Sadhana — Is it Necessary?


Question 1: Someone I know says that there is not much importance in Sadhana and that it is enough to have faith in one’s Guru.

Mata Amritanandamayi: “Son, a person who has faith in (the Guru) will perform sadhana as (the Guru) instructs. Such a person will live without erring even a little bit. Will your disease be cured if you only believe the doctor but do not take the medicine? Not only that, faith will gain strength and steadiness only if sadhana brings experience. Otherwise, faith will slip into irresoluteness. You cannot progress without sadhana. Can’t you see even jivanmuktas (those who have achieved liberation while tenanting the body) doing meditation and japa (repetitions of the mantra) to set an example? No progress will accrue to him who simply sits saying faith will save me without doing anything. Unquestioning obedience is what is meant by faith and devotion. Whatever the Guru says, one should unconditionally obey.  Do not ask any questions. Do not doubt the Guru. One should unconditionally obey the Guru whatever he says, whether it is doing service to the Guru, service to society, Japa, Dhyana or anything else.” (pgs. 82-83, Awaken, Children! Vol. 3).

Question 2: I do sadhana but I feel empty. Why is this so?

Mata Amritanandamayi: “We do some kind of spiritual practice, and then, dissipate the acquired spiritual energy by indulging in worldly affairs.” (pg. 71, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1)

Mata Amritanandamayi: “Whatever spiritual power is gained through meditation and other spiritual practices gets dissipated through indulgence.” (pg. 123, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1)

Question 3: How do we find the time to do sadhana? We are all too busy with work and family.

Mata Amritanandamayi: “Out of 24 hours, allow 22 hours for worldly affairs. Think of Him for at least two hours. Japa should also be done for some time while sitting in solitude. It should be performed whenever you have the time, even at work. (pg. 84, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1)

Question 4: Is it all right if one chants mantras even without knowing the meaning ?

Mata Amritanandamayi: “…if you chant your mantra without knowing its meaning, it has its own powers. Even then, it is better if it is chanted with faith and love. Concentration is also necessary.” (pg. 97, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1)

Mata Amritanandamayi: “…although God’s Name has a power of its own, when we chant it with bhava or concentration, it becomes more powerful.” (pg. 117, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1)

Question 5: Is it necessary to do sadhana everyday? Is it wrong or even harmful to stop sadhana for a day or two?

Mata Amritanandamayi: “Do not do sadhana with the intention of making it known to others or to please them. We don’t stop brushing our teeth, taking a shower or eating food because those are necessities. In the same way, we should remember that sadhana is also necessary for us every day. We will stink of we do not take a bath and brush our teeth. It will be troublesome for others also.  We should understand that refraining from doing sadhana is at least as harmful as this. Sadhana should become a part of our life.” (pgs. 122-123, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1).

Question 6: What is the best place to do sadhana?

Mata Amritanandamayi: “Sadhana should be done in the presence of a Perfect Master or in an ashram”. (pg. 135, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1).

Question 7: I got a mantra from you; isn’t it enough that I have been accepted as your disciple?

Mata Amritanandamayi: “Concentrate on your sadhana…. Mother gave a mantra to everyone. Do not be puffed up because of that and think, ‘I am mother’s disciple.’ Do not feel proud thinking, ‘I have the ticket’ after getting onto a bus or train. If you do not show the ticket when the ticket collector comes, he will immediately make you get off. He will let you alight at your destination only if you use your ticket for the proper place and in the proper way. Otherwise, you will have to get off before your destination.” (pg. 219, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1)

You may also be interested in the following articles:

https://antaryamin.wordpress.com/2009/11/09/so-amma-is-your-guru-really/

https://theunboundedspirit.com/tv/

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Spiritual Life — Are you Really Serious about it? Do you Really Want God?


Question 1: What is the first thing that I should ask myself even before I think about God and spiritual life?

God

Answer 1a: “Enquire whether you really want liberation or whether you are simply talking of higher things out of curiosity…”, Swami Sivananda (pg. 269, Science of Yoga, vol. 6).

sivananda color smile

Answer 1b: “Do you want God?… Do not cheat yourself: be straightforward,” Swami Sivananda (pg. 413, Sadhana)

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Question 2: What is the next most important thing that I should do about my determination to continue in spiritual life?

 Answer 2: “Even if Lord Krishna remains with you, he cannot do anything for you unless you are fit to receive him and his teachings. Realise this point well and purify yourself thoroughly by means of… Japabrahmacharya and control of the senses,” Swami Sivananda (pg. 265, Science of Yoga, Vol. 6)

Question 3: I am serious but I don’t have the time.

 Answer 3 a: “Plod on in your sadhana. Give up idle talk, tall talk, gossip and backbiting. Save your time,” Swami Sivananda (pg 169, Science of Yoga, Vol. 6)

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Answer 3 b: “We must minimize all unnecessary waste of time in futile thinking, gossiping, aimless activities, wandering, etc. Then, we will get plenty of time for our spiritual practice.” (pg. 341, meditation and spiritual practice by Swami Yatiswarananda)

Sadhana and Spiritualising Everything


Question: I am so bogged down with a lot of things—I hardly have much time after work (at office and home). How could I find time for sadhana (=spiritual practice)? 

Answer: “The life of a spiritual seeker is Sadhana-oriented. To him, there is NO such thing as time for Sadhana AND time for other activities. All activities ARE sought to be transformed by him into Yoga. His living itself becomes Sadhana, becomes Tapasya (=austerity).. The Sadhak (=seeker) gathers guidance by observing men and matters closely… The intelligent seeker then begins to see a divine purpose in EVERY incident in his life. He begins to feel, to sense, the guiding hand of God, the protecting power of the Guru. He, then, feels grateful, feels encouraged and steps up his Sadhana… If you can perceive the working of the Lord’s hand EVEN  in your day-to-day life, in matters big and small, you may know that you HAVE progressed considerably in the spiritual path, that you are considerably purified.” (pgs. 113, 115, “My Journey to God’s Kingdom” by N. Ananthanarayanan) [The writer was a direct disciple of Swami Sri Sivananda Maharaj of Rishikesh] 

Answer: “Throughout the day’s activities, be WATCHFUL that you do NOT become lost in the mental restlessness of worldliness. Inwardly, take the Name of God. Stirve to keep your mind busy thinking of God. This practice Paramahansaji called “spiritualizing” thought… By spiritualizing thought, one gradually spiritualize one’s actions, so that everything one does becomes a form of meditation. One’s whole life should be a continuous spiritual experience.” (pgs. 71-72, Only Love by Daya Mata) [The author was a direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda].

Idle Talk, Gossiping and Other Obstacles


Swami Sivananda: “If you can give up idle talks and gossiping and idle curiosity to hear rumours and news of others and if you do not meddle with the affairs of others, you will have ample time to do meditation. Make the mind quiet during meditation. If worldly thoughts try to enter the mind during meditation reject them. Have steady devotion to truth. Be cheerful. Increase the Sattvic materials in you. You can enjoy everlasting bliss.

“Environments are not bad, but your mind is bad. Your mind is not disciplined properly. Wage a war with this horrible and terrible mind. Do not complain against bad environments but complain first against your own mind. Train your mind first. If you practise concentration amidst unfavorable environments, you will grow strong, you will develop your will-force quickly and you will become a dynamic personality. See good in everything and transmute evil into good. This is real Yoga. This is the real work of a Yogi.

“Leakage of energy, hidden undercurrent of Vasanas, lack of control of senses, slackness in Sadhana, waning of dispassion, lack of intense aspiration, irregularity in Sadhana are the various obstacles in the path of concentration.”

(Source: pgs. 216-217, Concentration and Meditation)

Family Life


Amma says, “Children, both worldly and spiritual life can be led side by side, but we must act without attachment and expectation.” We feel sorry when we think, “I have done this; I want to reap the fruit of it. If we think that everything is God’s, then we have no attachment. God is the only Truth”.

No matter how much wealth we have, unless we properly understand its value and use, we will experience only sorrow. Even if we derive from it is only temporary. It cannot give eternal happiness. If we understand how to use wealth properly, we will enjoy the wealth of happiness and peace.

A juggler does so many tricks. He dances and rolls on the ground, but as he juggles his mind is always fixed on the object. Just so, with practice you can learn to fix the mind on God while doing any work.

Small children may worry that the Sun has disappeared at sunset. In the morning when it rises, they rejoice at its return. They don’t know what the truth is. Likewise, we rejoice and grieve like them with gain and loss.

If one’s child is sick, we are willing to wait without sleep for any length of time in the hospital waiting room. We have time to linger for hours in a shop simply to purchase some costumes. But we have no time to pray to God. Children, when we love God, we will easily find time to pray to God.

Children, you may be scientist or doctor or engineer, let the rational aspect of yourself shine forth when you are in the laboratory and when you are among other professionals. But when you go home you should be able to drop the role. At home you are coming back to real life, and you should be able to move from your head into your heart. You should have the strength to stop thinking about your science and experiments. How boring and dry life would be if you went directly to your room without even glancing or smiling at your wife and children. Think of the stress and strain this would create in the family. If the head of the family doesn’t interact with his wife and children, everyone will find home life boring and sad. Love creates smiling laughing faces and compassionate hearts, and is expressed in sweet and pleasant words. You can choose both head and the heart. There is no problem in this, but there should be a balance, for if you choose logic and rational thinking alone, you are in all troubles. Love will not create any trouble, fear, anger or tension.

Source: http://www.amma.org/teachings/family-life.html

No Time for Spiritual Practice


Question: Many obstacles confront me — I have no time to meditate, I am very tired from work, there are many demands upon me — yet something inside pushes me to keep searching.

Swami Muktananda: “That force inside you that keeps pushing you to search for something spiritual in your life is the real Truth.

Is it only for spiritual practices that you don’t have time? Or, don’t you have time for anything else either? Everything else is ordinary, but this is most important. If you don’t have time for the inner search that will take you to the highest levels of consciousness, what is the point of just eating, drinking, and living in the outer world? If you don’t make time to work for your spiritual growth, what is the point of your human birth?

“Just as you have divided up your time for the different things you do in your life, you should also find time for meditation, becuase this is far more important than anything else. If you can’t find any time for it, at least meditate when you lie down to sleep. Start repeating the mantra and it will continue through your sleep. Even that will probably be enough for you.

“The situation that I find people trapped in amazes me. They say they don’t have time for realisation, they don’t have time for spiritual wealth, they don’t have time for inner peace. They don’t have even a hope of attaining any of these things if they continue as they are. What can you possibly get out of a life that is so intensely fast? At least, do something for your spiritual growth when you lie down to sleep.”

(pg. 5, From the finite to the Infinite)

Swami Sivananda and Mata Amirtanandamayi on: “I’m Too Busy for Spiritual Practice.”


Swami Sivananda: “An ignorant worldly-minded man says, I have to do my duties. I have to educate my four sons and three daughters. I have to please my employer. I have heavy duties in the office. I have to remit money to my widowed sister. I have a large family. I have six brothers and five sisters. Where is the time for performing Sandhya and Japa and study of religious books? There is no time even to breathe. I have no leisure. Even during holidays I have to work. I bring office papers to my house and work at night till eleven o’clock. I do not want Sannyasa or any Yoga. The office work and the maintenance of my family is itself Yoga.’

Do you really call this duty? It is mere slavery. It is bondage. The man is afraid of his superior at every moment. Even in his dreams he meets his office mates and superior and posts figures in the ledger. This is not sense of duty. This man cannot pray even for a second. He has no time to read a single verse of the Gita. There is not a single thought of God even in a month. He takes tea, has his food, sits at the table for writing, sleeps and procreates. Thus his whole life passes away like this. This is selfish work. This is not duty. This is work done for gain and satisfaction of the lower appetites. Anything done under compulsion and expectation is not duty. You must not interpret slavery as duty. You must not take selfish works that are done through attachment, greed and passion as duty. You will be doing a great injustice. This is self-created drudgery.

“An officer or clerk earns money by taking bribes, and when his conscience pricks, he feeds some Brahmins and says, ‘I have done my duty today. I have fed fifteen Brahmins and have given each twenty-five paise.’ This is his idea of duty. He adds, ‘Why should I take Sannyasa and practise Yoga? I will earn tons of money and do charity. This is the best kind of life.’ Poor deluded soul! May God give him good understanding!”

(The above article is an excerpt from Swami Sivananda’s “Kingly Science, Kingly Secret”: pg. 48)

Mata Amirtanandamayi: “Sri Krishna was a householder. He had many responsbilities, but He was the embodiment of detachment. Sri Rama was also a householder and in addition to that a king. He was the embodiment of dharma. King Janaka (father of Sita, the holy consort of Lord Sri Rama) was a king and a householder. He, too, was a jivanmukta or liberated soul. They all found enough  time to do tapas and to lead a spiritual life even in the midst of all their court duties andf other problems.

“If we say that we have no time due to our problems and family responsibilities, that is simpply an escape. That means that we have no desire to follow the path of spirituality. We are lazy and want to avoid work. So immersed in maya, so trapped in its net, we do not even realise that there is a reality hgher than the body and the external world around us. We have no eyes to see it, no ears to hear it and no heart to feel it.

“If we want to be more honest and sincere with ourselves, it would be better if we were bold enough to admit, ‘I’m not interested in spiritual matters,’ rather than twisting the truth by saying, ‘I have no time.’ When we really have the desire to do something, time and the proper conditions will be at our disposal. Time and circumstance follow desire.’ 

(The above article is an excerpt from Mata Amirtanandamayi’s “Awaken, Children!, Vol. 4: pg. 180) 

New Year Message By Sri Swami Sivananda


By the command of the Indestructible Being, minutes, hours, days and nights, stand apart. By the command of the Immortal Brahman, months, years, seasons and solstices stand apart. He who knows this Indestructible Being is a liberated sage or Jivanmukta.

Time rolls on. New becomes old and old becomes new again. Today is the most auspicious New Year’s day. God has given you another chance this year to enable you to strive for your salvation. Today man is. Tomorrow he is not. Therefore avail yourself of this golden opportunity, struggle hard and reach the goal of life. Make the best use of every moment of this New Year. Unfold all latent faculties. Here is a chance to begin life anew, to grow and evolve and become a superhuman or a great dynamic Yogi.

On this glorious New Year’s day make a strong resolve to wipe away all the old worldly Vasanas or tendencies and bad impressions and to control the senses and the mind.

Know the value of time. Time is most precious. Utilise every second profitably. Live every moment of your life for the realisation of your ideal and goal. Do not procrastinate. That “tomorrow” will never come. Now or never. Abandon idle gossiping. Kill egoism, laziness and inertia. Forget the past. A glorious and brilliant future is awaiting you.

Equal vision is the touchstone of knowledge. Unselfishness is the touchstone of virtue. Brahmacharya is the touchstone of ethics. Oneness is the touchstone of Self-realisation. Humility is the touchstone of devotion. Therefore, be unselfish, humble and pure. Develop equal vision. Be in tune with the Infinite.

Satyam (truth) is the seed. Ahimsa is the root. Meditation is the shower. Santi (peace) is the flower. Moksha (salvation) is the fruit. Therefore, speak the truth, practise Ahimsa and meditation. Cultivate Santi. You will attain the final emancipation or freedom from the trammels of births and deaths, and enjoy Eternal bliss.
Be thou a spiritual warrior of Truth. Put on the armour of discrimination. Wear the shield of dispassion. Hold the flag of Dharma. Sing the song of Soham or Sivoham. March boldly with the band of Pranava—Om Om Om. Blow the conch of courage. Kill the enemies of doubt, ignorance, passion and egoism and enter the illimitable kingdom of blissful Brahman. Possess the imperishable wealth of Atma. Taste the divine immortal essence. Drink the nectar of Immortality.

May this bright New Year’s day and all the succeeding days of this year and all the future years also bring you all success, peace, prosperity and happiness. May you all tread the path of Truth and righteousness! May you enjoy the eternal bliss of the Absolute, leading a divine life, singing Lord’s name, sharing what you have with others, serving the poor and the sick with Atma Bhava and melting the mind in silent meditation in the Supreme Self.