Sublime Sentiments and Noble Intentions are NOT Enough


Self-control is an indispensable requisite for the living of a truly spiritual life. You may possess sublime sentiments and noble intentions. But when you have no self-control you will be a slave to baser passion. You will succumb to every temptation and commit endless wrong actions. You want to lead a spiritual life but due to weak will, lack of self-control you fail.

Self-control leads to the highest merit. Self-control is the eternal duty of man. Self-control surpasses in meritcharitysacrifice and study of the Vedas.

Self-control increases your energy. Self-control is highly sacred. Through self-control you will be purified of all your sins, and thereafter you will acquire the highest blessedness. Through self-control you can enjoy the highest happiness both in this world and in the next.

The self-controlled man sleeps happily and awakes happily and moves through the world happily. He is always cheerful. The man who is without self-control always suffers misery. He brings upon himself many calamities, all begotten by his own faults.

Forgiveness, patience, abstention from injury, impartiality, truth, sincerity, control of the senses, cleverness, mildness, modesty, firmness, liberality, freedom from anger, contentment, sweetness of words, benevolence, freedom from malice—all these combined make up self-control.

It also consists of respect for the preceptor and mercy for all. The man of self-control avoids both adulation and slanderDepravity, infamy, falsehood, lust, covetousness, pridearrogance, self-edification, fear, envy and disrespect are all shunned by the man of self-control.

That eternal region of Brahman, the goal of Vedic penances can only be acquired by self-control.

The self-controlled man is never fettered by attachments originating from earthly connections and sentiments.

There is only one fault in self-control. No second fault is seen in it. A man who has self-control is considered by man as weak. But, by forgiveness the man of self-control easily acquires the Sovereignty of the three worlds.

That is a forest where the man of self-control lives. That is ever a very sacred place. Of what use is the forest to a man of self-control? Of what use is the forest to him who has no self-control?

Every sort of excitement is quietly controlled by self-control. The self-controlled man sees his numberless enemies such as lust, desire, anger,etc., as if these dwell in a separate body.

A self-controlled man should equip himself with nobility, calmness of nature, contentment, faith, forgiveness, simplicity, absence of talkativeness, humility, reverence for elders, benevolence, mercy for all creatures, frankness, abstention from talk upon Kings and men in authority, from all false, useless topics and applause and censure of others.

He is devoted to universal benevolence. He never feels animosity for any one. He is tranquil like a calm ocean. He is wise and ever cheerful. He is endowed with intelligence. He never fears any creature and is feared by no creature in return.

Overcoming lust and anger, practising the vow of Brahmacharya and becoming a complete master of his senses, the Brahmana practising patiently the austerest penances and observing the most rigid restraint, should live in this world calmly waiting for his time like one seeming to have a body though fully knowing that he is not subject to destruction.

Control anger by practice of Kshama, love, Dhairya, patience and Nirabhimanata (absence of egoism). When anger is controlled, it will be transmuted into an energy by which you can move the whole world. Anger is a modification of passion. If you can control lust you have already controlled anger.

Drink a little water when you become angry. It will cool the brain and calm the excited, irritated nerves. Repeat OM SANTI ten times. Count twenty. By the time you finish counting twenty, anger will have subsided.

Try to nip anger when it tries to emerge out from the subconscious mind to the surface of the conscious mind. Watch the small impulse or wave of irritability carefully. Then it will be more easy. Take all precautions. Do not allow it to burst out and assume a wild form.

If you find it extremely difficult to control it, leave the place at once and take a brisk walk for half-an-hour.

Pray to God. Do Japa. Meditate on God. You will gain immense strength.

Be careful in the selection of your company. Have congenial company. Move with Sannyasins, Bhaktas and Mahatmas. Read Gita and Yoga Vasishta. Observe Brahmacharya. Take Sattwic food, milk, fruit, etc. Give up hot curries and chutnies, meat, alcohol and smoking. Tobacco makes your heart irritable (tobacco heart). It produces nicotine poison.

Talk little. Much energy is wasted by idle gossiping and tall talk. All energies must be conserved and transmuted into Ojas Shakti or spiritual energy. This will help meditation.

Observe the vow of silence for three hours on Sundays. Silence develops the Will Force, checks the force of Sankalpa and gives peace of mind. You will get the power of endurance. You will not tell lies. You will have control over speech. Your energy will remain conserved. It will curb the impulse to speak. The real Mowna comes only when there is absence of duality and separation when all mental Vrittis or modifications cease. This is the Maha Mowna (Greatest Silence). Maha Mowna is Parabrahman. Maha Mowna is Existence.

When you talk only on spiritual topics, when you talk encouraging words to cheer up the depressed, it is also considered as Mowna.

The self-controlled man becomes desirous of liberation. He quietly bears present joys and griefs and he is never overjoyed or depressed by prospective ones. He is well balanced. He has good manners. He is a perfect master of his passions.

He gains honours in the world. He makes all creatures gain what they cannot acquire without his help; rejoices and becomes happy.

(pgs. 244-246, Yoga Samhita”.

What is Meant by "The World Is An Illusion"?


Question: I have heard highly-enlightened beings saying that the “world is an illusion.” What does this mean? As I understand it, “illusion” means “something that SEEMS to exist but in fact does NOT, or SEEMS TO BE something that it is NOT.” So, how can the world be called an illusion—I  can see it; it is tangible; as real as I can see, feel, smell and sense it.

Answer: This world is a play of colours and sounds. This sense-universe is a play of nerves. It is a false show kept up by the jugglery of Maya, mind and nerves. You enjoy the sensual pleasures for a period of twenty years when the senses are strong. What is this short evanescent period of twenty years in eternity? What is this short despicable, jarring, monotonous sensual life, compared with the eternal and peaceful life in the immortal Self within? If the nerve of taste, the glosso-pharyngeal gets paralysed, you cannot enjoy different kinds of palatable dishes. If your retina or optic nerve is paralysed, you cannot enjoy diverse beautiful forms. If the auditory nerve is paralysed, you cannot hear melodious music. If the olfactory nerve is paralysed, you cannot enjoy various kinds of sweet fragrance. If your sensory nerve of the hands is paralysed, you cannot enjoy soft things. If the nerve origin is paralysed, you cannot enjoy conjugal bliss.

Do you not now clearly see that this world is mere play of nerves? Do you not understand that this universe of opposites is illusory?

You will have to depend upon these nerves and senses for your happiness. If these nerves go out of order, you become miserable, even though you possess enormous wealth. Can you call these little illusory sensual pleasures, which depend upon the play of nerves, as real lasting happiness?

It is mere itching of nerves only, which tickles those deluded souls who have lost their power of discrimination and understanding.

You are deluded or deceived by the senses. That which is changing and perishable cannot be real.

Source: pg. 218, Lectures on Yoga and Vedanta by Swami Sivananda maharaj of Rishikesh

Purpose of Creation & Beginning of Karma


Question: The Gita touches on many subjects which are useful to an aspirant after God-Knowledge, but strangely enough, omits to mention anything about the purpose behind creation.Why did God embark on creation at all?

Swami Sivananda: “The Lord’s silence, in the Gita, about the purpose of creation, is truly a demonstration of His divine wisdom. This very same problem arises in various minds in various forms. How did Avidya arise in Brahman? When did Karma begin? Why did the Formless assume forms? How could darkness or Maya exist in the Supreme Absolute Light? And so on. There can be no answer to these questions. It involves the understanding of the Ultimate Principle, the Intelligence that is behind and beyond these questions, the Cause of all causes, the Subject of all objects. It cannot be known as an object. And, when the subject (Self or Atman) knows Itself, speech and thought cease. The questioner and question vanish in the quest. The doubt disappears in the doubter. In that Supreme Silence, the problem is inexpressibly solved! The riddle is solved; but speech is baffled and the question remains unanswerable.

“Therefore, the Lord is silent about the transcendental question in the Gita; but, such is the divine wisdom of the Almighty that He gives ways and means of solving the problem.

“Don’t bother about why creation came into being, but try to know the Creator! Take creation for what it is and try to transcend it. This is wisdom. Trying to probe intellectually into the mystery is only buying psychological distress.

“There is no ‘Why?’ in respect of transcendental matters. ‘Why?’ is only for worldly things. Reason is finite and frail. God only knows the ‘Why?’. Realize the Self. Then you will get the answer. Then you will know the origin and nature of Maya and everything.”

(pgs. 63-64, May I Answer That?)

“Why Has God Created This World” by Swami Sivananda


The universe is a mystery. No one can say how it came to be.

You will find in the Rig-Veda: “Who knows here, who can here state whence came all this multifarious universe? Even the Devas are posterior to its creation; who then knows whence this came out?”.

Some hold that the universe was created out of nothing by a fiat of God and that it will again lapse into nothing at the period of deluge. This dogma of creation ex nihilo is not endorsed by scientists. They say emphatically that what exists now should have existed always and will continue to exist always in some form or the other. In Sankhya philosophy also you will find: “That which is cannot come out of that which is not”. The Gita also states: “There can be no existence out of non-existence, nor can the existent cease to be. The truth about both has been perceived by seers”.

Something cannot come out of nothing. Something can come out of something only.


The grass comes out of the earth and is absorbed into the earth. Even so, this universe comes out of Brahman, rests in Brahman, and dissolves in Brahman.

The Cause of This Universe
In the beginning, Brahman who is one without a second, alone exists. When darkness was rolling over darkness, there was existence alone.

In Brahman, there was a Spandana or vibration before the world was projected. This is the Sankalpa of Brahman. He thought or willed: “Ekoham Bahu Syam: I am one; may I become many”. This vibration corresponds to the bulging of the seed within the ground when it is soaked with water. Then the whole world was projected.

When an ordinary, meagre juggler can bring forth mangoes, fruits, money, sweetmeats, an imaginary palace, etc., through Indrajala or Sammohana-vidya, can He—the omnipotent, omniscient Ruler—not create this insignificant world for His own play? When a mortal king adorns his palace with furniture, pictures, curios, garden, fountain, etc., can He not furnish this world with beautiful landscape, brilliant sun, moon and stars, mighty rivers and oceans?

Nature of the Creative Process
This visible world is God’s jugglery. This world is not chaos. It is an organised, divine institution. The world is a shadow of God.

Brahman creates this unthinkable universe through His illusive power of Maya for His own Lila or sporting. The phenomenon of this universe is due to the power called Maya, by which the Absolute, without undergoing any change in or by Itself, appears as an ever-changing succession of phenomena conditioned by time and space.

Brahman has projected this universe without being affected in any way. The Absolute is not affected by the world-process that is going on within It, just as the rains from a cloud do not wet the sky. The one Brahman, through His Sakti, can put on all these countless names and forms and appear as many. There is no change in Himself. The world is mere appearance.

Brahman does not require any instruments or hands for making these forms. He is Chaitanya, self-luminous intelligence. By mere willing, He can bring forth countless worlds.

Just as the potentiality of a seed brings forth a tree, so also, the Svabhava or potentiality of Brahman brings forth this universe. Projection co-exists with existence.

God and the Universe
This whole universe is the body of God. This entire world is God or Virat-Svarupa.

This world is not a world of dead matter, but a living Presence. Brahman or the Absolute manifests Itself as the universe through forms.

Creation is a joyous self-expression of the One.

A king played the part of a beggar for his own sporting. A sage played the part of a fool for his own sporting. Even so, this world is a sport or Lila of Brahman.

Brahman appears as the world. It is Brahman alone that shines as the world of variegated objects. Brahman Himself appears as stone, tree, stars, etc. The One Consciousness alone appears as the universe of plurality.
Just as one man alone becomes many in dream, so also the one God exists as many.

The whole universe is Brahman only in essence. All this is Brahman only, appearing in Brahman and through Brahman.

Earth, food, fire and sun are forms of Brahman. East, west, north and south are parts of the Lord. The sky, heaven, ocean are portions of Brahman.

Breath is a part of Brahman. Sight is a part of Brahman. Hearing is a part of Brahman. Mind is a part of Brahman. This life is Brahman. Brahman or Truth is the essence in which the universe has its being, from which it is born, and in which it dissolves at the end of each world-cycle.

An effect does not exist apart from its cause. A pot does not exist apart from clay. This universe does not exist apart from Brahman. It has no independent existence. It is one with Brahman.

If you have a candle light, and from it you light a thousand other candles, is not the first light in all the other candles? So it is with God. Creating all things, He is in all by spirit, breath and being.

The world is charged with the splendour, glory and grandeur of God. Just as sugar-cane juice pervades the sugar-cane, just as salt pervades the water when a lump of salt is dissolved in it, just as butter pervades milk, so also, Brahman pervades all the objects, animate or inanimate.

Brahman is one. Manifestation is many. One has become many.

As from a blazing fire, sparks all similar to one another, come forth in thousands, so also, from the one imperishable Brahman proceed all breathing animals, all worlds, all the gods, and all beings.

Evolution of the Elements
By dint of His will, the Lord, the undecaying substratum or reality of the universe, gave the first impetus to Nature to shake off her state of primal equipoise and to be gradually and successfully evolved into those categories and elements which were necessary for the formation of the present universe.

The first evolute is Akasa. Why should Akasa be the first evolute? Because, without space, nothing can exist. Prana acted on Akasa. There was Spandana or vibration. Wherever there is vibration, there must be motion. Motion is the quality of air. Therefore, air came out of Akasa. Motion produced heat. Therefore, fire was born of Vayu or air. When there is heat, water is produced. On a hot day, the body perspires. Hence, water was born of fire. Wherever there is water, there is food. Earth is Annam or food. Therefore, earth was born of water.

The subtler the element, the more powerful it is. Water is more powerful than earth, because it is more subtle than earth. Water removes away earth. Fire is more powerful than water, because it is more subtle than water. Fire dries up all water. Air is more powerful than fire, because it is more subtle than fire. Air blows up fire. Ether or Akasa is more powerful than air, because it is more subtle than air. Air rests in Akasa. Akasa is the support for air. Air is born of Akasa, fire is born of air, water is born of fire, earth is born of water. During cosmic Pralaya, earth is reduced or involved into water, water into fire, fire into air, and air into Akasa.
The whole world, the gross bodies of the four kinds of beings, viz., Udbhija or the seed-born, Svedaja or those born of sweat, oviparous or those born of egg, and viviparous or those born of placenta, and all objects of enjoyment are formed out of the five elements.

The Doctrine of Ajati-vada
As people with gross minds cannot grasp the theory of Ajati-vada or non creation, this kind of Srishti-krama is given. If you study the doctrine of Ajati-vada, propounded by Gaudapada in his Karika, you will find that this world does not exist in the past, present and future. This doctrine can be understood only by high-class aspirants who lead a life of seclusion and meditation.

If you remain in Allahabad for six months, you forget all about your native place which is Madras. There is no Madras for you while you live in Allahabad, and there is no Allahabad for you while you live in Madras. This world is a mere collection of Samskaras created by the mind.

If you can consciously destroy the mind by Sadhana and Samadhi, the world vanishes. It is all Brahman only. You shut yourself in a room for a fortnight, give up reading newspapers, engage yourself in deep meditation, and see whether there is world or not.

World is Mental Creation
It is only the waking state that brings before us this creation. This universe is nothing but a mode of the mind, self-evolved from Brahman, the cause of the universe.

The motion or vibration of Prana moves the mind. The movement of the mind generates the universe. The mind manifests itself as the external world. Names and forms arise owing to Vikshepa Sakti, one of the powers of Maya. The Vikshepa force operates both in the Jagrat and in the Svapna states. The whole world is projected on account of this power only. In sleep, it disappears.

In the deep sleep state you have no experience of the world, because there is no mind. This clearly shows that there will be world only if there is mind and that the mind alone creates this world.

World is mental creation. There is no world in sleep. There is no world in Samadhi. There is no world for a sage. That is the reason why the Srutis declare that this world is Manomatra Jagat, Manah-Kalpita Jagat.
This ever-agitated Manas, having come into existence out of the ineffable Brahman, creates the world according to its own Sankalpa or thoughts. This legerdemain of the universe springs out of the Sankalpa of Manas. It is through the Sankalpa of your Manas that the universe appears to be and it is this Sankalpa that is asked to be given up by you if you wish to soar to the One Reality beyond the universe.

With the growth of a paltry Sankalpa, there will arise the universe; with the extinction of the former, the latter will also disappear. With the annihilation of Sankalpa, all conception of differences between the seer and the seen will vanish, and then the Reality of Brahman will begin to shine uninterruptedly. Then the shadow of all the universe, movable and fixed, will be found absorbed in It in a non-dual state.

When the mind ceases to think, the world vanishes, and there is bliss indescribable. When the mind begins to think, immediately the world reappears, and there is suffering.

With the contemplation of ‘I’, all the train of ideas of the universe will set in; otherwise all the universe will vanish as instantaneously as darkness before the sun. Mind and ‘I’ are one. Destroy the ‘I’; then the mind is destroyed. If the mind, which is the instrument of knowledge, perception and activity, vanishes, with it disappears this subjective world also.

The Cosmic Drama
This phenomenal universe is but an outcome of the Divine Will, seeming to be real through the workings of the mind.

Before you write out a drama, you have a vivid mental picture of the whole drama in your mind. Then you write it out in succession in four acts. When it is staged, it is acted in succession, part by part. Similarly, the universe and its movements are a vivid mental picture in the Cosmic Mind, in the mind of Isvara.

There is neither ‘past’ nor ‘future’ for Him. Everything is ‘present’ for Him. There is neither ‘near’ nor ‘far’ for Him.. Every place is ‘here’. Every time is ‘now’. The events come out in succession on the stage of the long world-drama as Time rolls on.

Atoms rotate continuously. Old becomes new and new becomes old. In reality, there is no such thing as old; there is no such thing as new. The Jivas with individual minds are witnessing the events in succession. But the Isvara knows all events at one sweep. He is all-knowing. He is all-understanding also. He knows every detail of His creation.

This vast sense-universe shines as Atma-sankalpa. The Cosmic Mind creates the Maya. Individual minds receive things under delusion.

Why Has God Created This World?
The answers to the question, “Why has God created the world?, are very unsatisfactory. For His own glorification? We cannot attribute to Him so much vanity. By love of mankind? How may He love a thing before it exists and how may it be called love to create millions for misery and eternal pain? The creation of the world is a moral necessity. It is to give fruits for enjoyment to the souls and to help them attain God-realisation. God’s desire for His creation is to provide all that is needed to bring His creation into an awareness of Himself.

The question, “Why has God created the world?”, is an Ati-prasna or transcendental question. The finite mind cannot give a proper answer. The reason can give answers only to worldly questions. The question itself is wrong.

What is the cause for Avidya, Maya, and Samsara? This is an Ati-prasna. In enquiring the cause, you abuse your innate mental organ of causality to penetrate into a region for which it is not made and where it is no more available. You are here in ignorance, pain and misery. You know the way out of them. The question of a cause for them is senseless.

A finite mind that is gross and conditioned by time, space and causation cannot comprehend the why and how of the universe, a question that is transcendental. The question has never been answered by anybody, by, any Sastra, by any sage or Acharya. Do not rack your mind on this point. You can never get a solution for this problem. It is Mouja of Brahman to create this universe. It is His Lila-vilasa. It is His Maya. It is His Svabhava (innate nature).

You simply waste your energy and time by entering into hot discussions regarding the question, “Why has God created this world? Is the world real or unreal?”. It would matter nothing to you whether the world be real or not. You will not gain anything substantial by entering into such controversies. You will have to dive deep into the chamber of your heart by withdrawing the mind and the outgoing senses to rest in the Supreme Self. Give up, therefore, these useless discussions and proceed straightaway in the quest of the Self and Its realisation. Instead of counting the number of the leaves in a tree, try to eat the fruits directly. Try to enjoy the eternal bliss of the Self by realisation. This is wisdom.

God Only Is: the World Is Not
There is only the eternal Brahman in truth. Nothing else really exists. Only Brahman, the absolute, undifferentiated mass of Satchidananda, exists.

Creation is a dream. Waking also is a dream. The body is a dream.

The whole world is an utter untruth. This world is utterly non-existent. Sensual enjoyments are like fondling the son of a barren woman in dream.

Heaven, Moksha and world are mere words only, just like the son of a barren woman.

Everything is a great delusion. There is neither dream nor deep sleep, neither heaven nor emancipation. The truth is that everything is the Peace and Bliss of Eternity.

Nothing here is ever born; nothing here ever dies. The subject of instruction, and the purpose, of all teachings is only a play of words or sounds.

The infinite which is both inside and outside appears as this world through space and time.
Brahman appears as the world. World is mere appearance. It is like snake in the rope, like water in the mirage, like blueness in the sky.

The snake appears because of the ignorance of the rope; when the rope is known, the snake disappears. The world appears because of the ignorance of the Self; it does not appear when there is Knowledge of Atman.
When one forgets Himself, Brahman appears to him as the universe. When one is established in one’s own Self, the universe appears as the Brahman.

Know the Truth
If you attain Knowledge of the Self, the meaning of life will cease to be a mystery. You will clearly understand the why and how of this universe. The purpose and progress in the scheme of things will become clear to you. All transcendental things will be known to you like the apple in the palm of your hand.

Withdraw. Meditate. Dive deep into the recesses of your heart. You will have awareness of a Reality, very different from empirical reality, a timeless, spaceless, changeless Reality. You will feel and experience that whatever is outside of this only true Reality is mere appearance, is Maya, is a dream.

Know the Truth, the Absolute. You are saved. You are liberated. You are enlightened. You are free.

You can know Brahman only by becoming Brahman. To become Brahman is to identify yourself with the divine element—the Supreme Soul—which constitutes your essential nature. The Knower of Brahman becomes Brahman. The river joins the ocean and becomes one with the ocean. The drop mixes with the sea and becomes one with the sea.

(pgs. 77-85, Bliss Divine)

What is Happiness By Sri Swami Sivananda


Man wants happiness. He shuns pain. He moves heaven and earth to get the happiness he wants from sensual objects, and lo, gets himself entangled in the extricable meshes of Maya. Poor man! He does not know that these objects are perishable and evanescent, finite and conditioned in time, space, and causation. And what is more, he fails to get the desired happiness from them.

Sensual pleasure is tantalizing. There is enchantment so long as man does not possess the objects. The moment he is in possession of the object, the charm vanishes. He finds that he is in entanglement.

The bachelor thinks of his marriage, day and night. He thinks he is in imprisonment after the marriage is over. He is not able to satisfy the extravagant wants of his wife. He wants to run away from the house to forests. The rich but childless man thinks he will be more happy by getting a son, goes on pilgrimage to Ramesvaram and Kasi, and performs various religious ceremonies. But when he gets a child, he feels miserable; the child suffers from epileptic fits and his money is given away to doctors. Even then, there is no cure. This is Mayaic jugglery. The whole world is fraught with temptation. 

A SPECTACLE OF SORROW
A worldly man is always drowned in sorrow. He is ever struggling to get something, some money, some power, some position, and so on. He is always anxious as to whether or not he would get it. Even when he is in actual possession of the thing he so passionately longed for, he is very anxious lest he should lose it.

A rich man has great wealth, but he has no children. And so he is pained at heart. A poor man has fourteen children, but he has nothing to eat, and so he is miserable. One man has wealth and children, but his son is a vagabond, and so he is worried. One man has riches and good sons, but his wife is very quarrelsome. No one is happy in this world.

The session judge is very discontented. He thirsts to become a high court judge. The minister is also discontented. He longs to become the premier. A millionaire is discontented; he yearns to become a Croropati (Billionaire). The husband is discontented; his wife is black and thin; he wants to marry another wife with good complexion. The wife is discontented; she want to divorce and marry a rich, young husband. A lean man is discontented; he wants to put on fat and gulps cod-liver oil. A fat man takes antifat pills. No man is contented in this world.

A doctor thinks that the advocate is very happy. The advocate thinks that the businessman is more happy. The businessman thinks that the judge is more happy. The judge thinks that the professor is more happy. No one is happy in this world.

An emperor is not happy. A dictator is not happy. A president of a state is not happy. God Indra is not happy.
Who is happy then ? A sage is happy. A Yogi is happy. He who has controlled his mind is happy.
Happiness comes from peace of mind. Peace of mind comes from a state of mind wherein there are no desires, no Moha, no Vishaya, no thoughts of objects. You should forget all ideas of pleasure before you enter the domain of peace.

(pgs. 158-160  Bliss Divine): You may see the full article here: http://www.dlshq.org/messages/happy.htm#real

“The Guru is Spirit” by Sri Swami Atmaswarupananda


During his sadhana days in Swarg Ashram, Gurudev carried his sadhana to extreme levels. Afterwards, when he came to this side, he wouldn’t allow his own disciples to do some of the things that he did; for example, standing in the Ganga for long hours doing japa. Indeed, he recommended a balanced and integral yoga. He also said to eat a little, sleep a little, meditate a little.

And yet at the end of his Twenty Important Spiritual Instructions, which he tells us will lead us to moksha, he warns us that we must not give leniency to our mind. And Pujya Swami Chidanandaji, who can be very lenient with others, never gives leniency to himself, which indicates to us that a certain extremism is required for our spiritual life.

The scriptures tell us that if we practice absolute truth for 12 years that we will realise God. But this is a practice of truth that can only be considered to be extreme. It not only means absolute truthfulness with others in our daily life, but ruthless truthfulness within. And above all, it ultimately means the practice of Truth itself, abiding in the Truth. In addition, they tell us that if we will practise any other virtue equally strictly that that will also lead us to realisation.

However, even if we can keep our energy and determination at such a high level, the path and the goal of the spiritual life are so subtle that it is very easy to deceive ourselves and stray from the path. This is why we need a guru. But what if a guru is not available to give us this very subtle and fine guidance? Then we need to practise a basic truth that scriptures and the gurus try to impress upon us.

The guru is not his body. The guru is the Universal Spirit. And that Universal Spirit is omnipresent. It is present within us and without us. That Universal Spirit is capable of leading us and fine tuning us, not just through one body, but through any body It chooses to use, through any insight It chooses to give us, through any spiritual experience It decides to grant us—through any spiritual practice, through any passage in the scripture, through any casual remark from a friend. And, indeed, this knowledge in itself and the practice of this knowledge is a sadhana: “Practice the presence of God, seeing God in all, and that in itself can lead to you liberation,” Swamiji has said.

So while our spiritual life should be balanced and integral, we must not give leniency to our mind. We require a certain extremism. But above all, we require the constant guidance of the Spirit. Lord Krishna says, “If you want to cross this samsara, you must take refuge in Me alone.” In other words, for our sadhana, we must be constantly seeking His guidance—knowing that it is always available if we have the humility to accept it through whatever channel it comes.

Early Morning Meditation Talk given in the Sacred Samadhi Hall of Gurudev Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, Sivananda Ashram, Rishikesh

What Is Maya? by Swami Sivananda


Maya is the illusory inscrutable power of Ishvara. Just as heat is inseparable from fire, so also Maya is inseparable from Ishvara. Maya is Ishvara’s Upadhi. Ishvara has Maya under his control. Maya is neither Sat nor Asat. So Maya is Anirvachaniya. This universe is all a display of Maya. All worldly experience is the effect of Maya. A sage who has realised his Self has transcended Maya.

Maya is Abhinna Sakti of Brahman. Abhinna means inseparable. Maya cannot be separated from Brahman. Just as heat is inseparable from fire, so also Maya is inseparable from Brahman.

You conclude by looking at the effect pot that there should be the cause for this pot. Even so, you will have to conclude by looking at the world that there should be a cause for this world. That cause is Maya, the illusory power of Brahman.

What is beyond explanation, what is incapable of being explained by its very nature is Maya. Maya is Anirvachaniya i.e., indescribable. It is an inscrutable illusory power of Brahman through which this world is projected.

Maya is cunning and deceptive. She is the illusory power of Ishvara. It is the finitising principle that creates finite forms in Infinite Brahman. She has got 2 powers, Avarna Sakti and Vikshepa Sakti. She hides the Truth through Avarana Sakti (veiling power). She projects this universe, creates false names and forms through Vikshepa Sakti (projecting power).

Avarana Sakti conceals the Atman and veils the Jiva. Through the force of this Sakti, he is not able to separate himself from the five sheaths. This Avarana Sakti is divided into Asat Avarana and Abhana Avarana. The former is the cause for the notion that there is no Brahman. People say: “If there is Brahman, will it not shine?” This idea is generated by Abhana Avarana. Asat Avarana is removed by indirect knowledge of Brahman, Paroksha Jnana, obtained through Sravana or hearing of the Srutis. Abhana Avarana is destroyed by direct knowledge of Brahman through meditation (Aparoksha Jnana).

Avyaktam, Maya, Mula-Prakriti, Pradhana (the chief or first), Gunasamya are synonymous terms. Avyaktam is the unmanifested state of Maya. Just as the tree exists in the seed in a subtle state, so also this world exists in a seed state in Avyaktam during Pralaya. Avyaktam and Pradhana are terms of the Sankhya philosophy. Mula Prakriti is a compound of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas like a three-stranded rope of white, red and black colours. In the Gunasamya Avastha or state, the three Gunas are in a state of equilibrium. This is the state of Pralaya or Sushupti. Just as men go everyday into the state of deep sleep, so also the world goes into its Sushupti state during Pralaya. In Pralaya countless Jivas get absorbed in Mula Prakriti with Samskaras like particles of gold that adhere to a ball of wax. The Karmas of the Jivas ripen at the end of Pralaya. Ishvara has to give the fruits of their Karmas. So He again projects this universe by mere willing.

There is excess of pure Sattva in Maya. The reflection of Para Brahman in Maya is Ishvara. Maya is the Upadhi of Ishvara. It is the causal body of Ishvara. Ishvara has the Maya under his control. Ishvara is also called by the names of Avyakrita and Antaryamin. Ishvara is the instrumental cause of the universe (Nimitta Karana). He becomes the material cause by commingling Himself with the Tamas, just as the spider produces the web out of itself. Avidya is impure Sattva. More Rajas is mixed with Sattva. This is the causal body of the Jiva. This is the Anandamaya Kosha. Jiva and Ishvara experience the Sushupti or deep sleep state through this Karana Sarira or causal body. This is the causal evolution.

In Junagad State a very strange incident happened quite recently. A girl was married in her twelfth year. Six years after her marriage she suddenly was metamorphosed into a male. She had all the distinguishing marks of a male. She left her husband’s house and came back to her (rather his) father’s house. Her father is a rich man. He died recently. Lawyers are consulted now whether the property should go to her (him) or not. Maya can do anything. Maya can create eunuchs, hermaphrodities of both (sexes), melodious feminine voice in males, harsh masculine voice in females, beard and moustaches in ladies, clean feminine face in males, beings with faces in their stomachs, hoofs in their heads, beings half-human, half-lions, half-horses. From this you can clearly infer that this world is quite illusory and unreal and Atman alone is real and everlasting. A close study of Nature will induce Vairagya and Viveka and inspiration for realising Atman, the Lord of Nature.

Even if the sun becomes cool and the moon hot, even if the fire burns downwards and ice becomes hot, even if the faecal matter emanates the scent of Otto de Rose, a Jnani never gets astonished. He knows that this is all the fantastic work of Maya.
Unlike Maya, which is subject to change, transforming itself into universe, Brahman never changes. He is quite immutable, great and firm and unborn.
Because you cannot see the fire as it is covered by the ash, you cannot say that there is no fire. Even so, you cannot say that there is no Atman because it is concealed by body, mind, Prana and the senses.

The connection of the Self with the Buddhi, its limiting adjunct, is due to Avidya or ignorance or wrong knowledge. This wrong knowledge can vanish only by Brahma Jnana. As long as one does get knowledge of Brahma Jnana, so long the connection of the soul with the Buddhi, body and the Indriyas will not come to an end.

Avidya is of two kinds, viz., Mula Avidya (primitive ignorance) which constitutes the causal body (Karana Sarira) or seed-body of the Jiva (individual soul) and Sthula Avidya which envelops the objects outside.

Avidya is the root cause for the Samsara. Eradication of ignorance, eradicates pain and enables a man to free himself from the round of births and deaths. The Vedanta Philosophy does not enquire into the why and how, origin and nature of Avidya. It simply teaches us that it exists and that it is destroyed by knowledge of Brahman.

Just as the fire is covered with ash, so also this pure Immortal self-luminous Atman is covered by Avidya and its effects, viz., mind, egoism, selfishness, hatred, body, Prana and the senses. When the ash is removed, the fire burns brilliantly. Even so, when Avidya is removed through knowledge of the Self, the self-resplendent Atman shines by itself.

From illusion springs separation, difference, duality, manifoldness and variety. Illusion is born of ignorance. All sorrows, tribulations, miseries, troubles have their root in ignorance. Ignorance creates illusion and separateness. Therefore destroy the ignorance by the sword of knowledge of the Self and become free.

Sense of separateness is a great fetter. Kill this sense of separateness by Brahma Bhavana or developing Advaita unity or consciousness and selfless service. The sense of separateness is an illusion created by ignorance or Maya.

If you remove the scabbard, you can behold the sword; if you remove the ashes you can perceive the fire; if the clouds are dispersed, you can cognise the sun; if you remove the bed sheet, you can see the mattress. Even so if you remove the ignorance which hides the Atman, you can directly behold the self-luminous Atman.

Just as the mirror is rendered dim by a layer of dirt attaching to it, so also knowledge is veiled by Avidya. Therefore all people are deluded. They cling to this unreal and mistake the body for the pure Atman. They think that this illusory world of names and forms is quite real.

Ahankara

(Cause for all the Miseries)

Srishti is of two kinds, viz., Jiva Srishti and Ishvara Srishti. There is no pain in Ishvara Srishti. Water quenches thirst. Fire gives warmth. Fresh breeze invigorates. Trees give shade. Cows give good milk. ‘Mamata-mineness’, my wife, my son, etc., are Jiva Srishti. This gives pain. When you hear: ‘Horse is dead’, you are not affected. When you hear ‘My horse is dead’ at once you begin to feel. The root of human sufferings is ‘Mamata’. Destroy this Mamata and rest in Atmic Bliss.
It is impossible for a man who has intense Deha Abhimana (attachment for the body) to attain Atma Jnana, or realise oneness of life and oneness of consciousness.

How infinitely you are busy with your body and its conceits. “I, I, I, I am a doctor; I am an Englishman; I am an American; I am a Brahmin; I know everything; I am clever; I am very intelligent; I am very strong; I am the doer; I am the actor; I have done much charity; I have built a hospital in my father’s name.” There is no end for this ‘I’. As soon as this identification with this perishable, impure body ceases, as soon as you realise that you are not this body, that ‘this body is not I’, that you are the Immortal all-pervading Self, all sorrows depart, all difficulties vanish, you are saved from this terrible Samsara. You will reach the abode of bliss and nectar and inexhaustible spiritual wealth, the city of deathlessness and drink the cup of immortality.

Fifty bombs can destroy a big city. But even five thousand bombs cannot destroy this egoism. So hard is egoism. The ignorant Jiva has hardened the egoism through too much thinking of his personality and too much vanity. Even granite or diamond may melt at some time or other but it is very difficult to annihilate this egoism, though it is nothing in essence. A Bhakta or devotee destroys the egoism through self-surrender. A sage annihilates it through self-denial and Atmic enquiry or enquiry of ‘who am I?’

Sivaji engaged thousands of coolies to build a fort. He had the Abhimana that he was feeding all these persons. Sivaji’s Guru, Swami Ramdas, understood this. He called Sivaji and asked him to break a big stone that was lying in front of his palace. Sivaji ordered a servant to do the work. When the stone was broken a frog that was inside jumped outside. Ramdas asked: “O Sivaji, who has arranged food for this little frog that was inside this stone?” Sivaji felt ashamed, prostrated before Ramdasji and said: “O Guru Maharaj, thou art Antaryami. Thou hast understood my Abhimana, when I thought that these coolies are fed by me. Now Viveka has dawned in me. Protect me, O Lord, I am thy disciple.”

Monkeys have got great Moha for their children. They carry the dead monkey, skeleton of their children even for a month. Moha is attachment to the physical body. These Samskaras are carried from animal kingdom to human kingdom. That is the reason why a man or woman entertains great Moha for the son.

You are born alone. You will die alone. You cross alone the different ties you meet with. You encounter alone whatever misery falls to your lot. Why do you then cherish Moha (infatuated love) for your children, wife, etc., false productions of Moha? Wake up. Beware.

You are born to conquer nature and thereby realise Atman.

Try to know the ways and habits of this Ahankara. It thirsts for self-aggrandisement or self-advancement, power, possession of objects and enjoyment. Kill this Ahankara or egoism and selfishness. Be disinterested. Pin your faith to the opposite virtues, spirit of sacrifice and selflessness. Accept sacrifice and service as guiding principles of life. At once you will have a rich, expanded spiritual life.

Do not identify yourself with body, wife, son, objects. Give up all ideas of possessions. Never call anything: ‘This is mine.’ Be established on the one idea: ‘Brahman alone shines and exists. I am Brahman.’ Become a Jivanmukta. Enjoy Advaitic, Brahmic Bliss, the final beatitude.

If the pot which is placed in a dark room and which contains a lamp inside is broken, the darkness of the room is dispelled and you see light everywhere in the room. Even so if the body is broken through constant meditation on the Self, i.e., if you destroy Avidya and its effect viz., Deha Adhyasa or identification of the body and rise above body-consciousness, you will cognise the supreme Light of Atman everywhere.

There is no weapon sharper than Atmic Vichara to cut down the inveterate old enemy ‘Ahankara.’
Man lives in flesh. He eats flesh. He embraces flesh. Flesh is Ahankara. Flesh is world. Maya plays through flesh. Mother Kaali does not want offerings of flesh. She wants offering of Ahankara. Foolish people kill goats to please their tongue under the pretext of an offering to Mother Kaali. Horrible unpardonable crime and heinous sin indeed!
The snake-charmer extracts the two poisonous fangs of the cobra and then plays with it without any fear. The cobra now also raises its hood and hisses, but the snake-charmer knows that it cannot do any harm to him. Even so if you extract the two poisonous teeth viz., Ahamta and Mamata, you can move about fearlessly in this world. You will become a Jivanmukta and rejoice in the Atman within.
He who commits suicide on account of troubles does an ‘unholy suicide’. He who kills egoism, selfishness, Vasanas, Indriyas, thoughts, etc., commits ‘holy suicide’.
What is the use of wearing ordinary cow-dung ashes on the forehead? Burn the Ahankara and wear the ash formed out of destruction of this Ahankara on the forehead and body.
Yashoda tried her level best to tie her baby Krishna with a piece of rope. She brought a rope to tie him. It was short by two inches. Again she brought a bigger rope. This was also short by two inches. She brought several ropes but at each time there was a shortage of two inches. What does this mean? Is there any philosophical significance? Yes, there is philosophy here. Yashoda was a little bit egoistic. She had a strong idea of mineness also. She was very much attached to her baby. Lord Krishna wanted to eradicate ‘I-ness’ and ‘mine-ness’ from her mind. He indirectly taught to His mother: “O dear mother, give up I-ness and mine-ness. Then only you can bind Me by cord of pure Prema.”
If you kill the Queen Bee, the other bees which are collecting the nectar from the flowers in a place which is at a distance of five miles from the Queen bee also die at once. Similar is the case with the white ants also. If one man in the primitive African tribe suffers from any acute pain, the whole group of people who live at a distance of one hundred miles get the pain. The above cases are recorded after definite observation by psychologists in the West. There is intense instinctive feeling amongst the primitive tribes. That is the reason why if one is affected the whole group of people are affected. This goes to prove that there is one universal consciousness and that you can become one with the cosmic consciousness by melting your egoism or self-asserting principle and thereby can obtain the highest divine knowledge. 
(pg. 211-217, Self-Knowledge)

Swami Sivananda on Atman


Feel You Are Atman

 

Do not act under the influence of sudden impulses. Do not be carried away by the force of emotions, however noble they may be. Be ever vigilant and diligent.
Avoid unnecessary worry. Be not troubled. Be not anxious. Do not be idle. Do not waste time. Do not worry yourself if there is delay in further progress. Wait coolly. You are bound to succeed.
Develop courage by constantly feeling you are Atman. Deny and negate the body idea. Practise, practise Nididhyasana always; all difficulties, tribulations will come to an end. You will enjoy unalloyed bliss. 

Live In Atman 

 

Wake up from the dream of forms. Do not be deceived by these illusory names and forms. Cling to the solid living reality only. Love your Atman alone. Atman only persists. Live in Atman. Become Brahman. This is real life.
Approach the sages, the doctors of divinity with faith, devotion and humility. Take a dose of medicine called Jnana. Then the disease of Ajnana will be eradicated completely. You will attain everlasting peace.
Do not be deluded by Maya. Be calm as the waveless ocean. Be broad-minded as the sky. Be pure as the crystal. Strive ceaselessly for the realisation of the Atman. Be patient as the earth. You are bound to succeed. You will succeed. Rest assured. 

Rejoice In Atman

 

Lead a life of intense activity. Keep always a calm mind. Mentally repeat your Ishta Mantra. Mix with all. Serve all with Atma Bhava. See God in them.
Do not be afraid of difficulties and failures in the spiritual path. Difficulties will develop your will-power. Failures are stepping stones to success. Use your intelligence, sagacity, discrimination and commonsense. You will overcome the difficulties one by one.
Stand adamant. Be cheerful. Dismiss fear and anxiety. March boldly in the spiritual path. Do not be discouraged. Draw courage, strength and power from within. Be cautious. Thou art Invincible. Nothing can harm you. Remain serene always. Smile and rejoice in the Atman. 

(pgs. 56-57, Light, Power & Wisdom)

Recognising the Manifestations of Ego By Sri Swami Atmaswarupananda


One of the most tragic phenomena in this world is the fighting going in the name of religion. If we step back and analyse it, we will see that at a fundamental level it is a manifestation of ego, our sense of separation—ego at a very gross and tamasic level. But even if we think that our spiritual path is superior to other paths—the path of devotion is superior to the path of knowledge or the path of knowledge is superior to the path of devotion—that too is a manifestation of ego, even if it is at a relatively benign level.
There would perhaps be no great harm in this attitude except that getting rid of ego is the purpose of our spiritual life; and Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji, who believed in integral yoga, told us that there is no difference between supreme knowledge and supreme devotion. Therefore, to allow any feeling of superiority or to emphasize any difference in our spiritual life indicates a lack of understanding of its ultimate purpose, which is a vision that sees that differences are a creation of the mind.
In the path of devotion we approach this vision through constant surrender to God. What is it that we are surrendering? Pujya Swami Chidanandaji makes it very clear in the chapter on Surrender in his book Ponder These Truths that what is to be surrendered is the ego, the sense of separation. We don’t surrender our responsibilities; we surrender our sense of separation. And the purpose of the path of knowledge is to recognise that One alone is, that the sense of separation is a false creation of the mind.
More than that, both the path of devotion and the path of knowledge are meant to lead us to a place where we see for ourselves, know for ourselves, that there is no separation. We know for ourselves because we become that oneness. How can we become that oneness if we nurture in our hearts a sense of separation, if we nurture in our hearts a sense of superiority or animosity towards others in any aspect of our lives—be it spiritual or secular? This is why, in Gurudev’s words, we must love all. This is why we must forgive all. We have to find within ourselves that sense of oneness; and that sense of oneness will not allow us to feel that others are different from ourselves.
Swamiji has told us continuously that we must introspect. We must be aware in the spiritual life of what’s going on within our interior. If we’re serious, we cannot just go on day after day doing our spiritual practices, feeling that we are making some progress, and at the same time be nurturing within our hearts superiority, arrogance, resentment, jealousy, animosity or feelings of difference. These attitudes nail us down to this world and prevent any real progress. Therefore, we must recognise these manifestations of ego and gradually, with the help of the Lord, eliminate them from our hearts.
Early Morning Meditation Talk given in the Sacred Samadhi Hall of Gurudev Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, Sivananda Ashram, Rishikesh

We Should be a Model for Others by Mata Amirtanandamayi


This is the age in which there are speeches and discourses throughout the country. Spiritual discourses, cultural discourses, political speeches, religious talks, talks against religions—why, everybody has some subject or the other to speak on. Everyone has the authority to make speeches on everything under the sun—this seems to be the general attitude. As Mother syas this, an incident comes to my mind. A student tells his friend, “We have a great professor. You give him any subject, and he will talk on it for hours. Even if you give him a small topic, he will talk for more than five hours. Hearing this, another young person says, “Your professor speaks for only five hours when he is given a subject, right? But we have a neighbour. You don’t have to give him any subject; still, he will keep on talking—for days on end.”
…..In truth, what we need is not speeches, but action. We should show through our lives what we have to say…..An incident from the Mahabharata comes to mind.
It was the time when the pandavas and Kauravas were young and were being taught by their great guru, Dronacharya. The first lesson was on ‘Forbearance’. One day, the guru called all his disciples and asked them to recite what they had learnt. Each one of them recited the lessons from memory. Finally, it was Yudhishtira’s turn. He repeated just one line. When the guru asked, Is this all you have learnt?”. Yudhishtira replied with reluctance, “Pardon me Sir, I have more or less learnt just the first lesson; the second lesson I haven’t learnt even that much.” 
Dronacharya could not control his anger when he heard this, because he had expected more from  than all the others in the matter of studies….In his anger, Drona took a tick and beat Yudhishtira with it until the stick broke into small pieces. But even after receiving the blows, the cheerfulness and the smile on Yudhishtira’s face did not fade. Drona’s anger cooled when he saw this. He was sorry. He said affectionately, “My child, you are a prince. If you wanted, you could punish me by putting me in prison. But you didn’t do anything like that. You were not angry at all. Is there anyone in this world who has patience like you? There is such greatness in you!” 
When he turned around, Drona saw the palm leaf on which Yudhisthira’s lessons were written. The first line on it was, ‘Never lose patience!’ and the second line was, ‘Always tell only the truth’. When Drona’s glance fell on Yudhishtira’s face again, he thought those lines on the pal leaf were shining in the young prince’s eyes. 
As he took hold of Yudhistra’s hands, Drona’s eyes were brimming with tears. He said, “Yudhishtira! when I was teaching you, I was merely mouthing some words. The other boys were repeating them like parrots. Only you learnt them properly. how great you are, my son! In spite of teaching this for so long, I wasn’t able t olearn even a single line. I could not control my anger. I could not be patient.”
Hearing his guru saying this with eyes full of tears, Yudhishtira said, “Forgive me, master! I did feel a little anger towards you.” Drona now realised that his disciple had learnt the second lesson as well. Those who don’t fall when they hear a little praise are very rare. Even if they have a little anger in them, they will be reluctant to show it. but look at Yudhishtira. He didn’t show any relunctance to admit it. That means, he had learnt the second lesson also. A lesson is complete only when it is practised in life. The true disciple is one who tries to do that.
….Each word of ours should cause a transformation in the listeners. It should bring bliss to others. We should be a model for others. Each word we utter should have that power. For that, simplicity and humility should shine forth in our words. But today, if we sift through our words, we won’t find a trace of humility. What pervades all our words is the attitude, “I want to be higher than the other!” We don’t pay attention to the fact that person’s greatness actually resides in his humility. Even the lowliest person tries to pose as great in front of the others. But we don’t realise the fact that if we act like this, we just become fools in the eyes of others. 
Once an army major was promoted to the rank of colonel. On the say he assumed charge of the new post, a man came to visit him. As soon as the man entered, the colonel picked up the phone with an sir of importance and started talking, “Hello, is that President Clinton? how are you? I took charge just today. There are lots of files to go through. Ok, I will call you later. Please give my regards to your wife…” After talkikng this for a while, he put the phone down. All this while. the man, who ahd come in, had waited very courteously. The colonel asked him very seriously, “Yes, what do you want?”
The visitor said n all courteousness, “pardon me, I came to connect the phone. This is a new phone that was put in yesterday. The lone hasn’t been connected.” Who is the fool here? We don’t see that we become fools like this several times a day—that is all. One who tries to display one’s own importance in front of others actually becomes a fool in their eyes.
(pgs. 119-121 & 123-124, Lead us to the Light, Vol 2)