Swami Jyotirmayananda Answers

Posted: December 16, 2009 in Austerity, Bhakti, Destiny, Discipline, Effort, Grace, Japa, Kali Yuga, Meditation, Mind, Sadhana, Surrender
Question: What should I do about restless thoughts?
Answer: The beginners on the path of Yoga should learn to remain a witness to the restless thoughts. When the mind has gained strength, you can will the destructive thoughts away from your mind or you can substitute constructive thoughts instead. You can substitute love for anger, humility for pride, patience for annoyance, generosity for greed and courage for fear.
Question: Why should pain follow the spiritual path? 
Answer: Pain is an indispensable requisite for evolution. Suffering, sacrifice and struggle help to broaden the capacity of the human heart so that it may hold more and more of pure bliss. A heart that is not tempered by suffering, not deepened by pain, not purified by misery, cannot hold the pure overflowing eternal stream of wisdom.
Question: Although I have read a number of Yoga books, I am not certain of the difference between self-effort and destiny. And, how would Divine Grace intervene in spiritual unfoldment?
Answer: Self-effort is any effort of man to realize his goal of life. Every effort and action creates an impression or potential which fashions the future of a man. Destiny is the result of one’s past efforts. An aspirant should not be deluded by the idea of destiny. If destiny were the supreme ruler of human life, there would be no possibility of any teaching by any teacher in the world. But all great teachers of mankind have repeatedly called upon man to wake up from the slumber of inertia and to endeavor to attain perfection in life.
One who, in the name of destiny, does not try to improve his conditions for evolution, success and perfection, is deluded. There are some who do not perform any self-effort in the name of Divine Grace. This too, is delusion. There is a common saying that God helps whose who help themselves. Self-effort draws Divine Grace. Divine Grace completes self-effort. Therefore, self-effort and Grace are interdependent.
Question: What is meant by Self-realization? 
Answer: Self-realization is the intuitional knowledge of the Self. The Self is beyond body, mind and senses, beyond waking, dream and deep sleep states of consciousness, and is the reality beyond the conscious, subconscious and unconscious states of mind. The deepest urge in a human being is to know, “Who am I?” This knowledge does not arise by the senses or by the mind, but by intuition. When the mind is integrated by the practice of concentration and meditation, and by the practice of deep inquiry, there arises intuition which reveals the nature of the Self. The attainment of Self-realization bestows in us peace and bliss, and ends all misery. Self-realization is the goal of life; without it all achievements of man are mere vanities.

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