Thursday, March 26, 2015

Talks on the Yoga Vasistha

(Updated: 9 April 2015 with the fourth video in the series)

The Yoga Vasistha is a very important scripture for sincere seekers of the truth but perhaps not as well-known as some others. Here, we have a dialogue between the great sage Vasistha and Rama who amongst other wonderful qualities, was also a prince. The core of the scripture is a dialogue between Vasistha and Rama in the royal court of his father and in the presence of other great ones and sages.

After finishing his education with others, Rama returned to his home and resumed his normal way of princely living. Very soon, he had an urge to go out and see the country before he would get into the thick of his duties and responsibilities. With his father’s permission, he set out to see the world – the land his duties were tied to. He toured the length and width of the land and eventually, returned to the palace and princely way of life.

Soon, a wave of thought overtook him and he became indrawn and pensive. Others noticed this but did not know quite what to make of it. One day, the great sage Vishvamitra came to the royal court and asked the king, Rama’s father for a favor. He asked that Rama’s company him for some time as he was involved in a sacred rite which required his full involvement and there were others bent on disturbing the rite. With Rama, the rite would be secure and this would benefit others including Rama in many ways. Rama was sent for but to the surprise of his father, he appeared very indrawn and pensive. When asked about the cause of his present state, Rama spoke about his observations on life and the inability to reconcile what was observed during his journey, what he had very intelligently pondered upon and what was expected of him in terms of his duties and responsibilities. He was not dejected but at the threshold of awakening and sage Vishvamitra requested the sage Vasistha to resolve any doubts Rama may have. (webpage link)

Part 1 (17 March 2015) Þ
Focus: background / examining everything / awakening / at the crossroads
View/download: YouTube 36min / video 277mb / audio 16mb / pdf summary

Part 2 (26 March 2015) Þ
Focus: the liberated sage / self-effort / essence of all scriptures / the course of action
View/download: YouTube 32:30min / video 282mb / audio 15mb / pdf summary

(2 April 2015) Þ
Focus: Four Gatekeepers to the Realm of Freedom or Moksha
View/download: YouTube 34min / video 320mb / audio 15mb / pdf summary

Part 4 (9 April 2015) Þ New!
Focus: the task / in the heart first / self-control next / then inquiry.
View/Download: YouTube 33:30min / video 332mb / audio 16mb / pdf summary

Monday, December 8, 2014

Spiritual Practice

This short series of pointers on sadhana was originally the last work of Shankaracharya, the great exponent of Advaita Vedanta – the school of absolute monoism. He was a very prolific writer and has written commentaries on the core scriptures, along with many other smaller works. As he was getting ready to depart, disciples asked him for a simpler work that coming generation of disciples could keep close as a blueprint for practice. In five short verses containing 40 cryptic statements, we have a very well laid out, comprehensive roadmap for the earnest spiritual seeker.

Though conditions have changed, the work on hand has not and the sincere seeker today will have to find himself negotiating the same obstacles as it is not the outer that needs to worked out but the inner and that has not changed.

I’ve taken these 40 pithy sentences and put them in concise English and expressed a few pointers on them that I feel may be of use to the seeker today. The video has the main points on the screen as presentations, it is hoped that the visual will enhance learning.

Just as the original text, this series will have five videos and with eight points covered in each. My advice is not to prejudge these in light of the times today as the outer has indeed changed but the work on hand is the same. I also recommend that sincere seekers read the original with the commentaries of other noble teachers towards a better understanding.

Each of the five videos has its corresponding audio in mp3 and pdf handout on the website at - aside from the videos also being on YouTube.

Best wishes,
Swami Suryadevananda

1. Spiritual Practice, Part 1 (37 min / 15 Oct 2014)
YouTube / video 67mb / audio 18mb / pdf)  

2. Spiritual Practice, Part 2 (33 min / 20 Oct 2014)
(YouTube / video 59mb / audio 15mb / pdf)   

3. Spiritual Practice, Part 3 (27 min / 2 Nov 2014)
(YouTube / video 46mb / audio 13mb / pdf)  

4. Spiritual Practice, Part 4 (32 min / 13 Nov 2014)
(YouTube / video 57mb / audio 15mb / pdf)  

5. Spiritual Practice, Part 5 (20 min / 7 Dec 2014)
(YouTube / video 38mb /  audio 10mb / pdf)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Living the Bhagavad Gita Way

This series is a study of a better way of living, based on the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita.
I am grateful to The Divine Life Society for their permission to use ‘Gita Meditations’ by Swami Sivananda – whose translation and flow we will follow.

Since this offering is in the week before Guru Purnima, it is worth looking into it a little to understand how things were in days gone. Earlier, there was a sense of naturalness in everything, including spiritual pursuit.

Let us take our minds back in time a little to understand what we have lost as we will have to restore naturalness that is missing outside – within our hearts and minds.

Guru Purnima is the day when the guru is venerated. It is not so much the personality of the guru but what ‘guru’ represents. It is said that on this day, all perfected ones, masters and sages shower their blessings unreservedly on those who sincerely tread the path they have trodden themselves.

Historically, this day also heralded the start of the monsoon season in India. Living natural lives, seekers reduced all unnecessary activity to use this period for deep study. This was not an academic type of learning but of turning to the teachers, scriptures or both to have all their doubts cleared for their immersive practice. Thus, study became the primary sadhana or practice while the other practices were still continued but with lesser emphasis. When it rains, the air is charged with a lot of energy which raises one’s alertness and concentration becomes easier. Just think, when you are driving far and you feel fatigued, you roll down the windows, sit upright and feel refreshed and alert.

Later, when it became cooler – the climate was best suited to deep meditation and for this, seekers either reduced their other activities further or took to a period of isolation for deep meditation. During this period, local villagers often provided what they could to help seekers in the form of food so they could continue their practice with full focus.

Spring brought fair weather and the fields were ready for a good harvest. There was an air of thanksgiving all about and seekers often visited the villages and gave talks from their direct experience – reminding people of the goal of life and its path. So now, the seekers gave back to the local villagers from their spiritual harvest.

Thus, spiritual living and normal living too flowed along with the seasons – each one doing his own duty and helping each other without any dictates to do so. Regulation and mandates numb the spirit and make effort mechanical at best.

Gurudev Swami SivanandaRecommended Reading
We will follow the flow of ‘Gita Meditations’ by Gurudev Swami Sivananda. This book is published by The Divine Life Society, and can be ordered from their online bookstore.

I am most grateful to The Divine Life Society, Rishikesh, India for their kind permission to use the translation and verse arrangement of, ‘Gita Meditations’ by Sri Swami Sivananda in this offering.
Dedicated to Gurudev Swami Sivananda

Prayers before Study
Prayer is the foundation and pivot of spiritual life. When you pray, you must feel your relationship with God. It is from there that you will relate or commune. For most, the relationship will evolve as you evolve spiritually. Let us start our daily sessions some prayers.

I. God and Jiva (download video, audio & pdf summary from here)
1. Prayer to the Lord
2. Nature of Brahman
3. Immanence of God
4. Immortality of the Soul

II. The Mahatma or Saint (download video, audio & pdf summary from here)
1. Bhāgavatā
2. State of Sthitaprajña
3. Yoga-Bhraśta
4. Gunātīta
5. Nature of Equal Vision

III. Spiritual Life & Sadhana - I (download video, audio & pdf summary from here)
1. Three Kinds of Sukha
2. Great Enemies of Man
3. Yogic Discipline
4. Three Kinds of Tapas
5. Control of Mind
6. Virtues to be Cultivated

III. Spiritual Life & Sadhana - II (download video, audio & pdf summary from here)
7. Vairāgya
8. Real Renunciation
9. Rules of Right Activity
10. Self-surrender and Grace

V. Way to Blessedness (download video, audio and pdf summary from here)
1. Body and World are Evanescent
2. Aspire for the Supreme Alone
3. Thought at Death
4. Jñāña or Supreme Wisdom
5. Way to Peace

Monday, July 7, 2014

Universal and Vedantic Prayers of Swami Sivananda

Over a month has passed since the last update of 'Prayer'. Here is a shorter version (32:10 minutes) with just the 12 prayers of Swami Sivananda - without the talk preceeding the prayers. It is also on the website and YouTube. 

Download the video (97mb), its audio (16mb) or pdf from here

On another note, soon, a series of five videos will join the website on, 'Living the Bhagavad Gita Way'. This series will follow the flow of 'Gita Meditations' of Gurudev Sivananda but focus on a better way of living or Gita Living. The arrangement of the verses in Gita Meditations is perfect as each section is complete for meditation. It is also laid out content progressive and mirrors one's spiritual ascent. The audio and pdf of this will also be available once ready. The complete offering will post here.

Very best wishes,
Swami Suryadevananda

Sunday, June 1, 2014


(Download the video, audio or pdf with the prayers here
Salutations and greetings…
Hope this finds you keeping well. Prayer – a new video has joined YouTube and the website. The source and inspiration for this offering is the inspiring book by Gurudev Swami Sivananda, ‘In the Hours of Communion’. I am grateful to The Divine Life Trust Society for their kind permission to use this work in this sharing. 
Prayer is very simple and elevating as is all heart to heart communication. It is even simpler than heart to heart communication as the source of your heart’s outpouring is not someone or something ‘other’ or even ‘apart’ from you. This is precisely the reason prayer seems unnatural as our minds have grown so accustomed to talking to others who are apart from us in some way. We are slightly guarded even in close relationships – not because we don’t trust those we consider close but people are much more sensitive today.  
In his book, ‘In the Hours of Communion’, Gurudev Swami Sivananda has by his pithy and aphoristic writings thrown light on this inner language of the heart in such a way that we once again remember and delight in love’s language through which we enter into communion with God. The book is very inspiring because it is not theory but little beams of light on areas which at once enable this heart to heart communion. 
What is it that you talk about with God aside from asking for his help? It is not wrong to ask for God’s help but most of what we ask for is relief from conditions of which we ourselves are the cause. If we were not to ask God for anything – what would you have to say to God? Have you ever pondered what it would feel like to just sit with God and let your heart love and adore him?  
This book has very insightful hints on just how to go about this and make prayer which is communion or a spiritual embrace with God natural for you. This little book contains the most beautiful prayers in prose, verse and song for a wide variety of topics including what to really ask for and just pouring your heart to God in the simplest language. The book concludes with a few beautiful essays on prayer. 
Friends, I can assure you that this book will raise your heart and spirits at once and if you follow the simple hints and instructions – you will awaken and ignite in the innermost reaches of being which will delight in the moments of communion. 
Today, let us touch on some of the topics of the book lightly and then pray together with 12 prayers from this wonderful book: 9 Universal Prayers and 3 Vedantic Prayers. You may have heard and even know the Universal Prayer by Swami Sivananda but there are many more – let us pray with these together today. The first part of this video is a heart to heart talk on some of the topics of the book. The second part is prayer together with 12 prayers.
It does not matter if you do not have them in front of you just now as you can sit while you hear the words and let the feelings contained in the words rise in your heart and soul. Once you hear and let the heart and soul respond to Swami Sivananda’s prayers – you will want to sit regularly as your heart and soul will once again remember love’s language and the even deeper language of silence. 
The video, its corresponding audio and text of prayers can be downloaded from the website. Soon, I will also have just the prayer portion available in video and audio for those wishing to make praying together regular.  
Very best wishes,
Swami Suryadevananda


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Overview - A Better Way of Living

A Better Way of Living
I. An Overview
(This is a synopsis of a video talk on YouTube. Download the text as a pdf brochure here.)
I. Life
In each life, we face more or less the same problems in different degrees. These result from forgetting our true nature and abiding and functioning from an untrue nature. The results from this error in self-positioning is called karma or the set of conditions that our own error summons for correction so we may once again return to our true nature. It is wise to live in such a way that we exhaust accumulated karma and exert to discover our true nature—this is movement from the cycle of samsara to moksha or freedom.
2. Karma
Reactions set in by all action resulting from this incorrect or limited: feeling, thought, word and action is called karma. To transcend karma...
First, find a way to live that does not allow karma in motion to strengthen by acting on it. Second, live wisely so we do not incur any karma which will summon new conditions. Third, exert in life and practice to discover our true nature and abide in it as life’s goal. 
3. Purusharthas
Fourfold aims of purposeful living so life can be lived in a way to exhaust and transcend karma and samsara.
Dharma: a very broad term which practically speaking may be defined as: to see and abide in the truth of all things or satya, and, for all actions to follow the path of righteousness or rita.  
Artha: The value we see in things which is mostly inflated as usually, all we perceive is colored by our likes and dislikes or raga-dwesha. 
Kama: Being able to go through experiences we need intelligently, which means without getting stuck or resulting in craving or aversion towards all we experience. 
Moksha: Release from the cycle of samsara or coming and going in this world of birth and death. 
4. Varna
Commonly called the ‘caste system’, they were working groups one is born into for the purpose of exhausting and transcending our karma while going through all the experiences felt necessary. There was natural respect for the order in the earlier days without feelings of superiority as the higher the varna or caste—the greater was the sacrifice or principle of yajna. 
Brahmin: They firmly adhered to the path of truth and righteousness. They sacrificed their lower nature each moment by making pursuit of the goal of life or God-realization their primary focus and shared their experiences with all.
Kshatriya: The ruling class which included the king or head of state, the legislative branch, the judicial branch and the military. They were fully prepared to sacrifice their lives for the country—not just in war but in peace time also by thinking and doing what was in the benefit of all citizens before any personal concerns. 
Vaishya: The business and trader class. They were the wealthier group but also sacrificed the most for society by supporting the brahmins by building centers of learning and worship, the kshatriyas by taxes that allowed a strong defense of the country, and also the shudras or working class by building schools, hospitals, infrastructure, providing stable employment and charity. 
Shudra: The working people which included tradesmen, artisans and builders. They too sacrificed any shoddy work and turned out very good products and service for society without taking any shortcuts. 
Summary: Yajna or the principle of sacrifice was at the heart of the varna system. Each caste or working group sacrificed their lower nature by giving to society what they felt they could give while still making a livelihood. Society functioned very well and all were taken care of while each group progressed spiritually as they got rid of selfishness. Later, selfishness came into this system and unjustified feelings of superiority which led to the collapse of it entirely and it began to exist in name and outer forms only. 
5. Ashrama
Flow of life so regardless of the conditions we are born into, all can and should progress towards moksha.
Brahmacharya: At a young age, one went to live with the guru or spiritual preceptor where he learnt: how to be, how to live and his vocation based on his varna or caste. Knowing how to be, is being true to our real nature and how to live, is putting this into real life. These were the seeds for leading the Divine Life or a life where living is the unfoldment of our true nature. 
Girhasta: A little while after completing one’s education, one entered the working and family life. In this stage, one went through stages of experience to understand and transcend them so one’s sights could be raised to what lies beyond change and the changing. 
Vanaprastha: When you go through experience intelligently, the heart is able and eager to look beyond them to what is better, more lasting and durable. One became simpler in being and this reflected in a simpler life of psychological and physical disentanglement. When one frees oneself inwardly and outwardly—there is time and enthusiasm for spiritual sadhana or practice without the pull backwards.
Sannyasa: Having gone through experiences intelligently and lived freer with sadhana taking center stage in one’s life—one naturally feels the pull towards renunciation. Sannyasa is not a rejection of society and all things, but the complete giving of oneself to the pursuit of truth and God. 
6. Rituals
Outer milestones of inner milestones that reflect one’s progress on the path of moksha. Rituals are also actions which are in time process, they do not mean much unless we tie them to something beyond time which is being. This is done by anchoring rituals to one’s spiritual progress which again is reflected in the ashramas. 
7. Family
Smallest unit that by held together the entire system through its outer symbolism or rituals. Families that followed the path of purposeful living which is living spiritually—held the ritual sacred as it represented leading a life as it was intended to be lived. 
The family was the first unit that one would find oneself a part of and where they learnt young that the welfare of others was not necessarily opposed to one’s own welfare. 
In this unique setting of nurturing, the focus on individuality and self-centeredness diminished without restricting self-expression and self-fulfillment. 
In learning how to adapt, the individual understood that adapting was not necessarily contraction but necessary to live harmoniously amidst others. This learnt in the nucleus of the family—the individual very easily adjusted in larger circles with different conditions and all of society functioned in support of each other without the need for as much outer restraint as we have today. 
The major milestones in one’s evolution were marked and symbolized by ritual and in preserving ritual—the family preserved a better way of living. 
Swami Suryadevananda

Monday, May 5, 2014

Work is not averse to spiritual pursuit

The Yoga Vasistha is a mighty but lesser known scripture. Its starts with the background of the son of a sage who had turned away from his duties or work – seeing them as averse to his pursuit of truth. His father the sage seeing this, instructed him as such, “Just as birds are able to fly with their two wings, even so, both work and knowledge (spiritual pursuit) together lead to the supreme goal of liberation”. 
Even if one is independently wealthy or has few needs – we are compelled to action. Mostly, we have other reasons to work that are tied to our sense of being or personality. A personal approach to work is precisely the reason for outer and inner conflict that often results. Often, things don’t go the way intended and sometimes, this rift of expectation and result seems intolerable. 
But why see what has to be done as work? We have to do something, many things – why not do what we feel needs to be done as duty? There is a big difference between seeing things as work (a means to a livelihood, job satisfaction, career or whatever) and duty.
When we see action as work, a lot of factors interfere like doubt, a feeling of not being appreciated enough or the result we expect. None of these factors are part of ‘what needs to be done’ and hence, not part of the action. Seeing work as duty is the only way to keep the mind and heart clear so the very best effort can be made in all that we do. Duty is something quite different as it does not allow any personal agenda: ‘something needs to be done – do it with all your heart, mind and body – because it needs to be done’. The spirit of work binds one in many ways and the spirit of duty liberates one in all ways. Let us examine this further.
This spirit of work, starts, progresses and ends with the feeling of ‘I or mine’. Here, our sense of satisfaction is rooted in what comes or should come. Since results are shaped by many other factors, our expectations will drive us to adjust our efforts and sometimes, even second guess our involvement.  
The spirit of duty is connected with ‘what has to be done’ and satisfaction is derived from one’s effort only. Doing one’s best is the satisfaction one seeks. You will be quite surprised at how things just come or fall into place when you don’t run after them. First, you do away with the pursuit of result and this frees the mind to give even more to the task on hand. Second, since satisfaction is anchored to one’s own effort rather than result – one is fully satisfied while doing. 
Ask yourself, “When have I been fully satisfied while doing something?” Even when you do something for your loved ones, you are fully satisfied when thinking of them which is a roundabout way of not thinking about yourself first. The less you bring yourself into the equation of action – the better you feel while doing it and the better things get done. The problem with limiting this to effort for ‘our people’ is the strong attachments and other concomitant factors that result from self-centeredness. 
This spirit of duty is not limited to our career but to all work – to everything that has to be done however mundane. The mundane is a way of seeing things and not in anything that needs to be done. If you do everything, even those things you consider mundane as duty – you will find satisfaction during that action and once done as this spirit of duty is ‘how you do things’. 
To properly understand this spirit of duty, we have to be alert to first see what needs to be done without the sense of ‘I and mine’ interfering at all. Second, do what needs to be done with all your heart, mind and body as if this action would be proud to have your signature on it. Third, once done, let it go completely and do not let the mind go back to ruminate in any way as the ego will fatten from glancing rearwards. This should be easy if again you are alert and awake as something else may come by for a response. 
We are not talking about being continually busy as a sort of escapism as being alert and awake is the inner intelligence on watch to see all that happens and ring a silent bell if something needs to be done and the best course of action. You then get roused into action, doing your very best and let go not only once done but while doing. This takes great skill to be fully engaged in something without attachment to it. As a matter of fact – you can only be fully engaged in something if you are not attached to it. If you are attached to or in some part of the action – some part of you is not in the work and perhaps, considering other things. 
Work becomes a means to purify the mind of its sense of ‘I or mine’ and this helps one along the way of knowledge or pursuit of truth. And, in the language of Sage Vasistha, “Work and knowledge together lead to the supreme goal of liberation”. 
Swami Suryadevananda

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Life without struggle - 3

From where we left off
Having a clearly defined ideal empowered as a resolve, restores harmony in the mind, eliminates all inner struggles and results in a better state of overall wellbeing. We have been talking about this recently – today, let us summarize what we have already covered and go a little deeper.
What is struggle?
Struggle is being at the crossroads of wanting to go one way while there seems to be some sort of pressure or pull to go another way. Why should this happen at all? Let us look at struggle from a broader perspective than merely choices, likes, dislikes or personal preferences. 
Is it not possible to have one ideal or goal of life that can guide all action in all the different aspects of our own life? How we see all of life, is called our vision of life and this does not have to change with what is seen. We are one person, the same one person and if this one person can have one single focus or way of seeing life – it should reduce to eliminate all struggle as not matter what the situation. 
If we do not have one single ideal that guides all action – we will experience confusion, struggle and inner conflict as different priorities which lead to different ways of looking at things is what observes different conditions. But, if we have a single ideal, one focus – then what does it matter if the situation is this way or that – we can simply do the very best we can in line with that ideal and be free of struggle. 
We may not be able to change things but we can change – return to our original simplicity of oneness within first and then find a way to through action – be one with all things by not acting outside each situation.   
All action has the same value
The different aspects of our life like family, work and recreation are not as different as we may think they are – they are just different fields of activity. This may seem odd at first but let’s go deeper. What is the purpose of any and all activity when you really get down to it? 
You may feel that I need to work to eat or feed my family but if this is so – it makes unethical means even if it is not considered ‘illegal’ – justifiable if they provide more as then you could probably provide better. At this crossroads, there will be a grinding of conscience or our inner sense of right and wrong versus the feeling or quality which will come if we are able to increase quantity. Quantity can never out-balance quality – they are on different frequencies. 
Those who walk the way of righteousness or goodness know that this precious gem called goodness has its own value and it is goodness that gives value to all else. Do not mistake righteousness with merely following the law, procedures or social norms. For example: the traffic law in one area may state, ‘No Stopping’ – but, if you see someone on the side of the road, desperately in need of help – would you stop or use the convenient and flimsy justification of ‘following the law’ and nonchalantly drive on by? You can stretch this across all action – just because something is legal or ‘not considered illegal’ does not make it right. To use justification such as: what is legal, not considered illegal, social acceptable and what others are doing as a yardstick for one’s own decision will lead to inner degradation though perfectly acceptable and even laudable in society.
Goodness has its own value
Righteousness or goodness is much more than following the law, procedures, norms and such.  We are not talking about disregarding or violating secular laws but to remember that there are higher laws that cannot be ignored as it is these laws that give our very life purpose. 
We did not ask to come here but we are here and we may not ask for many situations that come but they will. The good news is that though we are here – this is a rare opportunity to free ourselves of this cycle of birth and death called samsara. Today, we will not get deeper into samsara but rather, look at ‘being good and doing good’ from a practical sense. 
On being good
‘Being good’ is not as easy as it sounds as it involves the abandonment of all that is contrary. It does not have to take time but it usually does only because we are not able to renounce all that is non-good for many reasons – two of the main reasons are: weakness of resolve and strength of habit, and, our direct understanding of what is non-good is still evolving. 
Rather than look at renouncing ‘non-good’ – we can take the plunge into ‘being good’ very sincerely. It does not matter what the understanding is and if we slip up as each slip will broaden the understanding, increase humility and love for God as we see our weaknesses and ask God for inner spiritual strength to overcome them. How can you fail when you make a firm resolve and try your very best each day to live up to it? Each fall will give you more and polish the mind and heart cleaner. 

A sincere and wholehearted resolve is essential and requisite to eliminate struggle as with it, we are not struggling to let go and all struggle is in letting go. Instead, with a firm resolve, we are looking at attaining and what must be let go is let go without struggle as the sights are on the positive – on attaining and in attainment – there is always gain. 

On doing good
Now, let us focus on ‘doing good’ in a very practical sense. Doing good is doing or action that is in accordance with the truth of things which is unity, oneness and non-separation. For this, there cannot be specific rules for what we call secular action and different rules for other action. What we call secular is just that – something we call or a way of seeing things – let us rise above all notions and take the broadest view. 
First rule of doing good: Is it possible to act in such a way so that our actions or responses to life do not stem from notions, habits or what is called conditioning but rather, from real situations as they happen? This is doing what needs to be done rather than what ‘I would like to do’ or ‘what is in my best interests’. This way of action will not strengthen the sense of agency or ego and the source of all problems and pain – both to ourselves and others. 
Second rule of doing good: Is it possible to act without concern or expectation for the fruits of action and this includes appreciation for anything done? If the carrot and stick drive our actions (and they can be golden ones), we are slaves to something and not free. Can we do everything that needs to be done (first rule) without concern or expectation of results in any way – just because it needs to be done? 
When you free action from results, you actually become more productive and more comes. Why? Because there is no throttling of effort while doing. What else comes? You weaken the ego and find a way to gain inwardly with each action of wholehearted responses in life, thus, doing more, contributing more and finding immediate satisfaction in doing rather than what comes. This takes out hopes, expectations, frustrations and disappointments as joy is found in action rather than result. Don’t worry, results will come – no need to sweat unnecessarily. Sweating or worrying is a habit that you can do without. 
Third rule of doing good: Both, while doing or during action and after action – can we keep a balanced state of mind? This can only happen if we follow rule two (above), which is to not be concerned about outcome, result or what comes. The reason we struggle with wholehearted actions is because of our habit of selectiveness and always looking for personal gain. If you eliminate the cause of imbalance in action (which is selfish action), you learn how to get rid of imbalance from your life period. All mood swings, good days and bad days and the lot are at once let go as just unnecessary. 

Wholeheartedness is joy in itself. You must be wholehearted in everything you do – however mundane to train the mind to find delight in action as wholehearted action keeps the mind whole and the deep interest in all things sees satisfaction in a job well-done. Continual satisfaction is contentment and contentment is the biggest gain. 

What does it matter if things go one way or the other as long as you have approached each situation to see what needs to be done, done it without personal expectation and kept your balance in all situations? What you have started is a cycle of freeing yourself from the grip of karma and this cycle is first brought under control by good choices in thinking, feeling and acting which are seeds that must bring better conditions in this life and journeys to come. 
Eternal vigilance or keeping the mind unceasingly in the field of observation along with the activity on hand becomes essential if we are to grow and evolve spiritually. Action, any action becomes a mirror to see the mind as the mind which is difficult to observe without getting caught up in its ways cannot resist reacting to situations with its preferences and habitual ways. 
Unless we have one single clearly defined ideal as a firm resolve as a needle and thread with which we are willing to thread all our life’s activities with – we are bound to struggle with what is more important and susceptible to our own flimsy self-justification or taking refuge in existing little laws and norms at the cost of silencing our conscience and compromising our innate goodness. 
When one is awake – it means one has seen through things and has no problem with not even rejecting the old but choosing the new, choosing the good. When one resolutely walks the way of ‘good’ – there is never any fear of anything – come what may. This does not mean one is calloused but rather, one’s sensitivity is fully awakened in its broadest sense without any tinge of selfishness and this expanded mind and heart is very different from self-centered, narrow and constricted ways – all will be well in the very moment and in all moments to unfold. 
Swami Suryadevananda

Monday, April 7, 2014

Life without struggle - 2

A clear ideal is an ideal that lived by naturally – without struggle or selective application. This ideal should seat deep in the core of one’s being so it is not only why we do things but why we live in the first place – the reason for our existence. They say the cycle of samsara or birth and death is rooted in karma and the cause of karma is ignorance of the true nature of things. The only remedy to breaking this cycle has to be right understanding which is the existing unity as the truth of things which must be embedded at least as deep as ignorance’s promptings are with the courage to disregard them and empower wisdom instead. 
It is essential to have and wholeheartedly adopt without selectiveness a higher ideal and have this as a resolve, “From this very moment on, I will be good in the best way I know how, without selectivity or concern of consequence and I will do good in all ways starting with what and how I think and feel to every way I communicate and in my actions”. 
All burdens, concerns and struggle will at once be lifted off your shoulders instantly as you have just given yourself a new standard operating procedure that this resolve is what is going to act in your life. The road will be bumpy at first and it may seem difficult at first but everything is difficult at first because of our own lack of wholeheartedness. 
When you examine what your own difficulties are sincerely, you will see that they are your own resistance to things as they are. It is difficult to see this because we are so conditioned to believe that others – people, conditions and things – have much to do with our difficulties. Find out for yourself and you will see through them as they will not stand up to reason and will boil down to these: ‘I don’t want to do this’ whose only justification is ‘It is not my way’ or ‘I just don’t like it’. 
Instead of difficulty or problem solving every day – today this, tomorrow that and who knows what will appear on the mind’s radar the day after tomorrow – isn’t it perhaps easier to first check, then weaken and finally get rid of whatever is experiencing the difficulty or problem. It cannot be you as you are aware that there is some inner grinding or resistance that wants to take issue with someone, some condition or something. If you are aware of some grinding within, you cannot be the grinder. Habit has become strong enough because of the importance we ourselves have given it and now, it seems to want to function as a ‘duplicate I’ or a ‘redundant I’ – if this bundle of habits called the ego, personality or ‘little I’ has not already taken over, it is working on it. The good news is that it can be stopped at any stage though the inner strength needed to break its grip increases when left unchecked longer. 
Unless the danger is not seen within, caused by our own selves – a solution is very difficult at best. If the danger of habitual living is not clearly seen, all solutions will be cosmetic at best and will not endure. The clarity with which you see the danger is itself the inner strength needed to check conditioning. 
We must very clearly, each for oneself that all struggle, difficulties, problems and the weight in our lives is not caused by anyone else or anything else – it is the reaction of the ego or habit to things just as they are. We know this because when everything is going well with you, you are able to absorb little difficulties in stride but when there have already been a few close encounters and say we are not feeling at the top of our game – the blame game suggests targets. 
But, seeing things clearly, just as they are and being aware of the inner grinding or dissatisfaction is half of the equation – a better response must be in the heart so it can flow our effortlessly and say, “I will respond this way – the way of my resolve”. Initially, you may have to say, “Not that way – this way”. Soon, unhealthy choices will weaken by disuse though you will still be aware of their promptings and you will just be able to act in better ways – on the strength of your resolve. 
When you see yourself responding in better ways, the things you felt were struggle earlier will no longer seem so as when you respond to situations in healthier and more wholesome ways – the responses spring from your inner goodness and are at once experienced as goodness as well. How can any action that springs from your innate goodness have a negative experience? When you truly do a good deed – you feel good at once – not later but at the moment of doing – whether it is appreciated or not. 
All of nature knows this secret and so there is no struggle or sorrow amidst any of its family. The tree exerts to be the best tree it can be in spite of any condition that may come and just look at them – they are always swaying and joyful. The little squirrel runs about to gather its food and some days it may have to work hard and get very less but nonetheless, it does not stress out as we do when less comes because it knows the art of making the very act of finding food as play. 
Sit for a while in nature and observe these things. We are very much a part of nature’s family and can find the way to be natural, joyful and struggle free if we only let go of our self-assertive ways, preferences and insistences. 
Everything changes – let it and if a response is needed, let the strength of your resolve to be good keep the boat steady so that doing good or the best way to maintain inner goodness while responding is seen. Then, just do it and let go as what was in front of you will flow away on its own as newer situations present themselves. The old carts itself off – no need to push it away and it is foolishness to cling on to it as firstly, we will be dragged with it and secondly, we will miss the new that is already here – just now. 
Let us talk a little more the next time.
Swami Suryadevananda

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Life without struggle - 1

Any form of struggle requires the struggler and that which is struggled with. All struggle is experienced within so the struggler and that which is struggled with must somehow rise in myself. But, I am one and if I somehow preserve this oneness or wholeness – I will find a way for joyful living – no matter how challenging situations get. 
When one lives an awakened life, a life where one examines things for himself or herself as they tread – one comes to understand the nature of things and the cause of all suffering to be birth here in this world. The wise regard ending the cycle of birth and death as the only worthy ideal
To live in this spirit of oneness of being is to live in the yoga spirit and it requires that we first have one single ideal for which we live. This single ideal has to be accepted by one wholeheartedly so the idea of compromise or selectivity does not dare rise against this resolve. This resolve can be as lofty as God-realization or movement towards this ideal which Swami Sivananda puts in two terse aphorisms, “Be Good. Do Good”. These two compact aphorisms cover all the cannons of yoga and are the essence of all ethical and moral teachings without leaving anything out but these cannot be interpreted by social or conventional norms. 
Can I be good in every thought, feeling, word and action to such an extent so that I become incapable of ‘being non-good’? Can I do good in all ways so that it does not matter what comes at me as my response to anything will be the best response that is possible – one that raises my own inner goodness and is the best for the situation? In talking ‘best’, we are not talking about what I would prefer best or what others may accept best but ‘what is best’? 
The inner intelligence will get roused into action if it is empowered to observe each situation and also act as it will be free of the clutches of the ego or personality which is filled with likes, dislikes, desires – all based on ‘I’ and ‘mine’. 
The inner intelligence will not get roused if you ask it to observe but act with the conditioned mind – as it is wider and more pervasive than the silly mind and so will never be subservient to it. If you empower the ego or personality – the inner intelligence will let you go ahead and dial for lessons that come at a steep price as ‘your choice’
So, when you have one clear cut ideal – from God-realization or something you bring closer as, ‘Be Good. Do Good’ – you at once remove all struggle out of life as for any and every situation – there is only one response that satisfies, ‘being good’ and ‘doing good’ without ‘good for me, my people or my interests’. One single ideal gives you one single standard or perspective to respond from and all struggle just dissolves as struggle requires choice for conflict, “I must do in this way but I would rather do it that way”, or, “I must do this but I would rather do that”. The first part of no choice in ‘how things are done’ is quite clear. The second part of ‘what needs to be done’, versus ‘what I would like to do’, will also dissolve as you would just not do what does not satisfy, ‘being good and doing good’ – and, there would only be one single course of action. 
But, you may say, “What about consequences?” What about them? The consequences of compromising your innate goodness and acting in a way that is the best way possible are a worse consequence than a little less in quantity of things like money, power, fame, recognition and the sort. Why do we never concern with the consequence of what loss to ‘being’ or to our innermost self by a degradation of quality of being? 
Each time you compromise quality of being – you degrade qualitatively yourself and no amount of quantity in any form can replace, compensate or restore the balance
You may feel that this high bar may compromise your duties like taking care of your family etc., but, all things will be taken care of better as quality always trumps quantity. Think about it – peace, contentment, satisfaction, happiness and joy are not quantities – they are qualities. Improving quality of life happens when you improve the quality of the one living life or the ‘liver’. If quantity led to quality – all who have more would be immensely peaceful, happy and fully satisfied but we know that this is far from how things are. 
Let us talk about this a little more, the next time.  
Swami Suryadevananda

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Staying Close to God

Remember to thank God often for taking care of you at each step. Do this by your thoughts, feelings, kind words and actions unto all. These four: your thoughts, feelings, words (spoken or communicated any other way) and actions go on throughout the day and if you can make these of a quality that are worthy of your continual gift to God – you will always feel close to God.
Others may hear or read our words and see our actions so we are careful about these. But, this carefulness though good, is calculated and therefore, devoid of changing your heart or keeping you close to God. 
The inner world of thoughts and feelings are hidden from others – these are the real forms of action. It is easy to let these go unchecked as they are hidden and we may feel that they don’t hurt others but this is not true. Every thought and feeling harbored is like an arrow that is launched in the mind plane that cannot be recalled and will have consequences. 
Guarding all four out of fear of consequences only goes so far as one day when things get heated up or heavy – the dam will burst and it will all spill out. There is a better way. Consider these your continual love offering to God – worship God with these flowers which have been carefully nurtured within you and offered to God within also as He is the source of your existence.
Each moment, we have the choice of how to think, feel, speak or communicate and act and if we make these our worship of God – we will always walk with Him. 
Offer thanks to God through your day with these four – even when things are challenging and you will find a way to deal with the most challenging without worrying or feeling down. This is a great secret of living a rich inner life: when you offer thanks to God often in the day, especially in challenging moments without asking for anything – you will feel love in your heart as this is what expressing thanks does. This love for God expressed often through the day will itself be the strength to act in a better way and what was challenging will lose its challenge – it will be just another situation to remember and love God and therefore, stay close to Him. The heart that continually loves God – does not know fear, worry or anxiety as when you face the light – the shadow is never seen.    
Swami Suryadevananda