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February 2011

Make Life Divine

Towards an Understanding of Life

Lifestyle Management through Jnana and Karma Yoga

Yoga and Mantra Shuddhi

Fifty-two Years Ago – Remembering my Guru

Satsang at Ganga Darshan

Psychophysiological Effects of Nadi Shodhana Pranayama

Know the Asana: Shashankasana



Make Life Divine

From the Teachings of Swami Sivananda

Everyone wants happiness. Life is a process of self-expression and a quest for harmony and peace. The purpose of life is to lose the sense of individuality and become one with God. Experiencing unity is divine life.

In the life of a worldly person there is no peace. Despite wealth and comforts there is restlessness. Cravings and the search for gratification occupy the mind. Everywhere you will find the same earth, sky and water, the same attraction, rejection and mind. Many people have been deceived and disappointed by a change of environment.

The world is full of struggle. Even though the face is beautiful, the heart is hard. The heart should be made as soft as butter by selfless service and giving to the poor. Life has more to offer than eating, sleeping and talking, and it has a higher form of bliss than transitory pleasures. There is a dignified way to live one's life.

Overcome delusion

A worldly person says, "I have to do my duties, educate my children and please my boss. Where is the time to do japa and study spiritual books? I have no leisure, even on Sundays I have to worry about work. I do not want yoga. Office work and the maintenance of my family is itself a great duty or yoga." This is not real duty, but bondage and selfish delusion. Even in dreams the person meets his office-mates and the boss and his life passes away in drinking, eating and sleeping. Life has no meaning as a separate life. It has meaning only when it becomes full and the individual soul joins the supreme soul.

Selfishness slows down spiritual progress and if it can be destroyed, half of one's spiritual sadhana is over. Meditation is not possible without eradicating this negative quality. Caught up in sensual pleasures, one forgets the purpose of life. People no longer know a single verse from theBhagavad Gitaor the Upanishads, or the efficacy of mantra and kirtan, nor anything about self-analysis, mind-control and introspection. Instead their nights are spent in sleep and pleasure and their days in idle talk, money-making and taking care of the family. No time is left to meditate and do good deeds.

Who is your wife? Who is your husband? Who is your son? Who is your daughter? Who am I? Where have I come from? You should think about these questions and look at the world as a dream. Neither family nor friends will help or share your pain. Only God never forgets or forsakes anyone.

Life is struggle

To live is to struggle for an ideal. Life is a fight for perfection and supreme independence. You evolve, grow and gain experience through struggle. You will cease to exist, the moment you cease to struggle. Life as well as society cannot exist without struggle.

A little victory over the mind and senses will develop willpower, confidence and courage. The most important duty is to face the difficulties in life and learn to control the mind and senses.

There is no need to ignore life in its physical manifestation, for matter is an expression of God and His lila. Matter and spirit are inseparable, like heat and fire. Life is a school to develop character and divine qualities such as forgiveness, generosity and patience. Everyone learns valuable lessons through pain and sorrow. The central teaching of theBhagavad Gitaand theYoga Vashishthais that one should realize the Self by remaining in the world. One should be in the world but not of the world, just like water on a lotus leaf.

The world is a home to all who are members of the human family. Creation is organic and no one is alone and separate. If people recognize the worth of others, protect animals and see all life as sacred, then the world will be a beautiful heaven of peace and tranquility.

Love is God

You should realize your intimate relationship with all beings. The difference in each manifestation is only a difference of degree. The real hidden consciousness lies behind the form of a tree or a dog, a Sikh or a Muslim. Knowing that all forms belong to God, inexpressible joy will emerge, hatred will cease and unity of consciousness will develop. No knowledge, no dharma, no religion is higher than love, because love is truth and love is God. The world was born of love, exists in love and ultimately will dissolve in love. God is an embodiment of love and His love can be understood in every inch of creation. Therefore, to love man is to love God, for man is the true image of God.

You should realize your identity and intimate relationship with all beings, and cultivate a positive attitude towards all. No one likes to part with their possessions when they see others in distress. A person who is struggling to develop cosmic love should only keep what he actually needs. One should practice self reliance and live to help others. The secret of life lies in the love of God and the service of humanity.

Sadhana

Sadhana releases life from the limitations with which it is bound. It is the nature of life and the mind to be constantly in motion. With the idea in the mind that the highest goal is yet to be achieved, you will always move towards it. However, self-discipline is essential, because good intentions alone will not enable you to achieve success. Regularity in your practice gives confidence. The object of sadhana is to internalise the mind by introspection and to realize the truth within.

Here is an example of my daily sadhana. In twenty-four hours I do five or six items of sadhana: japa, meditation, asana, pranayama, worship, study, writing and helping the sick and the poor. I charge my mind with divine consciousness at all times. I combine rest and relaxation with deep breathing exercises. I have spent thirty-five years of my life in Rishikesh and derived wonderful spiritual energy and strength in abundance. I maintain a high standard of health and enjoy peace and bliss at every moment. I feel I can work for another ten hours every day. The secret is my systematic sadhana and the grace of the Lord.

Easy sadhana

Due to ignorance you have forgotten your essential nature: the state ofsatchidananda, truth, consciousness, bliss. It is not necessary to renounce the world and run off to some Himalayan cave to find your lost divinity. Even with an easy sadhana you can attain God-consciousness while living in the world.

You do not need a separate meditation room or a fixed time for meditation. Close your eyes for a minute or two every two hours and think of God and qualities such as love, joy and purity. While at work mentally repeatHari OmorSri RamaorRama Ramaor any other mantra. This should be done even during the night whenever you happen to get out of bed. Do this practice at least occasionally when you change your posture during sleep, and by repeated practice this will become a habit.

The body is a moving temple of God, and the workplace can be made into another temple. Activities such as walking, breathing and reading are offerings to the Lord. Work is worship and meditation. If work is done without any motive, without the idea of agency and without expectation of results, you become an instrument in the hands of God. Then He will be able to work through your actions. With practice, all your actions will become worship and whatever you hear, touch or feel is God. Hatred and cheating will disappear, and instead love for everyone and a sense of unity will develop. This is a dynamic yoga and an easy sadhana.

Unity is divine life

Unity is eternal life and diversity is death. Unity brings harmony and supreme peace, whereas diversity brings disharmony and restlessness. There is only one language, the language of the heart. Only one dharma, the law of cause and effect and the religion of love exist. You will all feel oneness everywhere and realize the common thread that links all names and forms. Diversities, differences and mental creations will vanish.

Life is vibrant in every atom. It can be lived as poetry, art and worship. The aim of life is to realize oneness with God. We are here as pilgrims and our destination is God.

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