Guide Lights on the Path of the Aspirant

Sri Swami Sivananda

1. God is beyond mind and senses, beyond intellectual perception and expression. But the mind is a means to God-realization, and hence God has to be associated with all that positive, so that one may soar high, from negative life of bondage to spiritual life of freedom.

2. God is the inner ruler, the remote voice of one's conscience. God is within as well as without. To find God, you must look within, still the mind through self-restraint, concentration and meditation, and dissolve it in the consciousness of the Divine. The heart must be purified through senses, must be brought under control.

Synonymous Symbols

3. Truth is God. Truth is love, justice, goodness, the inner voice.

4. Om is the symbol of God, the creative, sustaining and dissolving power behind all phenomena. Om is the root of all sounds, therefore of all words. Om is the centre of cosmic vibration, the cause of creation. Om is the pulsation of the spirit within man, and man is the vehicle of good and evil tendencies, the physical body, the subtle mind and all its components, that conceals the spark of the spirit within.

5. Om is that which is immanent and underlies names and forms. God is one, but people call Him by different names. Om is one of them. In practical life, Om is truth, love, purity. Om is the source of light and knowledge. Om is goodness, spiritual beauty, divine music, the right note of justice. Om is moral sense, the pivot of ethics, in order to realize Om, one must possess the spiritual qualities that are associated with it.

Spiritual Aspiration

6. You must have a spiritual outlook. You must realise that there is something higher than all that you see, higher than material objects, higher than body and mind. There should be discrimination between the permanent and transitory, between enduring values and momentary interests centred round one's physical being between right aspiration and negative inclination, between truth and untruth, love, hate. You must choose the positive and try to overcome the negative. That is the first step towards God-realization.

7. Pray to God for strength and enlightenment, in God alone that true peace and fulfilment can be found. The world is a training ground for the realization of the Divine. It is a means, not an end by itself. One must not expect too much from it, but do one's duty in the best possible way and offer one's actions to God as His worship.

8. Expect nothing, you shall know no disappointment. A measure of detachment and non-expectation is necessary in everyone.

9. God is always with you. Have you ever cared to think of this? It is through His grace alone that you breath and move. The realization of this factor will give peace and strength.

10. Repeat the name of the Lord, any one that is dear to your heart. Meditate on Him, any form that inspires faith and devotion in you. In the early morning hours, attune yourself with the Divine through prayer, Japa and meditation.
This will give you immense strength. In course of your normal duties, try to put into practice some basic virtues such as truth fullness, tolerance, compassion, unselfishness and generosity, and exercise a measure of discipline on tendencies which are not conducive to your welfare. This is the beginning of spiritual life.

Maya and Realism

11. The doctrine of Maya can often have an adverse affect, if not properly understood, instead of being a help. the performance of one's duty in the best possible way, with right attitude, interest and dedication, without bothering about return, is itself worship of the Lord. The world does not cease to be real as long as there is the presence of the individual mind. Therefore, one must be vitally interested in its welfare and do as much as one can as per the circumstances one is placed in.
Efficiency in action is Yoga. The doctrine of Maya is meant to act as a brake when one gets too much attached to things worldly, or loses one's sense of proportion by success, gets unduly depressed by loses or adversity. Spiritual understanding demands a strong will, steady mind, vigour and optimism. A negative drawing back does not help one either materially or spiritually. Therefore, be positive always in your outlook, and do not try to shy away from responsibility in the name of maya. Life is a fascinating advance towards betterment, evolution, perfection. Therefore, live life bravely, with wisdom, courage, and faith in yourself.

12. Steadiness of mind and control of thought are achieved in a short time. They require prolonged discipline. Do plenty of Japa, and be regular in concentration and meditation. Let your company be good. Let your aspiration be pure.

Purpose of Sadhana

13. Sadhana should not be a chore. It should be pleasant and done with happiness. Repression is not sadhana. Mechanical performance of religious practice does not fulfil the purpose of sadhana, i.e. when devoid of a sincere desire for self-culture.

14. A religious man or a holy man should be courageous, tolerant, broad minded, broad hearted, un-dogmatic, and absolutely straight in thought, speech and conduct. Hatred should find no place in him. Untruth should not cross his mouth. Fanaticism should never contaminate his mind. Otherwise he is far from being religious or holy and he does more bad to society than good.

15. Try to attain perfection in one good quality. The practice of other virtues will be easy then.

16. Different scriptures are meant for different temperaments. Even parts of some scripture are meant for people of varied outlooks.

Suffering and Desirelessness

17. Suffering is a common experience. In some more or less. By thinking of suffering it does not cease. It is difficult to be forthright about justness or unjustness of suffering. The Hindus relate it to Karma, for otherwise God could be unjust. Therefore, one should try to be positive in perspective and action, and accept the unavoidable philosophically, with detachment and stoic determination to keep the spirit strong and resolute. If a thing can be remedied, all efforts must be directed to that end. If not, one has to face the fate bravely and with composure. Otherwise there can only be neurosis.

18. To be desireless is a term primarily indicative of giving up negative desires. It does not preclude positive desires which are necessary for progress towards the state of desirelsssness, which is one of positive fulfilment, and, therefore, not negative.

19. Silence is stilling of all distractions, all outgoing tendencies of the mind, and its inner turmoil. Silence is self-discipline, including that of speech.

20. Health and disease are a condition related only to the body and physical mind. Your real nature is Satchidananda. You are the disease free Atma. Remember this often. You are the sorrowless, painless Atma, above all duality, beyond the pairs of the opposites. One cannot help, no doubt, being aware of physical conditions. But the mind has got to be drawn back again and again from the awareness of the body. Auto suggestion helps to overcome negative conditions. But do not tire the mind. Relax, and meditate on peace, and feel you are full of health.