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Hardcover: 455 pages
ISBN: 81-7052-204-8
Book Dimensions: 9.0 x 5.75 x 1.13 inches
Shipping Weight: 670 grams

 

AN INSTRUMENT OF THY PEACE

by Swami Chidananda

Table of Contents

About This Book (Back Cover)  
Inside Front Cover  
Inside Back Cover  
Preface vi
Introduction 13
1. Awaken from the Slumber of Non-Awareness 19
2. Being Reborn in the Spirit 27
3. How to Be Kind to Yourself 41
4. Being Like God 53
5. You Cannot Get to the Kingdom of Heaven by Hop, Skip and Jump! 67
6. Dyeing the Personality the Colour of Divinity through Meditation 77
7. The Liberating Wisdom at Our Doorsteps 95
8. We Better Get Back Home: The Practice of Authentic Yoga 103
9. The Ultimate Success 115
10. The Necessity for a Guru 125
11. Swami Sivananda: That Wonderful, Noble-Souled Man 131
12. Glorious Self-Sacrifice 143
13. If You Want to Be a True Lover of God 155
14. Starting the Return Journey 167
15. Mind Your Own Business! 179
16. The Richest Treasure on Earth 187
17. Yoga and Topsy-Turvy Yoga 197
18. The Ayurvedic System of Health, and The Laws of Prosperity 209
Literary Interlude: Letters from Swami Chidananda 223
19. The Basis of Success in all Human Endeavours 247
20. As a Man Thinketh, So He Becometh 255
21. The Science of Living Life 267
22. Standing Like a Rock, No Matter What Comes 279
23. A Towering Tree Present within a Small Seed 287
24. Dedicating Yourself Heart and Soul to the Lord 301
25. Cleansing the Temple: The Inner Transformation 311
26. The Right Relationship with the Mind 323
27. My Beloved Children, You Live in Eternity 337
28. The Incredible Gift of Our Spiritual Heritage 351
29. Love and Adoration: The Yoga of Devotion 365
30. Liberation Even in this Life: The Path of Knowledge 375
31. The Yoga of Meditation 387
32. Let Us Serve Thee in All these Names and Forms: Karma Yoga 399
33. Right Thought, Right Activity 411
34. Light into the Darkness 425
35. The Four Greatest Friends 433
36. How to Find Peace 441
Glossary 452

About This Book

The talks in this book are powerful messages to whichever group might receive them, but they are especially powerful for a Western audience. Swami Chidananda must have given the talks with the Western perspective and cultural conditioning in mind. He has been able to distil the wisdom of the East into ideas and examples that relate directly to the life experience of the Westerners who heard the talks or who might be reading them here in this book. One would feel that everything has been explained and nothing has been left out. What is more, Swamiji’s great love and compassion are clearly evident in his talks, and the current of spiritual force that flows out of the talks will bring the reader to a greater understanding of the highest truths. Swamiji is an ideal person to teach the dharma in the West; he is a South Indian Brahmin who had his education in English-speaking Christian schools and who has been familiar with Western culture and religion from a very early age.

Beginning in 1959 with a tour of Europe, Canada, the United States and South America that lasted two years, Swamiji would continue to travel to the West regularly. One very significant tour occurred over a three year period from 1968 to 1971. By that time Swamiji had an assistant who would be his constant travelling secretary—S. Nagarajan (now Swami Vimalananda). In this extended tour, Swamiji and S. Nagarajan were invited to numerous countries in Africa, many of the countries of Europe, including Belgium, France, Holland, the U.K., Germany and Italy, and then to the United States and Canada, later to South America, and finally across the Pacific to Fiji, Australia, Hong Kong, the Phillipines, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. The extensive touring continued unabated from 1971 until 1996. Swamiji visited South Africa almost every year, the U.S. approximately fifteen times and Europe almost twenty times.

In each of the places they visited, Swamiji would meet with people, hold satsangs, and give spiritual talks. S. Nagarajan would tape record each of the talks and faithfully transcribe them, and over the years he accumulated a treasure trove of transcribed talks that would eventually come to fill a very large suitcase. It is from those many wonderful spiritual discourses that the talks that make up this book have been chosen.


Inside Front Cover

How precious a gift it is to be able to come into contact with a great sage, even if that contact may not be person to person. A book alone might not always match the experience of being in the direct, physical presence of a saint who is merged in God-consciousness, but yet, the written words of such a great soul still have the capacity to guide, inspire, encourage and illumine. A sincere seeker can often recognise the power inherent in the written teachings, and he may feel that the sage is in fact present in the words that are being read.

The title of this book is especially significant considering the life of constant service that Swami Chidananda has led. The title—An Instrument of Thy Peace—comes from the first line of a very famous prayer from St. Francis of Assisi, who is pictured here below. St. Francis is noted in the Christian tradition as being the person who most embodied Christ’s own exalted example, and Swami Chidananda has often been called "the St. Francis of India" because of his devotion to the welfare of all beings. A most telling parallel between St. Francis and Swami Chidananda is the complete dedication to serving the poorest of the poor, and most particularly lepers.

The first few lines of the prayer of St. Francis go as follows:

Oh Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring love.
Where there is injury, let me bring pardon.
Where there is doubt, let me bring faith.
Where there is despair, let me bring hope.
Where there
is discord, let me bring harmony.


Inside Back Cover

SWAMI CHIDANANDA

Swami Chidananda was born as Sridhar Rao in Mangalore, South India in 1916, the first son of an orthodox Hindu Brahmin family. In 1938 he moved to Madras, were he later graduated from the prestigious Loyola College. During those years, devotional songs, stories from the scriptures and the teachings of the modern saints awakened in him a fiery aspiration for the spiritual life. In 1943 he came to join the Sivananda Ashram and there began his lifelong devoted relationship with Gurudev Sri Swami Sivananda, the founder of the Divine Life Society. Gurudev put him in charge of the medical dispensary, where his compassionate service to all, especially to lepers, earned him the affectionate title of "Dr. Raoji." In 1948 he was appointed General Secretary of the Ashram, and in 1949 he was initiated into the holy order of sannyasa. In 1959, in response to many requests, Swami Sivananda sent him to the West on a trip that would last for over two years. Succeeding Swami Sivananda as President of the Divine Life Society in 1963, his life since has been one of almost continuous travel and service throughout India and all over the world, dedicated solely to spreading Swami Sivananda’s message and teachings. Even now at the age of 90, Swami Chidananda continues to be active as President of the Divine Life Society, and serves as a source of inspiration for thousands of people around the world.


Preface

By Sri Swami Chidanandaji Maharaj

Having received the command of Most Worshipful Holy Master Swami Sivananda, I travelled extensively to different countries in the Occident as well as in the Far East—such as Fiji, Australia in its parts (Sydney, Canberra, Tamworth, and Perth), and New Zealand. I have seen Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, the Philippines and lastly Sri Lanka. It has been my good fortune to see on the top of a towering hill the biggest statue of a meditative Buddha in the whole world. All this travelling was made to propagate the message of Swami Sivananda, the God-Experienced Saint, Sage and God-man of our times, who established the Divine Life Society in the year 1936, much before I joined His organisation in the year 1943 and surrendered myself to him.

I have seen Gurudev Swami Sivananda’s good work in every part of the world inspiring people to lead a good life, an ethical life and a divine life. He did this in a brief period of twenty-seven years, i.e. from 1936 up until the year 1963. But, His words had a power; they brought a revolution in the lives of those who read them. It was the power of His God-Realisation. It is this same power that has been driving me to disseminate ethical and spiritual knowledge to His disciples and the members of the Divine Life Society.

I had the good fortune of serving Swami Sivananda from 1943 until He took Mahasamadhi in the year 1963. During this long period of association of 20 years, I received many teachings, which are fresh in my mind even to this day of my life. They shall be treasured in my memory.

When Holy Master Swami Sivananda sent me to the West, my only interest was to introduce His teachings to the whole world and bring people into the light of knowledge from the groping darkness of ignorance. I saw people living their precious lives in forgetfulness. I saw that their lives were spent in pursuit of sense pleasures. The vast majority of people indulged in sense happiness and blindly rushed towards that which they found easily achieved. They derived happiness from that which was temporary and transitory. It was there one moment, and the next moment it was gone, leaving them in pain, distress and misery.

But, when the message of Holy Master was given to them, they found themselves in light and peace! They started to understand the true meaning of life and its purpose. These messages were presented to the seekers in the form of spiritual retreats, lectures, discourses and question and answer sessions as my humble offering to Holy Master Sivananda. During this period, I spoke on various subjects, sometimes at the request of the organisers according to their given subjects, and sometimes they were given on my own.

All these talks have been recorded and transcribed by Swami Vimalananda, who travelled with me to all these places as a helpful secretary. Now, they have been compiled and are being brought out into book form under the title An Instrument of Thy Peace: Swami Chidananda in the West.

In this work, Mr. Scott Morrow and Mr. Alan Neachell extended their full cooperation in preparing this manuscript and bringing it into its present form. Sri Swami Atmaswarupananda, Sri Swami Sarvamangalananda and Ray Genghini proofread much of the manuscript and thereby helped make it ready for the Press. My heartfelt thanks to all these persons.

The study of this book will help the seekers in their spiritual journey. I pray to God Almighty and Most Worshipful Holy Master Swami Sivananda to bless this book for its success and widest circulation.

Swami Chidananda


Introduction

How precious a gift it is to be able to come into contact with a great sage, even if that contact may not be person to person. A book alone might not always match the experience of being in the direct, physical presence of a saint who is merged in God-consciousness, but yet, the written words of such a great soul still have the capacity to guide, inspire, encourage and illumine. A sincere seeker can often recognise the power inherent in the written teachings, and he may feel that the sage is in fact present in the words that are being read.

At the same time, what might the presence of a great saint be like, and what might be the effect of his company? Some years ago a Christmas retreat was being held in the Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh, India, and Swami Chidananda had been asked to come and speak to the participants. A Catholic nun from Ireland who was visiting India for the first time was in the retreat and in attendance at this talk. She had acknowledged beforehand that she had a fair amount of scepticism about India and Hinduism, and she thought it might be difficult to completely open herself to something so foreign to her own tradition. Nevertheless, she was eager to meet this man that she had heard so much about.

Swami Chidananda entered the hall with the usual graceful bearing, the keen awareness of others and the worshipfulness that characterise his life. Swamiji did nothing other than take his seat, arrange some things with his assistants and smile at some of the people in the audience. This nun was watching all this and seemed to be very present and alert to all that was happening, but after only a few moments she began to cry. Swamiji had till that point still not addressed the audience, so her response was only due to his physical presence. Someone leaned over to her and asked if she was okay. She looked up with a face filled with immense emotion and said, "I feel like I have just seen Jesus."

Now, what can one say about this? The Irish nun, with no prior contact with Swami Chidananda, was moved to express these feelings merely because she saw him enter a room. Something very extraordinary happened in those few moments, but how exactly did it come about? There were no words spoken, no personal contact and no instruction, but yet she could recognise something in him that moved her to tears. There was a transmission, but we are at a loss to explain exactly how it occurred.

Might one be so bold as to suggest that such transmission could also occur between a saint of this magnitude and the reader of a book of his talks? We do not understand at what levels these great people can reach us, and we do not know how it is exactly that they may be present in the words they have spoken. We only know that when we read something that touches us deeply, we feel a communion with the author of those words. We feel encouraged and elevated because of the message that they have imparted to us through their holy words.

The title of this book is especially significant considering the life of constant service that Swami Chidananda has led. The title—An Instrument of Thy Peace—comes from the first line of a very famous prayer from St. Francis of Assisi (who is also pictured on the front flap of the book cover). St. Francis is noted in the Christian tradition as being the person who most embodied Christ’s own exalted example, and Swami Chidananda has often been called "the St. Francis of India" because of his devotion to the welfare of all beings. A most telling parallel between St. Francis and Swami Chidananda is the complete dedication to serving the poorest of the poor, and most particularly lepers.

The prayer of St. Francis, from which the title comes, goes as follows:

Oh Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring love.
Where there is injury, let me bring pardon.
Where there is doubt, let me bring faith.
Where there is despair, let me bring hope.
Where there is discord, let me bring harmony.
Where there is conflict, let me bring unity.
Where there is darkness, let me bring light.
Where there is sorrow, let me bring joy.

Divine Master, I do not seek so much to be consoled, but rather to console. I do not seek so much to be understood, but rather to understand. I do not seek so much to be loved, but to love. For it is in giving that one receives; for it is in consoling that one is consoled; for it is in pardoning that one is pardoned, and it is in dying to this little self that one attains everlasting light.

*   *   *

The book contains thirty-six inspiring and enlightening discourses from Swami Chidananda given in Western countries during his many tours there. Swamiji is an ideal person to teach the dharma in the West; he is a South Indian Brahmin who had his education in English-speaking Christian schools and who has been familiar with Western culture and religion from a very early age.

The talks are sufficient in themselves, but the editors felt that a little something helpful could also be added to them—similar to adding a bit of tasty sugar to a cup of tea. This helpful addition is the so-called "Literary Interlude," which comes in the middle of the book. It is a selection of Swamiji’s letters written to a Western devotee, and the content of these letters gives a good indication of what Swamiji is like as a person, a friend and as a spiritual teacher. The inherent warmth and care of his personality shine through. The "interlude" allows the reader to pause for a while and "be with Swamiji" in a more informal way.

The talks themselves are powerful messages to whichever group might receive them, but they are especially powerful for a Western audience. Swamiji must have given the talks with the Western standpoint and cultural conditioning in mind. He has been able to distil the wisdom of the East into ideas and examples that relate directly to the life experience of the Westerners who heard the talks or who might be reading them in this book. One would feel that everything has been explained and nothing has been left out. What is more, Swamiji’s great love and compassion, are clearly evident in his talks, and the current of spiritual force that flows out of the talks will help bring the reader to a greater understanding of the highest truths.

There are only a few Sanskrit words and relatively few references to Indian philosophy and mythology in the text; therefore, the teachings are suitable for people who may not have a prior connection with yoga and Vedanta, but the talks are also extremely helpful for those who are fairly well versed in those areas. The talks are very practical and give specific instructions about how to lead a spiritual life. The teachings are truly inspired, because they come from his own lived experience—nothing Swamiji says is merely theoretical or abstract.

The talks are in no particular order and can be read according to the inclination of the reader; hence, one need not necessarily start with the first chapter and go through each subsequent chapter in order. On the page opposite of the first page of each of the thirty-six chapters is a small black and white picture of Swamiji along with a quote from him. The quotes are meant to be read on their own and used as an occasion for contemplation and inspiration, and they have not been necessarily drawn from the chapter before which they have been placed. Readers from North America are advised to take note that standard British usage has been employed in the book. A glossary of Sanskrit words is included at the end of the book to help define the Sanskrit words that have been used in the text.

The editors would like to thank the many people whose efforts went into the publishing of this book and the donors who helped to fund it, but we would like to most especially thank Swami Vimalanandaji, the General Secretary of the Sivananda Ashram, whose initial transcriptions form the basis for the material in the book and whose support was crucial in bringing it to publication.

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Last Updated: Monday, 30-Nov-2009 09:17:57 EST
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