Sri Swami Shivapremananda
This article is from the book An Insight Into Yoga.
Most of us are creatures of beliefs that are convenient to justify our desires and longings, allay the basic fears and uncertainties, and fulfill a sense of belonging. Their usefulness is to the extent they help to make us better human beings and bring a deeper meaning to our being alive.
Lofty words like altruism, transcendental truth, God, eternal love are only indicative of how inadequate our life is and how insecure our identity in relationship. Their ability to lift our spirit is in their translation as duty, honour, feeling for and understanding of each other.
Philosophy is meant to form principles and shape criteria. If you have no principles then you have no philosophy.
Religion is meant to promote spiritual fellowship among people, not merely within a particular faith. This is possible only through an understanding heart and freedom from prejudice. The bigot can never be religious, much less spiritual.
Justice is meant to promote respect for the rule of law, and a law can be respected only when it gives equal legal protection to all, while striving to promote mutual responsibility for social security and welfare.
Moral norms are not merely social habits but spiritual ligaments in the body of society and represent not just the outlines of social behaviour but are meant to appeal to the better side of human nature. They are not merely to hold people together through a balance of self-interest but to sustain spiritual responsibility to each other.
People should ask themselves the following basic questions:
How can you expect respect from others if you have no self-respect in your own eyes?
How can you have self-respect if you lie, deceive and act as a coward and a weakling, if you are arrogant, vain and selfish?
How can you have peace of mind if you are self-centered and have no basic integrity of character?
How can you be happy if you are a slave of passion and keep being attached to those who do not really care for you?
How can you expect the love of others if you are selfish and full of yourself?
How can you expect success if you do not work hard and try to acquire the necessary talents to get what you want?
How can you have inner harmony if you have no devotion to spiritual ideals?
What worth is all the effort to keep yourself and your family in material comfort if you have failed to find harmony in your heart and give peace and love to your family and friends?
Spiritual life does not consist in singing the glory of God and chanting mantras but in the practice of integrity, compassion, fulfilling of duties and obligations, acceptance of personal responsibility, selfless service for a common cause that does not enhance the ego of anyone in particular, and in the sublimation of passions.
A tree can remain standing in spite of stormy weather only if it has deep roots. Likewise, the tree of life can be stable only through the deep roots of actions motivated by love, a sense of justice tempered by compassion and understanding, and unselfish support of those you care for when they are in need.
The tree of life can have many branches of knowledge and many leaves of prayers, but without its deep roots it will fall down with its branches and leaves when the storm comes.