Inner Development

How do we give our introduction as spiritual aspirants, as the followers of the ancient and glorious tradition of a particular faith? How do we introduce ourselves? Generally, many a time it is seen that people say: ‘Oh! I visit this place of worship.’ But, should that be how we introduce ourselves? Our introduction should be in a different manner, which should be reflected in our speech, in our behaviour, and in our conduct otherwise. We should conduct ourselves in such a manner that even interacting for a few minutes with us, the person who is interacting with us should have this question: ‘Who is this person? Who is she or he, from where does such a person come in today’s society where everyone is wrought with tension?’ They should wonder that today, when everyone is generally frowning—though Swami Vivekananda said that long face is not because of religion but because of a stomach problem yet, many people keep their faces in such a contorted manner—so in this age, how is it that this person is speaking so pleasantly, having noble and high thoughts—that question should crop up in the mind of anyone who interacts with us for even a few minutes.

That would be our true introduction: that we belong to the ancient and holy lineage of a spiritual tradition. Merely saying that one goes to a particular place of worship or other religious place, or to merely say the name of one’s spiritual guru would do us no good. Our actions should speak louder.

When one is caught up in activity, one feels that were there a chance, if one could get a day free to oneself, then one would definitely do so much of meditation that God would come and sit in one’s front.

How to get concentration? This is a frequently asked question. Should we meditate to get concentration? Suppose you want to watch a match or a movie with concentration, what do you do? Do you meditate? No, because you automatically get concentrated, because you love it. How do you love it? Swamiji says that you start loving the thing that you repeat over and again. He says that a mother loves her child because she is seeing the face of the child since the birth of the child. Therefore, the secret of concentration is not to give up. That is the only secret of concentration, not to give up.

Similarly, in spiritual life, the mind may not come under our control, but that is because of us. You become angry, because you want to become angry. When our wants are not fulfilled, we become angry. Similarly, our mind goes out of our control because of our desires. And, what is the method to bring it back? The mind becomes restless not because of a single desire but because of countless desires, which have been repeatedly thought about. If one wants to get rid of these desires, one has to think about God again and again.

All conceptions of heaven and hell have come from the daily experiences of different human beings. When you go to a slum and see the inhuman conditions in which the people live there, it is indeed a hellish experience. When you see people content and living comfortably, that is indeed a heavenly experience. Similarly, the scriptures talk about meritorious actions bringing about heaven and evil actions bringing about hell. Hell and heaven are there in this very world. If a person continues in spiritual life and dies without attaining the ultimate Truth, or realising the Self or God, that person would first experience fruits of one’s actions that were performed in this world. Once the effects of the actions of that person are exhausted that person would take birth again in this world. Only this time, the house would be prosperous and ennobling. That person would be born probably in a house of religious minded people and would get an atmosphere for spiritual growth.

No spiritual practice would get lost, all spiritual practice comes with an assurance of warranty that nothing would get lost. Even if the spiritual aspirant dies without attaining the final goal of God realisation, she or he would have to continue from where one left in the previous lifetime. The person would have an undercurrent of spirituality and would understand that this world is unreal and would not crave for worldly pleasures. That person would be performing spiritual practices from an early age and would be interested only in matters relating to spirituality or God.

The spiritual aspirant would suddenly understand that this world is of no use, one would understand that God realisation is the goal of human life. One would not get all the other knowledge or the memory of the previous lifetime; one would not remember the mundane details. One would only get spiritual knowledge and wisdom from the previous lifetimes. At whatever stage of spiritual growth one was in the previous lifetime, one would continue from there.

We have to remember that we have to have devotion to God, we have to surrender to God, and at the same time we have to be mercilessly ruthless with our mind. The mind is like a monkey. Whatever you tell it, it will jump from one place to the other. The mind can be also like a dog. It is difficult to train a dog. If it obeys, you reward it, else you punish it. The same way we have to give training to our mind. It is only by constant disciplining that the mind can be trained to obey oneself and only a trained mind can be a good instrument in spiritual life.

You tell the mind: ‘Now, this is the time for meditation. You have to sit and mediate.’ The mind has to listen. If you want to wake up early in the morning, you have to say to the mind, get up at such a time and without any alarm or any other help, the mind would wake you up. That training of the mind we have to give and if we continue our spiritual practices then there is no cause for worry because there is good news. The good news is that though there are many incurable ailments, there is cure for this bondage of transmigration, bhava bandhana. Sri Krishna found it out, Buddha found it out, and in this age, Sri Ramakrishna found it out. Let us pray to God to give us enough faith and strength so that we can in this very life attain God realisation and if that is not possible, continue our struggle from this lifetime till we actually attain it.

Author is Editor of Prabuddha Bharata, monthly journal of the Ramakrishna Order started by Swami Vivekananda in 1896.

This article was first published in the December 2017 issue of the Prabuddha Bharata, monthly journal of The Ramakrishna Order started by Swami Vivekananda in 1896. This article is courtesy and copyright Prabuddha Bharata I have been reading the Prabuddha Bharata for years and found it enlightening. Cost is Rs 180/ for one year, Rs 475/ for three years, Rs 2100/ for twenty years. To subscribe online

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