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January 2009

The teachings of Swami Sivananda will be presented in Yoga during the year 2009. In the current issue, he guides aspirants on the basics of living a spiritual life.

High on Waves

New Year Message

Practise Integral Yoga

Twenty Important Spiritual Instructions

May I Answer That?

Yama & Niyama: The Path of Ethical Discipline

Basic Guidelines for Yogic Practices

Eating to Support Your Sadhana

Purify Your Heart

Signs of Spiritual Growth

Yoga in Daily Life



May I Answer That?

How are life and meditation intertwined?

There is no human being in the world who is not divine by nature. The divinity in individuals differs only in degree, but not in kind. Even the so-called atheist has a ray of divinity in him. No person is devoid of the three gunas – sattwa, rajas and tamas – in varying proportions. Whether one is a sceptic, atheist or nihilist, it is the sattwa that abides in one that helps to perform virtuous actions, which result in further actions of like nature, either in this or future births. While we perform rajasic and tamasic actions, we also perform sattwic actions according to the degree of purity and sattwa in us. No man in the world, be he a robber, thief or pirate, commits vicious actions alone. Every individual commits both virtuous and vicious actions in life. That is, everyone is prone to mixed actions as long as one is under the grip of Prakriti. When virtuous actions are performed, the mind naturally turns towards divinity, however slightly. Meditation is essentially the quality of sattwa. When life is made ennobling, one is sure to think of the sublime.

The point that must be remembered is that sattwic actions are in themselves worship or meditation. Meditation need not necessarily mean sitting in a sequestered spot and thinking of Rama, Krishna, Jesus or Mohammed or pouring forth verbal or mental prayers. Actions that tend to purify the grossness of the individual are to be collectively treated as meditation. Life is thus meditation coupled with ignorance in the case of an ordinary individual.

If meditation is deliberately taken up on the instructions of guru, one cannot but perform good and selfless actions so that life becomes more and more cheerful, enlightening and attractive. In the latter course, which is but a deliberate step, one evolves more quickly, while in the former course one moves forward with the pace of a snail. Thus, life and meditation are intertwined.

When divine grace is believed to do everything, why should one perform any sadhana?

This is a wrong philosophy. God helps those who help themselves. God’s grace will descend only on those persons who exert. The Lord’s grace will descend in proportion to the degree of surrender. The more the surrender, the more the grace. You cannot expect the Lord to do self-surrender for you. Be up and doing. Strive. Plod. Persevere. The Lord will shower His grace upon you.

Mira abandoned everything. She renounced kingdom, husband, relatives, friends and property. She remembered Krishna day and night. She shed tears of love. She sang His praise with single-minded devotion. She gave up food. Her body was emaciated. Her mind was ever absorbed in Krishna. Only then did Krishna shower His grace upon her.

I have been undergoing vigorous tapas and meditation for the last five years. With this, my troubles and difficulties are multiplying. I have even lost my job. What shall I do? Is this divine grace?

It is said that the Lord gives food even to the frog that lives between the strata of rocks. Why has He failed in your case alone? This is a great wonder! Has He failed in His duty? This cannot be. He is all-merciful, all benevolent! Is it because He wants to develop in you the constructive qualities – courage, presence of mind, endurance, strong will, fortitude, more mercy and love – and make His instrument more fit for His divine lila? Yes, this must be the case.

The struggling and sincere aspirant also gets more troubles and difficulties, because he has to march quickly on the path to reach the kingdom of supreme peace and unalloyed bliss.

Princess Mira renounced the pomp and glory of the palace and walked in the burning sands of Rajputana. She starved on her way to Vrindavan. She slept on the ground. She lived on alms. The Pandavas underwent countless sufferings even when Lord Krishna was behind them. Our sufferings are nothing when compared to the persecutions undergone by the five Pandavas, Sri Rama and Mira. It is suffering that develops the will. It is suffering alone that moulds a person on the spiritual path. Be not troubled. Feel the Lord’s grace and mercy at every step. All difficulties will melt away. Have perfect, unswerving faith in His grace.

How to put a permanent end to all doubts and questions?

As one advances in spiritual sadhana and attains greater and greater degree of evolution day by day, by regular and unremitting practice of the yoga of synthesis, the clouds of doubts, delusion and interrogation disperse by themselves. As the sun rises, the mist disappears. Even so, as you progress on the spiritual path by the grace of guru and God, all the intricate problems of life and death dissolve themselves into the ever-abiding truth of existence. The only duty of man is to intensify the inner purity by graded, integral sadhana. Whenever doubts, troubles and the like arise, repeat your mantra. There is no room for doubts to crop up on the attainment of Self-realization, as the seeker is no longer the seeker, but divinity itself.

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