Words of Wisdom by Swami Chidananda
- Worship God as Virtue
"Have no other God. You can contemplate God, you can
contemplate eternity, infinity, ocean of bliss, Light of
lights beyond all darkness all these things you can contemplate,
think about, reflect over, but you cannot love and worship peace,
or ananda, or jnana. Because they are abstruse, abstract concepts,
and you want something more, something for which you can live and something for which you can be prepared to die also. That is virtue.
Read the sixteenth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita*, you will understand. Worship God as Virtue. Worship virtue by practicing virtue.
This is a way to spiritual transformation and realization."
16.01 The Supreme Lord said: Fearlessness, purity of heart, perseverance in the yoga of knowledge, charity, sense restraint, sacrifice, study of the scriptures, austerity, honesty;
16.02 Nonviolence, truthfulness, absence of anger, renunciation, equanimity, abstaining from malicious talk, compassion for all creatures, freedom from greed, gentleness, modesty, absence of fickleness;
16.03 Splendor, forgiveness, fortitude, cleanliness, absence of malice, and absence of pride; these are the qualities of those endowed with divine virtues, O Arjuna.
Sage Patanjali has said: ‘Success comes to one who makes efforts energetically.’ The success varies according to the means adopted, whether it is a mild practice, medium practice or intense practice. Intense practice will bring the highest success, medium practice will bring little success and if your practice is mild, then success may not come for a long time and it may not be the fullest kind of success. So, he has given two Sutras to answer the question. How can one succeed? Upon what does success depend in a true aspirant, or a true spiritual seeker? Because, you must never forget that Yoga is a science that aims at giving to the practitioner Divine experience. If you are approaching Yoga seeking Divine experience as your ultimate goal, then that is the classical approach and your Yoga will be authentic; but if that Divine experience is not your confirmed goal, then your Yoga might give you other experiences, other results. But then, you will still be shifting yourself from or closing yourself to the true goal and ultimate objective of Yoga in its classical sense.
Success comes to the true spiritual aspirant who has Divine experience as the ultimate goal, first and foremost, through faith that there exists that transcendental experience, there is a fulfilment of all life. There does exist an unwavering faith in the existence of that ultimate experience which is the goal. The greater the degree of faith, the more he is released into an unwavering and intense practice. Where there is doubt, the practice would be woolgathering. There is always wavering in one who knows that he is going to a wild-goose chase. ‘Really is there anything to obtain?’ ‘Am I making a great mistake?’ If there are these doubts, then the entire energy, all power that is released in the effort, will be dispersed by wavering and hesitation. I practise Yoga, may be, but, I also keep some other little objective in the world. If I don’t get at the final goal, at least I will have the latter. This should not be the attitude.
With a high degree of true faith, there comes greater energy in the practice; and when one practices energetically with firm faith, the entire personality potency of the being comes ingathered, collected and centralized. There is recollectedness. There is lesser room for the possibility of dispersal of one’s energy in the practice. One’s personality is not scattered. All faculties become centered to this one effort, this one goal. And with ingatheredness brought about by faith and energy more and more, comes deeper and deeper absorption, and this leads to illumination. In this way if the aspirant proceeds, then he gradually begins to reach a deep state of concentration where he is totally absorbed within.
Different states of the concentration are listed as the stages where one is absorbed upon an object. First is concentrating upon the object as it presents itself through one’s consciousness. In the second stage, one goes beyond the mere appearance of the object goes deeper into the consideration of the very essence of the object. Then one goes beyond the name and form of the object and the whole concentration goes upon the perceptual process of the mind itself. Concentration shifts from the object to the area of the mind. Ultimately, even this is left behind and concentration becomes involved in the subject who is doing these processes. So, one concentrates upon the mere fact of one’s being. That is awareness of oneself. These are the four stages of the one aspect of absorption. In the second stage there is no object at all. So the external world is no longer the field of focus of the mind of the yogi, but the internal world, that which is groundwork of dreams is in focus. So, the concentration takes place only upon the submerged impressions of previous experiences. This is a very subtle state of concentration.
This is the second type of inner state of concentration, the same concentration but without object. Another means to succeed in such concentration, was also mentioned here. This shows how Yoga is very much involved in religions. Yoga, though it transcends any specific religion, is the most universal and in the basic sense of the term, Yoga is very much involved in religion. It concerns itself with the spirit of true religion. What is that spirit of universal religion? Individuals journey back into the universal. It is the quest of the human towards the Divine, or the finite moving towards its merger into Infinite, man to God. This is the essence of all religions. The universal essence, the basic process of religion, is to take the individual back into his eternal relatedness to the universal. Theologically, it is said that it is the great quest for God. And thus here, this aspect of Yoga is brought out very clearly, when Patanjali said that the success in such concentration may also be brought about by devotion to God and that devotion to God can lead you to Samadhi. Here, he devotes a Sutra to define what the concept of God is.
God is the Supreme Being who transcends this world-process, who is not caught and enmeshed, an ever-liberated Supreme Principle that transcends the world-process, independent, beyond all possibilities of ignorance. It is the nature of pure Jnana or Knowledge. It is all the contrary to our present consciousness. Our consciousness is limited by the finite objects of a temporary nature. Our consciousness is coloured by ignorance, false perception. This Being is of the very nature of pure Jnana or Knowledge, whereas man also has knowledge, but he has got only limited knowledge. Patanjali says that God is unlimited, infinite Being characterised by infinite wisdom, transcending the world-process, a Being in a state of absolute independence, a liberated Being. That is his definition of Isvara, God.
Through devotion to God, Samadhi can be attained. How to practise this devotion? What is this means? The best way of this devotion is used as a means of attaining success. The best practice is constant repetition of the name that symbolises Him, name that indicates Him, with contemplation upon its meaning, contemplation upon its implication. This name that symbolises the universal Deity, not the God of any specific religion, but the God of universal religion, the God beyond all religions, he gave as ‘OM’. And Om is the symbol of the Supreme Being and the repetition of Om with the meaning, is the sure means of attaining success in concentration and overcoming obstacles, which destroys all obstacles. It invokes a special prayer to the Infinite, which is an effective means to overcome the obstacles enumerated.
Then, specific types of concentration to overcome these obstacles were also suggested.
You turn away from gross, sensual pursuits. But what happens, the habit is there. You will have to make special efforts to eliminate them. Then alone you would be able to turn away from those gross, sensual pursuits. If you relax a little bit, once again the mind goes back into its own ruts, old sensual habits. This is another obstacle. Due to this tug-of-war, seesaw of your struggle with your inner nature, despair comes. Because you fail many a time, you become hopeless. Never despair. Always one should have hope—‘I will overcome them, come what may.’ You may get nervous. Nervous condition may come to the practitioner; trembling and even irregularity of breathing. And to overcome all these things, without being a psychiatrist, Patanjali has got different methods of concentration. This is his prescription.
One is, of course, to make up his mind—‘No matter what comes, I am not going to leave this quest which I have taken up.’ So, Patanjali prescribes Ekatattva-Abhyasa—catching hold of some one type of practice and clinging tenaciously to it and never letting it go, come what may. Ultimately, this overcomes all the obstacles. It is an exercise of the power of one’s determination, inner will, and invoking a positive state of mind, always keeping the mind in a cheerful and positive state.
So, he prescribes four patterns of reacting to the outer world. Kumbhaka or retention of the breath is one of the important methods to overcome the obstacles. And no one method alone is supposed to be used. Selected, judicious combination of more than one method may be suitable to you. As a result of study of your own nature, special exercises which bring about some immediate result may act as good encouragement. Meditation upon the inner light of the Atman and meditating upon, contemplating upon the Masters, saints, sages, Yogins and Gurus, give fresh enthusiasm to the mind and fill you with the spirit of elation, and they become, as it were, inspirers. They give you a new spirit on the path. By contemplation upon deep sleep and dream state you become aware of the dream-like nature of the outward phenomenon. And finally, you can meditate upon anything that attracts your mind, anything that is specially pleasing to you, any symbol or any form. This practice will ultimately lead on gradually and progressively to the state of highest transcendental superconsciousness, highest state of non-dual Samadhi which is beyond the earlier stages described by Patanjali.
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