good, and those
good works are fit for study which lead to that state.

The acts of our former lives constitute what we call our fate (daivam) or destiny and they return to us from the region of the gods for our good in both worlds. We blame a fate that is the creation of the fancy of the ignorant, who by their adoration of such passivity meet their own destruction. One benefits himself always by his activity in both worlds, as the good acts of today gives a grace to those of yesterday. Only the ignorant depart from the beaten path and fall into the error of fatalism. Therefore give up that false faith in an unreal fate, which is a mere creation of the imagination and devoid of any cause or effect.

Knowing the efficacy of activity, every one should work on personal effort and attain to his highest perfection by attending to good scriptures and the wise counsels of learned men. Knowing that the bondage of our births is full of pain, let people listen to the wise and strive to exercise their efforts to obtain the true and sweet blessing of tranquility.

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

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Seeker after Liberation (pt.#3)

Effort, Not Fate or Chance

effort-invest-time-like-ant

Liberation, whether of embodied or disembodied spirits, consists in their detachment from the objects of sense. Hence the soul unattached to sensual gratification is liberated, having no idea of objects of the senses. Liberation, whether with or without the body, produces unselfishness. We have lost our selfishness ever since we have come to the knowledge of an undivided unity.

Know, O son of Raghu, that everything in this world is obtainable by our efforts being properly employed. There is no other way to gain results except but by our efforts.

An effort, when directed according to the counsel and conduct of the good in the exercise of the action of the body and mind, is attended with success. Otherwise it is as vain as the freak of a madman.

Know our actions to be of two kinds, namely those of former and present lives. Know that the acts of the present life generally supersede those of the past. Know also that energy joined with constant practice and supported by wisdom and some stimulating force is able to break down Mount Meru and the demerits of acts in men’s former lives.

Will or inclination, even according to the rules of law and scriptures, is the prime instrument of all action, just as the reflection of light gives various colors to things.

Good or evil results depend upon how you try, but according to fatalists, fate and effort are the joint causes of acts. The truth is, human exertions are either lawful or unlawful. The former lead to success and the latter to dangerous consequences. Fortune and effort contend with each other like two rams of unequal strength where the mightier overcomes the other. Therefore man should apply himself diligently and employ his skill and effort in such a way that his today may overcome his tomorrow.

When one incurs a failure or danger even by his lawful efforts, he should know it to be the result of his misapplied efforts. By utmost exertion in the right way, like gnashing his teeth, one can overcome his misfortune and that bad luck that sometimes baffle his efforts.

When one finds himself led astray by the demerit of his acts of a former state of existence, he must attempt to subdue them by the greater energy of his present state. One should endeavor to exercise his efforts so much that he may beat down the evils resulting from his bad fortune (or predestination). The evils of bad fortune are undoubtedly removed by the meritorious acts of the present life, just like the bad consequence of an act of yesterday is averted by its remedy of today.

Having trampled over an unfavorable fortune by one’s reliance upon his continuous effort, he must attempt to secure to himself every good for his well-being in his present life. Know that tranquility is not to be found through the effortlessness of dull ass-like men. It is the lawful energy of men which is said to secure his welfare in both worlds. One should make his way out of the pit of this world by force of his energy and diligence, just like a lion breaks out from his cage.

Every day one must contemplate that his body is subject to corruption, his beastly acts must be kept back, and man-like acts put forward.

It is a pleasure to men of perverted understanding to think of themselves as guided by their fortunes. Prosperity flies far away from such men who depend on their luck. Therefore let a man diligently apply himself first to his reason, and then investigate the works of subtle, hidden spiritual knowledge.

Know that like all things, there is a limit to both human fate and effort, just like a pot or a picture has a finite capacity and length. It is by means of good conduct derived from best precepts and the company of the good that one succeeds to his object. A disposition that breaks loose of these is sure to fall to the contrary, to ruin.

Again any man who conducts himself in the right course of action will never fail in his attempts at anytime. Some among the best of men had been reduced to misery by their poverty and helplessness. Yet by exertion of their manhood, they have again risen to the eminence of Indra. By learning the scriptures well from boyhood, by keeping company with the good, by possession of good qualities, and by diligent application, a man is sure to gain his object.

It has been seen, known, heard and experienced that acts are rewarded with success. They are dullheaded who think of obtaining it through fate or luck. If there were no folly of idleness in this world, what man would fail either to be rich or learned? It is because of idleness that this earth is filled to its utmost limit of the sea with indigent and beastly men. After passing his childhood and getting rid of its false and idle playfulness, and when he has attained the age of youthful vigor, let a man apply himself diligently to the company of wise men, and to the cultivation of his understanding by a knowledge of the scriptures and their meanings, and by scanning well his own faults and qualities.

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

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Seeker after Liberation (pt.#1)

will-samadhi-lead-you-to-liberationVasishta states that peace of mind (shanti), contentment (santosha), keeping the company of realized sages (satsanga), and inquiry into the nature of the soul (vichara) are the four sentinels that guard the gates to moksha, or liberation. The belief that one is confined by fate is severely condemned and the person who seeks spiritual development is urged to rely on personal efforts for progress on the spiritual path.

That the world is a creation of will and loses itself with the absence of our desires, and that it is an accursed and unsubstantial world after all, are the conclusions arrived at by all sages.

There is but one undivided intelligent spirit known as the Universal Soul and nothing else. It becomes confined by its desires (mental conditioning) and becomes freed by its lack of them.

Rama knows that curtailing desires is what the wise call liberty, and the attachment of our desires to earthly objects is our confinement here. Spiritual knowledge is easily obtainable by most men, but a distaste for (pleasurable) objects is hard to be had. He who fully comprehends a thing is said to know it, and who so knows what is knowable is called a learned man. No earthly enjoyment can be delectable to such high minded men. The mind that has no zest for earthly pleasures, except the glory of disinterested deeds, is said to be liberated even in the present life.

It will not be difficult for you to teach the spotless Rama, whose mirror-like mind is quite clear to take the reflection. The wisdom of the holy, their learning of the scriptures, and the scholarship of the learned are only praiseworthy when they are communicated to a good student and those who are disgusted with the world. But instruction given to one who is neither student nor disgusted with the world becomes as polluted as milk stored in a hide vessel. Again, the instruction given by one devoid of passions and affections, fear and anger, pride and sin, serves to infuse tranquility into the mind.

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

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On Detachment (pt.#1)

Liberation

yoga-vasisthaOm, salutation to that Reality from whom all beings proceed, by whom they are manifest, upon whom they depend, and in whom they become extinct. He is the knower, the knowledge and all that is to be known. He is the seer, the act of seeing, and all that is to be seen. He is the actor, the cause and the effect, therefore salutation to He who is all knowledge himself.

One Sutikshna, a brahmin whose mind was full of questions, went to the hermitage of Agastya and respectfully asked the sage,  “O great sage! Tell me, in your opinion, whether liberation results from a man’s acts or his knowledge or both?”
Agastya replied: — As the birds fly in the air with both wings, so the highest state of emancipation is attained through both knowledge and acts. Neither our acts nor knowledge alone produces liberation, but both together are the means.

But it is neither by acts or riches, nor by means of children that one obtains his liberation. It is solely by self-denial that the great souls taste the ambrosia (of emancipation).

One fallen in this boundless ocean of the world may enjoy the bliss of liberation by the magnanimity of his soul. He shall not come across grief or destitution, but shall remain ever satisfied by being freed from the fever of anxiety.

In heaven there is ample reward for merit, conferring perfect bliss (to all); but it is the degree of merit that leads one to higher heavens. By moderate virtue, one is certainly entitled to a middle station. Virtue of an inferior order leads a person to a lower position. But one’s virtue is destroyed by impatience at the excellence of his betters, by haughtiness to his equals, and by joy at the inferiority of others. When one’s virtue is thus destroyed, he must enter the abode of mortals. These and the like are the effects of good and evil in heaven.

Know that the things seen in this world are deceiving, even as the blueness of the sky is an optical illusion. Therefore it is better to efface them in oblivion rather than to keep their memory. All visible objects have no actual existence. We have no idea of them except through sensation.

The conviction that the objects we see do not exist of themselves leads to the removal of their impressions from the mind. Thus perfected, supreme and eternal bliss of self-extinction springs in the mind. Otherwise, there is no peace to be had for men like you, rolling in the depths of studies for thousands of years and unacquainted with true knowledge.

Complete abandonment of desires (vasana, mental conditioning) is called the best state of liberation (moksha) and is the only pure step towards happiness. The absence of desires leads to the extinction of mental actions, in the same manner as the absence of cold melts small particles of ice. Our desires uphold our living bodies and bind us tightly to our bodily prison like ropes. These being loosened, the inner soul is liberated.

Mental conditioning is of two kinds: pure and impure. The impure ones cause reincarnation, while the pure ones serve to destroy it. An impure desire is like a mist of ignorance, the stubborn feeling that one is the individual ego. The wise say that individual ego is the cause of rebirth. A pure desire is like a parched seed that is incapable of bringing forth the germ of rebirth. It only supports the present body. Pure desires, unattended with rebirth, reside in the bodies of men who are living liberated.

Even the smallest service, if done in good time, appears to be much, and the best service is of no avail if done out of season.

Afterwards King Dasharata asked Vasishta, the best of speakers and well informed in all matters, as to why Rama was so sorrowful. Sage Vasishta thought over the matter and said, “There is, O king, a cause for Rama’s sadness, but you need not be anxious about it. Wise men never entertain the fluctuations of anger or grief, or a lengthened delight from frivolous causes, just as the great elements of the world do not change their states unless it were for the sake of some new production.”

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

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How to develop Bhakti

Swami SivanandaThe following nine modes of worship (Navavidha Bhakti) will develop Bhakti:
– Sravana (hearing the Lilas of God);
– Kirtana (singing His praise);
– Smarana (remembering His Name);
– Padasevana (worshipping His Lotus Feet);
– Archana (offerings);
– Vandana (prostration);
– Dasya (service);
– Sakhya (friendship);
– Atma-nivedana (complete self-surrender).

Throughout the Gita there is a ringing note that surrender and devotion are absolutely necessary for the attainment of God-consciousness. In reality, the nine modes of devotion (Navavidha Bhakti) are reducible to one, viz., Atma-nivedan (complete self-surrender).

Tameva saranam gachha sarvabhavena bharata;
Tatprasadat param santim sthanam prapsyasi sasvatam.
“Flee unto Him for shelter with all thy being, O Bharata; by His Grace thou shalt obtain supreme peace, the everlasting dwelling-place.” (XVIII-62.)

Manmana bhava madbhakto madyajee mam namaskuru;
Mamevaisyasi satyam te pratijane priyosi me.
“Merge thy mind in Me, be My devotee, sacrifice to Me, prostrate thyself before Me, thou shalt come even to Me.” (XVIII-65.)

Sarvadharman parityajya mamekam saranam vraja;
Aham tva sarvapapebhyo mokshayishyami ma suchah.
“Abandoning all duties come unto Me alone for shelter; sorrow not, I liberate thee from all sins.” (XVIII-66.)

Slokas 65 and 66 of Chapter XVIII are the most important Slokas of the Gita. The gist of the teaching of lord Krishna is here. If anyone can live in the true spirit of these Slokas, he will realise the goal of life soon. There is no doubt of this.
The self-surrender must be total, ungrudging and unreserved. You must not keep certain desires for gratification. Mira says: “I have given my whole heart, mind, intellect, soul, my all to my Griridhar Gopal.” This is perfect self-surrender.

Self-surrender does not mean retirement into the forests. It does not mean giving up of all activities. Tamas or inertia is mistaken for self-surrender. This is a sad mistake. What is wanted is internal surrender. The ego and desire must be annihilated. This will constitute real surrender. The Rajasic mind stands obstinate to effect complete self-surrender. Obstinacy is a great obstacle in surrender. The lower nature again and again raises up to assert itself. There is resurrection of desires. Desires get suppressed for some time. Again they manifest with redoubled force.

The lower nature must be thoroughly overhauled. All old, wrong habits must be completely destroyed. Then the surrender becomes complete. Do not make plans and speculations. “Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.” Keep the mind and the intellect passive. Allow the Divine Will and Grace to work through your mind and Indriyas. Become silent. Feel His Grace and Love and enjoy the the Divine Ecstasy. Be at ease.

Excerpts from “Practice of Bhakti Yoga” by Swami Sivananda

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Yoga of Universal Love

swami sivanandaThere is no virtue higher than Love, there is no treasure higher than Love, there is no knowledge higher than Love, there is no Dharma higher than Love, there is no religion higher than Love because Love is Truth, Love is God. This world has come out of Love, this world exists in Love and this world ultimately dissolves in Love. God is an embodiment of Love. In every inch of His creation you can verily understand His Love.

To love man is to love God alone. Man is the true image of God.

Love is a great leveller. There is no power on earth greater than Love. Pure love is a rare gift of God. It is the fruit of one’s untiring service of humanity and incalculable virtuous actions in several incarnations. It is a rare commodity indeed.

True religion does not consist of ritualistic observances, baths and pilgrimages but in loving all. Cosmic love is all-embracing and all-inclusive. They are the products of ignorance only. They cannot stand before pure love. Just as darkness is dispelled by the penetrating rays of the burning sun, so also jealousy, hatred and egoism are dispelled by the rays of divine Prem.

A man who is struggling to develop cosmic love and realise Him through love, cannot keep anything for himself more than he actually needs for keeping the life going. People talk of universal love but are very niggardly in action. They show only lip-sympathy and lip-love. This is absolute hypocrisy. He who tries to develop universal love should serve humanity untiringly with a disinterested, selfless spirit for many years. He has to kill his little self ruthlessly. He must bear calmly insults and injuries. Then only there is the prospect of cultivating cosmic love. Otherwise it is all vain and flowery talk and idle-gossiping only. It is sugar in paper or tiger in the carpet.

Pure divine love consciously felt and spontaneously directed towards all beings including animals and birds is indeed the direct result of one’s vision or realisation of the Supreme Being. Let me repeat here the words of Bhagavan Sri Krishna: “He who seeth Me everywhere and seeth everything in Me, of him I never lose hold and he shall never lose hold of Me” (Gita: VI-30). “The self-harmonized by Yoga, seeth the Self abiding in all beings, all beings in the Self; everywhere he seeth the same” (VI-29). “He who beareth no ill-will to any being, friendly and compassionate, without attachment and egoism, balanced in pleasure and pain, and forgiving, he, My devotee, is dear to Me” (XII-13).

There is no iota of hope for your salvation till you develop your heart. Dear friends, bear this in mind always! Love alone will bring you liberation.

The saints, seers and prophets of the world have spoken of love as the end and aim or goal of life. The Rasa Lila of Sri Krishna is full of Prem and divine mysteries. The stripping of clothes of Gopis means the destruction of egoism. Lord Krishna has preached love through His Flute. Lord Buddha was an ocean of love. He gave up his body to appease the hunger of a cub of a tiger. Raja Sibi gave from his own thigh an equivalent weight of the pigeon’s flesh to satisfy the appetite of the hawk. What a noble soul! Lord Rama lived a life of love and showed love in every inch of his activity. My dear children of Love, draw inspiration from their teachings. Tread the path of Love, commune with God and reach the eternal abode of Love. This is your highest duty. You have taken this body to achieve Love which alone is the goal of life.

Excerpts from “Practice of Bhakti Yoga” by Swami Sivananda

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Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll

Modern Society's Choice - YogaFrom ancient times the man was investigating ways and techniques to transform, change, uplift his perception of himself and the outside. Tantra is an ageless and highly practical discipline that can rocket your consciousness into the skies. All religions in one way or another employed methods of Tantra.

Shamanistic rituals are known to have been applied in all cultures of the world. There are different methods that can transform your awareness and the consequences of their use differ. 20th century folk preferred more quick and passive methods that in most cases brought you up and then threw you down even lower than before to the methods which are active, gradual and spiritual. Passive methods are generally chemical in substance which speeds up the process but causes physical changes and destruction inevitably followed by far more disastrous consequences on the spiritual level. Drugs of different substances can help you in releasing your subconscious blocks and emotions within the time they are in effect. This is the shift of perception and the way how you perceive yourself that brings so desirable relief. Once the effect comes to an end, the awareness returns to normal state to realize consecutive physical and psychological discomfort or pain. On your conscious and subconscious levels an imprint of the aftermath pain will be created. The feeling of lost paradise that you’ve experienced being intoxicated by drugs will firmly fix in the long-term memory and urge you to want it, long for it and once again have it. A breach of Will occurs that will cause destruction to your spiritual self. Without will mind is not able to control drugs, the drugs become masters of your body and mind. Good health will guarantee you will stay longer to withstand gradual physical destruction. However, in most cases psychological destruction happens more quickly with the mind being trapped in between pain and pleasure without support from strong will. There are cases when drugs can help you on the way to spiritual self. The guru will play crucial role in cases of using drugs to open your dark sides and self-liberate them. Then guru will be a guide and your will as well which can’t last long. It is absolutely true that drugs can’t guide you.

The basic trend of modern awareness flows away from wishy-washy way of searching Truth. 21st century society chooses ancient methods of Yoga to unfold consciousness of our True Self without jeopardizing and diluting young and immature souls of the Western World.

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