Sri Swami Atmaswarupananda
Early Morning Meditation Talk given in the Sacred Samadhi Hall of Gurudev Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, Sivananda Ashram, Rishikesh
Many great spiritual teachers have taught only one yoga. It is the way they have realised God, so it seems to them to be the easy way. That was not Gurudev’s way. He recommended to us an integral yoga.
He believed that head, heart and hand should all be developed. Perhaps it was because in his experience he had seen that those who followed just one path often ignored parts of themselves that are vital to all-round development. He noticed that those who followed only the path of Vedanta, instead of realising the ultimate truth, would often become dry Vedantins, arguing this way and that way about minor points. Those who would only repeat God’s name or follow devotional practices would be caught up in their feelings and often have no actual idea of the real goal of the spiritual life. And while Gurudev, from beginning to end, was an advocate of karma yoga, he knew that without the development of understanding, without proper devotion, karma yoga would not be yoga at all, but just karma–work–thinking you were making spiritual progress, but actually not moving at all.
However, in actual fact, even integral yoga doesn’t necessarily guarantee that we will make spiritual progress. Just as those who follow only the path of head or heart or hand can get stuck, so too, if we follow integral yoga, we can also get stuck if in our heart of hearts we ignore the ultimate truth of the spiritual life, if we ignore that which we are meant to realise.
The declaration of the scriptures is that all this is Brahman and That thou art. And whether we practise an individual yoga or integral yoga, if we don’t bring into our spiritual life the ultimate truth of the scriptures in a real way, how can we possibly dream that we can have the fruit of the scriptures? Therefore, sooner or later, our spiritual life must be done from the point of view of the truth of the scriptures. If all this is Brahman and I am That, it is not an individual ego that is doing the spiritual practice at all, whether it be an individual yoga or integral yoga. It has to be the Lord Himself.
It is this bhav–that feels that it is the Lord that is doing our yoga, that everything is the Lord–that can make any yoga successful. It can be an individual yoga or integral yoga. It doesn’t matter. The important thing is the bhav with which we do our practice: That which is doing the yoga is nothing except the Lord Himself, because there is nothing except the Lord. Even the feeling that there is separation is nothing except the Lord. It is this understanding that will lead us towards our goal and make our present yoga successful.