Life from the True Angle

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

To serve the less fortunate is the greatest form of worship of God. To repeat His name and constantly remember Him is the surest and quickest way to achieve success and attain eternal peace. To regulate one's life according to the injunctions of the shrutis is the greatest cure of any malady. To meditate daily for two hours is the only way to soothe the nervous mind.

To idly waste time in extra-curricular activities is the greatest of all earthly sins and the worst form of liability. To wreck one's faith in God is an untold mishap.

History

Life is a mysterious phenomenon, hence one needs to maintain a measure of great precaution to deal with it. The mysteries of life unfold to the person who regards it as the greatest of God's gifts. Life no longer remains a magical box if one takes to sadhana sincerely. To those who have implicit faith in God, life becomes a happy celebration of festivities.

Neither the temples, nor the mechanical repetition of stotras, nor the supernatural images and forms could help India. Where was the so-called miraculous deity of Somnath temple when Mohammad Gaznavi plundered and broke it eighteen times? Where was the supposed divinity of Kashi Vishwanath when it was the centre of aggressive wars? Where were the siddhas and yogis when the flames of war were burning the heart of India down to ashes? The priests, the credulous masses, the materialistically-minded people, the forerunners of our destiny did more harm to us than was done by Nadir Shah and Taimur Lang jointly.

If you wish to rise, stand and walk, take it from this sadhu, that your material efforts will not work out your long cherished plan. Neither gods and goddesses, nor priest and ascetic can help the material prosperity of a nation. Due to our dilapidated spiritual attitude we have been suffering for so long, while the rest of the nations have gone far ahead in material advancement.

The living saints of every time and nation have served the cause efficiently. Buddha revived the conditions of our country in his time. Adi Shankaracharya changed the integral structure of India. Tulsi was marvellously successful in bringing about a thorough revolution in the aspirations and expressions of our countrymen. He undoubtedly eliminated the faces of ghosts, devils and evil forces from the masses and discouraged the malpractice of siddhis. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa prepared India to fight for her real cause. Today it becomes our duty to pay our dues to these champions of the human cause.

Seva

Simplicity is the scientific way of life. Good speech is the most precious of all ornaments. Service is the salt of life, japa is the soap. Asanas purify the body and the name purifies the mind. Dhyana strengthens willpower, work strengthens the future and study makes one perfect.

Life without devotion has no meaning at all. Peace does not come in the absence of faith in God, but is granted to those who have a refined culture, a keen sense of duty and faith in the good and in God. Peace be to them who are pure at heart, intensively courageous in action, serviceable to the low and fallen, and meditative before they take up any work.

Most of our aspirations are woven around our little family, business and personal whims. We do not take notice of the aspirations of others, especially of those who need to be noticed and are lying unnoticed. When you take care of others, God and nature will take care of your welfare. This law is historically tested and found correct. God helps those who help others. If you are ablaze with a fiery determination for helping others, you are going to be endowed with capacities.

It does not, however, mean that you should stage a drama of your ideals, but you should at least have a great ambition and burning aspiration to help others. It is not necessary that you should consider material and non-material help alone as a form of service. Sweet speech or sympathetic utterances are one of the aspects of service.

Help widows, the blind and leprosy-stricken fellowmen. Love the untouchables. Do not ill treat sweepers, this too is service. Do not misbehave with beggars who are your unfortunate brothers. I cannot help reiterating to you to analyze the plight of the beggar you are facing. It is not compulsory to give him a coin, but do not rebuke him and thus break his innocent and already broken heart.

Change

The religious feelings dictate that ten percent of the income should never be used for the family: twenty percent must be reserved for an emergency, such as sickness, marriage and accidental circumstances; ten percent at least should go to the education of poor children; ten percent is the margin; and fifty percent goes to household needs and other regular allowances. This distribution is according to religious sanctions. In practice, however, it may need some proper adjustment.

A businessman needs daring initiative and enterprise, but enterprise needs a great deal of self-confidence and sense of self-reliance. Who is qualified in self-confidence? What made Americans and Englishmen what they are?

By the end of the 17th century, the revolution had completely broken the backs and fronts of the priesthood, witchcraft and the tendency of the masses towards the supernatural. Astral entities were declared dangerous. Phenomena were confined to scientists. The masses had nothing to do with super-physical realities, whether they were real or not.

When I peep back into the pages of Russian history, I find the Russian condition of the pre-Lenin era just the same as it is in India today. When the old society underwent a red revolution, the old religion could no longer stay and sustain the blows. Russia has beaten most of the nations in power and prowess, in duty and character, in art and religion. There are no churches which feed and maintain the life of a nation.

Let us not create confusion and perform irrelevant ceremonies. When the malady is material, it can be cured materially; when it is spiritual, it can be treated spiritually. However, when the afflictions are supernatural, no force whatsoever can avert them. This conclusion is in accordance with our scriptures.

Religion

Religion means a proper sense of duty, which helps an individual to regain his lost glory and decipher the lost path. Dharma means a stable platform, which retains our essential values of life, our character, aspirations and ambitions. Since it upholds or keeps us firmly established in a settled position, it is called dharma. Since it calls us to a return, it is called re-ligion. Religion must have an integrated space and scope in our daily life. The religious code must excommunicate the parasites which are flourishing in the name of religion. Religion should be disentangled from so-called social ceremonies and buffoonery with impartial judgment. Under no condition should religion be taken to be the totality of templetarianism, churchianty, mosqueshness. Religion should form the fundamental basis of our attitude to motives, actions and emotions in day-to-day life. Thus every one of our motives, actions and emotions can be spiritualized in the fraction of a second without the least tinge of tamasha, ostentation and clownish demonstrations.

Sadhana

Get up at 4 am. Practise yogasanas, meditation, japa, swadhyaya, mantra writing and prayer. Thus be ready for the day with a mind filled with tranquillity, a body with smartness, a soul with positive ideals, a day with a lot of hours. This is the best time to meditate and commune with yourself. It is the opportune moment when godly ideas occur and elevate your entire life and career. Brahmamuhurti, the time from 4 to 6 am, will silently and efficiently inaugurate the day's functions, for ‘Well begun is well done.'

At night between 8 and 10 pm, one should try to review, analyze and criticize the accomplishments of the day. However, this practice should not be done too seriously, it is a simple recapitulation of the day's engagements and commitments. Gradually, the two-hour practice will do immense good, cast off prejudices and develop memory and the power of judgement. It will also bestow upon you a psychic personality through which you can help yourself and others.

Regulation

Too much brooding over the past and excessive planning weakens mental strength. Inertia follows, however dynamic the person may appear, it is an extremely unhealthy condition of life. One must efficiently eliminate inertia with healthy occupations. The hour of leisure should be spiritualized. In the beginning, the easiest way to spiritualize idle hours is to repeat the ishta mantra until a religious-cum-philosophic temperament has not been developed. Of course, after a certain stage when you hold a proper sway over your mind, you may continue with religious thinking, manana. In the beginning, mere repetition of the name will do to render the mind peaceful, calm, sharp and strong. The name is not merely a blind ideology, no and never. It is a tried technology in religion.

Kirtan is the most important and potent of all methods of sadhana. When you do kirtan at night along with your family members, it will not only produce a positive atmosphere in the home, but train the psychology of the children. Children fear and shrink before a strict and grim-faced father, while the spiritually-minded father creates a sense of regard and initiates in their lives a process of evolution.

Pray when you get up, pray before you go to bed, pray before eating and pray when you have finished your meal. Prayer spiritualizes, energizes and revives the art of living.

Aim high and work hard. Recreation is a baseless excuse for neglecting sadhana. Indians do not need recreation, they have been recreating and sleeping for more than eight centuries. Now the time has come that Indians shall recreate their potentialities, revive their own culture and assert the sanctity of their soul.

Regulate yourself if you wish to regulate the family affairs. Regulation is the song of life and the law of life. Regulation regulates self-committed irregularity. It is real religion. It is a rare commodity today, but no amount of feverish effort will bring desirable results in the material and spiritual region, whereas a regulated life will enable you to succeed in all spheres of life.

— printed in YOGA, Vol.8, No.8, (August 1970)