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Spiritual Teachings


Continued from the previous issue

Love and Sympathy

Love and sympathy are the signs of spiritual life. If spiritual life does not make devotees considerate and kind to others, then what is the use of such devotion?

A perverse ego asserts itself too much. We think more of rights than duties--thinking how much we can get and not how much we can give. You will get more, if you give more. Do not approach anybody as a beggar; but approach as a giver. Look around for a place where you can sow a few seeds of happiness even for a day.

The disciples of Sri Ramakrishna were so different from the ordinary type of religious men. They lived much fuller and richer lives than ordinary spiritual men. One moment they were lost in the deepest meditation, the next moment they were actively engaged in the service of all, helping everybody.

The great disciples of Sri Ramakrishna were a class by themselves. They had intense love for God and man. Their love for man was an expression of their love for God, for, they saw the Divine in all men and women. Sitting at the feet of these great disciples of Sri Ramakrishna, the religion we learnt was not egocentric.

One should give more than what one receives. But people never think of giving. Once a man came to me and asked, 'Swamiji, what can I have here!' Of course I was very kind to him. I told him that he could attend daily prayers, lectures and attend library, etc.

We must work in such a way that others must feel like working in the same manner. We must teach them the way.

A man used to come to Swami Brahma-nandaji. He came from a good family but was very miserly and would sometimes bring half a pumpkin or a few plantains. We used to watch this but Swami Brahmananda Maharaj used to be very kind to him.

Again there are devotees whose only theme is to give. They never think of receiving. Once a family had come to Bangalore for a few days. I had stayed in their house while touring the South. I gave prasad to the lady but as she was leaving after bowing down to me, she forgot to take the prasad. I called her back and reminded her of the prasad. Her one central theme was to give and not to take; that is why she had forgotten.

Sri Krishna

Take any aspect of Sri Krishna. He is an ideal for men, women and children. Even the animals are charmed by Him. Sri Ramakrishna used to go into samadhi while hearing the name of Sri Krishna. See how the infinite limits itself when it incarnates! Sri Krishna in his childhood showed His infinite nature to His parents. Behind His divine personality stands the impersonal, indivisible Sat-Chid-Ananda. When the soul is tired of worldly things, it yearns to be one with the Paramatman.

The Gopis in their ecstatic state realised His infinite nature. Again they loved Him in His personal aspect as well. No spiritual experience is complete unless one realises both these aspects, personal and impersonal. That means we are parts of Him. So instead of meditating on the Lord, if we meditate on ourselves, which we always do, what happens? We will be meditating on a limited personality, full of anger, lust, desires etc. and we shall imbibe some of these qualities.

Swami Brahmananda

It was most surprising how Swami Brahmananda's brother monks used to regard him so much superior to themselves. They looked upon him as the representative of Sri Ramakrishna. Swami Vivekananda was only nine days older to Swami Brahmananda. Each one of them was a spiritual giant and a personification of infinite power, knowledge, love, and along with it immense humility.

What a personality Swami Brahmananda had! He hailed from a rich family and had a majestic and princely look which charmed everyone. In the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna you read about different categories of men. First, the bound souls immersed in worldliness. They have no idea of the glory of spiritual life. Second, those who want to become \. They struggle. Third, those who after intense struggle, succeed in becoming free, the liberated souls. Finally, there are a few who are ever free--nityasiddhas. They are born only for the good of the world. Swami Brahmananda was one such nityasiddha.

A day or two before Swami Brahma-nanda passed away, he called us and said, 'After the body falls off, I will sometimes come from my heavenly abode to see how my children are getting on.'

Maharaj was not the type who would give sermons day and night. Early in the morning he would meditate and be in a deep spiritual mood and after that all of us--sadhus and brahmacharis--would sit in the verandah around him. There was no need of words. The spiritual vibrations radiating from him were so strong and intense that one could tangibly feel and experience them. His mere presence was enough to uplift and elevate the mind. He showered immense love on all.

But never think it was all milk and honey. When it came to spiritual disciplining, he was indeed a very stern task master. He could see through all of us, our past and future. Sometimes we used to get such scoldings! We were like lumps of clay in his hands being given beating after beating, his loving anxiety being that the spiritual lessons learnt at his feet be digested and assimilated into our systems so that they have a transforming effect on us. But then there was a lighter side of him too. His sense of humour was such that when he cut jokes we would roll on the ground with laughter.

Sometimes we find men of realisation getting angry or attached. Even jivanmuktas have anger and attachment, but you can understand them and their implications only when you live with them. Love need not always take on a calm and peaceful form.

True love can often be as hard as steel; it can use harsh words. The knife of a surgeon cuts, but it cuts in order to heal. These great ones may appear cruel and heartless in some of their advice, but through the kindness of their cruelty they heal and bring new life.


Death--the very word generates fear in the minds of all. In fact, fear of death is the fear of all fears. No matter how hard we may try to avoid our fate, death stands waiting for us at the end of our life.

One day a young man, a servant of the sultan, rushed breathlessly into the sultan's palace in Damascus and said, 'Please, Your Majesty, I need your swiftest horse!' 'What is the matter?' asked the sultan. The young man replied, 'As I passed through the royal garden, I saw Death. He stretched his arms towards me and frightened me. I must flee to Baghdad.' The sultan readily agreed to the servant's request. Then the sultan went out in his garden looking for Death. He saw Death crouching near a patch of day-lilies and angrily asked, 'What are you doing? Why are you scaring my servant?' 'I did not mean to scare the young man', apologised Death. 'When I saw him here, I simply threw up my hands in surprise. You see,' explained Death, 'he was not supposed to be here at the palace. I am to meet him tonight at Baghdad!' The young man died at Baghdad that night.

Death is inevitable. The future is a closed book to all of us, but one thing common to all is that we have to meet death. No one can escape it. But having come into this world, why not achieve something, why not live the divine life and be a blessing to ourselves and to others?

Spiritual life is not meant for the weak-minded and cowards; for the runaways and drop-outs in life. Spiritual life is meant for the highly intelligent and cultured, for the daring and adventurous, for those who are ready to put in all their self-effort to strive and reach the state of perfection. Spiritual life is meant for those who are brilliant intellectually, beautiful emotionally and dynamic physically.

In a monastic order, we do not want weaklings, but only those who are strong physically, morally, intellectually and spiritually. It is not a dust-bin in which one can throw anything. Some people try to escape from the problems of the worldly life by taking shelter in a monastery. They make themselves and others miserable. We want only those who can stand a little of asceticism and self-control and become hardy and tough in a good sense. Such are likely to succeed.

This is a period of preparation. Merely lamenting over not having seen the Lord will not do, neither will passive prayer be enough. A spiritual seeker must be able to break the old habits and make new good ones.

There are some aspirants who, without striving hard for improving themselves in every way, go on lamenting and cursing themselves and find a morbid joy in self-condemnation, which is another form of self-love but turned upside down.

You should see that you do not condemn yourself too much and thus weaken your moral fabric.

Visiting Holy Places

Visiting holy places is an easy thing. It is difficult to make progress in the realm of spirit. Yet pilgrimages have great significance. They serve a great purpose.

The holy places in India are in all directions: Ayodhya, Mathura, Hardwar, Kanchi, Kashi, Rameswaram, Puri, Dwarka, Badri, Sringeri, etc.--East, West, North and South. The holy rivers, Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Narmada, Kaveri, etc. are also in all directions. Pilgrimages to these places have greatly helped to preserve the fundamental unity of India.

In different states of India, people speak different languages, and have different customs and traditions. Yet they have got the same spiritual ideas.

Nowadays pilgrims fly from place to place by train, by car, etc. In olden days they used to walk the whole distance and come in contact with people and would find that the ideas are common.

Disciplines for a Member of a Religious Institution

Have great regard for others.

Intensify your sadhana. The quality of Japa and meditation should be improved. Practice Japa with artha bhavanam. Each one must follow the method told by her Guru.

Perform your duties perfectly.

You must see how much you are able to give to the sangha and not how much you get.

Practise relaxation. In the midst of work we must learn to practise relaxation. When

we relax, the mind comes in tune with the infinite. Have a little thought of God in the mind thoughout the day.

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