Waste Not This Rare Human Birth


Sri Swami Sivananda

Salutations again and again at the Holy Feet of the great Sage, Sri Vyasa Bhagavan Sri Krishna-Dwaipayana, who edited the Vedas, composed the Brahmasutras, and wrote the Mahabharata and the eighteen Puranas including the Srimad-Bhagavata; salutations to the Brahmavidya Gurus, all Saints and Sages of yore to the present day.

Jagad-guru, Sri Sankaracharya, who was an Avatara of Lord Siva, delved into the precious wisdom of the Upanishads and brought out the most rare gem in the form of the unparalleled Advaita philosophy or the Monistic idealism which gives you, in a nutshell, the glorious truth that you are in essence Divine beings, ever perfect, free, full and blissful. This idea is contained in his famous memorable Sloka: ‘Slokardhena Pravakshyami Yaduktam Granthakotibhih; Brahma Satyam Jaganmithya, Jivo Brahmaiva Naparah.’ This gives the very essence of all spiritual wisdom, and it is the last word in the transcendental realisation expressed in the form of this famous Sloka. Bliss is to be found in the spiritual Reality which is within you. Realise this and be free.

Now this ultimate declaration has been given–well and good. But how to attain it? Because you know that in your actual experience of worldly pleasures, your mental impressions are, unfortunately, gathered through the instruments of the mind and the senses. So, when your entire experience of pleasure gives you a perception of Asat, Achit and Duhkha, how can you find the Satchidananda Atman? Everything in this world is fleeting in character. You do not find Chit (consciousness) anywhere but only the Jada (insentient) everywhere. ‘Sarvam Duhkham Vivekinah’,–according to this declaration there is only pain to be experienced in this world. If pain is constantly experienced by you, how can you find Ananda or Bliss? And in answer to this, seers and sages of yore have shown the way by which we have to reach our goal, step by step.

In the Vivekachudamani, there is a Sloka which runs as follows: ‘Durlabham Trayamevaitat Daivanugraha-hetukam; Manushyatvam Mumukshutvam Maha-purushasamsrayah.’ Three things are very difficult to obtain. Only through the grace of God the Jivas obtain them. To be born as a human being is no small privilege. It is a very precious gift given by God to the Jiva. Having got a human birth, to have an aspiration for liberation is the next difficult thing to obtain. So, if one obtains both these, one is indeed doubly blessed. But having been born as a human being, if you do not want to know, and yet even after knowing that, if you do not know the way, you are not fully blessed. Therefore, if you get the shelter of a Mahapurusha, one who has known what has to be attained and one who is in a position to show you the way, you can admit that you are thrice blessed. This unique blessing has to be remembered always. Then alone will you be careful not to waste the opportunity. When you know the real value of a thing, you take proper care of it, and not otherwise.

The only thing that stands in the way of your spiritual realisation is your own mind, the ego, or call it by any name you like. It is precisely in order to see that this obstacle is removed and one gets at the ultimate goal of human life that one goes to the preceptor or Guru. The Guru has destroyed the limiting mind and he knows the method as to how one has to destroy it. Let us suppose that a man who is desirous of leading a spiritual life goes to a Guru and asks for his advice and guidance; and the Guru tells him, “Be good, lead a virtuous life, serve selflessly, love all, share with others what you have, purify the mind, meditate with one-pointed mind, etc.” But, if the man does not sincerely strive to follow the Guru’s advice, what benefit will he thereby derive? Absolutely nothing. He will be in no way better than what he was. It seems that one does not want to practise anything, but there is only the expectation of the result. What a sad state of affairs!

This life on earth is a halting place on the way to the achievement of the Goal of life. Earthly life is transitory, for it is seen that everything that is born dies. Death is not the end of life, since without a continuation of life therefrom the value of the deeds and experiences in this life would be rendered nugatory. There were births and deaths in the past, there will be births and deaths in the future, too, until Self-realisation is attained. Life is a long chain of which the recurring births, planetary lives and deaths are links.

Birth is caused by desires and actions, and birth becomes the cause of further desires and actions. This present life is, therefore, meant to train the individual to qualify himself for a higher life. viz., to stop births and deaths ultimately. This life is not the goal or the end, even as the path is not the same as the destination. If earthly life were the final goal, none would have died here, there would not have been mutation, pain and sorrow, and there would be no sense of imperfection and no further urge or aspiration to transcend the present condition. The ever-changing world proves the existence of an unchanging imperishable Being.

Remember that you came alone to this world and also you will pass away alone from this world. None will help you except what you have done here in this life. Your deeds will search you out and follow you as calves follow their mothers even in the midst of a big herd.

Your life is short and there are many obstacles to get over. Therefore, exert now with earnestness. Waste not precious time but utilize every moment for the noblest of causes. Finish your journey quickly by practising right Sadhana (spiritual endeavour) with the guidance of a Guru or preceptor. Great shall be your glory and glorious shall be your success. May peace be with you on your spiritual path. May blessedness wait upon you in all your pursuits. May the Supreme Master, the Lord of all, shower His blessings upon you all!

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