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Yoga for Health, Happiness and World Peace
Sri Swami Chidananda
May all beings in this world attain happiness. May all beings in this world attain peace. May all beings in this world attain plenitude and fullness. May all beings in this world attain all auspiciousness and blessedness. May happiness be unto all. May freedom from disease be unto all. May all behold that which is good and beautiful. May not sorrow fall to the lot of any being. From passing unrealities, lead us into the Supreme Eternal Reality. From the darkness of spiritual ignorance, lead us into the light of Supreme Divine Wisdom. From death and mortality of earth consciousness, lead us into immortality and everlasting Life in the Spirit. Peace. Peace. Peace unto all beings.
Homage and worshipful adorations to the supreme transcendental Cosmic Being, the Universal Spirit, the great Eternal Reality that is the source and origin of all existence; that is the unseen invisible support of all that is this universe and countless unseen universes, the unseen support and sustainer. Adorations, to that Being who is ultimately the supreme goal and fulfilment of all existence, all life, the Alpha and Omega of all beings, in whose presence we have gathered together here in this hall of Hyatt Saujana, in whose presence we have been brought together in spiritual fellowship this evening.
His unseen Will, His inscrutable Divine Will, alone makes all things possible. He is the one Reality behind and beyond all religions that exist upon this earth, in this human world today—who existed when creation did not exist, when nothing had been manifested—who existed in His primal state of transcendence, unmanifest, absolute, non-dual Being—who was one without a second Ekameva Advitiyam Brahma.
To that Being, who is the source of all that exists, source of this and countless other universes, to that Being who existed when no creation was there, no prophet had appeared, when there was no world, no humanity, therefore, neither was there any religion nor was there any scripture nor did there exist at that time either temple or synagogue or church or mosque or fire temple or vihara; that being who, therefore, is the source of all religions, all scriptures, adored alike, in all places of worship, glorified and described and hymned in all scriptures that exist, and whom all people worship and refer to by different names: the Ahura Mazda of the Zoroastrians, the Jehovah or Yahaweh of the followers of Judaism, the Almighty Father in Heaven of the Christians, the Allah of the Muslims of Islamic faith, the Paranirwana of the Buddhist, the supreme state of perfection of the Jains and the supreme Tao of the Chinese Taoist, to that one Being addressed alike by these different terms and infinite other terms, let us pay our worshipful adorations at this moment, in token of our gratitude and thanks for sanctifying our lives by giving us this occasion to dwell upon him in thought and heart, to dwell upon him, to speak about him, to listen about him and to make him the subject of our consideration, our reflections this evening.
For this great opportunity, O Supreme Almighty, light of lights beyond all darkness, our hearts’ grateful adorations. May your divine grace shower upon all those who are gathered together here; grant them all the awareness that in You we find our ultimate oneness of spirit. Apparently different by names and forms and external factors of religion, caste, creed, nationality, race, etc., deep within us there abides a part of You, the breath of the Spirit within, the Nur or the light of Allah in Aadmi (man) that of God within us, the Amsa. In that depth of our essential eternal unchanging identity, we all find our absolute union and oneness in You who are our common source and origin, our sustainer and ultimate fulfilment. May we all be given this continuous awareness of this unity in diversity, of this oneness in spite of outer appearance, divergences and differences.
Unified thus in the spirit, may we work together for the common welfare of all of us. May we work together in the spirit of harmony and spiritual brotherhood. May we work together in the spirit of mutual love, help and co-operation, so that all clashes, conflict, hatred, violence, war may cease to exist in the light of this harmony, in the light of this inner feeling of oneness, inner feeling of brotherhood, under the one fatherhood of the Supreme Being. Thus may humanity become united, work together in the spirit of mutual goodwill, in the spirit of brotherhood and oneness, and take us towards the twenty-first century that may still see the world of violence, the world of war, the world recognising the need to work dynamically for peace, unity, harmony and universal wealth and welfare.
By the grace and by the blessings and benedictions of all the prophets and saints, the great ancient Vedic seers and sages of the Upanishadic era; the great divine manifestations like Rama and Krishna, the world teachers; the great prophets and messengers of God like Muhammad, Moses, Lord Zoroaster, Jesus, Buddha and Mahawira, may their benedictions make this aspiration and eager expectation and our dream come true.
Radiant divinities, blessed children of the one Supreme Universal Reality, God of all humanity.
I deem it a great spiritual privilege, I deem it a great blessedness to be amidst you at this moment and to have this opportunity of serving you by sharing whatever ideas I have gained, I have received from the Holy Master whom I had the blessedness and privilege and good fortune to serve. And, therefore, it is with a sense of humble gratitude to the Supreme Being who has given to me this wonderful occasion, this chance and opportunity of sharing with you all, I commence to offer to you these ideas regarding the subject of this evening.
Already some valuable ideas have been shared with you by Dato’ K. Padmanaban Ji during his brief, but full words, as the Chairman of this evening’s function. He has spoken to you about the sorry state of modern man. Wherever you see, wherever you go, one of the multibillion dollar industries is pharmaceuticals. These multinational, multibillion dollar undertakings are to produce medicines. That itself is proof-positive that diseases are widespread. The United Nations Organisation had also thought it fit to have a separate branch—WHO—to look after the health of humanity. In this context, he made a very significant reference to this ancient science of health Svaasthyasastra, a significant reference that the Yoga approach was the approach of wisdom.
It is said that it is much better to avoid getting your clothes dirty by not going into a dirty place, rather than getting your clothes dirty and later on having to come home and wash them with soap, hot water and clean them. If you kept off from dirt and kept your clothes clean, there will not be any necessity of this process. In the same way, Dato’ K. Padmanaban Ji, said, you all know that prevention is better than cure. Rather stay healthy and prevent disease than become ill and try to get yourself treated to get cured of your illness. He said that in this ancient science of Yoga, we have a preventive system of avoiding falling ill and keeping healthy; and in this context, he had an interesting point to make that great many of the really serious types of modern illness that twentieth century man is subject to (which are even called killer diseases that take away human life more than many other types of illnesses) have their origin in tension and stress.
Stress and tension lead to high blood pressure and with high blood pressure one can suddenly be afflicted by symptoms similar to a stroke and have partial paralysis, lose the use of limbs and speech even though there is no cerebral haemorrhage or embolism. But yet they almost have the same result. You all know that high blood pressure is also very bad to the central nervous system. Stress, strain, anxiety and tension can also give one stomach ulcers, insomnia and also bring about non-allergy types of asthmatic attack. There is no known system to deal with it in a positive manner. Therefore, the modern doctor gives sedatives or tranquillisers or barbiturates of various kinds like Valium and Diazepam. So this is symptomatic treatment; not going to the root of things.
Dato’ K. Padmanaban Ji made a point by saying that Yoga had unique benefits of bringing about a state of total relaxation. Yogasanas and also Pranayama bring about relaxation and a reduction of stress and tension. It is called Yoganidra, the art and science of absolute relaxation. How do they bring this about? That is another interesting point. You all know the general Latin adage: ‘A sound mind in a sound body’. The ancients knew exactly why it is so. How is it that body and mind, body being physical and gross and mind being subtle and invisible, have a point of relationship? How is it that they are inter-related and interact upon each other?
It is in this context that the science of Yoga had known the presence of an interim subtle force and a subtle factor that pervades the entire system. They call it Prana and actually Prana is almost identical with the term "life"—because in describing the process of death they sometimes refer to it as "his Prana departed and he passed away"; because, with the departure of the Prana from the body, the man loses his life. So Prana the life force, that subtle inner something, is the factor that makes a difference between a living person and a dead body. When the Prana is there, the body is alive; when the Prana departs, the body is no longer alive. With the departure of Prana, the body becomes dead and soon disintegration and decomposing starts.
It is the presence of Prana that makes life dynamic, progressive and vital. Therefore, the ancient Rishis discovered that it is Prana which is the link between the outer, visible, gross, physical body and the inner invisible subtle mind stuff, which they called Chitta. So Prana is that which brings about this connection by which the body affects the mind. When the body is healthy, the mind seems to be in a sound condition; when the body is ill, the mind becomes sick. The Romans and Greeks had discovered that. But they did not exactly know how this interaction and relationship comes about. Whereas, the science of Yoga knew exactly that it is this interim middle factor, Prana, which is grosser than mind but subtler than the body.
So, on one side, it is connected with the body because it dwells in the body, pervades the entire body, and so changing conditions of the body affect the Prana. On the other side, it is connected with the mind. It is the movement of Prana that brings about the movement of the thought process in the mind. If you can arrest Prana, your mind also becomes arrested for the time being. For example, if you want to avoid distraction when you are intently working upon some problem, or you want to have your hand very steady when you are engaged in doing some very minute work, such as repairing a switchboard or some electronic device, you want all concentration; you will find that your breathing automatically stops. Breathing is arrested when one wants total focussing of attention, or wants absolute steadiness in the concentrated work to be done. Breathing becomes subtle first and at the exact point when you are about to do that very subtle thing, automatically unconscious stopping of one’s breath occurs.
In this way, the breathing is the outer manifestation of the inner subtle Prana within our body and therefore it is, remotely, indirectly connected to the inner Prana. The breath in the nostrils is not Prana. It is the resulting effect of Prana. It is called Svasa. Breath is Svasa. The inner triggering factor is Prana. And we may liken their relationship to the relationship between a hairspring of a watch or a time piece or a clock in the pre-quartz days and the minute hand on the face of the clock or the dial of the watch or time piece. It is the movement of the hairspring that makes the minute hand go round once in every sixty minutes of the dial. So, the minute hand is like the breath in the nostril and the hairspring is like the Prana. If the hairspring stops, the minute-hand stops. But, vice-versa, if you put your hand and arrest the movement of the minute hand, after a little while, gradually, the movement of the hairspring will start stopping. Ultimately it will stop. The ticking will stop and the whole clock will come to a standstill.
So they devised this science to get ultimate control over the inner Prana (to which we have no direct access) and regulate it by bringing about a regulation in its movement, a harmony of the Pranic movement. They made use of their knowledge of this interconnection between the outer breath and the Prana by formulating the science of Pranayama, and therefore, where Prana is pervading the whole body, if the body is steadied, the Prana gradually comes to a state of stability and steadiness. It is not chaotic. It does not function in an agitated irregular manner. It becomes steady. And, when the Prana becomes steady it becomes harmonious, it is connected on the other side with the mind. The thought process also tends to gradually follow the pattern of Prana and gradually the thought process become stabilised. They are not chaotic. They are not very distracting. The restlessness of the mind, subsides to an appreciable extent, so that this interconnection of body, Prana and mind works in various dimensions. One is from the point of movement, steadiness of body brings about steadiness of Prana, steadiness of Prana tends to bring about steadiness of mind.
In the same way, if the body is kept in a pure state by self-control, by not allowing the senses to move towards undesirable perception which create an agitation, an undesirable excitement and stimulation in the body centres, then the body becomes pure. If the practitioner restricts his food to not very gross, not very exciting, not very stimulating food, and brings about a certain control or selectivity in his food, then the entire structure of the body begins gradually to change from impurity to purity, from grossness to subtlety, from the Guna of Tamas and Rajas to greater and greater Sattva. Sattva has an upward movement. It is something that purifies, refines and controls the senses to self restraint and selectivity in eating habits and diets and also moderation; because even a good thing, unless consumed in moderate quantity, can tend to make one gross. Therefore, they say that gluttony and Yoga are far apart because it makes one gross.
Therefore, Yoga in a scientific manner, with progressive steps, starting by getting rid of some of the most prominent negative qualities (which are the greatest handicaps to ideal human behaviour) by insisting upon the cultivation of certain fundamental, universal, positive qualities like compassion, kindness, truthfulness, purity in thought, word and deed, simplicity of life and giving up of avarice, greed and stupidity (which makes one desire for what does not belong to one) as the Bible puts it, "coveting your neighbour’s wealth".
Insisting upon this total giving up of any covetousness, any avarice, any stupidity, any greed, refusing to allow the mind to look upon things that do not belong to you, that are unnecessary, reducing lifestyle to simplicity; and adhering to the path of virtuous conduct, purity of thought, word and deed, and strictly abiding by truthfulness, making yourself a centre of kindness and compassion, never hurting, never harming, never giving pain to any living creature, already there comes about a transformation in your entire character and conduct. By cultivation of these five positive qualities, there comes about a gradual eradication of the main handicaps of human nature in the form of impure conduct and untruth. All these things contradict a certain universal ethical norm and criteria of right conduct. There is a code of conduct. It is called Dharma. In every religion, in various ways, they speak of a moral law. They speak of a certain ethical norm for human conduct. We call it Dharma, Neeti.
So the very first entry point to Yoga, the very first of the eight Angas, ensures that you start moving in a right direction, ensures that you bring about a total purification of your entire outer life, your conduct, your relationship with others and your relationship with your own senses. Senses now do not enslave you. They are not the master. They do not dominate you. They do not pull you hither and thither and push you towards indulgence. You are the master. Your own relationship with your own senses, with your own mind changes and you become a person of self-discipline. You become a person of self-mastery. That is the commencement, the key, to supreme blessedness.
It is this aspect of Yoga that acts as the preventive health system, the upstream aspect of the medical approach to human health, comfort and happiness. Thus upon the physical level, the body level, Yoga contributes to health both in a preventive as well as in a positively creative and constructive manner. Preventive by making you avoid those patterns of human behaviour and conduct that invite ill-health. So you avoid those pitfalls, those all too common weaknesses, indulgences and lack of self-control through all the senses. Then, through a system of physical postures, breathing techniques and relaxation, all combined together (this is known as the HATHAYOGA which is the basis or foundation of Rajayoga), you are able to bring about such an enhancement of Prana the positive effects of Prana in different places.
Each Asana directs an abundance of Prana and concentrates it in some particular system of the inner physical man. The physical aspect of our human personality has two aspects. One is the outer physical structure, the features and form. Another is the internal mechanism, the various internal organs, the marvellous factory, various internal viscera: the brain, the central nervous systems, heart, lungs, liver, spleen, stomach, intestines, kidneys and all the systems including the ductless glands which secrete the hormones in the endocrine system.
The various Asanas have a very salutary effect. Each particular pose locks up the Prana in certain areas of the body, prevents it from moving in any direction and then takes it towards a particular inner system, keeps it concentrated there, and brings about a stimulation of correcting anything that is wrong there, stimulating and making it work in a sound, effective condition. That is how the outer Asanas make use of the inner presence of Prana to bring about a sound and radiant state of condition and functioning of all the internal systems—the circulatory, the respiratory and alimentary systems, wherein lies the key to health.
This is the way in which Yoga is not a physical culture; Yoga is a health culture, making use of this knowledge of Prana of which very little is known by the Western biologist and physiologist. Very little is known of this thing called Prana which holds the key to health. Through Pranayama, they bring about psychological stability, harmony and steadiness, and through Pranayama combined with Asanas, they bring about healthy, sound functioning of all the different systems that go to make up the inner physical man, the physiological man, whose sound functioning holds the key to health. It is supported by self-control, moderation and purity of life, the functioning of your various senses; because if the eye looks upon something very passionate, very carnal, very exciting in a low manner, in a gross manner, the whole system is shattered, shaken up by that type of excitement. If the ear hears things that are base and ignoble, low and vulgar, they excite the lower propensities of the human individual. Similarly, any one of the senses, when directed towards that which is negative, undesirable and exciting, it brings about a drain of our vital energy and brings about a great deal of excitement in our nervous system also. Therefore, the nervous system is affected in a negative and unhealthy manner. This is the inner mechanics of the healthy effects of self-control. If self-control is done in a wise Yogic manner, understanding its desirability, value and necessity, it has no undesirable effects.
Usually the non-understanding occidental says "No! You should not control your senses; it is suppression; it is depression; it will create various sorts of neurotic complexes". It is only when self-control is thrust upon someone, against one’s wish, that it may bring about certain psychological aberrations like neurosis and complexes and so forth, because of the inhibitions. But this is not so in the case when one voluntarily takes it upon himself knowing its value, blessedness, importance and its immense benefit. So, when anything is taken upon oneself voluntarily, there is no adverse or negative reaction upon the psychic. This is a point very few people understand, and therefore, there is a lot of controversy about self-control as exercised by the Yogi.
Yoga is an ancient science, which has a very great relevance to us in this age of free indulgence, sensuality and sense control. We are all hedonists. Modern man has got the peculiar idea that life is meant to have a good time. "We have all come here to drink and be merry and dance and wine and dine and to have a good time". This is a colossal blunder. Life is duty. Life is meant for a sublime higher attainment. Failure to recognise this supreme higher goal of life is a woeful blunder on the part of modern man and invites various types of diseases by rushing headlong into sense-indulgence, by thinking that life here is only in order to satisfy the senses. Even animals do not do it. Even though all their life is in sense satisfaction, they take it up to a limit and not beyond. If a calf or a cow is ill, it gives up eating; it does not take any food. No matter how much you try to force it to eat something, it would not eat. So it is with a dog or a cat because they have got their own instinctive built-in-sense. They know where to stop and when it is harmful. Whereas man, due to his indulgences, has perverted his taste. His senses were given to perceive the universe as windows of knowledge, to gain knowledge. That is the main function of the senses. To see the world around and to learn about the world to gain knowledge.
The enjoyment part of the sense perception process is not coincidental, it was put there. Otherwise, unless looking at something or hearing something or touching something or tasting something gave some little pleasure, you would not do it. Supposing a person gets conjunctivitis and opening the eyes becomes painful, the person closes the eyes. He does not want to open them because the very act of opening the eyes becomes painful. So, if the function of the senses were not accompanied by a little pleasure of the senses, man would not do it. The creator’s very objective in giving these would be thwarted. So he wants you to use these senses in order to perceive the world around you and to appreciate God’s beauty and to gain knowledge. Therefore, willy-nilly, He had to make the exercise of sense perceptions a little pleasurable. But man out of his perversions, failing to understand the reason for the presence of pleasurable sensations and sense processes, has missed the entire point of the senses.
Instead of making good use of the senses as avenues and windows of perception and avenues of gaining knowledge, he has emphasised, (indeed over-emphasised) and stressed upon the enjoyment part of it and made the senses the avenue of unbridled enjoyment and therefore the cause of disease, ill health, suffering and pain. Therefore, Yoga says "This is not the right approach. Self-control is the hallmark of the human individual. It is beyond and higher than animals. They too have seasons for indulging in certain senses. Man also must show his superiority by himself being the self-master".
The psychological aspect of Yoga is both connected with happiness as well as world peace. All the great religions have got a concept of a supreme state. What is this concept? It is always, invariably, no matter by whatever term they call it—Paradise; Heaven, their concept of that supreme state is happiness, where there is no disease, no pain, no suffering, no sorrow, no weeping, no grief, and it is all happiness, delight and joy. The very fact that all religions in their own terminology, in their own manner, have this ultimate concept of a state where there is no sorrow and there is only happiness and joy, and that this is pointed out as the desirable ultimate state to attain, shows clearly that joy, happiness, delight, and bliss is not here. It is not here in this world. So man finds that this life on earth is accompanied by a lot of sorrow, a lot of grief. Why is there pain? This suffering? Work is sorrow and pain; death is sorrow; old age is sorrow; disease and suffering is sorrow.
Of the four noble truths proclaimed by the great Buddha, the first truth is the existence of suffering. There is suffering—Duhkha. Then he goes on to the second, the third and the fourth truths, explaining the cause of suffering, the possibility of the cessation of suffering, and the way to the cessation of suffering. But the first basic truth, which made necessary the discovery of other truths, is that in this world there is suffering, and very strangely, no one wants to suffer. The very urge of the human nature, the aspiration, is the avoidance of suffering. "I do not want suffering". "What do you want?" "I want to be happy. I want joy. I do not want sorrow and suffering. I do not want pain". All the great mystics have found out that in this world there is only suffering; Sarvam duhkham vivekinah.
We cannot by any means think that the Supreme Universal Spirit has got some sense of humour that He sends these individual souls into the world of pain and death and suffering and then gets some kick out of it. We cannot think of that all-compassionate, all-loving, all-good Supreme Being in that manner. He is not like Nero who ordered people to set fire to some parts of Rome and then went on the hillside and played upon the fiddle. They say that Nero fiddled while Rome burnt. Then how come, if this world is a world of Janma, Mrtyu, Jara, Vyadhi, Duhkha (birth, death, old age, disease and suffering) one great fact, one great truth about this human life in this earth, is suffering, how come He has sent us here? Very simple. This is inevitable. He did not send us because He wanted to send us to a world of suffering.
He sent us here because, if rightly lived, rightly made use of, this human state of ours can become the royal road to supreme blessedness, supreme bliss, transcendence of all suffering, pain and sorrow, the total cessation of all pain and sorrow once and for all, forever, and entering into a state of supreme bliss, Paramananda, Paramshaanti, the supreme peace that passeth understanding, the indescribable Divine. He has sent us for that. Not for the sake of this suffering in this world but because this world happens to be a Saadhana kshetra, a field, where you can enter into a certain spiritual way of living your life, and certain practices of discipline and through such practices and through such discipline, and through living this spiritual way of life in and through this world of sorrow, pain and suffering, disease, old age, death and bereavement, you can transcend and go beyond and become established in a state of supreme happiness, supreme indescribable divine joy.
This way of living your life, and those practices that ultimately bring us to that state of Sarva Duhkha Nivirti, Paramananda Praapti (alleviation of misery and attainment of Supreme Bliss) and limitless Shanti, Param Shanti, fearlessness and freedom, this art and science were systematised and made into certain graded sets of discipline, graded sets of practices and that became known as the science of attaining supreme blessedness, the science of Yoga. Peace comes out of it; supreme blessedness comes out of it, and sorrow is replaced with happiness. Joy comes; because, ultimately joy and sorrow is a state of mind. It is not to be found in objects. Yoga teaches us the secret of creating that state of mind.
The Chairman referred to desire being the main cause of human misery and suffering. Too much desire leads to uncontrolled indulgences and brings about disease. Too much desire brings about restlessness. Too much desire creates envy and jealousy, conflict and clash. Yoga tells us that desire is the enemy of peace. One who manages to see this truth, and therefore says, "No longer shall I be fooled by desire. It is not my friend. It is my enemy. I give up my desire" instantaneously he enters into a state of peace. Where desire ceases, there comes about peace, happiness and joy.
Therefore, Yoga became the systematised method of living your life in such a wise and spiritual way, that its basis became self-control and self-management. Its foundation becomes self-management by becoming firmly rooted and grounded in these five virtues: giving up greed, simplifying our life, adhering to truthfulness, never hurting anyone (because the same reaction will come to us, there is a law of cause and effect—the law of Karma; if you hurt others and cause sorrow to others it rebounds upon you and if you want happiness, the key is to give happiness to others) and ultimately the purity of thought, word and deed. Upon this basis of self-control and a life of virtue, the next step is to give a Godward direction to our every day life.
The first principle of giving this Godward direction is inner and outer purity; SAUCHAM. Where there is purity, there comes about an increase of Sattva, and where there is Sattva and purity, the descent of the divine principle becomes automatic. The descent of what you call grace, you also call it God’s benediction or God’s own quality of divinity that comes about when the heart, the inner nature becomes pure, when it becomes holy, when it becomes Sattvic. Where there is purity, automatically there is excess of Sattva. Hence purity of both the outer and inner man.
Secondly, a state of contentment is to be created in your mind. Rejoice in whatever God has given you. Be happy and be contented, and in that state of contentment, mind can become liberated to rise higher towards God. Where there is discontentment, dissatisfaction, mind is always grumbling, murmuring, and finding fault. It is in a negative state. It cannot be uplifted or made to move higher towards a higher reality, higher ideas of life. Some people say contentment will stop all progress. It is not like that. You are always at liberty to strive for improving your condition, bettering your state, but with contentment; not with discontentment in your present position, not with dissatisfaction, not in a negative state of grumbling, murmuring and complaining. No. Be contented, be happy with what you have. By all means strive to improve yourself.
Thirdly, you have to create a certain purifying fire inside by not allowing desires to dominate you, not allowing the sense appetites to enslave you. Confronting them and opposing them. This voluntary opposing of the inner desire nature and the outer gross sense of appetite of the body, creates a certain inner tension within you, which gives rise to a certain inner heat, a spiritual fire as it were that is called the inner Taapa, created by this determined opposing of your lesser nature which is called Tapasya. This inner Taapa, when it is created, purifies the entire human nature. It is a purifying inner fire; a subtle psychic heat and a psychic fire which purifies your entire being by the higher opposing the lower, by the subtler opposing the grosser, by the spiritual reality within you opposing the lesser fleshy aspect of your present human nature, which is not your real nature, which is only an added factor, temporarily given to you to function upon this earth plane, but really, it does not constitute your essential nature, which is purely spiritual, being part of the cosmic reality. This Tapasya, liberates your being to move towards the higher reality, which is the source and origin of your being.
Fourthly, to counteract the influence of the outer world in which you have to move, function and live the greater part of your working hours—maybe eight, nine or even ten hours (if you have to commute one hour to and fro and eight hours you have to be in your post of work and duty)—and this mind is like a super camera. Whatever is seen, heard, tasted, touched, smelt, whatever is the outer environment, it constantly creates impressions. You should not allow these negative earthly gross impressions to go on accumulating within you. Then and there, you have to eliminate them. Each day there should be a cleansing process.
So, morning and evening, counter this constant entry of outer impressions, gross earthly impressions, by elevating, inspiring, uplifting, spiritual study, wherein you take into your mind inspiring ideas, elevating ideas, uplifting spiritual ideas, through study of the scriptures, UPANISHADS or whatever scriptures of the religion that you belong to or the works of great saints, supreme realised souls, perfected masters—they are vibrant with the spiritual force and power. Therefore it is a daily renewal of the mind. Going deep within you and cleansing the mind. Throwing out all that is gross and earthly, and creating day by day a wealth of inspiring, uplifting spiritual ideas that is called the Sadhana Swadhyaya. Great emphasis has been laid upon it by all the great sages, all the Upanishads and all the scriptures. NEVER NEGLECT YOUR DAILY SPIRITUAL STUDY. It is not mere routine Paarayanam (reading), but study.
Last but not least, the fifth process that gives an upward Godward spiritual direction an uplifting vertical movement to your day-to-day living, is to know and to recognise that even though in the physical body, I may be part of this earth environment, I may be a creature of this gross world, yet in my inner reality, inner spirit, I live, move and have my being in the Supreme Spirit; in that great Reality. That is my native condition. That is my normal habitat. That is the element in which I thrive because I belong to it, I am a part of it. This is called placing ourselves in the spirit, abiding in God. It is called Ishwarapranidhana, and that brings about a total reorientation of our entire consciousness. We begin to feel "though my body is in this world, the gross world, to my mind my function is phenomenon. I eternally abide in the all-perfect Divine Reality, in the Supreme Spirit". Thus being here, yet you are not here.
This is the simple truth brought about by the transcendental experience of the Vedic seers who discovered that God is not only an absolute transcendental reality but he is very much an ever-present immanent, divine presence here and now. And this is declared in that most beautiful opening sentence, the opening line of the very first verse of the very first Upanishaad, "Isavasyam idam sarvam yatkinca jagatyam jagat’—This entire universe is pervaded by the Divine Presence. There is nowhere where it is not. It is present. We live therefore in that Divine Presence. Yoga wants you to live in this awareness, in this state of spiritual consciousness by Ishwarapranidhana. These two entry points of Yoga bring about an orientation, upper vertical movement, ascent of your entire consciousness towards the Supreme Reality, thus bringing about a transformation in your inner awareness. Once you know that you are spiritual; this principle called Atman, the imperishable, the divine, naturally your relationship with the entire world changes.
You no longer relate yourself to this world as a petty human individual, different from all other human individuals, and, therefore, always in a state of competition, clash and conflict. You begin to see that you live as a common being, sharing in a common consciousness with all that exists, with all the creatures that exist for our common point, like the spokes of a wheel, all converge at the hub, and become one, united, at the hub. God is the centre of the universe. We live ever in His presence. There is no other. We all belong to that common source and origin. Therefore, in that we are all one. When this consciousness becomes the ground of the very background of your relationship with others, then your whole attitude changes. Your whole organisation is in a state of clash and conflict. You want to harmonise. You want help. You want to express this unity by being a centre of goodness, a centre of affection, a centre of friendship, a centre of love. You are no longer interested in creating clash and conflict.
Yes, we see clearly, Yoga may become the source or the basis of individual peace; but how can it contribute to world peace? What is the cause of the lack of peace in this world? What is the cause of war? Where does war start? Where does war commence? I would like to invite your serious attention and serious reflection upon this truth. All outer conditions of the human world have their origin in the human mind and heart. If the heart is filled with love, it expresses in loving actions and loving relationship upon the outerside. If the mind harbours noble thoughts, good thoughts, thoughts of goodwill, affection, oneness, friendship, the desire to help, the spirit of service, selflessness, then the human being expresses himself or herself in terms of these. Whatever you think, the source of all human conduct is, thought first, and the feeling in the heart and all conditions and states that prevail in human society are the result of this inner state of human mind and human heart. So, it is not only as a person thinketh so that person becometh. It is also what you think and feel, you act, and the sum totality of such human activity, which is rooted in human thought and feelings, becomes the world situation.
Therefore, as long as human beings persist to harbour thoughts and feelings of ill-will, hate, hostility and enmity, you can never bring wars to an end. No matter any number of treaties, any number of round table conferences, any number of white papers that may be produced, always, once again, the propensity of man will make itself manifest. What we need is an evolution upon the plain or dimension of human thought and feeling. Until that is brought about, peace will only be an interval between two wars. Peace will only be a negative state of not actively killing each other, but always wanting to kill each other.
It is only when you realise that happiness lies in peace, welfare lies in peace, and peace can only come about when your heart is filled with peace, and harmony and friendship can come about only when your mind is filled with noble thoughts it is here that the science of Yoga, in unfolding the mind to the effect of the spirit, the divine within; and giving the mind a Godward direction; and totally bringing about a state of Sattva in the mind; and making the mind the centre of auspiciousness, centre of love, centre of harmony and centre of peace (by the very concept of the ultimate goal to be attained—oneness with the Supreme Universal Soul) the objective of Yoga once again is re-established; a forgotten, or lost, or ignored, neglected relationship of the individual with the Supreme, the human with the Divine.
It is our alienation from the Divine that has made the human personality a field for the expression of all that is petty, ignoble, low and base, which is part of the human personality. The moment the connection of these bulbs with the source of electricity, (the power) is disconnected, the moment the connection stops, there will be darkness; the bulbs will no longer be capable of emitting light. We will be in darkness. It is this unseen connection with the source of electricity that makes it possible for these bulbs to flood this hall with light. In the same way, if we are ever in a state of connection with the Supreme Divine source of our being, the origin of our being, our life becomes a channel for the manifestation, the expression and the dynamic living of all that is auspicious, all that is sublime, all that is noble, all that is spiritual, all that is divine, and all that is beautiful.
It is the disconnection, the alienation of the human individual consciousness from its eternal connection, eternal relationship with that supreme source of blessedness—call it God, call it Nirwana, call it the Supreme Reality, call it Tao; no matter what you call it, this alienation is the root cause of the vitiation of human nature, and the darkness entering into human nature, and through human nature, manifesting the whole globe in the form of violence, conflict, hatred and war. Once this error is corrected, and through Yoga once again you re-establish this neglected, or ignored inner connection which is always there, you turn towards it, you become aware and work positively to bring about once again a dynamic relationship with the Divine.
Then a transformation takes place upon the level of individual consciousness; it becomes divine, it becomes full of human auspiciousness, blessedness and becomes no more an expression of only a lesser, petty, ignoble aspect of one’s small confined selfish human individual personality. It becomes a channel for the expression and dynamic manifestation of all that is "Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram", all that is beautiful, full of love, full of compassion, full of oneness, harmony, peace. That is the key to world peace. Yoga can contribute to world peace by bringing about a transformation of human nature and human consciousness, and the more number of people begin to see this and adopt Yoga as a culture of tomorrow, Yoga as a way of life—not merely as a set of techniques to be practised to get one’s own illumination, but as a way of life relating ourselves with the rest of life in a divine way, a spiritual way—the more we will be moving towards world peace, through the principles of Yoga, through the Yoga way of life, by adopting Yoga way of life as a culture of tomorrow.
Whatever has been shared this evening is but a finger pointed in the direction in which you have to see, in which you have to proceed. There are wonderful books to elaborate in greater detail upon today’s subject. I have been only acting as a path pointer, pointing out a finger in what direction you must proceed to seek a higher way of life. I thank the organisers of today for giving me the opportunity to be amidst you, sincere seeking souls, and making this evening hour an occasion of sharing and serving you all.
In this loving service, I find my way of worshipping and adoring the Divine that dwells in each one of you, to which indwelling divinity your body is but a moving temple "EKODEVAHSARVA BHUTESHU GUDHAH". Jesus says that the Kingdom of God is within, and other people say that there is the depth of God in us, so it is with each religion. Islam says: man is different from God but the light of Allah dwells in each Aadmi-Nur Allah. So, to that indwelling divinity, to which your bodies are moving temples, I offer these few words and ideas to stimulate your thought as food for thought; I offer these ideas as my little earnest worship of that being within you.
May you make use of this food that I have given for your thought to further reflect upon what you have listened, to dwell upon it. Do Manana (think and reflect) and try to make an earnest attempt to acquaint yourselves more with this ancient science of Yoga. Though ancient, it has very great relevance not only to the world of today, it has relevance even to the world of tomorrow, about whose fate humanity is living in a state of fear and uncertainty. May Yoga confer upon you a future full of love, peace and blessedness; not a future of insecurity, uncertainty and fear. May Yoga confer upon twentieth century mankind a better twenty-first century. That is my prayer to the Divine at this moment.
Hari Om Tat Sat. Peace be unto you all!
Last Updated: Sunday, 17-Oct-2004 09:35:36 EDT
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