The Vision of Our Ancients
Swami Chidananda

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Radiant Immortal Atman! Beloved children of the Divine! There are certain very significant, important and meaningful aspects of the Vedic way of life, as well as the culture of the sacred land of India, which form, as it were, the very heart of Vedic dharma and Indian culture. It is these concepts that enliven the vision of our great heritage and our culture.

With what eyes, with what view, did our ancients behold this life, man, this world, human beings? These lofty concepts that were given to us, handed down to posterity, were not arrived at through reasoning or speculation, but rather through direct perception, direct personal experience (aparokshanubhuti) within the depths of their consciousness. And if these lofty concepts are lost sight of, the river of the stream of our life will run into a desert, become dried up and vanish without ever reaching the great destination of the ocean.

These fundamental concepts, the vision they had, the Indian vision, must become woven into the very fabric of our day-to-day living and our day-to-day awareness. Then alone we will be able to fully absorb and benefit from these concepts.

First and foremost, it is a vision and a way of life based upon an aspiration for light, enlightenment, to be ever moving towards the Light and ever turning away from darkness, rejecting all that is darkness. Because darkness binds and blinds and stops all possibility of onward progress and is the greatest stumbling block to the process of evolution. The meaning of life is transcending all darkness.

This Light is greater than any light within the gamut of human experience, within the entire range of earthly experience, where the sun does not shine, neither the moon, nor the stars, nor lightning, what to speak of ordinary fire. Because That shines with supreme effulgence, here on this earth all things have luminosity, effulgence, all things are able to be radiant and to manifest light. All light ultimately inheres in that great Light of lights, is derived from that Light of lights. Such was their experience. As such, it was not unusual to refer to the ultimate Reality as the transcendental Light. Thence is the great ancient Vedic prayer summing up the entire aspiration of the seeking heart of this culture, this way of life: “tamaso ma jyotirgamaya—From darkness lead us unto Light, take us up into Light.” And this aspiration after Light, seeking after Light and turning away from darkness, should be a constant, unbroken process within each one of you. That is the sadhaka, that is the jijnasu who seeks light. He is the one who aspires for knowledge, for wisdom, ever turning away from all that constitutes the contradiction of knowledge, wisdom and light, resolutely rejecting anything in life, in the environment, that is likely to come in the way of the process of moving towards the supreme Light of lights.

And the other great concept is that everything is sacred, everything is indwelt, pervaded, permeated by the Divine Reality. You live, move and have your being amidst that great Reality. The Upanishads, the Gita, the teachings of the saints who have followed this path of Yoga and Vedanta are full of this declaration. The presence of the Divine is in and through the great appearance, the phenomenon, the world appearance. In the midst of the ever-changeful, the ephemeral, the evanescent, there is the never-changing, the stable, the permanent. And thus the logical conclusion of it is that every movement, every force, every form of energy, all power, is a manifestation of this great Reality, the great Light of lights.

And out of this experience arose that entire school of thought conceiving the Divine not merely as an all-pervading Reality, an all-pervading Presence, a great Effulgence, surpassing the effulgence of more than a million suns, but also as the great universal Power, the universal Source. Everything indeed in this universe—all movement, all power, all force, all energy, is divine, is derived from the divine Source. Therefore it is sacred. Therefore it is to be cultivated. Therefore it is to be nurtured. Therefore it is to be conserved, accumulated and preserved.

And through it everything is possible. All things that have to be overcome can be overcome. All things that have to be achieved and attained can be achieved and attained. There is nothing impossible, for the sanction behind this force or energy in this gross physical universe is the supreme source of all divine energy or force, Para-Sakti.

This great system of philosophy called the Sakta school conceived the eternal Reality as infinite, imponderable power or energy, sakti. They called it Para-Sakti, the transcendental Power, Adi-Sakti, the primal Power or Maha-Sakti, the great Power. And so everything is saturated by that great power or force. As you sit here this morning, it is that force that makes your heart pulsate and pump blood through your entire physical system. It is that force that makes you breathe, digests your food and makes you what you are, a living, moving, dynamic being. (It is not through eating food that this force comes; it is that great force which makes you live, and because you live and there are processes of wear and tear going on within the body, eating becomes necessary.) As the same force, grain nourishes, water quenches thirst, fire cooks food. It is that force that comes as my words. It is that force at work in your ears and makes you hear these sounds. And it is that force which works as intelligence when you are able to grasp, understand, interpret anew and absorb this message—ya devi sarvabhuteshu buddhirupena samsthita (the Goddess Who is present in all beings as Intelligence).

Therefore, the true seeker, the sadhak, the Yogi, treats all the force, energy and power at his disposal with great reverence. With reverence, with this awareness, wisely does the Yogi generate such force through samyama, through sadhana, through self-control, tapasya. The Yogi goes on cultivating, developing and wisely conserving this force. And with great skill through Yoga, he channelises this force for creative, gainful and constructive attainment, for progressing upon the path of Yoga. In the ultimate context, it is this universal force that enables you to be a Yogi. If you are a paropakari, it is this universal force that enables you to perform altruistic, selfless, egoless, motiveless deeds, to be a karma yogi. And you must daily be aware of and thank that force that enables you to help others, to serve others.

It is that force that is the pranasakti within you. It is that force that is the kundalini sakti within you. It is that force that infills each Divine Name, infills the mantra that you receive. It is that force that gives you physical, mental, intellectual, ethical, moral and spiritual enlightenment. In all these levels, it is that force that is at play. When prayer is offered it is this force that enlivens it and gives it a certain spiritual dynamism. Gayatri is this force; every Name, every mantra is this force. The dynamism of this entire physical universe, the entire creation, the phenomenon, and yourself included in it, as part of it, is the play of this Power of powers.

Therefore be aware of the sanctity of all things, the sanctity of all forces, all powers, all energy, and diligently cultivate a reverential attitude. Do not waste, do not misuse, do not misdirect or divert it into antagonistic channels that will thwart the very will of God manifesting in your life as evolution. God has made us for this ascent into divine perfection, and if forces at our disposal are misdirected and abused or wasted away, then we nullify the will of God in our lives. We thwart the very purpose of our existence, and the upper ascent, the evolutionary ascent of our being, is retarded.

From one point of view everything that you behold may be gross, but from another point of view, all this is divine. All life is sacred. Everything is to be treated with reverence. And everything is to be made our means of ascending to that supreme state of perfection.

Therefore, being aware always of this great source of all power and energy in this world, and its sanctity, within yourself, in the universe around you, in all great tattvas, in asana, in pranayama, in the spoken word in satsang, in japa, in meditation, be a wise worshipper of Sakti. Relate yourself with reverence to It and make the highest and loftiest use of every force that you are able to take in from life around you and utilise it for this great attainment of God-realisation, aparoksha’nubhuti, Self-realisation. May this great cosmic Power of powers bless you and grant you success in your sadhana!

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