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Spiritual Teachings


Continued from the previous issue

The different Yogic Centres.

There are seven centres in connection with the spiritual progress of the individual. The first and the lowest is at the level of the organ of evacuation. The second is at the sexual organ. The third centre is at the navel. The mind of worldly persons is usually on one of these centres. They think only of eating, sleeping and sexual satisfaction. The fourth centre is at the heart. As the spiritual aspirant rises to this level and his mind approaches this plane, he feels there is a lotus at the level of the heart, the petals of which are directed downwards. When this centre is reached, the bud of the lotus opens and the petals get directed upwards--the lotus blooms. But suddenly the mind falls to the lower centres again. The task in spiritual life is to make the petals of the lotus direct upwards and keep it full blown. At this stage one is able to meditate well--the mind is tranquil; breathing is rhythmic.

The fifth centre is at the throat; the sixth is at a place between the two eye-brows. When this centre opens one may have a vision of the Ishta-Devata. The seventh centre is in the head. This is the highest centre. Reaching here, one goes into samadhi. Here one sees the lotus which is in full bloom and the shining form of the Ishta-Devata seated on the lotus with a smiling face.

This reminds me of an incident about the heart. There were two doctors, one German and the other American. The German doctor said that the heart is on the right side, but the American doctor said that the physiologists say that the heart is on the left. They were thus quarrelling, when a wise man came and he asked, 'What is the matter? Why are you fighting?'

The German doctor said that the heart is on the right side but the American doctor said that it is on the left side.

The wise man said, 'What does it matter? Whether it is on the right or left side, let it be in the right place!'

One should not go deep into psychology. In western countries there was a psychologist. He used to say, 'Girls who are hysterical should get married and then they will be all right.' One day someone asked him, 'How many of your patients are hysterical?' The psychologist replied, 'Half of my patients who are hysterical are unmarried and the other half has become hysterical after marriage!'

One should not practise sadhana, breathing exercises, postures etc. without the guidance of one's Guru. The Guru is none other than Brahman Himself. He comes from time to time to teach people.

Swami Brahmanandaji used to forbid spiritual seekers from using occult powers. People then know how to know the mind of others, but they do not know how to read their own minds...

Harmony in our personality

Body, mind, senses and ego, all combine to form our personality.

Body: Body must be kept fit and efficient. It is necessary for us to have a new attitude towards the body. It is neither an instrument for sense gratification nor a mass of filth to be hated and neglected. The body is primarily a temple of the Divine Spirit and must be nourished with pure food which brings energy, strength, health and cheerfulness.

One's health must be good to do spiritual practices. If we have headache or the stomach is not all right or the liver is not functioning well, can we meditate? No! Someone told me, 'Swamiji, I want to forget the body and meditate.' I told him, 'What! Even if you forget the body, the body will not forget you!'

No spiritual seeker can afford to neglect the body or bodily health. What can one do with a weak or a diseased body? Have a different outlook towards the body. It is not a means for sense-enjoyment nor a house of filth. It is a temple of God in which resides the Atman--deha devalaya--Develop this attitude towards the body.

Mind: Mind has three faculties or functions:

(1) Thinking or reasoning

(2) Feeling or emotions

(3) Willing or actions

Many times our thoughts, feelings and actions work in entirely different directions or one of them becomes too strong. We may become over-intellectual without tender feelings and without any practical actions; or we may become a whirlpool of impulses and emotions; or we may become restlessly active without caring for reason and without higher aspirations to lead a proper spiritual life. Let all these three develop fully and work together in harmony for our spiritual evolution.

Senses: Senses are always eager to run after sense-objects. With the help of discrimination, control the senses. We should break away from the hold of impulses. The very moment the impulses rise in us, we should try to expand our consciousness, for, then, these impulses at once disappear, just as the waves disappear in the ocean.

Ego: The ego becomes perverse. It thinks too much of itself, forgetting everything else. We become extremely selfish and mean. To give an illustration, a bubble on the surface of the sea thinks too much of itself. It forgets the other bubbles. It forgets even the ocean and wants to grow. What happens? The bubble bursts. This actually happens with many human beings.

In a properly integrated or harmonised personality, the ego or the individual will is brought into harmony with universal consciousness. How? Through japa, meditation, prayer and worship. Then let this ripe ego direct and guide the mind, the senses and the body.

One of the greatest lessons I learned sitting at the feet of my Master, Swami Brahmanandaji and other direct disciples of Sri Ramakrishna, was the ideal of harmonised growth--physical, intellectual, moral and spiritual.

The mantra has tremendous power of reviving us physically and spiritually, bringing a new strength and confidence. Such is a power of the divine name that, along with meditation, it produces harmony in the body and the mind and also quickens the right understanding.

Three Types of Reasoning

There are three types of reasoning. One is child-like reasoning. The other is logical reasoning and third, materialistic reasoning.

Supposing two buckets, one of water and the other of beer are kept in front of an ass. The ass drinks water but not the beer, because animals do not take things which harm them. This is logical reasoning. But materialistic reasoning says that the ass does not drink beer because it is an ass!

No doubt one should intellectually understand the spiritual path, but too much reasoning is not good. We are drunk with the wine of ignorance, so do not see our True Self. By leading a spiritual life we realize what we actually are.

In a place there was a king. One day he found out that many people were dying in his city. So he went to Yama and said, 'Yama, why do so many people die in my city? What will happen? What are you doing?'

Yama said, 'King, I take only a fixed number of people.' Then the king returned. After some time he found out that more people were dying than before in his city. So worried, he thought, 'What! Even Yama--Dharmaraj--does not keep his word?' So he came back to Yama and said, 'What is the matter? More people are dying!' Yama said, 'What can I do? I take my fixed number, but people die out of fear!'

Mental Blankness

There are three types of mental blankness: one is tamasic that is, non-activity. One experiences this just before sleep. The other is rajasic. Swamiji gives an example of two monkeys, jumping from one branch of a tree to another. At last they get tired and remain silent for a while only to start their mischief again. The third and highest type is sattvik blankness--spiritual blankness. In this state the spiritual aspirant feels pure and at a high level.

I do not understand why so many feel mental blankness. That shows that the spiritual ideal has not yet been fully fixed; otherwise all the blank moments should be filled by the Lord's name and thoughts. So be careful. Take all the necessary food for the mind and body. Remember, empty stomach gives stomachache and empty head gives headache.

One day a small boy played the whole day without taking any food. In the evening, he got pain in the stomach. The doctor was called. He examined the child and said that there was nothing wrong with the child except that his stomach needed some food. After eating something, the child became all right.

Now it so happened that in the same evening, the child's father got severe headache. The child said, 'Oh! I know the reason. When my stomach was empty I got stomachache. Father's head is empty. That is why he has headache. If he puts something in the head, he will be all right.'

The main cause of restlessness is that the soul is not getting enough food.

Make such a strong habit of study everyday that you will feel uncomfortable if you have not read something during the day. The mind cannot always remain on the spiritual plane.

Always think of the ideas that expand and elevate the mind. When the mind is expanded and elevated, all the petty and dirty ideas in the mind are swept away.When the mind is expanded and elevated, it is easier to control the lower thoughts and to have the mind at a higher level for a long time. The mind should be in tune with the Cosmic Spirit. Then one feels expanded. A contracted mind blocks the inflow of Divine Grace.

There should never be any haziness in the Vedantic aspirant. We must have definite and right thoughts, definite and right emotions and feelings, definite and right actions; then alone can we proceed to the divine goal and realize it.

When I was in Holland, I saw a man who used to attend our lectures, and had read all the scriptures, etc. But he never spoke to anybody and always remained absorbed in himself. One day I asked him to come and see me. He agreed. I asked him, 'What is the matter with you? Why are you so distracted?' He had a wife, children, money and all worldly comforts. He replied, 'Swamiji, it pains me every morning and I feel, "Am I to begin the day as before?" ' Of course I gave him some spiritual instructions and this was the turning point in his spiritual life. It is really a great fortune for one to turn to spiritual life.

. . . to be concluded . . .

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