The Wheel of Divine Life


Sri Swami Sivananda

Salutations to the Supreme Guru, the Immortal Spirit, the common unifying entity, present in all. Salutations to the torchbearers of knowledge divine. Salutations to all seekers of Truth who live the life divine. Adorations for all holy aspirations. Benedictions for the fruition of every noble endeavour.

The eternal mysteries of the human spirit, the ever restless and dissatisfied emotional being of man, the inadequacies of the temporal existence, the failure of the intellect to solve the problems of life satisfactorily, the baffling gulf that separates great ideals from rude realities–all tend to turn one’s mind towards God. Divine life is the process through which one progresses towards the realisation of God, and achieves the remedy of all the ills that life is heir to.

Guru is the guide who leads the aspirant on the way, and the aspirant is the pilgrim who toils on the ascent of divine life.

A progressive refinement of the mental and moral make-up of man is the primary objective of divine life. It begins with dedication to some fundamental principles such as truth, purity and non-injury, the practice of which automatically entails the voluntary enforcement of self-discipline, and ensuing of the process of purification. The implementation of these three fundamental principles in the daily life of the individual, in an impeccable manner, itself constitutes the vital part of divine life.

Human nature has two sides, the negative and the positive, one trying to preponderate over the other. There are invariably the “Dr. Jekyll” and “Mr. Hyde” elements in every man. When the “Hyde” element dominates, one becomes a social derelict, bringing upon oneself and others all the evil consequences of the boundless passions and destructive sadism of the instinctive part of one’s being. Yet, there are people who have in them a remarkable measure of the “Jekyll” element, which distinguishes them as great benefactors of society, and who are by far in a better position to be in peace with themselves and with others, too.

The positive ultimately overcomes the negative, though, in common experience, the negative forces hold an irrepressible sway over frequent phases in the lives of the most of the people. But not so with those who have made a beginning in walking the way of reason, of discretion, prudence, divine life. In them, the discriminative mind tries to rule over the instinctive part of their being. Viveka (discrimination) guides their actions, Vairagya (dispassion) sanctifies their motives, and Mumukshuttwa (longing for liberation) inspires their endeavours–each of the three deriving its strength and light from the spiritual part of their being.

To follow the path of truth, purity and non-injury is implicative of the highest form of self-discipline, amounting to neutralising every negative propensity emanating from the lower nature. Truth necessarily indicates, apart from the chastity of speech, the right sense of values, the courage to implement into action what one knows to be true, though it may not be entirely conducive, or may be even detrimental, to one’s material good. Truth also means the strength of will to abide by all positive principles, a sense of justice, an unbiased mind, and recognition of the pervasiveness of its subtle essence in all life.

Purity is the touchstone of divine life, which should have the power of transmuting all that is negative into the positive. The practice of purity covers the entire range of the culturing of emotions, and whatever is implied by self-restraint. It means the practice of the “Shat-Sampat,” namely, control of mind and the senses, tranquillity, forbearance, faith and concentration. Purity is physical and mental, since both are inter-related. Purity of thought naturally leads to purity of action as well as the sublimation of the sex-urge. Purity of motive, of life in general, is preliminary to the practice of truth.

Non-injury is love, indicated counter-wise. Here self-restraint (Yama) is again incumbent. The meaning of non-injury is complete only when it is implemented wholeheartedly–in thought, speech and action. The principles of love, compassion, mercy, fellowship and goodwill are all entwined in the term “non-injury.” Unless these principles are fully practised, the virtue of non-injury remains artificial.

Whilst love is a direct expression for non-injury, its logical fruition is in service. That much-maligned term, “love,” which is overly misapplied to sensual tomfoolery, selfish attachment, circumstantial sentimentality, emotional fixation and superimposed self-pity, is, indeed, a rare plant that grows only in the garden of divine life and that has to be continuously tended and nurtured to make it enblossom in all its glory. Love and service are inseparable. So, too, with understanding of, and respect for, the feelings of others. One cannot be said to possess love for humanity and yet be selfish and callous to the suffering of others. Thus selfless service is divine love in action.

If you are able to cultivate and practise these three basic tenets of divine life, which, in reality, traverse the entire gamut of practical spirituality, then you are on the road of Self-realisation, the ultimate goal of human aspiration. Even a rudimentary success in this path is greatly conducive to one’s peace and happiness, the worthiness of existence, to the betterment of human nature, to the good of society and the world at large. A collective awareness of the great importance of divine life, with all its pragmatic values, can surely contribute, in a large measure, to the promotion of world peace, solidarity and fellowship.

Brahmavidya is, in other words, the knowledge of divine life, the central ideal of all spiritual aspirants. In this alone lies the salvation of mankind. May the blessings of the Divine Guru be upon all.

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