Sri Swami Atmaswarupananda
Early Morning Meditation Talk given in the Sacred Samadhi Hall of Gurudev Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, Sivananda Ashram, Rishikesh
Gurudev continuously declared that the goal of life is God-realisation. And, indeed, that would be the goal that most of us have set for ourselves. But normally it is not possible to reach a goal unless we have a clear idea in our mind of what it is we are seeking.
Some people say that God-realisation means that the world disappears, or it is a state where thoughts cannot arise. But is that what we have seen in Gurudev and the other saints of The Divine Life Society? Is that what we saw in saints like Papa Ramdas, Ramana Maharshi, Anandamayi Ma? Or do we see there people fully alive, using all their faculties? And actually what do the scriptures tell us to do? What do we pray for? It is certainly radical, but it is not anti-life. Rather it is pro-life. Lead us from death to Immortality, from non-existence to Existence, from darkness to Light. Other teachers have said from being asleep to being awake.
What is it to be dead, to be asleep, to be in a state of non-existence? It is to be lost in our thoughts. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have thoughts; the problem is we’re lost in them and totally identified with them. To be awake, to be alive is when our consciousness shifts from being lost in thought to being aware of thought. That awareness gives us a detachment from thought, and could be described as a no-thought state because thoughts are at a lower level. To be detached from thoughts means that we are the witness of them. Not a witness created by the mind, but the natural witness that is always there.
But to define it is one thing. To abide there is something else again. How do we abide there? The two key instructions that Lord Krishna has given us are dispassion and practice. We can never abide in the Light as long as we think that we can get happiness in the darkness. While most of us do we get moments of light, there is a tremendous force in us that wants to rush back into darkness, abide in our old way of living. Therefore, it requires steady effort and intelligent discrimination.
For most of us it doesn’t come easy; we’re so addicted to the darkness. But this is the blessing of being in an ashram which is full of light. Wherever we turn there is light. There is light in the repetition of God’s name. There is light in the worships conducted. There is light in the teachings given, and there is light in meditation. We must be determined to abide in the Light. We must be committed to abide in the Light.
We cannot abide in the Light and in the darkness at the same time. Therefore, we must have dispassion for the darkness, not be satisfied to abide there, not give ourselves the luxury of abiding there thinking it doesn’t matter. It does matter. We only have to see an example like Pujya Swami Chidanandaji to recognise what it means to ever abide in the Light. There is no coming down. There is no compromise. Every bite of food, every sip of liquid, every gesture of the hand is evidence of abiding in the Light. There is no slipping down into the mind, letting it take over. That is our goal–to raise ourselves from darkness to Light and to abide there.