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Yoga and Life - Swami Brahmananda

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  • Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
    YOGA AND LIFE Sri Swami Brahmananda Divine Life Society There exists a common belief, certainly an erroneous one, among the majority that Yoga is for those,
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 20, 2006
      Sri Swami Brahmananda
      Divine Life Society

      There exists a common belief, certainly an erroneous one, among the
      majority that Yoga is for those, who live in caves and forests, in
      monasteries and nunneries, away from the busy world, in seclusion,
      minding their own business without the least concern about other
      fellow-beings, renouncing the normal pleasures of life and aiming at
      some post-mortem happiness, in some far-off unknown worlds not seen
      by any one so far. While these recluses give up all the happiness of
      this world, the happiness in the form of enjoyments afforded by rich
      and affluent family life with all the modern facilities, high status
      in society, name and fame and the like, in the name of spiritual
      renunciation, the vast majority of people are not sure of the future
      happiness aimed at by these recluses. Thus arguing, most people shun
      all the higher values of life, which religion and philosophy offer.
      This is a sad mistake resulting from want of the right knowledge
      about life in this world.

      Renunciation of the world is found to be the common factor in all
      scriptures dealing with Liberation as the only sure remedy for all
      our sufferings here in this world. This may sound strange. One who
      wants good has to renounce the bad. This is understandable. He who
      desires truth should renounce untruth. There cannot be any difference
      of opinion in this also. One who is after life should naturally give
      up death. None will deny these logical conclusions. But, if what is
      intended in the renunciation of the world is giving up of our normal
      life with all sense-experiences, what remains in our life? Nothing!
      The remedy seems to be worse than the illness! This conclusion is a
      result of not understanding the real import of the scriptures.
      Vedanta does in no way find fault with this world, but certainly
      instructs man, who is after Liberation, to renounce it. It is not
      renunciation resulting from a dislike and hatred of this world. It is
      renunciation by covering, the world with God, in the language of the
      Isavasya Upanishad, filling the world with God. We are asked to
      renounce the world of our present erroneous conception and realise
      its true nature. In short, to see the world as God is real
      renunciation of the world, prescribed by the seers, who have seen the

      Just as the different parts of a big banyan tree, such as its
      underground roots, the aerial roots, the stem, the branches, the
      leaves and the fruits, though appearing separate, are yet not
      different from the tree; just as our limbs, the legs, hands, eyes,
      ears and mouth, though seemingly separate, are not distinct from the
      body; just as the various parts of a huge modern machinery are all
      inter-connected and serve the common purpose for which the machine
      has been erected, likewise, the umpteen objects which we see here and
      which we consider as separate entities are not independent and
      disjointed, but form a whole to make up this universe, an organic
      whole by itself. The least disturbance in any corner of this vast
      cosmos, let it be in the most insignificant object, affects the whole
      cosmos, even as the slightest pin-prick in any part of our body is
      felt by the whole being. A scientific analysis of any object here,
      say a chair, will prove that it is made up of atoms which are finally
      reducible to forces. When we perceive through the intellect, these
      forces that constitute the chair, the chair as such vanishes; and
      when the chair is seen, we do not perceive the forces, These forces
      have Consciousness as their substratum. No hair-splitting arguments
      are necessary to prove that nothing can exist without Consciousness.

      Pure Consciousness is therefore the basic reality. It is the
      perceiving principle, the object perceived and the principle of
      perception also. In other words, Consciousness which cannot but be
      one, homogeneous and non-dual, and therefore eternal and immortal, is
      called by the different names of seer, seen and sight, hearer,
      hearing and heard, knower, known and knowledge, and so on. Again, it
      is this Consciousness alone that is referred to through different
      names, such as Brahman or Atman by Vedantins, Bhagavan or God by
      devotees, Vishnu or Narayana by Vaishnavas, Siva or Paramesvara by
      Saivites. Other religions of the world give different names for this
      one Principle, the Truth Supreme. It is called as Christ by the
      Christians, Allah by the Muslims, Arhat by the Jainas and Buddha by
      the Buddhists.

      The truth about the relationship between God and the world is
      beautifully brought out in a simple Tamil verse which means: The wood
      is veiled by the elephant and into the wood disappears the elephant;
      even so, elements veil the Truth and into Truth disappear the

      The reference is to a life-size elephant made out of black wood by an
      expert carpenter. The likeness is complete. Though the eyes perceive
      the form of an elephant, the intellect and the mind will perceive the
      wood of which it is made. It is the form of the elephant that veils
      the wood and when the truth of the wood is seen, the elephant
      disappears. Likewise says the verse, this world made up of the five
      elements veils the Consciousness, and when one realises the latter,
      the former dissolves itself.

      Knowing, experiencing and becoming one with the Consciousness is
      Yoga. This Yoga practice varies according to individual temperament.
      The rationalistic, the devotional, the active and the mystic
      temperaments, with their countless permutation-combinations, make the
      Yoga practice of each individual distinct from those of others.
      Strictly speaking, no two aspirants can follow an exactly similar
      method. Notwithstanding this, there are common factors in the
      methodology adopted by all seekers. Not a few in this modern world
      are benefited by a combination of the essentials in the different
      Yoga systems. Hence it is that sages prescribe this wise mixture—a
      little of Japa, a little Asana and Pranayama, study of some
      scriptures, worship of one's tutelary deity, selfless service,
      concentration and meditation—especially for the neophytes in the
      spiritual path. When they go on practising all these intelligently
      and sincerely for a sufficiently long time, each one finds himself
      attached to that particular Yoga which is best suited to his
      temperament or natural turn of mind acquired as a result of the
      Karmas done in innumerable past lives, the others dropping off
      without his knowledge. And further concentration along the lines of
      the one particular Yoga with one's whole personality—not as a hobby,
      but as one's sole aim and purpose of life—takes one to the Supreme

      Om Tat Sat

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