Friday, 30 May 2014

the greatest ideal


Practical  steps  to  spirituality- section 6 part  86

The Gita  revisited  

The  greatest ideal

               We  have  seen  in  one  of  the  earlier  pages  that  the  one  who  could  be  our  ideal  can  be  only  God  Himself  and  none  other  than  Him. . The  Lord  is  Omnipresent,  Omnipotent  and  Omniscient  . The  Lord  says  in  the  Gita  that  He  has  no  compulsions  or  obligatory  duties  but  yet  He  does  indulge  in  actions  so  that  nobody  takes  to  an  inactive  way  of  life. If  He  were  to  remain  inactive  , He  would  incite  others  to  follow  Him  and  become  lazy  and  inactive  in  life. 

                The  Lord  says  He  is  the  changeless  substratum  of  the  ever  changing  world. If  He  were  to  change  everything  would  cease  to  exist. . He  is  the  creator,  sustainer  and  destroyer  of  all  the  cosmoses  from  beginningless  time. . It  is  only  we,  human  beings  , who  need  coffee  breaks,  vacations  and  holidays  to  rejuvenate  ourselves  . He    takes  no   such  breaks  !He  is  the  One  that  supervises   all  our  actions  and  ordains  the  results   of  all  our  actions.  at  the  right  time  and  without  a  mix up  while  giving  to  each  the  fruits  of  his  karma. 

               He  as  Sri  Rama  and  as  Sri  Krishna  ,  through  His  life,  teachings  and  work   establishes  norms  of  righteousness   as  to  how  to  live  with  the  right  conduct. He  is  the  personification  of  all  the  virtues  that  is  spoken  of   in  various  verses  in  the  Gita. . He  shows  us  how  each  individual   should  face  the  toughest of   situations  with  a  cheerful  acceptance  and  continue  to  work  selflessly  for  the  welfare  of  the  world.  

to  be  continued..... 

Thursday, 22 May 2014

the right attitude


Practical  steps to  spirituality- section 6 part 85 

The  Gita  revisited  

The  right  attitude. 

               What  is  right  attitude  that  we  talk  about  while  we  discuss  about  karma  yoga  ?  Doing  a  lot  of  actions   or  doing  good  actions  is  not  karma  yoga. .  Even  doing  good  actions if done   under  compulsions   or  as  a  burden  can  be  tiring  or  boring. . Karma  yoga  consists  in  doing  the  right  actions  with  the  right  attitude.  and   in  right  attitude  ,there  would  be  the  attitude  of  dedication  wherein  one  does  one's  duties  as  a  worship  of  the  Lord. with  a  sense  of  sacrifice  ,without  any  likes  or  dislikes  ,prejudices  or  selfishness. This  is  arpana  buddhi  or  yajna  bhava  as  Swami  Chinmayananda  puts  it. 

          Along  with  this  arpana  buddhi  , there  is  a  cheerful  acceptance  of  the  results  as  Iswara  Prasada  . So  to  do  one's  duties  with  these  twin  attitudes  , that  I  am  working  for  Him  ,  with  His  knowledge  and  strength  is  called  Karma  yoga. . I  then  also  carry  the  attitude  of  obedience  to  the  scriptural  injunctions,  to  the  words  of  the  great  masters   and  a  strong  determination  to  follow  them  all  through  my  life. . I  also  carry  an  attitude  of  gratitude  which  I  then  show  by  performing  the  panca  maha  yajna. . We  have  seen  that  the  panca  maha  yajnas  are  a  daily  ritual  performed  to  show  our  gratitude   to  all  of  God's  creations  . Along  with  this  there  is  the  attitude  of  continuous  giving  so  that  the  chain  of  goodness  keeps  going  without  a  break. 

            Performing  actions  with   yajna  spirit involves  the  attitude  of  giving  and  giving  up ,    that  of  renouncing  (  giving  up  )  something  and  offering  something  (  giving  ,  samarpana  )   which  is  also  continuously   manifest  in  nature   . We  must  play  our  role   and  give  our  share   to  keep  the  wheel  of  action  rolling  towards  the  welfare  and  progress  of  all. . When  we  carry  all  the  above  attitude  , we  also  carry  the  attitude  of  detachment   and  we  then  would  do  all  our  duties  without  likes  or  dislikes,  without  prejudices,  without  dependence  or  anxiety  or  insistence  of  a  particular  result . 

to  be  continued...

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

are we a slave of our vasanas ?


Practical  steps  to  spirituality-  section  6  part 84  

The  Gita  revisited  

Are  we  a  slave  of  our  own  vasanas  ?

                 Are  we  then  a  slave  of  our  own  vasanas,  impressions  and  habits  with  no  hope of  redemption  ?  If  that  were  so,  the  whole  study  of  the  Upanishads  ,  the  Bhagawad   Gita   and  other  scriptures  would  then  become  redundant  in  our  lives.  Human  beings  are  the  only  creatures  blessed  by  God  with  the  power  of  choice  ,  to  discriminate  between  the  right  and  wrong  ,  the  good  and  bad  and  the  different  choices  we  often  make.  Hence  we   cannot  afford  to  be  just  a  victim  of  circumstances. The  Gita  says   that  we  may  be  a  product  of  our  own  nature   or  past  impressions   but  we  are  not  its  victim  .  What  can  be  done   , can  also  be  undone. or  redone.  It  is  we  only  through   cultivating  some  habits   and  entertaining  same  thoughts   over  and over  again  and  again  that  we created   the  vasanas. . So  it  is  very  much  within  our  power   to  un -create  them  or  create  new  habits  or  thoughts. 

               The  solution  lies  in  giving  up  all  our  likes  and  dislikes  ,  our  preferences , our  prejudices. . We  can  first  start  with  reducing  the    likes  and  dislikes  entertained  by  the  mind  and  in  due  course  of  time   gather  strength   to  conquer  them  . . The  next  solution  given  is  that   since   our  behaviour  is   generally   controlled  by  people  or  circumstances   outside   us   or  by  exerting  our  will  power  , we  can   keep  a  check  on  all  our  thoughts  and  actions. . But  we  all  know  that  people  who  exert  their  force  on  us  are  not  always  available   nor  is  our  will  power  always  strong  to  resist  temptations  , we  then  have  to  look  for  other  solutions  

               It  is  only through right  thinking   again  and  again  that   we  can  create  a  new  thinking  in  the  mind   and  this  then  becomes  our  behaviour  . For  example  , we  all  find  it  so  difficult  to  get  out  of  the  bed  in  the  early  morning   and  so  develop  laziness  .  It  is  only  a  repeated  convincing  of  the  mind  by  entertaining  new  thoughts   to  get  up  from  bed   to  fulfill  a  higher  goal   that  can help us get  rid  of  our  wrong  habit  of  lazing  around  in  the  bed  even  when  we  are awake. . The  Gita  says  when  we  do  all  our  actions,  our  duties  with  karma  yoga  attitude   even  if  they  appear  mundane  or  boring  or  tough  ,  then  our  likes  and  dislikes  get  neutralized  in  due  course  of  time   . We  then  will  no  longer  play  the role of a victim  that  of  a  slave  of  our  own  habits  ,  our  vasanas. 

to  be  continued....

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Arjuna's question to the Lord


Practical  steps  to spirituality-  section 6 part 83

The  Gita  revisited  

Arjuna's question  to the  Lord  

       Whether  we  are  intelligent  and  knowledgeable  or  ignorant  , we  think  according  to  what  we  know  but  behave  only  in  accord  with  our  inherent  nature. I  want  to remain  calm  under all  circumstances  but  what  really  happens  is  I  get  angry  over  small  things  much  against  my  will. . We  have  filled  our  minds  with  hundreds  of  desires  , with  lots  of  likes  and  dislikes  . We  brood  over  them   and  act  according  to  them  again  and  again   , which  then  create  deep  impressions  ,  habits   called  vasanas  . This  bundle  of  vasanas  prompts  all  our  actions   and  then  they  become  our  nature. 

       Duryodhana  once  told  his  friend  , Karna  , that   he  knows  what  is  dharma  but  still  he  always  did  something  adharmic. . His  vasanas  guided  him  at  every  step. . He  did  not  take  steps  to  correct  his  behaviour   by  educating  his  mind  in  the  right  direction. . The  bundle  of  vasanas  which  prompted  him  to  do  adharmic  actions   was  his  inherent  nature   and  since  he  never  took  steps  to  get  rid  of  his  nature  , to  turn  over a  new  leaf,  he  remained  a  slave  of  his  vasanas. He  failed  to  listen  to  good  advice  too. 

     It  is  said  that  one  cannot  straiten  a  dog's  tail  which  always  remain  curled  .  Similarly  we  too  seem  to  be  helpless   in   getting   out  of  the  compelling  forces  of  our  vasanas. . All  we  have  to  do  is  to  create  a    new thought  in  our  mind  , a  new  sankalpa    , which  when  repeatedly  affirmed  in  our  mind,  creates  a  new  path  so  to  say  in  the  brain  . Modern  science  also  accepts  the  fact  that  if  the  same  thought  is  entertained  by the  mind  for  21 days  , this  can  become  a  new  habit   replacing  our  old  habit.    Satsang  and  approaching  a  Guru  and  studying  the  scripture  helps  us   to  view  life  in the  correct  perspective  and  change  for  the  better.  and  walk  the  right  path.

             Arjuna  asks  a  very  pertinent  question  to  the  Lord  . "  What  is  the  influence  that  makes  one  act  improperly   forcing  him  against  his  will  "? Are  we  then  a  slave  of  our own  vasanas  , with  no  hope  of  redemption  ?  We  shall  see  the  answer  in  our  next  page  

to  be  continued....

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

attain success in life


Practical  steps  to  spirituality-  section 6 part 81

The  Gita  revisited  

Attain  success  in  life. 

                   A  mind  that  is  distracted  and  dissipated   and  not  concentrated   cannot  achieve  anything  great   or  worthwhile  in  life.  We  waste  away  all  our  energies  in  regretting  about  our  past  ,  about  what  we  did  , what  others  did  to  us   and  these  thoughts  keep  us  tied  to  the  past  regrets  .  We  have  anxiety  for  the  unborn  future , for  we  do  not  know  what  shape  the  future  will  take  in  our  lives.   Are  we  then  at  least  happy  in  the  present  moment  ?  All  us  know  from  experience  that  our  minds  are  very  much  agitated  in  the  present. and  hence  always  tensed    and  with  no  peace  of  mind. . Such  a  mind  cannot  achieve  any success  in  life. . It  is  only  when  we  keep  our   mind  strong  and  steady   and  focussed  that  we  can  attain  success   in  life. The  Gita  says  that  only  when  we  surrender  ourselves  completely  unto  the  Lord  that  we  can  have  a  taste  of  success  ,be  it  material  or  spiritual. 

               The  world  is  made up  of  all  kinds  of  people  .Those  who  value  wealth,  seek  monetary  profit. , those  who  love   pleasure  , seek sense  enjoyments  ,those  who  are  hungry  for  power  seek  power  ,  those  inclined  spiritually  seek  spiritual  benefit   from  all  that  they  do. . We  have  to  critically  ask  ourselves  what  kind  of  mind  we  have   and  what  do  our  minds  seek  .We  should  elevate  our  minds   by  constantly  reflecting  on  the  Truths  propounded  by  the  scriptures  . We  should  approach  a  competent   Guru  
and  seek  his  guidance   to  grow  spiritually. . We  must  develop  trust  in  the  words  of  the  Guru  . I  may  not  know  how  the  medicine that  I  take  to  keep  my  blood  sugar   normal  , works  but  I  know  that  the  medicine prescribed  by  the  doctor   does  help  to  keep  my  sugar  under  control   and  keep  me  free  from    illness  .  Similarly  , the  words  of  the  Guru  when  taken  with  complete  faith   will  help  us  to  get  a  taste  of  joy  and  success   not  only  materially  but  also  ensures  our   spiritual  growth. . So  let  us  have  complete  faith  in  the  Guru  's  ability  and  nobility  to  guide  us  to  attain  success  in  all  spheres  of  our  life 

to  be  continued.... 

Thursday, 1 May 2014

the wise should guide the ignorant


Practical  steps  to  spirituality  -section 6  part  81

The  Gita  revisited  

The  wise should guide  the  ignorant   

               The  Lord  says  in  the  Gita  that  the  wise  should  be  responsible  for  making  the  ignorant  act  in  accord  with  the  duties  prescribed. . However  the wise  should  not  confuse  or  frighten  the  ignorant. . To  guide  him   is  indeed  difficult. . The  wise man  must  himself   be  well  established  in  the  path  of  karma  yoga  -that  of  performing  selfless  actions. . He  must  set an  example  for  others  to  do  likewise. The  ignorant  man  is  motivated  into  any  action  only  because  of  attachments  and  he  considers   name, fame  , power  and  money  as  yardsticks  of  success  .  The  wise  should  not  condemn  or  criticize  the  man  on  the  street.  for  his  own  belief  systems. He   should  be  accepted  as  he  is   and  then  guided  in  the  right  path. 

               It  is  a  known  fact  that  people  change  when  they  are  ready  for  change  . They  should  not  be  forced  to  change. . So  the  Gita  says   it  is  better  to  make  them  become  more  effective  in  what  they  are  already  inclined  towards  rather  than  bringing  sudden  changes  in  their  thinking  and  actions. . It  is  a  known  fact  that  a  tamasik  man  cannot   overnight  be  expected  to  do  selfless  actions  . Hence  the  wise  must  motivate  him  to  perform  actions  even  if  they  are  selfish. . Thereafter  he  may  be  asked  to  perform  some  good  actions   for  a  few  hours  in a  week without  any  selfish  motives  and  when  he  gets  the  taste  of  joy  in  doing  selfless  actions  , he  will  slowly   take  to  the  path  of  karma  yoga. 

            At  first  , he  might  not  understand  the  concept  of  karma  yoga  completely. , but  as  he  continues  in this  path  with  his  own  half  understanding  ,  he  will  reach  a  point  where  he  would  surrender  to  the  Lord  but  yet  doubt  His  compassion   The  wise  should  understand  the  needs  , aspirations   and  guide  him  in the  right  direction. . Finally  it  becomes  important  for  the  wise  to  empower  him  to  free  him  from  all  doubts   and   to  become  independent   and  surrender  himself  totally  to  God's  Will  .

to  be  continued....