"Tenth Spiritual Instruction" by Swami Chidananda


Have Satsanga. Give up bad company, smoking, meat and alcoholic liquors entirely. Do not develop any evil habits.

Have satsanga, give up bad company, smoking, meat-eating and alcoholic liquor entirely. Do not develop any evil habits. Ego is very bad company. Selfishness is very bad company. Anger is very bad company. All these are bad company. All that constitutes this little barrier personality, little ego, is bad company. That is why Gurudev said: “Keep company with the inner Divinity,” and giving up all other company, do your duty, fulfil your obligations—be what you are. If you are a human being it is your duty to affirm, assert and manifest actively your human nature—compassion, kindness, truthfulness. What does He want us to give up? What company does He want us to keep? This has to be pondered.

Lord Krishna says in the Gita: Yogasthah kuru karmani sangam tyaktva Dhananjaya “Perform actions, O Dhananjaya being fixed in Yoga, be ever united with Me inwardly and act, having abandoned attachments.”
When He says act, it means give up the sangha (attachments) to tamo guna (inactivity, inertia) and all that it implies. And if you want to know what tamo guna is, study the Gunatraya Vibhag Yoga (Fourteenth chapter) of the Srimad Bhagavad Gita. By the very instruction kuru karmani—be active, be dynamic, engage in activity, good activity, is implied. Give up the company of dire tamas (inertia). It will pull you down. It will hold you down.

Kshudram hridaya daurbalyam tyaktvottishtha parantapa “Cast off this petty faint-heartedness. Wake up, O vanquisher of foes!” What you have to give up is faintheartedness, negativity, depression, dejection—otherwise the mind cannot be elevated, no meditation is possible. Negative conditions drain away all energy, make you your own problem, make you your own enemy, make you your own main obstacle, make you your own net, your own entanglement. Therefore the Lord admonishes Arjuna to become free from himself, the negative Arjuna.
Give up bad company. It does not merely mean company from outside us. There is inside bad company—our own thoughts, our own wrong emotions and sentiments, our own wrong motivations hidden motivations—other than that which is the ideal placed before us as a sadhaka. There should be sooram (courageousness) kritagnam (gratefulness), dridha (steadiness). Everything contrary is the presence of bad company. That has to be given up.

Do not develop any evil habits. Anything that holds you back from spiritual progress is an evil habit. Anything that ties you down to a low state of consciousness is a bad habit. Determinedly, it should be given up.

Aalasyam manushyanam angasto mahan ripuh. One of the greatest enemies of the human individual, residing within one’s own body, is aalasya (laziness). In this way:

Kamah krodhascha lobhascha dehe tishtanti taskarah.
Jnanaratna apaharartham tasmad jagrat jagrat.

“Lust, anger and greed are like three robbers residing within us. They are stealing the jewel of knowledge from us. Awake, awake, they are within you!” They are your own undoing, your own enemies. So symbolically, Jesus cast out devils. Now we have to invoke the Jesus within us to cast out the devils within us. If we do that, outer devils cannot trouble us because they are powerless. However, more troublesome are the inner devils. If there is not a state of Yoga (union with God) within, it is your devil’s workshop. If the mind and the heart is not united with the Lord through constant remembrance and devotion, then the interior of your mind becomes the devil’s workshop.

Therefore keep the mind elevated, learn by heart some inspiring slokas, prayers, stotras, recite them and thereby elevate the mind. Constantly give up bad company. Giving up bad company is not only a state of life but also a sadhana (practice). Thus we should go on giving up bad company, go on being united with the Lord inwardly everyday, and thus proceed upon the divine life path to Self-realisation or Liberation. That is the goal. Let us keep that goal ever before us and proceed undauntingly onwards—“Seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven. Arise and follow Me. Knock and it shall be given. Seek and you shall find. Ask and you shall be given. Knock and it shall be opened unto you.”

[TWENTY IMPORTANT SPIRITUAL INSTRUCTIONS, A Series of talks on Swami Sivananda’s Twenty Important Spiritual Instructions.] 


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