Get up at 4.00 a.m.
The first spiritual instruction is: “Get up at 4 a.m. This is brahmamuhurta.” This is very, very helpful and conducive for meditation and sadhana (spiritual practices). Why should you get up at 4 a.m.? Because it gives you more time, and that time can be utilised for sadhana. The hallmark of a spiritual aspirant is that he is awake among the slumbering, vigilant among the heedless, alert among the indolent and he attains liberation. Therefore, if others are slumbering when you are awake, at least there will be no disturbance and you will be saving time. Time is the essence of life. If you sleep away you lose time, if you lose time, you lose life. Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita: “I am Time—the all destroyer. I swallow up everything, including human life.”
Here I do not mean time usefully spent—serving your parents, serving the poor, serving the sick and the suffering, serving the society, looking after yourself, practising asanas, pranayama, suryanamaskara, going for a walk, relaxing, studying. Time spent in Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Hatha Yoga is not ill-spent, it is time invested and well utilised. But if time is wasted then Gurudev has to say:
“How can you expect real shanti,
if you waste your time in idle gossiping,
in scandal, backbiting,
in fights and quarrels,
in novels, newspapers, in cinemas, restaurants,
cards and smoking.”
How can you expect real shanti (peace) if you sleep your time away, by night and by day? He did not say that, but one of the greatest swallowers of time is this terrible thing called sleep—a product of tamo guna (inertia) and a destroyer of life, also, more than anything else a destroyer of spiritual sadhana, and if indulged in more than what is necessary, becomes a destroyer of health—physical as well as mental.
Therefore, getting up earlier gives you that time which otherwise you might not have had during your busy daytime hours to practice sadhana. At the same time this period is free of disturbance, the mind is calm and the atmosphere is filled with sattva guna. When the day dawns and the sun rises and daylight reveals the whole world of names and forms before you, the mind gets thrown into activity. But in the darkness of the pre-dawn hours the world is not visible and therefore the senses do not draw the mind outward and cause extrovertedness. So, this period is conducive to introspection which is essential for prayerfulness. May God bless you and enable you to follow this instruction. May Gurudev’s Grace give you success.
[TWENTY IMPORTANT SPIRITUAL INSTRUCTIONS, A Series of talks on Swami Sivananda’s Twenty Important Spiritual Instructions.]