Swami says that ‘We are born; not to be born again’. This world is a workshop where a soul is born only to complete the lessons which it failed to learn during its previous visits. East visit to this workshop, allows us to learn the spiritual lessons, pass the test and move to a higher class with a more refined intellect and broader consciousness. Just as the accountant transfers all records of profits/loss into next financial year, we carry our Karma (good or bad deeds) and our Samskaras (tendencies, habits, likes and dislikes) to the next life. Every spiritual lesson that has been learnt, practised and assimilated in this lifetime is like climbing one step closer towards the source. Our consciousness continues to grow and expand, reaching higher and higher planes, over many lifetimes.
This is just a theory but I believe that if we chart the path of our spiritual progress e.g. growth of our consciousness through accumulated learning over a period of time, it may not look linear or sequential but more like a fibonacci sequence. All the trials and tribulations we face in our lives are nothing but ongoing tests so see if we have learned the lesson properly and ready to be promoted to the next level. If not, we are sent back to the previous class and the cycle continues.
“Obstacles that come in the way are often treated with a certain amount of resentment by the pilgrims on the spiritual path; these tests are to be treated as ensuring safety. You drive a nail into the wall to hang a picture thereon; but before hanging the picture, you try to see whether the nail has been well driven in by shaking it; when you are certain it does not shake even when all your strength is used, you become bold enough to hang the picture on it. You must welcome tests because they give you confidence and ensure promotion.” – Swami
Some people may not believe in rebirth but it It would be ludicrous to think that Buddha attained the state of Nirvana in one lifetime only. Most of the enlightened masters like Ramana Maharshi, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Gautam Buddha (and many more) were able to shed the coils of this samsara (worldly entanglements) effortlessly just like a fruit falls from the tree in a ripened state on its own without any external agency. Let us take the example of “Buddha”. Gautam Buddha was disgusted by the pitiable state of humanity suffering from diseases, old age and death; yet seeking enjoyment from the senses and getting entangled into this worldly mire deeper and deeper. We see those exact same sights around us everyday but we do not renounce this world and walk away from it to seek the truth like Buddha did. It is because our consciousness has not reached that elevated or ripened state yet. Life is a journey of continuous expansion from Koham (Who am I) to Soham (I am That). We are all on the same spiritual journey whether we know it or not.
When the sun rises, all the buds of lotus in the lake will not open out in full bloom. Only those which are full grown can blossom; so the rest have to bide their time and grow. – Swami
You are neither the body, nor the mind
Swami says that that our true nature is ‘Sat’ (Being), ‘Chit’ (Awareness) and ‘Ananda’ (Bliss) apart from our given name and form. Liberation, Samadhi, Nirvana, Mukti, Moksha are mere words to describe that state of consciousness which is beyond duality. Such equanimity of mind (‘Sama’ + ‘Dhi’) is attained only after all doubts vanish and the knowledge of our true self shines forth like a bright sun in a cloudless sky in our inner firmament. Moksha (‘Moha’ + ‘Kshaya’) simply signifies the end of delusion that we are neither the body, not the mind but the eternal Atman which is our true reality. Holy Scriptures tell us that only by Divine grace can one get these three things: human birth, desire for liberation and contact with a great master to show us the way. Swami addresses us as Divyatma Swaroopa Lara and Prema Swaroopa Lara. This means we must realize our true identity as embodiments of divine atma and divine love. So let us think about what causes this pain and suffering; this constant state of fear and restlessness instead of experiencing the eternal peace and bliss which is our birth right?
Master the Mind and be a Master Mind
This world is nothing but a projection of our mind. ‘Mano Moolam Idam Jagath‘, The mind is the basis for all creation. Therefore, the mind is the key for getting either bound to or liberated from this world. Turning the mind towards the world gets us bound to it whereas turning the mind towards God liberates us and takes us to eternal freedom.
Swami says ‘The real cause of sorrow is attachment to the body, identifying oneself with the body. All sorrow arises from the feelings of ‘I’ and ‘Mine’. It is very essential to reduce deha-abhimanam (attachment to the body). Desires are a source of pleasure, but they are also the cause of your grief. You must bring your mind under control. Even thousands of men cannot hold back a fast-moving train. But the train comes to a complete stop the moment brake is applied. The vagaries of your mind are just like that. When you control your mind, all sorrows will cease.’ However, this is easier said than done. Controlling the mind is an uphill task. Bhagawan often refers to the human mind as a monkey mind. To add it further, He says, it is like a monkey that is drunk and also bitten by a scorpion! How then can we put a check to the vagaries of this mind and turn it inwards towards our true Self (God)?
In the spiritual sphere, the responsibility for success or failure is entirely one’s own. You have no right to shift it on to others. The fire will rage only as long as it is fed with fuel. Hence, do not add fuel to the fire of the senses. Detach the mind from the evanescent and attach it to the eternal. – Swami
What we sow is what we reap. There is no other judge, jury and executioner condemning us to heaven or hell as they only exist in our own mind. Just as a spider weaves its own web out of itself and sits at the centre of it, we create our own world by projecting our thoughts, words and actions outside. The entire creation is bound up with name and form and is thus unreal. It can be described in words, so it is limited and circumscribed by the intellect and the mind. True consciousness lies beyond the duality of pleasure and pain, praise and ridicule, loss or gain, desire and attachments. Someone appears to us as a friend or a foe depending on the projection of our own egotistical mind and its multifarious likes and dislikes. We are fearful of this world just as one would who imagines a snake in place of a rope in a dimly lit room. The moment, he lights a lamp and sees the rope for what it is, his fear vanishes immediately.
We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; We are Spiritual beings having a human experience.
Asatoma Sadgamaya ‘Lead us from unreal to real’ is not just a Vedic prayer for chanting, it should be the ultimate goal of our life.
BE IN THE WORLD, BUT, NOT OF IT
Pleasure and pain are tightly interwoven and one follows the other almost as certainly as the night follows the day. One cannot escape from the inherent duality of this world without understanding its true nature. Just as a deer chasing a mirage in the desert; hoping to find an oasis to quench its thirst, ends up with hot sand instead of water, we humans, driven by our senses also run after the physical objects of this world without discrimination; end up feeling equally dejected. The moment we see this objective world for what it is, a mere illusion; impermanent and full of misery; it will cease to bother us anymore. Just like the entire river of water cannot sink a boat unless it gets inside the boat, a wise person who knows the true nature of this world, lives in it but does not get affected by it.
Faith in God and detachment from objective pursuits are the keys for human liberation. Give up sense-objects; you gain Rama. Sita gave up the luxuries of Ayodhya and so, she could be with Rama, in the period of ‘exile’. When she cast longing eyes on the golden deer and craved for it, she lost the Presence of Rama. Renunciation leads to joy; attachment brings about grief. Be in the world, but, not of it. – Swami
Another Example: If you keep pouring water into an an empty glass, the more water you add, less room remains for the air to occupy. Similarly once we fill and saturate our lives with God, there is little room left for the outside world to enter and trouble us. Rama (Divinity) and Kama (Desire) cannot co-exist. Swami advises us to always keep ourselves busy with worldly activities but keep our thoughts firmly centred on God in silent contemplation. ‘Mukh mein Raam, Haath mein Kaam‘ or ‘Hands in Society and Head in Forest‘ should always be our motto. As Kabir famously said in a Doha (couplet), “na ghar tera na ghar mera, chidiya rain basera re“, The body is not yours but an inn where you (Atma) dwell for a short while and depart, Just like the birds that rest on the tree at night and fly away in the morning (without getting attached to the tree).
Atma is Ever Full, Ever Pure, and Self-luminous
Unfortunately, today we tend to forget this true and eternal ‘Atma’ and develop faith in the ephemeral world. We weave a web of imagination around the pleasures that this transient world would offer. Ultimately, we land ourselves in sorrow and difficulties. The ‘Atma’ is the only entity that is true, eternal and changeless. Everything else undergoes change from time to time. Even in the case of the human body, it passes through different stages like childhood, adolescence, youth and old age. But, the individual remains the same through all these changes. Today, man adapts himself to continuous changes in time, situations and environment. One who changes himself thus is not a human being in the real sense. Who is a real human being? One who does not undergo a change; one whose faith in the ‘Atma’ (self) is firm and steady. That is self-confidence. One who develops that self confidence can find a place for himself permanently in the history of the world.
Here is an example. In a marriage feast, everyone sits in a line for food and they begin to serve some Laddus. After some have been served, a few may say that they do not want Laddus, not because they do not like them, but because they are diabetics. The Nasthikas are like this. They are suffering from the disease of non-belief and therefore they say that they have nothing to do with God. In fact, they do want to know about Him. Some other people, however, even though they have no disease, say that they do not want the Laddus just because they want to imitate others who are saying so. As in this analogy, seeing some people say, that there is no God, several other foolish people also say that there is no God. This is a ludicrous situation. Either you should surrender to God or you should be able to follow your own dictates, but you should not reveal your hollowness by merely imitating others. You should develop self-confidence and with that you will get self-satisfaction. Once you acquire self-satisfaction, you will be able to show self-sacrifice and this will result in self-realisation. Self-realisation thus ultimately depends on the base of self-confidence. – Summer Showers May 1973
Discover Divinity through the eye of wisdom or of love
Some declare that they will believe only in a God that can be seen or demonstrated. This is the usual argument of the worldly minded. But it is not easy to see the Highest Atma, which is subtler than the subtlest, with gross physical eyes. You must first get command over a powerful microscope, one fit for the purpose. Either the eye of wisdom or the eye of love is wanted; only with these can you see God. Just like sugar in cane juice or sweetness in sugar, the supreme Atma (Paramatma) is ever immanent in creation; He is the inner core of all beings. He is everywhere, always in everything; He has no form; Atma is “without body (a-thanu)”. It is the in-dweller (Purusha). Only by throwing off attachment to the body and purifying the mind and intellect can you merge in your truth and earn the eternal bliss, highest peace (prasanthi), the purest wisdom. Thus only can one earn liberation from the bond-age of birth and death. – Excerpts from Upanishad Vahini
ROAR LIKE A LION
Swami tells a compelling story to remind us of our true nature. A lioness was passing through a forest. It gave birth to a cub and died. This lion cub was spotted by a shepherd who took it under his care and raised it with his sheep. The baby lion grew up amongst the sheep and ate grass and bleated like the sheep. After some years, another lion was passing on the way. He was surprised to see a lion amongst sheep. This lion charged the sheep and all the sheep fled in fright. The young lion also fled along with the sheep. Finally the lion caught hold of the young lion, took him to the nearby lake and showed him his image in the water. He said, “Look, Do not quiver with fear thinking you are a mere sheep. You are not a sheep, you are a lion. Do not bleat like a sheep, but roar like a lion.”
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