The cosmos is a manifestation of the Divine. Those are foolish who, upon seeing the handiworks of the Divine everywhere, think that there is no God. Without recognizing the omnipresence of God, people seek God somewhere or another. This reflects the dualistic attitude of persons who identify themselves with the body and alienate themselves from God. While God is omnipresent and can be recognized in the divine manifestations of nature, body consciousness prevents people from experiencing oneness with the Divine. How is God to be experienced? The first requisite is purity of heart. All religions have affirmed the basic importance of purity. The aim of all sadhanas (spiritual disciplines) is to achieve peace. Compassion toward all beings is devotion to God.
God cannot be experienced through the ostentatious observance of rituals and worship. Where there is mere pomp and show, there can be no divinity. The bliss of the Divine cannot be found there. As a seed will not sprout on the rocky ground, bliss of the Divine cannot be realized by worship that is devoid of humility and sincerity. Sadhanas (spiritual disciplines) are not pursued for obtaining the Atma (Divine Self). There is no need to seek the Atma, which is all-pervasive and present everywhere. Sadhanas are performed to get rid of the anatma (that which obscures the vision of the Atma or Divine Self). Man forgets his real nature and loses himself in the consciousness of what he is not. He forgets that he is the Atma in reality. In the state of deep sleep, one is totally unaware of his name, form, position, and so on. Upon waking, he realizes that the “I,” of whom he is conscious in the waking state, was present in deep sleep too. The purpose of all sadhanas is to discover the nature of the “I” that is experienced in all the three states of waking, dreaming, and deep sleep.
- God cannot be realized by a mind that is hypocritical, calculating, or argumentative. one must have faith and sincerity. hypocrisy will not do. to the sincere, god is very near; but he is far, far away from the hypocrite.
- You do not see god because you busy yourself with such things as name and fame and scholarship.’ the mother does not come to the child as long as it sucks its toy — a red toy. but when, after a few minutes, it throws the toy away and cries, then the mother takes down the rice-pot from the hearth and comes running to the child.
- No one can say with finality that God is only ‘this’ and nothing else. He is formless, and again He has forms. For the bhakta He assumes forms. But He is formless for the jnani, that is, for him who looks on the world as a mere dream. The bhakta feels that he is one entity and the world another. Therefore God, reveals Himself to him as a Person. But the jnani, the Vedantist; for instance; always reasons, applying the process of ‘Not this, not this’. Through this discrimination he realizes, by his inner perception, that the ego and the universe are both illusory, like a dream. Then the jnani realizes Brahman in his own consciousness. He cannot describe what Brahman is.
- A man thinks of God, no doubt, but he has no faith in Him. Again and again he forgets God and becomes attached to the world. It is like giving the elephant a bath; afterwards he covers his body with mud and dirt again. ‘The mind is a mad elephant.’ But if you can make the elephant go into the stable immediately after bathing him, then he stays clean. Just so, if a man thinks of God in the hour of death, then his mind becomes pure and it gets no more opportunity to become attached to ‘woman and gold’ – Selected Quotes from the Sayings of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa
Faith and God Are One
Many people aspire for grace, love, devotion, and humility. All these are the forms of the Atma (Divine Self). God is not different from faith. Faith and God are one and the same. Love is God, devotion is God, and they are not different entities. What is the meaning of devotion? Devotion is that which enables the unmanifested divine principle to manifest itself in the inner vision of the devotee. Then, for that devotee, nothing else will exist other than He. To reach that stage, you must discharge your duties, [while] keeping the permanent entity constantly in mind. You can cross the vast, deep ocean of worldly existence and enjoy the infinite Divinity that is its reality, with the help of a small boat. That boat is the Name of God. In the beginning of the spiritual journey, the Divine Name is the basis for progress, but it should not become a life-long support, depending entirely upon it alone. While taking a bath or giving a bath to the children, consider that you are doing the purification ritual of washing God Himself. While serving food, consider that you are offering it to God Himself. While giving food to a beggar, consider that God has come in this form, and that you are serving Him. It seems that a beggar is asking, but it is the Atma who is enjoying the food you give. When you are cutting vegetables for cooking, consider that you are cutting away your desires and ego with the knife of wisdom. While sweeping the floor, don’t lament that it keeps getting dirty again and again. Think rather that you are cleaning your own heart. If you are rolling chapathis (a flat Indian bread) at home, consider what joy it is to roll, knead, and expand your heart. In this way, you can consider every activity you undertake as being done for the sake of God. Thereupon, where is the need for separate meditation, separate penance, or separate worship?
Love Can Accomplish Everything Consider your heart as the Atma. Soften it and make it full of compassion. That is the only spiritual exercise you need to perform. You know that many people are coming to Prasanthi Nilayam from different parts of the world. What brings them here? Are invitations sent? Does anyone ask them to come? It is only on account of the love that is here and that is felt from heart to heart. Through love you can accomplish anything in the world. Consider love as the Atma (Indwelling God) itself. However many scriptures you may read and however many spiritual exercises you may do, if you do not allow your heart to melt with compassion, your life will be a sheer waste. All practices have to be directed toward softening your heart, so that it will overflow with kindness and love. Develop this feeling of compassion, and allow it to flow fully and spread among all the peoples of the world.
– Sri Sathya Sai Baba Discourse in Prasanthi Mandir March 30, 1987
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