The Razor-Edge


Sri Swami Atmaswarupananda

Early Morning Meditation Talk given in the Sacred Samadhi Hall of Gurudev Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, Sivananda Ashram, Rishikesh

The spiritual life has often been compared to walking on a razor-edge, or sometimes a pathless path, or we might say walking a fine line. What are these words trying to indicate to us? The human being likes to be certain. In fact, in many ways, we like to be told what to do and then be able to do it, so that we can then feel comfortable with ourselves. But the spiritual life is not meant to be that secure, that certain. We’re always walking a fine line, for example, between too much and too little.

All traditions teach austerity. Gurudev did too, but he wouldn’t allow his disciples to go to the extremes that he himself had. But where is the fine line between too much austerity and too little? We’re not sure. To able to do sadhana, we have to look after our health. But if we worry about every ache and pain, we spend all our time in the doctor’s office, and our mind is constantly involved with the body instead of the Spirit. Where is the fine line between being careless about the body’s health and worrying about it too much? It’s not easy to find.

We’re told we have to make great effort in the spiritual life. Without extreme self-effort there will be no realisation. But the scriptures also tell us we are not the doer. God is the doer. So if God is doing everything, should I be trying to take over His job? I should relax and let Him do everything. Pujya Swami Chidanandaji spoke about Gurudev along these lines a year ago. He said, “Gurudev had a secret. He made extreme effort, but at the same time he knew that everything was happening by God’s will.” And then Swamiji added that Gurudev kept this a secret from us half-baked people because if he had told us, we would have thought, “Oh, it is all up to God. I don’t have to do anything.”

But how do we walk that razor-edge? How do we balance knowing everything is happening by God’s will and yet put everything we’ve got into our sadhana as if it all depended up us? How do we find that fine line? Perhaps we never find it. Perhaps we never know. Perhaps we simply have to trust God. And perhaps that trusting God is itself the fine line, the razor-edge, the pathless path.

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