Sadhana is a Necessity
Sri Swami Sivananda
One simple Brahma-Sankalpa produced these countless universes. When the time comes, in the twinkling of an eye, you will realise the Self and attain liberation. While you are in a dark room, you grope in the dark and almost endlessly search for the torch. You stumble over many things and knock your head here and there. At last you get hold of the torch, which you so frantically searched. Now no more of this groping in the darkness, no more trials and pains; instantly there is light in the room. It is the search that takes a long time. It is the preparatory step in Sadhana that takes a considerable time.
And, then, even when you feel that Truth is within your grasp, you ought to be vigilant, till it becomes part and parcel of your consciousness, till you actually live in it. It is not enough if merely the light of Truth illumines a dark corner; you must live in it. When in a dark room, you light the lamp, darkness vanishes; but if you put the light out, the darkness returns. Till the sun rises there is need for a constant flame of light in the room to keep it illumined. Similarly in the dark cavern of your heart, there is a lamp lit–it is Bhakti or a little understanding of the Omniscience, Omnipresence and Omnipotence of God. This gives sufficient light to see things clearly and understand the nature of this universe, the Self and God. But if you put the light out by negligence or wilful indifference to Sadhana, in the false belief that you have attained the goal, you will again be enveloped by the darkness. You must keep the flame bright till the sun of Self-realisation arises within you. Then there will be light and light alone everywhere. The darkness has vanished forever. Light becomes part of the very nature. Darkness does not approach you. What was Sadhana done with effort previously becomes Svabhava or second-nature now. Bhakti is the aspirant’s Sadhana and the sage’s Svabhava. Righteousness is the aspirant’s Sadhana and the sage’s Svabhava. At no time, therefore, are these things given up. The aspirant studies and hears the Divine Lilas of the Lord as a necessary part or basis of his Sadhana; the sage listens to them with great joy, as he naturally loves to listen to the Lilas of the Lord.
Therefore, study of scriptures, hearing the sacred truths propounded by men of wisdom, listening to the Lilas of the Lord are never to be given up by sincere Sadhakas at whatever stage of spiritual evolution they may be in. Are you more advanced than Sri Sukadeva who was a born-sage and Siddha? Are you more advanced than the great sages who assembled at Naimisaranya to listen to the Srimad Bhagavata narrated by Suka? Learn a lesson from these illustrious examples of great sages. Be forever a Sadhaka. Be forever a thirsting aspirant after spiritual knowledge. Be forever a Mumukshu (a student). He and he alone is an old man who feels that he has learnt enough and has need for no more knowledge. He is a man dead while alive who does not feel a compelling eagerness to listen to the stories of the Lord’s glories or to spiritual discourses. You can stave off old age and even death itself by preserving within you the youthful zealous and devout eagerness to learn more, to practise more and to realise more deeply, the great Spiritual Truth, which is inexhaustible in spite of having been extolled and expounded by numberless saints, sages and seers from time immemorial.
Moreover, forget not that on all sides you are surrounded by materialistic influences. If you are slack even for a day, the evil forces around you would find their opportunity and play havoc with you. The ball dropped on the top of the staircase takes less than a split-second to reach the ground, whereas it took much longer to take it up. In a moment of heedlessness much could be lost. Life is short, time is fleeting, and you cannot afford to lose an inch of ground that you have gained with so much effort, in your battle against the formidable foe–Maya or Satan or the evil mind.
Side by side with your work, you should do Japa, meditation, study of scriptures, Sat-vichara and Sat-Vyavahara. Do not let this monkey-mind have a minute’s respite. It is here that Satsanga and spiritual literature come to your great aid. The scriptures are your saviours. How many sublime thoughts are brought by them to your very doors! Study them carefully. Underline the sentences that strike you as having a direct bearing on your life and reflect over them in leisure moments. Thus would you find that you are able to surmount many obstacles and avoid many pitfalls. Is the mind disinclined to read these passages over and over again? That is Maya’s potent weapon to put you to sleep! Therefore beware. Are you not taking the same food daily over and over again? You will have to go on reading and re-reading the self-same spiritual sentences over and over again till they are indelibly engraved on the tablet of your heart, till they become part and parcel of your inner nature.
Then will a fortress of Nirodha Samskaras be erected within you. Repetition gives strength and pushes the ideas into the innermost chambers of your heart. Then the ideas will percolate your subconscious mind. The evil thoughts lurking there will be scorched and annihilated. You may not even know what wonders have been effected within you. Such is the salutary effect of repeatedly studying the same spiritual texts. That is why our ancestors have insisted on our ceremoniously reading texts like the Gita, the Ramayana, the Bhagavata etc., daily, regularly, with faith and devotion. These will augment your inner strength and you will grow stronger and stronger and ascend higher and higher on the ladder of Yoga Sadhana. When thus the entire inner nature is transformed into divine nature, then a single effort to meditate will lead you to Nirvikalpa Samadhi and Super-consciousness. You will then realise God in the twinkling of an eye.
Be regular in your Sadhana and maintain Spiritual Diary. Get up at Brahma-muhurta, at 4 a.m., and meditate. Do Japa and Kirtan. Wherever there is spiritual gathering, try to be present there and take active part. You should never miss a single opportunity, if you could possibly help it. Regularity is the most important factor in Sadhana, without which progress will not be marked. Take notes of all the sublime thoughts imparted to you at the time of hearing the discourses, contemplate over the important points and put them into practice in your daily life. Purify your heart through service and charity. Worship the Lord through Japa and meditation and obtain His Grace. Cultivate Vairagya or dispassion. Equip yourself with the knowledge of the fourfold means of Vedanta-Sadhana and march forward to your Goal–Moksha or Kaivalya. May you all shine as Jivanmuktas in this very birth. May your sincere endeavours to attain the knowledge of the Ultimate Truth bear fruit.