Sri Swami Atmaswarupananda
Third Early Morning Meditation Talk given during the Annual Christmas Retreat–Spirituality Means Change–in Gurudev’s sacred Samadhi Hall, Sivananda Ashram, Rishikesh.
Whether they are asked to speak for 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, an hour or even two hours, the ambition of most experienced speakers is to leave the audience with two or three useful ideas that they can take with them. In some ways we could say that the purpose of the 2002 Christmas Retreat is less ambitious: If the speakers and the audience can take with them into the coming years only one idea then the retreat will be considered to have been a tremendous success. And that one idea is, of course, the theme of the retreat: Spirituality Means Change.
Of course, from another point of view, the ambition of the retreat is much greater than that of an ordinary speaker. The ambition of the retreat is that each speaker as they prepared their talk, would think very deeply about the significance of the theme and how it applied to their life. In addition, the purpose is to begin to bring about a change in our attitude to change itself.
Two points seem to have been made very clear so far. The first is that spirituality is no different than life itself, and life is change. The other point, which we all know, is that there is something within us that doesn’t want to change. This means that we are out of harmony with life itself, we are separated from life itself.
The word hell comes from an old English word meaning to be walled off from or separated from. If life is change and we stubbornly don’t want to change, that means hell. But if life is change and we are willing to change, that puts us in harmony with life. Harmony comes from the same root word as heaven. So the difference between heaven and hell is whether we are in harmony with nature. And nature means change. Spirituality means putting us in harmony with the world.
The final purpose of the theme is twofold. First it is to convince us that spirituality does mean change. And, secondly, it is to place in our hearts a willingness to change. Let us not make the mistake of thinking that this is necessarily some monumental change. In some ways monumental changes are easy; we just have to screw up our courage and do it. What is difficult is day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute having an openness, a willingness to bring about the little changes that ultimately add up to a big change.
Spirituality means change. It means moment by moment being willing to change what needs to be changed at this moment.