Radiant Immortal Atman! Beloved and blessed children of the Divine! Sadhaks and spiritual aspirants aspiring after the ideal and goal of divine perfection, which is the ultimate highest ideal and goal of all mankind, the purpose of human birth according to the vision of life conceived by the great, illumined seers and sages of the Upanishads! The central objective, the supreme goal of life as conceived by the Vedic vision was that man has not come here to weep and wail, to laugh a little, weep a little, suffer and die; he has come here, not for death but for immortality, not for sorrow but for supreme bliss, not for struggle and restlessness but for supreme peace, eternal satisfaction, nitya tripti. This was their great declaration based upon their own personal transcendental experiences, atma’nubhava, aparoksha’nubhuti.
Declaring this, they called man to supreme bliss. They called the individual soul upon its pilgrimage, journey to this goal, to wake up, wake up, and not stop until it reaches its great destination. “It is your birthright. Come, come, why do you unnecessarily prolong your bondage? Why do you delay this great experience which is awaiting you, for which you are meant? Uttisthata jagrata prapya varan nibodhata (Arise, awake, having reached the wise, be enlightened).” Down the centuries, again and again, successive generations of saints and sages, perfect masters, have called upon humanity not to lose sight of the great Goal, but ever to aspire after it, attain it and become blessed. This is, therefore, the global human inheritance and heritage, thanks to the great experiences and to the supreme state of beatitude attained by our Upanishadic sages and seers, which in the fullness of their hearts they declared to all mankind.
Nevertheless, they were not unaware that this is a world of pain and death. They were perfectly aware, but they said this is incidental to life. What is essential to life, and most important, is movement towards this great goal of perfection. It is therefore up to each and every pilgrim soul to keep in view its divine destiny. We have not come here to live and die as human beings. We are born as human beings, but we have come here to depart from life as all-perfect divine beings.
In the life of every aspirant there is always struggle. There is a swinging between joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, happiness and misery, success and failure, elation and depression, conviction and doubt. That is always there. It is inevitable, first and foremost, because of the simple fact that this is indeed a world that is made up of prakriti and purusha, daivi and asuri, the pairs of opposites. Prakriti is always there, ever actively manifesting, dynamically manifesting in the form of sattva, rajas and tamas. According to the manifestation of each guna (attribute) there are auspicious moods of the mind and there are also inauspicious, negative moods of the mind, because mind is part and parcel of prakriti. Also, sometimes there is health, sometimes ill health; sometimes there is comfort, sometimes discomfort; sometimes there is strength and energy, sometimes weakness and lack of energy. This is part of the play of prakriti.
Secondly, the reason for this swinging between these pairs of opposites is that the individual spiritual aspirant does not know how to do sadhana, does not know the right way of becoming well established in one invariable goal, which is possible only if one has firm faith, absolute faith, absolute trust in God, conviction, total conviction, unshakable conviction—sraddha and visvas. Sraddhavan labhate jnanam—One who has total trust in God, who has sraddha, attains supreme illumination, wisdom, which liberates. Samsayatma vinasyati—One who is doubtful and lacks faith, dire is his fate.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna reiterates this important truth about your life, your spiritual striving: it will become fruitful, and uniformly and steadily progressive, only if you have diligently cultivated trust in God, faith in yourself also, faith in the efficacy of your sadhana, faith in the spiritual practice, faith in the spiritual life, faith in the great Goal, faith in your Guru and the words of your Guru, faith in the teachings of the scriptures.
(If you neglect the study of the scriptures where comes the question of having faith or not having faith! If you study the scriptures then alone arises this question, not when you neglect svadhyaya or read only for passing the time, for entertainment or escaping from duties. Arjuna also escaped into philosophy and dharmic argument with Lord Krishna, because he wanted to escape his stern duty. Therefore the lack of cultivation of close and deep acquaintance with the scriptures becomes a great stumbling block; faith becomes wavering, it is not well established.)
It is necessary, therefore, for the sadhak to understand that no matter how the inner mood may be changing, it is inevitable, because it forms part of prakriti, and prakriti is not only present as the three gunas, it is also present in the entire creation as the pairs of opposites. And it is necessary, as the Lord said to Arjuna, to be above the three attributes—nistraigunyo bhava’rjuna. It is also necessary to strive to go beyond the opposites, and it is not so very difficult as one may imagine. If one has never given it a trial one may imagine it is impossible. It is not impossible because that state of being beyond the pairs of opposites is your real state, your natural state, your eternal state. So to be what you are should not be a difficult thing.
The need is to stop being what you are not, not to be foolish, not to be self-forgetful, but to be always aware of your essential nature. Then gradually you can become established. It takes a little time because we have given in to the bad and pernicious habit of moving away from the Self and getting into an unnatural state by the uncontrolled movement of our mind. If we exercise rational control over the mind, channelling it and its moods and sentiments in the right direction again and again, and yet again, and keep on doing this, then one day the entire antahkarana (inner being) will become positive, become sattvic, become completely filled with daivi sampad (divine virtues). You will be prasannachetas (tranquil-minded). Santosha will be yours, and Patanjali Maharshi stresses that the inner state of contentment is one of the observances to be faithfully cultivated upon the path of Yoga.
Therefore, the world being constituted of dvandvas (pairs of opposites), the antahkarana, as part of the world, also takes up this dvandva nature. You being dvandvatita (beyond dvandvas) must try to understand your mind and affirm your real nature, which is beyond the pairs of opposites, and thus become firmly established in a state of peace and serenity. This is the abhyasa. This is the Yoga of the Bhagavad Gita and significantly the Lord says: “samatvam yoga uchyate—evenness of mind is called Yoga.” Therefore, to this end the sadhak should wisely and diligently strive as part of his training, discipline and spiritual sadhana. Then one can be established in a state where one is not affected by the inevitable dvandvas amidst which one has to live.
In this world we cannot escape either the play of the three gunas or the pairs of opposites. They are there to stay. We have come into such a universe. The universe does not owe us a duty to suddenly change just because we have come into it. We have to recognise this fact, do the needful, and be unaffected by this nature of prakriti.
Therefore, wisely let us understand this truth about the spiritual life and the world in which we have to live and lead the spiritual life, and cultivate a firm inner centre where we are forever established in our own nature, God nature. We have come here to go beyond the pairs of opposites and attain the supernal state of perfect bliss and peace.
Sivananda Yoga (Yoga DVD)
Yoga, A Way of Life - Sri Swami Adhyatmananda
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