Sunday, May 31, 2015
When you repeat the Lord's name you must evince unflinching devotion from the bottom of your heart devotion to God, without love for any other object. You must drive off all worldly thoughts from your mind. Fill the mind with thoughts of God and God alone. You must struggle. You must exert hard. Remain absorbed in him.
If you love Krishna, then love Him alone till the end. Just as you see wood alone in the chair, table, bench, stick, cupboard etc., see the antaratma (the hidden indwelling self) - Krishna alone - in flowers, trees, fruits, tumblers and all objects. This is ananya bhakti (total devotion). This is para (supreme) bhakti.
Just as you remember all the qualities of your son when you think of his name, so too you should remember the qualities of God - omnipotence, omniscience etc., when you think of his own name.
When you repeat the mantra, have satvic bhava or shuddha bhava (the pure mental attitude). Bhava comes slowly when the purification process goes on. Even mere mechanical repetition has an effect, a very great effect. The vibration in the mind set up by the repetition purifies the chitta (mind stuff) and brings chitta shuddi (purity of mind).
A beginner should have a japa mala or rosary. Later on he can take recourse to manasika japa (mental repetition). If a man repeats his mantra for six hours daily, his heart will be purified quickly. He can feel the purity. Have great faith in your guru mantra (the mantra learnt from your guru) and keep it a secret.
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Constant repetition of the mantra with faith, devotion, purity and one pointed mind awakens the mantra chaitanya (the dynamic consciousness of the mantra latent in the mantra, and bestows mantra siddhi (perfection or psychic power inherent in the mantra) on the aspirant illumination, freedom, peace, eternal bliss and immortality. The repetition of the mantra again and again generates a great spiritual force and momentum and intensifies the spiritual samskaras or impressions.
Saturday, May 30, 2015
The Supreme Remedy
When allopathy, homeopathy, chromopathy, naturopathy, ayurvedapathy and all other 'pathies' fail to cure a disease, the divine namapathy alone can save you. The name of the Lord is a sovereign specific, a sheet anchor, an infallible panacea and a cure all for all diseases. It is an ideal or supreme 'pick me up' in gloom and despair, in depression and sorrow, in the daily battle of life or the struggle for existence. There is a mysterious power in the name. There is an inscrutable shakti (power) in God's name! All the divine potencies are hidden in the Lord's name. It is the cream or the quintessence of Chyavana Prasha, Makaradhwaji almonds, Vasanta Kusumakara or Svarna Bhasma or gold oxide. It is a mysterious, ineffable divine injection.
You can take this medicine or nama japa (repetition of God's name) yourself, for curing any disease. You can administer this marvellous medicine to other patients also in your house or elsewhere. Sit by the side of the patient and repeat, with sincere devotion and faith, the name of the Lord, like Hari Om, Sri Ram, Om Namah Shivaya, and sing his names also: "Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare; Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare". Pray for his mercy and grace. All maladies and agonies will come to an end. Do the treatment of Nama Japa for at least two hours in the morning and evening. You will find the miraculous effect within a short time. Both the doctor and the patient should have perfect faith in the Lord's name, his mercy and grace. The real doctor is only Lord Narayana. Lord Dhanvantari, the physician of the three worlds (who expounded the ayurvedic medical science), has himself declared: "By the medicine of the repetition of the names, Achyuta, Ananta, Govinda, all diseases are cured - this is my definite and honest declaration." In all treatments, Lord Narayana is the real doctor. You find that even the world's best doctors fail to cure a dying king. You might have also heard of many instances where patients ailing from the worst type of diseases are cured miraculously, where even the ablest doctors have declared the case hopeless. This itself is clear proof that there is the divine hand behind all cures.
The divine name will eradicate the disease of birth and death and bestow on you moksha, liberation or immortality.
The section ‘Mental Obstacles’ now resumes...
Environments are not actually bad, but your mind is bad. It is not disciplined properly. Wage a war with this horrible and terrible mind. Do not complain against bad environments but complain first against your own mind. Train your mind first. If you practise concentration amidst unfavourable environments you will grow strong, you will develop your will force quickly and you will become a dynamic personality. See good in everything and transmute evil into good.
If you can give up idle talk and gossiping and idle curiosity to hear rumours and news of others, and if you do not meddle with the affairs of others, you will have ample time to do meditation. Make the mind quiet during meditation. If worldly thoughts try to enter the mind during meditation, reject them. Have steady devotion to truth. Be cheerful. Increase the sattvic materials in you. You can enjoy everlasting bliss.
Watch your mind always very carefully. Be vigilant, be on the alert. Do not allow waves of irritability, jealousy, anger, hatred and lust to rise from the mind. These dark waves are enemies of meditation, peace and wisdom. Suppress them immediately by entertaining sublime, divine thoughts. Evil thoughts that have arisen may be destroyed by originating good thoughts and maintaining them by repeating any mantra or the name of the Lord, by thinking on any form of the Lord, by practice of pranayama, by singing the name of the Lord, by doing good actions and by thinking on the misery that arises from evil thoughts.
When you attain the state of purity no evil thoughts will arise in your mind. Just as it is easy to check the intruder or enemy at the gate, so also it is easy to overcome an evil thought as soon as it arises. Nip it in the bud. Do not allow it to strike deep root.
In the beginning of your practice of thought-control you will experience great difficulty. You will have to wage war with them. They will try their level best for their own existence. They will say: "We have every right to remain in this palace of your mind. We have had a sole monopoly from time immemorial to occupy this area. Why should we vacate our dominion now? We will fight for our birthright till the end." They will pounce upon you with great ferocity. When you sit for meditation all sorts of evil thoughts will crop up. As you attempt to suppress them they want to attack you with redoubled force and vigour, but positive always overcomes the negative. Just as darkness cannot stand before the sun, just as the leopard cannot stand before the lion, so also all these dark, negative thoughts, invisible intruders and enemies of peace cannot stand before the sublime thoughts. They must die by themselves.
When you are very busy in your daily work you may not harbour any impure thoughts; but when you take rest and leave the mind blank, the impure thoughts will try to enter insidiously. You must be careful when the mind is relaxed.
In the beginning all sorts of evil thoughts will arise in your mind as soon as you sit for meditation. Why does this happen during meditation, when you attempt to entertain pure thoughts? Aspirants leave their spiritual practice of meditation on account of this. If you try to drive a monkey, it attempts to pounce upon you with vengeance. Even so, the old evil samskaras and old evil thoughts try to attack you with vengeance and with redoubled force only at the time when you try to raise good, divine thoughts. Your enemy endeavours to resist you vehemently when you try to eject him out of your house. There is a law of resistance in nature. Do not be discouraged. Go on with your practice of meditation regularly. These evil thoughts will be thinned out.
Suppose the evil thoughts stay in your mind for twelve hours and recur every third day. If, by daily practice of concentration and meditation, you can make them stay for ten hours and recur once in a week, that is a decided improvement. If you continue your practice the period of stay and recurrence will be gradually lessened. Eventually they will disappear altogether. Compare your present state with that of last year. You will be able to find out your progress. The progress will be very slow in the beginning, so it will be difficult for you to gauge.
Make no violent efforts to control the mind, but rather allow it to run along for a while and exhaust its efforts. It will take advantage of the opportunity and will jump around like an unchained monkey at first, until it gradually slows down and looks to you for orders. It may take some time to tame it down at first, but each time you try it will come around to you in a shorter time.
If evil thoughts enter the mind do not use your will-force in driving them away. You will only lose your energy, tax your will and fatigue yourself. The greater the efforts you make the more the evil thoughts will return with redoubled force. They will return more quickly and will become more powerful. Be indifferent, keep quiet, they will pass off soon — or substitute good counter-thoughts, or think of the picture of God and the mantra again and again, and pray.
Your mind will sometimes shudder when evil thoughts enter your mind. This is a sign of your spiritual progress. You are growing spiritually. You will be much tormented when you think of your evil actions committed in the past. This is also a sign of your spiritual upheaval. You will not repeat the same actions now. Your mind will tremble and your body will quiver whenever a wrong samskara of some evil actions urges you to do the same act through force of habit. Continue your meditation with full vigour and earnestness. All memories of evil actions, all evil thoughts, all evil promptings will die by themselves. You will be established in perfect purity and peace.
An aspirant complains: "As I continue my meditation, layer after layer of impurities rise from the subconscious mind. Sometimes they are so strong and formidable that I am bewildered as to how to check them. I am not perfectly established in truth and brahma-charya. The old habits of speaking lies and lust are still lurking in the mind. Lust is troubling me vigorously. The very idea of women agitates the mind. My mind is so sensitive that I am not able to hear or think of them. As soon as the thought comes in the mind, all the hidden samskaras of lust rise up. As soon as these ideas come in my mind the meditation and also the peace of the whole day is spoiled. I advise my mind, coax it, frighten it, but it is of no avail. My mind revolts. I do not know how to control this passion. Irritability, egoism, anger, greed, hatred, attachment, etc., are still lurking in me. As far as I have analysed the mind, lust is my chief enemy and it is a very strong one too. I request you to be kind enough to advise me how to get rid of the same."
Passion is lurking in you. You may also ask me the reason why you become frequently angry. Anger is nothing but the modification of passion. When passion is not gratified it assumes the form of anger. The real cause for anger is ungratified passion. It expresses itself in the form of anger when you deal with the mistakes of your servants. This is an indirect cause or external stimulus for its expression. The currents of love and hate are not thoroughly eradicated, they are only attenuated or thinned out to some extent. The senses are yet turbulent. They are subjugated to a small degree, but there are still under-currents of desires and cravings. The outgoing tendencies of the senses are not totally checked and you are not established in sense-control (pratyahara). There is no strong and sustained discrimination or dispassion. The aspiration for the Divine has not become intense. Rajas and tamas are still doing havoc and there is only a small increase in the quantity of sattva. Evil thoughts are not thinned out, they are still powerful. Positive virtues have not been cultivated to a considerable degree. That is why you have not attained perfect concentration. Purify the mind first and concentration will come by itself.
Positive always overcomes the negative. This is the law of nature. Negative evil thoughts cannot stand before positive good thoughts. Purity overcomes lust, patience overcomes anger and irritability, and love overcomes hatred. The very fact that you feel uneasy now when an evil thought comes to the surface of the mind during meditation indicates that you are growing in spirituality. In earlier days you consciously harboured all sorts of evil thoughts, you welcomed and nourished them.
Persist in your spiritual practices. Be tenacious and diligent. If you are regular in meditation these thoughts will gradually die by themselves. Meditation is a fire to burn these thoughts. Do not try to drive out all worldly thoughts. Entertain thoughts concerning the object of meditation. You are bound to succeed. Even a dull type of aspirant will notice a marvellous change in him if he keeps up the practice of repetition of a mantra (japa) and meditation for two or three years in a continuous stream. Then he cannot leave it. Even if he stops his practice of meditation for a day he will actually feel that he has lost something on that day. His mind will be quite uneasy.
Increase your period of japa and meditation, and strengthen non-attachment and discrimination, too. Pray fervently. Live on milk and fruits. All these obstacles will pass away like a rent cloud. With the removal of all troubles you will shine gloriously. The improvement will be known to you. There will be a change in the mind, in speech and in all your actions.
Every aspirant will have to face various sorts of difficulties in the spiritual path. Buddha, Uddalaka, Sikhidvaja and others also experienced great difficulties.
Just as volunteers obstruct the path of those who want to enter a conference without tickets, so also the old tendencies of enmity, hatred, lust, jealousy, fear, honour, respect, etc., assume definite forms and obstruct the path of aspirants. You need not be discouraged on this score. Never despair. Failures are stepping stones to success. Muster all your strength and courage and march afresh on the path with redoubled vigour and energy. No impediment can stand before a man of fiery determination and iron will.
Perfection cannot be attained in a single birth alone. Perfected sages are the products of the sum-total of virtuous actions done in several births. Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita: "The yogi labouring with assiduity, purified from sin and perfected through manifold births, reaches the supreme Goal." (VI-45)
When the mind is sattvic you can get flashes of intuition. You will compose poems. You will understand the significance of the Upanishads beautifully. But this stage will not last long in neophytes. Rajas and tamas try to obstruct meditation. The mind that was calm owing to the preponderance of sattva during the course of meditation, begins to tremble and quiver owing to the entry of excess rajas. Thoughts (sankalpas) increase in number. Restlessness increases, thoughts of action manifest and planning and scheming come in.
The petty obstinate ego which actuates the human personality is a serious obstacle in meditation or the path of Self-realisation. This little self-arrogating principle supports all surface thoughts and dominates the habitual ways of feeling, character and action. This is rajasic and tamasic egoism which conceals or covers the higher divine sattvic nature. It veils the self-luminous immortal Soul or Atman.
In the beginning the stage of progress may be like the frogs, never steady and continuous. You may think that you have almost reached the goal, and experience for the next 15 or 20 days nothing but disappointment. There will be a jump from position to position, but not a continuous development. Take a little rest. Again do japa. Pray and meditate. Have sustained, intense dispassion and do intense protracted sadhana. Be under the direct guidance and in close contact with your own guru for some years. You will have steady and continuous progress.
Make ceaseless enquiry of the Atman. Mark well the word 'ceaseless'. This is important. Then only will there be the dawn of spiritual knowledge. The sun of knowledge will arise in the firmament of consciousness.
A microscopic minority only are fit for whole-timed meditation. Only people like Sadasiva Brahman and Sri Sankara can spend the whole time in meditation. Many sadhus who take to the path of renunciation have become completely tamasic. Tamas is mistaken for sattva. This is a great blunder. One can evolve beautifully by doing karma yoga in the world if he knows how to spend his time profitably. A house-holder should seek the advice of sannyasins and mahatmas from time to time, draw a daily routine and adhere to it strictly amidst worldly activities. Rajas can be converted into sattva, but it is impossible to convert tamas into sattva all of a sudden. Tamas should first be turned into rajas.
Young sadhus who take to renunciation do not stick to routine. They do not hear the words of elders nor obey the orders of the guru. They want absolute independence from the very beginning. They lead a happy-go-lucky life with no one to check them. They have their own way. They do not know how to regulate their energy or how to chalk out a daily programme, so they aimlessly wander about from place to place and become tamasic within six months. They sit for half an hour in some asana and imagine that they are realised souls.
If an aspirant who has taken to renunciation finds that he is not evolving or improving in meditation and that he is going into a tamasic state, he should at once take up some kind of service for some years and work vigorously. He should combine work along with meditation. This is wisdom, this is prudence, this is sagacity. Then he should go into seclusion. He should use his common-sense all throughout his sadhana. It is very difficult to go out of a tamasic state. He should be very cautious, and when tamas tries to overtake him he should immediately do some sort of brisk work. He can run in the open air, draw water from the wells, etc. He should drive it off by some intelligent means or other.
Samskaras turn into actualities when opportunities crop up, but the aspirant should not be discouraged. They will lose their force after some time and die by themselves. Just as the dying wick burns with intensity just before it gets extinguished, so also those old samskaras show their teeth and force before they are eradicated. The aspirant should not get unnecessarily alarmed. He will have to increase the force or momentum of spiritual samskaras by doing japa, meditation, study of scriptures (svadhyaya), virtuous actions, satsang and cultivation of sattvic virtues. These new spiritual samskaras will neutralise the old vicious ones. The aspirant should be intent on his sadhana, he should plunge himself into spiritual practices. This is his obligatory duty.
When the aspirant does intense sadhana to obliterate the old samskaras, they try to rebound upon him with vengeance and with re-doubled force. They take forms and come before him as stumbling blocks. The old samskaras of fear, moha (delusion or extreme greed), hatred, jealousy, prejudice, fault-finding, self-justification, back-biting, building castles in the air, evil thoughts and passion assume grave forms.
Fear is a very great obstacle in the path of God-realisation. A timid aspirant is absolutely unfit for the spiritual path. He cannot dream of Self-realisation even in a thousand births. One must risk one's life if one wants to attain immortality. Spiritual wealth cannot be gained without self-sacrifice, self-denial or self abnegation. A fearless dacoit who has no false identification with the body is fit for God-realisation. Only his thought current will have to be changed. Fear is an imaginary non-entity. It assumes solid forms and troubles the aspirant in various ways. If one conquers fear he is on the road to success, he has almost reached the goal. Tantric sadhana makes the student fearless. This is one great advantage in this line. He has to practise in the burial ground, sitting over a dead body at midnight. This kind of sadhana emboldens the student.
Fear assumes various forms. There is fear of death, fear of disease, scorpion-phobia, fear of solitude, fear of company, fear of losing something and fear of public criticism in the form of' what will people say about me?' Some are not afraid of tigers in the forests, they are not afraid of gunshots in the battlefield, but they are awfully afraid of public criticism. Fear of public criticism stands in the way of the aspirant's spiritual progress. He should stick to his own principles and convictions, even though he is persecuted and even though he is at the point of being blown up at the mouth of a machine-gun. Then only will he grow and realise. All aspirants suffer from this dire malady — fear. Fear of all sorts should be totally eradicated by contemplation on the Atman, enquiry, devotion and cultivation of the opposite quality — courage. Courage overpowers fear and timidity.
Moha (delusion or extreme greed) is very hard to overcome. First comes desire, then comes anger, then greed, then moha. Desire is very powerful, so prominence is given to it. There is an intimate connection between desire and anger. Similarly, there is close relationship between greed and delusion. A greedy man has got great deluded attachment for his money. His mind is always on the money-box and the bunch of keys he has tied to his waist-cord. Money is his very blood and life. He lives to collect money, he is a gate-keeper only for his money. The enjoyer is his prodigal son. Money-lenders are the favourite tools of our friend greed. He has taken his stronghold in their minds. These are the Shylocks of the present day. They suck the blood of poor people by taking enormous interest (25 per cent, 50 per cent and even 100 per cent at times). Cruel-hearted people! They pretend to show that they are of charitable disposition by doing acts such as opening poor-feeding houses, building temples, etc., but such acts cannot neutralise their abominable sins and merciless acts. Many poor families are ruined by these people. They do not think that the bungalows and palaces in which they live are built out of the blood of these poor people.
Greed has destroyed their intellect and made them absolutely blind. They have eyes but they see not. Greed always makes the mind restless. A man possessing ten thousand rupees plans to get one hundred thousand, a millionaire schemes to become a multimillionaire. Greed is insatiable, there is no end to it. It assumes various subtle forms. A man thirsts for name and fame and applause. This is greed. A sub-judge thirsts to become a High Court judge and a third class magistrate thirsts to become a first-class magistrate with full powers. This is also greed. A sadhu thirsts for psychic siddhis. This is another form of greed. A sadhu thirsts to open several ashrams in different centres. This is also greed. A greedy man is absolutely unfit for the spiritual path. Destroy greed of all sorts by enquiry, devotion, meditation, japa, contentment, integrity, honesty and disinterestedness, and enjoy peace.
Moha is also infatuated love for one's own body, wife, children, father, mother, brothers, sisters and property. Like greed, it takes various subtle forms. The mind gets attached to one name and form. If it is detached from one name and form, it clings tenaciously to another.
Look at the attachment of monkeys. If the baby monkey dies, the mother monkey will carry the dead skeleton for two or three months. Such is the power of attachment. If a father receives a telegram that his only son is dead, he immediately gets a shock and faints. Sometimes, he dies also. This is the power of attachment — the whole world runs through it. It is through attachment that one is bound to the wheel of samsara and gets pain. It is a kind of powerful liquor that brings intoxication in the twinkling of an eye.
Attachment troubled even Sri Sankaracharya. He had to attend the sick-bed and funeral rites of his mother, even though he was a sannyasin. A great sage, Pattinattu Swami of South India, sang when his mother died: "There was a fire at first in Tripura Samhara. Then there was a fire in Lanka due to Hanuman. Now the death of my beloved mother has caused a burning fire in my stomach and heart. Let me also apply fire to this corpse of my mother." This attachment should be eradicated by discrimination (viveka), dispassion (vairagya), enquiry (vichara), contemplation of God, devotion, seclusion, study of vedantic literature, etc. It can only be completely removed by renunciation, sannyasa and Self-realisation.
Hatred is the deadliest foe of an aspirant. It is an inveterate enemy. It is an old-standing associate of the jiva. Contempt, prejudice, sneering, taunting, teasing, ridiculing, mocking, frowning and showing wry faces are all forms of hatred. Hatred bubbles out again and again. It is insatiable like lust or greed. It may temporarily subside for some time, and may again burst out with redoubled force. If the father dislikes a man, his sons and daughters also begin to hate that man without any rhyme or reason whatsoever, although that man has not done them any wrong or injustice. Such is the force of hatred. If any one even remembers the figure of a man who has done him some serious injury some forty years ago, at once hatred creeps into his mind and his face shows clear signs of enmity and anger.
Hatred develops by repetition. Hatred ceases not by hatred but by love only. Hatred needs prolonged and intense treatment, as its branches ramify in various directions in the sub-conscious mind. It lurks in different corners. Constant selfless service combined with meditation for a period of twelve years is necessary. An Englishman hates an Irishman and an Irishman hates an Englishman. A Catholic hates a Protestant and a Protestant hates a Catholic. This is religious hatred. There is communal hatred. One man hates another man at first sight without any reason. Selfishness, jealousy, greed and lust are the retinue of hatred. In Kali Yuga the force of hatred is augmented. Pure unselfish love should be cultivated. It is unknown in this world amongst worldly people.
One should have fear of God. Solomon says: "Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." Service with the feeling that everything is the Self can remove hatred completely and bring realisation of the oneness of life. Prejudice, contempt, etc., will completely vanish by selfless service. Vedanta in daily life when put into actual practice can eradicate all sorts of hatred. There is one Self hidden in all beings. Then why do you frown at others? Why do you treat others with contempt? Why do you divide and separate? Realise the unity of life and consciousness. Feel the Atman everywhere. Rejoice and radiate love and peace everywhere.
Prejudice is unreasonable dislike for something or some person. Prejudice makes the brain callous, it cannot vibrate properly to grasp things in their true light and one cannot endure honest differences of opinion. This is intolerance. Religious intolerance and prejudice are great obstacles in the path of God-realisation. Some orthodox Sanskrit priests strongly think that only Sanskrit-knowing people can have God-realisation. They think that English-knowing sannyasins are barbarians and that they cannot have Self-realisation. Look at the thick foolishness of these bigoted priests! Incorrigible, petty-minded, narrow-hearted, crooked sectarians! If a man has prejudice against the Bible or Koran he cannot grasp the truths of these books.
His brain becomes hard, stony and callous. A man can realise God by studying and following the principles that are laid down in the Koran, Bible or Zend Avesta or the Pali books of Lord Buddha.
Aspirants should try to remove prejudice of all sorts; then only can they see the truth everywhere. Truth is not the sole monopoly of the Sanskrit priests of Benares. Truth, Rama, Krishna and Jesus are the common property of all.
Sectarians and bigoted people confine themselves to a small circumscribed circle or area. They have no large heart. They cannot see the good points in others on account of their jaundiced vision. They think that only their principles and doctrines are good. They treat others with contempt. They think that their sect is superior to others and that their teacher only is a man of God-realisation. They always fight with others. There is no harm in praising one's own guru and sticking to his principles and teachings, but one should pay equal regard to the teachings of other prophets and other saints. Then only will the feeling of universal love and brotherhood manifest. This will eventually lead to the realisation of God or Atman in all beings. Prejudice, intolerance, bigotry and sectarianism should be thoroughly eradicated. Prejudice and intolerance are forms of hatred. Even highly educated people are very mean and petty-minded.
‘Obstacles on the Spiritual Path’ will continue next week.
Friday, May 29, 2015
Forget the Body
He who does sankirtan (same as kirtan: chanting) forgets the body and the world. Sankirtan brings super-intuitional knowledge. Sankirtan brings darshan (vision) of God or attainment of divine consciousness in this Kali Yuga (dark age). It develops love. It is the easiest, surest, safest, quickest way for attaining God-realisation.
Those who do sankirtan in the beginning, for the sake of mental enjoyment, will realise the purificatory effects of sankirtan after some time and then they will do it with bhava (devotion) and shraddha (faith). There is a mysterious power in the name of the Lord. Man cannot live by bread alone but he can live on the name of the Lord.
The harmonious vibrations produced by the singing of the names of the Lord help the devotees to control their minds easily. They produce a benign influence and elevate the mind at once from its old ruts, to magnanimous heights of divine splendour and glory. If one does sankirtan from the bottom of one's heart, with full bhava and prem (love) even the trees, birds and animals will respond. They will be deeply influenced. Such is the power of Sankirtan. It brings the devotee face to face with God.
The individual soul becomes one with Paramatma (the supreme soul) only through the process of evolution (ascent through different rungs of the spiritual ladder) by means of nada upasana (contemplation of mystic sound). Nada (sound) is of two kinds - gross or expressed and subtle or unexpressed. The former leads to the latter.
The union of prana with anala or fire, in the human soul, is an indispensable requisite if the individual soul wishes to unite with Brahman (infinite) or attain the highest (nirvikalpa) samadhi. The fire of the muladhara (the lowest psychic centre) represents the RA bija (seed-mantra). It ascends to meet the prana from the brahmarandhra (the crown of the head), which represents the MA bija. The combination of RA-MA is the taraka bija (the redeeming seed mantra) by which the individual soul crosses to the other shore of fearlessness and immortality and attains eternal bliss and supreme joy. Sankirtan is an easy approach to the sukshma nada (subtle sound) and eventually to the divine communion.
Thursday, May 28, 2015
Sing Without Ceasing
Akhanda kirtan is to sing the Lord's name without a break. This is a very effective spiritual sadhana (practice). There is eradication of all evil vrittis (thoughts) during this period; the mind has neither time nor opportunity to think of sensual objects during this period. This is an easy way to capture the mind. During this period the mind is filled with satva (purity) and it is filled with supreme peace and joy.
There is no yajna (sacred rite) greater than akhanda kirtan. It is specially suited to this age. It costs you nothing. During akhanda kirtan the maha mantra should be sung. One person should repeat this mantra (formula) in a melodious, sweet voice and all the others should follow him in chorus. The sixteen words, "Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare" constitute one mantra. Do not repeat or sing either "Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare"or "Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare" twice.
For individual japa (repetition) and kirtan (chanting) the whole mantra should be repeated at a stretch. But during akhanda kirtan - to avoid too much strain and break - the first half of the mantra may be repeated by the person leading the group, followed by the chorus of the other half. Some people cannot sing even half the mantra without a break. They should train themselves to sing one half without a break in the middle. Especially those who lead the kirtan should take care of this point, otherwise it is not akhanda kirtan.
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Open the doors of your heart. Let the lightning spark of love arise in your heart. Let love pierce you through and through. Let heart sing to heart. Let your soul mix with the Supreme Soul. Let the heart lotus blossom and waft its sweet divine fragrance. Let the divine thrill strike the strings of your heart. Let the tears flow down your cheeks. Let the divine ecstasy fill your whole being.
Lord Hari is an ocean of mercy. He has boundless love for his devotees. He is the purifier of the sinful and the fallen.
Collect the dissipated rays of the mind. Become serene. Repeat God's name. Your happiness will know no bounds, God will dwell in your heart.
May Lord Narayana take you to his bosom and bathe you in the sacred waters of divine love and transcendental bliss.
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Sankirtan is Spiritual Food
People do sankirtan with surprising enthusiasm and vigour for a year or two but after that they become slothful and torpid. The same zeal should be kept up throughout life. Just as food and drink are not dispensed with, even for one day, so also sankirtan should not be stopped even for a day. Sankirtan is indeed a spiritual food. Nay, it is a physical and mental tonic as well. You can live on sankirtan.
When you sing Lord Hari's name, feel that the Lord is seated in your heart, that every name of the Lord is filled with divine potencies, that the old, vicious samskaras (habits) and vasanas (tendencies) are burnt with the power of the name, that the mind is filled with purity, that rajas (passion) and tamas (inertia) are completely destroyed, that the veil of ignorance is torn down. Meditate on His form and His attributes - then only you will attain the maximum benefits of sankirtan.
Kirtan is singing the Lord's glories. The devotee is thrilled with divine emotion. He loses himself in the love for God. He weeps in the middle when thinking of the glory of God. His voice becomes choked and he flies into a state of divine bhava (feeling). The devotee is ever merged in japa of the Lord's name and describing his glories to one and all. Wherever he goes he begins to sing and praise God. He requests all to join his kirtans. He sings and dances in ecstasy and he makes others dance also.
Such practices should be the outcome of a pure heart; they should not be merely a show. God knows the inner secrets of all. None can cheat him. There should be perfect straight forwardness. All his actions should be a natural out pouring from the heart.
This is the easiest of all modes of approach to God. In the Kali Yuga, the Iron Age, kirtan alone is the best yoga. This is the prescribed method of devotion for this Age. The mind that is ever intent upon singing the Lord's names and glories has no occasion to take interest in the things of the world. Day and night the devotee feels the presence of God. This thins out the ego; he becomes satvic and pure at heart.
May you live drowned in the ocean of divine ecstasy, in a fully illumined state, by the regular practice of sankirtan and complete self-surrender to the Lord.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Lord is Your Sole Refuge
The name of the Lord is your sole refuge. It is your prop, shelter and abode. Name is divine nectar. Name and form are inseparable.
Keep a picture of the Lord and concentrate on it. Concentrate on the face or feet or the whole picture. Then visualise this in your heart or in the space between the eyebrows.
Repeat your mantra - Om Namah Shivaya, Om Namo Narayanaya, Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya - mentally, or if the mind wanders, do this verbally.
There are five kinds of bhavas or attitudes. They are shanta bhava (relationship of peace), dasya bhava (relationship of servant master), vatsalya bhava (relationship of father son), sakhya bhava (relationship of friendship) and madhurya bhava (relationship of lover and beloved). Have any kind of bhava that suits your temperament. Develop it again and again.
Practise the nine modes of devotion - shravana (hearing the lilas or stories of the Lord), kirtana (singing the Lord's name), smarana (remembering the Lord), padasevana (service of the Lord's feet), archana (offering of flowers), vandana (prostration), dasyam (servant bhava), sakhya (His friendship), and atmanivedana (self-surrender).
Feel that you are an instrument in the hands of the Lord. Feel that the Lord works through your body, mind and senses. Offer all your actions to the Lord. Offer the fruits of your actions to the Lord. This is the way to do self-surrender.
Do anusthana (intense whole time practice) frequently. Live on milk and fruits for a week.
Observe mauna (or silence). Do japa (repetition of God's name) and meditate in an intense manner.
Do mental worship - it is a great help for increasing devotion and attaining concentration. Offer flowers, incense etc., mentally, to the Lord.
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God is all pervading.
God is all permeating.
God is interpenetrating.
God is indwelling.
Monday, May 25, 2015
Benefits of Japa
Japa (repetition of the mantra) checks the force of the thought current moving towards objects. It forces the mind to move towards God, towards the attainment of eternal bliss. Eventually it helps us to have the darshana (vision) of God. The mantra power is hidden in every mantra.
Whenever the spiritual aspirant shows lack of vigour in his sadhana (practice), the mantra shakti (power of the mantra) reinforces the sadhana shakti (energy) of the aspirant. Constant and prolonged repetition of the mantra (name of God) for some months cuts new grooves in the mind and the brain.
During japa all the divine qualities steadily flow into your mind from the Lord, just as oil flows from one vessel to another vessel. Japa transforms the nature of the mind. It fills the mind with satva (purity).
Japa changes the mental substance from passion to purity, from rajas to satva. It calms and strengthens the mind. It makes the mind introspective - it checks the outgoing tendencies. Japa eradicates all kinds of evil thoughts and inclinations. It induces determination, and austerity and eventually it leads to the direct darshana (vision) of God (the ishta devata or tutelary deity) or to God-realisation.
The mind is purified by constant japa and worship and it is filled with good and pure thoughts. Repetition of mantra and worship strengthen the good samskaras. "As a man thinks so he becomes" - this is the psychological law. The mind of the man who trains himself to think good, holy thoughts develops a tendency to think good thoughts. His character is moulded and transformed by the continuous flow of good thoughts.
When the mind thinks of the image of the Lord during japa and worship, the mental substance actually assumes the form of the image. The impression of the object is left on the mind and this is called samskara. When the act is repeated very often, the samskara gains strength and a tendency or habit is formed in the mind.
He who entertains thoughts of divinity becomes transformed actually into divinity itself. This is the power of constant thinking and meditation. His disposition itself is divinised and purified.
The meditator and the meditated, the worshipper and the worshipped, the thinker and the thought, become one and the same thing. This is samadhi. This is the fruit of worship (upasana) or of doing japa.
Sunday, May 24, 2015
Mantra yoga is a great science. "Manana trayate iti mantrah" - "By manana (constant thinking or recollection) one is protected or released from the round of birth and death - that is mantra". That is called mantra, by meditating on which the jiva or soul attains freedom from sin, enjoyment in heaven and final liberation. And, by its aid it attains in full the fourfold fruit (caturvarga) i.e., dharma, artha, kama and moksha (virtue, wealth, pleasure and liberation).
A mantra is so called because it is achieved by the mental process. The root 'man' in the word mantra means 'to think'. And 'tra' comes from 'trai' meaning to protect or to free from the bondage of samsara or the phenomenal world. By the combination of 'man' and 'tra' comes mantra which calls forth the four aims of being - caturvarga.
A mantra is divinity. It is divine power manifesting in a sound body. The mantra itself is the devata (deity). The aspirant should try his level best to realise his unity with the mantra of the divinity. To the extent he does so, the mantra power supplements his worship power. Just as a flame is strengthened by winds, so also the aspirant's individual shakti (power) is strengthened by mantra shakti. Then the individual shakti joins with the mantra shakti to make it more powerful.
The mantra is awakened from its sleep through the sadhana shakti (worship power) of the aspirant. The mantra is a mass of radiant energy.
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Even to visualise the Lord in meditation just once, to utter the divine name of the Lord, with love, even a single time, has surely got a tremendous, transforming influence upon the soul. You are free here and now. Only you are not aware of it, through the force of maya (or ignorance).
This Atman is peace. Realise this peace that passeth all understanding and be free for ever. Peace is thy birthright. Peace is thy real, essential nature. Peace is Brahman. Peace and Brahman are one.
Saturday, May 23, 2015
Mantra is Power
There is an indescribable power in the mantra (God's name). Shakti is the energy or form of the mantra, i.e., the vibration form set up by its sound which carries a man to the devata that is worshipped. A mantra accelerates and generates the creative force. Mantra produces harmony in body and mind and awakens supernatural powers.
If you repeat the mantra with concentration and meaning you will attain God-realisation quickly. The glory of the name cannot be established through the intellect. It can be realised only through devotion and faith and constant repetition. That which shines above all, having made the whole world equal to a blade of grass, full of the light of consciousness, bliss, purity is only the sweet name of the Lord.
Sweeter than all sweet things, more auspicious than all auspicious things, purer than all pure things is the name of the Lord. OM is everything. OM is the name of God. Name is the bridge that connects the devotee with God. God's name is the way and the goal. Name is the weapon to destroy the mind. The name has the power to burn sins and desires.
As you repeat the mantra feel that the Lord is seated in your heart, that purity is flowing from the Lord to your mind. The name serves as gate keeper; it never allows worldly thoughts to enter the mind.
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Remembrance of God also includes hearing stories pertaining to God at all times, talking of God, teaching to others what pertains to God, meditation on the attributes of God, etc. God is to be remembered at all times, without a break, as long as one has consciousness intact. Right from the time he gets up from sleep in the morning, until he is completely overpowered by sleep in the night, a person is to remember God. He has no other duty in the world but to remember God.
Remembrance of God alone can destroy all worldly samskaras. Remembrance of God alone can turn the mind away from sense objects.
The section ‘Physical Obstacles’ now resumes...
If the yoga student develops some diseases on account of his failure in observing the laws of health and indiscretion, and says that his disease has arisen from the practice of yoga, this is the first obstacle.
Laziness and fickleness of mind are two great obstacles in meditation. Light sattvic diet and the practice of pranayama will remove laziness. Do not overload the stomach. Walk briskly in your compound hither and thither for half an hour. As soon as you have made a firm resolve, you must carry it out promptly at any cost. This will remove fickleness of mind and develop your will-power.
The mind does two things: it ceaselessly thinks of sensual objects, and when it is tired of thinking of objects it goes to sleep and rests in the primal nescience. If sleep tries to overpower you during meditation, be on the alert, awaken the mind by the practise of chanting, japa and long OM chanting. If there is attachment to any object, wean the mind, make it unattached through enquiry and vigilance. Again and again think of Brahman. When the mind has become completely calm, do not disturb it even a bit. Continue the meditation vigorously.
Tahdra is a half-sleepy state. Alasya is laziness. Nidra is sleep. Alasya and tandra are the precursors of sleep. These three are great obstacles in the path of realisation. Sleep is a powerful force of maya. You will be imagining that you are meditating. The mind will immediately run through its old grooves in the twinkling of an eye.
You will be doubting: "Did I go to sleep? Or did I meditate now? I think I had a small nap, as I feel heaviness of the eye-lids and body now." Sleep is the greatest obstacle as it is very powerful. Even though a sadhak is very careful and vigilant it overpowers him somehow or other. This is a very strong habit. It takes time and demands great strength of will to tear this old, old habit.
Arjuna is called Gudakesha or 'Conqueror of sleep'. Lakshmana also had conquered sleep. Besides these two persons we have not heard of anyone. However, there are people such as yogis and jnanis who have reduced their sleep to two or three hours.
Sleep is a psychological phenomenon. The brain needs rest at least for a short time, otherwise man feels drowsy and tired. He can neither work nor meditate. The sleep of a jnani is different from the sleep of a worldly man. In a jnani, the powerful impressions (samskaras) of God-contemplation are there. It is something akin to being established in the direct knowledge of God.
One should be careful in reducing his sleep. Reduce your sleep gradually. For the first four months go to bed at 11 p.m. and get up at 4 a.m. Have sleep for five hours. For the next four months, go to bed at 12 p.m. and get up at 4 a.m. Have sleep for four hours. For the next four months, go to bed at 12 p.m. and get up at 3 a.m. Thus, gradually reduce the hours of sleep.
Sadhaks can gain time for their sadhana by reducing sleep. The practice of reducing sleep will be very troublesome in the beginning. When the habits are changed, it will be pleasant in the end.
Give up rice and heavy meals at night. Take light food such as milk and fruits at night. You will be able to get up in the early morning. Sleep will not overpower you during meditation.
Aspirants do meditation in the morning for one hour between 4 and 5 a.m. Then they are overpowered by sleep. They begin to sleep again after 5 a.m. This is a general complaint. Do 10 or 20 rounds of pranayama at 5 a.m. Do sirshasana for two minutes. Again you will be fresh for meditation. Use your common-sense always. The old habit may recur again and again. Get rid of it again and again by suitable practices, strength of will, prayer, etc.
Practise yoga postures — sirshasana, sarvangasana, bhujang-asana, salabhasana and dhanurasana — and do a little pranayama before you start meditation. Then you will not become sleepy during meditation.
Sometimes during the course of meditation the mind suddenly slips into its old grooves for sleeping. Aspirants think that they are meditating, while they are actually sleeping. Dash cold water on the face. Stand up and sing, and do vigorous chanting (kirtan) for five or ten minutes. Do ten or twenty mild breath retentions (kumbhakas). You can drive off sleep easily. Keep the light burning if you feel sleepy. Repeat the mantra loudly for some time. Sit in the kneeling posture (vajrasana).
When meditation becomes habitual, when the habit of getting up at 4 a.m. is well established and when you take light food at night, sleep will not trouble you at all during meditation.
The practice of keeping vigils on Sivaratri and Sri Krishna Janmastami is highly commendable. The Christians also keep vigils on Christmas and New Year's night.
Do not mistake drowsiness for savikalpa samadhi and deep sleep for nirvikalpa samadhi. The glory of the fourth state of consciousness (turiya) is ineffable, its splendour is indescribable. If the body is light, the mind is clear and there is cheerfulness, know that you are meditating. If the body is heavy, if the mind is dull, know that you were sleeping, not meditating.
Aspirants should not overload the stomach. Ninety percent of diseases take their origin in immoderation in diet. People have developed a strong habit of eating more food than is actually necessary, from their very childhood. Hindu mothers stuff the stomachs of their children with too much food. This is not the way of caressing and loving children. Over-loading brings drowsiness and sleep immediately. If there is no hunger you must not take any food. Overloading is the chief factor in bringing about night-pollutions. A diet of milk renders the body very very light. You can sit in one asana for hours together with ease and comfort. If you feel weak, for a day or two you can take a little rice and milk or barley and milk or any light diet. Those who are in the field of service and who give platform lectures and other intense spiritual propaganda activities, need solid substantial food.
'Man is as old as his arteries' is a truism in physiology and surgery. The salt that is present in food-stuffs is quite sufficient, you need not take any extra salt. You need not add any salt to curries and soups. If there is an excess of salt in the blood, the arteries lose their elasticity and cannot withstand the slightest increase in blood-pressure. The important organs such as the liver, kidneys, stomach, heart, etc., lose their elasticity. Excess salt in the blood produces a dry sort of itch, thirst, constipation, inability to bear the sun's heat and headache.
Those who eat meat have a crematorium in their stomachs. They are unfit for yoga practices and spiritual contemplation.
You cannot live on roots alone. To live on roots alone is a foolish imagination of an emotional man who has no idea of spiritual life. Extreme asceticism and self-torture are not necessary for the attainment of the Self. You will have to adopt always the middle course. Live on milk and fruits on Sundays and Ekadasi. Too much fasting brings weakness and retards vigorous spiritual sadhana You can occasionally have mild fasts. Sannyasins and aspirants should take their bhiksha from the hands of those householders who earn their livelihood by honest means.
"In pure food there is a pure nature, in a pure nature there is firm fixation of memory, in a firm memory there is release from all the knots of the heart." —Chhandogya Upanishad: 7-26-2.
Mind is formed out of the subtlest portion of the food. If you eat impure food, the mind also becomes impure. This is the dictum of sages and psychologists. Food plays an important part in the evolution of the mind. It has a direct influence on the mind. Meat, fish, eggs, stale unwholesome food, onions, garlic, etc., should be avoided by spiritual practitioners, as they excite passion and anger. The food should be simple, bland, light, wholesome and nutritious. Liquors and narcotics should be strictly abandoned. Chillies, condiments, spiced dishes, pungent articles, hot things, things that are sour, sweetmeats, etc., must be rejected.
In the Bhagavad Gita you will find: "The foods that augment vitality, energy, vigour, health, joy and cheerfulness, that are delicious, bland, substantial and agreeable, are dear to the pure. The passionate desire foods that are burning and which produce pain, sickness and grief. That which is stale and flat, putrid and corrupt, left-overs and also unclean, is the food dear to the dark." (XVIII-8, 9, 10)
As is the food, so is the mind. Food exercises a tremendous influence on the mind. Look at the tiger which lives on flesh. How ferocious it is. Behold the cow which lives on grass. How mild and gentle she is. You can get good nutrition and energy from milk, fruits, vegetables, almonds, butter, cream, green gram, dhall, etc. Milk is a perfect food. Sattvic food helps concentration of mind. It renders the mind pure.
Purity of food leads to purity of mind. This implies that all objects which are grasped by the senses must be pure. The ears should hear sublime utterances of the Bhagavad Gita, Ramayana, Bhagavatam, Upanishads and the names of God. The eyes must behold the form of God. Let your clothing be sattvic or pure. Let your speech be pure. Let your companions be sattvic persons. Let the books you study be pure. Let the place you live in be sattvic. Let the meditation room be decorated with sattvic pictures of the Lord. Then only will you attain God-consciousness. You will find in the Peace Chants also: ''O Gods, may we with our ears hear what is auspicious! Oh, ye fit to be worshipped, may we, with our eyes, see what is auspicious!"
Yoga can be practised only by those who are very earnest about it and who are ready to annihilate their little ego and its demands. There is no half-measure in the spiritual path. Rigid discipline of senses and mind, rigorous tapas and constant meditation are necessary for the attainment of God-realisation. The hostile forces are ever ready to overwhelm you if you are not vigilant, if you give the least sanction or the smallest opening for them.
You cannot lead a double life. Pure divine life, a life of yoga, cannot co-exist with a mundane life of passion and ignorance. Divine life cannot conform to your own little standards. You must rise above the petty human level, you must raise yourself to a higher level of divine consciousness. You cannot claim freedom for your petty mind and little ego if you want to become a yogi. You should not affirm your own thoughts, judgements, desires and impulses. The lower nature with its retinue — arrogance, ignorance and turbulence — stands in the way of descent of the divine light.
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. Worldly friends come to you to get money and other comforts when you are rolling in a Rolls Royce, when you have got plenty of money. When you are in adverse circumstances no one will care to look at you. Even your sons and wife will forsake you. This world is full of avarice, hypocrisy, double-dealing, flattery, untruth, cheating and selfishness. Be careful. Friends come to have idle talks with you and to waste your time. They have no idea of the value of time. They want to pull you down and make you also worldly. They will say: "Friend, what are you doing? Earn money as much as possible. Live comfortably now. Eat, drink and be merry. Let us go to a cinema. Today there is a good new production running at so and so theatre. There will be beautiful modern dancing. Who knows about the future? Where is God? Where is heaven? There is no rebirth, there is no liberation. It is all imagination and gossip. Enjoy now. Why do you fast? There is nothing beyond this world. Give up all sadhana and meditation. You are wasting your time." You will get this sort of advice from such worldly friends. Cut off all connections ruthlessly. Don't talk to any of your friends, however sincere they seem to be. Hide yourself away. Live alone at all times. Trust only in that immortal Friend who dwells in your heart. Then alone are you perfectly safe. He will give you whatever you want. Hear His sweet counsel from within with one-pointed mind, and follow it.
Very often depression comes in meditation in neophytes, owing to the effect of previous tendencies (samskaras), the influence of astral entities, evil spirits, bad company, cloudy days, bad stomach (indigestion) and loaded bowels. Treat the cause. Remove the cause. Do not allow depression to overpower you. Immediately take a brisk long walk along the seaside or riverside, or run in the open air. Sing divine songs. Chant OM loudly for one hour. Play on the harmonium if you know the art. Have cheerful thoughts, good laughter. If necessary you can take a purgative and a dose of carminative mixture.
Do some breath retention (kumbhakas) and sitali pranayama. Drink a small cup of orange juice or hot tea or coffee. Read some of the elevating portions of the Avadhuta Gita and the Upanishads.
When depression comes and troubles you, the mind will revolt. The undercurrent of desires will gush to the surface of the mind and torment you. Sensuous thoughts will agitate the mind and try to overwhelm you. Be bold, stand adamant, face these passing shocks. Keep your mind cool. Do not identify yourself with these obstacles.
Just as clouds screen and obstruct the sun, the cloud of gloom and despair will stand in the way of your practice. Even then you must not leave the practice of japa, concentration and meditation. These small clouds of gloom and despair will pass off soon. Give the suggestion to the mind: 'Even this will pass away'.
Doubt is your great enemy. It causes restlessness of mind. It will again and again raise its head to mislead the aspirant. It should be killed beyond resurrection by certainty of conviction and firm unshakable faith based on reasoning. Destroy all doubts through enquiry and wisdom.
There are three kinds of doubts — feeling of suspicion, spiritual doubt and perverted understanding. When the aspirant is not established in his own essential nature all of a sudden he doubts if there can be an all-pervading Brahman. Then he wonders how the individual soul, with a limited perishable body, can identify himself with the supreme all-pervading Substance. Then he begins to identify himself with the body, in spite of all his meditation. Hearing of the scriptures destroys the first doubt, reflection on their meaning destroys the second and deep meditation destroys the third kind of doubt.
Lack of faith is a dangerous obstacle in the spiritual path. The student slackens his efforts when these doubts crop up. Maya is very powerful and mysterious. Mind is maya. Mind deludes the student through doubting and forgetfulness. Sometimes he gives up his sadhana altogether, which is a serious mistake. Whenever doubt tries to overpower any student he should at once take recourse to the company of mahatmas and remain with them for some time under the influence of their spiritual currents. He should clear his doubts by conversing with them. Generally an aspirant starts his sadhana with expectations of so many siddhis within a short time. When he does not get them he gets dejected and stops his practice. This is the trouble in almost all cases. He thinks that kundalini will be awakened within six months and that he will have clairvoyance, clairaudience, thought-reading, flying in the air, etc. He entertains so many fantastic and queer ideas.
Do not bother about doubts. There is no end to them. Purify your heart. Go on vigorously with purificatory processes such as japa and meditation. Meditate regularly. The doubts will be cleared by themselves in a mysterious manner. The great Teacher or inner Ruler is with you. He will illumine you and remove your doubts.
Various sorts of fantastic dreams trouble some aspirants very much. Sometimes there is a mixture of meditation and dreams. As the phenomenon of the dreams is very peculiar and inexplicable, it is very difficult to control dreams unless you wipe out all the subconscious impressions in the causal body and control all thoughts. As you grow in purity, discrimination and concentration, dreams will decrease. The presence of dreams denotes that you are not yet well established in deep meditation, that you have not removed tossing of the mind and that you have not done constant sadhana.
Intense desire or attachment to sensual pleasures or sense objects is one of the greatest of all obstacles. The mind refuses to leave sensual pleasures completely. Through the force of dispassion and meditation the desires get suppressed for some time. All of a sudden the mind thinks of sensual pleasures through force of habit and memory and mental disturbance arises. Concentration decreases and the mind moves outwards to sensual objects. There cannot be an iota of happiness for a man who is thirsting for sensual objects. Only when this thirsting dies does man enjoy peace. Then only can he meditate and rest in the Self.
In the Bhagavad Gita you will find: "The turbulent senses, O Arjuna, violently carry away the mind of a wise man, though he be striving to control them; for the mind which follows in the wake of the wandering senses carries away one's discrimination, as the wind carries away a boat upon the waters.'' (11-60, 67). ''The objects of the senses turn away from the abstinent man, leaving the longing behind: but this longing also turns away on seeing the Supreme." (11-59).
Some desires lurk in the corners of the mind. Just as old dirt comes out from the corners of the room when you sweep, so also through the pressure of yoga practices these old lurking desires come out. The sadhak should be very careful, he should be ever watching the mind vigilantly. He must nip the desires in the bud by developing his dispassion and discrimination and by increasing his period of japa and meditation. He must observe unbroken silence and do vigorous meditation and pranayama. He should live on milk and fruits for forty days and observe fast on ekadasi days. He should completely give up mixing with anybody. He should never come out of his room and should plunge himself deep into his sadhana. Hidden desires and worldly ambitions of all sorts also come under this category. Ambition makes the mind very restless. Man should have the one laudable ambition of getting Self-realisation.
Sex impulse and ambition are two great disturbing factors in meditation. They carry on guerrilla warfare, they attack again and again. They appear to be thinned out for some time but they get revived often. They should be extirpated by great effort — enquiry, the power of discrimination between Atman and anatman (Self and non-Self) and the feeling that all is God.
If the mind constantly dwells on sensual objects the conception of the reality of the universe will surely increase. If the mind ceaselessly thinks of the Atman (Absolute), the world appears like a dream. Meditate and behold the imperishable Atman. Rest yourself firmly in the Self. Nothing can hurt you now. You can become invincible.
When you meditate, when you develop divine or sattvic virtues, a spiritual road is constructed in the mind. If you are not regular in meditation, if your dispassion wanes and if you become careless and non-vigilant, the spiritual road will be washed away by the flood of impure thoughts and evil desires. Therefore be regular in your meditation. Regularity in meditation is of paramount importance.
Anger is a gate to hell. It destroys the knowledge of Self. It is born of rajas. It is all-consuming and all-polluting. It is the greatest enemy of peace. It is a modification of lust. Just as milk is changed into curd, so also lust or desire becomes transmuted into anger. When a man's desire is not gratified he becomes angry, then his mind becomes confused and he loses his memory and understanding. He perishes. A man when he is angry will say anything he likes and do anything he likes. He commits murder. A hot word results in fighting and stabbing. He is under intoxication. He loses his senses for the time being and does not know exactly what he is doing. He is a prey to anger, he is under the sway of anger. Anger is a form of divine power (shakti) or Devi. In Chandipat you will find: "I bow to that Devi who is seated in all beings in the form of anger."
Resentment, indignation, fury, wrath and irritation are all varieties of anger, according to degree or intensity. If a man wants to correct another man and use slight anger unselfishly as a force to check and improve him, then it is called 'religious anger'. Suppose a man molests a girl and tries to outrage her and a by-stander becomes angry towards this criminal, then it is called 'righteous indignation'. This is not bad. Only when the anger is the outcome of greed or selfish motives is it bad. Sometimes a religious teacher has to express a little anger outwardly to correct his disciples. This is also not bad.
One has to do it. But he should be cool within and hot and impetuous outside. He should not allow the anger to take deep root in his inner consciousness for a long time. It should pass off immediately like a wave in the sea.
If a man becomes irritable for trifling things very often it is a definite sign of mental weakness. One should control irritability by developing patience, right thinking, forgiveness, love, mercy and the spirit of sincere service. When anger is controlled it becomes transmuted into an energy that can move the world. It becomes changed into effulgent power, just as heat or light is changed into electricity. Energy takes another form. If an aspirant has controlled anger completely, half of his sadhana is over. Control of anger means control of lust also. All vices, evil qualities and wrong actions take their origin in anger. If anger is controlled, all bad qualities die by themselves. He who has controlled anger cannot do any wrong or evil action. He is always just. An easily irritated man is always unjust. He is swayed by impulses and emotions. Too much loss of semen is the chief cause of irritability and anger. The root cause of anger lies in egoism. Egoism should be removed by right knowledge, then only can one control anger completely, to the very root. Through development of the opposite virtues such as forgiveness, love, peace, compassion and friendship, it can be controlled to some extent. The force can be reduced. Only direct knowledge (jnana) completely fries all tendencies. The practice of silence (mauna) is of great help in controlling anger.
It is very difficult to say when a man will be thrown into a state of fury. All of a sudden he gets a terrible fit of anger over trifling matters. When the anger assumes a grave form it becomes difficult to control. It should be controlled when it still has the form of a small ripple in the sub-conscious mind. One should watch the mind carefully, whenever there is a sign of irritability. Then it becomes very easy.
When a man is furious he has lost all control. Anger gains strength by repetition. If it is checked man gradually gains strength of will. An aspirant should direct all his attention towards conquest of this powerful enemy. Sattvic food, japa, meditation, prayer, satsang, right thinking, service, kirtan, celibacy and pranayama will all go a long way in eradicating this dire malady. A combined method should be adopted in its removal. When a man abuses you, try to keep quiet. Bear the insult. You will gain strength. Check the impulses and emotions to begin with. Whenever there is likelihood of a burst of anger during conversation or debate, stop your speech. Always try to speak sweet, soft words. The words must be soft and the arguments hard; but if the words are hard it will bring discord. If you find it difficult to control anger, leave the place at once and take a brisk walk. Drink some cool water immediately. Chant OM loudly for 10 minutes. Smoking, meat-eating and drinking of liquors make the heart very irritable. Therefore they should be completely abandoned. Tobacco brings diseases of heart. It gives rise to 'tobacco-heart' which gets easily irritated.
Be careful in the selection of your companions. Talk little, mix little. Plunge yourself into spiritual sadhana. Think that the world is a long dream, that the world is unreal. This will prevent anger. Enquire: "What is abuse? What do I gain by getting angry? It is only a waste of energy and time. I am not the body. The Atman is the same in all." This will completely remove anger. Anger spoils the blood. It throws various poisons into the blood.
Instances are recorded of women who have killed children by nursing them with breast milk when they were in a fit of anger. In the light of modern psychology, all diseases take their origin in anger. Rheumatism, heart diseases and nervous diseases are due to anger. The whole nervous system is completely shattered by one fit of anger. It takes months before it is restored to normal equilibrium.
A social nature is good for doing karma yoga, but it is extremely bad for practising meditation. It drags you out and makes your mind restless. It invites many friends who disturb you in a variety of ways. When you sit for meditation, thoughts of your friends and office work or the memory of a conversation that took place in the previous evening with your friends and relatives will disturb your mind and cause distraction. You will have to withdraw the mind again and again cautiously from these extraneous worldly thoughts and fix it again and again on your object of meditation or goal. You will have to disregard and ignore the worldly thoughts. Be indifferent, do not welcome these thoughts or identify yourself with them. Say within yourself: "I do not want these thoughts. I have nothing to do with them." They will gradually vanish.
Bad surroundings, obscene pictures, obscene songs, novels that deal with love, cinemas, theatres, the sight of pairing of animals, words which give rise to bad ideas in the mind — in short anything that causes evil thoughts in the mind — constitute evil company. Aspirants generally complain: "We have been doing sadhana for the last fifteen years. We have not made any solid spiritual progress." The obvious answer is that they have not totally shunned evil company. 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 out-going, produces an impression that the world is a solid reality and makes one forget the Truth that lies underneath these names and forms.
The section ‘Mental Obstacles’ will resume next week.