Sadhana of Swadhyaya

From Yoga Sadhana Panorama, Volume Six, Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

Sattwa is living spiritual awareness. Sri Swamiji has stated that the destiny of human life is spiritual awareness. Spiritual awareness is the outcome of a developed, integrated nature. This is what yoga has to mean for us, a process by which we can cultivate our own qualities. Therefore, in meditation the aim should not be higher experience, but the development of inner qualities. We find this in the teachings of Swami Sivananda. Swami Sivananda says that the expression of human qualities begins with serenity, and we are far from serenity in our lives. Situations disturb us. Events and circumstances can disturb us. Relationships and communication can disturb us. The selfish nature becomes disturbed. We lose touch with reality and identify more deeply with selfish qualities. We identify with loss and when we act to replace our sense of loss, our selfish nature again becomes stronger.

Tamas and rajas are the conditions of our life. Spiritual awareness can be experienced when sattwa expresses itself. Yoga is the movement from the tamasic nature to the sattwic nature. If we are living in a closed, tamasic environment with high expectations of greater visions, we live in a world of our own created imaginations and fantasies. We feel that we are becoming sattwic because of our fantasies. This fantasy can be shattered when you observe your patterns of behaviour. Hatred, greed, jealousy and anxiety remain. Many people have been practising meditation for twenty or thirty years, but they have remained in their tamasic shell. Has anybody become sattwic, even one percent or two percent, despite the involvement with yoga?

We have to move from the tamasic state of life into the sattwic state. With the attainment of the sattwic nature, we live spiritual awareness. From the sattwic nature we move to a state of consciousness where we become one with the creation and the creator. We become the medium for the expression of higher energy. Even now the cosmic energy is expressing through us, but we are not aware of it. We think that according to astrology and palmistry we will live for eighty or ninety years.

When we sleep at night, we die. Sleep is an experience of death. How do you know that in sleep the spirit doesn't leave the body? Yet it is that divine energy which regulates that pattern of living to death, from living to sleeping and back to living. Many different events happen in our body, mind and emotions which reflect and confirm the existence of a higher life-force directing the life processes. In the same manner, when one develops an awareness of this cosmic force directing the expressions and behaviours in life, one becomes realized.

Yoga has to be seen from a different perspective. First follow the aims set by yoga for your development. Secondly, use yoga to develop the faculties of head, heart and hands to acquire excellence in life. Thirdly, understand yoga as a journey from the tamasic state of existence to the sattwic state of existence, from conditioned to luminous. If we are able to understand these three, yoga becomes a sadhana of life. Yoga is the sadhana of swadhyaya. Not the sadhana of asana, or meditation, but the sadhana of swadhyaya, knowing the self.