Archive for the ‘Sadhana’ Category

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].


Question 1: My friends and I discuss a lot of spiritual issues at bhajans/satsangs (=spiritual gatherings). We discuss valuable quotations that we have gathered from the scriptures and from the books of mahatmas or enlightened masters. A friend of mine says that all these are SHEER WASTE OF TIME and especially effort. What are your views on this opinion? 

Mata Amritanandamayi answers: “It ISN’T enough to read ABOUT living spiritual life, or to HEAR about it, or to just TALK about it—you have to put it into practice… Attending a lecture on the THEORY of cooking ISN’T enough to remove hunger. To appease your hunger, you have to cook the food and eat it. If you want to grow fruit, just STUDYING agriculture ISN’T enough. You have to plant the fruit trees and nurse them.

“It is NOT enough to know that there is water beneath a particular spot, because that WON’T give you ANY water. You have to dig a well there. Nor can you quench your thirst by merely looking at a picture of a well. You have to draw water from a REAL well and drink it. Is it enough to sit in a parked car, staring at a map? Tp reach your destination, you HAVE to travel on the road which is shown on the map.

“In the same way, it’s NOT enough to just take part in SATSANGS, or to READ the SCRIPTURES. To experience the Truth, you HAVE to LIVE according to those words.” (pgs. 273, 292, Eternal Wisdom Vol. 2)

Question 2: So, attending regular SATSANGS is a waste of time? 

Mata Amritanandamayi answers: “…To someone who DOESN’T make any effort, satsang is like a COCONUT given to a jackal; his hunger will NEVER be appeased. A tonic will improve your health, provided you follow the directions written on the bottle and take the right dosage. SATSANG is like learning those directions, and sadhana is like drinking the tonic. Satsang teaches us about the eternal and the transitory, but only through sadhana will we be able to experience and realise what we have learnt.” (pg. 293, Eternal Wisdom Vol. 2)

Question: A person is fully convinced of the evil effects of DESIRES, but still is not able to rid himself completely of them. What is such a person to do? How can he rise above them?

Swami Yatiswarananda: “One way is to control them using will power. Another is to cultivate the witness attitude towards them. Neither of these is easy and, in the beginning of one’s spiritual life, well nigh impossible. What then is the way for a spiritual aspirant? He should connect them all, directly or indirectly, with the Divine. Every desire, every sensual impulse, every passion, must be given a Godward turn consciously and knowingly, with an effort of the will. If his artistic sense and his desire to enjoy art are very strong, he should take up some holy form of art and make that a stepping stone for rising to the plane of the Divine. Instead of listening to worldly music, let him listen to devotional music instead of singing for other people, sing for the sake of the Divine and so on.

“If he is very fond of the sweet fragrance and beauty of flowers and wishes to enjoy them, let him (pick) flowers, offer them to the Divine and decorate with them, the holy altar artistically. If he desires to love somebody or feels greatly attracted towards somebody, let him love the Divine in that person and be thereby directly drawn towards the Divine.

“If done consciously and knowingly, all these act as a great controlling factor, as a great regulating agency, helping us in sublimating our desires, in giving them a higher turn and in attaining greater purity. but even here the ultimate goal to be attained by the aspirant is perfect control of mind and realisation of God. Everything else serves only as a stepping stone to that. Following the graded path, we must be able to rise to the highest stage of pure spiritual love sooner or later.

“The Godward turn must be given to our relationships with all external objects.”

Source: pgs. 255-256, Meditation and Spiritual Life.

(Spoken on New Years Eve, 1972)

What is our duty in the New Year? This is the subject of our contemplation on this eve of the advent of a new light.

Our duty is to be true to God and true to one’s own self – a stocktaking of our previous year’s follies and forfeits, a striking of a balance sheet of what we have done in the last year from January to this day, the last day of December. We have lived for twelve months, and we should take stock of what we have done – strike a balance sheet, as accountants do: what good has been done and also what wrong has been done, how much progress has been made in our soul’s longing and aspiration for its destination, and whether we have been moving in the proper direction or whether we have been sidetracked. Throughout the year we may have been moving in a wrong direction – though we must have been moving, no doubt. Instead of moving in the eastern direction, quite likely we may have been moving in the opposite direction because the east can be reflected through the west if a mirror is kept midway between the two directions, and wrongly we may move towards the rear part of what is visible before us.

The greatest of vows and dedications we can make on this holy occasion, this blessed moment of the New Year, is that we shall be true to our own selves. This is the most difficult part of all observances and vows because while we know what is good for us oftentimes, we deliberately commit a wrong and an error on account of affiliation with our body. We are affiliated to this physical body too much, and therefore we many times play second fiddle to the voice of the senses and the weaknesses of flesh. The spirit may be willing, but the flesh is weak; and the weakness of the flesh can create such a devastating effect if it is given a long rope. Vigilance should be our watchword in the New Year because with all our wisdom and power of will and understanding, we must also remember what caution Bhagavan Sri Krishna has given us in the Bhagavadgita: indriyani pramathini haranti prasabham manah (Gita 2.60). The senses are too powerful for us. They are very active day and night; impetuous, vehement and turbulent are the senses.

So we pray to the Almighty to give us, to bless us, with sufficient knowledge and strength to withstand the onslaught of the senses. We cannot control the senses because they are in the body and they draw sustenance from the body. The bodily needs become bodily passions. In the beginning, our weaknesses manifest themselves as preferences. “I prefer coffee to tea.” We don’t say, “I have a passion for a thing.” We say, “I have a preference.” Then afterwards it becomes a liking, a little more intense. “I would like to have it.” It is not merely a preference or a wish; it becomes more intense. “I must have it.” And it is impossible to live without it. When a weakness becomes an uncontrollable, vehement pressure upon ourselves, we call it a passion. The senses can slowly lead us into this condition from a harmless state of preference and wish to a serious condition where we would have no succour. Awful is life when the soul succumbs to the voice of the senses and the flesh. 

Sadhakas, seekers of truth, therefore have to take a disciplined vow that they shall live a life of minimum comfort and maximum vigilance and understanding. The first vow that we take is that we have minimum comforts. We should not ask for luxuries, because luxuries are not necessary for the body. The needs of the body are different from the cravings and the passions, greed and luxury. So the first and foremost thing to tabulate on our diary today, on this New Year, is what are our needs. We will find that our needs are very few. They are not many. Most of the things that we have are not needs, they are only luxuries; and while we have a right to ask for our needs and creature comforts, we have no right to ask for luxuries because that which exceeds the limit of our needs does not belong to us.

Thus, the first vow that we take is we shall have minimum comfort possible. If we can get on with two blankets, it is sufficient, and we should not ask for ten blankets or five quilts, because they become luxuries. They are all right, but they are not needs. If we can get on with one good meal and a light supper, that is sufficient. We need not have a heavy breakfast, a heavy lunch, a heavy supper, and also a heavy tea with some titbits in between. These are not the needs of the body.

The needs of the senses, the needs of the body and the needs of the mind have to be curtailed to the minimum so that we may gain a double advantage. One thing is, we will not be thieves. A person who enjoys more than what he needs is a thief, and he is culpable. He will be punished by the law of nature. Also, this voluntary self-sacrifice that we do by taking only what is the minimum necessity for our lives will be serving society, and to that extent we will be ameliorating poverty in the country. Why should we have greed to earn millions of dollars every month while it is not essential for our life? Why do we corner wealth in a particular part of the land when others may be dying of hunger and poverty? Therefore, the first vow we take is that our comforts should be to the minimum, to the barest necessity of the physical body, merely for its existence and its normal activity.

The second vow we take is: We do not take more than what we have given. This is a very important vow. We are reborn into this world of transmigration, samsara chakra, as we call it, because we have taken more than what we have given. To take more than what we give is to borrow without giving back. Exploitation of every kind comes under this category. We should not exploit even a servant by taking more than what we give him. If we give a few rupees of salary to a servant in the house, it does not mean we should harass him with work for twenty hours of the day just because of his poverty.

Exploitation is of various types. Taking advantage of the ignorance or the weakness of another person is what is called exploitation. If he is a poor man, ignorant, and knows not the tricks of the world and the worldly wisdom that certain people have, people exploit him. Putting to one’s own personal use the ignorance and poverty and the helpless condition of other people is exploitation, which is a sin. So we shall not take more than what we have given.

We shall not eat what we have not earned. We cannot ask for bread unless we have earned it. At least some contribution must have been made in some way, whether physical, psychological, educational, spiritual, or whatever it is. What contribution have we made to deserve the bread of our day? If we have not made any contribution, we will be reborn for having taken what we have not given.

So, minimum comfort is the first vow. We should not ask for more than what we actually need. The second vow is we should not take more than what we have given. The third vow is, hurt not the feelings of others – either in your thought, word or deed. Do not speak barbed words, words which sting and pierce. If possible, give satisfaction and joy to others. If we cannot do it, we should keep quiet. It is not necessary that we should utter words, do deeds or think thoughts which are derogatory to the happiness of other people. This comes under ahimsa, the greatest of vows.

We should never speak a bitter word to any person, even to a subordinate or underling. If possible, we should speak educational words. Even if a person is wrong, that wrong can be set right by educational psychology and educative methods of approach. That is our duty.

Among the three forms of tapas mentioned in the Bhagavadgita, one form of tapas is speaking sweet words. If we cannot speak sweet words, we need not speak at all. We can keep quiet. Hurting others’ feelings is an objectionable trait. It is due to the rise of selfishness in us that sometimes we speak words which are not conducive to the progress of the happiness of others. Ahimsa is popularly defined in this manner as not hurting the feelings of others.

The other vow is that we shall not deliberately speak a lie. Unconsciously we may utter a falsehood without knowing things properly, that is different; but wantonly we should not speak a lie. We speak lies for the satisfaction of the ego. That should not be done. This should be one of the vows for the New Year.

And the most significant vow of sadhakas and novitiates is brahmacharya. The control of the senses and the restraint of the mind for craving for objects of sense are vows which have to be fulfilled. Sattva increases when ahara, or the intake of the senses, becomes pure. Ahara means intake of the senses, and not necessarily just the diet which we munch through the mouth. All the objects which are fed to the senses are the diet of the senses.

While we should take pure diet, sattvic diet, it also means we should see sattvic things through the eyes, hear sattvic words through the ears, speak sattvic words through the mouth, and touch and smell only sattvic things. All the five senses should be connected only with sattvic objects. That is ahara shuddhi. When ahara shuddhi is there, there is an increase of transparency of character, luminosity of nature. When sattva increases within us, our memory power, power of concentration and meditation also get intensified. When the power of concentration is there, the knots of the heart of bondage are broken. We become liberated.

These are the disciplinary vows which we may undertake as a necessary step in our progress on the path of sadhana and God-realisation. But other than these disciplinary methods, there is the higher aim that we have to keep before us always: the ideal of life. What is the goal of our life, what is the objective behind us, what is the purpose of our activities – what is it that we want finally in our life. This also should be decided, and we had better think it now because we do not know what length of time, what span of life has been allotted to us in this world.

“Remember death,” Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj used to instruct us. “Remember death, and you shall remember everything good for you.” This is because death is the greatest teacher of mankind. The greatest disciplinarian is time, says Bhagavan Sri Krishna in the Bhagavadgita. “Among disciplinarians, I am time.” The Time Spirit is the hardest taskmaster in the world. He will not spare even a second. The second that is gone is gone forever; it will not come back. We cannot beg the Time Spirit, “O my Lord, please bring back the time that has gone. I am sorry.” He will not accept ‘sorry’ or anything of the kind; what has gone has gone. Kalah kalayatam aham (Gita 10.30): “Among measurers, among disciplinarians, among restrainers, I am the Time Spirit,” says God.

We must remember the current situation in which we are – that is, any time we may receive the call to quit. There is no saying when this call will come; and when this call comes, we have to go – finished. Come means come, that’s all. We cannot say, “After sometime. My child is in the cradle.” “Let it be there.” “I have not received my salary.” “Okay, you quit, salary or no salary.” “What about my children; what about my wife?” “I don’t know. You quit.” This is what he will say. “You hang yourself – your children and your wife and your property and your salary, nobody cares.

You quit just now.” Such orders will come to us, and nobody will hear our cry. Our cry is in the wilderness. “O Lord, what is the mistake I have made? So many years I have lived in the world. What have I done, O God?” At that time, we will weep. So let us not weep in the end. Let us be cautious and prepared now itself. “If the call comes, I am ready – yes.” We must be able to say that. “If it is now, it is now. Okay, all right.” But we are not ready for it because we have commitments. Snapping all these commitments from now onwards is the act of wisdom. We should turn from this bondage of what we call commitment in life, the cause of transmigration.

We shall search for the goal of life, which is our supreme father and mother. All blessed things it is. When we go there, we shall get everything. We will find father there, we will find mother there, we will find children, we will find salary, we will find honey and milk; we will find everything when we go there. But we do not want to leave this place. That is our ignorance.

Therefore, the goal of life should be set. And, the span of life is counted. Every hair of our body is counted, every breath is counted, and every minute of our life is counted and checked. It cannot be increased. So, together with a life of discipline we should also keep our goals clear before us, and never be mislead or sidetracked, and be ready to quit, whatever be the time of that order.

Together with this we should also try, as much as possible within our capacity, to the extent permitted by our knowledge, to lead a life divine. To lead a life divine is to live a life of remembrance of God. We get into trouble the moment we forget God. Among Sufi teachers there is a famous dictum: Samsara does not consist in persons and things; samsara consists in the forgetfulness of God. Just because we are in the midst of many persons and things, it does not mean that we are in samsara. Samsara is not things and persons, and it is not property.

That is not called samsara. Samsara means oblivion to God’s existence, ignorance of the existence of God. Forgetfulness of God is called samsara, and not the existence of things and persons.

We are caught not because there are things in the world, but because we have forgotten God. Hence, our freedom consists in planting the love of God in our hearts and enshrining Him in our hearts so that we may enter into Him later on and be thrice blessed.

Difficult is this path. Sharp, cutting, subtle, invisible is this path to the spirit. We do not know where that path lies to reach God. Where do we have to move – to the east or to the west? In which direction do we have to move to reach God? Nobody knows, because God has no direction. If there was some direction in which we could have moved towards Him, we would have moved, but there is no direction, unfortunately for us, and therefore we are flabbergasted, we are in consternation, we are confused, and the end of it all is that we do nothing because we know nothing. When there is no knowledge, there is no action, no right activity.

Most difficult is to comprehend this path of God, because it is not to be comprehended with the faculties with which we are endowed – not through the senses, nor through the mind, nor through the intellect. It is the soul that visualises God, nothing else. It is the Atman beholding the Atman, God seeing God, as it were, because the soul has no senses, it has no body, it has no intellect, it has no passions. It is pure luminosity of spirit; and it is this soul within us that comprehends God as Universality.

Thus, in this New Year may we pray to the Almighty that we may be blessed, because without His grace we cannot lift even a finger. May this light of the New Year come to us as the light of God, as the light of freedom, as the light of purity, as the light of discipline and as the light of knowledge, the light of strength and power. This should be our prayer.

And when we take decisions in this manner, when we take vows, when we determine and decide to take steps in this fashion, we must also be able to sit for the results. Patanjali says in a sutra that we cannot gain constantly in this practice unless it is continued daily. We should not miss it even for a day. And the practice should be continued not only every day, but with a great intensity of ardour, fervour and intense longing for it. When this practice continues in this manner for a protracted period with intense love for it, we get established. Once we get established in it, nothing can shake us.

But a hard job it is. It requires a long-drawn training of the mind in a conducive atmosphere, in the atmosphere of a teacher, with the grace of God. Dattatreya says that the love of God arises in the soul only due to the grace of God. We cannot say a buffalo loves God; a buffalo has no consciousness of God.
[At this point the clock strikes midnight]

Krishna Bhagavan ki jai! Wish you all a happy New Year of love of God, aspiration for God, and God-realisation in this birth! This is the spirit of the New Year which we have to keep up with: tenacity, and great power of will born of understanding, study of scriptures and regular brushing up of our memory through various sadhanas which have been prescribed.

God’s grace is upon us all! We have to remember again the untiring message of Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj: God first, world next, yourself last. Always take God first. In every event, in every action and in every enterprise keep God as the first element and the principle; the world should be taken into consideration only afterwards; and we have to be taken into consideration as the last element because God was first, the world came afterwards, and we were the last after the world was created, so we cannot take ourselves first. Gurudev’s teaching is God is first in everything – in every action, in every enterprise. In every new beginning God is first, and we should think of the world only afterwards, and we should not think of ourselves at all. We will be taken care of by that which is above us.

If we forget ourselves in the world, the world will take care of us, and if we forget the world in God, God will take care of both the world and ourselves. This great dictum should be remembered, and we should try to practice it: God first, world next, yourself last.

God is the Supreme Reality and is the only goal of life, towards which every atom, every blessed thing big and small, every soul is gravitating. As rivers rush in to the ocean, all souls move towards God – rush towards God, as it were – because the goal of all life, all creation, whatever be its form, is the realisation of God, the Supreme Being, the Absolute.


As I told you, we cannot run away from our senses and mind, we have therefore to understand the working of the mind. When a Vritti arises, do not think about it, divert your attention, let it sink back. Do not spin your imagination. It is imagination that strengthens the Vritti. Do not identify yourself with the desire, and if the worse comes to the worst, if the desire is strong, be stubborn, do not submit to it; divert your attention. I have always said, “Try always to nip the desire in the bud.” When the desire comes in the form of a ripple, try to liquidate it then and there itself. But if due to lack of your vigilance it takes the form of an impulse, see that it is not fulfilled. Do not make Cheshta outwardly. If a desire comes, “I should go and gossip,” say “No. I will not allow the body to move.” If the body does not move, the mind cannot fulfil its desire, and ultimately the reverse process will happen, and the desire will sink back into the mind, and there will be calmness.

In the beginning of Sadhana, more and more desires will have to be controlled at the physical level, but as we go on acquiring mastery over ourselves, even when a Vritti comes, it is liquidated by Vichara and Viveka, which are a great help to the Sadhaka. As soon as a Vritti comes, it is put back, and ultimately all these have to be completely destroyed by repeating the Lord’s Name, by Satsanga, Svadhyaya, meditation, prayer, performance of Purascharana, etc. All these are powerful, positive methods to deal with the Vrittis and Samskaras which are countless and deep-rooted but which have an end.

The more we understand the machinery of the mind, the more will we be able to deal with it, with all its subtle tricks and undercurrents, and we will be able to make use of the mind as an effective instrument of Sadhana instead of being a constant obstacle. All the most ideal conditions may be given to a Sadhaka. He may have ideal surroundings, ideal company, all sacred books, and yet if he does not do this important task of trying to understand the mysterious nature of the workings of the mind and try to lessen his Vasanas and strengthen his will, he cannot make use of anything. He cannot make use of his Guru. He cannot make use of his seclusion. Because they have to be made use of only through the mind and if the mind is not controlled, cultivated, he cannot make use of any of these. But once that is done, he can make use of all that God has given. Even a sentence from a scripture is enough to raise a flood of spiritual consciousness within him. But until that is done, Yoga will be useless.

Therefore, understand the mind, study the mind and know this machinery will, and know also how to manage it. This is an important part of Yoga, an important part of Vedanta, an important part of Sadhana, or divine life. In the beginning of one’s practice all these are important. When one has practised all these, God-realisation is easy. They say that God-realisation is so easy that it can be attained “within the time taken to squeeze a flower,” once you are completely rid of all impurities. For that you have to patiently keep on striving, and the more we devote our time with humility, sincerity and earnestness to a study of our own being and especially of this machinery which is inside us, and try to make the best use of it, as an instrument of Yoga, the more will we be able to succeed in the path of Yoga and Vedanta or in leading the divine life.

(pgs. 447-448, Sadhana by Swami Sivananda)

If you simply say without real inner feeling “I am Thine, O Lord”, this will not constitute real integral self-surrender. It should come from the core of your heart. You must be prepared for a radical change. You should not stick to your old habits, ways and motives. You should not expect that everything should happen in the way you want. You should live to carry out the divine purpose. You should not think of those ambitions which the mind likes to gratify. You should not think of using even the divine grace or the divine force for your own purpose. The irrepressible ego will assert in various ways and refuse to give up its old habits and ways. It will try to get everything from the Divine. It will totally decline to give itself to the Divine. That is the reason why aspirants do not make any substantial progress in the spiritual path even after doing Sadhana for several years.

There is no loss in self-surrender. You get from the Lord everything. You enjoy all divine Aisvarya of the Lord. The whole wealth of the Lord belongs to you. Siddhis and Riddhis will roll under your feet. You become one with the Lord. You are freed from all wants and desires and cravings. The spiritually hungry and real thirsty aspirant who yearns for the vision of the Lord turns towards the Divine and is quite willing, eager and happy to consecrate his body, life, mind and soul at the feet of the Lord.

(pgs. 352-353, Sadhana by Swami Sivananda)

A lustful mind can never know things of the Spirit or deep things of God. The carnal mind cannot grasp spiritual things, things which are beyond the grasp of the intellect. Saturate your mind with thoughts divine. Check the rising of evil desires and emotions and stimulate good thoughts and feelings. Continuous struggle to keep the modifications or thoughts of the mind perfectly restrained is practice.

A mind is the result of the past thinking. It is constantly being modified by present thinking. It is material. It is made up of subtle matter. It borrows light form Atman or Soul. Train your mind. Avoid dissipation of the mental forces in mind — wandering, daydreaming and badly directed and unorganised thinking. Self-discipline must begin with the mind first. The practice of Sama (control of mind) comes first and then comes Dama (control of senses). The subconscious mind is a sort of vast storeroom underneath the conscious mind. The subconscious mind plays an important part in the psychological life of man. Your distractions, pulls and cravings emanate from the subconscious.

The conscious mind co-operates with and never condemns the subconscious. This world is full of wonders, but nothing is more wonderful than mind. Have always a background of good divine thoughts. Let not your mind stay idle. Silence of the heart, silence of the mind is better than the silence of the tongue. Man’s mind cannot rest until it finds rest in God. The mind is born of bliss. So it tries to attain happiness. It is always seeking to attain Brahman or the Absolute who is an embodiment of bliss. The mind requires Being or Reality.

(pgs. 27-28, Conquest of Mind)

Swami Chidananda Maharaj: “…The very first factor of significance which seekers have to realise is that the Grace of the Lord, which was instrumental in leading one party to victory, came out to support the Devas and it was the fitness of the party that dictated the descent of the Grace.

“Herein the first truth is revealed that if the aspirant in his struggle should become fit to approach the giver of Grace for the bestowal of Grace, he must first make himself of Daivi-Prakriti and possess Daivi-Sampat.

“The accessibility to this fountain-head of Grace from which we may draw support is conditional upon the nature of the one who approaches it. Because they were Devas, they could approach the Gracious Lord in order to ask for His Grace. We have to become Adhikaris, if we may approach the one who is to bestow grace upon us and who is to provide us with the necessary leadership and the strength to overcome the evil forces with which we are trying to battle. This is given out by all Acharyas, all great seers and Mahapurushas in the form of the Sadhana-Chatushtaya, the Yama-Niyama or the Sadachara, the acquisition of Daivi-Sampat. This is an indispensable prerequisite for every seeker who wishes to get the better of the lower self and set foot on the path of Yoga. 

“…we have first to recognise the presence of the lower self and that we are distinct from it; and that the lower self is an obstacle within us, an undesirable element within our nature. And we must align ourselves not with that force but with the divine forces. The second is the truth that mere recognition of this or acceptance of the fact that the lower self is undesirable and must be overcome is not enough; we must put this recognition into dynamic action. We must manfully set about trying to do this process of breaking down all these elements of the evil, lower nature with all our heart and all our might.

“God helps those who help themselves, is a well-known old adage. This is very true upon the spiritual path. Unless we demonstrate our sincerity and completely rid ourselves of the impurity, unspiritual and undivine, by means of practical effort and actual striving, we have not yet attained the fitness to ask for grace. We must exert; then we become deserving. Then we can desire to obtain the help of the higher powers.

“This is a law which the majority of seekers are prone to disregard because recognition and acceptance of this law is very uncomfortable and inconvenient. For, it implies that we have to strive and to make effort, and the lower nature will not easily sanction this, inasmuch as in the beginning of the spiritual practice, to a great extent, the personality of the seeker is under the habitual dominance of the lower nature, its old tendencies, old habits, inclinations, etc.

“There may be a desire or even sincerity; but it is all theoretical and the Tamoguna which is the prominent feature of the lower nature will not easily allow the aspirant to put forth right exertion. To bring out this law in a telling manner, we are told that the Devas again and again gave battle to the Asuras, not once but time and again; and it was after repeatedly being worsted in battle that they found that, in spite of their earnest and sincere practical efforts to overcome the evil forces, they were yet not crowned with victory. Then it is that the celestial hosts turned to the Supreme Lord and prayed for His Grace. And, it is only when these conditions are fulfilled that the Lord will hear this prayer and bestow His Grace.”

(pgs. x, xii-xiii, Lord Shanmukha and His Worship by Swami Sivananda)

The ordinary man with his everyday responsibilities can be just as busy as the president of the United States. Busy, busy, busy! that is life’s demand. You have to reserve time each day to get away from the world and be with God. Control your life, and set aside time to practice meditation for communion with Him. Then everything in this world will be a wonder to you.

As scientists made their discoveries by following certain disciplines and physical laws, so will you find God without fail when you scientifically follow spiritual laws. You are helping yourself in the highest way when you study and apply these laws as set forth in the Self-Realization teachings. 

Forget not the things I have told you. “A word to the wise—those who are spiritually awakened—is sufficient.” Yet Jesus said: “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few.” If you receive these teachings and practice them, you will realize every truth I have told you. It is not complicated; I have given only those spiritual techniques that will enable you to perceive and commune with God. No matter how unpleasant your circumstances in this world, when you discover God you will see Him working through you and manifesting in everything, and you will be filled with His love and joy.

India’s rishis remind us that health and prosperity, material accomplishments and possessions, are not lasting. Why concentrate only on goals that are perishable? What is lasting is the ever-new joyous contact of God and the attainment of Self-realization—finding out who you are, knowing that the image of God is within you. When you have that realization, you will be a satisfied person. The scriptures of India describe one who attains this state as a siddha, “successful one.” When I was teaching congregations of hundreds and thousands I was often called “successful.” That did not impress me. One may be recognized by the whole world and yet be unknown to the only One whose attention matters; and he who attracts the notice of God may be entirely unknown to the world. Which would you prefer? I wanted only the recognition of my Father. The acclaim of the world can be so intoxicating that man forgets to cultivate the all-fulfilling approbation of the Lord.

It is natural for man to yearn for the role of king on this earthly stage, but if all were kings, there could be no play. Your part is just as important as anyone else’s. The point is that you must play your role according to the Divine Director’s wish; when you live your part to please God, you will be successful. This should be the constant prayer in every human heart:

“My Lord, work Thou through my hands; they were made to serve Thee and to pick flowers for Thy temple. Mine eyes were made to behold Thy presence in the flickering stars, in the eyes of soulful devotees; my feet were made to take me to Thy temples everywhere to sip the nectar of Thy sermons to seeking souls, – my voice was made only to speak of Thee. I taste wholesome food that I may be reminded of Thine all-nourishing goodness; I inhale the perfume of flowers that I may breathe Thy fragrant presence there. I dedicate my thoughts, feelings, and love to Thee. All my senses are in harmony with Thy celestial orchestra of fragrance, beauty, and joy playing their refrain in the eternal symphony of the cosmos.

“Lead me from darkness to light. Lead me from hatred to love. Lead me from limitations to Thine inexhaustible power, – lead me from ignorance to wisdom. Lead me from suffering and death to everlasting life and enjoyment in Thee. Above all, lead me from the delusion of human attachment into realization of Thy love eternal, which plays hide-and-seek with me in all forms of human love.

“Father, Mother, Friend, Beloved God, reveal Thyself unto me! Leave me in ignorance no longer. All delusion I cast from the sacred shrine of my soul. Be Thou the only King sitting on the throne of my ambitions, the only Queen in the castle of my love, the only Deity in the temple of my soul. Keep me awake in Thy consciousness, that I may pray and demand unceasingly until Thou dost open all doors into Thy home of wisdom, and there receive me, Thy prodigal child, and entertain me with the fatted calf of immortality and eternal joy.”

(pgs. 258-260, Man’s Eternal Wisdom)