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CONTENTMENT & COURAGE

16-favorite-contentment-quotes-14-728Contentment

There is no greater gain than contentment. A man who is fully endowed with this important virtue is the richest man in all the three worlds.

Contentment is one of the important items in the Niyamas of the Raja Yoga philosophy. The Gita also says: “Be contented with whatever you get by chance and apply yourself to meditation with a dispassionate mind.”

Greed is the Chief Officer of Passion. Wherever there is greed, there is passion and wherever there is passion there is greed almost invariably. The understanding gets clouded, the intellect gets perverted and the memory gets confused by passion and greed. Therefore people find it difficult to develop the virtue of contentment.

An objector says: “I quite realise that contentment gives peace. But I have a doubt. lf I become contented, all my ambitions will die. I will become lethargic and lazy. On account of my various sorts of ambitions, I move about hither and tithel I exert and I am energetic.” My reply is simply this: “Contentment can never make you idle. lt is a Sattvic virtue that propels man towards God. lt gives strength of mind and peace. lt checks unnecessary and selfish exertions. lt transmutes the gross energy viz., greed that is forcing man towards selfish exertions into spiritual energy, Ojas. That man who is contented is full of Sattva. He is more energetic now. He is inward. He is always peaceful. He turns out more work calmly and with one-pointed mind. All the dissipated rays of the mind are collected now.

A contented mind is the greatest blessing a man can enjoy in this world. lt has a beneficial influence on the soul of man. lt destroys all inordinate ambitions, all murmuring, repining, and makes one serene, happy and rich. lt is a pearl of inestimable value. Contentment is the best tonic. lt is the best medicine. lt gives best health and peace of mind.

A contented man is never poor. The discontented man is never rich. Be always contented with what happens. Know that what God chooses is better than what you choose.
lf you are not contented with what you have, you will not be contented with what you like to have.
Contentment is natural wealth. Luxury is artificial poverty.
Abandon all desires. Desire only the will of God. Seek Him alone. You will find perfect contentment, peace and bliss.
lf you increase your wealth, you increase your cares, worries ahd anxietes. But a contented mind is a hidden, supreme treasure. A man of contented mind knows not cares and anxieties.
A contented man is easy in mind. He does not repine. He is satisfled with things as they are. He never complains.

Contentment is the best virtue; contentment is called the true enjoyment; and the contented man gets the best repose. He derives happiness from within. lt is a panacea forthe cure of the dire disease-avarice or greed.

O man! Lead a life of perfect contentment and be happy forever. Live in God who is Nitya Triptior Supreme satisfaction or Contentment.

images (3)COURAGE

It is the quality that enables men to meet dangers without fear. Courage enlarges your resources but cowardice diminishes them.

No spiritual progress is possible without courage. courage is an essential of high character. There cannot be truth without courage, you cannot do anything in this world without courage.

Physical courage depends upon bodily strength and intrepidity. Moral courage is that quality which enables one to pursue a course deemed right through which one may incur contempt, disapproval or opprobrium.

True courage is not the brutal force of vulgar heroes, but the firm resolve oivirtue and reason.

Have the courage of your convictions. Have the courage to act up to or consistently with your views or opinions.

lf you have courage and confidence, you can accomplish anything in this world. Courage is the source of all success. You have strength in proportion to courage. Your abirity to perform deeds is in accordance with your courage and confidence.

You may have courage when everything is going right; but it is difficult to have courage in times of panic and danger. The really courageous man is one who knows no fear when danger is on his heels and helps others with a calm attitude of mind.

Meditate ceaselessly on the absolutely fearless Atman or the lmmortal soul that dwells in the chambers of your heart. You will become an embodiment of courage.

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

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Seeker after Liberation (pt.#8)

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On Rational Inquiry

Reasoning serves to destroy the false apparitions of errors which present themselves to the minds of children like ghosts in the night sky. Men torment themselves with the false imaginations of their own minds. Only reason can drive away this deeply rooted apparition from the mind.

Know that the fruit of the high tree of reason is the even, unobstructed, interminable and independent happiness called perfect detachment (kaivalya). When a saint has reached his perfection by means of the elixir of judgment seated in his mind, he neither desires  for more nor leaves (what he has). A mind relying on that state of equanimity and perceiving the clear light has neither its fall nor elevation, but enjoys its inward expansion like that of vacuum forever.

One unconcerned with the world neither gives nor receives anything, nor feels himself elated or depressed at any event, but views everything as an indifferent spectator. He is neither numbingly cold nor does he dwell on anything internally or externally. He is not inactive or merged in activity. He slights the loss of anything and lives content with what he has. He is neither depressed nor elevated, but remains as full as the sea.

Men with their minds illuminated by the light of reason are like travelers acquainted with their way. They are not liable to pitfalls of constant danger and misery. It is by means of reason that one comes to the knowledge of truth, and by means of truth that he gets peace of mind, and it is tranquility of mind that dispels the misery of men.
Now Rama, take delight in such acts as may be productive of utility to the world, and whereby you may arrive to perfection. Weigh all things with the clear eye of reason, which will make you blessed forever.

On Contentment

Those who are happy with their prosperity of contentment and possess the calm repose of their souls are like holy saints. They think a kingdom no better than a bit of rotten straw.
Whoever retains a contented mind amidst all the affairs of the world is never disturbed or dejected in adverse circumstances, O Rama.
Abandonment of unfruitful desires, and calmness in those desires that are obtained, feeling no pain and having no sense of pleasure, constitute what is called contentment.
Until the mind can enjoy contentment rising of itself spontaneously in the soul, troubles will continue to grow like briars and brambles in a bog. The mind cooled by calm contentment and purified by the light of philosophy is always in its full bloom like a lotus under sunbeams.
An ungoverned mind, subject to desires and devoid of contentment, does not receive the light of knowledge, like a soiled mirror takes no reflection of the face.  A man whose mind is always bright with the sunshine of contentment does not shrivel like a lotus in the dark night of ignorance. A man devoid of diseases and anxieties, whose mind is content though he be thoroughly poor, enjoys the happiness of a supreme ruler.

On the Company of the Virtuous

It is the tree of virtuous company (satsanga) that produces the fresh blossom of discrimination which, being cherished by men with great souls, yields its fruit of  prosperity. The society of the learned makes solitude appear as company, and the evil of death as good as a festivity, and converts a difficulty to ease. Know that the society of the virtuous is the best way to improve understanding, destroy the tree of ignorance, and  remove all our mental diseases. Whoever has bathed in the cold, clear stream of good company does not need the merit derived from acts of charity, pilgrimage, austerity or sacrifice.

Contentment is reckoned to be the best gain, good company the right course, reasoning the true knowledge, and remaining undisturbed the highest bliss. These are the four surest means to break off the shackles of the world, and whoever is practiced in these has surely passed over the false waters of terrestrial sea. Learn, O best of the intelligent, that the practice of any one of these pure virtues leads to a habit of all four. Every one of these separately is a leader to the others. Therefore apply yourself diligently to one of these for your success in getting them all.

As soon as one of these virtues is strengthened and made fruitful in you, it will serve to weaken the force of the faults of your uncontrollable mind.  The cultivation of virtues leads to their full growth and the suppression of vice, but the fostering of vice will lead to the increase of vices and the suppression of good qualities.

Knowledge in Practice – Good Conduct

The mind is a wilderness of errors in which the stream of our desires flows with full force between its two banks of good and evil where we hold our stand. Know, O high-minded Rama, that one’s own disposition is like a rapid current that must not be permitted to bear him away (to the perilous coast).

They are called intelligent who know the cause and effect of things. Men of unfettered minds look upon the appearance and disappearance of every atomic world as the fluctuating wave of the sea. They neither grieve at unwished-for occurrences nor pine for their wished-for chances. Knowing well all accidents are the consequences of their actions, they remain as unconscious as trees.

Having finished its journey through the world and performed its duties here, the soul assumes a calmness like that of the unbreakably hard column of the sky reflecting the images of the tumultuous world (without changing itself). It rejoices exceedingly at being delivered from the innumerable snares of the world, and it becomes as light as air by being freed from its desire of looking after endless objects.  The soul that takes no notice of any cause or effect or doing, or what is to be avoided or accepted, is said to be disembodied though encumbered with a body, and to become unworldly in its worldly state.

We have by our reasoning well weighed the verbosity of our opinionative adversaries and never set aside the holy sayings of the Vedas, even when they are at variance with the opinions of our families. O Rama, we have stored in our minds the truths resulting from the unanimous voice of all the scriptures, whereby it will be evident that we have attained the object of our belief, apart from the fabricated systems of heretical scriptures.
Let the wise continue their inquiries until they obtain their internal peace and until they arrive at the fourth stage (turiya) of joy known by its name of indestructible tranquility. Whoever has attained this fourth state of tranquil joy, whether he is alive or not, or a house-holder or an ascetic, has really passed beyond the limits of the ocean of the world. Such a man remains steady at his place like the calm sea undisturbed by Mandara Mountain, whether he has performed his duties according to the scriptures and codes of ethics or not.

You can derive happiness from your own observations at any place and time, as you can from your association with the good whenever it is available. This is an optional rule.

As learning produces the qualities of quiet and the like, so do these qualities give rise to learning. Thus they serve to grow each other, just as lake and lotuses contribute to their mutual benefit. Learning is produced by right conduct as good conduct results from learning. Thus wisdom (learning, right knowledge) and morality (good conduct & attitudes) are natural helps to one another. Unless one practices wisdom and good conduct in an equal degree, he will never be successful in either of them.

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

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Seeker after Liberation (pt.#7)

sivananda wall spirit progress
On Equanimity – The Characteristics of a Saint

Intelligent men who have seen the spirit fix their sight upon it and wander about in the world as persons of great and elevated souls. They do not grieve, nor do they wish or ask for anything of good or evil (in this world). They do their works with detachment. Those who rely on themselves remain quiet, unaffected by good or evil and acting their parts with a calm serenity. They take no concern for what is harmful or delectable to them. They are alike indifferent to coming or not coming, going or not going, doing or not doing, and speaking or not speaking. After having come to know their God (as the author of all good), whatever acts or sights may appear pleasant or disgusting to others cease to affect them in any way. He who ceases to act his magical parts (in this playground of the earth) and desists from following his inclinations and childish pranks, shines forth in his spiritual light. Such are the powers gained from spiritual knowledge, and by no other means whatever.

There is no disease or poison, no trouble or affliction so painful to one in this earth as the ignorance one breeds in himself. Lack of dignity, inextricable difficulties, and baseness and degeneracy are all the offspring of ignorance, just like thorns are the offshoots of the prickly ketaki plant.

Try, O Rama, to imitate those who are liberated in their lifetime, who are free to roam about like the gods Hari, Hara and others, and like the holy sages among brahmins. Here (on earth) our miseries are as endless as atoms, and our happiness is as small as a drop of water on a piece of straw. Therefore do not fix your sight upon that little happiness which is beset by misery. Let an intelligent man diligently apply himself to attain that state of endless happiness which is free from pain and constitutes his highest completion. They are reckoned the best of men and deserving of completion whose minds are free from the fever (of worldly cares) and attached to the transcendental state.

A state reached without return, attained so there is no more cause for sorrow, undoubtedly is attainable only by divine knowledge, and that is a certain truth. Even if such a future state did not exist, there would be no harm to believe in it. But if such a state exists, belief in it will save you from the ocean of this world (samsara).
The undecaying, unerring and fearless state of tranquility is nowhere to be had in the three worlds without union (with the Supreme). Having gained that best of gains, no one is liable to the pain from which no wealth, friend or relation can save. Neither the actions of one’s hands and feet in his offerings and pilgrimage to distant lands, nor the bodily pains of asceticism, nor his refuge in a holy place can serve his salvation. It is only by means of one’s best exertions and the fixing of his mind to one object, and also by the subjection of his desires, that one may arrive at the ultimate state (of bliss). So it is that by means of discrimination, reasoning and ultimate ascertainment of truth, a man may avoid the snares of misery and attain his best state.

That ultimate joy is born of and obtainable from peace of mind. It is fruit from the blossom of peace of the high tree of reason. Those engaged in worldliness without mixing in it are like the all-illumining sun and are known as the best of men. The mind at peace and rest, clear and free from errors, and without any attempt or desire neither forsakes nor wishes for the world.

The man who lives content with his quiet and a calm clarity of his soul, with a mind filled with detachment, makes friends of his enemies. The virtuous man who is calm and quiet and friendly to all living beings feels the benign influence of highest truths appearing of themselves in his mind.

Those holy men who have the lotus-like flower of peacefulness growing in the lotus-shaped receptacle of their hearts are said to have a secondary heart like the two hearts of the god Hari (holding Brahma in one of them).

Whether afflicted by disease or disaster, or dragged by the rope of greed, bear yourself up, O Rama, by the composure of your mind. Whatever you do and eat with the calm coolness of your mind, all that is far sweeter to the soul than anything sweet to taste. The mind that is overpowered by the ambrosial flavor of peacefulness and desists from activity may have the body lacerated, but it will heal shortly.

There is nothing in life so delightful to see as the satisfaction one feels at the sight of a contented and peaceful man. Only he who lives a holy life with his gentle and peaceful conduct is said to be truly living in this world.

He is called the meek who neither feels pleasure nor pain at the sight, touch, sound or taste of anything good or bad. He who is indifferent to all objects and neither leaves nor longs for anything, but keeps his senses and appetites under control, is called a saint. He whose mind remains as calm as moonbeams at the approach of either feast or violence, and even at the moment of death, is said to be a saint. Who, though present, neither rejoices nor murmurs at anything but remains as if he were absent from it, and conducts himself as quietly as if he were fast asleep, such a person is called a saint.

He whose complaisant look casts a graceful nectar-like radiance on all around him is said to be a saint. Who feels a cool calmness within himself and is not disturbed or immersed in any state of life, and who though a layman is not worldly minded, such a man is termed a saint. He who does not take the difficulties of life to his mind, however long or great they may be, or who does not think his body to be himself, is known to be a saint. The man of the world who has a mind clear as the sky and is not tainted (by worldliness) is said to be a saint.

Peacefulness is the greatest of all the many virtues and the best decoration of courage. It shines resplendent among all dangers and difficulties. O Rama, seek your perfection in the way in which high-minded men have sought and attained their perfect states, by holding fast onto peacefulness as an imperishable virtue, preserved by the respectable, and never to be lost or stolen.

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

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Seeker after Liberation (pt.#6)

2017-09-03-19-44-17The Greatness of True Knowledge

It is by performance of ritual duties and observance of prescribed rules that the demerits of former births are expunged. Upon removing former demerits, understanding turns of itself to become aware of spiritual matters, like the simultaneous flight of a crow towards a falling coconut. But those devoted only to ritual acts are like people plunged in an eddy in which they whirl up and down until they come to perceive the state of supreme (joy). Seeing this (illusory) state of the world, a man must shake off the delusion of his worldly-mindedness, just as the elephant breaks loose from his chains.

This spiritual knowledge was first given to princes, but afterwards it came to be known under the title of royal science (raja vidhya, kingly science). This royal science is of a hidden, esoteric nature. It is also the best kind of spiritual knowledge. Many kings have been set beyond the reach of calamity by knowledge of this science.

It is too intricate, O Rama, to understand the course of this boundless world. Not even the greatest of embodied beings can know it without true knowledge. Know, O support of Raghu’s race, that men of great understanding have passed over the unfordable ocean of the world by means of the raft of their knowledge and reason. Without the remedy of right reason, the unceasing excitement of the senses and the fears and miseries of the world will continually disturb the mind. There is nothing other than rational knowledge that can enable holy men to endure the afflictions of the opposite extremes of heat and cold and wind and rain. The constant cares and miseries which befall to men at every step sometimes serve to torment the ignorant mind like a flame of fire burns straw. But the troubles of this world cannot afflict a wise man who knows the knowable and discerns all things; just as it is impossible for the flame of fire to burn wood drenched by rain.

O best of the eloquent, you must not receive instruction from one unacquainted with truth. Whoever asks such a person anything is the greatest of fools. He is the basest of men who does not carefully attend to the words of the truth-telling teacher who is asked about anything. He is the best inquirer who seeks answers from a person who demonstrates by his actions whether he knows the knowable or not. A person who asks boyish questions without determining the teacher’s qualifications is reckoned a vile inquirer incapable of knowing great things.

When asked, a wise man will reply to him who is able to comprehend the former and later propositions, and who is possessed of a good understanding, but he should make no answer to a vile brutish being. The teacher who gives his lecture without examining the capacity of the inquirer to grasp his meaning is pronounced unwise by the learned.

It is said there are four guards who keep watch at the gate of liberation (moksha), namely: peace (equanimity, self-control), judgment (spirit of inquiry), contentment, and company of the good. At least one of them is to be sought with diligence, even at the expense of one’s life. Because by securing one of these a man can reconcile and gain all four.
The wise man is a receptacle of all scriptures, of all knowledge and austerity, and is a gem on earth, just like the sun is the receptacle of light. The dull understanding of a senseless man becomes as stiff as a block, and like water freezing as hard as stone.

The true light of things dawns only in the minds of the wise, just as the gentle moon appears only in a clear and cloudless sky. He is truly called a man who can judge (the truth) by the major and minor propositions, whose mind is expanded and filled with brilliant ingenuity.

Whatever business or investigation someone undertakes, it must be brought to a happy conclusion that tends towards his peace and tranquility. If men of good understanding did not have the solace of philosophy, what rational being could dare bear the misery that ignorance brings in this world? All the faculties of the mind are absorbed in contemplation of the Supreme, like solar heat dissolves the rocks of boundary mountains at the end of the world. The Supreme Soul of infinite manifestations exists by itself. It passes through and supports the whole in the form of void and understanding and as light to all living beings.

Rama, the intolerable stomach cramping pain caused by this venomous world is healed only by yoga meditation, just like the poison of a snakebite is removed by garda incantations. One obtains the capacity for yoga by discussing the scriptures in the company of good people, which alone can provide us with the great charm of spiritual knowledge.
It must be recognized that we lessen our sorrows by acting with reason. A reasoning man gets released from his worldly sickness. He quits his frame which is full of diseases just like a snake casts off his time-worn skin. He looks with a placid mind and calm composure upon the magic scenes of the world. Hence a fully wise man is not subject to the misery of the imperfectly wise.

Rama, look upon this assembly of great sages, rishis, brahmins and princes who have fortified themselves by the armor of wisdom and are liable to no pain or grief, yet they are engaged in the arduous affairs of this world with minds as placid as yours. Moreover, there are many of the best of men who with their spiritual light and pure understanding reside in this world like the gods Hari (Vishnu), Hara (Shiva) and Brahma above all concerns and fluctuating desires of life.

When serenity of the mind and calm repose of the heart are secured, all the senses are subjected to peace and everything is viewed in an equal light, and this knowledge of the truth gives delight to our journey in this world.

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

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CHARACTER & CHARITY

character-educationarticle-600x400CHARACTER

Character is the aggregate of peculiar qualities which constitute an individuality. lt is any distinctive mark or trait of a person.

Character is power. Character is real property. lt is the noblest of all possessions. Gharacter is perfectly educated will. lt is higher than intelligence.
Every man is the architect of his own character. You sow an action, and reap a habit. You sow a habit and reap a character.

Character is not born. lt is formed. The noblest contribution which any man can make for the benefit of posterity is that of a good character.

Character is the produce of self-discipline. The grand aim of man’s creation is the development of a grand character.

The richest bequest which any man can leave to the world is that of a shining, spotless example.
The essential factors in character building are morality, truthfulness, justice, temperance, wisdom, nobility, nonviolence, purity and benevolence.

Nothing in this world-wealth, name, fame, victory is worth a fig or a straw without character. Character must stand behind and back up everything.

Wealth comes and goes. Fame evaporates. Power dwindles. Only one thing endures. That is Character.

Take care of your character. Your reputation will take care of itself. A good character is the fruition of personal exertion. lt is the result of one’s own endeavours. Truthfulness is a corner-stone in character. Not education, but character, is man’s greatest need and greatest safeguard. There is no single royal road to build your character. A variety of routes will always need to be used.

Man is not a creature of circumstances. He is really the architect of circumstances. A man of character builds an existence out of circumstances. He steadily perseveres and plods. He does not look back. He marches forward bravely. He is not afraid of obstacles. He never frets and fumes. He never gets discouraged and disappointed. He is full of vigour, energy, via and vitality. He is ever zealous and enthusiastic.
Small kind acts, small courtesies, small consideration, small benevolence, habitually practised in your social intercourse give a greater charm to your character than great platform lectures, discourses, oration, exhibition of talents, etc.

Character is what one is: reputation, what he is thought to be. His record is the total of his actions. One’s nature includes all his original endowments or propensities; character includes both natural and acquired traits.

CHARITY

That which is given to relieve the needy is charity. True charity is the desire to be useful to others without thought of recompense or reward.

Give cheerfully, quickly and without hesitation.

Prayer takes you halfway to God, fasting to the door of His Supreme Abode and charity procures you admission. Charity is love in action.
The whole world is your home. You are a citizen of the world. Cultivate a generous feeling for the welfare of the whole world.

Every good act is charity. Giving water to the thirsty is charity. An encouraging word to a man in distress is charity. Giving a little medicine to the poor sick man is charity. Removing a thorn or a glass piece on the road is charity.
A little good thought and a little kindness are often worth more than giving a great deal of money.

The best form of charity is Vidya-Dana, imparting wisdom. Wisdom removes ignorance, the cause for taking a body and destroys in toto all sorts of miseries and suffering, for ever.
The second best form of charity is giving medicine to the sick.
The third best form of charity is Anna-dana or giving food to the hungry.

First daughter to the love of God is charity to the poor.
Charity given with an unwilling heart is not charity. Charity is not confined to giving in term of dollars, rupees or shillings. Think well towards suffering people. Pray for their welfare. This will accomplish more good than much money.

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

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ADVERSITY & BENEVOLENCE

6361286008790336211435754073_happy-in-adversityADVERSITY

Adversity is affliction or misfortune or calamity. Adversity is a state or condition characterised by untoward, harassing circumstances, severe trial or affliction. lt is opposed to prosperity. Adversity is an event or series of events which oppose success or desires. lt is a state of unhappiness.
Adversity is a blessing in disguise. Sweet are the uses of adversity. lt strengthens the will power and the power of endurance and turns the mind more and more towards God. lt instill dispassion or Vairagya in the heart. lt is the first path to truth.
Adversity is a virtue. lt makes the idle industrious. lt draws out the faculties of the wise. lt puts a man to the necessity of trying his skill.

The crucial test is your conduct under hardship and adversity. The storms of adversity rouse the faculties and talents of an individual and generate prudence, skill, fortitude, courage, patience and perseverance. Adversity makes one think, invent and discover.

Adversity is the only balance to weigh friends; prosperity is no just scale.

Adversity will mould you properly. lt is your great teacher. lt is the best and severe instructor. Great persons and saints have been tried, smelted, polished and glorified through the furnace of adversity.

Do not weep when you are in adverse conditions. Adversity strengthens your nerves and sharpens your skill.

The best thing in this world is pain or adversity. During pain only man remembers God. Pain is the eye-opener. The quest of God begins from pain. The starting point of philosophy is from pain. Had there not been pain in this world, man would never have attempted to get freedom (moksha). He would have been satisfied with mundane life only. ln trying to get rid of pain, he comes across Truth or the abode of Peace, Parama-Dhama. He starts prayer, Japa, charity, selfless seryice, study of religious books, etc. Bhaktas always pray to God, “O Lord! Give us sufferings always so that we shall ever remember Thee.”

Adversity develops power of endurance and will-force. Adversity develops fortitude and forbearance. Adversity melts a stony heart and infuses devotion to God.

Benevolence
BENEVOLENCE

Benevolence. Latin: Benevolentia a good feeling; bene – well, and volens – to wish. Benevolence is the disposition to seek the well-being or comfort of others. lt is the desire to alleviate suffering or promote happiness. lt is love of mankind or kindliness of heart or charitableness.

Benevolence is the all-inclusive virtue. ln order to attain the perfection of benevolence itself the moral judgment of men requires all the other most cardinal virtues both of will and of judgment.

Benevolence is the minister of God. lt is a rare virtue. To feel much for others and little for ourselves, to restrain our selfish and excercise our benevolent affections, constitutes the perfection of human nature.
No one in this world is perfectly independent. He is in need of the assistance of others. Man is placed in society to receive and confer reciprocal helps and mutual obligations.

Your food, your clothes, your health, your protection from injuries, your enjoyment of the comforts and pleasures of life-all these you owe to the assistance of others. Therefore, be benevolent to others. Be a cosmic benefactor. Be a friend to mankind.
The conqueror is regarded with awe; the wise man commands our respect, but it is only the benevolent man who wins our affection.
A benevolent man enjoys peace, joy and tranquillity. He rejoices in the happiness and prosperity of his neighbours and all other people. He who employs his wealth, his thought, his speech, to advance the good of others is a glorious man. He is a veritable god on this earth.

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

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ADAPTABILITY

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAJaAAAAJDA4ODRhOWFmLWZkODEtNGM5Ny04OWU4LTljOGRhZGU1M2IzZAAdaptability is a virtue or noble quality by which one adapts or fits himself to others, whatever their nature may be. A man of adaptability accommodates himself with others, whatever their temperaments may be. Adaptability is a peculiar knack or pluck to win the hearts of others and ultimately the battle of life by a little bit of bending.

The world runs on adaptability. He who knows the art or science of adaptability pulls on quite well in this world and is always happy under all conditions of life.

lt does need much wisdom and ingenuity for developing adaptability. Remember the maxim: “Obedience is greater than service.” The superior wants a little respect. Say “Hanji-Hanji, Ji-huzur, very well Sir.” lt costs you nothing. Then your superior becomes your slave. He has for you a soft corner in his heart. You become his pet. He will do whatever you want. He will excuse your mistakes. Humility and obedience are necessary for developing adaptability. That egoistic, proud man flnds it very difficult to adapt himself. He is always in trouble. He always fails in his attempts. Egoism and pride are two important and insurmountable obstacles in the way of developing adaptability.

Adaptability makes friendship last for a long time. A man of adaptability can pull on with anybody in any part of the world. People unconsciously love a man of adaptability. Adaptability gives immense strength and profound joy. Adaptability develops will.

A man of adaptability has to make some sacrifice. Adaptability develops the spirit of sacrifice. lt kills selfishness. A man of adaptability has to share what he has with others. He has to bear insult and hard words. A man of adaptability develops the feelihg of unity or oneness of life. For Vedantic Sadhana it is of invaluable help.
He who practises adaptability has to destroy the feelings of Ghrina, contempt and the idea of superiority. He has to mix with all. He has to embrace all. Adaptability develops universal love and kills the feeling of hatred. He has to develop patience and endurance. These virtues develop by themselves when he tries to adapt himself with others. A man of adaptability can live in any environment. He can bear the heat of Benares or Africa. He can live in a hut. He can live in a cool place. He develops balance of mind. He can bear extreme heat and cold. Adaptability brings eventually Atma-Jnana. He who has this noble virtue is a great man in all the three worlds. He is always happy and successful.

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

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ABSTINENCE

Total-AbstinenceAbstinence is abstaining or refraining especially from some indulgence. Abstinence is temperance. We speak of abstinence from meat, abstinence from whisky, abstinence from food or sexual indulgence.

Abstinence is continued temperance which gives longevity, good health, and keeps the body free from diseases.
Abstinence is a discipline which gives Vairagya or dispassion and helps the aspirant to march forward in the path of Yoga. Abstinence is the practice of Yama or self-restraint. lt is the ground-work of virtue.
Abstinence is the strongest fence against diseases.

Self-denial is giving up what one wishes. Abstinence may be refraining from what one does not desire. Fasting is abstinence from food for a limited time and generally for religious reasons.

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

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Seeker after Liberation (pt.#5)

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The Necessity of Activity

Having obtained a body free from disease and a mind free from trouble, one should try to know the knowable to prevent further births. Whoever wants to avert his destiny through action obtains the acme of his wishes both in this world as well as the next. But whoever is averse to diligence and relies on his luck is an enemy to his own soul and sacrifices all his virtues, riches and hopes.
This is the long and short of all the scriptures (shastras), that diligence preserves our minds from all evils by employing them to whatever is good and right. To apply with diligence to whatever is excellent, not low or mean and not liable to loss or decay, is the lesson of parents and teachers to their sons and pupils.

We have visible evidence (of the efficacy) of activity every day, in the examples of men travelling in distant countries (for the sake of gain). He who eats becomes satisfied and who does not starves. So he who walks is said to proceed and not one who rests. In like manner, whoever speaks is called a speaker and not the silent man. Thus action makes the man.

Men of acute understandings raise themselves to elevation by their association with the virtuous, study of good works, and active employment in duties tending to their own good. The boundless joy arising from equanimity is said to constitute one’s supreme good. This blessing also results from a man’s diligent application to the scriptures. Understanding leads to the knowledge of the scriptures, and the scriptures tend towards our right understanding of things. Just so does the lotus serve to beautify a lake, and the lake lends its grace to the lotus. It is also by virtue of one’s deep study and good company in youth that a man later attains his desirable objects.

Now, O lord of Raghu’s race, employ your efforts to the exertion of your manly activities in such a way that you may live unafraid of being bitten by the snake-like people in this tree of the world (crush the malice of your enemies).

Invalidation of Destiny

Vasishta continued saying that:—
What does “destiny” mean? It has no form, no act, no motion or might. It is only a false notion rooted in the (minds) of the ignorant. “Destiny” is a word that has come into fashion from the idea of karma, the idea of future retribution for one’s past actions and the like. From this, ignorant are led to believe that there is such a thing as destiny, something incapable of explanation, which has led them to a fallacy much like mistaking a rope for a snake.

See Rama, how people use their own industry to make wicker vessels so handsome that they hold water, all without the aid of any destiny. In all our works of giving and receiving, walking, resting and the like, we see no causation by destiny in their completion, just as we see medicines causing healing. Therefore, O Rama, give up this destiny of your mistaken fancy, which in reality is devoid of its cause or effect and is a false and ideal nothing. Give yourself to your best efforts.

Investigation of Acts

It is a man’s activity and nothing else, O Raghava, that is the cause of all his actions and the recipient of their consequences. Destiny has nothing to do with it. Destiny refers to the good or bad results that proceed from action. Truly, O Raghava, destiny, though empty as a void, appears to be real to somebody who thinks it to be an active agent, while others know it to be inactive. The mind is the soul and cause of all acts which they call the doings of destiny. Certainly, without the mind there is no destiny. This mind is truly the living soul that acts as it desires and accordingly enjoys the fruit. The same is destiny.

Rama, you are wise, perfectly intelligent, and composed of more than just a dull body. Now if you need another’s guidance to waken your intellect, then when is your own intelligence? If you would have someone else enlighten your understanding, then who was the other who illuminated him, and who is the other to illuminate that person also? Therefore, because no one is wholly devoid of understanding, let him improve it himself.

The currents of our desires flow between two channels of good and evil. It requires the exertion of our actions to turn them to the right course. You who is the mightiest of the mighty must exert the force of your activity to turn your mind away from a direction to the profitless and towards a profitable course. By directing the mind from the wrong to the right way, it will take the right course; and the opposite is true also.

But because the human mind is like a child, it must not be forced. The training of a child is like that of the mind. It is done slowly by gentleness and indulgence, and not by force or hurry.

O sinless Rama, at present your desires are lying dormant in your mind. They require some practice to be employed only to the doing of good. If you will not exert yourself now to improve your dormant desires by constant practice, you can never expect to be happy. When doubtful, incline towards what is good, and as you thrive on this you shall have no evil to fear.

Whatever one practices, with time he will become perfect, just like studying from childhood makes the learned free from error. When you have good will inside, you must accomplish your purpose by means of your activity and your subjection of the organs of your body. So long as your mind is imperfect and unacquainted with the state of divine truth, you must attend to your teacher, books and reasoning and act according to their directions.
Having first finished your acts and known the truth, you must abandon even your meritorious deeds, and all your desires with them.

Having known by your good understanding that the virtuous course led by honorable men is truly good, give particular attention to know the nature of God, then forsake even that and remain as silent as an ancient sage (muni).

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

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A Brief Outlook on Raja Yoga pt.#3

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FIFTH STEP – PRATYAHARA

Pratyahara is withdrawal of the senses from their respective objects. It is the abstraction of the senses. Real, spiritual or inner life begins when the Yogic student is established in Pratyahara.
Pratyahara checks the outgoing tendencies of the senses. The practice demands considerable patience and perseverance. It is a trying discipline of the senses.  If you can disconnect the mind from the senses, there will be abstraction of the senses automatically. Control of the senses is absolute one-pointedness of the mind.

HOW TO PRACTISE PRATYAHARA

Just as a turbulent storm tosses a ship, so also the hidden desires toss the roving senses and the mind vehemently. Therefore, beware! Be on the alert. Be eternally vigilant. Annihilate all desires with the sword of dispassion and the axe of discrimination. This is the true secret of self-restraint. If you have intense dispassion, you can practise Pratyahara easily. Dispassion is the enemy of the senses and the friend of Pratyahara. Discrimination between the Real and the unreal helps a great deal in attaining success in Pratyahara.

No amount of human effort alone can give perfect success. Therefore, persevere and pray. Divine Grace is needed.

Pratyahara becomes easy after the practice of Pranayama. Pratyahara follows the practice of Pranayama automatically. Practice of Pranayama thins out the senses and prepares the Yogic student for the practice of Pratyahara.
Observance of silence, moderation in diet, steadiness in pose, dispassion, regularity in the practice of Pranayama, patience, contentment, perseverance, tenacity, celibacy, seclusion, are all aids to Pratyahara.

Withdraw the mind, the Prana and the senses. This is triple withdrawal. This is very powerful.
Success in Pratyahara depends upon the strength and force of past Yogic impressions. He who has practised Pranayama and Pratyahara in his previous birth to some extent will have success in Pratyahara within a short time in this birth.

He who is well-established in Pratyahara can meditate calmly even in a noisy place. Pratyahara develops will-power and inner spiritual strength. Nothing can distract the mind of one who is established in Pratyahara.

He who is eflicient in Pratyahara can enter into deep sleep the moment he lies down on his bed. Napoleon and Gandhiji could do this.

OBSTACLES TO PRATYAHARA

Unsteady Asana, too much talking, too much mixing with worldly people, too much activity, too much food, too much walking, too much curiosity in other people’s affairs, are all obstacles in the practice of Pratyahara.
If dispassion wanes and if there is slackness in the practice, the senses become turbulent.

A Bhakta or a devotee does not practise Pratyahara. He beholds his Lord in all objects.
A Jnana Yogi also does not practise Pratyahara. He tries to identify himself with the hidden Self in all objects by negating the names and forms.
A Raja Yogi alone practises Pratyahara deliberately.
That Yogic student who jumps at once to the practice of meditation without Pratyahara will not have success  in meditation.

It is diffrcult to say where Pratyahara ends and Dharana or concentration begins.

SIXTH STEP – DHARANA (CONCENTRATION)

Dharana is fixing the mind on an external object or an intemal point. Concentration is purely a mental process. It needs an inward turning of the mind.

Concentration is fixing the mind; meditation is allowing one idea to flow continuously. A serene mind is fit for concentration. Keep the mind serene.

Celibacy, Pranayama, reduction of wants and activities, dispassion, silence, seclusion, discipline of the senses, Japa, control of anger, giving up reading novels, newspapers and visiting cinemas, are all aids to concentration. Give up TV watching.
Japa (recitation of Lord’s Name) and Kirtan (singing of Lord’s Name and His Glory) will develop concentration.

HOW TO CONCENTRATE

Do not leave the practice even for a day. It is very difficult to rise up again. Devotees concentrate on the heart, Raja Yogins on Trikuti (the seat of mind), Vedantins on Sahasrara or top of the head. Trikuti is the space between the eyebrows. You can also concentrate on the tip ofthe nose, the navel, or the Muladhara (below the last vertebra of the spinal column.

Concentration on the moon is beneficial to those of emotional temperament. Concentration on candle flame will give vision of Rishis and Devatas.

Concentrate on divine qualities such as love, mercy, compassion, or any other abstract idea such as infinity, omnipotence and omnipresence of the Lord, etc.

You can concentrate on the breath in your nostrils (Soham sound). There is ‘Soldering inhalation and ‘Ham’ during exhalation.

Do not concentrate when the mind is tired. Do not wrestle with the mind when you concentrate. When irrelevant thoughts enter the mind, be indifferent. They will pass away. Do not drive them forcibly. They will persist and resist. It will tax your will. But substitute with divine thoughts. Evil thoughts will gradually fade out.
Be slow and steady in the practice of concentration. Apply some Brahmi-Amla oil to the head if there is much heat. Take butter and sugarcandy. This will cool the system.

If you want to succeed in any walk of life, you must develop concentration. It is a source of spiritual strength. It is the master-key for opening the chamber of knowledge.

SEVENTH STEP – DHYANA (MEDITATION)

Meditation is an unbroken flow of knowledge of the object on which one meditates.
Meditation follows concentration. Concentration merges in meditation.

Concentration, meditation and Sarah (superconsciousness) are internal Sadhanas. When you practise concentration, meditation and Samadhi at a time, it is called Samyama.
Meditation is freeing the mind from all thoughts of sense-objects. The mind dwells on God alone during meditation.

BENEFITS OF MEDITATION

If you meditate for half an hour daily, you will be able to face the battle of life with peace and spiritual strength. Meditation kills all pain, suffering and sorrow.
Meditation is the most powerful mental and nervine tonic. Meditation opens the door to intuitive knowledge and realms of eternal bliss. During meditation the mind becomes calm, serene and steady. One idea occupies the mind.

Deep meditation cannot come in a day or a week or a month. You will have to struggle hard for along time. Be patient. Be persevering. Be vigilant. Be diligent.
All doubts will be gradually cleared through meditation.

HOW TO MEDITATE?

Meditate regularly in the early morning between 4 and 6 a.m. Have a separate meditation room, or convert by means of screens a corner of a room into a meditation chamber.
Use your commonsense throughout your Sadhana. Do not go to extremes. Stick to the golden medium or the middle path.

Meditate in the beginning on a concrete Form such as the image of your Ishta Devata, Lord Jesus, or Lord Buddha. This is Saguna meditation, or meditation on the form of the Lord with attributes. Think of His attributes such as omnipotence, perfection, purity, freedom, when you meditate on His form. Rotate your mind on His form from head to foot or from foot to head.

You can also recite Om while meditating. The short-accented Om burns all sins, the long accented gives Moksha, and the elongated bestows all psychic powers (Siddhis). He who chants and meditates upon this monosyllable (Om), meditates upon and chants all the scriptures of the world.

Meditate on the effulgence in the sun, or the splendour in the moon, or the glory in the stars. Meditate on the magnificence of the ocean and its infinite nature. Then compare the ocean to the infinite Brahman, and the waves, foams and icebergs to the various names and forms of the world. Identify yourself with the ocean. Become silent. Expand.

Gaze steadily on the formless air. Concentrate on the air. Meditate on the all-pervading nature of the air. Watch the flow of breath. You will hear the sound ‘Soham,’ ‘So’ during inhalation and ‘Ham’ during exhalation. Soham means “I am He.” The breath is reminding you of your identity with the Supreme Soul.

EXPERIENCES IN MEDITATION

The feeling of rising up during meditation is a sign that you are going above body-consciousness.

When you practise concentration and meditation, you are bound to get various powers and Siddhis. Do not use these powers for gaining some material end. Do not misuse the powers. You will get a hopeless downfall.

There is really no such thing as a miracle. When you know the cause, the miracle becomes an ordinary event. During meditation you will get rapture, ecstasy, thrill.

A flash is a glimpse of truth. It is Ritambara Prajna. This is not the whole experience. This is not the highest experience. Reach the Bhuma or the Infinite. This is the acme or the final stage. You have reached the final destination. Meditation stops here.

You will hear various sorts of Anahata sounds. You will see brilliant lights in the space between the eyebrows. Sometimes you will behold coloured lights: green, blue, red, etc. They are due to the presence of different Tattvas at a particular time.

Sometimes you will have vision of Rishis, sages, tutelary deity, Nitya Siddhas, astral entities, landscape, mountains, blue sky, beautiful lardens. Sometimes you may float in the air. Your Astral body may get detached from the physical body. You will move about in the astral world. You may go to Brahma Loka, the realm of Brahma or Hiranyagarbha.

Those who have entered the first degree of meditation will have a light body, sweetness of voice, beautiful complexion, clarity of mind and scanty urine and defaecation.

OBSTACLES IN MEDITATION

The chief obstacles in meditation are:
– Laya (sleep),
– Vikshepa (tossing of mind),
– the rising up of latent desires,
– lack of Brahmacharya,
– spiritual pride,
– laziness,
– disease.

Other obstacles: company of worldly people, overwork, over-eating, self-assertive Rajasic nature.

Conquer sleep through Pranayama, Asanas and light diet. Remove Vikshepa through Pranayama, Japa, Upasana, Trataka, etc. Destroy desires through dispassion, discrimination, study of books which treat of dispassion, enquiry, etc.
Shun the company of worldly persons who always talk on sexual matters, money and worldly things. Observe moderation in diet. Obey the laws of health and hygiene.

Excerpts from “FOURTEEN LESSONS ON RAJA YOGA” by Sri Swami Sivananda