Spiritualisation of Human Nature
Sri Swami Sivananda
This article is a chapter from the book Sadhana.
The petty, obstinate egoism which actuates the human personality is a serious obstacle in meditation or the path of Self-realisation. This little self-arrogating principle supports its surface thoughts and dominates its habitual ways of feeling, character and action. This is Rajasic and Tamasic egoism which conceals or covers the higher, divine, Sattvic nature. It veils the self-luminous Immortal Soul or Atman.
You may have aspiration to the Truth. You may be endowed with devotion. You may possess a will to overcome the obstacles and hostile forces. If the little ego asserts or persists, if the external personality has not consented to change or transformation, you cannot have rapid progress in the spiritual path. It will have its own ways and inclinations.
The lower nature must be thoroughly regenerated. The habitual lower personality of the Sadhaka must be entirely changed. If this is not done any spiritual experience or power is of no value. If this little ego or human personality persists in retaining its petty, limited, selfish, ignoble, false and stupid human consciousness, any amount of Tapas or Sadhana will bear no fruit. This means that you do not really thirst for God-realisation. It is nothing more than idle curiosity. The aspirant says to the preceptor “I want to practise Yoga. I want to enter into Nirvikalpa Samadhi. I want to sit at your feet,” but he does not want to change his lower nature and old habits. He wants to have his own ways and old habits, old character, behaviour and conduct.
If the aspirant or Yogic student declines to change his petty, lower nature or if he refuses even to admit the need for any change in his lower, habitual personality, he can never make even an iota of real spiritual advancement. Any partial or temporary elevation, slight occasional inspiration during some exalted moments, any momentary spiritual opening within, without any true or radical transformation of the lower nature or habitual little personality, is of no practical value.
This change of the lower nature is not easy. The force of habit is ever strong and inveterate. It demands great strength of will. The aspirant often feels helpless against the force of old habits. He will have to develop his Sattva and will to a considerable degree by regular Japa, Kirtan, meditation, untiring selfless service, Satsanga. He must introspect and find out his own defects and weaknesses. He must live under the guidance of his Guru. The Guru finds out his defects and points out suitable ways to eradicate them. If the lower nature or old personality becomes obstinate, self-assertive or aggressive, and if it is supported and justified by the lower mind and will, then the matter becomes very serious. He becomes incorrigible, turbulent, unruly, arrogant and impertinent. He breaks all the rules and discipline.
Such an aspirant clings to his old self. He has not surrendered himself either to the Lord or to a personal Guru. He is ever ready to revolt against any man for little things. He will never obey. He is not willing to receive any spiritual instruction. He is self-willed, self-satisfied and self-sufficient. He is not ready to accept his weaknesses and defects. He thinks that he is a flawless man of great achievements. He leads a happy-go-lucky life.
The old personality asserts itself with the past forms of lower nature. He asserts and follows his own crude and egoistic ideas, desires, fancies, impulses or conveniences. He claims the right to follow his own inhuman unregenerate Asuric or diabolical nature with all untruthfulness, ignorance, selfishness, rudeness and to express all impure stuff in speech, action and behaviour.
He argues vehemently and defends himself in a variety of ways and paints in special colours. He tries to continue his past habitual ways of thinking, speaking and feeling.
He professes one thing and practises another thing. He tries to force his wrong views and opinions on others. If others are not willing to accept his wrong views, he is ready to fight against them. He at once stands up in revolt. He asserts that his views only are correct and that those who try to oppose his views are unjust, unreasonable, uneducated. He tries to persuade and convince others that his views are very reasonable and that his ways of action are the right ways of action for all and that his ways and views are in full accordance with the science of Yoga. Marvellous people they are!
If he is really frank with himself and straightforward to his Guru, if he really desires to improve himself, he will begin to realise his folly and defects and recognise the source and nature of the resistance. He will soon be on the direct road to correct and change himself. But he prefers to conceal his old Asuric nature, his old diabolical thoughts under some justification or excuse or other shelter.
The self-assertive, arrogant Sadhaka tries to make a figure in society. He wants to maintain a position and prestige in the society. He poses himself that he is a great Yogi and possesses several Yogic powers. He claims the part of a superior Sadhaka or an advanced Yogi with greater knowledge and experience of Nirvikalpa Samadhi. These defects of vanity, arrogance of Rajasic nature are present in most human natures on a smaller scale.
He is unwilling to obey the orders of his Guru and respect elders and superiors. He is ever ready to break discipline. He has got his ideas and impulses. The habit of disobedience and disregard of discipline is ingrained in him. He sometimes promises that he will be obedient to his Guru and elders, but the action done is frequently the very opposite of his promise. Non-observance of discipline is indeed a serious obstacle to the Sadhana. He sets the worst possible example to others.
He who is disobedient, who breaks the discipline, who is not straightforward to his Guru, who cannot open his heart to his preceptor or spiritual guide, cannot be benefited by the help of his Guru. He remains stuck in his own self-creating mire or mud and cannot progress in the divine path. What a great pity! His lot is highly lamentable indeed!
He practises dissimulation. He plays the hypocrite. He pretends falsely. He exaggerates things. He makes a false use of his imagination. He does distortion and falsification of facts. He conceals his thoughts and facts. He denies positively certain facts. He tells terrible, deliberate lies. He does this to cover up his disobedience or wrong course of action, to keep up his position and to have his own ways or indulge in his old habits and desires.
He himself does not know what he is exactly doing as his intellect is clouded by impurity. He does not know what he means and does not mean what he says.
He never admits his faults and defects. Even if any one points out his defects for correcting him, he feels extremely annoyed. He wages war against him. He has more brute in him.
He has got the most dangerous habit of self-justification. He always tries to justify himself, to stick to his own ideas to maintain his own position or course of action by bringing any kind of foolish, inconsistent arguments, clever tricks or devices. He misuses his intellect to support his own foolish actions. These defects are common, in some in a less, in others in a great degree.
If he feels even a little bit, for his present deplorable condition, if he attempts to show even a slight improvement, if there is a little receptive attitude, he can be corrected. He can have progress in the path of Yoga. If he is obstinate and pig-headed, if he is absolutely self-willed, if he deliberately shuts his eyes or hardens his heart against the truth or Divine light, no one can help him.
The aspirant should give his full consent with all his being (Sarva Bhava) for the change of his lower nature into Divine nature. He must make total, unreserved, ungrudging self-surrender to the Lord or Guru. He must have the true spirit and right abiding attitude. He must make the right persistent endeavours. Then only the real change will come. Mere nodding the head, mere professing, mere saying ‘yes’ will not serve any purpose. It will not make you a Superman or a Yogi.
Yoga can be practised only by those who are very earnest about it and who are ready to annihilate their little ego and its demands. There is no half-measure in the spiritual path. Rigid discipline of senses and mind, rigorous Tapas and constant meditation are necessary for the attainment of God-realisation. The hostile forces are ever ready to overwhelm you if you are not vigilant, if you give the least sanction or the smallest opening for them. Yoga cannot be practised if you cling to your old little self, old habits, old unregenerate self-assertive lower nature.
You cannot lead a double life at the same time. Pure divine life, life of Yoga, cannot co-exist with mundane life of passion and ignorance. Divine life cannot conform to your own little standards. You must rise above petty human level. You must raise yourself to a higher level of divine consciousness. You cannot claim freedom for your petty mind and little ego if you want to become a Yogi. You should not affirm your own thoughts, judgment, desires, impulses. The lower nature with its retinue, viz., arrogance, ignorance, turbulence stands in the way of descent of the divine light.
Become a true, sincere aspirant in the path of Yoga. Kill this lower nature by developing the higher divine nature. Soar high. Get yourself ready for the descent of the divine light. Purify and become a dynamic Yogi.