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Gospel of Holy Aspiration
Sri Swami Sivananda
New Year’s Message
The wheel of Time moves on, ideas change, values remodel themselves in the light of circumstances, cultures evolve, decline and are resuscitated again in different forms. The stars of nations and civilizations rise, ascend into their zenith of glory, tumble down in decay, and sink into oblivion. But the individuality of life, the spirit of aspiration, the urge for freedom from all conditions of bondage, the sense of inadequacy and want, continue to persist. They persist under all circumstances, in poverty and prosperity, in suffering and even in momentary spells of happiness, in war and peace, in degeneracy and progress. As long as this sense of inadequacy and aspiration remains, human life will continue to flourish.
Life is sustained by hope and aspiration, the struggle for betterment, and the zest for fulfilment. The moment these spurring elements of progress are taken away, one begins to vegetate and is miserably lost in the gloom of frustration and despondency, or becomes an ignoramus. The spiritual aspirant, no doubt, endeavours to attain the state of complacency and dissolution of the individual self, but that is a state of fulfilment and not a characteristic of his endeavour which is quite contradictory, the difference between worldly and spiritual aspirations being only in character and objective.
Every action of man is a step towards self-expression, conscious or unconscious. Action presupposes an inner urge, besides motive, and this urge is the power behind the expression of the self. The active principle of life is to express and diffuse itself, and so, too, naturally, is the principle of creation. The spirit expresses itself through matter so that it is known, for, otherwise, the spirit by itself cannot be expressed. The spirit of man wants to express itself so that it is known in the objects of its expression. The urge for eminence, for the continuity of life, affection, love, domination, possession, is all dependent on this principle of expansion or diffusion of self.
Man desires for eminence because he wants himself to be felt in others. He wants his name and form to be associated with power and authority and be widely known, because he desires that his self is recognized by others. He thirsts to see himself in another form, and is, therefore, driven by the urge for progeny. He longs to be loved and under-stood and appreciated, because he wants to be felt in the pulsation of the hearts of other people. He craves to have material possessions and has a predilection for dominating over others, because of his insatiable urge to spread himself over as wide an area as possible and associate his self with as many material objects as he could muster. This is the principal motive-power behind life, of which no one should be ignorant. Weaker wills affect it in a smaller way and stronger wills in gigantic dimensions.
When this principal law is misdirected, which is almost universally the case, life becomes a hotbed of conflict, frustration and restlessness. When this urge becomes exclusive and is wrongly channelled without regard to the presence of the same urge in others, when it refuses to recognize the factor of mutuality, then disharmony and hatred rule life. When this urge is associated with the little self and limits itself in the material sphere, when it refuses to recognize the universal principle of the immanence and the oneness of the higher self, forsaking the ideals of common good and undifferentiated righteousness, when it is grooved through selfish motivation and impelled by the dictates of the lower nature, then the soul of man is clouded by the smoke of misery, then poverty and pestilence, greed and animosity, untruth and injustice, stalk the face of the earth.
Let human aspiration, the longing to spread oneself, not be, therefore, misdirected. If the mind is ruled by the lower nature, it is his little self that man wishes to expand, the self that is associated with his body and mind, personal feelings and ambitions. The nature of the higher self, on the contrary, is characterized by the central, unitary principle which sustains all life and which links itself with others with the bond of fellowship, in a spirit of harmony and mutual help. The characteristic longing of the higher self is to spread itself among others through selfless service and spiritual love, to find its ideals of truth and righteousness fulfilled in the process of its longing.
The very concept of Sat-chit-ananda is characteristic of the nature of the higher self, which is dormant in every human being. The concept of truth (Satya) is identical with existence (Sat). Truth is that which eternally exists, and the principle of existence cannot be exclusive but immanent. The spirit is immanent in all, and it is the recognition of this unity of spirit that can foster goodwill, harmony and amity among individuals and nations. Truth is no truth when it is devoid of consciousness (Chit), otherwise called awareness or knowledge. When knowledge is not perverse, it is identical with Ananda or unmixed felicity. Knowledge, in a different aspect is understanding. When there are true understanding, devotion to the path of truth, justice and righteousness, when the dictates of the lower self has been cured by self-discipline, then the resultant condition of life is marked by unselfish love towards all beings, which is also termed Ahimsa or non-injury.
The primary longing for self-expansion should fill itself through these channels, of truth and righteousness, knowledge and understanding, compassion and love, goodwill and fellowship. The welfare of humanity lies in this great fulfillment, not in the expansion and perpetuation of the lower self. The higher nature can blossom and spread itself among others only when the lower nature has been thoroughly disciplined and sublimated. The process of the flowering of the higher nature, therefore, implies a simultaneous struggle for the eradication of the brambles of negative qualities that choke the garden of life. The victory in this struggle is liberation, and defeat means degeneration and suffering.
New Year’s Message
The New Year’s message is: Be steadfast on the path of truth. Obey not the dictates of the little self, but rise above all that are bane and unbecoming through self-discipline. Do not hanker after perpetuating the little self, but diffuse yourself in all through the practice of noble principles, through service, fellowship and compassion, goodwill, understanding and appreciation, self-abnegation, tolerance and adaptability, through righteous action, seeing the good in all, causing injury to none in action or attitude, humility of disposition, an ever-inquiring mind, purity of heart, right knowledge, reflection, concentration and meditation, dispassion, holy aspiration and unflagging-effort at self-discipline.
I wish a happy New Year to everybody, everywhere, and may there be equity, peace and prosperity for all! May God bless all!
Last Updated: Friday, 03-Jan-2014 03:56:06 EST
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