What Does A New Year Mean To You?


Sri Swami Chidananda

Revered Immortal Atman!

I have addressed you as “Revered Immortal Atman”. This address contains the message for the New Year! When Swamiji writes a letter, he does not begin it with “My dear John” or “My dear Govind”, but he begins with “Revered Immortal Atman” or “Glorious Immortal Atman”. This mode of address forms the message for mankind. Be aware of your real nature! Do not be under the delusion that you are this physical body and this ever-fluctuating mind. You are the blissful, immortal Atman. This mode of address contains the quintessence of all teachings. That Light which is eternally pervading everything, that Light thou art! When the day dawns tomorrow, do not have the feeling that ‘I am this body’, or ‘He is my friend’, ‘He did good to me’, ‘He did evil to me’. Instead, have the feeling of divine oneness. The Self which is in me is in all. “I am all purity. No evil feeling can arise in me, because I am made of God. I am heir to the Immortal Kingdom of God. I am the Emperor of emperors.” Let this new feeling pervade your consciousness in the New Year. Completely shed off yesterday’s consciousness. If you have been feeling that you are this little personality, now feel that you are not this personality.

The coming part of your life should be utilised to realise this great message of the scriptures. The message of the scriptures is not confined to the particular person to whom it is addressed, but all such messages are universal in their application. Vasishta did not instruct Rama, only for the sake of Rama. Anasuya did not instruct Sita, only for Sita’s sake. Yaksha did not talk to Dharmaraja, only for the latter’s sake. Their instructions are meant for all.

This reminds me of an interesting story. Once, an orthodox Pandit used to conduct a certain Katha daily for one hour. Once while conducting the Katha, he had occasion to explain the various kinds of food, Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic, and in his discourse, he said that one variety of vegetables, viz., brinjals, should be given up. His wife was also listening to the discourse. After the Katha was over, he and his wife returned home. The wife asked him, “What shall I prepare for the night?” He mentioned the same vegetable, which he had said that people should not take. The wife was astonished and said, “You told those people that brinjals should not be taken.” The Pandit replied, “You woman, you do not understand. The thing that I asked them not to eat is the vegetable in the book, but not the vegetable that is in your kitchen. Go and prepare it.” This mentality should not be there. In books, you read that you are the Atman. You appreciate and say, “What a beautiful, sublime Vedanta is there in that book!” If wonderful Vedanta is there, it should come in your actual life. Otherwise it is useless, though it may mean good sales for the book-seller. Vedanta should come in action. The life of man should be transformed. In this New Year, let us all bring Vedanta into our actual life. Let our life be pervaded by Yoga and Vedanta. That is the New Year’s Message.

I will tell you one fine observation. Supposing we sit at the feet of saints and they go on giving their Upadesha. When they talk about the usual human weaknesses, like selfishness, etc., supposing there are hundred people hearing. They all hear and enjoy the little jokes and funs when the speaker points out particular common human weaknesses. Even when Swamiji sometimes speaks and points out the common failings of men, we think that this vice belongs to another person, but we never think that any of the vices belongs to us. We never feel that we have that particular vice and that we should correct ourselves. We enjoy the lecture thinking that the weaknesses mentioned belong to someone else. On the other hand, when such defects of men are mentioned, you must always find out which defects belong to you and try to remove them. “This is the weakness that I have got. I must remove it.” If this attitude is there, your evolution will proceed with electric speed. Only after cutting and polishing several times, the diamond shines. That is the shape our life has to take.

‘New Year’–the words themselves are significant. You should become new. It conveys that you have got the whole year to become new. It gives you three hundred and sixty-five golden days. Make use of them. You have three hundred and sixty-five days to become new. What is meant by becoming new? It does not mean that you should put on nice clothes on the New Year’s Day. It does not mean physical renewal. It is a total renewal of one’s consciousness and one’s mode of thinking and feeling. In what way one’s mode of feeling and thinking can be renewed? Have a new vision. “Udaracharitanam tu Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”. To those who are large-hearted, the whole world is their kith and kin. Such a man feels as though he himself is suffering when he finds someone suffering. But a man of little heart feels that this is his, this is someone else’s. Therefore, have love, affection, regard for everyone. Let us behold the earth with the vision that everyone is our own kith and kin. And then have a still newer vision. Let the aspirant see the whole world as God. See everything as a manifestation of God Himself. See Divinity alone everywhere. That should be the new vision. This new light should come to all. Worship the world, looking upon it as Manifest Divinity, in cosmic form, even as Arjuna saw the whole universe as the Lord’s Vishwarupa. Let our thoughts be renewed. Let us not have Raga-Dvesha. “Let him do anything. I will forget it.” Let us have this attitude. Forget all evil. See no fault. Fault-finding nature is the surest way of accumulating all defects within ourselves. The more you see faults in others, the more your mind dwells on those defects, the more you develop those defects in yourself. If you hold a negative thought for a long time, it becomes a trait of your own nature. Instead of finding fault in others, pray to God, “O God, let me not have this fault-finding nature”. If someone says something, you are annoyed. Determine, “I will not get irritated, under any situation.” Your life should be characterised by unruffled serenity. Perfect serenity should be your new reaction to disturbing situation.

Let our vision be new, our thoughts be new, our feelings be new, and let our reaction to surroundings be new. In all these things, we have to renew ourselves. Let us see everyone as a manifestation of God. Let us not take in anything that is bad. Let us not hear what is evil, speak what is evil, think what is evil. Let us see only what is good, hear only what is good, think only what is good, do only what is good. Let our hearts feel only that which is good. Let us thus pass from all that is bad to all that is good. Let ‘tomorrow’ mean to us a life of progressive goodness, talking no evil, feeling no evil, but living a life of goodness. Let us march progressively towards Godliness! Let this be for us the meaning of the New Year!

Hari Om Tat Sat!

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