The day we rediscovered ourselves to be really something higher than our own ego, it is the beginning of a new era.
Spirituality advices us only to cultivate right thinking. To know that we are not the ego but the Supreme Self of the nature of pure Existence - Consciousness - Bliss, is right thinking. This right thinking is absolutely unavoidable because all our sorrows and miseries are directly or indirectly linked to our wrong identificiation with the ego. It is a law that whenever wrong thoughts are entertained, the mind becomes disturbed. Hence the solution lies in setting our thinking right.
But how do we know that we are not this limited ego?
Logically when we analyse, we come to know that the ego is a non-existent entity. The body, mind and intellect (BMI) are inert. It is only because of the sentient Self that they appear sentient. This sentient Self wrongly identified with the inert BMI is ego. The ego borrows the sentiency from the Self and the identity from the BMI. Since a sentient entity can never combine with an insentient entity, their characteristics being absolutely opposite in nature, like darkness and light, the possibility of giving reality to the ego, which appears to be a combination of both, is entirely ruled out.
Now, what is our experience about ourselves? We clearly recognize ourselves not as an inert entity but a sentient one having the ability of being aware of the happenings within and without. Also, the entire inert body-mind complex is always an object of observation. Using the simple logic that the observer - the subject, can never be the observed - the object, we can deduce that we are the sentient Self ever detached from BMI, and hence not the ego.
Above all, the very same fact is emphatically declared by all our scriptures also. Thus all the three - the shruthi (scriptures) yukthi (logic) and anubhuti (experience) - are unanimous in their final conclusion. All our sufferings are only because of our giving reality to this false entity called ego. It is always observed that whenever we dilute the ego, peace and joy wells up within our heart. In deep sleep we are peaceful only because the ego doesn’t exist there to torment us.
All scriptural practises are only to uproot and destroy the ego completely. In Upadesha Saram, Bhagawan Sri Ramana Maharshi says that the best tapas/sadhana is that by which one destroys one’s own ego and allow the Self to shine forth.
One devotee went to have the darshan of Bhagawan Ramana Maharshi. He saw that Bhagawan was reclining on his bed amidst the devotees who were squatting one the floor below. There was total silence and none spoke. Later a bell rang indicating the time for lunch. One by one all got up and went to the dining hall. At last only Bhagawan and the devotee were left.
Making use of the opportunity, the devotee asked, “Bhagawan!, please give me some advice now that only I am left”.
Bhagawan replied gently, “Let that ‘i’ also go!”
“Die to Live” - Kill the ego and be reborn as the supremely blissful, eternal, infinite Self is the message of the Upanishads.
O M T A T S A T
When I rest, I rust.
Put it differently, “work hard we must”.
The reasons can be many:
1) Hard work sharpens our abilities:
One notable thing about our talents and abilities is that the moment we stop making use of it, we start losing it, just like a knife, when unused gets rusted.
2) Hard work brings in all worldly prosperities:
When we put forth effort diligently in our chosen field, we start approaching perfection. Success, honour, name, fame, prosperity etc are but different names of hard work.
After a brilliant stage performance, a world famous musician was surrounded by his friends and admirers who were eager to express their appreciation and best wishes. One rich lady came to him and said, “How lucky you are that God has gifted you with such great talent! I envy you.” The musician replied, “Talent alone is not sufficient madam. It requires continuous practice - 10 hours a day for 40 years!”
3) As a mark of gratitude:
What we receive from this world is much much more than what we give back. We are debted to our teachers, parents, the society, plants and animals...in fact we are debted to everyone and everything around. Hence it becomes our responsibility to serve others with gratitude and humility.
A little boy left a brief note on his mother’s bed. In it he had written all the chores he had completed that day. The note read thus: for washing the car: Rs 10/-; for making the bed: Rs.10, for taking care of the baby: Rs 20/- ....total = Rs 100/-. And then he went to the school.
When the mother came to clean the room, she saw the list. She read the list and smiled. Carefully pinning a note of Rs 100/- to the list, she kept another list next to it which read thus: for taking care of you: nil ; for teaching you to walk: nil; for preparing your breakfast: nil ; for nursing you when you are sick: nil ... total = nil.
When the boy returned he was thrilled to see the Rs 100/- note but when he read his mother’s note, he felt very much ashamed. With tears in his eyes he ran to his mother and hugged her apologising with all sincerity.
4) Actions with right attitude purifies the mind:
No doubt , the highest state of perfection is actionlessness. But actionlessness i.e. absolute quietitude at the mind level can be achieved only when the mind is extremely pure. When actions are performed without attachment as a worship of the Lord, the mind becomes pure.
Thus it is through action only that actionlessness is reached. “What is the secret of your success?” someone asked George Washington. He replied, “I pray as if everything depends upon God.” He paused and then continued, “I work as if everything depends upon me.”
Many a times this highest state of actionlessness is misunderstood as doing nothing. As a result immature seekers idle their time in the name of sadhana giving up all responsibilities. The mind, being impure and unprepared, is neither capable of contemplating upon the Higher, nor is it able to prevent itself from brooding over the sense pleasures. Truly they rust through rest.
Human birth is a rare gift from the Lord. A mortal with finite, limited equipments and abilities is given a golden opportunity to expand to infinite dimensions - infinite in knowledge, strength, freedom, wisdom... never again to come back into this world of finitudes and imperfections.
Once the seeker is convinced and is inspired by this great noble goal, resting and rusting will no more have any meaning in his life.
O M T A T S A T
In life it has always been observed that to solve a problem is to rise above it.
The Omniscient Lord has designed the world in such a way that none is spared from facing some or the other kind of problems! The reason is not difficult to find when we also take into account the fact that He is an ocean of compassion.
There is a beautiful saying which goes thus: “I asked for strength and God gave me difficulties to make me strong; I asked for wisdom and He gave me problems to solve; I asked for prosperity and He gave me brain and brawn to work; I asked for courage and He gave me obstacles to overcome; I asked for love and He gave me troubled people to help; I asked for favours and He gave me opportunities ....... I received nothing I wanted but I received everything I needed!”
All problems and challenges in life are in fact, His blessings in disguise. This is the right attitude which helps us in rising above all problems. It is well said that a successful man is the one who builds a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at him!
Rising above the problem is nothing but the right way of looking at events, things or happenings. Thomas Alva Edison had to undergo thousands of failures in his laboratory during the initial years of his research. When asked about these failures, he replied aptly, “Failure? Never. Every time I was successful in knowing how it won’t work!”
He considered every failure as an opportunity to learn. And, very soon he came up with the invention of electric bulb! Many a times our hidden talents and potentials come to the fore only in the wake of a severe crisis.
Walter Davis, in his childhood was affected by infantile paralysis and the doctors feared the boy might not be able to walk again. But the events so turned up that the boy, challenging his own limitations, later went to become the World Champion in the High Jump event!
The truth is that the problems are created not by the external world but by our own fickle mind. It is this weak mind which labels an ordinary situation as a problem or as a crisis.
Scriptural statements and spiritual masters unanimously declare that a peaceful, steady mind is the best instrument to deal with any situation in life. And the best way to quieten the mind is to turn it to the Divine. It is the Lord’s promise that whoever takes refuge in Him will overcome all the obstacles by His grace and that His devotees shall never perish. Trust Him, and the mind becomes peaceful instantly, making it fit to face all the ups and downs of life. In fact this is the only purpose for which all problems have been created - to bring out the attitude of total surrender within us unto Him.
Kunti Devi’s prayer to Lord Krishna was, “O Lord, give me only sorrows and miseries. Then alone I will always remember Thee!”
Thus when our surrender becomes complete, He, the Infinite and the Eternal, makes us recognize our total identity with Him. This is the only way to rise above all problems at all times, just like all problems of the dream end permanently when one wakes up.
O M T A T S A T
The right way of living is only living without hatred.
In Bhagwad Geeta, the Lord says “I am the Father and Mother of this Universe”. Hence it is implied that Bhagawan’s love for us is infinite and unconditional. His love can be seen everywhere in the universe as parental love.
Just as the father and the mother expect their children to love and help each other and not to hate or fight with one another, in the same way the Creator also has the same expectation from His children. Hence our primary duty is to fulfil this expectation of our Creator, and that itself is the right way of living.
A mahatma is the one who has mastered this right way of living and hence he is able to love everyone unconditionally.
Just as we cannot hate our hands, legs etc. because of our feeling of oneness throughout our body, a mahatma experiences this oneness with the entire creation. Thus rooted in this vision of Oneness, he lives majestically, embracing everyone in divine Love and spreading the message of peace and harmony.
Gautham Buddha was once walking through a dense forest. Suddenly a dacoit pounced upon Him with a dagger in his hand. Buddha remained unmoved, His face serene and peaceful, and His eyes reflecting His deep love and compassion. Not even a single wrinkle appeared on His face. The dacoit was stunned. Never in his life had he met a person who could stand absolutely fearless before him. To that dacoit, Buddha spoke in all sweetness. “Hey Mahatma, what service can I do for you?” Now that was another strong blow to the dacoit. This attitude of love and service even towards those who have come to loot and kill was something beyond comprehension for him. Moreover addressing a rank criminal as mahatma was absolutely unheard of. The dacoit fell at the feet of Buddha and later became His disciple.
The greatest power in this world is the power of love. Anything can be achieved by love but not by hatred. This love, when directed towards the Supreme Lord, attains its zenith. Such a foremost lover cannot but fall in love with the entire universe which is none other than His creation.
It is not practically possible to eliminate hatred without cultivating love. It is as impractical as removing darkness without bringing in light. Similarly to rise above all negativities, the best way is to cultivate positive virtues. Then the negative qualities will automatically find their own grave.
Thus living in divine love alone is the right way of living. This is the message of all our scriptures. This is the way all great men have lived.
Faith and total devotion to the Guru are necessary in order to ease the student’s path and level down the slopes enroute. …Chinmaya
The path of spirituality is very strange and unique! Scriptures seem to talk of impractical means and impossible goals! Their statements as though contradict all our observations and beliefs. To mention a few of them:
When we say the world is real, the scriptures say that it is unreal! We consider ourselves to be mortals, while the scriptures emphatically declare that we are immortals! In our experience God doesn’t seem to exist, but according to scriptures God alone exists! We think we are awake but the scriptures lament that we are only dreaming! For us success means developing our personality, but success according to scriptures is to destroy it! While we helplessly admit that we are limited in knowledge, strength, size, power etc. scriptures thunder forth to say that we are Omniscient, Omnipotent, All- pervading, All-Blissful, Infinite, Immortal Being !!
And the worst of all, when we request the spiritual masters to prove their statements, they as though ‘conveniently’ escape saying that ‘It’ cannot be proved but can only be subjectively experienced!
Thus, unlike in every other field where the theories can be proved and the results can be shown, the unavailability of these means for confirmation makes spirituality even more mysterious.
Hence when the intellect fails to grasp what the senses cannot perceive, it is but natural that the seekers also reduce in number. Kathopanishad goes on to say “It is a wonder to see a seeker of Brahmavidya and a greater wonder to see its teacher!”
What can be those noble qualities which inspire one to choose this path in spite of all worldly temptations? Scriptures say and masters confirm that it is one’s faith - faith in the Supreme, in the scripture and in one’s Guru combined with total devotion that motivate a sincere seeker despite all trials and tribulations en route.
A man wanted to cross a river. A sage gave him an amulet and said, “This will carry you across.” The man, taking it in his hand, began to walk over the water. Before he had gone half the way, he was seized with curiosity, and opened the amulet to see what was in it. Therein he found a small piece of paper with sacred name of Sri Rama written on it. At this the man said depreciatingly. “Is this the whole secret?” No sooner this scepticism entered his mind than he sank down.
It is the faith that works wonders. In fact such a strong faith is natural for a man of pure heart. As the saying goes, “Blessed are those with pure heart for they shall see God.”
It is mentioned in our scriptures that the one who looks upon his Guru as any other human being can never realize God. But for a pure hearted, one’s Guru is none other than God Himself in human form. It is this faith in Guru that makes the path smoother and the journey faster towards the Supreme, realizing which one comes to know that external Guru is none other than one’s own Self, Who is ever present in one’s own heart.
To dissipate ourselves in immoral and criminal thoughts
is more harmful than physically indulging in them.
The mind has a tendency to repeat its own thoughts.
The mind which has tasted the bliss of devotion for the Lord and also has understood the heavy price that has to be paid for entertaining immoral and criminal thoughts and has experimented with and observed that pain and suffering alone is the end result of all sense pleasures, will not find it worthwhile to dissipate itself in that direction. For such a sublimated mature mind, no rules, regulations or instructions are necessary as it is effortlessly peaceful and unconditionally cheerful.
But reverse is the case with majority of mankind for whom the joys of senses alone are the joys of life. In such a case, an unintelligent, forced restraint of the senses will only add up to a suppressed mind which, like a compressed spring, will always look forward for an opportunity to spring up and exhaust its pent-up passions.
Many a times one imposes this suppression upon oneself to show off one’s saintliness or to gain honour, fame, money etc. A false pride on one’s sense control is another great danger of this suppression. The only occupation of such hypocrites (mithyacharis) will then be to mentally indulge in such pleasures as this gives the pleasure without bartering for worldly recognitions. But in reality such a person is neither able to enjoy the worldly pleasures nor is able to contemplate upon the Higher, thus ending up in a situation worse than actual indulgence.
Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa used to narrate a parable in this regard. Seeing the constant flow of men in the prostitute’s house, a sannyasi one day called and censured her, warning that her fate after death would be miserable. The poor prostitute became extremely sorry for her misdeeds and with genuine inward repentance she prayed to God beseeching forgiveness. But since prostitution was her profession, she could not adopt any other means of gaining her livelihood. And so whenever her flesh sinned she always cursed herself with greater contrition of heart and prayed to God more and more for forgiveness.
Seeing no effect of his advise to her, the sannyasi started counting the number of persons visiting her by putting a pebble for each person. One day he showed the heap of pebbles to her and threatened that hell alone was her future destiny. The poor wretch began to tremble at the sight of accumulation of her sins and she prayed to God shedding tears of utter helplessness. The prayer was heard. By the strange will of God, the sannyasi and the harlot died on the same day. The messengers of Vishnu came down and carried the subtle body of the prostitute to heavenly regions while the messenger of Yama carried the spirit of the sannyasi to the nether world.
The sannyasi seeing the good luck of the prostitute cried aloud questioning the justice of God. Messengers of Vishnu replied, “You passed your life in external show and vanity, never sincerely yearning for Him. This prostitute earnestly prayed to God day and night. Your heart was always absorbed in contemplating upon her sins and thus became impure. Therefore you are the real prostitute and not she!”
The statement that mental dissipation is more harmful than physical indulgence should not be taken as a licence to indulge! In fact socially accepted, controlled indulgence is prescribed in Dharma Shastras only to know from our direct experience that indulgence is not the solution.
As the mind has the tendency to repeat its own thoughts, expecting complete fulfilment through indulgence is as ridiculous as expecting ghee to put off fire.
To weep is folly and to smile is wisdom - ‘Keep Smiling’
A close look at life gives enough reasons to weep! - painful birth in a filthy body, disease, old age, several limitations at the physical, mental and intellectual levels, uncertain future, impermanent relationships, and the worst of all - sure and unavoidable death !
With such a fleeting tragic life, only an unintelligent fool will say “eat, drink and be merry”.
The Lord of this universe Himself has described his world as “Dukhaalayam, Ashaashwatam, Anityam and Asukham”, proclaiming that all pleasures of this world only end up in sorrow. Even the rank optimists cannot prove it otherwise. Given these harsh realities of life, the mantra ‘Keep Smiling’ is absolutely impractical unless one is well protected by the impenetrable armour of Self- knowledge.
Here the ‘smile’ referred to by Gurudev is not the artificial skin-deep smile divorced from the heart, but a smile reflecting a pure heart born out of wisdom and unconditional Love, which comes only with the proper assimilation of the essence of scriptural teachings. Hence one cannot but be serious about life to keep smiling!
For the one who has lived his life intelligently, with the senses fully tamed and the mind totally tuned to the Divine, his smile remains undiminished, irrespective of all vicissitudes of life. The history has time and again proved this fact. What greater trial can one possibly undergo than the one faced by Jesus? But even on the cross He could pray “O Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”!
This is the true smile - where the intellect is crystal clear and uncompromisingly firm in the chosen ideal, but at the same time, the heart, loving and forgiving others unconditionally. Only a true devotee with an unwavering faith in the Lord can do this wonder.
In a hospital, a 65 year old man suffering from a minor ailment and a 12 year old girl suffering from a terminal disease were admitted in the same ward. The old man was seen grumbling and complaining throughout the day narrating his hardships to the doctors and to everyone who passed by. On the contrary, this little girl, though knowing fully well that her days were counted, was seen cheerfully wishing the doctors with a warm ‘Good morning’ and consoling and delighting other patients! When she was asked about this uncommon behaviour, her answer was, “My beloved Krishna loves and cares for me so much!! He wants me to reach His abode as early as possible! I know that He is always with me and whatever decisions He takes is the best for me. So why fear?”
It is this adamant faith in the infinite wisdom and unconditional love of the Supreme which makes a devotee strong and fearless, enabling him to smilingly face all challenges of Life.
Hence holding on to Him, Keep Smiling!